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Game

NVIDIA’s DLSS 3 promises higher frame rates for CPU-intensive games

NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 40 series GPUs won’t just rely on brute force to deliver high-performance visuals. The company has unveiled Deep Learning Super Sampling 3 (aka DLSS 3), a new version of its AI-based rendering accelerator. Rather than generating ‘only’ pixels, the third-gen technology can create entire new frames independently. It’s a bit like the frame interpolation you see (and sometimes despise) with TVs, although this is clearly more sophisticated — NVIDIA is improving performance, not just smoothing out video.

The technique relies on both fourth-gen Tensor Cores and an “Optical Flow Accelerator” that predicts movement in a scene by comparing two high-resolution frames and generating intermediate frames. As it doesn’t involve a computer’s main processor, the approach is particularly helpful for Microsoft Flight Simulator and other games that are typically CPU-limited. A new detail setting in Cyberpunk 2077 runs at 62FPS in 4K resolution using DLSS2 in NVIDIA’s tests, but jumps beyond 100FPS with DLSS 3.

Roughly 35 apps and games will offer DLSS 3 support early on. This includes Portal RTX, older titles like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and releases based on Unreal Engine 4 and 5.

It’s too soon to say how well DLSS 3 works in practice. NVIDIA is choosing games that make the most of DLSS, and the technology might not help as much with less constrained titles. Nonetheless, this might be useful for ensuring that more of your games are consistently smooth. Provided, of course, that you’re willing to spend the $899-plus GPU makers are currently asking for RTX 40-based video cards.

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Game

‘Phantom Hellcat’ promises hack-and-slash action with 2D and 3D mechanics

Sometimes, a game trailer just catches your eye. Phantom Hellcat is the first title in an original hack-and-slash universe from Ironbird Creations, a new studio under Ghostrunner and Chernobylite publisher All in! Games. Phantom Hellcat is a perspective-shifting action game that blends fantasy and pop culture, starring a young woman named Jolene on a mission to save the world from an encroaching evil force. You know, classic action fare.

The interesting bit of Phantom Hellcat is its shifting perspective, which transitions from 2D platforming to 3D close-quarters battling. The game has a skill tree, upgradeable masks with varying abilities and secrets to find in each level. Developers at Ironbird drew inspiration from the Nier series, which is a fantastic starting point for this type of experience.

Phantom Hellcat is coming to PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC at some point — there’s no solid release date yet, but it’s available to wishlist on Steam.

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Game

Respawn pulls Titanfall from sale with vague promises for the future

Respawn Entertainment today announced that it has delisted Titanfall, effectively removing it from sale. Titanfall was the first game Respawn Entertainment made as a new studio back in 2014, and now it seems the title is being retired. It isn’t all bad news, though, as those who own the game will still be able to play it even after it disappears from storefronts.

Respawn/Electronic Arts

Respawn pulls the game that started it all

Respawn announced its decision to pull Titanfall in a statement published to Twitter today. “We’ve made the decision to discontinue new sales of the original Titanfall game starting today and we’ll be removing the game from subscription services on March 1, 2022,” Respawn said. “We will, however, be keeping servers live for the dedicated fanbase still playing and those who own the game and are looking to drop into a match.”

Even though Titanfall has disappeared from storefronts and will vanish from streaming services next year, the servers are going to stay live so those who already own the title can continue playing it. While we’re sure most people who wanted to play Titanfall have already purchased the game, those who missed the chance to buy the digital version always have used disc copies they can pick up.

It’s a little bit strange to see Respawn pull Titanfall from storefronts while keeping the servers up and running. Still, if the game has a decent number of players routinely dropping into multiplayer, Respawn probably didn’t want to risk losing consumer goodwill by turning the servers off.

What’s next for the Titanfall series?

After announcing that Titanfall will be delisted, Respawn went on to assure fans that the game won’t be forgotten. “Rest assured, Titanfall is core to Respawn’s DNA and this incredible universe will continue,” the studio said. “Today in Titanfall 2 and Apex Legends, and in the future.”

That part is particularly interesting because it suggests there’s more Titanfall to come. Though the original Titanfall and its sequel have garnered a sizable fanbase, these days, Respawn’s attention is on Apex Legends – a free-to-play battle royale title set in the Titanfall universe that is fairly distinct from a gameplay perspective.

The success of Apex Legends (and the rise of the battle royale genre as an alternative to traditional FPS games) has prompted some Titanfall fans to assume the series is largely over and that we won’t see another Titanfall game in the future. Respawn’s statement today possibly suggests otherwise, though it’s too vague to say for sure.

Still, it’s always possible that Respawn is removing Titanfall from sale because it has something new with the franchise in the works. Until we get confirmation of any such plans, it’s probably safe to assume the company is simply removing the game to focus on Apex Legends. We’ll let you know if Respawn announces anything major in the future, so stay tuned for more.



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Game

GTA Trilogy returns to PC as Rockstar promises performance fixes

It’s been a pretty wild ride for owners of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition on PC. Shortly after the game launched last week, Rockstar pulled both it and the Rockstar Games Launcher offline. While the Launcher came back a day later, the game was down for most of the weekend. The PC version is back now, but there’s still a lot of work left to be done on the game across all platforms.

GTA Trilogy and the story so far

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition launched on various platforms on November 11th. Unfortunately, later that day, Rockstar took both the PC version of the game and the Rockstar Games Launcher offline for maintenance, and the Launcher was offline for more than a day. This was particularly problematic because many of Rockstar’s modern PC games rely on the Launcher to function, even those that aren’t sold directly by Rockstar.

This means that Steam versions of GTA Online and Red Dead Redemption 2 were inaccessible while the Rockstar Games Launcher was offline. At the same time this was happening, Rockstar stopped selling the PC version of the GTA Trilogy, removing the listing for it from its website.

Initially, Rockstar didn’t explain why the GTA Trilogy had been removed from sale, but as the weekend was getting underway, the company’s support account published another tweet saying that it was working to “remove files unintentionally included in these versions.” This was revealed as the Rockstar Games Launcher came back online for PC users. Now the PC version of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is playable once more for those who already own it and available for purchase from Rockstar’s website for those who don’t.

Still a long way to go

If you were planning to buy the GTA Trilogy on PC, you might want to pump the brakes and hold off for now even though the game is up for sale again. Ever since launch, users across all platforms have reported various issues with the game, from remastered character models that are shockingly bad in some cases to performance problems.

These issues seem to exist in the GTA Trilogy regardless of the platform, and it’s led to abysmally low user review scores on Metacritic. Every version of the GTA Trilogy has a user score below 1.0 on Metacritic at the time of this writing, with the Xbox One version sporting the lowest at 0.4.

That, as you might imagine, is not great, but in the tweet announcing the PC version’s return, Rockstar also says that it is “working to improve and update overall performance as we move forward.” There are no concrete details on when Rockstar plans to deliver an update to the GTA Trilogy, but judging by some of the replies to that tweet, there’s a lot to fix. We’ll update you when Rockstar shares more, but for now, it might be a good idea to put the GTA Trilogy down and spend time with other games as we wait on the company to start pushing out fixes.

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AI

Intel promises industry will meet or exceed Moore’s law for a decade

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger Wednesday promised that the semiconductor industry would meet or beat Moore’s law (the rule of thumb saying that processing power doubles every two years) for the next decade.

The remarks are significant because many in the industry have assumed Moore’s law is no longer valid, and that software is destined to make more advances in efficiency than hardware.

After it took 12 years to scale up from petascale to exascale computing, Gelsinger said he is challenging his team to get to the next order of magnitude, zettascale, within five years.

He made the remarks in a brief video interview with Intel cofounder Gordon Moore included in Intel Innovation, an event designed by Intel to rekindle excitement about Intel products in the developer community.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldm4T5IIqVE

Innovating for developers

Gelsinger and other company leaders made their pitch to serve the most extreme requirements of hyperscale cloud vendors while also promising to make advanced capabilities available for all.

Even the introductory customer video that played before the keynote included references to Intel “finally” paying attention to developers again.

“Clearly, we’ve got some work to do,” Gelsinger said.

Meanwhile, the seesaw movement of networks from being centralized around mainframes, then distributed to PCs, then becoming more centralized in the cloud (a trend likely to continue for the next few years) will swing back toward decentralization with edge computing bringing intelligence as close as possible to the user, Gelsinger said.

Performance for enterprise

More specific announcements included Intel’s partnership with Google on the development of its Mount Evans intelligent processor unit (IPU) and an associated infrastructure programmer development kit for making networking and datacenter infrastructure programmable. And while that might seem a capability designed by a cloud vendor for use by cloud vendors, sophisticated enterprises like financial services firms are already taking advantage of programmable infrastructure technologies like the Intel Tofino 3 fabric processor for network switches and the P4 language for network programming to achieve high performance for applications like high-frequency trading, according to Nick McKeown, senior VP, general manager, and Senior Fellow with Intel’s  Network and Edge Group.

These technologies will allow organizations to modernize how they manage networks and datacenters, McKeown said. For example, suppose your network is dropping packets. “We’ve been using ping and traceroute to diagnose network problems since I was a student,” he said, but often such techniques don’t capture transitory problems that might happen in the space of milliseconds.

Now it becomes possible to program every element of the network and server infrastructure, McKeown said. “You just write a small program, running in the IPU or the switches, and you can decide whether you need it running all the time or just when needed — because it’s just a program,” he said.

And these programs can run at “line speed,” meaning no degradation in performance, he said. “This would have been unimaginable just a few years ago because it would have come at such an expense in terms of loss of throughput,” McKeown added. Such work does require a pretty sophisticated programmer, but organizations with high performance requirements are willing to do it, he said.

AI for more people

At the same time, Intel is working to make sophisticated computing capabilities like machine learning accessible to more people, with initiatives like oneAPI toolkits and the OpenVINO AI inference engine for Intel processors. “We’re making this technology more accessible with low-code to no-code development tools,” said Sandra Rivera, executive VP and general manager of the Datacenter and AI group at Intel. “I like to say it’s the AI you need on the processor you have.”

Intel aims to further ramp up the broad availability of AI with Sapphire Rapids, the code name for its next generation Xeon processor, which it is promising will deliver a 30X performance boost. That means AI developers will be able to work with a general purpose processor “and not the expensive and power-consuming accelerators we have in the market today,” Rivera said.

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Game

FIFA 22 promises to deliver realistic gameplay in October

Team contact sports might be one of the most challenging video games to make when it comes to simulating reality. In addition to the AI controlling players on both sides, players have become more discerning and demanding when it comes to imitating the fluid and sometimes unpredictable movement of athletes, especially those that are supposed to mimic real-life people. That is the challenge that EA Sports is rising to meet with FIFA 22 and its “next-gen HyperMotion” tech that will be launching next quarter.

Gone are the days when sports video games like basketball and football (soccer for the US) looked like janky caricatures of the real thing. Realism has always been a goal for this genre, and today’s games sometimes look like they’re straight out of a live sports event. There’s always room for improvement, though, and that’s what EA is bragging about FIFA 22.

New to this latest installment in the long-running football franchise is HyperMotion, combining motion capture of 22 pro players and everyone’s favorite secret sauce, machine learning. This proprietary system learns from 8.7 million frames of match captures and writes new animation in real-time, according to EA Sports. The promise is a more realistic-looking game that almost looks and feels like the real thing.

Beyond the motion aspects, FIFA 22 will also deliver upgrades across the board, including an overhaul of the goalkeeper system. FIFA Ultimate Team, a.k.a. FUT, is, of course, an important part of the game’s appeal, and the new FUT Heroes brings new items for fans of the sport to collect.

FIFA 22 launches on October 1 on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PC (Origin and Steam), Stadia, and even on the PS4 and Xbox One. There are still a lot of questions that are left unanswered, however, like long-awaited cross-play support. There might also be some apprehension and caution for this year’s FIFA title, given how the previous installment was mired in loot box controversy.

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Security

Elon Musk Promises Tesla App Will Soon Get Improved Security

Tesla boss Elon Musk has said on a number of occasions that two-factor authentication is coming to the Tesla app, but car owners are still waiting.

Responding recently to a customer inquiry asking if it will ever land, Musk acknowledged that the absence of the security measure is somewhat surprising for a company of Tesla’s status.

The CEO apologized for the delay, saying the feature was “embarrassingly late,” adding, “Two-factor authentication via SMS or authentication app is going through final validation right now.”

For those not in the know, two-factor authentication, as the description suggests, is a security feature that requires someone to input two forms of identification to access a smartphone app or some other online service. In most cases, when logging in, you’ll first enter your password, after which the service you’re trying to access will send a one-time code to your phone to enter as the second part of the log-in process. Alternatively, you might be asked to use an authenticator app, which serves up a one-time code to enable you to complete the log-in process.

The Tesla app allows owners to lock or unlock their vehicle from a distance, control the air conditioning before climbing in, flash lights and honk the horn when parked (for locating it), and vent/close the panoramic roof, among other things.

With the app an integral part of the Tesla experience, it would certainly give customers peace of mind if they knew that it had another layer of security attached.

Musk’s personal acknowledgement of the absence of two-factor authentication, and revelation that it’s in the final stages of development, suggests that its arrival is imminent.

These days, most online services that involve a login process offer the customer a chance to set up two-factor authentication for improved security. If you haven’t already done so, it’ll be worth diving into the security settings for any service that you use and taking a few minutes to set it up.

Editors’ Choice






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Tech News

Arm v9 promises ray tracing for smartphones and a big performance boost

Arm said Tuesday that ray tracing and variable rate shading will migrate from the PC to Arm-powered smartphones and tablets as part of Armv9, the next-generation CPU architecture that the company expects will power the next decade of Arm devices. Chips based upon the v9 architecture will be released in 2021, providing an estimated 30-percent improvement in performance over the next two Arm chip generations and the devices that run them.

Arm’s v9 will also add SVE2, new AI-specific instructions that will probably be used for the AI image processing used on smartphones, such as portrait mode. Arm v9 will also include what Arm is calling Realms, a hardware container of sorts specifically designed to protect virtual machines and secure applications. 

As an intellectual-property licensing company, Arm enjoys a unique position in the computing industry. Phones, tablets, and servers never include chips directly made by Arm; instead, companies like Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple, and others sign licensing agreements wirh Arm, giving them the freedom to manufacture chips designed by Arm, or tweak them to create their own customized designs. Kevin Jou, the chief technology officer of Mediatek—whose chips typically appear in Chromebooks and low-end smartphones—predicted that his company will have an Arm v9 chip by the end of 2021.

Though Arm has been the engine powering smartphones for several years, Apple’s release and conversion to Arm-powered M1 Macs propelled it into the spotlight—and Apple, presumably, will incorporate the v9 architecture at some point. Arm is also making its way through an involved acquisition process by which it hopes to be purchased by Nvidia, a timeline that will overlap with the v9. 

Arm’s v9 architecture will intersect with 2021’s “Matterhorn,” the successor to the Cortex-X1/A78 smartphone CPU Arm introduced in 2020, and “Makalu,” the 2022 core that follows Matterhorn. It’s the latter core that will represent the 30-percent increase, Arm said. Arm also releases a new Mali GPU every year, an Arm spokesman said.

Arm chief executive Simon Segars noted that the 30-percent performance improvement estimate was limited to instructions-per-clock improvements. If a Samsung or Apple tweaks the clock speed or the design, performance could further increase.

arm roadmap Arm

Arm’s Neoverse processors are designed for cloud servers and data centers, while the Cortex A-series chips will end up in smartphones and Arm-powered PCs.

“What’s great about all of this CPU and system performance, is that it applies equally to notebook performance, as it does to mobile performance,” added Peter Greenhalgh, vice-president of technology at Arm, during a presentation to reporters and analysts.

That’s not a trivial claim. Arm lies at the heart of both the most powerful supercomputer in the world—Japan’s Fugaku, with 7,630,848 Arm A64FX cores—as well as Cortex-M powered wearables from Sony, Huawei, and others, and everything in between. Arm v9 spans all of that.

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Tech News

Finless Foods promises realistic plant-based tuna with 2022 rollout

A company called Finless Foods plans to launch a plant-based raw tuna product next year that it claims offers a realistic texture and flavor. The food product will join the largely beef- and sausage-flavored plant-based meat products currently on the market, offering consumers who have seafood allergies, vegetarians, and others the option to enjoy tuna meals without contributing to overfishing.

Finless Foods revealed that it will launch its plant-based tuna, which is made from nine ingredients, next year through foodservice channels and restaurants. The plant-based version of the tuna shouldn’t be confused with the company’s cell-cultured tuna product; the latter is made from cells harvested from real tuna fish while the former is made from whole plant-based ingredients.

For this reason, the plant-based version of Finless Foods’ tuna is vegan-friendly as none of the ingredients come from animals. The company says that it made the plant-based tuna to be a 1:1 ‘experience’ of eating raw tuna, at least when it comes to mouthfeel, flavor, and texture.

The plant-based version of the fish can be used in the same way as actual raw tuna, meaning you may consume it in sushi in the future. The big benefit to plant-based tuna is the lack of mercury, which remains a concern when it comes to wild tuna products.

As well, plant-based and cell-cultured tuna remove the fishing aspect of this food product, which has become an increasing concern from an environmental standpoint. Of course, the plant-based version of the tuna product will also be safe for people who have seafood allergies, whereas the cell-cultured version is actual tuna fish (just not from the ocean) and therefore wouldn’t be safe for people with allergies to eat.

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Game

No Man’s Sky Prisms Update Lives Up to the Game’s Promises

Returning to a game you haven’t played in years is always a strange feeling. It’s like seeing a childhood friend from your hometown after years apart. You can still see the child you spent so much time with in their eyes, but also the age and growth that you missed out on due to your separation. They still laugh the same and still have an intense love for movies, but now they walk a little differently and have an ostrich tattoo on their ankle that you feel too awkward to ask about.

Playing No Man’s Sky in 2021 feels like seeing that childhood friend again. I jumped into this quintillion planet galaxy at launch and thoroughly enjoyed it, zits and all. However, I bounced off from it after a while and only returned for a moment when the base-building patch arrived. For years it was out of my mind as I focused on other games, projects, and general life stuff. With the new Prisms update being released, it felt like the perfect excuse to don my exosuit and travel out into the stars once again.

With a considerable list of updates and patches since I last played, this game has evolved exponentially, moving beyond what was originally promised.

Returning home

I am no stranger to games that are constantly updated throughout their lives. I have been playing World of Warcraft pretty consistently since launch as well as the Destiny series and League of Legends. I was there for all of the major updates, patches, buffs, and nerfs that these games had. In real time, this experience was gradual and many times went unnoticed. However, jumping back into a game after years of polishing and updates, you get to see how far it has really come and how much it is still the same.

I decided to start fresh with the new Prisms update, mainly to see the game more in its totality and because I do not want to know what I thought a good base looked like in 2018. Frankly, I was blown away by what I experienced in the “tutorial” section of the game. My starter planet was highly toxic, with exploding plants, but I’m not referring to that. The game does considerably more heavy lifting to ease players into the galaxy, with more guided content, actual quests, and even new (new to me, remember) characters and storylines. Walking through the Anomaly Station for the first time is truly amazing. An actual player hub in a game that did not have multiplayer when I first played. I was literally that fool running around the station waving at other players.

And yet, it is still the game I remember. I still traveled the stars, mined resources, melee boosted around, and scoured planets for knowledge stones. The core of the game did not change with all of the new updates. The game’s language was unchanged, and I am still fluent in it. This meant I knew to hoard oxygen and di-hydrogen so I could try out the new content without any worry of being stranded or just flat out dying.

With all this new content, I can’t help but ask, did No Man’s Sky finally fulfill its promises? It is no secret that this game had a plethora of promises regarding what it was before the game was released. Unfortunately, most of those expectations were not met, and many people felt as if the game was just a shadow of its promised self and worse because of it.

Prisms gives us an answer to that question. A Reddit user compiled all of the content the game originally promised and compared it to what was available at launch versus the current (from a year ago) state of the game. Surprisingly, the game now has fulfilled the majority of the promises to an extent. The game has also added additional content that wasn’t initially promised to players. Base building, social hubs, and even driving other types of vehicles were never outlined, but here they are, content that is now integral to the current state of the game.

No Man’s Sky is now more than just what was promised by Sony’s infamous marketing campaign; it has grown to be something all of its own and not just what we expected it to be.

Think back to your childhood when you and your friend would spend sleepless nights together talking about becoming rock stars and firefighters and of all the fantastical road trips you will take once you both learned to drive. Flash forward years later, with you being a journalist, them being an IT technician, and only one of you having a driver’s license. You can still play music and finally take that trip together. Maybe it’s finally time to let go of that list of failed promises of No Man’s Sky and just let the game keep growing at its own pace.

Editors’ Choice




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