Gaming news summary for August 27, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the thrice-weekly look at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN. In today's edition, CD Projekt managed to achieve over 6 million The Witcher 3 sales in six weeks, Rovio announces more job cuts, AMD reveals details of the Radeon R9 Nano GPU, and the creator of Gears of War unveils his latest project.
Radeon, Crucial, Patriot SSDs tested in this round
Round three of MacNN's SSD testing is complete. In this test, we took four non-Samsung SSDs requested by users to task, to see how well they did in a time-compressed environment with Apple's OS X 10.10.4 Trim implementation. So far, so good with all eight SSD's we've beaten on through artificial use patterns -- but with a single minor caveat.
Radeon R9 Fury X uses Fiji GPU, measures 7.5 inches long
AMD's highest-specification graphics cards have been replaced by a new frontrunner, with the chip producer also revealing a collection of more moderate graphics cards. The new R9 Fury series is headed up by the Fury X, a card that is claimed to not only have the highest GPU memory bandwidth ever, but also manages to scale the card's length down to an extremely small 7.5 inches.
High-end card memory increase coming, bonus game in top of 'Never Settle' offer
Those mulling over a purchase of an AMD video card might want to consider picking up one of the high-end models either soon or in the near future, as the company made some announcements that could sweeten the deal. AMD confirmed today that 8GB versions of Radeon 290X video cards are on the way, along with an offer that gives buyers of select cards a free copy of Civilization: Beyond Earth.
Online retailer pricing for high-end AMD cards drops up to $150 in some cases
Online retailers like Amazon and Newegg are showing new pricing levels for the top tier of Radeon video cards from AMD. Pricing for the high-end video cards has dropped as much as $150 in some cases, a move that could be interpreted as a reaction to the release of cheaper cards last month from its main competitor, Nvidia.
New SSD line starts AMD's 'one stop shop' for enthusiasts
AMD today announced its previously-rumored technology partnership with Toshiba-owned OCZ Storage Solutions for AMD Radeon-branded Solid State Drives (SSDs). Launching the range is the AMD Radeon R7 Series SSDs in 120GB, 240GB and 480GB capacities.
Cryptocurrency inflation prices for Radeon cards die down, slight price drop in March model
AMD announced this week that supply of the R9 series Radeon cards has finally caught up to demand. The catch-up means that inflated prices will lower to match the original list prices, set by the company after cards were gobbled up to aid in cryptocurrency mining. One model of card, however -- the R9 280 -- will see a slight decrease in price, even though it was only released in March.
AT&T cuts wireless data charges for individual customers without contact
AT&T has announced wireless data price cuts to individual customers that do not have annual service contracts. Done in an attempt to rival its competitor, T-Mobile, customers having one smartphone with no annual service contract will now pay $65 per month instead of $80 for a plan that features 2GB LTE wireless data, unlimited talk and text messaging, unlimited international messaging and 50GB of cloud storage. Those who have two smartphones will now pay $90 per month.
Mantle API to put developers in closer communication with GPU
After a short delay due to packing issues with the installer, the newest 14.1 beta version of the Catalyst drivers for AMD video cards has gone live this weekend. While most driver releases come and go without much fanfare, this specific driver release is important, as it features the first time consumers can get their hands on the highly-anticipated Mantle API.
Forum threads indicate unaddressed flaw in some AMD cards or Apple graphics software
Detective work and anecdotal evidence by users in an Apple Support Communities thread about problems with discrete graphics cards in some MacBook Pros has narrowed down a range of possible flawed cards (or flawed switching software controlling the cards' use) in machines from early 2011 that use Apple's automatic switching between an integrated graphics chipset and a built-in discrete AMD card. Owners with the AMD Radeon 6750M GPU seem to be the most affected, but other Radeon cards are involved as well.
New line of cards features some models with audio processing on-card
AMD today unveiled the AMD Radeon R9 290X, R9 290, R9 280X, R9 270X, R7 260X and R7 250 graphics cards. AMD also introduced Mantle and AMD TrueAudio technology, the latest innovations that provide both gamers and game developers with audio and performance enhancements for compatible games, as well as a more streamlined cross-platform development path.
New 8.2 teraflop GPU supports six displays, SLI
Origin PC has announced the launch of the new AMD Radeon HD 7990 dual GPU graphics card for its line of enthusiast hardware. Powered by AMD’s Graphics Core Next Architecture, the AMD Radeon HD 7990 features an astounding 8.6 billion transistors, 4,096 stream processors, 6GB DDR5 memory and up to 8.2 teraflops of computing power.
Supports CUDA, Windows, other platforms
EVGA has announced the GeForce GTX 680 Mac Edition, a new video card for the Mac Pro. The hardware uses 2GB of GDDR5 RAM, and includes four outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort 1.1, and two dual-link DVI connections. The card can also be used alongside Boot Camp and/or Windows, and supports standards including OpenCL and CUDA, which allow a video card to handle non-graphics tasks.
Claims framerate boosts as much as 200 percent or more
Component maker Sapphire has officially launched the Mac Edition of its Radeon HD 7950 video card. The add-on includes 3GB of GDDR5 memory, and is said to boost game framerates by as much as 200 percent or more, and general benchmark performance by about 30 percent. Graphics-heavy benchmarks are claimed to run up to 300 percent faster than possible with the NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT.
May hint at plans for updated Mac Pro
The first OS X 10.8.3 beta includes drivers for AMD's Radeon HD 7900-series video cards, the 7950 and 7970, notes Netkas.org. The cards aren't in any current Macs; they're in fact based on AMD's new Graphics Core Next architecture, and are each equipped with 3GB of DDR5 RAM. It's believed that Apple could be including the drivers for the sake of a new Mac Pro.
15.6-inch GX60 starts at $1,300, brings Windows 8, quad-core AMD CPU
MSI has shown off its latest gaming notebook, the Windows 8-powered, 15.6-inch GX60. It gets an AMD quad-core A10-series processor rated at 2.3GHz but that can operate at up to 3.2GHz and paired with AMD's Radeon HD 7970M GPU with 2GB of dedicated RAM. The 8GB of RAM can be upgraded to 16GB.
Digital Storm X17E will offer a choice of GTX 680M or Radeon 7970M GPUs
Digital Storm, maker of gaming-oriented desktops and notebooks, has just unveiled what it's calling the fastest gaming notebook. The X17E sports a 17-inch, 1080p display and will get either NVIDIA's GTX 680M or AMD's Radeon 7970M GPUs. The available Intel Core i7 3920XM can be overclocked to 4.5GHz.
New Ivy Bridge Dell desktop ranges ship in mid-May
In addition to making official the Special Edition 15R leaked earlier, along with the smaller 14R, Dell on Tuesday also announced XPS 8500 and Vostro 470 desktop PC families. Both feature Intel's third-generation Core-series processors, dubbed Ivy Bridge. Meant for gamers, graphics professionals, or movie editors, the XPS 8500 desktops are offered with either a 3.1GHz Quad Core i5 3450 or 3.4GHz Quad Core i7 3770.
Build To Order desktops feature new Intel chips
Epson has become the latest manufacturer to make computers based on Intel's Ivy Bridge chipset available to customers. On Tuesday, the manufacturer debuted a line of customizable, business-to-business oriented entry level desktops for the Japanese market.
AMD Radeon HD 7000M official
AMD offered its answer to NVIDIA on Tuesday through the Radeon HD 7000M. The 7700M, 7800M, and 7900M are the first parts to use Enduro, a live graphics switching technology like NVIDIA's Optimus. The implementation can flip between the Radeon and integrated graphics without having to reload or specify apps, and unlike NVIDIA's approach, can work with both AMD processors as well as Intel's.
Budget Digital Storm gaming rigs start at $800
Gaming PC maker Digital Storm has released a new range called Marauder that fills the entry level of the market. Housed in a Corsair Vengeance C70 tower, the base, Level 1, $800 model gets a quad-core, 3.6GHz AMD FX-4100 processor and a 1GB Radeon HD 7750 for graphics, along with 8GB of 1,600MHz RAM. Next up is the $1,000 Level 2, which sports a 3.1GHz AMD FX-8120 CPU and a Radeon HD 7770 graphics card.
Next-gen Xbox console to get 16-core CPU?
The next-generation Xbox console, which may or may not be called the Xbox 720, may be powered by a 16-core CPU, SlashGear reported on Friday. That CPU may be branded as IBM Power PC, and be paired with one or two GPUs that has comparable processing power to AMD's Radeon HD 7000. That power will be needed to run next-generation games and the Kinect successor, which is said to be able to read lips and fingertips as well as track multiple players and thus require at least four cores.
Zbox now includes 64GB SSD and AMD Fusion
Zotac has released a mini-PC called the Zbox Nano XS AD11 Plus. The 1.5-inch high computer boasts a 64GB SSD and AMD Fusion 1.65GHz dual core processor with Radeon HD 6320 graphics, along with its small size.
Toshiba introduces performance notebooks
Toshiba has brought out two new performance laptops alongside today's earlier affordable notebook announcement. The Satellite P800 series will be powered by Intel's Ivy Bridge processors and NVIDIA GeForce 630M discrete graphics, while the Satellite S800 series will have the choice of Ivy Bridge or AMD's most recent notebook processors with optional AMD graphics.
Sony VAIO E 14P remakes familiar design
Sony has quietly revamped its VAIO E in Europe to make real one of the CES prototypes we saw in January. The VAIO E 14P has a new, wrap-around design that makes the top surface look like one continuous shell. The white, black, and pink 14-inch PCs all have a new two-tone design with trim around the edges, keyboard, and trackpad in a contrasting color that sets off the design.
TSMC may have low 28nm supply for CPUs, GPUs
A new and potentially far-reaching rumor has had TSMC's 28-nanometer manufacturing capacity significantly hampered for about half of the year. Supply was said by Digitimes, which has a mixed track record, to be tight enough that it wouldn't clear up until the end of the summer. The shortage was enough that it was purportedly forcing AMD, NVIDIA, and Qualcomm to all limit their releases or find alternative suppliers.
PS Orbis may use both dedicated and integrated GPU
Sony's PlayStation Orbis may have had some of its specifications firmed up through an unusually detailed rumor. The next-generation combo is now believed by IGN to be using one of AMD's current higher-end processors, the quad-core 2.9GHz A8-3850, with the as yet unannounced Radeon HD 7670. While the graphics would be considered low-end by modern standards, the A8's integrated Radeon HD 6550D video might be used in an asynchronous pairing to offload some tasks.
Next Xbox may lean on graphics and DRM
A currently uncertain but unusually detailed rumor Monday has Microsoft's next-generation Xbox making aggressive decisions on hardware. Multiple tips to VG24/7 supported AMD's hints of movie-quality 3D graphics with claims there would be two Radeon HD 7000 graphics cores. Rather than simply pair them up to form a single virtual card, as with AMD's usual CrossFire, it would have each core rendering separate objects in the same scene.
PlayStation 4 gets possible major new leak
Gradually mounting talk of early PlayStation 4 plans culminated Wednesday with a potentially telling rumor. Believed to be codenamed Orbis or "circle," possibly to make it part of a "circle of life" with the Vita, the system outlined to Kotaku would not just break from using the Cell processor but from the entire Power and NVIDIA graphics combo. Instead, it would reportedly use a 64-bit, x86-based AMD processor as well as graphics based on AMD's Southern Island core, used in the Radeon HD 7700 series and up.
NVIDIA GeForce 600 Kepler graphics official
NVIDIA formally brought its Kepler graphics core to the market Thursday, starting with its desktop line. The GeForce GTX 680 introduces new multiprocessing core groups known as SMX; they reportedly provide twice as much performance for the same energy as the GeForce 500 series. With three times as many cores as its ancestor (1,536), 2GB of 256-bit GDDR5 memory, and a 1GHz base clock, it's purportedly 43 percent faster in a game like Skyrim than AMD's Radeon HD 7970, even as it uses 28 percent less power.
Linux 3.3 released with a plethora of changes
The Lunix 3.3 kernel was released this past weekend, bringing with it a number of changes and, notably, the ability to run Android or its apps. An interview with a newly minted Fellow of the Linux Foundation member, Greg KH, by MuktWare reveals that while the new release will let users boot into the Android userspace without modifications, power management isn't very good. Some of the other changes include better general power management, Radeon HD 5000 HDMI audio support, more driver support, and a number of other, more complex changes.
HP Pavilion dv4, dv6, dv7, g4 show future chips
HP has inadvertently confirmed plans from both AMD and Intel for future processors through a slew of notebook listings. The Pavilion dv4, dv6, and dv7 all have Intel's Ivy Bridge inside. The smaller two systems are using the quad 2.3GHz Core i7-3610M, while the dv7 has a similarly four-core 2.6GHz Core i7-3720QM.
GeForce GTX 680 to get 2GB of RAM, have 195W TDP?
Some early specs and an image of NVIDIA's upcoming GeForce GTX 680 graphics card have been leaked thanks to China's PCOnline and ChipHell. It will be the company's first based on the 28nm architecture and reportedly sport a clock speed of 1,006MHz, but can be overclocked to 1,058MHz for short bursts. There are also said to be 1,536 visual processing cores onboard, along with 2GB of RAM on a 256-bit memory bus.
AMD rounds out Radeon HD 7000 with 7800 boards
AMD put the last touches on the Radeon HD 7000 line Monday with the Radeon HD 7850 and 7870 GHz Edition (links active soon). The two aim directly at the mid-range for gamers and are roughly twice the complexity of the 7700 line. The decision gives the 7850 and 7870 a respective 1,024 and 1,280 stream (visual effects) cores, 64 and 80 texture units, and a common 256-bit memory bus with 4.8GHz GDDR5 memory.
Apple turned down AMD over Llano time rame
A potentially major rumor has asserted that Apple was at one point investingating using AMD's Llano architecture mobile processors in the MacBook Air. The company had the kind of power and performance Apple wanted, Forbes heard, but had trouble producing chips in time for the 2011 update. As its former manufacturing wing and now partner GlobalFoundries was adapting to make the Fusion-based chips, where the graphics core is part of the processor itself, it was having trouble generating useful test yields.
No hacks required
The developer preview of OS X Mountain Lion already supports some more recent AMD and NVIDIA video cards without any tweaks, according to forum posts by so-called Hackintosh users. Several posts from the Netkas.org forums indicate that an AMD Radeon 6950 running Netkas EFI will work natively in Mountain Lion. One even claims that a 6950 will continue to work after "warm booting back to Lion from Mountain Lion."
AMD exec to kickstart Qualcomm Adreno graphics
AMD's recently departed graphics CTO Eric Demers is now thought to have jumped ship for Qualcomm. An insider connection talking to The Inquirer said the graphics expert had made the hop "under good terms," but partly in the view that Qualcomm wasn't seen as a direct competitor. Intel and NVIDIA may have tried to poach him in the past.
AMD unveils Radeon HD 7700 series
AMD took its Radeon HD 7000 series to the starter level quickly on Wednesday. The Radeon HD 7750 and 7750 GHz Edition step back in visual processor counts versus the 6700 line, from 720 and 800 cores to 512 and 640 respectively, but make up for it through more than a year's worth of technology. Both the new overall architecture and a shrink to a leaner 28 nanometer building process let the 7750 and 7770 climb to 800MHz and 1GHz core speeds (up from 700MHz and 850MHz).
Alienware M18X R2 gets more graphics option
More leaks have surfacesd around the upcoming Alienware M18X R2 that have outlined its potential graphics power. The two higher-end graphics cores, the as-yet unannounced Radeon HD 7970M and GeForce GTX 675M, will both be available in twin-chip setups for very high-end systems if Dell-Lab's historically accurate tips are right. A GeForce GTX 660M would occupy the bottom and might be the only graphics without a dual-chip option in the 18-inch gaming notebook.
AMD CTO Eric Demers leaves for non-GPU firm
Another AMD executive departure has fueled speculation Tuesday. Graphics division CTO Eric Demers is known to be exiting the chip designer as of February 17. Former Apple executive and current primary CTO Mark Papermaster would temporarily take over during his absence.
AMD hints openness to ARM
AMD in conversations at the end of the week wouldn't discount the possibility of making ARM-based processors. When pressed by Wired, CTO and former Apple executive Mark Papermaster made the unusual non-denial that "the answer is not no." The company's long-term plans were aiming for a modular chip design that could drop in ARM or another architecture without losing Radeon graphics or other AMD-specific touches.
AMD Radeon HD 7950 targets more common gamers
AMD has hoped to corner the more widely accessible range of high-end video cards Tuesday by unveiling the Radeon HD 7950. It trims back slightly from the range-leading 7970 with 1,792 visual processing cores instead of 2,048, 112 texture units instead of 128, and both 800MHz core and 1.25GHz memory clock speeds versus the 925MHz and 1.38GHz of its counterpart. The chipset is still powerful enough to handle 4K video and carries the 384-bit memory bus and 3GB of video RAM.
NVIDIA said pushing Kepler, trashing Radeon 7900
NVIDIA was accused this week of using dishonest marketing to try to skew gamers towards its next-generation Kepler graphics hardware. Posters in the ChipHell forums claiming to have details of the new graphics core were reportedly discovered to be NVIDIA marketers. They made bold claims about Kepler's prices and performance in what appeared to be an attempt to downplay AMD's Radeon HD 7900 line.
Lenovo puts up IdeaPad Y470p for sales
Lenovo has stepped up its gaming credentials by quietly taking orders for the IdeaPad Y470p. The 14-inch notebook swaps out NVIDIA's low-end GeForce GT 520M video of the regular Y470 for a mid-range AMD Radeon HD 7690M, giving it an edge in 3D games. The 2.2GHz quad Core i7 and 8GB of RAM help keep the system running at full pace.
New Xbox could see Microsoft jump to Blu-ray
The third-generation Xbox could mark a symbolic switch in storage but also a step back for game ownership. Kotaku understood from a rumor source that it would keep an optical drive but jump to Blu-ray, allowing it to hold larger games and play offline HD movies. For Microsoft, it would be the footnote to the HD disc debate of the mid-2000s, where the company officially backed HD DVD but was forced to drop plans after Toshiba axed the format and eventually supported Blu-ray.
Xbox 360 sequel may use Radeon HD 6670
A culmination of rumors may have given the first clearer picture of the next-generation Xbox's hardware. A tip to IGN has the system using graphics hardware roughly equivalent to AMD's Radeon HD 6670. Although strictly a mid-range graphics chip on the desktop, it would allegedly be about six times faster than the Xbox 360's 2005-era video.
Sony preps spring 2012 VAIO refresh
Sony in a post-CES update has tweaked several of its VAIO notebooks for the spring. The VAIO Z now has the option of 4G LTE access on Verizon, making it one of the first full-powered notebooks with the choice. The $1,950 ultraportable now comes in a Carbon Fiber Silver color and gets newer Core i5 and i7 processors from the late 2011 upgrade.
AT&T ships Aspire One 722 for $40 on contract
AT&T just revealed it has began selling Acer's 11.6-inch Aspire One A0722 netbook. The dual-core, 1GHz AMD C-50 system sports a full-sized keyboard and can connect to the carrier's HSPA+ network. A six-cell battery may give it long battery life, although it's not known by how long.
Surface SUR40 arrives a year later
Microsoft on Monday confirmed that the first Surface 2.0 table, the Samsung Surface SUR40, was shipping. Coming out a year after it was first shown, the multi-touch table introduces optics in the panel itself that can see objects and react accordingly. It can now react to as many as 50 simultaneous contact points and uses a quicker 2.9GHz AMD Athlon II X2, a Radeon HD 6700M graphics chip, and runs on Windows 7.
Samsung 9 Series desktop, WB150, and QF20 at CES
Samsung had a few extra stand-out devices at its CES booth this past week, and we got to try many of them. The Series 9 All-In-One PC is effectively Samsung's answer to the 27-inch iMac. Whatever you think of Samsung's affinity for Apple design, the 9 is certainly unique just from aesthetic perspective: it uses Samsung's distinctive asymmetric look and tucks all of the computer into the base, leaving the display itself to be less than half an inch thick.