Microsoft Found a Way to Improve the Battery Life of Wearables

A team of researchers over at Microsoft have finally found a way to improve the battery life of wearables. We all know that the latter don’t come with a big battery pack, so finding workarounds to extend their battery life has always been a priority for manufacturers.

The technique is said to involve pairing wearables with smartphones via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi in order to shift all heavy workloads to the smartphone, hence having your smartphone acting as an external processing unit. This means that your wearable will act mostly as a way of displaying data from your smartphone, having it draw just enough battery to sustain the pairing connection.

Researchers over at Microsoft are said to have tested the system, named WearDrive, on an Android phone. The results showed an improvement of over three times in energy consumption for the wearable and an acceptable energy consumption impact on the handset. In addition, the wearable had its execution performance increase eight times compared to it not being paired to the smartphone.

While wearables don’t have the performance nor battery life of a fully fledged smartphone, the technique seems to help quite a lot in performance as well as battery life. Also, WearDrive is said to automatically deactivate itself when not in range of a paired smartphone, so you don’t have to worry about it running in the background.

Thank you TechSpot for providing us with this information

Sega and Relic Want to Revive the Company of Heroes 2 With a New Expansion

It’s been a long time since I heard about any news regarding the Company of Heroes title. The hype around it suddenly died soon after it got released, though the expansions that came after it did try to keep it going. The latest one, Adrenaline Assault, also shifted the focus on the eastern World War II front, taking the focus off the Allied forces and placing the Red Army in the spotlight.

This time around, the focus will move to the Brits and their forces. The upcoming expansion will be called Company of Heroes 2: The British Forces and will introduce fifteen new unites and six commanders, along with eight new multiplayer maps. It will also be a standalone multiplayer expansion, which means you don’t need to have Company of Heroes 2 in order to play it.

In addition to the expansion, Relic and Sega is planning a big update for all Company of Heroes 2 titles too. The latter will feature an improved balance between all factions, improved animations and visual improvements to the majority of units. It’s nice to see they are still supporting the Company of Heroes 2 title, but will this move to attract more players actually work this time?

The expansion and update are said to arrive on the 3rd of September, having the expansion cost £9.99. Sega said it will also offer a 20% discount to players who already own any Company of Heroes title, but only for pre-order purchases.

Thank you Rock, Paper, Shotgun for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of SegaBits

Witcher 3 Kepler Problems Will Be Fixed with New Driver Update

If you have a Kepler GPU and noticed some problems while playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, you are not alone. Nvidia confirmed that there are some issues present with Kepler GPUs, but the company said it will address them with a new driver update soon.

This will be good news for Kepler owners, since it is said that they were experiencing low performance on the aforementioned graphics cards. But isn’t it a bit hilarious for Nvidia to have problems with its own hardware for a title that has been optimized for their graphics cards? I mean you even have Nvidia HairWorks in the game and there have been a lot of issues with AMD graphic card owners.

However, the AMD performance issues may or may not have been present for everyone. Even so, Nvidia and CD Projekt RED might have blew it with the latest patch, at least for Nvidia users. They wanted to add the improved graphics fans expected to see since launch, but brought a lot of problems with it. Even so, AMD users might see some performance upgrades in the near future too, having the company on the verge of releasing some new drivers for Witcher 3 and Project CARS.

Thank you DSOGaming for providing us with this information

Prosthetics Get a Huge Leap Forward with Brain-Powered Technology

A lot of research has been made in terms of prosthetic and the technology to use them as naturally as possible. So far, we’ve seen some pretty amazing ways advanced prosthetics make use of hydraulics and computerized algorithms to simulate limbs and use them more naturally. However, they also cam with limitations in terms of how you could use them.

However, an Icelandic company by the name of Ossur might have propelled this technology far beyond everyone could hope. I’m talking about using prosthetics with the power of your mind. This apparently was the idea over at Ossur, who is now making large-scale clinical trials with its technology.

Ossur’s prosthetics plans to replace today’s prosthetics with their advanced technology, which apparently requires nothing more than a small 15-minute surgery to get the controller in place. After that, people are said to be able to use their prosthetics like they were their own limbs.

The lag between impulses is said to also be significantly small, which they say can improve the performance and health of existing muscle and biological limbs by using the prosthetics more naturally compared to other lower-tech stuff.

If you are worried about battery life or that you need to have it replaced periodically, don’t be. Ossur states that no battery power is required to operate the prosthetic and once the implant is made, it’s there for life.

Past small-scale trials are said to have passed significantly well, with a lot of hope for this next large-scale trial they are currently involved in. Now let’s just hope this is something our health insurance policy will cover in the future.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Ossur.com

Chrome Users Rejoice! RAM And Battery Improvements In The Works!


Google Chrome is one of the big Internet browsers. With users loving its speed, its popularity has grown, with the use of extensions and cloud synced settings letting users customise their browsing experience, but at what cost?

Google Chrome is known for two things: the fast speed and the dreadful memory hogging. For each tab of Google Chrome it takes up a space of RAM, quickly racking up how much memory the browser takes, this, however, is not the end of it with memory leaks affecting both open, active and closed tabs alike. This can quickly mean that your fast experience begins to slow and can freeze your computer. For mobile users, these problems are doubled as all the while these issues can quickly drain your battery resulting in no laptop and no internet.

But fear not, Aurimas_Chromium, an engineer for Chrome for Android stated that they are “actively working on reducing battery usage and we are looking into when Chrome is in the foreground and in the background”. He goes on to say that they are looking to improve start-up speeds and are targeting memory leaks and bloating.

Originally praised for its security and performance Chrome has become a common tool for a lot of users, both on their computers and on their mobiles. With potential fixes to memory and battery issues, Chrome could become a more stable and reliable tool on every device it hopes to reach.

Do you use Chrome? What’s the most important thing for you when you’re using a web browser?

Thank you The Inquirer and Reddit for providing us with this information.

Image Courtesy of WeeklyUps.

Xbox One Users May See Some GPU Optimizations Heading to Their Consoles Soon

There has been a lot of debate between PS4 and Xbox One users and which is best powerhouse console in terms of performance. The truth is that it all comes down to optimizations performed on the OS. Just like Apple makes their low-spec older devices run as smooth as the new ones, the same principle can be applied to every device running on an OS.

Microsoft tends to agree and it looks like the company is now drawing in some new staff to help out with improving the Xbox One graphics performance. According to their job listing, the company is looking for an experienced Software Engineer that has a lot of C and C++ experience and knows his stuff around DirectX, GPU performance optimization, HLSL, texture formats and compression.

The listing also states that, aside from the above, Microsoft’s ideal candidate is someone who can really push GPUs to their limit and get the best kick out of them. Also, the candidate is required to work closely with game developers in sorting out the glitches and low framerate issues that give headaches when trying to develop something with amazing graphics on Microsoft’s console.

What this means is that we can possibly look forward to some framerate increase and maybe even see that 1080p gameplay we are all looking forward to see on our consoles? Who knows. But fingers crossed either way.

Thank you GamingBolt for providing us with this information

AMD Reveals DirectX 12 Performance Stats in 3DMark Benchmark

Futuremark has released a new update for 3DMark that adds 3DMark API Overhead benchmark. It didn’t take long for AMD to get straight into showing its performance stats for the Radeon R9 290X graphics and the FX-8370 octa-core CPU scaling.

Futuremark has added draw calls on different APIs in its Overhead benchmark, having it support DirectX 11, DirectX 12 and Mantle on a single system. While AMD was keen on showing its performance on Mantle as well as the other APIs, it eventually followed Futuremark’s notes in not comparing GPUs from different vendors and stuck with only DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 performance statistics on the Radeon R9 290X and R7 260X.

DirectX 12 looks like it will also have a certain impact on multi-threaded CPU performance scaling, having the FX-8370 CPU managing to get DirecX 12 to scale with six cores compared to the limed two cores of the DirectX 11 API.

Though AMD’s statistics look very promising, these are still just benchmark results and real-world performance is usually something completely different. Even so, DirectX 12 and games powered by the latter API should be available by the end of the year.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information

Bloodborne Day One and Second Update Detailed

It looks like Bloodborne players will have to ready their internet connections for a day one patch on its launch date, on March 24th. The patch is set to weigh in at 2.7GB and is required for players who pre-ordered the title on PSN or for those buying the title digitally or physically in-stores; the patch is said to already be available for players who pre-ordered the game.

The 1.01 patch is said to bring some big features like the Chalice Dragon, as well as enable online play and add an option to either display the PSN name or character name in matches. Another thing to point out is that players will have their gaming performance improved with the update.

“The development team is currently exploring another patch for Bloodborne, seeking ways to improve load time duration, in addition to other performance optimizations and miscellaneous bug fixes.”

According to their statement above, From Software is looking into a second patch which will address some loading time issues. A release date for the second patch has not been revealed, but the developers state it will “roll out soon”.

Thank you NextPowerUp for providing us with this information

Atari Rushes to Fix Horrible Graphics in Upcoming RollerCoaster Tycoon

The latest trailer release for RolleCoaster Tycoon World displayed some unimpressive graphics, which is a worrying indicator to the effort went into making the game. This is why Atari plans on fixing its mistake with a new graphical overhaul.

“We have heard you and we concur; the trailer did not show the final game and the game everyone should expect from the RCT franchise,” reads the Atari blog post from late last week.

The title is still in pre-alpha stages and Atari states that the features and graphical fidelity will improve before the game is released. The company states that developer Area 52 will be updating the version of Unity, the engine in which the game is built on, from version four to five.

Atari also states that RCTW will benefit from more “realistic” art style, that will make the rides “feel like they can be found in real life. This means that there are more than just a few tweaks and improvements being made to the title.

However, the improvements may also cause a push-back on the release date for the game, having Atari stating that it will release RCTW when it knows that it’s ready.

Thank you KitGuru for providing us with this information

AMD Rolls Out Catalyst 15.3 Beta with FreeSync Support

AMD has just released its latest 15.3 Catalyst version with its AMD FreeSync Technology and additional Crossfire profiles for Project CARS, Battlefield Hardline, Total War: Attila and Ryse: Son of Rome.

The full features and resolved issues of the newest Catalyst driver can be viewed below:

AMD Freesync Support for single GPU product configurations

    • AMD Freesync technology support is now available for single GPU configurations. For more information on how Freesync works, FAQ’s and what products are currently supported, please visit the  Freesync Technology Page

Mixed Rotation Eyefinity now available on Radeon R9 285 series

    • AMD Radeon R9 285 now supports Mixed Rotation Eyefinity for “0” and “90” degrees rotations
    • More information on setup, configuration and support for this feature is available at the following link:

New Crossfire Profiles for:

    • Battlefield Hardline
    • Evolve
    • Far Cry 4
    • Lords of the Fallen
    • Project Cars
    • Total War: Attila

Crossfire Profile Updates for :

    • Alien Isolation
    • Assassin’s Creed Unity
    • Civilization – Beyond Earth
    • FIFA 2015
    • Grid Autosport
    • Ryse: Son of Rome
    • Talos Principle
    • The Crew

Important Note:

The AMD CrossFire profile for Dying Light is currently disabled in this driver while AMD works with Techland to investigate an issue where AMD CrossFire configurations are not performing as intended. An update is expected on this issue in the near future through an updated game patch or an AMD driver posting.

Resolved Issues:

    • [412702] Screens may blank out when enabling a 3×1 SLS with 3 HDMI monitors
    • [411847] Leadwerks : Project Manager crashes with a “Pure Virtual Function Call” error
    • [413076] Second Life : Rigged mesh objects are not rendered correctly when hardware skinning is enabled in the in game settings
    • [413392] Star Trek Online : Block corruption is experienced when MSAA is enabled in the in game settings
    • [410367] System hangs/BSOD upon resuming from S3/S4 sleep on AMD Radeon R9 285 configured in AMD CrossFire mode
    • [410293] With AMD CrossFire enabled, Timeout Detection Recovery (TDR) occurs during actual gameplay when YouTube Mix moves to the next song in Firefox
    • [407622] Screen tearing on enabling VSync with Alien: Isolation game
    • [407175] Catalyst Control Center Video Quality settings may not be available or retained if the “Enforce Smooth Video Playback” option is not selected on some AMD HD series GPU’s.
    • [410391] Primary display may not be retained after disabling Crossfire while in Eyefinity mode
    • [409705] Enabling or disabling Crossfire may lead to one side of the 4K MST display being shown as black
    • [410393] Minor stuttering may be seen in Dragon Age Inquisition on Single and Multi GPU configurations
    • [414660] Total War : Attilla – The game may hang during in game cinematics on certain Kaveri platforms with a separate discrete GPU
    • [414120] The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim : Fog / Clouds may flicker on Radeon HD 5800 series products

Download available from AMD.

The Top 10 Features of Microsoft’s Office 2016 Mac Preview

Microsoft is finally releasing a new redesigned version of its Office suite for Mac this year. The new suite is the first refresh of Microsoft Office for Mac since 2011, a 5 year gap during which Microsoft did not release any new version for Apple’s operating system.

The new Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook apps aim to bring the Office suit in par with the Windows version in terms of design and functionality. Being a preview version means that the apps are not perfect. However, Microsoft states that it will only use the user feedback to make a few minor tweaks and improvements, which leads to believe that the final product will be more or less how it looks and feels now.

The top 10 features of Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac, as highlighted by Mashable, includes a Full Screen View Support, clearly emphasising that Office 2016 for Mac is truly built for Yosemite and can switch from windowed to full screen, compared to its predecessor which could not.
https://zippy.gfycat.com/EnchantingImpoliteGenet.webm

Microsoft has also made some design changes and redesigned the Ribbons, making a consistency between both Windows and Mac version. These are now the same on both operating systems.
https://zippy.gfycat.com/CalmCarelessCoyote.webm

The suite now lets you share your documents with easy through the Sharing button in the upper right corner. Documents shared via link can even be opened directly from the email.
https://zippy.gfycat.com/FoolhardyExaltedAngora.webm

Sharing a document with a collaborator now allows you to have Threaded Conversations within comments in Word and Powerpoint. Though it is not as good as in Google Drive, it does show that Microsoft is moving forward into the right direction.
https://zippy.gfycat.com/ThoroughUntriedGonolek.webm

Microsoft has also included a new Formula Builder in its latest version, making it easier to use Excel’s formula functions in your work.
https://zippy.gfycat.com/FirsthandBigAdder.webm

Powerpoint has also received an improvement in terms of transitioning, having Microsoft adding a variety of Transitions and a separate panel for managing animations within the presentation.
https://zippy.gfycat.com/AffectionateDelightfulCoati.webm

One key feature most people using a Mac and frequently require Powerpoint will find extremely useful is the Presenter View, which lets users see the entire slide deck, note, and a timer, while an external display beams the current slide to the audience.
https://zippy.gfycat.com/IndelibleTintedGartersnake.webm

Microsoft has also added a nifty feature, namely Removable Palettes, for those who desire to customize the Office apps view to better suit their needs
https://zippy.gfycat.com/MedicalTangibleEstuarinecrocodile.webm

The OneNote app has not been forgotten as well, having it come with a Tags function which makes it easy to quickly categorize notes by topic.
https://zippy.gfycat.com/TeemingAcidicCurlew.webm

Lastly, Outlook has suffered some minor improvements as well, having added the Conversations feature which allows users to sort their inbox by conversations, in addition to date, attachments, priority level and other categories.
https://zippy.gfycat.com/ScratchyClearcutGhostshrimp.webm

Microsoft’s Office 2016 Preview for Mac can be downloaded from here.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information

Unity 5 Released, Including Fully Featured Free Version!

Unity 5 is finally here! This has proven to be a quick response to Epic’s shocking shift in making Unreal Engine 4 free last weekend. Unity 5 brings “over a thousand” improvements, including making the engine 64-bit and adding support for 21 platforms.

In terms of more detailed improvements, the team at Unity call the new engine a “graphical powerhouse”. What they mean by this is that there have been a lot of changes in terms of rendering:

  • Physically-based Standard Shader
    • The new Standard Shader will make your materials look consistent in any lighting environment, across mobile, high-end desktop, and consoles. Apply it across 95% of the materials in your game, such as metal, plastics, wood, ceramics and cloth. Use it together with the new HDR Skybox, Reflection Probes and Global Illumination System to create stunning visuals.
  • Real-time Global Illumination
    • Animate lighting with Real-time Global Illumination built on Geomerics Enlighten technology. Achieve dynamic lighting treatments on high-end mobile, desktop and consoles, and for lower-end devices, create beautifully detailed results with baked artwork.
  • HDR Reflection Probes
    • Enhance visual fidelity with our new HDR Reflection Probes. Add richer detail by having any object realistically reflect its surroundings. Reflection Probes are easy to implement—just place a probe at any location in your scene to sample reflections for its surrounding objects.

Moving further under the hood, we see some major changes in the Editor as well, having added a new audio mixer, enhanced animation workflows and PhysX 3.3:

  • The Audio Mixer
    • Now anyone can massively improve the audio in their game! Our new Audio Mixer brings nested mixing workflows, with snapshots to capture mixes in different areas of your project, plus industry-standard effects to add immersive new depths.
  • New Physics Engine
    • PhysX 3.3 brings massive performance improvements to 3D physics in Unity 5. New multithreaded simulation is available for platforms that support it, and there’s a new cloth component for character clothing. New wheel colliders bring better support for suspension and tire force simulation. Collision detection is improved and bake-free scaled MeshCollider support is added.
  • A more powerful Animator
    • We added more flexibility to the animation system. Add State Machine Behaviours to states to give precise control of script functions during animation. Anything in your game that requires some kind of State Machine-like logic can now use our visual editor live feedback. A new Asset Creation API is now exposed so animators can now create all sorts of tools to create and edit animation assets.

Other improvements include WebGL Preview, which is a preview of the deployment support for advanced 3D and 2D content in modern browsers. It aims at enhancing support for HTML5 and WebGL applications through Unity Web Player, stating that the new improvements will “deliver performance at native speeds”. Aside from WebGL, Unity 5 now supports iOS Metal Rendering, taking full advantage of iOS hardware in order to achieve greater detail, smoother performance and interactivity in games at a lower CPU usage cost.

Also, Unity 5 along with Oculus are working to “further boost the exceptional frame rates achievable with Unity on the Oculus”. This means we are going to see a lot of developers taking an interest in VR technology and in return, we should expect a lot of titles supporting the technology in the future.

In terms of new features, Unity 5 apparently is heading “to the clouds”. The team has prepared a new feature for developers, namely Unity Cloud Build, along with a set of game performance reporting tools and analytics:

  • Unity Cloud Build
    • Unity Cloud Build brings the magic of build automation to all Unity developers. Unity Cloud Build automates the creation and distribution of builds, by monitoring your team’s source control, and when changes are detected, it builds your project for multiple platforms in the cloud. Your whole team is kept updated with email notifications, making it easy for them to install builds on their devices with the tap of a button.
  • Game Performance Reporting
    • Game Performance Reporting is a new cloud service for Unity Professional customers that provides developers with new tools for improving game performance, starting with a preview of exception logging. Exception Logging captures exceptions in editor, development and release builds, and delivers detailed reports that can be read via a web dashboard.
  • Unity Analytics
    • Our new cloud-based analytics tool is currently in open beta. Unity Analytics provides you with powerful yet simple-to-understand tools that will help you understand your audience and get actionable insights into your players’ behavior. With that knowledge in hand, you can then improve your players’ gaming experience to boost retention, engagement and monetization.

Other improvements and additions are as following:

  • A 64-bit Editor to handle large projects
  • iOS 64-bit support
  • New Deferred Rendering
  • Graphics Command Buffers
  • Improved Linear lighting, HDR, Skybox and Cubemap workflows
  • Improved job scheduling system, plus a new CPU Timeline Profiler lets you see and investigate multicore usage
  • Improved NavMesh pathfinding system
  • Integrated SpeedTree support to create lush, rich and dynamic vegetation
  • New Frame Debugger to track down graphical issues in your projects
  • Improved Project Wizard
  • Updated Standard Assets
  • New UI and scripting APIs for AssetBundle Build system

Lastly, Unity 5 not only brings a lot of changes in terms of features, performance and improvements, but in terms of pricing as well. The team seems to be working with having two “goals” in mind:

Goal #1 — One of the founding principles of Unity is the idea that we work hard to solve very hard technical problems so our developers / users won’t have to. For this to be at all relevant, our best tools need to be a great value.

Goal #2 — Deep in Unity’s culture is the principle of Democracy. The goal is to price in such a way as to reflect our principles. Democracy is the principle we were founded on, and it means we do our best to put Unity in the hands of developers, Indies or Pros, that may not have the resources to pay for it. It’s about enabling most everyone to create with the best tools we can make. I won’t get too soppy in this post — but is an honor for me to work in a company so mission driven and principled.
Unity 5 Personal can be downloaded for free over at Unity’s website.

This is reflected in Unity 5’s pricing. This is why the Personal edition can be downloaded for free over at Unity’s website. However, the free version does not include the analytics, cloud, performance reporting and some other features. This is why the Professional edition comes with a subscription fee of $75/month.

However, the subscription fee mentioned above is just for Indie companies. There are three more subscription options, which include Enterprise, Education and Industry Solutions which are offered to bring the best subscription package for the job at hand. The pricing and more detail about the subscription packages can also be found on Unity’s website.

Sources: Unity Blog, Unity 5

China’s 4G now Capable of Double Speeds

Domestic 4G standard TD-LTE offerings in China have undergone a massive improvement in network speed. Testing sponsored by Shenzhen Mobile has come back with positive results about TD-LTE’s ‘enhanced version’ technology, allowing for 4G transfer rates to be doubled under field testing conditions.

These results were tested throughout various regions in China including Huaqiang North, Sakata, Lo Wu and Shenzhen. Results from these tests came back with a peak 218 M/sec rating, doubling the peak rate of data transfer from their old 4G testing. Reports claim that this was achieved through Shenzhen Mobile utilizing carrier aggregation technology, which is a global 4G advancement project – designed to carry out improvements as seen above.

These results are made more impressive by the fact that these speeds were reached even whilst in the shopping district of Shenzhen, surrounded by old buildings and containing a crowded mess of people, storefronts and dense infrastructure. This carrier aggregation technology hasn’t yet been placed into all handsets however. Samsung, ZTE and many other manufacturers are developing launch terminals to support this technology, whereas many major brands already have this support installed.

All of this news is quite exciting, 218 M/sec ratings whilst contained within a crowded environment is nothing to sniff at. But unfortunately for countries such as Australia, 4G still isn’t’ widely available. Not only do some carriers chose not to support 4G’s infrastructure in the first place, the signal strength and distance is rather poor – rendering the ability to use 4G practicality useless unless you’re located within a major cities CBD.

Here’s hoping that 4G signal technology is improved, or skipped entirely and moved to 4.5G – as we’ve already reported on.

Image courtesy of Blogspot

High-Tech Vending Machines To Support Wi-Fi and Bitcoin Payments

Vending machines have always been as a good friend to some people. Whether at work, in train station platforms or just passing by one in the most unexpected places, they are a sight for sore eyes when in need of a drink or just something to eat.

While time passes by, improvements are likely to be made. It seems that the old vending machine is next in line will be upgraded, at least in the United States. The news reports say that vending machines will not only be upgraded, but their product offerings will diversify. This means that instead of selling cheap candy and soda, customers should expect to buy everything from beauty products to electronics or even higher quality food from these new and improved vending machines.

A good example of such a high-tech machine comes from Denis Koci, having to roll out his Burritobox vending machines via his Box Brands companies. The vending machines are said to offer hand-rolled burritos which can be customized with sour cream, guacamole and other options. The company is also said to be interested in rolling out Pizzaboxes and other niche food vending machines, having them placed in shopping malls, near parks, or other locations where people are likely to buy something to eat.

From a techy point of view, some machines are said to also include Wi-Fi, touchscreens and even accept a variety of payments spanning from cash, credit cards and all the way to bitcoins. Some companies are said to even show some interest into releasing models with built-in webcams, allowing customers to take a picture and share it on their social media websites.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TweakTown

Mantle Officially Launched For Battlefield 4 While Catalyst 14.1 Rolls Out To The Public

AMD is finally ready to unveil the Mantle API to the public, along with new patches and drivers enabling the low-level API released today. To add more fuel on the already burning flame, AMD has finally released the Catalyst 14.1 beta drivers to the public as well, and can be downloaded from here.

At 4 AM EST, gamers were able to download a Mantle-enabled patch for Battlefield 4 through EA’s Origin service. At this stage, Battlefield 4 is the only full game that supports Mantle, although Oxide Games Mantle-enabled ‘StarSwarm’ demo is available through Steam for gamers that want to further evaluate Mantle performance on their systems. Another Mantle-enabled title, Thief, will be released in February.

AMD states that the API is “primarily designed to improve performance in scenarios where the CPU is the limiting factor”. Mantle makes “less of an impact” in GPU-bound situations, although the API does have “some built-in features to improve GPU-bound performance […] gains in these cases are largely dependent on how well Mantle features and optimizations are being utilized by the developer.”

The things to bear in mind here are, fist of all, that this is the initial release of Mantle, and AMD says the API will continue to evolve and improve in the months ahead. There’s a strong possibility AMD and their game partners will be able to squeeze more out of the API as it improves. Secondly, Mantle, like a number of AMD launches recently, is geared towards giving a better PC gaming experience to those on lower-end hardware. A performance kick for those with extremely fast CPUs and GPUs isn’t hugely important, whereas a 40% performance boost on slower hardware could be the difference between a playable and unplayable game.

Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information

Google Releases Dart 1.1, Improves JavaScript Performance

Google released its own JavaScript alternative, Dart, a couple of months ago, while claiming to be just as good if not better than the common JavaScript. While Dart is really good in its own V8 JavaScript engine, it did not perform as well when compiled with the help of its own dart2java tool in a normal JavaScript code. And since no browser do not use native Dart applications, it did not look so good.

But it seems that Google released a new version, Dart 1.1, which Google developer Seth Ladd states it fixed the performance problems with the converted JavaScript code. It now shows an increase of around 25% or more (depending on the benchmark) compared to previous code from Dart 1.0.

“Dart2js now generates JavaScript that performs as well as, if not better than, the idiomatic JavaScript equivalent,” Ladd wrote in his article.

Ladd also mentions that there is increasing interest in using Dart for server-side applications. The new Dart 1.1 comes with extra features, including support for large file, process signal handlers, file copy, as well as accessing the UDP networking protocol and terminal information, making it easier to write streaming media applications.

Furthermore, HTTP stack has been optimized, along with decrease in latency for various I/O operations. The Dart language spec as well as other documentation has also been updated to meet the new changes in the newer version.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information

NVIDIA Adds Twitch Integration In GeForce Experience 1.8.1 Release

The GeForce Experience 1.8 brought about major ShadowPlay updates that made the gameplay recording tool even better. It seems that Nvidia’s ShadowPlay has a bright future ahead and will probably put all current softwares that incorporate the same features in its ‘shadow’.

Therefore, NVIDIA comes forth with an update release, the GeForce Experience 1.8.1, which brings live Twitch Streaming to Shadowplay. Users can now broadcast their gameplay and commentary live to gamers worldwide without the need for any additional game capture hardware or software.

“Broadcasting to Twitch has become an integral part of the gaming experience,” said Brooke Van Dusen, Director of Business Development at Twitch. “We’re extremely excited to work with NVIDIA to make Twitch live streaming available to GeForce Experience users. ShadowPlay is revolutionary, providing high quality streams with almost no noticeable performance impact for our users.”

One great aspect of this new feature is that there will be no caps on your in-game frame rates. Additionally, Twitch ShadowPlay streaming has a minimal performance impact on frame rates thanks to the H.264 hardware encoder built into GeForce GTX 600 and 700 series desktop graphics cards.

Now you can use your gear’s full potential to stream content as you desire. For those who wish to download the new GeForce Experience update, here is a link to the newly released version.

Thank you SegmentNext for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of SegmentNext

Catalyst 13.11 Beta9.4 Graphics Driver Rolls Out

AMD has recently launched a new Catalyst driver update for its GPUs. Version 13.11 Beta 9.4 comes to fix the intermittent black screens or display loss observed on some AMD Radeon R9 290X and AMD Radeon R9 290 graphics cards.

The CrossFire scaling in the multi-player portion of Call of Duty: Ghosts has been improved and Enduro Technology profiles for XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Need for Speed Rivals have been updated. Besides the new features, this release packs all the previous fixes and additions presented by the AMD Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.2.

Version 13.11 Beta 9.4 will work with Windows 7, 8 and 8.1, on both 32 and 64 bit architectures. The beta driver pack will work for both the desktop and mobility versions. Bear in mind this is a beta version and as some problems may be fixed, other issues might occur. This is where the AMD’s Issue Reporting Form for Beta Drivers comes in, where all other bugs encountered may be submitted and fixed in later versions of the driver.

For anyone interested in trying the beta out, you can get the latest driver release from AMD’s website here for both desktop and mobility.

Thank you Softpedia for providing us with this information

Stored Passwords Now Secured In Google Chrome

Google takes security a step forward and finally adds a security feature in order to access the stored password inside the Google Chrome browser.

Up until now, the user stored passwords could be viewed by everybody whu had access to the computer at hand. That wouldn’t be very nice if your friend would like to steal your Facebook password and browse freely through your personal information, would it? Even worse if somebody stole your PayPal or other bank account information.

To access your saved passwords, a popup box now appears and prompts you with the password to authenticate before getting access to the stored passwords. This means the user needs to re-authenticate in order to access the part of the browser holding private user information, something that should have been added from the very start. To mention here is that the browser will keep the user authenticated for about 1 minute before prompting back with the popup box to re-authenticate.

Take note though, the feature is only available for Mac OS X at the moment, but a Windows version should be available in the newer Google Chrome builds.

Thank you NextPowerUp for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of NextPowerUp

Improved Battery Life For Microsoft Surface Pro 2 In New Firmware Update

As the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 released, users experienced poor battery performance when it comes to web browsing and video playback. Shortly after, Microsoft pushed an update that addressed the issue. What the update does is allowing the Marvell WiFi solution to drive down to even lower power states, conserving more power and hence improving battery life.

AnandTech performed tests on the Surface Pro 2 after updating to the newly released firmware and noticed a 16% increase when playing back video compared to the previous firmware tests made. Here is a screenshot with the updated benchmark results:

Also, Surface Pro 2 now manages better battery life than Surface 2. Microsoft told AnandTech that their internal target was over 8 hours, and this firmware update brings it up to snuff via a nearly 25% increase in battery life when performing a browsing battery life benchmark test. The screenshot below represents the benchmark results for this test.

A software update also rolled back the Surface Pro 2’s video drivers to an earlier version that is told to have fixed the display corruption on wake issue as well. Take note though that Surface 2 did not receive any similar battery life changing firmware update, hence no improvement for the device. Don’t fret though, as Microsoft could release one soon enough.

Thank you AnandTech for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of AnandTech

Facebook Exceeds Expectations With 874 Million Monthly Mobile Users

Due to mobile advertising, Facebook’s growth in Q2 substantially increased and continued to climb up and over the 1 Billion target. Moreover, the social network’s Analysts had their expectations exceeded with over $2.02 Billion in revenue for the Q3, 2013.

The key things to point out in Facebook’s growth are:

  • September averaged 728 million, a 25% increase year-over-year, with monthly active users up to 1.19 Billion
  • Mobile check-ins grew to 874 million monthly, a 45% year-over-year increase, and 507 million daily users compared to 819 million and 469 million for those sectors during Q2
  • Ads on users’ daily drivers accounted for 49% of all ad revenue in Q3 2013 compared to 41% last quarter
  • Revenue from ads on the whole is up 66% from Q3 2012 totaling $1.8 billion
  • Net income is at $425 million in this year’s Q3 in comparison to the net loss of $59 million the outfit saw during Q3 2012

These numbers show that the gap between mobile and total active users continues to draw closer with each passing three-month period as Facebook continues the mobile push and social media increasingly becomes a chore for handsets and tablets on-the-go.

If the current pattern holds, the fourth quarter report could show that over half of the outfit’s revenue is coming from mobile advertising, especially with Instagram ads on the way shortly for its 150 million monthly active users.

“The strong results we achieved this quarter show that we’re prepared for the next phase of our company, as we work to bring the next five billion people online and into the knowledge economy,” said founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. He also stated that 48 percent of daily Facebook users log-in on mobile which lends a big hand to those mobile ad numbers.

Facebook also shifts dedication to improving ads as the company focuses on “making money to make better services”. COO Sheryl Sandberg mentioned that Facebook and Instagram users spend more of their time on those two social networks on mobile, more specifically one user in every five minutes, than other popular streams like YouTube, Tumblr, Pandora and others combined in the US.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information.