Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Barrier to entry for PC VR lowering thanks to new rendering tech

The near high-end requirements for PC VR solutions might be coming to an end with new rendering technologies.

Oculus uses “Asynchronous Timewarp” (ATW) and the recently announced “Asynchronous Spacewarp” (ASW)  in order to improve VR rendering performance. So confident in its rendering techniques that Oculus released the following minimum PC spec guidelines:

Video Card: NVIDIA: GTX 1050 Ti / GTX 960 or greater | AMD: RX 470 / R9 390 / R9 290 or greater
CPU: Intel i3-6100 / AMD FX 4350 or greater
Memory: 8GB RAM
Video Output: free HDMI 1.3 output
USB Ports: 1x USB 3.0 port plus 2x USB 2.0 ports
OS: Windows 10 64 bit
Premade PCs that meet the above guidelines can be bought for a mere $500 USD.

Valve has released a similar solution for the Vive. With continual improvements to VR hardware and VR rendering techniques, such as foveated rendering which is currently under development, it's likely we'll see mainstream adoption of VR sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

PSVR to Introduce VR Experience to Millions

With PSVR recently launched, one ponders whether its popularity will be a boom to VR on the PC, or will limit its development much like how many PC games today are optimized for consoles with limitations such as 30 fps caps, low-resolution textures, clunky GUIs, lack of dedicated servers, etc.

PSVR will likely be a step in the right direction. Sure, it lacks room-scale tracking but with the support of AAA developers and the allure of the (potentially) large PSVR market it's almost assured that the image of VR will catapult from 3D TV-levels of gimmicky to a must-have experience. In the near future as developers sharpen their VR game making skills we will be bombarded with amazing gameplay from PSVR, Oculus Rift with Touch, and HTC Vive and the allure will be all too strong to resist.

Monday, October 10, 2016

What SMART Stats Tell Us About Hard Drives

Backblaze has crunched the numbers to see what percentage of hard drives report SMART errors before they fail. The conclusion was:

Operational drives with one or more of our five SMART stats greater than zero – 4.2%

Failed drives with one or more of our five SMART stats greater than zero – 76.7%

So the moral of the story is that if your hard drive is reporting any SMART errors at all, it would be wise to replace it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Samsung plans to slash SSD prices to (current) HDD levels by 2020

Samsung plans to slash SSD prices to (current) HDD levels by 2020. At the moment, 1 TB HDD drives are about 4 cents per GB, If Samsung is correct, by 2020 consumers will be able to purchase a 512GB SSD for about $40 USD. At that price point it's likely that SSD adoption will greatly speed up, even on low end builds.

To take advantage of the coming inexpensive SSD revolution make sure that your motherboard has PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 connectors. Flash drives that take advantage of the PCIe interface along with NVMe data protocols offer significant performance advantages over traditional SATA SSDs.

Many GIGABYTE motherboards offer support for the M.2 interface and NVMe. To be exact 141 GIGABYTE motherboards have one or more M.2 slots and all motherboards released after including the Z97 series (released in 2014) support NVMe.