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It looks like 2015 and 2016 could be the big fight between APIs, and while DirectX 12 might reign supreme, I think that Mantle won't just roll over and die as quickly as most think. Futuremark are getting right into the middle of it, teasing its next-gen 3DMark and its "Farandole" benchmark.
Farandole will pit DirectX 12 and Mantle against each other, which will be joined by a lighting test named Balboa. Balboa will reportedly be a global illumination test, which should be interesting. Furthermore, DX12 and Mantle are both very capable APIs, with both APIs capable of delivering 7.5 times the amount of draw calls to a GPU than DirectX 11.
Computex 2015 will see the launch of the new "Balboa" lighting text, which will be rendered in DX11. After that, we will see Mantle vs. DX11 and in 2016, we'll see the big battle: DX12 versus Mantle.
Apple will pre-load the Beats subscription music service into iOS sometime next year, launching the app on all iPhones and iPads. This is an important effort for Apple, as iTunes song and album downloads are on the decline, and marks the company's first major effort in subscription music.
Apple wants to rely on Beats to put pressure on Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, and other competitors fighting in the online music subscription space. The company acquired Beats for $3 billion and many analysts were unsure what the company would do with the Beats subscription service. However, Apple wants to develop the online music offering to find new revenue to counter dropping iTunes music sales.
Ensuring apps are pre-installed on smartphones and tablets is a good method to reach new potential subscribers - and Beats has an estimated 110,000 subscribers - so there is plenty of room for long-term growth.
NVIDIA has released their new GeForce 344.75 WHQL drivers, which include support for the just-released Far Cry 4 and Dragon Age: Inquisition. The new 344.75 drivers also have support for NVIDIA's MFAA mode.
The new GeForce 344.75 drivers include improvements for Ubisoft's driving title, The Crew, as well as World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. The MFAA side of the drivers is interesting, with the Multi-Frame Anti-Aliasing providing a better image that is more comparable to 4x MSAA, with the performance hit to your GPU that 2x MSAA would usually have.
You can get the new GeForce 344.75 WHQL drivers right here, or alternatively, GeForce Experience would have downloaded them for you already, or will do so any minute now.
After years of waiting, and months of rumors, Netflix has announced that it is launching its content streaming service in Australia, starting in March 2015.
Netflix will also be offering its streaming goodness to New Zealand in March 2015 too, and has teased that it will be offering Australians and New Zealanders HD content, as well as "4K [content] where available". There's not much more to know right now, but you can be sure we'll deliver you more news as it happens - and as an Australian, I'm very excited about this.
Not only is it great that Australians finally have access to Netflix, but it is going to disrupt the very, very controlled media market we have here. The rest of the world has so many options for content, especially in the US, but Australia is so tightly controlled, Netflix is really going to shake things up - let's just hope it doesn't have localized content to the point where it is better for people to VPN their Netflix accounts to the US.
During the NVIDIA's Editors Day 2014 in Monterey Bay, California just a couple of months ago (man, I miss that place) the company showed off its new second-generation Maxwell architecture, and gave birth to the GeForce GTX 900 series. But one of the cooler things shown off during the event, was VXGI, or Voxel Global Illumination.
NVIDIA used VXGI to recreate the infamous photo from the Lunar landing in 1969, attempting to debunk conspiracy theories on whether it happened - and whether the photos were fakes or not. Well, the company has now released that Apollo 11 demo, for anyone with a GeForce GTX 970 or GTX 980 to play around with it.
The Apollo 11 demo is powered with Unreal Engine 4, and takes some serious GPU horsepower to run it.
Nine Inch Nails singer Trent Reznor is working on a special project for Apple, as he was reportedly the chief creative officer with Beats Music. It's unknown if Reznor is currently working on hardware or software technology, but said he's "designing some products" for Apple - and with Apple's reputation of being secretive - it's unknown if consumers will know what exactly he is currently up to.
Here is what Reznor recently said: "It's related to that. Beats was bought by Apple, and they expressed direct interest in me designing some products with them. I can't go into details, but I feel like I'm in a unique position where I could be of benefit to them. That does mean some compromises in terms of how much brain power goes toward music and creating. This is very creative work that's not directly making music, but it's around music."
It seems most likely that Reznor is contributing to a project related to music delivery technology, but his work will probably debut with iTunes sometime in 2015.
Apple iOS 8 has captured 52 percent of the company's active mobile devices, continually taking market share from iOS 7. From Oct. 13 to Oct. 27, iOS increased from 48 percent up to 52 percent, with some analysts saying software bugs and possible lack of additional features have prevented some users from upgrading.
The required 5GB of free space also likely doesn't help, as Apple hasn't been able to convince owners to clear much-needed space before updating.
Despite the release of iOS 8.0.1 - which caused serious headaches for some iPhone 6 Plus owners - the adoption rate for iOS 8 is still significantly higher than the rival Google Android mobile operating system. Android 4.4 KitKat was publicly launched before November 2013, and has captured just 25 percent after an entire year.
NVIDIA has just updates its GeForce drivers, bringing them up to version 344.48. They are WHQL certified drivers, as well as GameReady for some of the biggest games launching in the coming weeks.
This includes Civilization: Beyond Earth, Lord of the Fallen, and Elite: Dangerous. These new drivers are for Windows 7/8.1 in 64-bit, something you can download here. Moving on, we have Dynamic Super Resolution, or DSR support in these new drivers, for NVIDIA's older Fermi, and Kepler-based GPUs.
Benchmark company Futuremark has launched its Fire Strike Ultra, designed as the world's first 4K ultra high-definition (UHD) benchmark. Test content is rendered at 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) resolution, and is scaled down to the PC's display resolution.
Using the Ultra preset gives users the ability to use a comprehensive 4K benchmark without actually needing a 4K monitor. Fire Strike Ultra is a function available to 3DMark Advanced and Professional versions of software, and is available now. Another requirement is that interested users need to have a GPU with at least 3GB of dedicated memory, as the test will put PCs through their paces.
"And while it's always been possible to run 4K tests with customer settings in 3DMark, using a dedicated 4K test will provide a common reference point..." Futuremark noted in a press release.
Late last month AMD released their Catalyst 14.9 drivers, but now the Catalyst 14.9.1 drivers are here with a pretty serious issue resolved. AMD has fixed several issues with Crossfire in Catalyst 14.9.1, namely quad GPU rigs running four Radeon GPUs.
Before the new Catalyst 14.9.1 drivers were released, quad Crossfire users would experience BSODs when enabling or disabling Crossfire. With the new drivers, this big problem has gone away. The new update also addressed the "crashes related to driver installation" problem, but the drivers haven't fixed everything - but what driver does?
The full list of issues, resolved problems, bug fixes and more can be found on AMD's website.