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Researchers Invent a Way to Speed Intel's 3D XPoint Computer Memory

Slashdot - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 17:30
Memory modules using Intel's 3D XPoint technology are on their way, and researchers in North Carolina have already figured out how to make them better. New submitter mnemotronic writes: At the 45th ICSA (International Symposium on Computer Architecture), a group of researchers from North Carolina State University led by Prof. Yan Solihin proposed a method called lazy consistency to speedup write operations to 3d XPoint memory. XPoint, developed by Intel and Micron, is non-volatile, cheaper and denser than DRAM but requires more power and writing takes longer. The method proposed reduces write overhead times from 9% to 1% by incorporating a checksum to the cache memory system. The researchers were not able to verify their approach on actual XPoint memory, as those products only recently started sampling. They tested using simulations and DRAM and plan to verify when Intel's modules become more widely available.

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Limbo, Inside launch on Nintendo Switch next week

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 16:47

The critically-acclaimed Limbo and Inside will both launch for Nintendo Switch next week on Thursday 28th June.

Danish studio Playdead's pair of acclaimed puzzle adventures are, of course, already available on various other platforms although this is the first time either has launched for a Nintendo console.

If you haven't played either game yet and own a Switch, there now really is no excuse.

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Categories: Video Games

EU Takes First Step in Passing Controversial Copyright Law That Could 'Censor the Internet'

Slashdot - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 16:45
The European Union has taken the first step in passing new copyright legislation that critics say will tear the internet apart. From a report: This morning, the EU's Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted in favor of the legislation, called the Copyright Directive. Although most of the directive simply updates technical language for copyright law in the age of the internet, it includes two highly controversial provisions. These are Article 11, a "link tax," which would force online platforms like Facebook and Google to buy licenses from media companies before linking to their stories; and Article 13, an "upload filter," which would require that everything uploaded online in the EU is checked for copyright infringement. (Think of it like YouTube's Content ID system but for the whole internet.) EU lawmakers critical of the legislation say these Articles may have been proposed with good intentions -- like protecting copyright owners -- but are vaguely worded and ripe for abuse.

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Tech Analysis: How The Last of Us 2 pushes realism to the next level

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 16:20

To what extent can further technological innovation be delivered on the current generation of console hardware? Sony stood up to be counted at E3 2018 with a series of superb gameplay reveals - and taking centre-stage was Naughty Dog's The Last of Us Part 2. On the surface, it looks as great as you might expect. From its detailed characters to its lush environments, it's clear that the game is shaping up well - but if you look closer, there are some remarkable new technologies on display. From our perspective, animation and interaction are two key areas set to separate this game from its rivals.

What's immediately apparent is that there's a fluidity to the animation quite unlike anything on the market, to the point where some don't even believe that the demo is authentic in-game action. Of course, Naughty Dog has a rich history in pushing back the boundaries in this respect, with the expertly crafted blending and transitions seen in both the Uncharted titles and The Last of Us, but clearly, this latest E3 reveal is on a whole new level - and it's all down to a new animation technology known as motion matching.

"It's this crazy science fiction stuff where you take just hundreds and hundreds of animations of like walking forward and turning or whatever, and you put them in this huge bucket, and then based on what the player is trying to do or what an NPC is trying to do, it pulls from that bucket, sometimes two or three different animations, and blends them together to make this totally seamless thing," co-game director Anthony Newman told IGN.

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Categories: Video Games

AMC is Creating a Rival Service To MoviePass

Slashdot - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 16:00
AMC said on Wednesday it is creating a VIP tier of its loyalty program, a subscription movie theater pass called AMC Stubs A-List, which will allow users to see three movies a week in AMC theaters for $20 a month. From a report: The offering rivals that of MoviePass, a subscription movie service with longstanding tensions in negotiating pricing and theater distribution agreements with AMC. Tensions between AMC and MoviePass had gotten so bad that last year that AMC said it would try to block MoviePass. MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe told Axios in an interview in January that MoviePass brought in 1 million tickets for AMC in December alone. Like MoviePass, the AMC subscription will let users see a certain number of films for a monthly flat fee, but will only be viewable in AMC theaters.

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Captain Toad Nintendo Switch and 3DS demos now available

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 15:46

Nintendo's adorable Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is now available to try on its two new platforms: Nintendo Switch and 3DS.

The rotatable 3D puzzle platformer can be sampled via a free demo downloadable from each console's eShop, ahead of its full release on 13th July.

Originally launched for Wii U, these new versions of the game add a fresh set of levels themed around Super Mario Odyssey, plus two-player co-op on Switch.

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Categories: Video Games

Uber Tests Cheaper Fares For Riders Who Are Willing To Wait Longer

Slashdot - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: The ride-hailing company has started testing a feature that gives riders the option to trade a shorter wait for a cheaper fare. "Prices are lower at 17:00," Uber recently advised an Uber employee who requested a ride in Berkeley, California, and tweeted a screenshot of the feature. The image showed the Uber employee that he could request a ride "now" (4:56pm local time) for $10.18, or wait until 5pm and pay $8.15, about 25% less. "If you're OK leaving later, we'll request your ride at 17:00 for a lower price," Uber's app stated. The option to wait longer in exchange for a cheaper ride is being tested among all Uber employees in San Francisco and Los Angeles, a company spokeswoman told Quartz in an email. "Affordability is a top reason riders choose shared rides, and we're internally experimenting with a way to save money in exchange for a later pickup," she said.

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Mario Tennis Aces review - a fully-featured if mildly frustrating return to form for Camelot

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 14:00

For all the genteel imagery it evokes - crisp summer lawns, fresh strawberries and Cliff Richard singalongs - tennis can be a remarkably angry game. Kudos, then, to Mario Tennis Aces for getting you straight to the pure vitriol that spills forth when a fiercely contested point doesn't quite go your way, your racket breaking as an almost impossible-to-block shot tears through it, granting an instant win to your opponent. You cannot be serious.

Mario Tennis has never been overly serious, of course, but Aces might be its sternest - and deepest - offering yet. When played at full pelt, this is hardcore, an electric flurry of shots informed by systems that have been lifted straight from fighting games. After the flimsy Ultra Smash that was such a disappointment when it limped onto the Wii U back in 2015, this feels like something of an about-face, as well as an apology. Quite an effective one it is, too.

And so you have a full tournament mode, a succession of matches across different difficulty tiers where you compete for a variety of cups. So too is there an adventure mode, harking back to the single-player RPG that made GBA entry Power Tour so cherished, and a fine diversion it is too. Here you're taking Mario on a tour of an island, tracking down five Power Stones in what's a nice excuse to face off against five different bosses, those battles interspersed by several challenges that allow you to level up your abilities.

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Categories: Video Games

Rocket League details its Fortnite-style Rocket Pass

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 13:26

Car football game Rocket League is getting its own version of Fortnite's Battle Pass, named the Rocket Pass.

It works in much the same way - developer Psyonix will sell a pass for each new in-game season of content released throughout the year. If you pay up you'll get extra cosmetic rewards as you play.

There's a free version of the Rocket Pass as well, which everyone gets. It includes customisation options, banners, titles and decryptors.

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Categories: Video Games

Rockstar, 2K and Activision PC games discounted by up to 70% today only

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 13:13

Perhaps having taken note of every other online retailer offering big batches of discounts on PC games in waves recently, Amazon has decided to get in on the action with a couple of one-day-only sale ranges on digital PC titles from Rockstar, 2K and Activision.

Over at Amazon UK's daily deals section, you'll find a range of 2K and Rockstar Games alongside Activision's own range. These are all PC digital titles, most of which will redeem on Steam, though some of Rockstar's offerings are codes are for Rockstar's own Social Club.

Grand Theft Auto 5 is down to one of its lowest prices ever, £13.20, while you can also find Mafia 3 for £14, Bully for £3.50, and the entire XCOM 2 collection for £40 all-in. Over on the Activision side of things, you'll be able to pick up Call of Duty WW2 for £28.99, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare for £19.49, King's Quest Complete for £15.99, and Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines for £3.49.

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Categories: Video Games

Two-and-a-half years later, Street Fighter 5 gets loot boxes

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 12:53

On 25th June Street Fighter 5 gets a big new update - and part of that is the addition of loot boxes.

The loot boxes have to do with Survival Mode and a new system called Fighting Chance. Menat, one of the playable characters, has opened up a shop to tell you your fortune. Spend 500 Fight Money, the in-game currency, and you get a Fantasy Fortune Reading, which Menat helps you decipher. These readings are the loot box: they contain multiple items, including some exclusive to Fighting Chance.

Items include Battle Goods, which increase your chance of completing Survival Mode, new colours only available from Fantasy Fortune Readings, classic pieces of Street Fighter art from across the series, and, to the consternation of the Street Fighter community, rare costumes only available via Fantasy Fortune Readings.

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Categories: Video Games

Urgent Needs To Prepare For Manmade Virus Attacks, Says US Government Report

Slashdot - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 12:00
A major U.S. government report warns that advances in synthetic biology now allow scientists to have the capability to recreate dangerous viruses from scratch; make harmful bacteria more deadly; and modify common microbes so that they churn out lethal toxins once they enter the body. The Guardian reports: In the report, the scientists describe how synthetic biology, which gives researchers precision tools to manipulate living organisms, "enhances and expands" opportunities to create bioweapons. "As the power of the technology increases, that brings a general need to scrutinize where harms could come from," said Peter Carr, a senior scientist at MIT's Synthetic Biology Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The report calls on the U.S. government to rethink how it conducts disease surveillance, so it can better detect novel bioweapons, and to look at ways to bolster defenses, for example by finding ways to make and deploy vaccines far more rapidly. For every bioweapon the scientists consider, the report sets out key hurdles that, once cleared, will make the weapons more feasible. The Guardian references a case 20 years ago where geneticist Eckard Wimmer recreated the poliovirus in a test tube. Earlier this year, a team at the University of Alberta built an infectious horse pox virus. "The virus is a close relative of smallpox, which may have claimed half a billion lives in the 20th century," reports The Guardian. "Today, the genetic code of almost any mammalian virus can be found online and synthesized."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Dutch loot box threat forces Valve to pull CS:GO and Dota 2 item trading in the Netherlands

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 11:48

It seems the Netherlands' threat to prosecute video game companies over loot boxes has claimed its first victim: Valve.

Players of CS:GO and Dota 2 in the Netherlands were today greeted with a message from Valve saying the company had pulled item trading and Steam Marketplace transfers for both games.

Valve said the move was in response to the Dutch threat to prosecute video game companies who failed to alter their game's design by 20th June after it found some loot boxes were gambling.

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Categories: Video Games

Here's how Bomberman looks in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 11:46

Bomberman is the star of today's Super Smash Bros. blog post, which shows off more of how the explosive Assist Trophy will work.

As an Assist Trophy rather than a playable character, Bomberman has a chance to be called in when players pick up the Assist Trophy item during battle.

The diminutive explosives expert will then dash across the stage, laying down a bomb which then explodes in his familiar cross-shaped style.

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Categories: Video Games

Call of Duty: WW2's third DLC pack marches to Stalingrad

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 11:06

Activision has announced Call of Duty: WW2's third DLC pack - United Front.

United Front, which comes out on 26th June on PlayStation 4 ahead of other platforms, includes three new multiplayer maps: Stalingrad, Market Garden and Monte Cassino.

There's also a new War Mode mission called Operation Supercharge, which sees you push across North Africa, and a new Nazi Zombies experience that stars four new heroes who are sent across three locations to transport and defend the final pieces of Emperor Barbarossa's sword.

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Categories: Video Games

Meanwhile, in America, there's an official Xbox doll accessory set

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 10:34

I have far too many amiibo on my desk to complain about dolls, but there's something oddly Chucky-like about this new, officially-licensed Xbox product.

If you're not US-based then you probably aren't familiar with the American Girl doll range - not that there's much explaining needed. It's a doll range. And there's now a set of official Xbox accessories to go with it.

Included in the Xbox Gaming Set is a dinky Xbox One S and controller, a faux-leather gaming chair, wireless gaming headset and two "fun game discs" and cases. The two games are named "Bloks" and "Dance".

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Categories: Video Games

PUBG's third map, Sanhok, comes out this Friday

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 10:13

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds' third map, Sanhok, comes out this Friday, 22nd June.

Sanhok is a lot smaller than PUBG's other two maps. It's 4km x 4km (one fourth the size of Erangel or Miramar), and so games tend to end more quickly on the tiny island. Still, every game features 100 players, as is battle royale standard.

Because Sanhok is a small map, certain settings have been tweaked to fit its design. For example, faraway players and vehicles aren't rendered in the same way on Sanhok, which the developers said improves server performance.

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Categories: Video Games

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 now backwards compatible on Xbox One

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 09:39

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is finally backwards compatible on Xbox One.

Infinity Ward's 2011 first-person shooter was one of the most-requested games to be added to the Xbox One backwards compatible list - a fact the people behind the Xbox UK Twitter account had some fun with last night.

To coincide with the launch, Modern Warfare 3 is on sale as part of Microsoft's Deals With Gold promotion - £12.49 down from £24.99. (Expect a 10.75GB download if you're grabbing Modern Warfare 3 from the Xbox Games Store.)

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Categories: Video Games

What Ubisoft Crying Man did next

Eurogamer - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 09:00

Davide Soliani was the quiet hero of last year's E3. The creator of the now-beloved Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, Soliani shot to gaming fame as he wept with pride and relief in the audience of Ubisoft's press conference while his game - a huge gamble for him and his team, after years of behind the scenes work with Nintendo - was unveiled on the world's biggest stage to excitement and applause. That camera shot of his reaction is one of my favourite E3 moments - a glimpse behind the glitz and the glare, of someone simply seeing their work appreciated.

By E3 last year, work on Mario + Rabbids was beginning to wind down - but Soliani and his team still had plenty to do. Work was already starting on this year's huge Donkey Kong expansion - and, spurred on by the reaction to the game's announcement, Ubisoft decided to nearly double the size of the project.

Speaking to Eurogamer at E3 2018, a year on from being thrust into the spotlight, Soliani discussed what happened after he returned home, how Donkey Kong suddenly became a much bigger deal - and what what else the future might hold.

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Categories: Video Games

OpenBSD Disables Intel CPU Hyper-Threading Due To Security Concerns

Slashdot - Wed, 20/06/2018 - 09:00
The OpenBSD project announced today plans to disable support for Intel CPU hyper-threading due to security concerns regarding the theoretical threat of more "Spectre-class bugs." Bleeping Computer reports: Hyper-threading (HT) is Intel's proprietary implementation of Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT), a technology that allows processors to run parallel operations on different cores of the same multi-core CPU. The feature has been added to all Intel CPUs released since 2002 and has come enabled by default, with Intel citing its performance boost as the main reason for its inclusion. But today, Mark Kettenis of the OpenBSD project, said the OpenBSD team was removing support for Intel HT because, by design, this technology just opens the door for more timing attacks. Timing attacks are a class of cryptographic attacks through which a third-party observer can deduce the content of encrypted data by recording and analyzing the time taken to execute cryptographic algorithms. The OpenBSD team is now stepping in to provide a new setting to disable HT support because "many modern machines no longer provide the ability to disable hyper-threading in the BIOS setup."

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