August 2015

By Sascha Segan, PCMag Staff
Long ago, IFA was a European home-goods trade show. Now it's basically European CES: the big moment before the holidays when large electronics companies get their product lines in order for later in the year. While the Berlin-based show still has a strong European focus, plenty of U.S. products appear at IFA as well.
IFA has an odd cadence to it. Because the show floor is open to the public, most of the press and trade announcements happen before the show formally begins. We'll start to see major announcements rolling out on Tuesday, Sept. 1 and they'll largely be done by Friday, Sept. 4, the first day the show floor is open. Still, the huge IFA floor is full of all sorts of amazing technology, so we'll be cruising around looking for the best innovations.
We'll have two people on the ground at IFA this year, Sascha Segan and Will Greenwald, but our whole staff has been in touch with major electronics vendors trying to suss out what will happen in Berlin this year. Here's what we've turned up so far, category by category.
Cameras
With PhotoPlus, a huge photography industry trade show, coming in October, it looks like most camera vendors are keeping things low-key at IFA. The most notable invitation we've seen is from Ricoh, which is announcing an "exciting, new addition to its Ricoh Theta family of 360-degree spherical imaging cameras." Major drone maker DJI is also holding a press conference, but we're not expecting anything dramatic.

Chips

Intel has a major press conference on Sept. 2, where it's expected to announce Skylake, its sixth-generation Core family and its newest mainstream desktop/laptop set of chips.
Because they're designed to operate at a range of wattages from 4.5 watts to 45 watts, Skylake chips can work in devices from tablets up to desktops (but not in phones.) Skylake chips also use less power (even when driving displays supporting high resolutions, such as 4K) and integrate next-generation imaging, audio, and memory technologies.
At Intel's developer forum in August, the company went into details about the Skylake architecture, but the only chips it's actually launched so far were some super-fast gaming versions. If Skylake chips are coming, we should expect to see some Skylake-powered desktops and laptops as well.
Home Entertainment
For HDTVs, don't expect much news out of IFA; the big announcements always come from CES in January. However, we can still see some interesting trends and concepts in home entertainment come out of Berlin, the most important one being the UHD Alliance further fleshing out Ultra HD Blu-ray technology.
Ultra high-definition (UHD, or 4K) video has been technologically possible for a few years, and 4K HDTVs have become more and more affordable. However, besides streaming content through services like Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Instant Video, actual things to watch haven't been very common. This could change with Ultra HD Blu-rays, a new Blu-ray standard that allows much more data to be stored on the discs, thanks to both multi-layer media and compression systems. Besides 4K video, Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will support advanced features like high dynamic range (HDR) content and Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound. This will require you to get a new Blu-ray player that supports it, and in the case of HDR and Dolby Atmos, new HDTVs that support 4K and HDR, as well as Atmos-compatible sound systems.
Expect to see some new audio products, including headphones, earphones, and headsets from major manufacturers, along with soundbars and other sound systems. Dolby Atmos uses height and audio reflection to produce a much more accurate and all-encompassing surround sound, but has previously been only for commercial theatres and expensive custom home theaters. We'll likely see some more accessible Atmos sound systems at IFA.
Outside of home entertainment, expect to see new digital home products, with lots of home automation and smart lighting, locking, and monitoring systems on display. They might use very different plugs in Germany, but the technology that lets you control your home through your smartphone will be the same when it comes here.
Laptops and Desktops
Acer, Asus, and Lenovo will all be refreshing their desktop and laptop lineups at IFA. Asus's teaser video shows an all-in-one desktop, while Acer's event invite showed a photo of part of its Predator Gaming series of high-end desktops. We don't have any details on what Lenovo is doing specifically.
In terms of storage, SSDs are going to (finally) approach HDD capacities (500GB-1TB) at an affordable price point. Large capacity (6-8TB+) hard drives are going to move focus to NAS and server applications, since everyone is connected to the cloud for streaming video and music.
Along with Windows 10 machines, we're expecting to see several new Chromebooks, the new low-end laptops.
Mobile Phones and Tablets
The flagship phone at IFA may come from Sony on Sept. 2. Leakmaster Evan Blass says Sony will have three new phones: the Xperia Z5 Compact, the Xperia Z5, and the Xperia Z5 Premium. With a 4.6-inch, 720p screen, the Compact may address the lack of high-quality smaller Android phones in the market, while the 5.5-inch Premium may have a super-high-resolution 2160p screen.
Just as Sony is announcing those phones, Huawei is expected to roll out the Mate 8, with a 6-inch quad-HD screen, 20.7-megapixel camera, and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. It will run Huawei's HiSilicon Kirin 950 processor and will presumably be the hardware template for Google's new Nexus phone, arriving later this fall.
The CEO of Asus said we'll see the ZenFone Zoom and ZenFone Max at IFA at about the same time. According to him, the Zoom has a 3x optical zoom, while the Max has a 5,000mAh battery. We saw and handled a version of the ZenFone Zoom at CES this year, but it hasn't hit the market yet.
Not to be left behind, Acer is bringing some phones, too. GSMArena picked up a leak of the Acer Liquid Z630 and Liquid Z530, both midrange (and not all that exciting) Android devices. Previous rumors said Acer may announce some Windows Phones at IFA, but that announcement will probably be held for the official Windows 10 Mobile launch in October.
Is Archos still a thing? I guess so. The company just announced that it will be showing off three new smartphones, the Diamond S, the 50e Helium and the 50 Cesium. The Diamond S has a 5-inch, 720p screen and an octo-core MediaTek processor; it's shiny, and costs around $250 unlocked. The Helium and Cesium are low-end phones in Android and Windows flavors. All three will be on show at IFA.
LG already announced its G Pad II, and we'll get the first real look at this Android tablet during IFA. The G Pad II has a 10.1-inch, 1,920-by-1,200 display and a 2.26GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. Yes, that's a two-year-old processor, but we're expecting a thoroughly midrange price for this tablet.
Motorola isn't announcing any phones, but it looks like its parent company Lenovo will announce phones and tablets. There have been several rumours about new phones in Lenovo's Vibe series as well as a Yoga Tablet 3 with a swivelling camera.
Wearables
There's going to be a flood of Android Wear watches at IFA. We're likely to see a new Android Wear watch from Motorola, one from Acer, the Huawei Watch which we first saw at MWC earlier this year and new Asus ZenWatches, at the very least.
Against this trend flies Samsung's Gear S2, which will probably run Samsung's proprietary Tizen OS. Samsung already has a video out about this watch, but its formal launch, and the first hands-ons, will come in the IFA time frame.
We'll have more coverage of IFA as things unfold starting on Sept. 1.

By Chloe Albanesius
The invitations for Apple's Sept. 9 event are out, so the rumour mill is kicking into overdrive.
Ahead of the big reveal in San Francisco next month, reports about a new colour, the future of existing products, and iPhone specs are making the rounds.
According to 9to5Mac, for example, the next-gen iPhone, which will likely be named the iPhone 6s, will come in a rose gold colour. Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal suggested the device might come in a pink colour, but 9to5Mac says it's closer to rose gold, like the Apple Watch.
Those of you hoping to avoid the big smartphone craze, meanwhile, will be out of luck, as 9to5Mac also said Apple will discontinue its 4-inch iPhone 5c. The colourful, relatively affordable smartphones were introduced in 2013, but will now be replaced by the iPhone 5s, which will get a price drop. 9to5Mac said Apple has been tinkering with an upgraded 4-inch iPhone, but it won't make an appearance on Sept. 9.
As for what the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will include, the blog suggests that the camera will be a major focus. Watch out for a 12-megapixel camera, 4K video recording, and better photos thanks to an A9 chip.
Other recent iPhone rumours, meanwhile, include the Force Touch capabilities found on the new MacBook and Apple Watch.
For those who are not quite ready to upgrade their iPhone hardware, iOS 9 will arrive in the fall for most recent Apple smartphones. To see what's on tap, check out 11 Intriguing Features in Apple's iOS 9.

By Chloe Albanesius

Weeks after a prominent YouTube star complained about Facebook's failure to protect content creators' videos, the social network has promised to crack down on video piracy.
"We've heard from some video publishers that there are ways in which we can be doing a better job," Facebook said in a Thursday statement.
Earlier this month, Hank Green criticised Facebook for not acting fast enough to remove videos that are uploaded by someone other than the content creator. If I uploaded Green's video, for example, I'd get the video views rather than Green, which could be detrimental to his business in the long run.
The social network will, upon request, remove the content in question "a couple days after you let them know," Green said at the time. "Y'know, once it's received 99.9 percent of the views it will ever receive."
Videos uploaded to Facebook are currently run through Audible Magic, "which uses audio fingerprinting technology to help identify and prevent unauthorised videos from making their way onto the platform," Facebook said.
But as video views explode on Facebook, thanks in large part to to News Feed auto-play, it has become more challenging to police unauthorised video uploads.
In response, "we're working with Audible Magic to enhance the way that system works with Facebook, including improving the intake of content intended to be blocked from our platform," Facebook said. "And we're making improvements to our existing procedures so that infringing content can be reported and removed more efficiently, and to keep repeat infringers off our service."
But Facebook has also been working on video-matching technology specifically for viral sensations like Green.
It "will be available to a subset of creators," Facebook said, "is tailored to our platform, and will allow these creators to identify matches of their videos on Facebook across Pages, profiles, groups, and geographies."
"When matches are surfaced, publishers will be able to report them to us for removal," Facebook said.
The social network will start testing this technology with a small group of creators soon, including media companies, multi-channel networks, and individual video creators.
"This is just the beginning," Facebook concluded. "In the long-term, our goal is to provide a comprehensive video management system that fits the needs of our partners. This will take time, but we're working on it, and we're committed."

By Don Reisinger
Sony has tried to keep its plans for a new flagship smartphone under wraps, but it just can't seem to catch a break.
Sony Mobile Communications's director of marketing for France, Olivier Terme, sat down for an interview recently with French news outlet Clubic. During the chat, Terme talked about plans for Sony's upcoming Xperia Z5 flagship, saying that the device will come in two sizes—one boasting a 5.2-inch screen and another, the Xperia Z5 Premium, with a 5.5-inch display. The Premium model, Terme said, will feature a 23-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 5X digital zoom. The high-end handset will also be waterproof and dustproof.
The original video has since been taken down from YouTube, but multiple copies have been posted to the site. Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The leak comes ahead of the IFA trade show in Berlin, one of the largest consumer electronics shows in the world. It will be headlined by several prominent companies, including Sony, which is hosting a press event on Wednesday and will likely have its next-gen Xperia lineup on display.
Last week, Evan Blass, who is best known for leaking details on upcoming smartphones on his Twitter account @evleaks, tweeted a post from Sony's Facebook Georgia account that included details about what Sony will reveal on Wednesday: the Xperia Z5 Compact, the standard Xperia Z5, and the Xperia Z5 Premium. All of the features listed in the Facebook post for the Premium and standard Z5 were confirmed in the Clubinc video with Terme. Like the video, the Facebook post was quickly removed from Sony's Georgia page after it was discovered.
Still, questions remain over what Sony's mobile future looks like. While the company at one time believed that it would drive a significant portion of its business on mobile devices, the division has buckled under the pressure of major competitors, including Apple and Samsung. In July, Sony announced that its Mobile & Communications division, which includes the sale of smartphones, saw revenue tumble 16.3 percent year-over-year to $2.3 billion, and posted an operating loss of $188 million.
Sony has acknowledged its mobile troubles, saying that it will no longer focus on it as a core driver of its operation. The company also hasn't ruled out the possibility of selling its mobile business, but for now, says it wants to resurrect it and bring it back to profitability.
As for the Xperia Z5? PCMag will be at IFA, so look for more details, including pricing and availability, sometime this week.

By Sascha Segan
Android Wear just got a lot more compatible. Google today announced an iOS app that lets iPhones pair with Android Wear watches, two days before we expect to see a flood of new watches from LG, Acer, Asus, Huawei, and others at the IFA trade show in Berlin.
According to a Google blog post, the new app moves fitness, search, and notification data between your iPhone and your Android Wear watch. You'll be able to holler "OK Google" at your watch to use Google Now, and get various Google Now cards designed to give you up-to-the-minute data.
It's currently only compatible with the LG Watch Urbane (shown above), but "all future Android Wear watches," presumably including anything announced at IFA this week, will support the new app. The blog post shows an iPhone running Google Hangouts synced to a watch, so this solution is probably more for people who heavily use Google services rather than something like FaceTime. It also won't work with third-party Android Wear apps, which are designed to run on Android phones.
Android Wear will work with iPhone 5 or later models running iOS 8.2 or later. I don't see the app in the App Store yet, but it's supposed to go live today.
Apple Watch, of course, still doesn't work with Android phones.
We've reviewed more than a half-dozen Android Wear watches, and the software platform is clearly still a work in progress. Our smartwatch reviewer, Tim Torres, said the LG Watch Urbane was a "tough sell" at US$349, but said the Wear platform, in general, is stuck as "primarily a delivery method for notifications and voice commands." On a recent trip to Canada, I was stymied by trouble with local search and shaky Bluetooth connections between my phone and my watch.
We're sure to hear much more about Android Wear at IFA, especially Wednesday and Thursday as all those new watches appear.

By Chloe Albanesius


Samsung today formally announced its Gear S2 smartwatch ahead of the IFA trade show in Berlin.
The Korean gadget maker already teased its next-gen wearable during its Galaxy Note 5 Unpacked event in New York City earlier this month. But today, it revealed a few more information about the smartwatch, though pricing and availability are still unknown.
The device sports a 1.2-inch circular Super AMOLED 360-by-360 display with 302ppi. It runs a dual-core 1GHz processor and comes with 4GB of internal memory and 512MB of RAM.
Like the Gear S and the Gear 2 devices Samsung unveiled last year, the Gear S2 will run Tizen, Samsung's proprietary OS.
The 11.4mm Gear S2 includes a rotating bezel, as well as Home and Back buttons for a "more precise method to comfortably access notifications and applications," Samsung said.
The Gear S2 will come in two versions: Gear S2 and the Gear S2 classic. The classic looks like a more traditional watch with a leather band and black finish, while the S2 is more modern and will be available with a dark grey case and band or a silver case and white band.
Like most smartwatches, the S2 will provide at-a-glance notifications, as well as the ability to send texts and track fitness, including heart rate. It's IP68 certified dust- and water-resistant. The S2 supports NFC for mobile payments, but Samsung said it also wants to expand its use to things like smart car keys, residential room keys, and remote controls to manage a connected home.
Samsung promised two to three days of typical usage via its 250mAh Li-ion, which can be charged wirelessly via a charging dock.
The S2 supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth but can also connect via 3G so you don't have to be near your smartphone. Samsung also pointed to the "first-ever e-SIM with voice capability."
Samsung Australia issued the following statement with regards to the S2:
"We are very excited to confirm that the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch will arrive in Australia soon. The Gear S2 demonstrates Samsung’s commitment to being a pioneer in wearable device innovation and advancing our smartwatch category. In 2013 we launched our first smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear and since then, we have seen Australians embrace wearable technology. The Gear S2 will provide our customers with a truly amazing smartwatch experience. We look forward to providing more details regarding local pricing and availability closer to the Australian launch.”
The announcement comes as Google today said that iPhone users will be able to link their Apple smartphones to Android Wear smartwatches, beginning with the LG Watch Urbane.

By Alex Kidman

In the US, Netflix has just announced it's dropping a range of movies previously licensed through Epix. If you're a subscriber to the Australian service, you don't have to worry.

In the US, the deal with Epix is set to expire at the end of September, taking with it popular films such as Hunger Games: Catching Fire, World War Z, and Transformers: Age of Extinction, as well as older films such as the Rocky series.
If you're one of the (naughty!) Australians using a VPN or DNS workaround to access Netflix's US library, you may want to get your binge watching in now before they vanish.
If you're still keen on the films that are vanishing, they've apparently been snapped up by Hulu. It's not illegal to use a VPN service in Australia, although it's almost certainly a breach of the T&Cs of streaming services to do so.
What if you're a subscriber to the Australian service, though?
While Netflix has been making a lot of noise about its desire for entirely global deals, it appears that the Epix deal was US only, with representatives for Netflix in Australia tellling PC Mag Australia that " The news around the Epix deal pertains only to the US service and has no impact on the Netflix Australia library."
That's encouraging news, given that the Netflix Australia library is still substantially smaller than its US counterpart, although a number of titles that are dropping off the US service weren't available via Netflix in Australia in any case; the Hunger Games series, for example, is a Stan exclusive.
As always, there's no one "best" streaming service, because it depends both on your tastes and the variable way that titles come and go on each different service.

By Joel Hruska 
Every time Microsoft releases a new version of an operating system, there’s always a few users bitterly unhappy at the company’s decision not to support new features on older products. Microsoft has finally listened to these die-hard devotees of older operating systems. If you felt like Windows 7 and Windows 8 offered you a little too much privacy, rejoice: Microsoft is updating those operating systems with the same telemetry gathering software it deployed on Windows 10.
What? You wanted DirectX 12?
Ghacks.net has discovered four KB updates for Windows 7 and 8, each of which is described as an “Update for customer experience and diagnostic telemetry.” Each is detailed below:
KB 3068708: This update introduces the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices. By applying this service, you can add benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.
KB 3068708 is listed as collecting diagnostics about functional issues on systems that take part in the Customer Experience Improvement Program. Determining whether or not you are a member of the CEIP, however, is less than obvious. The KB also notes that “Most programs make CEIP options available on the Help menu, although for some products, you might have to check settings, options, or preferences menus.” This is a recommended Windows update.
KB 3022345: This update has been superseded by KB 3068708, but previously provided the same telemetry-tracking services. It’s not clear how the two updates differ, but if you want to remove all traces of telemetry tracking, you’ll want to remove this update as well.
KB 3075249: This update adds telemetry points to the User Account Control (UAC) feature to collect information on elevations that come from low integrity levels. What this appears to mean is that MS wants more information about the kinds of applications that trigger UAC in the first place, presumably because it wants to know what they do and why they need that access. This update is classified as Optional.
KB 3080149: This update is described in identical language to the first two. “This package updates the Diagnostics and Telemetry tracking service to existing devices. This service provides benefits from the latest version of Windows to systems that have not yet upgraded. The update also supports applications that are subscribed to Visual Studio Application Insights.” It is provided as an Optional update, even though the first was classified a “Recommended” update.

Hard-coded phoning home

One of the assumptions made by various privacy advocates and journalists, including me, is that third-party utilities would be able to shut down the tracking Microsoft deployed in Windows 10. To some degree, that’s already happened, but there are certain new “features” of the operating system that can’t be blocked by any OS-level tweaks, including the hosts file. The updates listed above connect to vortex-win.data.microsoft.com and settings-win.data.microsoft.com. These addresses are hard-coded to bypass the hosts file and cannot be prevented from connecting. No software firewall can stop them, either, because the data doesn’t flow through the usual channels.
It’s not clear if setting this flag in Windows 7 still disables all telemetry with the new patches installed.
The only way to block some of these connections is if your router has a firewall you can configure and if that firewall allows you to block HTTPS connections instead of simply passing them through. Some users have reported that they can block these connections, but plenty of other devices can’t, at least not completely. It’s still possible to reduce the amount of information flowing to Microsoft, but disabling it completely seems to be impossible unless you build a software router or replace your current hardware with a dedicated box.
Windows 7’s GPEdit.msc contains a setting that allows users to disable all application telemetry, and another setting that can shut off user participation in the Consumer Experience Improvement Program. Whether these options continue to function after the latest patches isn’t known. Users who do not wish to send Microsoft their own telemetry should uninstall the updates and tell Windows Update to hide them from now on.

By Joel Hruska
One question that’s been popping up with increasing frequency when we talk about high-end graphics cards is whether 4GB of RAM is enough to power current and next-generation gaming. When we initially covered AMD’s Fury X launch, I promised to return to this topic and cover it in more detail. Before we can hit the data, however, we need to talk about how VRAM management works and what tools are available to evaluate it in DirectX 11.

While it might seem straightforward to test whether or not any given title uses more than 4GB of RAM, the tools for doing this are rather inexact. The GPU itself does not control which data is loaded into memory. Instead, memory management is handled by the operating system and the GPU driver. The GPU tells the OS how much memory it has, but it doesn’t make any decisions about how data is loaded or which data is loaded first.
One way that game developers handle memory management in software is by creating game presets that assume a particular amount of VRAM is present on the card. Low detail might be tuned to run on 512MB cards, while ultra detail assumes you have at least 4GB of VRAM. If you choose a detail level that calls for more VRAM than is present on your card, you’ll likely see a heavy performance hit as the system is forced to load data from main memory.
Memory usage in Shadow of Mordor
Shadow of Mordor frame rate scaling by resolution between all three cards
Some games won’t use much VRAM, no matter how much you offer them, while others are more opportunistic. This is critically important for our purposes, because there’s not an automatic link between the amount of VRAM a game is using and the amount of VRAM it actually requires to run. Our first article on the Fury X showed how  Shadow of Mordor actually used dramatically more VRAM on the GTX Titan X as compared with the GTX 980 Ti, without offering a higher frame rate. Until we hit 8K, there was no performance advantage to the huge memory buffer in the GTX Titan X — and the game ran so slowly at that resolution, it was impossible to play on any card.

GPU-Z: An imperfect tool

GPU-Z claims to report how much VRAM the GPU actually uses, but there’s a significant caveat to this metric. GPU-Z doesn’t actually report how much VRAM the GPU is actually using — instead, it reports the amount of VRAM that a game has requested. We spoke to Nvidia’s Brandon Bell on this topic, who told us the following: “None of the GPU tools on the market report memory usage correctly, whether it’s GPU-Z, Afterburner, Precision, etc. They all report the amount of memory requested by the GPU, not the actual memory usage. Cards will larger memory will request more memory, but that doesn’t mean that they actually use it. They simply request it because the memory is available.”
There are other tools, like Process Explorer, which can also capture GPU memory requests — but they don’t confirm actual memory usage, either.
Our own testing backed up this claim; VRAM monitoring is subject to a number of constraints. Resolution switching or visiting more than one area before beginning testing can significantly increase total memory “in use” without actually impacting performance at all. There’s also a moderate amount of variance between test runs. We can say that the GPU requested around 4.5GB of RAM, for example, but one test run might show a GPU topping at 4.3GB while the next showed a maximum RAM consumption of 4.5GB. Reported VRAM consumption can also vary during the game; logging and playthroughs must be carefully managed.

Finding >4GB games

When we started this process, I assumed that a number of high-end titles could readily be provoked into using more than 4GB of VRAM. In reality, this proved a tough nut to crack. Plenty of titles top out around 4GB, but most don’t exceed it. Given the lack of precision in VRAM testing, we needed games that could unambiguously break the 4GB limit.
We tested Assassin’s Creed Unity, Battlefield 4, BioShock Infinite, Civilization: Beyond Earth,  Company of Heroes 2, Crysis 3, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Evil Within, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto V, Metro Last Light (original), Rome: Total War 2, Shadow of Mordor, Tomb Raider, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Out of those 15 titles, just four of them could be coaxed into significantly exceeding the 4GB limit: Shadow of Mordor, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Far Cry 4, and Grand Theft Auto V. Even in these games, we had to use extremely high detail settings to ensure that the GPUs would regularly report well over 4GB of RAM in use.
Our testbed for this project was an Intel Core i7-5960X with 16GB of DDR4-2667 running Windows 8.1 with all patches and updates installed. While Windows 10 has just recently launched, we began this project on Windows 8.1 and wanted to finish it there. Transitioning operating systems would have necessitated a complete retest of our titles. We tested AMD’s Radeon R9 Fury X, Nvidia’s GTX 980 Ti, and the top-end GTX Titan X. With Titan X, we were curious to see if we’d see any benefits to running with a 12GB RAM buffer over and above the 6GB buffer on the GTX 980 Ti.
In every case, the games in question were pushed to maximum detail levels. MSAA was not used, since that incurs its own performance penalty and could warp results, but the highest non-GameWorks settings were used in all standard menus. GW-specific implementations available only on Nvidia hardware were left disabled to create a level testing field. The one exception to this was Grand Theft Auto V, where we used Nvidia’s PCSS shadows for its cards, and AMD’s preferred CHS shadows for the Fury X.

GameWorks, performance, and 4GB VRAM

There’s one common factor that ties three of our four >4GB titles together — GameWorks. Three of the four games that we’ve tested (Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, and Grand Theft Auto V) are Nvidia GameWorks titles, meaning they make use of Nvidia-provided libraries to provide key DirectX 11 functions like ambient occlusion, soft shadows, and tessellation. AMD cannot optimize for these games to the same degree and AMD GPUs tend to perform significantly worse in GameWorks titles than in other games. We’ve discussed GameWorks, its implications, and its impact on various titles at multiple times in the past few years.
One thing I want to stress is that while we’ll be looking at performance data in this article, its primary purpose isn’t to compare how the Fury X stacks up, performance-wise, against Nvidia’s highest-end GPUs. Such comparisons are inevitable, to some extent, but this isn’t a standard review. We’ve created specialized test cases designed to test a theory and used settings that significantly depart from what we consider playable or appropriate for 4K testing. As such, the 4K performance results in this story should not be treated as typical results for Nvidia or AMD. The goal of these tests is to create a worst-case scenario for a GPU with 4GB of VRAM and see what happens as a result.
We covered Shadow of Mordor in our initial Fury X coverage, so this article will concern itself with the three new games we tested. Let’s kick things off with Far Cry 4.

By Graham Templeton 


In medicine these days, the word “gene” shows up in all sorts of different contexts and conjugations. There’s genetics, of course, and there’s genomics. Then there’s meta-genomics — and don’t forget genetic engineering, gene-finding, and molecular genotyping! It’s easy to mix up the various distinct branches within the realm of DNA science, but if there’s one subcategory worth keeping straight in your head for the coming years, it’s gene therapy. What is gene therapy? Gene therapy is the use of genetic material as medicine.
To get at just what that means, and why it could be so powerful, we have to start with a quick refresher on how genes actually do things. Genes sit in the cell’s highly protected genome, the library of blueprints that lets every living thing run and rebuild itself properly. To put their code into practice, most genes must be “translated” into a protein — the DNA code specifies the order of amino acids to be added to a chain, which then folds up into a shape determined by that sequence. It’s through this folded three-dimensional structure that the protein performs its function within the cell.

This mice had its genetic deafness partially reversed.
So, if you want to change something happening in a cell, you can achieve this by changing the DNA that codes for the protein shape that does the something. And if there’s a problem of dosage, like having only one copy of a gene instead of two, we could perhaps increase the protein output by inserting a second copy of our own. In either case, we’re changing the genes available to the cell’s regular protein-making machinery, in order to change how the cells behave.
In principle, it’s easy — but is it easy to actually do? Of course not.
First, it’s very difficult to actually get new or edited genes inside the cells they need to correct. Cells have specifically evolved to try to stop that from happening — and indeed, scientists have had to hijack viruses, evolution’s specialized, semi-living DNA syringes, for this purpose. They’re still imperfect, however; every individual cell in your body has its own personal copy of your genome, complete and (mostly) identical to the others; if your problem is genetically inherited, that means every cell in your body also has that same defect, and there’s no way we’ll be able to change every cell in your body. Even if we successfully edit millions of copies of your genome, we’ve still left billions of others untreated.
So, the earliest and still most important applications for gene therapy involve test tubes — remove a sample of a patient’s bone marrow and change a gene of interest, then inject the fixed cells back into the host. This tends to work only if the fixed cells have better fitness or longer lifetimes than the natural type, so they can out-compete the disease cells and dominate the population.

It’s only now becoming possible to edit genes within the body of a living patient. In vivo gene therapy is currently best suited to problems that only affect a specific cell type, offering a limited number and physical distribution of targets. The genetic problem we set out to address will still be in the rest of the untreated cells, but if it’s not used by them to function then it’s not a medical issue. Examples of modern target cell types include certain types of liver cells, and the cochlear hair cells of the mammalian ear.
In both cases, repeated virus-treatment can “infect” a high-enough proportion of a specific population of cells with our therapeutic gene to have the effect we’re looking for. Some gene therapy techniques simply insert the medical gene into the host cell’s nucleus where the genome lives, there to sit and make protein alongside the natural blueprints. However, that only works long-term in cells that don’t divide over time, such as neurons. If the cells are dividing, as most cells do, our gene has to be actually spliced into the host cell’s genome or else get left behind every time the cell reproduces.
The primary technology for achieving this sort of splicing is called CRISPR technology; it stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, not that it matters. What’s important is that by inserting our gene along with the CRISPR system of proteins and RNAs, the gene can be spliced into the genome wherever desired, and the original version spliced out. From that point on, the cells will divide and replicate the inserted gene as though it had been there all along.
It’s important to remember that by fixing a genetic problem, we haven’t changed anything about the heritability of the disease. Fixing someone’s deafness by editing the DNA in their cochlear hair cells, for instance, won’t make them any less likely to pass on the disease to their offspring — though with gene therapy’s available to help address the problem, that might not be the biggest downside in the world.
Check out our ExtremeTech Explains series for more in-depth coverage.

By Joel Hruska 
When Ashes of the Singularity launched two weeks ago, it gave us our first view of DirectX 12’s performance in a real game. What was meant to be a straightforward performance preview was disrupted by a PR salvo from Nvidia attempting to discredit the game and its performance results. Oxide Games refuted Nvidia’s statements about the state of Ashes, but the events raised questions about the state of Nvidia’s DX12 drivers and whether its GPUs were as strong in DirectX 12 as they have been in DirectX 11. (Oxide itself attributed these differences to driver maturity, not any fundamental quality of either GPU family). Now, an unnamed Oxide employee has released some additional information on both the state of Ashes and the reason why AMD’s performance is so strong.
AMD’s R9 Fury X tied the GTX 980 Ti in DX12, though NV swept DX11 by a large margin.
According to Kollock, the idea that there’s some break between Oxide Games and Nvidia is fundamentally incorrect. He (or she) describes the situation as follows: “I believe the initial confusion was because Nvidia PR was putting pressure on us to disable certain settings in the benchmark, when we refused, I think they took it a little too personally.” Kollock goes on to state that Oxide has been working quite closely with Nvidia, particularly over this past summer. According to them, Nvidia was “actually a far more active collaborator over the summer then AMD was, if you judged from email traffic and code-checkins, you’d draw the conclusion we were working closer with Nvidia rather than AMD ;)”
According to Kollack, the only vendor-specific code in Ashes was implemented for Nvidia, because attempting to use asynchronous compute under DX12 with an Nvidia card currently causes tremendous performance problems:
“Personally, I think one could just as easily make the claim that we were biased toward Nvidia as the only ‘vendor’ specific code is for Nvidia where we had to shutdown async compute. By vendor specific, I mean a case where we look at the Vendor ID and make changes to our rendering path. Curiously, their driver reported this feature was functional but attempting to use it was an unmitigated disaster in terms of performance and conformance so we shut it down on their hardware. As far as I know, Maxwell doesn’t really have Async Compute* so I don’t know why their driver was trying to expose that.”
This type of problem, however, is why DX12, AMD and Nvidia drivers, and Ashes itself are all heavily qualified as being in early days. All of the companies involved are still working things out. It’s odd, however, that Nvidia chose to emphasize a non-existent MSAA bug in Ashes when they could’ve raised questions over asynchronous compute. It’s also worth noting, as Kollack does, that since asynchronous compute isn’t part of the DX12 specification, its presence or absence on any GPU has no bearing on DX12 compatibility.
Note: Nvidia has represented to ExtremeTech and other hardware sites that Maxwell 2 (the GTX 900 family) is capable of asynchronous compute, with one graphics queue and 31 compute queues. We are investigating this situation. It is not clear how these compute queues are accessed or what the performance penalty is for using them; GCN, according to AMD, is eight ACEs’ with eight queues each, for a total of 64 queues + a graphics queue.

Asynchronous compute, DX12, and GCN

Kollack writes that Ashes does take some advantage of asynchronous computing and sees a corresponding performance increase while using it, but that the work the team has done to-date is a fraction of what console developers may be building. Asynchronous computing is essentially useful for two types of work: It allows jobs to be completed on the GPU when the graphics card is idle (while waiting on the CPU, for example), and it allows tasks to be handled completely separately from the regular render workload. In theory, gameplay calculations can be sent to the ACEs while the GPU is busy with other tasks.

The author speculates that ACE’s used in this manner may have some similarities to Sony’s Cell, which was capable of enormous number-crunching performance if you optimized the code correctly and expects asynchronous compute to be increasingly important to future games:
“I think you’re also being a bit short-sighted on the possible use of compute for general graphics. It is not limited to post process. Right now, I estimate about 20% of our graphics pipeline occurs in compute shaders, and we are projecting this to be more then 50% on the next iteration of our engine. In fact, it is even conceivable to build a rendering pipeline entirely in compute shaders. For example, there are alternative rendering primitives to triangles which are actually quite feasible in compute… It’s quite possible that in 5 years time Nitrous’s rendering pipeline is 100% implemented via compute shaders.”
AMD has previously argued that its GCN architecture was well-suited to DX12 thanks to features like asynchronous compute, and this appears to confirm it. Exactly how much performance the feature delivers will require a great many more titles and finalized code, but it’s possible that the performance split between AMD and Nvidia will be quite different under DirectX 12 compared to DirectX 11.
Ever since the Xbox One and PS4 launched, we’ve looked for signs that the game optimizations that developers must be doing for GCN on consoles were making their way to the PC space. So far, there’s been little proof that owning the console market has helped PC gamers with AMD hardware — but that could be because PC games depended on DX11, which is an entirely different API with very different characteristics from DX12. Similarly, AMD’s asynchronous compute units weren’t very compatible with DX12 either, and saw little use.
If console developers are doing advanced offloading to bolster overall performance (since the Xbox One and PS4 aren’t exactly loaded for bear in the CPU department), then it’s possible that some of those advantages will finally come to the PC space, particularly on games optimized for Xbox One. The PS4’s API is said to be similar to Mantle or DX12 in some particulars, but the Xbox One will use DX12 itself.
We’re not going to draw any early conclusions from such narrow data, but the next 12-18 months should provide evidence one way or the other. As DX12 rolls out to Xbox One, we’ll either see an uptick in the number of games with better GCN optimizations in DX12, or we won’t. Either way, DirectX 12 gives developers far more control over performance tuning and optimizations than DX11 did, and that should help level the playing field between AMD and Nvidia, at least temporarily.

Dawn Parabellum

The emotional reaction of a cheerleader during a weekend football game is going viral. All caught on video, the events leading to the heartfelt display are leaving viewers in tears as well.
Nothing compares to being separated from the person you agreed to love forever after taking wedding vows. Nothing can prepare you for the heartache felt at being alone in a home you were supposed to share, and nothing can prepare you for good or bad news regarding your lover, especially when you have to hear it over the phone from thousands of miles away. Being separated when all you really want is to be together is the most heartbreaking aspect of a relationship.
These are thoughts that surely passed through the mind of Candace Valentine, a cheerleader for the St. Louis Rams. Candace is married to First Lieutenant August Valentine of the United States Marine Corps, and he has been away in South Korea for months — or so she thought. According to the local Fox News station, Candace is also a Marine.
The high school sweethearts were reunited last weekend during a football game, and the emotions ran high. Candace’s shock can be seen in her reaction to seeing her husband for the first time in months.
The St. Louis Rams were playing a football game against the Indianapolis Colts at home when the meeting took place. According to Fox2 St. Louis, the football team organized the reunion and planned it to surprise Candace. After she was asked to watch a video message from her husband on the screen with the mascot, she turned around to find her husband, August, walking toward her. Her surprise is evidenced in her expression.  She immediately drops her pom poms to run into her husband’s arms. Watch their reunion here.

The video is full of emotion and love and understanding. Thanks to both for their services in the armed forces. Being back together after a long separation is always rewarding. Best of luck to the Valentines in all of their future endeavors.
H/T [Daily Mail]

Alisha Rich

A woman in Oregon has recently gotten a clever tattoo on her leg that many would dismiss as an ordinary tattoo at first glance. If you take a closer look, it’s easy to tell that there’s a hidden message designed within the girl’s ink.
Bekah Miles
Bekah Miles, 21, had decided to get a tattoo that was of significant meaning to her and many people across the world. She has battled with depression and knows what it feels like when the people closest to you don’t really know the struggles she faces everyday.
After designing the clever tattoo, Miles had the design inked onto her left leg. When you look at it from the front, the ink reads, “I’m fine.” As most people who have ever suffered from depression know, when you say those words, all too often, you are anything but fine.
So, echoing those sentiments, when you look at the tattoo from Miles’ point of view, it reads, “save me.”
“So today, I got this tattoo. I feel that my leg was the best place for the meaning behind it. When everyone else sees it, they see ‘I’m fine’, but from my viewpoint, it reads ‘Save me,’” Miles explained on Facebook, according to Metro. “To me, it means that others see this person that seems okay, but, in reality, is not okay at all.”
The picture has since gone viral and has been shared over 200,000 times. Miles hopes to make people talk about depression and be able to admit they need help.
“This forces me to talk about my own struggle, and why the awareness of it is important,” she explained. “Please keep sharing and spreading the awareness. This is the only way to get some real change in the stigma.”
Let’s spread the word and help those we love to get help for the struggles of depression. There is no need for them to fight this alone, and maybe if people work together, we can see life as they do and help one person at a time.
(h/t: IJ Review, Image Source: Facebook)

Robert Rich

Video is going viral after a TV host was left stunned and speechless for a few seconds after watching what he referred to as “the biggest thing I’ve ever seen,” shooting out from the ocean. Once able to regain his composure enough to talk, he calmly declared, “I am never going back in the water.”
The incident took place on Australia’s Today Show as a clip from the Discovery Channel was aired, showing an enormous Great White shark leap from the water in what appears to be an attack on a fake seal. After the video ended, host Karl Stefanovic’s hilarious reaction went out on live television as he initially stood there completely dumbfounded with his mouth hanging open in amazement.
Standing still and keeping silent, it wasn’t long before Stefanovic slowly and dramatically was able to utter the words, “I am never going back in the water.” Cameras then turned to co-host Lisa Wilkinson who was just as surprised and shot back saying, “Me either, no way!”
From there, shots of the stunned duo’s faces are shown back and forth before Stefanovic could eventually be heard saying, “That’s it… that’s the biggest thing I’ve ever seen.” He then vowed to only swim in “the local pool” for the remainder of the warmer months. “Look at the size of that thing!” he added.
As the ridiculousness of the clip fully began to set in, Stefanovic sarcastically said, “Like that little cage is going to help you,” referring to the men responsible for obtaining the video in the first place.
The ocean truly is a vast and wondrous place that we don’t yet fully understand. However, we know what typical sharks looks like, and this one was of a monstrous size. It seems like something from the SciFi Channel, not the Discovery Channel.
(h/t: Reddit)
(Image source: Mail Online)


Dom the Conservative

As the West blindly welcomes hordes of asylum seekers, crime skyrockets. However, these swarms have resulted in the entrance of aggressive Islamists who simply want the chance to wreak havoc and destruction on the gracious hosts who praise such progressive policies.
In particular, rape has increased by 1,400 percent in some counties because of Muslim refugees, and it continues to climb as civilians fear for their lives and livelihood. Because of this, it is often the children who suffer the most, as they are easy targets for the grooming of sexual deviants.
Although the left claims that these asylum seekers are just poor, disadvantaged migrants vying for a chance at a better life, one mother found that even children’s parks are hotbeds for these migrants’ sinister intentions.
German newspaper MOPO 24 reports that a “refugee” of North African descent lured a 7-year-old little girl behind the bushes at a local park in Chemnitz, Germany, and he brutally raped her.
The migrant coaxed the tiny girl into an enclosure, then he held his hand over her mouth so he could rape her without being worried about her screaming for help.
“The suspects fled then through the parking lot at the Bahnhofstrasse / Augustusburger road towards the train station,” confirmed police spokesperson Heidi Hennig.
The horrific attack took place in the “Park of the victims of fascism,” in front of John’s Church.

The rape occurred in the “Park of the victims of fascism” in Chemnitz.
The rapist is believed to be from North Africa, an area which includes Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia, all radical Muslim countries with an average Muslim population of 97 percent.
According to witness testimony, the rapist is around 30 years old, wore a gray T-shirt, blue jeans, and brown Nike sneakers, has a prominent scar on his left cheek, and had migrated from north North Africa.
The mother was unable to hear or see and disturbance because of the thick bushes and the roar of the many children playing that day.

Now, even children’s parks aren’t safe for children because of asylum seekers.
Not only are the floods of migrants collapsing welfare programs and overwhelming communities, the cultural and religious values they bring along with them are putting Westerners at risk. Immigrants who support operating under Sharia law refuse to adhere to secular law. They consider themselves above it, since Allah has commanded them not to live by “man-made” law.
Still, liberal lawmakers continue to push for lax immigration policies, welcoming in groups that have no intention of assimilating or coexisting. Because there is no strict Sharia law to chop their hands off or hang them for even minor offenses, our tolerance and freedom is a way for them to dissolve democracy.
These policies are allowing in Muslim terrorists under the guise of being suffering refugees, some fresh off the jihad battlefield.

One Muslim terrorist was photographed with an AK-47. Just one year later, he is an asylum seeker.
Strong-arming the system through shouts of “racism” and “islamophobia,” migrants from Muslim countries overrun communities and subjugate the unwilling through intimidation and terror.
It is time for the lie of multiculturalism to be exposed for what it really is — a tidal wave of one religious sect that refuses other cultures within its own nations. The West’s grace and acceptance has been abused for far too long, allowing those who seek to establish yet another tyrannical regime to squash our values and culture.
The borders must be closed to those migrating from such countries, the same countries that refuse the idea of tolerance, acceptance, and multiculturalism to their own citizens. Salvaging one’s own culture and heritage isn’t racist or bigoted, it’s the only way to survive the islamization that seeks to wipe out both.

Sean Brown

With all the issues that could use attention from the leader of the free world, Barack Obama just made a major announcement regarding the tallest mountains in North America, and some people aren’t too happy about it.
As the president sets out to embark on a journey to Alaska to discuss the not-so-pressing issue of climate change, which he argues is the biggest threat the world faces, he decided that first he needed to use his executive power to “fix” the name of the state’s massive mountain, the Associated Press reported. Apparently, thanks to Obama, Mount McKinley will be no more.
The mountain earned that name back in 1896, when then-candidate William McKinley was running for president, and the 20,320-foot peak has kept the name ever since, but it hasn’t been without some opposition.
From the AP:
The Obama administration will change the name of North America’s tallest mountain peak from Mount McKinley to Denali, the White House said Sunday, a major symbolic gesture to Alaska Natives on the eve of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Alaska.
By renaming the peak Denali, an Athabascan word meaning “the high one,” Obama waded into a sensitive and decades-old conflict between residents of Alaska and Ohio. Alaskans have informally called the mountain Denali for years, but the federal government recognizes its name invoking the 25th president, William McKinley, who was born in Ohio and assassinated early in his second term.
Locally, the mountain is already known as Denali, and the surrounding national park was given the same name in 1980. However, lawmakers from Ohio, where McKinley hailed from, worked to block any name changes at the time, despite the standing request from Alaska since 1975 to rename it.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) actually praised Obama’s move and said that Alaskans are “honored” to call the mountain by its traditional name.
“I’d like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect, and gratitude to the Athabascan people of Alaska,” Murkowski said.
However, there’s quite a bit of outrage coming out of Ohio, where people see this as more political pandering after Obama unilaterally acted to change the “racist” Republican name that honored a murdered President. Politicians in the state say McKinley deserves to be honored and that they’ll do whatever they can to prevent the renaming of the peak.
“This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans, and I will be working with the House Committee on Natural Resources to determine what can be done to prevent this action,” Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs said.
In all honesty, I can’t believe that five minutes was even wasted to do this, and I can’t believe that Ohio’s politicians are reacting the way they are. Yes, McKinley should be recognized, but at the same time, it’s Alaska’s mountain, and if they want to change the name, it’s up to them.
I think the glaring issue is that politicians on both sides of the aisle haven’t solved any of the problems our nation has, but instead continue to burden us with new problems while the nation remains in chaos. The real travesty to come from this isn’t that the name of the mountain was changed, since it’s already been known as Denali by the locals for some time, but that the ruling elite even paid attention to something so miniscule in the grand scheme of things.
If they were to even spend half of the time they spend on non-issues, actually dealing with real issues, we might actually begin to fix some of the problems we have. But instead, as we see above, they’d rather shamelessly pander to certain groups in hopes of getting a vote and, in doing so, push us further into oblivion.
[H/T: IJReview]

Robert Rich

Found within a late seventh century Quran in the library of the University of Birmingham, a discovery has been made that is shaking the very foundation of Islam. Although the ideology’s leaders are fighting vigorously to refute the claims, it seems that Muslims everywhere could soon be without a religion.
For years, many people all over the world have been arguing that the religion of Islam is nothing more than a farce meant to play out the sick fantasies of a man long dead. However, a recent find could actually go to prove that to be true.
Tucked away inside of an old Quran, fragments of script written on animal hides were found, which actually turned out to be parts of the Suras — or chapters 18 to 20 of the religion’s “holy book.” Unfortunately for them, scientists carbon dated the find in order to see how old it is, and Muslims just got some really bad news.

According to reports, the text is thought to be between 1,448 and 1,371 years old, meaning it was written sometime between 568AD and 645AD. With the dates given for Muhammad being 570AD and 632AD, this means they could actually out-date their “prophet,” meaning everything he spewed was nothing more than his personal and political agenda.
Historian Tom Holland says the find “destabilizes, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Quran emerged — and that in turn has implications for the history of Muhammad and the Companions.”
Keith Small, from the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, explains that the find could be utterly devastating to Islam. “This gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Quran’s genesis, like that Muhammad and his early followers used a text that was already in existence and shaped it to fit their own political and theological agenda, rather than Muhammad receiving a revelation from heaven,” he said.
Of course, Muslim scholars are fighting tooth and nail to defend everything they, like so many before them, have been blindly following for years.
“The tests carried out on the parchment of the Birmingham folios yield the strong probability that the animal from which it was taken was alive during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad or shortly afterwards,” explains Professor Nadir Dinshaw, who studies interreligious relations at the University of Birmingham. “These portions must have been in a form that is very close to the form of the Quran read today, supporting the view that the text has undergone little or no alteration and that it can be dated to a point very close to the time it was believed to be revealed.”
It just goes to show the lengths people will go to in order to defend their beliefs. Despite acknowledging the reality in all this, Muslims simply write it off as an insult rather than act like an intellectual human being and analyze the find to see what it means about the religion they’ve spent their life believing.
For me, most of what stems from the religion of Islam has only prove that its main message is a politically tyrant one. Wanting world domination and the death of those that refuse to believe, it’s no wonder it came about from the mind of a madman, rapist, and killer.
If Muslims want to ignore potential facts in order to stay blissfully ignorant, more power to them, but I think this is a huge find that puts a major ding in the credibility of the religion – not that they’ll say so. Then again, it’s not my place to pass final judgment.
That day will eventually come, and they will not like the repercussions one bit.
(h/t: Mail Online)
(Image source: Mail Online)

Sean Brown

A Phoenix grandmother walked into what would become an utterly horrific scene in a bedroom when she discovered two naked toddlers, who she assumed were asleep. Although she didn’t realize it at first, the horror was just beginning. However, what she would do after hearing commotion from another room would stop this nightmare from becoming even worse.
On Sunday, the mother of 22-year-old Mireya Lopez was looking through their home when she spotted Lopez’s 2-year-old twin boys naked in bed, the Associated Press reported. At first, the grandmother believed the boys were sleeping, but upon a closer look, she noticed the boys appeared to be lifeless and immediately started to scream for help. Things were about to get worse for the woman.
Mireya Lopez
As the grandmother, Mireya Kissi, tried to save the two boys, she heard a commotion coming from another room in the home. She knew she had to go investigate, but she couldn’t believe what she saw when she did. After running into the bathroom of the home, she found her daughter next to the bathtub holding a third boy, who was identified as her step-brother, underwater with her hands around his neck, reported AZFamily.
The grandmother “had to physically grab (the third boy) away from Ms. Lopez and pick him up to safety,” a statement from police said.
The twin boys were both rushed to the hospital after Kissi frantically called 911. However, neither boy was able to be revived by doctors, and they were pronounced dead shortly after arriving. The third child was reportedly uninjured in the terrifying ordeal.
When asked by police why she did it, Lopez told authorities that “nobody loved them,” and she didn’t want them to suffer. Describing in detail the murders, Lopez said that after she drown the two boys by holding their heads underwater in the bathtub, she took a pen and stabbed one of them in the neck to ensure he was dead, then wrapped them both in a blanket and put them in the bed.
Lopez suffers from depression and anxiety, according to Sam Avita, the father of the now deceased twins. Avita shared joint custody of the boys with Lopez, and he was scheduled to pick them up on Friday.
On Monday, the deranged mother was jailed on a $2 million bond for two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. According to police, the investigation is ongoing and more details will be released as they become available.

Regardless of whether this woman suffers from mental illness, the death penalty seems like the only viable punishment after such a horrific act. Unfortunately, she’ll never get it. Instead, the trial will be drawn out, and her defense will plead insanity, which will both result in millions of wasted taxpayer dollars and likely end up with her serving life in prison — again a large waste of taxpayer money.
Multiple reports said that she was on medication for depression and anxiety, which makes me wonder how much they both played into her actions. Seems to me like people on the psychotropic drugs commit some of the most horrid acts because they’re delusional, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if that was the case with her too.


By Matthew Buzzi
Razer has announced the Razer Wildcat for Xbox One, a high-end eSports controller developed with the help of professional gamers.
Shipping worldwide this October, the US$149.99 Wildcat for Xbox One includes four multi-function buttons that can be bound to suit your needs. Razer claims the Wildcat is 25 percent lighter than other tournament-grade controllers at 258 grams, and boasts an ergonomic shape built to increase actuation speed.
The Wildcat's control panel allows for on-the-fly creation of customizable button layout profiles for different games. Razer solicited feedback from eSports athletes while creating the Wildcat, adding reinforced high carbon steel analog stick necks, removable aluminum triggers, and optional palm and stick grips.
This is Razer's third-generation Razer Xbox controller, and co-founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan said the company's close work with eSports pros, combined with the remappable buttons, will give players an edge.
In total, the controller has two shoulder Hyperesponse multi-function bumpers, two removable Hyperesponse multi-function triggers, four Hyperesponse ABXY action buttons, the four-button Quick Control Panel, and optional trigger stops, rubber palm grips, and analog stick grips. The Wildcat for Xbox One also includes a 3.5mm audio port for stereo output and mic input, and a detachable 300cm braided fiber micro-USB cable. Razer will also include a carrying case.


By David Murphy
In a bit of news that should surprise absolutely nobody, given just how many delays have affected the game's development thus far, those who still cling to their last-generation gaming consoles will not be able to play the latest iteration in the Mortal Kombat franchise. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has finally pulled the plug on the project—fitting, since Mortal Kombat X came out for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC more than four months ago.
In other words, if Warner Bros. didn't have it ready by now, there doesn't seem to be much of a point to waiting even longer to release what would be an old game for even older consoles.
"After months of development, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has come to the regrettable conclusion that we cannot release Mortal Kombat X for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Please know our teams worked diligently to meet the quality standards set by the current-gen versions of the game. We were not able to get the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions to the quality expected of a Mortal Kombat game and are very sorry for not being able to deliver the products as originally planned," reads a post on the official Mortal Kombat X forums.
"If you pre-ordered Mortal Kombat X for PS3 or Xbox 360, please go to the retail location where you pre-ordered the game and you will receive a full refund."
Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gamers should have seen this one coming months ago. Warner Bros. originally announced back in March that Mortal Kombat X for these two consoles wasn't going to make the same launch window as their successors, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. At the time, Warner Bros. was aiming for a June release date for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version of the game.
However, in May, word got out that retailers were changing the game's release date from June to December 31—a quick way to say that the game was expected to come out at some point this year (not literally on December 31), but that they had no idea exactly when. Warner Bros. didn't have anything to say about the delay at that time, but it was certainly ominous news for those looking to explode guts and lop off heads on their older gaming consoles.

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