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Christmas Special: The PC Technology of 2011

Welcome to the TechPowerUp 2011 PC technology Christmas special. We hope that you will enjoy reading it while tucking into your turkey, Christmas presents and a little too much wine... In this article, we go through the technology of 2011 that has had the most significance, the most impact and was generally the most talked about. It's not necessarily the best tech of 2011 which is the most significant though, since lemons can be just as significant as the ground-breakers in how they fail to deliver - and the backlash that goes with it.

January: Intel Sandy Bridge i5 & i7

Released on January 9th, the new Intel Core i5 & i7 processors were based on Intel's second generation Core architecture built on a 32 nm production process (HEXUS review). They included an IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) physically on the same piece of silicon along with HyperThreading. These new dual and quad core processors soundly beat all previous generations of Intel processors in terms of processing performance, heat, power use, features and left AMD in the dust. Therefore, Intel badly needed some competition from AMD and unless you have been living under a rock, you will know how that turned out in October with the launch of Bulldozer. Sandy Bridge was a sound win and is generally considered to be the only architecture worth considering at this point. The i5-2500K is currently at the sweet spot of price/performance. It comes at a stock speed of 3.3 GHz, but typically overclocks to an amazing 4.5 - 5 GHz with a decent air cooler and without too much difficulty in getting there. Models in the budget i3 range were released at various times later. See this Wikipedia article for details.

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Hits $1 Billion Milestone in Just 16 Days

Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI), announced today that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 crossed the $1 billion mark in sales since its launch on November 8, 2011, according to Charttrack and retail customer sell-through information. Highlighting the trend of interactive entertainment gaining a greater hold of audiences worldwide, the game achieved this milestone in just 16 days, eclipsing the record set in 2009 by the feature film "Avatar," which reached the $1 billion milestone in 17 days.

While 2011 box office revenue is on the decline — down 4 percent this year at $9.4 billion, compared with $9.8 billion in 2010 -- the number of people purchasing and participating in gaming is on the rise, with no sign of slowing.(1) With more than 30 million gamers, the Call of Duty community now exceeds the combined populations of the cities of New York, London, Tokyo, Paris and Madrid.

EA: New Online Gaming Content Codes Could Expire Before Even Being Used

If you're buying an Electronic Arts game, be prepared for the Online Pass that came with it to have already expired. This was the recent experience of a NeoGAF member who bought a brand new copy of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit from Amazon, only to find that he got an error message saying that the code was either incorrect or no longer valid. Gaming website Joystick picked up on this and asked an EA advisor about this situation. It turns out that it's EA's corporate policy to have some of these codes expire, but that no one should be faced with this, as a rule. However, if they are, then they can get a new one for free, by either downloading it or getting it from EA directly. Checking the EULA shows that at the moment, there is only one game with this restriction. It's only Dragon Age 2 (packaged) which has a time-limited an Online Pass code and that it expires on March 31, 2012:

MW3 Cheaters: 1600 Banned And Counting

In news, that will be sweet music to the ears of honest gamers, InfinityWard has been busily banning cheaters who exploit loopholes and coding errors in the game to get one over others. The figure is currently around the 1600 mark and rising, as InfinityWard's community man Robert Bowling posted on Twitter: Any attempt to cheat, hack, or glitch in #MW3 will not be tolerated. 1600+ bans issued. Updates in works. Please cont. to report offenders. He then added: We are doing mass bans on PC as well while we work on updates. He has promised that a hot fix is in the works for multiple glitches that have been reported.

Now, while cheating is wrong, it can also be an incredibly fun, but guilty pleasure. So, is it really all the cheater's fault, when opportunities like this are laid at there feet? It's like giving someone a cake and telling them not to eat it. Perhaps the program code should have been more bug free in the first place, too?Source: CVG

MW3 Console Players Have Crashtastic Time Of It

While the Modern Warfare 3 launch has got off pretty smoothly overall with few technical glitches and made Activision a shed-load of money, it seems that some XBOX 360 players are not so lucky. g4tv.com reports that there is a "A 14-page thread on Xbox.com points to multiple XBOX 360 gamers getting similar disc read errors from the game." The general symptoms seem to be that the console will either not read the disc at all, or starts, but then falls over flat on its face with an ungainly crash a little while later. While many posters have suggested solutions, there doesn't appear to be a definitive fix. Therefore, the best course of action for this problem is to return the disc to the retailer and ask for a replacement.

Finally, If you're a console gamer, then this of course serves you right for not being a PC gamer and enjoying the benefit of superior hardware. It should also be noted that the PC version comes as a download on the Steam online network. This eliminates any DVD read issues as there's no DVD (the installation disc in the retail version can be ignored) and also greatly improves loading times both at the start and during level changes, since it loads from the hard disc.

NVIDIA SLI & Intel Core I7 Extreme Ed. CPUs Power World's Fastest Desktop Gaming PCs

NVIDIA today announced that system builders worldwide are now shipping the fastest PC gaming platforms ever built, thanks in part to NVIDIA SLI technology and the just-released Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition processors and X79 chipset-based motherboards.

The combination of NVIDIA SLI technology -- which allows for multiple GPUs to run on a single PC -- and new X79-based motherboards allow gamers to customize their PC experience with up to four NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPUs, including the GeForce GTX 580 and GTX 570, the world's fastest DX11 GPUs. Licensed by the world's leading motherboard manufacturers -- including Intel, ASUS, ASRock, EVGA, Foxconn, Gigabyte and MSI, SLI technology is crucial for playing this year's hottest graphics-intensive games, such as the recently released Battlefield 3 and upcoming Batman: Arkham City with detail, resolution and immersion settings cranked up.

PC CoD Elite No Show: The Backpedal!

Today, we brought you the depressing news that Activision are unlikely to bring the Call of Duty social network called Elite, to the PC platform, despite all their loyal PC gamers, who have bought every iteration of the game going and in particular helped them achieve their blockbuster sales of $400M last week. This delight came courtesy of this tweet:
@thejuggz We are working towards a universal Elite experience but we cannot guarantee if or when a version will be available for the PC.
Well, what do you know, but it looks like Elite is coming to the PC platform after all. Yes, you heard that right. In a tweet a while later, Activision claim to have "misspoken", like this:
We misspoke. Our goal has always been to provide a free PC offering for ELITE. Stay tuned for an update as timing is still being determined.
So PC gamers will at least get the free version. Fantastic. Still second class, but better than nothing. Probably best to keep a close eye on those tweets and a sceptical outlook on this one until it happens. You couldn't make this stuff up.
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