Sony launches its TV service for the PS3 and PS4: PlayStation Vue

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Nov 13, 2014 10:34 PM CST

After teasing it for so long, Sony has finally unveiled PlayStation Vue, its cloud-based TV service. PlayStation Vue is locked to the PS3 and PS4, but it has no contracts, and no pesky hidden fees - all without Sony giving out any pricing on it.

PlayStation Vue will allow people to save their favorite TV shows to the cloud, where it stays there for 28 days. You can receive on-demand access to the last three dasy of TV programming. The company will be holding an invite-only beta sometime later this month, where 75 channels will be made available. Sony is currently offering up CBS, Discovery, Fox, NBC Universal, Scripss Networks Interactive and Viacom, with the promise if more network partners being announced soon.

Sony is poised to fully release PlayStation Vue sometime in the first quarter of 2015, where it should eventually find a home on non-Sony devices like tablets and smartphones.

Continue reading: Sony launches its TV service for the PS3 and PS4: PlayStation Vue (full post)

Ubisoft promises its changing its review policies, but is it too late?

Anthony Garreffa | Business, Financial & Legal | Nov 13, 2014 9:30 PM CST

This is my third Ubisoft article for the day, and I'm only just beginning it - the developer has spoken with the BBC, telling the UK news outfit that it will be changing the way it works with game reviews, and gamers themselves.

A spokesperson for Ubisoft told the BBC: "We are working to adapt our services and communications with consumers accordingly, both by changing the way we work with reviewers and by offering customers open betas or other early access to some games, all so that they have the information they need and want". The spokesperson said that the issues are coming from the launch of Assassin's Creed: Unity, where we saw late embargoes for the reviews - most likely to stop the negative press from getting out and affecting the launch, but as my 3-year-old daughter says: "too late".

The spokesperson added: "Having the online elements available and having populated world's is essential to creating a representative and complete experience for reviewers. Achieving this prior to launch is incredibly complex, which is why some games are being reviewed much closer - or as was the case with Destiny, even after - the game launches".

Continue reading: Ubisoft promises its changing its review policies, but is it too late? (full post)

Ubisoft stock drops 9FPS, I mean 9% due to Assassin's Creed problems

Anthony Garreffa | Business, Financial & Legal | Nov 13, 2014 8:40 PM CST

It seems that my week has been busy with bashing at my keyboard writing up various articles about Ubisoft and Assassin's Creed: Unity, but it's for a good reason: the world needs to know what's going on, and this sh*t needs to stop. Gamers are able to walk away with their hard-earned money, and not purchased the game, but the company's just blame piracy when this happens.

Well, Ubisoft might wake up when their stockholders start to notice sharp drops in their stock prices - with a massive 9% drop in Ubisoft stock after the launch of Assassin's Creed: Unity was met with a truck load of negative reactions and feedback across the world. We can see that the stock was alright up until the morning of Wednesday, 12th of November - and then it dropped harshly, just like the frame rate in Assassin's Creed: Unity.

Now we need to see if this will continue, or stabilize and return to norm. Gamers are pissed, and so are people like me, where I don't think Ubisoft should be able to get away with this. Promising something so grand, building Assassin's Creed: Unity from "the ground up" on next-gen consoles, and then launching the game - which was obviously not ready by any means - to gamers, at a very decent premium.

Continue reading: Ubisoft stock drops 9FPS, I mean 9% due to Assassin's Creed problems (full post)

Ubisoft is blaming AMD for Assassin's Creed: Unity's poor performance

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Nov 13, 2014 8:19 PM CST

We've been all over the poor performance of Asssassin's Creed: Unity, but while most would lay the blame with its developer, the developer is blaming AMD. An Ubisoft PR manager has blamed AMD-based GPU and CPU configurations for some reason, even though I'm running Intel and NVIDIA and experiencing mass performance issues.

The Ubisoft PR rep said: "We are aware that the graphics performance of Assassin's Creed Unity on PC may be adversely affected by certain AMD CPU and GPU configurations. This should not affect the vast majority of PC players, but rest assured that AMD and Ubisoft are continuing to work together closely to resolve the issue, and will provide more information as soon as it is available".

AMD has fired back in a way, and we will have our talk with AMD up in a few days, but the company talked with WCCFTech, where they said: "The game (in its current state) is issuing approximately 50,000 draw calls on the DirectX 11 API. Problem is, DX11 is only equipped to handle ~10,000 peak draw calls. What happens after that is a severe bottleneck with most draw calls culled or incorrectly rendered, resulting in texture/NPCs popping all over the place. On the other hand, consoles have to-the-metal access and almost non-existent API Overhead but significantly underpowered hardware which is not able to cope with the stress of the multitude of polygons. Simply put, its a very very bad port for the PC Platform and an unoptimized (some would even go as far as saying, unfinished) title on the consoles".

Continue reading: Ubisoft is blaming AMD for Assassin's Creed: Unity's poor performance (full post)

US needs to treat cyber warfare as a real threat to security

Michael Hatamoto | Hacking, Security & Privacy | Nov 13, 2014 7:07 PM CST

Cybersecurity experts continue to have concerns over state-sponsored hacking activity, with China and Russia typically blamed for organized cyberattacks. There were a number of significant data breaches throughout 2014, and it would appear many of them were conducted by state-sponsored hacking programs orchestrated by organized, knowledgeable computer specialists.

Following troubling news that Chinese-sponsored hackers breached the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there has been more attention on hackers that are well-paid and well-organized.

"Whether or not China perpetrated this particular hack or not, the fact remains that nation states are sometimes our enemy," said Robert Twitchell, Jr., President and CEO of Dispersive Technologies, in a statement. "Many of them, including China and Russia, will engage in hacking to steal corporate secrets (for economic advantage), military secrets (for national defensive AND offensive purposes), to embarrass the US and show their technical superiority, and to divert our attention from other activities."

Continue reading: US needs to treat cyber warfare as a real threat to security (full post)

Apple removes TRIM support for third-party SSDs with OS X update

Paul Alcorn | Storage | Nov 13, 2014 3:06 PM CST

Cindori Software provides the Trim Enabler program that allows Apple users to use third-party SSDs and still have TRIM functionality. An SSD has no idea what data is erased by the filesystem, but TRIM marks data for deletion that has been removed at the filesystem level. This allows the SSD to clean itself up during a routine task called garbage collection. TRIM is important for SSDs, without it they will eventually slow down and become less responsive. Without notice Apple has blocked third-party applications, such as Trim Enabler, from working unless users institute a workaround that creates a security risk with OS X 10.10 Yosemite. Unfortunately, users are finding this out after the upgrade has already taken place.

A summary of the issue from Cindori Software:

Continue reading: Apple removes TRIM support for third-party SSDs with OS X update (full post)

Diablo Technologies displays SanDisk ULLtraDIMMS at Open Server Summit

Paul Alcorn | IT/Datacenter & Super Computing | Nov 13, 2014 10:52 AM CST

Open Server Summit 2014 focuses on next-generation server designs that leverage industry-standard hardware and open-source software. The show is a great place to view future server technology, which makes it the perfect venue for displaying the Diablo MCS (Memory Channel Storage) architecture at work on the SanDisk ULLtraDIMM. The SanDisk ULLtraDIMM DDR3 SSD brings latency as low as five microseconds by sidestepping the traditional storage stack, and communicating via the DDR3 bus. This reduces cabling, complexity, and components required for typical storage deployments.

The slim form factor, which takes advantage of the existing memory subsystem, will enable radical new server designs, particularly in the blade and microserver segment. The hardware consists of a JEDEC-compliant ULLtraDIMM that presents itself as a block storage device with 200 or 400GB of capacity. The ULLtraDIMM utilizes two Marvell 88SS9187 controllers running the Guardian Technology Platform to increase endurance and reliability. This tandem delivers random read/write performance of 140,000/40,000 IOPS, and sequential read/write speeds up to 880/600 MB/s. Ten DWPD (Drive Writes Per Day) of endurance, and a five-year warranty (or TBW) are provided by SanDisk 19nm eMLC NAND.

The real genius of the ULLtraDIMM design is its enhanced parallelism. Stacking several devices in parallel unlocks key performance advantages that will challenge even the fastest datacenter-class PCIe SSDs. We recently had a chance to take an in-depth look at the ULLtraDIMM and post our independent third party testing results in the SanDisk ULLtraDIMM DDR3 400GB SSD Enterprise Review. Head over to the PCIe category in our IT/Datacenter section for a look at competing PCIe devices.

Continue reading: Diablo Technologies displays SanDisk ULLtraDIMMS at Open Server Summit (full post)

New development tool from A*STAR speeds 20TB HDD HAMR development

Paul Alcorn | IT/Datacenter & Super Computing | Nov 13, 2014 10:05 AM CST

Lately HDDs aren't gaining in capacity as quickly due to the limitations of PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording). PMR stores magnetic bits of data vertically, allowing manufacturers to cram more data onto the HDD's platters, which provides more density than the previous horizontal method. Every new technology has its limits, and PMR has nearly reached the end of its evolutionary cycle. Now manufacturers are turning to HAMR (Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording) to increase density. HAMR uses a small laser to heat the surface of the platter to 800 degrees Fahrenheit before data is written. The laser is incredibly small and embedded into the drive's write head, and the small heated surface area cools back down in under a nanosecond.

Heat alters the magnetic properties of the disk for this nanosecond in time, and removes or reduces the superparamagnetic effect while data is written. This process allows for exponential gains in density, and HAMR drives with up to 20TB of storage are on the horizon. While this technology sounds a bit far-fetched, working development drives have already been displayed. With any new technology one of the immediate concerns is a lack of development tools. A team from A*STAR, led by Hongzhi Yang and the National University of Singapore, have designed a pump-probe laser to test HAMR devices. This allows accurate testing of temperature-dependent recording in localized regions without actually destroying the media. This is one more step on the path to creating affordable HAMR HDDs, and the first Seagate HAMR HDDs are projected to release in 2016 timeframe.

Continue reading: New development tool from A*STAR speeds 20TB HDD HAMR development (full post)

Intel's DC P3500 NVMe SSD comes closer to market

Paul Alcorn | Storage | Nov 13, 2014 8:50 AM CST

NVMe is a radically efficient and powerful protocol that reduces latency, increases performance, and reduces CPU load. The Intel DC P-Series are the first branded NVMe SSDs on the market, and as indicated in our Intel SSD DC P3700 1.6TB PCIe NVMe Enterprise Review, it delivers on the promises of NVMe. The Intel PCIe SSD family is broken down into three segments that feature different levels of endurance and performance. The DC P3700, DC P3600, and DC P3500 are designed for the datacenter, but enthusiasts have shown incredible interest in the DC P3500.

The Intel NVMe SSDs are very competitive in prices, and the 0.3 DWPD (Drive Writes Per Day) for the the DC P3500 brings its pricing within striking distance of other enthusiast PCIe SSDs, which are nowhere close in performance. The relatively low endurance is more than suitable for the desktop environment, and the DC P3500 features an amazing 450,000/35,000 4k random read/write speed, and 2.5/1.7 GB/s of sequential speed. Most importantly, it delivers amazing speed at lower queue depths, which offers the best performance for workstation/desktop workloads. The 400GB DC P3500 has begun to pop up on retailers for pre-order for around $600.00. This works out to roughly $1.50 per GB, which will have them flying off the shelves soon.

Continue reading: Intel's DC P3500 NVMe SSD comes closer to market (full post)

Samsung unveils Project Beyond, the world's first 3D 360-degree camera

Anthony Garreffa | Cameras, Printers & Scanners | Nov 13, 2014 2:37 AM CST

Something out of left field, is Samsung announcing its new Project Beyond product. Project Beyond consists of 16 individual HD-quality cameras, positioned in a circular pattern, which capture continuous 360-degree images. Project Beyond takes in a gigapixel of data every second, stitching it all together as if it were a 360-degree video, streaming it directly to Samsung's Gear VR headset.

Limiting its use to someone shooting a video while you sit in your house with your Gear VR sounds weird, until you think of the fact that Samsung could - at first - use Project Beyond at events, streaming you the VR imagery back to your Gear VR headset. Things like sporting events, concerts, and much more can be opened up into the world of VR with this camera.

Continue reading: Samsung unveils Project Beyond, the world's first 3D 360-degree camera (full post)