Obviously, mid-June came and went with no sight of the GTX 1630, and now the latest word is that it’ll finally show up on June 28, in just a few days, as VideoCardz reports. The source for this is IT Home, with the tech site pulling the info from the Chinese Board Channels forum, where Colorful GTX 1630 models are mentioned as shipping in readiness for a June 28 on-sale date – meaning the cards will actually be on shelves to buy then (and not just unveiled).
Naturally, take all this with a great deal of caution, as the past two rumored release dates clearly illustrate – indeed given what’s happened, we’re feeling particularly skeptical about whether third time lucky will come to fruition with the speculation here.
Analysis: Release it already, Nvidia (if indeed this GPU is inbound)
If nothing else, hopefully this is an indication that the GTX 1630 is still incoming, because we’re keen to see what Nvidia might do with this low-end model. Even if past rumors around it have been rather lukewarm in terms of the purported spec, and how hobbled it might be.
From what we’ve heard thus far, synthetic benchmark performance shows the 1630 as lagging behind the GTX 1050 Ti, and there’s been plenty of doubt cast on how compelling a product this might be – unless Nvidia pitches the price really low. And maybe those expectations have something to do with these delays.
Alternatively, the 1630 might simply not be a high priority project for Team Green, and is being shuffled around as a result. Could the GTX 1630 be another rumored graphics card that ends up being canceled? Well, these apparent multiple slippages – and the general reception to the theorized specs – could point to that. Or the rumor mill might just be completely off base with this card full-stop (though that feels unlikely, seeing as it keeps popping up on the release radar).
Hopefully next week, we’ll finally see the GTX 1630, if nothing else so we can find out the real specs, and whether they match up with that ‘GTX’ branding – which has always been linked to gaming, as opposed to something very cheap that’s more likely to be installed in the likes of a home theater PC.
Experts at OpenAI have trained a neural network to play Minecraft to an equally high standard as human players.
The neural network was trained on 70,000 hours of miscellaneous in-game footage, supplemented with a small database of videos in which contractors performed specific in-game tasks, with the keyboard and mouse inputs also recorded.
After fine-tuning, OpenAI found the model was able to perform all manner of complex skills, from swimming to hunting for animals and consuming their meat. It also grasped the “pillar jump”, a move whereby the player places a block of material below themselves mid-jump in order to gain elevation.
Perhaps most impressive, the AI was able to craft diamond tools (requiring a long string of actions to be executed in sequence), which OpenAI described as an “unprecedented” achievement for a computer agent.
An AI breakthrough?
The significance of the Minecraft project is that it demonstrates the efficacy of a new technique deployed by OpenAI in the training of AI models – called Video PreTraining (VPT) – that the company says could accelerate the development of “general computer-using agents”.
Historically, the difficulty with using raw video as a source for training AI models has been that that what has happened is simple enough to understand, but not necessarily how. In effect, the AI model would absorb the desired outcomes, but have no grasp of the input combinations required to reach them.
With VPT, however, OpenAI pairs a large video dataset drawn down from public web sources with a carefully curated pool of footage labelled with the relevant keyboard and mouse movements to establish the foundational model.
To fine tune the base model, the team then plugs in smaller datasets designed to teach specific tasks. In this context, OpenAI used footage of players performing early-game actions, such as cutting down trees and building crafting tables, which is said to have yielded a “massive improvement” in the reliability with which the model was able to perform these tasks.
Another technique involves “rewarding” the AI model for achieving each step in a sequence of tasks, a practice known as reinforcement learning. This process is what allowed the neural network to collect all the ingredients for a diamond pickaxe with a human-level success rate.
“VPT paves the path toward allowing agents to learn to act by watching the vast numbers of videos on the internet. Compared to generative video modeling or contrastive methods that would only yield representational priors, VPT offers the exciting possibility of directly learning large-scale behavioral priors in more domains than just language,” explained OpenAI in a blog post.
“While we only experiment in Minecraft, the game is very open-ended and the native human interface (mouse and keyboard) is very generic, so we believe our results bode well for other similar domains, e.g. computer usage.”
To incentivize further experimentation in the space, OpenAI has partnered with the MineRL NeurIPS competition, donating its contractor data and model code to contestants attempting to use AI to solve complex Minecraft tasks. The grand prize: $100,000.
Though I’ve been gaming on PC since I was in elementary school, it’s been literal decades since I’ve had any reason to go back to Apple devices since the days of Oregon Trail and other early edu-tainment titles.
The fact that Apple hasn’t done much to support gaming on its devices, beyond popular mobile games and the lone indie title here and there, over the last two decades isn’t exactly a well-kept secret either.
So naturally, I had no desire to purchase laptops or PCs from the brand when I wouldn’t be able to play the best PC games or utilize my extensive Steam library of mostly niche games that don’t have the budgets to support Mac development for so small an audience.
And so goes the negative feedback loop of Apple not supporting gaming because the audience is too small, devs not putting games on Macs because of the lack of support and tools, and gamers not buying Macs because there weren’t enough games to play dragged on.
This meant, of course, that I was so far removed from the best MacBook and Macs that I made the assumption that any games on macOS must be poorly optimized and the controls are most likely terrible as well.
So I tried out some of the best PC games with Mac support, covering a wide array of graphical and gameplay differences, including Hades, Crusader Kings 3, the original Dying Light, and my personal favorite indie title, World of Horror. Almost all of them ran smoothly, with only the occasional framerate hiccup or slowdown on the more graphically intense titles.
The best feature by far was the gorgeous picture quality. The color palettes and textures shined through the MacBook’s premium Liquid Retina XDR display more than any other Windows laptop I’ve used so far.
Despite some minor setbacks, the results were still impressive since this was a laptop that wasn’t built for dedicated gaming in the first place. It was almost sobering in a way that after seeing Apple as sort of a PC gaming has-been for so long that I realized just how normal the experience was.
With more support, the experience could be even better, and there’s little excuse now due to the strength of Apple silicon. The company still needs to invest more in PC gaming-centered hardware as well as give developers the support and toolset they need to bring their latest titles to Apple desktops and laptops.
The good news is that there’s a brand new weapon in the tech giant’s arsenal, which may turn the situation around.
Can macOS 13 Ventura usher in a new future for Mac gaming?
During Apple WWDC 2022, Apple announced a new update to their flagship OS, macOS 13 Ventura, and it revealed a powerful new gaming weapon: MetalFX Upscaling. It’s essentially Apple’s answer to Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), and it has the potential to be a game-changing addition to Apple’s Metal rendering API.
These tools render a frame to be displayed at a lower resolution, then use algorithms and specialized hardware to upscale that frame to a higher resolution. This reduces the strain on a GPU while running graphically-intensive games, and when implemented well, it improves performance substantially with little impact on graphical fidelity.
And the fact that Apple whipped up such a powerful feature to compete with its major gaming competition shows how serious Apple is finally getting about gaming. Even more than ray-tracing, algorithmic upscaling is the most exciting gaming tech to hit the scene in more than a decade.
So earlier I mentioned that there were some graphical hiccups with the more demanding games, which – despite the strength of the M1 Max – is likely due to these games not being optimized for Apple silicon the way EVE Online is. But with MetalFX Upscaling boosting the frame rate, a lot of those issues would vanish, since rendering at a lower resolution is far less taxing. We’ll still have to see how MetalFX Upscaling performs, but if it’s comparable to DLSS or FSR, we could see some truly incredible performance that might rival some of the best gaming laptops – and sooner than we expect, even.
Some AAA developers are already embracing the Mac. Will more follow?
Another Apple initiative I’m excited about is the partnership with Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky and Capcom’s Resident Evil Village. This provides Apple with two very popular AAA titles to bolster its gaming library (the one major weakness of the Mac), as well as uses them as high-profile demos to showcase the power of MetalFX Upscaling.
And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a high-developer come out in support of Mac gaming either. EVE Online developers have spoken about how much potential they see in Apple’s devices, especially since the release of the M1.
Imagine being able to play graphically demanding AAA games on a lightweight and thin MacBook Pro or even a MacBook Air? Until now that’s something I never considered, but it’s not just a very real possibility, it’s already happening, and I’m excited to see if this new turn – and tech – works out for Apple.
If it does, color me a brand new convert to Mac gaming.
This year’s Wimbledon tennis championships are set to be the smartest and most data-heavy ever thanks its continued partnership with IBM.
The computing giant has unveiled its latest range of upgrades and smart features as part of its work alongside tournament organizer, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC).
Among this year’s new additions are a boosted fan predictions feature, an upgraded IBM Power Index that can help uncover the next generation of champions, and improved match insights powered by IBM’s Watson AI system.
Wimbledon 2022 innovation
“We’re very excited about this year,” noted the AELTC’s Communications & Marketing Director Alexandra Willis, “But naturally we can’t just be thinking about the past – we need to be looking forwards at the same time…the world is changing around us and the ways that people consume and continue to change.”
“We have this program of innovation that we’re very proud to deliver in partnership with IBM and we often talk about the role of innovation as being all about preserving the traditions of Wimbledon and making sure that they remain relevant for the future. It’s not about putting tradition and innovation in conflict with each other – it’s actually about making them work in partnership.”
As one of the most iconic events not just in tennis but perhaps all sport, Wimbledon attracts many different kinds of fans, with differing knowledge levels, so providing an entry point via the Wimbledon.com website and the official mobile app is vital.
Offering a fan experience that caters to everyone from the casual observer who only watches Wimbledon right up to data-hungry expert die-hards has posed a challenge, but one that the AELTC and IBM now feels it can conquer.
This year’s championships see an expansion to the IBM Power Index, the statistics and data platform powered by IBM Watson that fuels the website and app to offer a world of insight to fans.
Along with point-by-point analysis of every game across the tournament, its Match Insights tool has been boosted by “Win Factors”, a more accessible way of explaining to fans exactly why a player is doing well. Using IBM Watson Discovery and IBM Cloud, the tool can collect data such as form, head-to-head battles, ATP/WTA rankings and, thanks to natural language processing (NLP), even recent media coverage to offer more fan-friendly information to help spot the ones to watch or any potential upsets.
Fans will also now be able debate and discuss their new icons with the “Have Your Say” fan predictions feature on the official Wimbledon app. This will give fans the chance to predict the outcome of any match, and then compare this view with both other fans across the world, as well as the AI-powered “Likelihood to Win” predictions generated by IBM Watson.
Entering the 33rd year as partners, this year’s championships are more technologically advanced than ever, thanks largely to IBM’s “platform of innovation”, noted Kevin Farrar, Sports Partnership Leader, IBM UK & Ireland.
“It’s very much about collaborating and co-creating content to bring the beauty and the drama of the championships to life for tennis fans around the globe,” he said, adding that the “explainable AI” the company is engaging is key.
“It’s very much about taking massive amounts of data, creating insights that are captivating and engaging to bring new fans in, and ensure fans that are already engaged with the platform stay with us.”
“It’s a great showcase for IBM’s capabilities…data is at the heart of it.”
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Yes, there are other drag-and-drop website builders out there. But most are too simplistic for professional applications. Buldix Pro, by contrast, works great for everyone. Even professional developers use it to get jobs done much faster than they could by coding alone. Plus it’s received tremendous user reviews on Facebook, Dealfuel, and more, so you can research how well it works before you buy.
Patch management for the latest versions of Windows might the concern of most of us located here on Earth, but meanwhile, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express spacecraft has received the first update to its Window 98-based system in 19 years.
The agency said the upgrade will enable the spacecraft to view Mars and its moon Phobos with better levels of detail.
The Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS) instrument on Mars Express sends low-frequency radio waves down towards the planet using its 40-metre long antenna.
Most of these waves are reflected from the planet’s surface, but significant amounts travel through the crust and are reflected at boundaries between layers of different materials below the surface, including ice, soil, rock, and water.
By examining the reflected signals, scientists can map the structure below the surface of Mars to a depth of a few kilometres and study properties such as the thickness and composition of its polar ice caps and the properties of volcanic and sedimentary rock layers.
The space agency didn’t go into a great deal of detail regarding the specs of the hardware receiving the update, however Tom’s Hardware speculated it could have a Pentium 90 processor, meaning it could potentially run classic games such as Doom as well as explore the secrets of Mars.
“Previously, to study the most important features on Mars, and to study its moon Phobos at all, we relied on a complex technique that stored a lot of high-resolution data and filled up the instrument’s on-board memory very quickly,” said Andrea Cicchetti, the MARSIS deputy principal investigator and operation manager at INAF.
He added: “By discarding data that we don’t need, the new software allows us to switch MARSIS on for five times as long and explore a much larger area with each pass.”
Microsoft has just released previews of three new updates, which seemingly fix multiple connectivity issues plaguing some Windows versions after the last cumulative update.
As reported by BleepingComputer, the company published three cumulative updates for the month, one for Windows 11 (KB5014668), one for Windows Server 2022 (KB5014665), and one for Windows 10, 1809 (KB5014669).
Among the usual bug fixes and performance tweaks, these updates also address the issues reported earlier this week regarding Wi-Fi hotspots. Last week, Microsoft explained how an earlier patch broke the feature.
“When attempting to use the hotspot feature, the host device might lose the connection to the internet after a client device connects,” Microsoft said.
The fix is great news for those affected by the flaw, but for the time being, only these three versions of the OS resolve the issue. Meanwhile, people using Windows 10 other than 1809, Windows 8.1, or Windows 7 SP1 will have to wait a bit longer (probably until the next Patch Tuesday).
VPN issues fixed too?
On June 14, Microsoft released KB5014697, a cumulative update that addresses a number of known Windows issues. However, the patch also introduced new flaws, namely issues with the sign-in process for Azure Active Directory, as well as Microsoft 365 on Arm devices (besides the Wi-Fi hotspot issue).
According to the Bleeping Computer, Microsoft still hasn’t acknowledged VPN and RDP connection issues that are plaguing RRAS servers following the June Windows Server updates. What’s more, people have also started reporting issues with LLTP/SSTP VPN clients, as well as RDP failing to connect.
Among the more troubling problems is servers simply freezing for minutes, after a client connects to the RRAS server with SSTP. Microsoft’s solution to the problem, as the company told the publication, is to temporarily disable the NAT feature on RRAS servers.
However, some admins are reporting that the latest raft of preview updates solve these VPN-related problems too, which suggests a widespread fix for all Windows operating systems could be imminent.