Intel details upcoming 'Ice Lake' Gen 11 integrated graphics architecture

Something to look forward to: On Thursday, Intel released design documents detailing its Gen11 SoC graphics architecture. The information posted on its website outlines what to expect from Gen11, which it announced last December would be twice as fast the previous Gen9 integrated graphics engine.

The new architecture will make its first appearance in Intel’s upcoming 10nm Ice Lake processors. The chip maker indicated that it would be aiming to reach one teraflop of 32-bit and two teraflops of 16-bit floating point performance with the new engine.

According to Intel, it will be based on its 10nm process with third-generation FinFET technology and will support all common APIs and includes Adaptive Sync support. The architecture allows for up to 4×32-bit LPDDR4/DDR4.

Intel raised the number of sub-slices which each house eight cores from three in Gen9 to eight in Gen11 for a total of 64 EUs. That is a considerable improvement over the previous 24 in Skylake chips. The new engine will process two pixels per clock.

Interestingly, CPU and GPU will share last level cache (LLC). Intel explains that this provides increased effectiveness for memory bandwidth by eliminating data movement to and from their respective units. Of course, this is all theoretical, so we’ll have to wait to see if this bears out.

The Gen11 SoC will support course pixel shading (CPS) and position only shading (POSH) to reduce power and bandwidth demands.

CPS reduces shading in portions of the screen where it is less noticeable. This method can improve frame rate and performance, while reducing rendering overhead.

“[We can use] this technique to lower the total overall power requirements or hit specific frame rate targets by decreasing the shading resolution while preserving the fidelity of the edges of geometry in the scene,” Intel said.

The method is best used on objects that are far from the camera, are in motion, or are on the visual periphery.

POSH is a tile-based rendering technology. It reduces the required bandwidth by dividing the image into a certain number of rectangular regions and then rendering them individually. Tiling helps stem the extra write bandwidth that comes with overdrawing pixels.

Intel’s Gen11 integrated graphics should be a considerable step up from the previous generation. If you want to dig into all the gritty details, it posted a white paper on its website.

Intel has Ice Lake core processors slated for release around the 2019 holiday season.

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Apex Legends earned EA $92 million in February, market research firm says

Epic may still be raking in the big bucks from the wild success of Fortnite, but they may not remain the king of the battle royale genre for long.

Competing free-to-play title Apex Legends reportedly earned Electronic Arts (EA) a whopping $92 million in February, which was its first month on the market. This information comes courtesy of market research company SuperData, so it’s not entirely official.

However, in this case, it’s likely a fairly accurate estimate. We’ve already seen Apex Legends reach impressive player count milestones, so it’s not a stretch to think its microtransaction sales numbers are just as high.

Given that EA was apparently too afraid to interfere with Respawn Entertainment’s development of the game, perhaps Apex Legends’ will act as proof that they don’t need to influence future games as heavily as they have to date.

After all, what better way is there to prove to a publisher that your studio knows what it’s doing when left to its own devices than substantial financial success?

Anyway, in terms of February’s top grossing PC titles, Apex Legends took the number 6 slot, which is just below Fortnite. The number one spot went to Dungeon Fighter Online, with League of Legends following close behind at number 2.

EA has a reputation for axing studios whose titles don’t meet its lofty sales expectations, and after Respawn’s Titanfall 2 failed to meet said expectations, it seemed like the studio would be next on the chopping block. Fortunately, Apex Legends’ success has probably staved off the grim reaper for quite a while.

To stay afloat, though, Respawn will need to continue to support the game post-launch with high-quality content. That content could come in the form of new heroes for players to try out, unique new weapons, or completely new game modes.

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Control, Remedy's supernatural action-adventure game, gets summer launch date

Something to look forward to: Control will be Remedy’s first game on a Sony console since Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne way back in 2003. With a heavy influence from that franchise as well as experience gained from Alan Wake and Quantum Break, this supernatural action-adventure title is shaping up to be something special.

Control, the next game from the studio that brought you Max Payne, Alan Wake and Quantum Break, now has a confirmed launch date for this summer.

The title, built using Remedy’s proprietary Northlight Engine (the same one that power’s Quantum Break), was officially revealed during Sony’s press conference at E3 2018. Played from a third-person perspective, Control will have players assume the role of Jesse Faden, a new director at the Federal Bureau of Control which studies supernatural phenomenon.

Faden must contain a supernatural outbreak from the Hiss, a mysterious force that has invaded the agency’s headquarters – the Oldest House.

“Well we are exploring the idea of: we want to retain the strong storytelling and strong characters and strong world-building that we have done in the past, but also we want to find ways for the players to be able to spend more time with an experience,” said Sam Lake, creative director for Remedy during a May 2017 interview with EuroGamer.

“It’s not just played once through and then you are done in a weekend. Exploring ways to expand that side of the thing without losing what we feel that we do really well.”

Immediately evident in the E3 trailer is the heavy Max Payne influence. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – perhaps even welcomed for gamers that enjoyed Remedy’s earlier third-person classic from 2001.

Control is due out on August 27, 2019, for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.

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Irdeto sets its sights on multiplayer hacking with 'Denuvo Anti-Cheat'

Irdeto — the company who now owns the controversial (but effective) anti-piracy software known as Denuvo — has turned its sights toward the world of cheating; specifically, cheating in competitive multiplayer titles.

The company announced “Denuvo Anti-Cheat” at GDC 2019, claiming that their solution will utilize “agnostic” machine learning algorithms, as well as the latest “hardware security” features from AMD and Intel to detect hackers.

This announcement hasn’t come entirely out of the blue. Back when Denuvo was first purchased by Irdeto, the company said it wanted to pivot the software to tackle cheating in online games – although, at the time, it seemed they were more referring to players who obtain microtransactions through hacking, rather than those who actively aimbot or wallhack in-game.

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At any rate, in terms of how Denuvo Anti-Cheat works, we don’t have many details to go on. However, Irdeto promises that the tech will have “no impact” on gameplay or performance and that it will be relatively easy for developers to implement into their games.

Denuvo Anti-Cheat will, of course, be designed to help protect “regular” legitimate gamers, but it sounds like another major focus for Irdeto is the eSports scene. With real money on the line in the form of tournaments, Irdeto likely hopes their service will be all the more appealing given their track record in the anti-piracy scene.

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Thinking outside the box: watercooling an air cooler

Through the looking glass: Additional testing and comparisons are needed to determine how this setup would perform against a traditional air cooler, a basic all-in-one watercooling kit or a quality waterblock. Still, it’s a neat idea and a prime example of thinking outside the box. And who knows, maybe the concept will catch on?

Deciding between a traditional heatsink and fan combo or a watercooling setup to keep CPU temperatures under control is no easy task. Each method has its own pros and cons that must be weighed, including but not limited to cost, noise, performance and risk.

But who ever said you actually had to decide one way or the other? Why not do both?

James from Major Hardware recently conceived this very idea and acted upon it. Using a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO as the base, James built an acrylic enclosure around the heatsink, attached some fittings and connected tubing. After a quick leak check and applying some extra silicon, the prototype watercooled heatsink was ready for a test run.

There are plenty of reasons why this wouldn’t’ be feasible over the long-term – corrosion and leaks immediately come to mind. The bigger question, however, is just how practical a setup like this is.

What are your thoughts? Could this catch on as a trend or is it little more than a fun YouTube experiment?

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