- Capsule Review: Logitech's G100s, G500s, and G700s Gaming Mice
- A Visual Guide to the iPhone 5 on T-Mobile
- Unreal Engine 4 Infiltrator Demo from GDC [video]
- AMD Teases Official Radeon HD 7990
- AMD Announces "Radeon Sky" Family of Server-Cloud Video Cards
Posted: 29 Mar 2013 09:01 PM PDT
The dirty secret of gaming peripherals is that if they're good quality products in general, they're often going to be head and shoulders above hardware marketed toward the regular consumer. For whatever reason, high rent keyboards and mice just aren't marketed to consumers who'll often settle on an inexpensive wireless mouse and keyboard combination. This was strangely evident in Logitech's pre-G-branding era, and while the G branding is ultimately a good thing, some users are liable to miss out on some fantastic quality kit.
Posted: 29 Mar 2013 09:21 AM PDT
This is normally Brian's beat but with him busy putting the finishing touches on his review of HTC's One, I thought I'd help out. We're still seeing (and hearing) a lot of confusion about what T-Mobile announced earlier this week with regards to existing and future iPhone support on its network. Brian already went through all of this in his excellent article on the topic, but seeing continued confusion I thought I'd whip up a few diagrams to help explain.
For the purposes of this article I'm focusing on compatibility for the current AT&T iPhone 5 (hardware model A1428) as well as the new unlocked iPhone 5 (also hardware model A1428) that will be shipping start April 12.
The easiest question to answer is will existing AT&T iPhone 5s that have been unlocked work on T-Mobile's recently deployed LTE network. The answer is an emphatic yes. The original AT&T iPhone 5 was designed to work on LTE band 17 (700MHz) and band 4 (1700MHz), a superset of T-Mobile's LTE deployment (band 4). If you're in one of the few areas with T-Mobile LTE service and an existing unlocked AT&T iPhone 5, the combination will work just fine. Apple will need to release an updated carrier bundle (.ipcc file) for the phones, which I assume is coming soon - but there's no hardware change required.
The new unlocked iPhone 5 that will be available via T-Mobile doesn't add any additional functionality in this case. As you can see, both A1428 revisions support the same LTE bands.
Where it gets somewhat complicated is in the 3G WCDMA discussion. I emphasize somewhat because it's really not that hard to understand. The complexity comes from the fact that there are a number of names and acronyms here that aren't well understood by most who aren't of Klug-descent. If we focus on the frequency bands themselves and ignore their common names, things are a bit easier to understand.
The original AT&T iPhone 5 supported 3G operation on band 5 (850MHz) and band 2 (1900MHz). Only band 2 overlaps with T-Mobile's network. The problem with 1900MHz on T-Mobile is that the majority of that spectrum is used for 2G and hasn't yet been migrated over to 3G. The bulk of T-Mobile's 3G currently exists in band 4 (1700MHz uplink, 2100MHz downlink), which isn't supported on the existing AT&T iPhone 5.
After April 12th, the new unlocked A1428 iPhone 5 with band 4 WCDMA support will begin rolling out and should have much better coverage on T-Mobile's 3G network as a result. The diagram and toggles below help illustrate this:
The original A1428 iPhone 5 lacks band 4 support, which means it'll only support WCDMA on band 2. The only problem here, as I mentioned above, is that T-Mobile's 3G deployment on band 2 isn't ubiquitous - so in many cases you'll fall back to 2G/EDGE speeds. The new iPhone 5 simply enables band 4 WCDMA support.
There's one other benefit to the new iPhone 5. DC-HSPA+ (42Mbps max downlink) is now supported on all bands as well. Although it was never (and likely will never ever be) used by AT&T, DC-HSPA+ was a feature of the iPhone 5. T-Mobile on the other hand does use carrier aggregation on WCDMA in some markets and the new A1428 will benefit from higher speeds in those situations.
Posted: 29 Mar 2013 08:57 AM PDT
The folks at Kotaku spotted a video of Epic's Unreal Engine 4 demo from GDC on YouTube. The video is really a tech demo of Epic's UE4 technology and not any upcoming IP, but in usual Epic fashion it looks downright impressive. Even more exciting is the fact that the demo was run entirely on a single GeForce GTX 680. With the next generation of game consoles targeting GPU performance under that of a 680, the performance target makes sense.
Fortnite will be Epic's first game to use Unreal Engine 4. We can also expect UE4 to make its way onto mobile devices as well thanks to the excellent UDK for Android and iOS.
Posted: 29 Mar 2013 05:00 AM PDT
Continuing our AMD GDC 2013 coverage, the other bit of major AMD news coming out of GDC 2013 involves a consumer product after all. But not strictly as a product announcement. Rather this is more of a product tease coming out of AMD. That tease? The Radeon HD 7990.
Since the latter half of 2012, AMD partners such as PowerColor and Asus have been offering what we’ve been calling “officially unofficial” Radeon HD 7990 cards. Officially, AMD doesn’t have a 7990 SKU, but at the same time AMD will approve multi-GPU Tahiti designs, and bless them with the right to be called a 7990. So officially the 7990 doesn’t exist yet, and yet unofficially it’s been offered for months now.
With that in mind, the 7990 will be moving from officially unofficial status to just outright official status. Ending their GDC presentation, AMD’s final item was a tease of their official Radeon HD 7990 design, with word that it’s coming soon. Real soon in fact, as we later found out DICE had been using some of these 7990 cards to power their Battlefield 4 demo elsewhere at GDC.
As this is a teaser AMD isn’t saying anything about the card beyond the fact that it’s a dual Tahiti card just as the unofficially official 7990s were. But even from the few pictures they’ve strategically provided we can infer a few things.
First and foremost, it’s a complete open-air cooler. AMD’s previous dual-GPU cards have all employed some kind of blower; up through the 300W 5970 they were full blowers, and the 375W 6990 was a split blower. Open air coolers have generally high performance, but they do require a breezy case since they’re not very capable of pushing hot air out on their own. The design essentially punts cooling off to the case, which is not always a bad thing since this affords much larger – and thereby slower and quieter – cooling fans.
Second of all, we can see something about the power delivery system. Two 8pin PCIe connectors are visible, which would put power at or under 375W. AMD has always shipped their cards with the proper connectivity to pull their rated power at stock, so as long as they’re holding to that this puts an upper-limit on where the 7990’s TDP would be at stock. This would be notably lower than the unofficial cards, which are closer to 500W (though admittedly also designed for liberal overclocking). Meanwhile we can also just see the edge of the VRM circuitry; the Volterra ‘C’ is visible on the edge of what appears to be a Volterra multi-phase inductor. Volterra is widely considered to offer some of the best VRM circuitry in the industry, and has been found on previous generation AMD dual-GPU cards.
In any case, we’ll be following this up as AMD releases more information. The fact that an official 7990 is appearing now makes it hard to argue that AMD isn’t late to the party – we’re coming up on a full year since the GeForce GTX 690 – but with AMD keeping Tahiti through Q4 there’s really no reason not to do it. So we’ll have to see just what AMD comes up with, and how their design differs from the unofficial cards that have come before it.
Posted: 29 Mar 2013 04:00 AM PDT
Catching up on announcements from GDC 2013, we’ll kick things off with AMD. Though AMD doesn’t use traditionally GDC to formally launch consumer products since it’s not a consumer show, when it comes to professional hardware this is another story. To that end AMD is using GDC 2013 to announce some new professional products.
AMD’s first announcement out of the show is a new line of server video cards. Dubbed the Radeon Sky family, these are new cards based on AMD’s existing Pitcairn and Tahiti GPUs, targeted for use in cloud gaming deployments. These are passively cooled cards intended to be sold directly to cloud gaming providers, and despite the Radeon name are not consumer cards.
Altogether there will be 3 Sky cards, the 900, 700, and 500. The 900 is a dual-Tahiti card (not too unlike the FIrePro S10000), meanwhile the 700 is a single-GPU Tahiti card, and finally the Sky 500 is a Pitcairn card. We know the number of enabled CUs for each along with memory clockspeeds, but AMD has not published the core clockspeeds. Given the power and thermal constraints of a server environment, it’s a safe bet this won’t be as high as consumer Radeon desktop cards.
Coupled with the Sky series is a new piece of software from AMD called RapidFire technology. Unfortunately we don’t have much in the way of details on it at this time. The first two aspects of it – “low latency” and “HD image quality” – are essentially just branding AMD’s Video Codec Engine (VCE) hardware video enecoder. We do not know at this time quite where AMD is going on the subject of multiple video steams; this may be their branding for utilizing virtualization to run multiple game instances on a single GPU in order to achieve high server densities, but we’ll follow this up when we know more.
Radeon Sky cards will start shipping in Q2 of this year, and AMD is already demoing them to press and partners alike now. AMD is making a direct-pitch play for the cloud gaming space, joining the rest of the gaming industry in believing that cloud gaming stands to become a multi-billion dollar market very quickly, and one they want to be a part of. The Radeon Sky series will be going up against NVIDIA’s GRID cards in this space, which are the hardware backing their GeForce GRID initiative.
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