Microsoft Xbox 360 "red ring" lawsuit
Microsoft is facing a class action lawsuit for the Xbox 360's chronic breakdown problems, a summary notes. Although the company has already extended warranties to account for the "red ring of death" -- a failure where regular overheating loosens chip connections and usually ruins the system -- a Sacramento County complaint accuses Microsoft of not only manufacturing a known defective product but of deliberately hiding the failure rate, encouraging customers to buy without warning them that their system will likely fail.
The document points to reports that claim Microsoft knew about the inherent flaw as long ago as the November 2005 launch, when the failure rate was potentially more than 50 percent. Studies from the turn of the year would still have the failures as high as 16.5 percent despite refinements to the production method and additional cooling. The failures have been predicted by some to stem from cost-cutting measures that include a reduced number of third-party components and relatively lenient testing.
The suit calls for a refund program that lets dissatisfied owners obtain a refund and would also demand that Microsoft give up profits from the Xbox 360 as punishment.
Microsoft hasn't commented on the lawsuit, which comes just as the company is believed to be quietly shipping revisions of the console with cooler graphics processors that will partially alleviate overheating issues. The issue isn't expected to completely disappear until the launch of a late 2009 update, nicknamed Valhalla, that would generate an all-in-one chip cool enough to prevent any overheating and also shrink the power brick [via macnn].
NVIDIA Quadro CX boosts Adobe CS4
Following closely on the heels of Adobe's Creative Suite 4 release, NVIDIA on Thursday unveiled the Quadro CX, offering users an optimized GPU for the new software suite's explicit use of the graphics hardware. The Quadro CX is designed to help produce visual effects within Adobe Photoshop CS4, After Effects CS4, Premiere Pro CS4, and several other of the suite's applications. NVIDIA claims the card offers users a "dramatically fast and fluid experience."
Photoshop CS4 is able to offload real-time image rotation, zooming, and panning, as well as instantaneous view changes, 2D and 3D content compositing, and anti-aliasing at any zoom level. The Quadro CX also assists with brush resizing, brushstroke previewing, 3D movement, HDR tone mapping, and color conversions.
After Effects CS4 will see an enhanced workflow, with many effects being accelerated by the custom GPU. The Quadro CX receives all depth of field, bilateral blur effects, turbulent noise, and cartoon effects.
Users of Premiere Pro will note acceleration in many effects, such as motion, opacity, color, and image distortion, in addition to faster editing of multiple HD streams, graphic overlays, and output options.
NVIDIA has not yet announced whether the card is available for Mac Pro computers, but Apple's improved relationship with the company, as well as the presence of the Quadro FX 5600 card are both good signs.
Several Intel Quad cores go EOL in january 2009
At the same time, Intel plans to retire Q6700 with the same schedule and Q9450 will receive Product Discontinuance Notice in November with the scheduled End of life for Q1 2009. Core 2 Quad Q9450 is 45nm-based and it will be replaced by the slowest Nehalem, Core i7 920 that will work at the same clock, but it will end up a bit faster due to eight thread support and some architecture advantages.
As we previously reported, super high-end Q9750 and QX9770 both 45nm at 3.2GHz (one for Skulltrail and one for socket 771) will retire in Q2 2009, while the Product Discontinuance Notice is planned for Q1 2009. This CPU will be replaced by Core i7 965-based Bloomfield that launches in mid-November [via fidzilla]
Dual-core Phenoms spotted
Interesting, 65nm dual-core Phenom listings surfaced onto a price search engine in Europe, and unofficial benchmarks of a 2.2GHz model surfaced. Also a Chinese site says AMD may have given up on the 2.3GHz chip we heard about last month, but the chipmaker's October roadmap includes two new dual-core Phenom derivatives. Branded Athlon X2 7550 and Athlon X2 7750, the two CPUs have respective clock speeds of 2.5GHz and 2.7GHz, which they each pair with 3MB of total cache
Download: CPU-Z 1.48 released
CPU-Z is a diagnostic tool that provides information on your CPU, including: processor name and vendor, core stepping and process, processor package, internal and external clocks, clock multiplier, partial overclock detection, processor features, supported instructions sets, L1 and L2 cache information, location, size, speed, and technology.
CPU-Z is a freeware that gathers information on some of the main devices of your system.
News and corrections
* Improved support for Intel Core i7 (Bloomfield & Gainestown).
* Intel Atom dual-core version support.
* AMD Athlon "Kuma" processor support.
* Alternate clock computation method based on "duty cycles" for Intel Core 2 processors (see ShowDutyCycles in cpuz.ini)
Download: Click here.
Download: NVIDIA nForce-Driver 20.08 WHQL Vista and XP
A busy day for NVIDIA, they just released new Forceware drivers. You can now download the new nForce 20.08 WHQL driver for Windows XP/Vista 32/64-bit. Release highlights:
* Ethernet Diver (v67.86.2) WHQL
* NAM (v.67.93)
* Sata/IDE Driver (v10.3.0.42) WHQL
* RAID Driver (v10.3.0.42) WHQL
* RAIDTOOL (v10.3.0.42)
* SM Bus (v4.69) WHQL
* SMU (v1.61) WHQL
* GPU Driver (v178.13) WHQL
* AwyMode driver (v.6.0.6000.107)WHQL
* Installer (v6.14)
nForce 790i Ultra SLI
nForce 790i SLI
nForce 780i SLI
nForce 750i SLI
nForce 730i, GeForce 9300, GeForce 9400
nForce 680i SLI
nForce 680i LT SLI
nForce 650i SLI
nForce 650i Ultra
nForce 630i/GeForce 7150
nForce 630i/GeForce 7100
nForce 630a/GeForce 7050 PV
nForce 630a/GeForce 7025
nForce 610i/GeForce 7050
We have a discussion threaad open on these driverrs right here.
Intel P55 Express is single-chip due Q3 2009
Intel is working on P55 Express, this chipset will replace the P45 and will be launched in the third quarter of next year, in time for the launch of the Lynnfield and Havendale processors. Havendale and Lynnfield, will be based on Nehalem architecture aka Core i7, in the desktop segment (first half 2009). These Quad core processors Lynnfield LGA 1160 will be limited to a TDP value not over 95 W
P55 supports both Lynnfield 45nm Nehalem-based quad-cores and IGP dual-core Nehalem codenamed Havendale. It looks that Lynnfield will launch in Q3 2009, while Havendale will slip to Q1 2010. The chipset supports one PCIe 16X or two eight-speed PCIe cards and it is a single chip architecture. It is pin compatible with future Intel 5 series chipsets, but we are not sure if it
Adobe Flash 10 delivers GPU acceleration
Adobe has released the next major version of the multimedia plugin. Adobe's Flash Player 10 is available from this page for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux - including Ubuntu 7 and 8. Tom Barclay, senior product marketing manager, Platform Business Unit, Adobe Systems, said Adobe Flash Player 10 delivers enhancements and new features such as new support for custom filters and effects, native 3-D transformation and animation, advanced audio processing, and GPU hardware acceleration. In addition, the new release builds on Adobe's expertise with text to deliver a new text engine that provides interactive designers and developers with more text layout options and better creative control.
The guys over at TR gave the new plug-in a shot, and while it didn't see a huge difference in CPU usage on a Core 2 Duo E6400, maximizing YouTube videos did feel noticeably snappier. Disabling hardware acceleration through the plug-in settings somehow didn't affect that, however. After investigating the matter, they found this blog post written on May 16 by Adobe software engineer Tinic Uro. In the post, Uro says web developers actually have to enable GPU acceleration manually in the code. Stranger yet, the new GPU-accelerated modes can supposedly slow down content, because "the software rasterizer in the Flash Player can optimize a lot of cases the GPU cannot optimize." So much for that. With that said, I just installed and tried something with lots of vectoring and it doesn't seem to do anything :-)
More info on Far Cry 2 DRM
A hot topic recently are the viral like DRM protections software houses insert into games. Ubisoft has confirmed that the PC its open-world shooter Far Cry 2, will use a slightly different configuration of the SecuROM DRM technology found in Spore and Crysis Warhead.
- You have 5 activations on 3 separate PCs.
- Uninstalling the game "refunds" an activation. This process is called "revoke", so as long as you complete proper uninstall you will be able to install the game an unlimited number of times on 3 systems.
- You can upgrade your computer as many time as you want (using our revoke system)
- Ubisoft is committed to the support of our games, and additional activations can be provided.
- Ubisoft is committed to the long term support of our games: you'll always be able to play Far Cry 2.
Overall, I think this is a reasonably fair compromize. Not great, but definitely the gamers can work with and get used to.
Imperium Romanum 2 for PC
Some new images of Imperium Romanum , the upcoming city-building game where players are governor of a province and must build and maintain a thriving and prosperous settlement. The game takes place during the reign of the Roman Empire and players build Roman towers, gates, and bridges using a new currency with which to do so.
Judging from the graphics alone, I'm starting to really like this game, check out the link for some more eye-candy, that is growing to become a cool game.
Build, reign and defend!
Download ATI Catalyst 8.10 WHQL Vista and XP
ATI just released new Catalyst 8.10 drivers today, available for Windows XP and Vista.
Highlights of the Catalyst 8.10 Windows release include:
- Unreal Tournament 3: Performance increases of up to 15% are seen when using the ATI Radeon
Download GeForce 178.24 WHQL ForceWare XP and Vista
NVIDIA just released an updated ForceWare driver. It's build 178.24 and carries WHQL certification, meaning it received two thumbs up from microsoft.
New in Version 178.24:
- Adds support for newly-released GeForce 9-series motherboard GPUs.
- Includes several application compatibility fixes. Please read the release documentation for more details.
Release 178 Highlights:
- WHQL-certified driver for GeForce 6-series, 7-series, 8-series, 9-series, and 200-series GPUs.
- Adds support for GeForce 9800 GTX+, 9800 GT, 9500 GT, and 9400 GT GPUs.
- Adds support for NVIDIA PhysX acceleration on all GeForce 8-series, 9-series and 200-series GPUs with a minimum of 256MB dedicated graphics memory (this driver package installs NVIDIA PhysX System Software v8.09.04).
- Experience GPU PhysX acceleration in several full games and demos today by downloading the GeForce Power Pack.
- Adds support for 2-way and 3-way NVIDIA SLI technology with GeForce GTX 200-series GPUs on Intel
NVIDIA GF9300 (ECS GF9300TA) mainboard review [Guru3D]
We'll see integrated IGPs more and more in the years to come, and mark my words... we feel that this trend is becoming normalized in the mainstream market. We peek at a GF9300 mainboard, the model tested comes from the fine folks at ECS, and as always... they were quick enough to send us their "Black Edition" model, a product series that is doing so very well in the EU and USA thanks to it's nice design and additional features. Have a peek, let it sink in that you are looking at a product costing roughly 99-109 USD.
Check out this full guru3D review right here.
Corsair CX400W power supply
The CX400W has a single +12V rail with a max. current of 30A and is rated up to 400W continuous power output at 40
XFX nForce 750i SLI gets 'officializored'
I just figured, that's a cool word, 'officializored'. Wozers, that took them a while ... but XFX claims (self-proclaimed) it has released the "mother" you've always wanted: the nForce 750i SLI motherboard. Here's the PR:
"Our motherboard delivers performance straight out of the box, for the ultimate gaming experience. And, the 750i SLI comes with exceptional game support and bar none the fastest multi-GPU gaming platform available in the performance category.
The XFX 750i SLI is the perfect way to instantly upgrade to an SLI-Ready performance system. Offering the ultimate in flexibility, the XFX 750i SLI features PCI Express 2.0 for twice the bandwidth, and is backward compatible with existing PCI Express 1.0 graphics card.
Crafted specifically for next-generation graphics card, the XFX 750i SLI also includes full overclocking capabilities for Intel Yorkfield and Wolfdale CPUs.
Other admirable traits include an NVIDIA control panel that enables you seamlessly monitor characteristics in an intuitive and customizable 3D environment; NVIDIA MediaShield
SilverStone unveils Clear CMOS
Well, I know i mentioned in my articles a lot that mainboard manufacturers should included a CMOS micro-switch on the maomnboard, but this might be taking it a step too far. Anyway, SilverStone unveiled a new product that makes it possible to clear your CMOS without having to open your case. Some enthusiast motherboards already have this functionality though.
They'll probably end up charing you 15 EUR / 20 USD for it.
SilverStone SST-CLEARCMOS is designed for the overclocking enthusiasts. When installed and mounted in corresponding chassis for external use, an overclocker no longer needs to open the computer chassis to clear CMOS. The SST-CLEARCMOS is extremely useful in offering a way to quickly clear CMOS/BIOS for recovering from failed overclocking attempts, updating BIOS, or resetting BIOS for installing new devices.
Apple's MacBook Pro packs new NVIDIA GPU
Apple unleashed and updated its MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops. The specs. Apple's MacBook Pro using NVIDIA's new 9400M GPU + chipset 1-2 punch for integrated graphics, supplemented by 9600M GT switchable discreet graphics chip for heavy lifting, and pumping out those graphics over a Mini DisplayPort connector, if you'd like to supplement the LED backlit screen.
The GeForce 9400 M has 16 parallel graphics cores and 54gflops of performance. The GeForce 9400 M is five times faster than current graphics in MacBook Pros,in the real world that translates to 6x the performance. The existing NVIDIA in the current MacBook Pro has only 55% the performance of the NVIDIA GeForce 9400 M.
As expected there's an SSD option, with drive accessible underneath the battery. The 15.4-inch base model retails for $1999, with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM and both GPUs. Step up to $2499 and you get a faster CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 320GB HDD. The 17-inch MacBook Pro comes in a similar configuration with a 2.6GHz processor, starting at $2799, but sans the redesign and GPU sweetness.
For the more budget minded Apple has dropped the price of its previous-gen MacBook to $999, and it's introduced a pair of next-gen MacBook models that look like smaller versions of the updated MacBook Pros (down to the black display frame and aluminum body). Priced at $1,299, the cheapest of the aluminum MacBooks features a 13.3" LED-backlit display, a 2GHz Core 2 Duo, GeForce 9400M integrated graphics, 2GB of DDR3 memory, and a 160GB hard drive. For an extra $300, you can get the pricier model with a 2.4GHz processor, 250GB hard drive, and keyboard backlighting. Oh, and an extra $700 will let you upgrade to a 128GB solid-state drive, as well.
Apple had two more surprises. For one, the MacBook Air is getting an upgrade to Nvidia GeForce 9400M integrated graphics, and Apple has tossed in a mini-DisplayPort connector for good measure. Also, the Mac maker has launched an iMac-style 24" desktop monitor with LED backlighting, a 1920x1200 resolution, built-in stereo speakers, DisplayPort connectivity, and a MagSafe power connector (for charging your MacBook). Those perks don't come cheap, though: Apple charges $899 for the display.
Photo courtesy of Engadget
Far Cry 2 and CC Red Alert PC gone gold
Ubisoft just announced that Far Cry 2, the open-world shooter, is done and dusted and off to manufacture. All versions ship on October 24 in Europe and October 21 in the US. Developed this time around by Ubisoft Montreal--the PC original was crafted by Crytek--Far Cry 2 will hit PS3 and Xbox 360 at $60, with the PC version coming in at $50. Additionally, those that pre-order the PC version through Valve's digital distribution platform Steam will receive $5 off.
There's a report PCGames.de translated from the French Ubisoft Shop suggesting the shooter sequel will use the much reviled SecuROM for copy protection
In other news, EA Command and Conquer Red Alert 3, the RTS sequel with something for everyone, has gone gold and is on schedule for its October 28 launch on PC. The promised Xbox 360 version of the alternate-history strategy game is still in the works and will take a little longer. It arrives on November 11.