GDC may be over, but there's still the clean up operation to be performed. Discarded bits of news lay strewn across the show's floor, waiting for us to scoop them up and put them on their digital shelf. What's that in the corner? A burnt-out mechanical husk - misshapen and trampled by excited IGF nominees - informing us that Nvidia's APEX demo featured a Hawken map that utilised the destruction tech in multiplayer. Let's scan it's sparking memory banks to see if... yes! A video!
If this was a movie, the end of this video would pull back to reveal a round-table of world leaders staring dumbfounded. Then, Nvidia's PhysX SDK Research Lead Matthias Müller-Fischer, would appear on their screen (possibly with a cat), point his omnipotent crosshair of ultimate destruction at Big Ben and start reading out the transfer details for his Swiss bank account.
Instead, it's a clever GDC tech demo experimenting with real-time dynamic fracturing. As yet, it's not a perfect physics simulation - those structures aren't collapsing under their own weight. That's something Müller-Fischer says should be working soon.
As it typically does for a major game launch, Nvidia has updated its GeForce card drivers to 314.22 for boosts in performance and stability. It claims recent titans BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider both get a significant bump in frames-per-second, with the former increasing by 41 percent and the latter by an astonishing 71 percent.
Digital Extremes isn't just working on naked space dinos. It's also busy with bringing us armored space cyborg ninjas in Warframe, its co-op third-person shooter showing up later this year. It hit open beta earlier this week, and Nvidia has shared a tech trailer showing off the slick PhysX effects owners of its cards can glimpse while cartwheeling off walls and stabbing things with nano-swords.
It seems like you can't claim to be in the business of next-gen technology these days until you've wheeled out a giant floating man-face. David Cage summoned the disembodied head of Max von Sydow to boggle over the stage at the PS4 reveal, and now, not to be out-done, Nvidia have revealed their own real-time face-o-tech at their GPU Technology Conference in California.
Aiming to help us clamber up the other side of the uncanny valley, Face Works uses a face and motion capture technology developed at the University of Southern California’s Institute of Creative Technology (ICT). The Light Stage technology is able to capture data to within a tenth of a millimetre using photographic techniques that capture the geometry of an actor's face as well as the light transmission through human skin and the reflections that come from the oils too.
Think of this latest Tomb Raider patch as the conditioner for AMD's fancy hair tech TressFX. Owners of Nvidia cards had been experiencing extreme optimisation issues when choosing to let Lara's hair wave free and loose. The update should smooth out those issues, bringing specific stability fixes for Nvidia and Intel cards, as well as "small" improvements to TressFX rendering.
Lara's locks are proving a problem for Nvidia customers, whose graphics cards are struggling to handle the AMD-developed hair-rendering technology. Given that Nvidia owns two thirds of the GPU market, that's an awful lot of Tomb Raiders out there suffering from shoddy performance - if they can even get into their game at all.
I’m one of these unlucky folk, the once-proud owner of a GTX 670, and I can’t even get into the options screen, let alone play the game. Of course, loads of games have had dreadful launches, marred by server problems and driver/graphics card issues; even the likes of Half-Life 2 and Diablo III had trouble getting out of the gate. But the current disadvantage experienced by Nvidia customers could go beyond Lara's bounteous bangs. With AMD components sitting in next-gen consoles, this may not be the only time Nvidia's driver team find themselves left behind at a major game launch.
Nvidia released a new beta version of their GeForce driver this week, once again squeezing more incremental improvements from a bunch of games, both new and old. But one prominent release was missing from the list of tweaks: Tomb Raider. Lara's latest outing may continue Square Enix's quality porting form, but, as Chris notes in his settings overview, GeForce cards attempting to use AMD's new fancy hair tech TressFX suffer a drastic performance hit.
This week, Tyler, Omri, and roguish host/space cowboy T.J. discuss whether or not Sony's PS4 announcement is relevant to PC gamers. And if it is, how relevant is it, really? Also, Nvidia's GTX Titan card, the return of Blizzcon, Crysis 3, and BioShock Infinite.
Plus listener questions and playlists, on a short but sweet PC Gamer Podcast 345: Does PS4 Even Lift?
Whether you want to play Resident Evil 6 is a matter best left to reviews. Whether you can play it is something we can answer right now. Nvidia and Capcom have teamed up to create a benchmark app for the upcoming action horror sequel. Think of it as a separate game for you PC, in which it's forced to battle with extreme hordes of polygons and lighting. It's even given a score and end-of-level Resi-rank.
When I first saw the Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan a couple weeks before launch Nvidia’s Tom Petersen explained that it was their “love story to gamers. It looks great, it sounds great and it has great performance.” And while he is right on pretty much all fronts, the GTX Titan is likely to only ever be a matter of unrequited love for all but a tiny percentage of PC gamers. When you price up a single graphics card at the same price as a performance gaming PC, that’s immediately most of your audience cut out.
So what is it? This is the fastest single-GPU graphics card on the planet and the very top-end of Nvidia’s Kepler architecture. We knew when the GTX 680 launched that it wasn’t home to the full-fat Kepler core - that was held over for the Tesla range of professional graphics cards, which need the amount of double precision compute performance the top GK110 GPU affords.
Anyone remember Cray unveiling their new Titan supercomputer at the tail-end of last year? Y'know, that vast data-munching machine housing 18688 of Nvidia’s Tesla K20 graphics cards, each of which go for around £2500/$3500. I remember looking down mournfully at the GTX 680 in my test rig and thinking “wouldn’t it be nice to have just one of those graphics cards?”
Well, now you can.
Nvidia has re-engineered the GK110 GPU that sits at the heart of the professional Tesla cards and stuck it in a gaming-focused desktop boards. Thus, the GTX Titan is born.
Nvidia and AMD go head-to-head in the bundle wars. Do you want triple-A titles or free-to-play freebies?
Nvidia have hit back in the great bundle wars with their own $150 F2P content giveaway. That’s around £100 in real money. If the lure of having a brand new performance pixel-pusher chucking polygons around your PC’s monitron wasn’t enough to entice you to part with your hard-earned cash, Nvidia are hoping that giving you extra pocket-money in three of the top free-to-play games around will sway you their way. It’s a different take on the game bundle than rival GPU manufacturer, AMD, have used. They recently launched their Never Settle Reloaded bundle, offering triple-A games with newly-purchased graphics cards in their HD 7800 and HD 7900 series.
Nvidia though is banking on the explosion in the free-to-play market being more of an attraction than a bundle of new titles. Which would entice you?
PhysX, Nvidia's fancy-pants physics engine, is due to be added into Planetside 2 at some point in the future. The middleware - often used to add pretty, if largely pointless, physics-based visual flourishes - was previously available in the MMO shooter's beta, but has since been greyed out in the options menu. Players using GeForce's latest 313.96 beta driver can, however, enable the effects right now with some light .ini file tweaking.
PC graphics have come a long way since the year 2000, when Deus Ex was our Game of the Year, people were emerging from panic about the breakdown of Western society, and the Lord of the Rings was still but a wonderful book. The YouTube channel Perfect Hand Videos has released a compilation of over half a hundred tech demos from the decade-plus period, showcasing the progression of particle effects, shaders, and shadows. It's sort of like that chart of evolution from apes to humans, but with polygons.
The new version of Futuremark’s 3DMark has just been released, offering us all ways to benchmark our graphics cards and PCs by using Matrix-esque squid robots. And who wouldn’t want to be able to do that? I’ve grabbed the current top two single-GPU graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia and have put them head-to-head in a battle royale to see who Futuremark's squid-bot believes is the quickest graphics card out there.
This is the new Asus GTX 650-E, a low-power graphics card that takes all the juice it needs from your motherboard, without the need for a secondary power connector from the PSU itself. That means even if you don’t have a PSU capable of juicing up a standard GTX 650 you ought to be able to get Asus’ wee GPU running in your rig. Looking at Asus’ new GTX 650-E though you have to wonder why exactly Nvidia demanded a PCIe power connector as standard for the GTX 650 reference design in the first place.
On the cusp of an open multiplayer beta for Crytek's maximally lustrous Crysis 3, Nvidia released an early version of its GeForce 313.95 drivers today. The GPU giant claims the drivers boost SLI performance for Crysis 3 by up to 35 percent in addition to other "sizeable SLI and single-GPU performance gains" in games such as Assassin's Creed III and Far Cry 3.
If you’ve got an Nvidia graphics card then get over to their website now and download the open beta for the GeForce Experience. It’s been in closed beta since before Christmas and now Nvidia has now opened it up so that anyone can have a go. I’ve been playing with the GeForce Experience on my rigs for a few months and I think it’s an excellent, unobtrusive bit of software. The more of us that get on the beta, the more accurate the results are going to be, so get on there, test the optimal settings and report back your findings.
The tech world has gotten itself into a lather over the bombardment of announcements coming out of Consumer Electronics Show. Here's one that's relevant to us, though: NVIDIA's Project Shield. While it may look like an HD screen bolted to a parody of a PS3 controller, the Android powered device is also capable of streaming your PC game library.