Sound BlasterX G6 Review

Audio Science Review has tested the Sound BlasterX G6 and found it to be surprisingly good for a budget device in a feature-filled package. During DAC testing it was discovered that the device’s SINAD would rocket up to 112 dB if the level was dialed down by 2 dBFS (digitally.) Linearity was spot on but intermodulation distortion was a concern. Amirm discovered that dialing down the device by 2dBFS fixed the issue. He speculated that “The G6 is USB powered and likely doesn’t have enough capacitance in its DC input to ride out the lasting peaks at low frequencies.”

The headphone amplifier measured great, and the output was decent but “there is no sensation of infinite power and you would be operating near or at max volume” when using the amp with a pair of Sennheiser HD-650 headphones. The last issue that irritated him was the lack of a properly working ASIO driver on Creative’s website. He really liked the Sound BlasterX G6 and the review is full of charts and measurements conducted with a $28,300 Audio Precision APx555.



ADC Audio Measurements I was pleased that feeding the G6 2 volt, resulted in 0 dBFS showing no overflow. Performance though is not all that great with SINAD in the high 70s. We have lots of distortion components together with mains leakage. Compared to high-end products, we are short some 40 dB! Definitely not splitting hairs here.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Sound BlasterX G6 Review

Steam Is Getting a Redesigned Library and New Events Features

At GDC today, Valve announced a new UI for the Steam Library. The new Steam Library has larger game icons and more categorization for your games. PC Gamer says the library reminds them of Plex or the Apple TV. The Steam Friend’s List is integrated into the Library view on the right side. They noted that the coolest feature is using Steam Tags for games to create new categories such as “Ninja Action.” A Beta release is scheduled for this summer.

The new Steam Events page will create a new way for fans of games to connect with developers. Games in your library that are organizing occasions like game updates, streams, tournaments, and so on will be found here. This is being built in response to today’s live service games. Developers will be able to get the word out to fans through calendar support for Google and iCal, Steam client notifications, email, text message, and Steam mobile app. These events will be shown in other parts of Steam also.



“We think of this as the way developers will be able to communicate with players through Steam,” Kroll said. “We want to build the foundation for a communication platform where all the interesting things that are happening in games can find their way to the customers. And the customers that are interested in finding out ‘what’s happening in games in my library, what kind of events are happening, what’s been updated recently, what are my friends doing,’ making all that much easier for players to be able to find.”

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Steam Is Getting a Redesigned Library and New Events Features

Microsoft Announces Microsoft Defender ATP for Mac

Microsoft Defender ATP for Mac brings the same robust protection from Windows Defender to the Mac platform. Microsoft has created a “cross-platform next-generation protection and endpoint detection and response coverage” heterogeneous solution that will help Microsoft reach its goal of securing users and data wherever they are. Core components of Microsoft’s unified endpoint security platform, including the new Threat & Vulnerability Management will now be available for Mac devices. The cloud-delivered, real-time protection antivirus solution is currently in preview.



We’ve been working closely with industry partners to enable Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) customers to protect their non-Windows devices while keeping a centralized “single pane of glass” experience. Now we are going a step further by adding our own solution to the options, starting with a limited preview today. As we bring our unified security solution to other platforms, we’re also updating our name to reflect the breadth of this expanded coverage: Microsoft Defender ATP.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Microsoft Announces Microsoft Defender ATP for Mac

Monster Hunter: World to Receive a 40GB High Resolution Texture Pack DLC

Capcom has announced Monster Hunter: World will receive a 40GB High Resolution Texture Pack DLC. The High Resolution Texture Pack will require 8GB of graphics memory (VRAM) and is free. Earlier this month, Capcom acknowledged that the PC is the 2nd most popular platform for Monster Hunter: World. Capcom’s spokesperson was happy that the PC version of the game had broadened its appeal to users in Europe. Capcom has more expansions and content coming for the action game.



“We have announced Monster Hunter World Iceborne and will have more news to share in the future. Given the success of Monster Hunter World, it will be a key project for us,” he said. “There is also more to come that I’m not allowed to discuss yet, if you want another interview with me on behalf of Capcom in the future.”

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Monster Hunter: World to Receive a 40GB High Resolution Texture Pack DLC

Facebook Employees Had Access to Millions of User Passwords Stored in Plain Text

In a new blog post entitled “Keeping Passwords Secure” Facebook VP Engineering, Security and Privacy Pedro Canahuati explains how the social media giant accidentally stored Facebook user’s passwords on internal data storage systems in plain text. Pedro explains how “these passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook and we have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them. We estimate that we will notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users.” To keep your account safe, Facebook suggests changing your Facebook and Instagram passwords, pick strong passwords, use a password manager, and enable a security key or two-factor authentication.

In recent months, Facebook has vowed to clean up its act as it has been accused of sharing user data, one click account takeover bugs, paying minors to harvest their data without parental consent, had its enterprise certificate revoked by Apple, access token hack, Cambridge Analytica, and many more fines and hacks. I would suggest picking a password so long and complex that Facebook employees would get tired from writing it down.



As part of a routine security review in January, we found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems. This caught our attention because our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable. We have fixed these issues and as a precaution we will be notifying everyone whose passwords we have found were stored in this way.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Facebook Employees Had Access to Millions of User Passwords Stored in Plain Text

Unreal Engine is Getting Destructable Environment Support

High-quality destructible environments seem like something that should be standard in 2019, but even today, it’s a relatively rare thing to find in a game. It was a headlining feature Red Faction: Guerilla back in 2009, and a prominent feature in the recently released Crackdown 3, but detailed, destructible environments are still absent from most releases. However, at GDC this year, Epic announced that they’re integrating a destruction system into Unreal Engine. Given how popular the engine is, and how competitors will probably try to achieve feature parity, I expect to see more games with destructible environments in the near future.



Revealed onstage at GDC 2019 during “State of Unreal,” Chaos is Unreal Engine’s new high-performance physics and destruction system coming in early access to Unreal Engine 4.23. The real-time tech demo is set within the world of Robo Recall. With Chaos, users can achieve cinematic-quality visuals in real time in scenes with massive-scale levels of destruction, with unprecedented artist control over content creation.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Unreal Engine is Getting Destructable Environment Support

All Digital Xbox One S Could Launch May 7

Following up on previous reports claiming that Microsoft could unveil a disc-less Xbox One in April, Windows Central allegedly got their hands on some photographs of the upcoming console, and recreated them in Photoshop to protect their source. “Additional documents” they obtained suggest that the new Xbone could launch on May 7 in a “global simultaneous release,” but as we’ve noted with some of our own predictions, exact launch dates can be fuzzy this far ahead of time. The publication thinks that Microsoft is positioning this as a replacement to the original Xbox One, rather than a replacement to the newer disc-based consoles.



The design of the Xbox One S All-Digital appears to be virtually identical to the current Xbox One S, without the disc drive and eject button. The product shots we received seem to indicate that it will come with a 1TB HDD and with Forza Horizon 3, Sea of Thieves, and Minecraft digital codes bundled into the box. It doesn’t look as though it will be bundled with Microsoft’s Netflix-like subscription service for games, Xbox Game Pass. Our information suggests that the Xbox One S All-Digital edition will have the lowest recommended retail price (RRP) of all current Xbox One consoles, aimed at newcomers to the ecosystem, although the exact pricing is unknown at this time.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – All Digital Xbox One S Could Launch May 7

CD Projekt Red Reiterates Plan to Release 2 Games by 2021

In post by an official CD PROJEKT Moderator on their forums, the company re-iterated its promise to “release a second AAA game by 2021.” The Polish company started teasing Cyberpunk 2077 way back in 2012, and the game still doesn’t have a release window, but just what else the company is working on remains a mystery. Its not clear if the studio has been secretly chipping away at this second project for some time, if its somehow derived from Cyberpunk 2077 or The Witcher (which could reduce development time), or if it’s simply smaller-scope AAA release, but the developer hasn’t divulged any details about it so far.



“As far as the strategy of the CD PROJEKT Capital Group for 2016-2021 is concerned, its plans to release the second AAA game by 2021 remain unchanged. We are currently focusing on the production and promotion of Cyberpunk, so we do not want to comment on further projects.

Donata Poplawska”

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – CD Projekt Red Reiterates Plan to Release 2 Games by 2021

Health Apps Sell User Data

A recent study from the BMJ found that many popular health apps share more data with advertisers than they probably should. The researchers analyzed 24 Android apps with scripts that simulate real world usage, and found that 19 of them shared potentially sensitive user data (PDF Warning) with 55 “unique entities.” 14 of the apps transmitted the data over an unencrypted connection. The researchers stressed that the entities collecting the data not only have the ability to aggregate it with user information from other sources, but that they turn around and sell this information to other 3rd parties, which represents a huge potential privacy violation.



Sharing of user data is routine, yet far from transparent. Clinicians should be conscious of privacy risks in their own use of apps and, when recommending apps, explain the potential for loss of privacy as part of informed consent. Privacy regulation should emphasise the accountabilities of those who control and process user data. Developers should disclose all data sharing practices and allow users to choose precisely what data are shared and with whom.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Health Apps Sell User Data

Disney Completes Fox Acquisition

In spite of regulatory hurdles and anticompetetive accusations, The Walt Disney Company completed their acquisition of Fox yesterday. Disney themselves value the deal at about $71 Billion, and say they expect to make at least $2 billion from it by 2021. As we’ve noted before, the deal could have a significant impact on Hulu, as Disney is now a majority shareholder in the company with a 60% stake, while Comcast only owns 30% and AT&T owns a non-voting 10%. Some might expect Disney’s competitors (and their shareholders) to be worried about the portfolio they’ve amassed, but Netflix’s stock price actually rose 5% in the wake of the merge, while Disney’s was relatively flat.



The acquisition includes 21st Century Fox’s renowned film production businesses, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Family and Fox Animation; Fox’s television creative units, Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox21; FX Networks; National Geographic Partners; Fox Networks Group International; Star India; and Fox’s interests in Hulu, Tata Sky and Endemol Shine Group. Disney and 21st Century Fox entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice last year under which Disney will divest 21st Century Fox’s Regional Sports Networks. Earlier today, 21st Century Fox completed the spin-off of a portfolio of 21st Century Fox’s news, sports and broadcast businesses, including the FOX News Channel, FOX Business Network, FOX Broadcasting Company, FOX Sports, FOX Television Stations Group, and sports cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and Big Ten Network, and certain other assets and liabilities, into Fox Corporation.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Disney Completes Fox Acquisition

Intel Previews Processors and Graphics Software at GDC 2019

At their GDC 2019 conference, Intel confirmed that they’ll launch 9th generation mobile processors in the 2nd quarter of 2019. While 9th generation H-series and Y-series “Ice Lake” parts recently showed up on the EEC website, Intel told PC World that these parts are based on 14nm Coffee Lake Silicon. The company also mentioned that one of their goals with his release is “longer battery life” for gamers and more casual users alike, and they’re promoting their Wi-Fi 6 capable AX200 chip and 3D XPoint memory with the new chips

Meanwhile, Intel also showed off a new software suite for their modern IGPs and (presumably) their future GPUs. The “Intel Graphics Command Center” is essentially their answer to Nvidia’s GeForce Experience and AMD’s Game Advisor, as it automatically scans your PC for supported games and applies the optimal settings for your current hardware. An “early access” version of the control panel is available on the Microsoft Store, and oddly enough, it says it was “released” on 11/26/2018. Unlike other app stores, the Microsoft Store doesn’t log updates or list old changes, so it was presumably in some kind of closed alpha before being officially launched today.



We asked, you answered. You’re tired of our ‘old, boring, corporate-looking’ Graphics Control Panel. We were too and we designed a completely new one from the ground up! We’re incorporating the changes you – the gamers, home theater enthusiasts, professionals, and everyday tinkerers requested. Using a phased approach, we’re rolling out something we’re proud to share with you: introducing the Intel Graphics Command Center.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Intel Previews Processors and Graphics Software at GDC 2019

Intel Shows Off Graphics Card Designs at GDC 2019

Intel reportedly unveiled some “early designs” of their upcoming discrete graphics cards at their GDC 2019 presentation. The graphics card in the first and 2nd slides they showed largely reassembles an Optane 905P SSD with a blower fan and a conspicuously short PCB. While the Xe’s specs and performance levels are still unknown, to me, the short PCB suggests that Intel will use some kind of on-package memory with their upcoming GPU, or a relatively narrow GDDR memory bus at the very least. A shot of the back reveals a full backplate, as well as 3 DisplayPort outputs and one HDMI port. Finally, the last slide shows a card with a fan right on top of the graphics chip, which is something I haven’t seen on a high-end reference card in some time.



Unfortunately, full specifications are still not yet available for Intel’s upcoming graphics card. Real world performance is essentially completely unknown for now. As the year goes on, there is a good chance Intel may share some numbers given how eager the company is to make everyone aware that they have a major new product incoming.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Intel Shows Off Graphics Card Designs at GDC 2019

Epic Games Presents the "Chaos" Physics and Destruction System Demo

Epic Games has released footage of its new “Chaos” high-performance physics and destruction system real-time tech demo. The demo highlights some of the new destruction effects that are coming to Unreal Engine 4.23. This particular demo is set within the Robo Recall world and features a chase scene.



Revealed onstage during the “State of Unreal,” Chaos is Unreal Engine’s new high-performance physics and destruction system coming in early access to Unreal Engine 4.23. The real-time tech demo is set within the world of Robo Recall. With Chaos, users can achieve cinematic-quality visuals in real time in scenes with massive-scale levels of destruction, with unprecedented artist control over content creation. In addition to the initial feature set, Epic will release demo content for Chaos physics and destruction within the 4.23 window.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Epic Games Presents the “Chaos” Physics and Destruction System Demo

AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.3

The AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.3 driver has been released and it adds support for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Generation Zero. Fixed issues include: Rainbow Six Siege may experience intermittent corruption or flickering on some game textures during gameplay. DOTA 2 VR may experience stutter on some HMD devices when using the Vulkan API.



Known Issues: Mouse cursors may disappear or move out of the boundary of the top of a display on AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics. Performance metrics overlay and Radeon WattMan gauges may experience inaccurate fluctuating readings on AMD Radeon VII.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.3

Epic Games Announces More Exclusives and Features

At its “State of Unreal” session at GDC 2019, Epic Games announced multiple new games coming to the Epic Games store. Some of the new exclusives include The Outer Worlds, Control, Industries of Titan, Beyond: Two Souls, Detroit: Become Human, Heavy Rain and many more titles. Humble Bundle has been chosen as a distribution partner for the Epic Games store which will allow it to sell Epic Games keys which will be redeemable on the Epic Games store. Epic will receive no revenue share from the sale of those games purchased through the Humble Store. Customers can link their Humble Store accounts to the Epic Games store for direct purchasing.

Coming soon to early access in Unreal Engine 4.23 is Chaos; Unreal Engine’s new high-performance physics and destruction system. Expect developers to create cinematic-quality visuals in real time with massive-scale levels of destruction. Epic Online Services provides a single SDK that works across any platform, game engine and store to help developers give their players a unified, cross-platform social experience. The library of tools include cloud storage, voice communications, matchmaking and more. Epic MegaGrants is a new $100,000,000 assistance fund for those people and companies doing outstanding work with Unreal Engine or enhancing open-source capabilities for the 3D graphics community. Ray tracing, Microsoft Hololens streaming support, Google Stadia support and more were discussed during the opening session.





“Our success is inextricably linked to developer success, and that ethos guides everything we do,” said Sweeney. “From our free Online Services and Epic MegaGrants to new Unreal Engine features, our goal is to help developers, and to equip them to give players even better experiences.”

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Epic Games Announces More Exclusives and Features

Toyota and Suzuki Announce Electric Car Partnership

Toyota and Suzuki have announced a partnership to produce electrified vehicles for the world’s markets. The two companies had been considering the terms of a collaboration involving electrified cars since 2017. Toyota brings its Toyota Hybrid System (THS), hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) components such as engines and batteries, and new electrified platforms such as the RAV4 and Corolla Wagon to Suzuki. Suzuki will use its strengths to supply small car platforms to Toyota for India, allow Toyota to adopt and manufacture newly developed Suzuki engines for small compact cars, and OEM supply Toyota with Suzuki’s India-produced cars for the African market. The two companies will continue to compete against each other.



“When it comes to vehicle electrification, which is expected to make further inroads, hybrid technologies are seen as playing a huge role in many markets, as from before. Widespread acceptance is necessary for electrified vehicles to be able to contribute to Earth’s environment. Through our new agreement, we look forward to the wider use of hybrid technologies, not only in India and Europe, but around the world. At the same time, we believe that the expansion of our business partnership with Suzuki-from the mutual supply of vehicles and powertrains to the domains of development and production-will help give us the competitive edge we will need to survive this once-in-a-century period of profound transformation. We intend to strengthen the competitiveness of both our companies by applying our strong points and learning from each other.”

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Toyota and Suzuki Announce Electric Car Partnership

Linux Gaming Across 9 Distros [Review in Progress]

Jason Evangelho of Forbes has started a Linux series where he reviews various Linux distributions (distros) for ease of use and performance in regards to Linux gaming. Jason’s series isn’t about just running benchmarks as he asks questions that everyday users would need to find out. Where am I going to get up-to-date graphics drivers for my AMD or NVIDIA graphics card? How is the default state of gaming on the Linux distro? Can I get Steam working right out of the box or am I going to have to tweak my system to accomplish this task?

The 9 Linux distros that he is going to test in the series includes: Fedora 29 Workstation, Pop!_OS 18.10, Debian 9, Solus 4, Manjaro 18, Linux Mint 19, elementary OS 5, Deepin 15.9, and Ubuntu 18.10. His test system consists of an AMD Ryzen 5 2600, Radeon Sapphire RX 580, Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1080 and more. So far he has tested Fedora 29 Workstation and Pop!_OS 18.10 with Pop!_OS 18.10 easily winning hands down in usability and performance. With the recent announcement that Google is leveraging Linux, Vulkan, first party games, and open-source AMD drivers for games running on its Google Stadia game streaming service; Linux gaming performance may enter into our PC gaming world very soon!



If you’re an NVIDIA user, good news: Pop!_OS has a separate installer image for you which automatically installs the proprietary (and far more performant) graphics driver. Again, there’s no need to enable alternative software sources or hit the command line. The moment your OS is installed you’re ready to start gaming. You’ll be using the latest and greatest stable driver, Nvidia 418.43.

Radeon gamers have an advantage across several Linux distributions: the open source driver is part of the kernel (and thus ready to use immediately), well maintained and quite performant. This typically means less steps to get up and running with Steam and Steam Proton. One distinct difference between Pop!_OS and Fedora, however, is that Fedora runs with a much newer MESA driver. Specifically, Fedora 29 uses MESA 18.3.4 while Pop uses MESA 18.2.8. The kernel on Pop is also a bit older, but again I noticed no disadvantage on the gaming side save for one: updating your kernel to 5.0 will add Freesync support which is a feature I can’t live without. It is quite literally a game-changer.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Linux Gaming Across 9 Distros [Review in Progress]

Nvidia Skips Ampere at GTC 2019

Several news outlets seems to think Nvidia’s GTC presentation was relatively longwinded and unexciting this year. The three-hour keynote reportedly featured some software announcements and a low power Jetson board, among other things, but didn’t feature the 7nm Ampere GPUs many were expecting. EE Times says that the “unspoken message” at the presentation was that “Nvidia doesn’t need to pre-announce a new and faster chip because it owns that software stack and channel today,” and the emphasis on CUDA seemed to really drive that point home.

However, in one of the more exciting parts of the presentation, Nvidia did highlight the Q2VKPT project we covered earlier this year. Nvidia’s CEO seemed quite excited about the introduction of raytracing to Quake II, and they showed off some of the project’s gameplay, which you can see below:



Presaging that future, Nvidia’s chief scientist, Bill Dally, told reporters about a research project in optical chip-to-chip links. It targets throughput in terabits/second while drawing 2 picojoules/bit/s. In an initial implementation, 32 wavelengths will run at 12.5 Gbits/s each, with a move to 64 wavelengths doubling bandwidth in a follow-up generation. Dally predicted that copper links will start run out of gas as data rates approach 100 Gbits/s, already on many roadmaps for network switches. Progress in more power-efficient laser sources and ring resonators will enable the long-predicted shift, he said. If the future evolves as he believes, bleeding-edge GPUs may continue to skip an appearance at some Nvidia events. Attendees will have to hope that as the interconnects speed up, the keynotes don’t get even longer.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Nvidia Skips Ampere at GTC 2019

Microsoft Criticizes FCC Broadband Report

According to a recently spotted FCC report, Microsoft thinks that the government is a little generous when it comes to their analysis of broadband availability. Based on their own analysis, some areas that supposedly have access to speeds of over 25 Mbps really don’t have much access at all, and they suggest that the FCC should draw on a “broader array of data” in the future. Microsoft told MediaPost “This draft report simply doesn’t reflect the state of things on the ground,” and that “The agency is badly in need of better data and a more honest assessment of the state of broadband deployment.”



“In some areas the Commission’s broadband availability data suggests that Internet service providers … have reported significant broadband availability (25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up) while Microsoft’s usage data indicates that only a small percentage of consumers actually access the Internet at broadband speeds in those areas…” Microsoft weighed in with its concerns several days after advocacy group Free Press said the draft report was partially based on faulty data provided by the internet service provider BarrierFree. That company erroneously reported in a December 2017 filing that it offered fiber-to-the-home and fixed wireless service at speeds of nearly 1 GB to Census blocks containing almost 62 million people, according to Free Press. The incorrect information resulted in “a massive over-statement of the change in broadband deployment at the national level during 2017,” Free Press told the FCC.

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Microsoft Criticizes FCC Broadband Report

Google Fined $1.7 Billion Over Monopolistic Practices

The European commission has reportedly slapped Google with a 1.49 billion Euro (or $1.69 billion USD) fine for “abusing its monopoly in online advertising.” More specifically, the report alleges that Google prevented companies that using its search service from running any third party adverts, and the commission claims that “Google’s rivals were not able to compete on the merits, either because there was an outright prohibition for them to appear on publisher websites or because Google reserved for itself by far the most valuable commercial space on those websites, while at the same time controlling how rival search adverts could appear.” Google apparently changed these practices in 2016, but it took some time for the repercussions to catch up with them.



Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said: “Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate – and consumers the benefits of competition.”

Discussion

Source: [H]ardOCP – Google Fined .7 Billion Over Monopolistic Practices