Cruise Automation system makes Audi A4 and S4 cars autonomous

Shane McGlaun | Electric Vehicles & Cars | Jun 24, 2014 11:04 AM CDT

When it comes to autonomous vehicles that can drive themselves, Google is the name that many think of. Google isn't the only major company working in the autonomous car market though. A company called Cruise is now taking pre-orders for a product called the RP-1 that will turn two Audi car models into self-driving cars. The RP-1 product works with the Audi A4 and S4 cars.

Cruise will begin to put the RP-1 on cars early next year with pre-orders underway right now for the first 50 RP-1 units. Cruise is working on making its self-driving tech compatible with other cars, with the product dubbed a highway autopilot.

Once the driver is in a lane on the highway, they can press a button and the RP-1 system will take over control of the accelerator, brake pedals, and steering. The system can be turned off easily if the driver takes over the steering wheel or taps the throttle pedal. The Cruise RP-1 accessory costs $10,000 and straps to the roof of the car.

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TCL unveils its new HDMI 2.0-powered 4K TVs, 65-inch for $1,299

Anthony Garreffa | Displays & Projectors | Jun 24, 2014 8:00 AM CDT

TCL has just taken the wraps off of its new Ultra HDTV lineup, with five new products for consumers to choose from. The new 4K-capable TVs are all HDMI 2.0 compliant, which means you can use HDMI for 60FPS goodness.

Starting with sizes, where we have two non 'Smart TV' models with the EU5700 series, available in 40- and 49-inch. Then we have three Smart TV models, which are all from the UH9500 Smart TV series, these are available in 55-, 65- and 85-inch. The 40-inch is priced at $499, while the 49-inch is $100 at $599.

Moving onto the 55-inch UH9500 Smart TV, which is priced at $799 - this is going to be a hot seller in the coming months at that price. The 65-inch is priced very competitively at $1,299 while the 85-inch is priced for the serious HT users at a whopping $7,999. The 40- and 49-inch models are the models TCL will be pushing for gamers, photographers, designers or people who want to display Ultra HD content from an external device.

Continue reading: TCL unveils its new HDMI 2.0-powered 4K TVs, 65-inch for $1,299 (full post)

Russia to use local CPUs in its government PCs, ditches US-made chips

Anthony Garreffa | CPU, APU & Chipsets | Jun 24, 2014 5:53 AM CDT

The Russian Industry and Trade Ministry has announced plans to replace the US-made processors from companies like Intel and AMD, with its own x86-based processors. These new processors will run on a new Linux-based system, with a CPU built-in Russia called Baikal.

Baikal is being made by an electronics division of T-Platforms, a supercomputer maker, and looks to have some serious funding being pumped into it. Rosnano, a technology firm, and Rostec, a rather large defense contractor, are both chipping into the project. The first processors off the production line will feature an ARM Cortex A-57 at 2GHz, and will run both PCs and servers.

Each and every year, the Russian government reportedly purchases 700,000 PCs which costs around $500 million. On top of this, the government spends a further $300 million acquiring 300,000 servers per year. The new Baikal processors should begin replacing the Intel- and AMD-powered machines starting in early 2015.

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Experimental 36-core CPU teased, with each core featuring a router

Anthony Garreffa | CPU, APU & Chipsets | Jun 24, 2014 5:29 AM CDT

Intel is about to launch its 16-threaded (but 8-core) processor in September, and while that is for consumers, what is being played with behind closed doors in experiments is incredibly exciting - with a new 36-core processor teased by researchers at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture.

Li-Shiuan Peh, the Singapore Research Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, has said that the future of massively multi-core processors will be more like little Internets, where every core packs a router, with data travelling between cores in packets of fixed size. Peh's group unveiled a titanic 36-core processor that features this "network-on-chip" at the event.

Today's processors are connected by a single wire, and feature between 2 and 6 cores, with the multiple cores needing to talk to each other through exclusive access to the bus. But, this way won't work as the core count increases, as the other cores will be waiting for the bus to free up, rather than performing the duties you've set it out to do. With the network-on-chip, each and every CPU core is connected only to those that are directly next to it. Bhavya Daya, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science explains: "You can reach your neighbors really quickly. You can also have multiple paths to your destination. So if you're going way across, rather than having one congested path, you could have multiple ones".

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Intel teases next-gen Xeon Phi chips, uses Hybrid Memory Cube tech

Anthony Garreffa | CPU, APU & Chipsets | Jun 24, 2014 3:35 AM CDT

After watching season three of Game of Thrones, Intel's Knights Landing just reads and sounds like Kings Landing... but, onto the news. Intel has just announced its next-gen Xeon Phi chips, codenamed Knights Landing, at the International Supercomputing Conference being held in Leipzig, Germany.

The new processors will be capable of delivering close to three times the peak performance power of its predecessor, Knights Corner. The new Xeon Phi CPUs will use a new high-speed fabric technology - Intel's own Omni Scale fabric - that should help with performance, scalability, reliability, power and density requirements to speed up the rate of scientific discovery.

Intel's new Knights Landing processors will use 16GB of stacked memory, something that will be based on Micron's incredibly fast Hybrid Memory Cube technology. This technology is capable of 15x the bandwidth provided by DDR3, and 5x the bandwidth of DDR4, all while being 5x more power efficient, and only requiring 1/3 of the space.

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The Division developer went from hardcore PC studio to consoles

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Jun 24, 2014 1:23 AM CDT

We've been through a crazy week or so with Ubisoft, with the company deliberately gimping the PC version of Watch Dogs, claiming that the next-gen console version of Far Cry 4 will be equal to "Ultra High" settings on PC, and The Division being locked at 30FPS. Can it get any worse? Yes, yes it can.

GameSpot recently interviewed the studio behind The Division, Massive Entertainment, which had some interesting things to say. When asked about "making a console game after spending so many years in the PC space", Ubisoft Massive Managing Director, David Polfeldt said: "We were a very, very hardcore PC gamer studio before. And we never understood the previous generation of consoles very well from a technological standpoint. But then when we saw the specs for this generation consoles... I remember we had a meeting at Massive and we just looked at each other and said 'Is this what I think it is?!' 'Is this our home turf?' Because on this hardware, we can be excellent; we can be one of the best. And as soon as we had that, we just started focusing on this generation of consoles like crazy".

So in that quote, we see that Massive went from being a "very, very hardcore PC gamer studio" to "focusing on this generation of consoles like crazy" after Massive saw what would be powering the next-gen consoles. In the quote above, Massive talked about next-gen consoles, saying that "because of this hardware, we can be excellent; we can be one of the best". The proof is right there.

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Ubisoft rumored to have watered down The Division's graphics

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Jun 24, 2014 12:16 AM CDT

When Ubisoft unveiled The Division at E3 2013, most - including myself - were quite blown away. Could this be? A true next-gen title? Well, we thought so until this year - but even with the game hitting only next-gen consoles and PCs (with no release on previous generation platforms) - the game is being gimped, just like Watch Dogs.

This is just a rumor right now, as we can't prove it like the modders did with Watch Dogs, but according to Whatifgaming, a source close to them said that Massive Entertainment - the studio behind The Division - has already removed "quite a lot of screen space reflections from the game" and that The Division will not look as good as it did during the reveal at E3 2013.

This source had some interesting things to say: "We really loved the reception to the demo we showed on the PC version at E3. Currently as it stands, there is definitely a lot of push coming from publishers to not make the experience so different on consoles as to alienate people into thinking that next generation is not as powerful as PC. This is probably what happened at Ubisoft Montreal. I think that while making stability changes is definitely important, it does not completely obliterate a lot of enhanced rendering applications".

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Intel has asked AMD for access to Mantle for an 'experiment'

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Jun 23, 2014 11:25 PM CDT

Intel has asked AMD for access to its Mantle API, with Intel confirming it asked its competitor for access to Mantle, for something it has called an "experiment". Intel has reaffirmed its position with DirectX, saying that it remains committed to the open standard.

AMD has over 47 game developers signed up for its Mantle API, with its competitor NVIDIA only signing up Crytek and Ubisoft to its GameWorks program. So we know that AMD and NVIDIA are wanting to get game developers on their side, but what is Intel's play in all of this? In Q2 of this year, according to data from Jon Peddie Research, AMD and NVIDIA have 33% of the GPU market share, combined. The rest is dominated by Intel.

Richard Huddy, who just joined AMD again as its "gaming scientist" said: "I know that Intel have approached us for access to the Mantle interfaces, et cetera. And right now, we've said, give us a month or two, this is a closed beta, and we'll go into the 1.0 [public release] phase sometime this year, which is less than five months if you count forward from June. They have asked for access, and we will give it to them when we open this up, and we'll give it to anyone who wants to participate in this".

Continue reading: Intel has asked AMD for access to Mantle for an 'experiment' (full post)

Microsoft confirms it isn't shutting down Games for Windows Live

Anthony Garreffa | Gaming | Jun 23, 2014 10:30 PM CDT

Microsoft has been forced to make a statement regarding Games for Windows Live, which is a service for PC gamers, and whether it will be shutting down. The software giant has formally denied that it is shutting down the service.

The company talked with Game Informer, where it said: "We are continuing to support the Games for Widows Live service. We remain committed to investing in PC gaming in the years ahead, and look forward to sharing more in the future. Although customers are unable to purchase new games from the marketplace or receive title updates, they can continue to enjoy previously purchased content by downloading them through the Games for Windows Live client as usual".

We heard back in March that Microsoft had "a renewed focus on Windows and PC gaming" when the head of Microsoft's head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, stepped up and talked about it. Is the future of PC gaming DirectX 12? For me, I think we're going to see big changes soon, but Microsoft won't be at the center of it.

Continue reading: Microsoft confirms it isn't shutting down Games for Windows Live (full post)

Windows 8.1 Update 2 to arrive soon, could be a huge 3GB download

Anthony Garreffa | Software & Apps | Jun 23, 2014 9:24 PM CDT

The second update to Windows 8.1 is expected to roll out in the coming months, with Windows 8.1 Update 2 set to roll out to users across the world in August-September, but there's news now on just how big this download will be.

A Microsoft representative has reportedly taken to the EightForums, stating that the company is currently training its support employees for Windows 8.1 Update 2. This rep confirmed the August-September timeframe for its release, which will be released into the Windows Store. Something that should surprise most is that Windows 8.1 Update 2 will be a huge 3GB in size.

Considering Update 1 was 'just' 700MB, 3GB is a huge contrast in sizes. This person could just be talking nonsense, but we could also expect Windows 8.1 Update 2 to be 3GB, and if it does, what do you think about that?

Continue reading: Windows 8.1 Update 2 to arrive soon, could be a huge 3GB download (full post)