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Chrome 40.0

27 January 2015

Google has released Version 40.0.2214.93 of the Chrome browser. This version updates the Flash Player as well as providing security and bug fixes.

Firefox 35.0.1

27 January 2015

Mozilla has released Version 35.0.1 of the Firefox browser. This version contains a range of bug fixes.

CCleaner 5.02

27 January 2015

A new Version 5.02.5101 of the free CCleaner system cleaning utility has been released. Changes include improved Firefox cleaning, improved Chrome 64-bit support, Disk Analyzer optimization, as well as minor improvements and bug fixes.

Flash Player 16.0

26 January 2015

Adobe has released Version of the Flash Player plugin for browsers. The link above has not yet updated, so use these direct links for the Internet Explorer version and the Other browsers version. Note that IE11 under Windows 8 will be updated separately via Windows Update.

GTX 970 4GB VRAM Issue [Updated]

25 January 2015

The GTX 970 is a very popular GPU, so recent claims from some users that it is effectively limited to 3.5GB of its VRAM, and starts to suffer when using all 4GB, have caused a lot of concern. Nvidia's official response confirms that there is a segmentation of the 970's VRAM between a 3.5GB section and a 512MB section, but that this has no performance impact. I decided to test this out for myself. Running Far Cry 4 at settings just high enough to use around 4GB of VRAM (3,840x2,400 via DSR plus all other settings to maximum, except SMAA) resulted in expectedly lower framerates, but no significant stuttering or hitching as demonstrated in this YouTube Video. See this Screenshot from the video to confirm that 4GB is being used - zoom in on the top left, second entry on the second line of the Afterburner overlay. Unfortunately some people have been "testing" this issue by using system-crippling settings, such as 4K resolution combined with 8x MSAA, and blaming the inevitable 5FPS slideshow on the VRAM. Quite aside from the fact that no current single GPU performs well at those settings, remember that slow or insufficient VRAM manifests itself as severe hitching (longer pauses) and stuttering (frequent brief hiccups), not an overall reduction in FPS. I did notice in my testing however that the GTX 970 definitely prefers using only 3.5GB of its VRAM in most cases; in the VRAM-hungry Watch Dogs for example, as settings were raised the 970 remained stuck at ~3.5GB VRAM usage right up until 8x MSAA was engaged at 4K resolution. After several hours of testing though my conclusion is that there's no discernible practical impact from this issue: the GTX 970 performs smoothly, whether using 3.5 or 4GB of VRAM. If you're experiencing stuttering or low framerates on a 970, in my opinion it is quite likely due to a general system issue or excessive GPU load, not VRAM segmentation.

Update: Nvidia has now provided more information, as discussed in detail in this AnandTech article. In brief, the GTX 970 has slightly lower technical specifications than those that were originally published. This confirms that the second 512MB section of VRAM operates much more slowly than the primary 3.5GB section. However, and this is very important, the operating system and graphics driver can typically manage the memory segmentation in such a way that the full 4GB is accessible in a balanced manner in real-world usage, with no noticeable reduction in performance, as my own testing indicated. The AnandTech article reaffirms this by noting that "Coming up with real (non-synthetic) gaming workloads that can utilize between 3.5GB and 4GB of VRAM while not running into a rendering performance wall is already a challenge, and all the more so when trying to find such workloads that actually demonstrate performance problems." The real issue then is whether in the future there will be any games that push VRAM resources in such a way that the driver cannot manage the load, and equally, whether the GTX 970 (or 980) would have playable framerates at such loads anyway, even if it had a full 4GB of unified fast memory. I'm happy enough to keep my GTX 970 until, as I suspect, it will run out of processing power well before this VRAM issue becomes a noticeable concern. But if you feel Nvidia has engaged in deceptive advertising, and that this issue will affect you, I encourage you to pursue a refund first with your retailer, then via Nvidia directly.

Nvidia GeForce 347.25 WHQL

23 January 2015

Nvidia has released the 347.25 WHQL certified graphics driver. This driver is for GeForce 400 and higher graphics cards under Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8. This is the recommended driver for Dying Light. It also adds support for the new GTX 960 GPU, contains performance improvements, expands MFAA support to most DX10 and DX11 games, and provides new SLI profiles. The driver package contains PhysX version 9.14.0702 and GeForce Experience version 2.1.5. A newer Version 2.2.2 of GeForce Experience is also available separately.

Flash Player 16.0

23 January 2015

Adobe has released Version of the Flash Player plugin for browsers. Use Windows Update to update the built-in Flash Player in IE11 under Windows 8.

Windows 10

22 January 2015

Microsoft has revealed the details of its upcoming Windows 10 operating system. It is designed as a cross-platform OS, containing a range of changes including a new Internet Explorer version called Spartan, a DirectX update to version 12, the return of a customizable Start Menu, the integration of the Cortana digital assistant, and universal apps. Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8 users in the first year. A new technical preview will be available next week, and the final version of Windows 10 is expected to be released later this year.

GPU-Z 0.8.1

22 January 2015

GPU-Z, a free graphics card information utility, has reached Version 0.8.1. Changes include support for new chipsets, millisecond precision for sensor logging, as well as bug fixes.

Java Runtime Environment 8.31

22 January 2015

Oracle has released an Update 31 to the Java Runtime Environment 8.

Java Runtime Environment 7.76

22 January 2015

Oracle has released an Update 76 to the Java Runtime Environment 7.

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