computers

3D Simulations Show How Galactic Centers Cool Off

magnetic kink

The most extreme outbursts in the universe are the mysterious jets of energy and matter beaming from the center of galaxies at close to the speed of light. The narrow jets typically form in opposing pairs, and they are associated with supermassive black holes and other exotic objects. The mechanisms that drive and dissipate the jets are not understood.

A team of researchers has developed theories supported by 3D simulations to explain what’s at work.

“These jets are notoriously hard to explain,” said Alexander “Sasha” Tchekhovskoy, a former NASA Einstein fellow who co-led the new study as a member of the Nuclear Science Division at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), and the Astronomy and Physics departments and Theoretical Astrophysics Center at UC Berkeley. “Why are they so stable in some galaxies and in others they just fall apart?”

This rendering illustrates magnetic kink instability in simulated jets beaming from a galaxy’s center. The jets are believed to be associated with supermassive black holes. The magnetic field line (white) in each jet is twisted as the central object (black hole) rotates. As the jets contact higher-density matter the magnetic fields build up and become unstable. The irregular bends and asymmetries of the magnetic field lines are symptomatic of kink instability. The instability dissipates the magnetic fields into heat with the change in density, leading them to become less tightly wound. (Berkeley Lab, Purdue University, NASA)

Almost half the jets’ energy escapes in the form of X-rays and stronger forms of radiation. The researchers showed how two different mechanisms that are both related to the jets’ interaction with surrounding matter, also known as “ambient medium” and serve to reduce half of the energy of the powerful jets.

“The exciting part of this research is that we are now coming to understand the full range of dissipation mechanisms that are working in the jet no matter the size or type of jet,” he said.

Tchekhovskoy co-led the study with Purdue University scientists Rodolfo Barniol Duran and Dimitrios Giannios. They concluded that the ambient medium itself has a lot to do with how the jets release energy.

“We were finally able to simulate jets that start from the black hole and propagate to very large distances—where they bump into the ambient medium,” said Duran.

Tchekhovskoy has studied these jets for over a decade. He said that an effect known as magnetic kink instability causes a bend in the direction of some jets. This along with another effect that triggers a series of shocks within other jets appear to be the primary mechanisms for energy release. The density of ambient medium that the jets encounter serves as the key trigger for the types of the release mechanism.

“For a long time, we have speculated that shocks and instabilities trigger the spectacular light displays from jets. Now these ideas and models can be cast on a much firmer theoretical ground,” said Giannios, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Purdue.

The length and intensity of the jets can illuminate the properties of their associated black holes like their age and size and if they are actively “feeding” on surrounding matter. The longest jets extend for millions of light years into space.

“When we look at black holes, the first things we notice are the central streaks of these jets. You can make images of these streaks and measure their lengths, widths and speeds to get information from the very center of the black hole,” Tchekhovskoy noted. “Black holes tend to eat in binges of tens and hundreds of millions of years. These jets are like the ‘burps’ of black holes—they are determined by the black holes’ diet and frequency of feeding.”

Nothing can escape a black hole’s interior, but jets manage to draw their energy from the black hole. In the black holes, the laws of physics allow them to spew energy and matter even when they suck in surrounding matter.

The friction and heating of gases spiraling in toward the black hole cause extreme temperatures and compression in magnetic fields. This results in energetic backlash and an outflow of radiation that escapes the black hole’s pull.

Earlier studies have shown how magnetic instabilities in the jets can occur when jets run into the ambient medium. A jet experiencing the instability can change direction when it rams into matter outside the black hole’s reach.

The same instability frustrated scientists working on early machines attempting to create and harness a superhot, charged state of matter known as plasma in efforts to develop fusion energy that powers the sun. The space jets, also known as active galactic nuclei (AGN) jets, are a form of plasma.

The latest study found that if an earlier jet had “pre-drilled” a hole in the ambient medium surrounding a black hole and the matter impacted by the newly formed jet was less dense, a different process is at work in the form of “recollimation” shocks.

These shocks, formed as matter and energy in the jet, bounce off the sides of the hole. The jet loses energy with every shock and immediately reforms a narrow column until its energy dissipates to the point that the beam loses its tight focus and spills out into a broad area.

“With these shocks, the jet is like a phoenix. It comes out of the shock every time,” though with gradually lessening energy, Tchekhovskoy said. “This train of shocks cumulatively can dissipate quite a substantial amount of the total energy.”

The researchers designed the models to smash against different densities of matter in the ambient medium to create instabilities in the jet that mimic astrophysical observations.

New, higher-resolution images of areas in space where supermassive black holes are thought to exist—from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), for example—should help inform and improve models and theories that explain jet behavior. Future studies could also include more complexity in the jet models, like a longer sequence of shocks.

“It would be really interesting to include gravity into these models, and to see the dynamics of buoyant cavities that the jet fills up with hot magnetized plasma as it drills a hole in the ambient medium,” Tchekhovskoy said. “Seeing deeper into where the jets come from—we think the jets start at the black hole’s event horizon (a point of no return for matter entering the black hole)—would be really helpful to see in nature these ‘bounces’ in repeating shocks, for example. The EHT could resolve this structure and provide a nice test of our work.”

A paper on this study was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Source: Electronics360

25 Fastest Gaming Laptops Ranked

These are the gaming laptops we’ve tested with the best 3D performance over the past year.

gaming laptops

Gaming on a laptop is no longer the frustrating compromise it once was. Slimmer designs paired with more powerful processors and graphics cards have brought gaming laptops closer than ever to performance previously found only in desktops.

And the pace of innovation hasn’t slowed down. Just in the past year, laptops can now easily support high-end virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and new designs can fit top-tier graphics hardware into very slim laptop bodies, as in the case of the 17mm thick Asus Zephyrus, which is the thinnest laptop with an Nvidia GeForce 1080 GPU.

Putting gaming laptops to the test

For this roundup, we’ve taken all the laptops with discrete graphics hardware tested over the past 12 months, and ranked them based on 3D performance. When testing a gaming laptop or desktop, we run preset tests using several games, including Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Bioshock Infinite, and others, along with standard benchmarks like 3DMark, which is designed to test a computer’s 3D graphic rendering capabilities.

For this list, we’re ranking the laptops in order of 3DMark scores, but the real-world game scores (presented as the number of frames of animation per second the laptop can render) match very closely. Note that these scores are specifically for the exact configurations of each laptop we tested, and almost all can be configured with a wide range of options.

The winners are…

The results offer few surprises. The handful of laptops with dual video cards (rare in a laptop) came out on top, followed by laptops with a single Nvidia 1080 GPU and so on down the list. The No. 1 spot is held by the most expensive laptop we’ve ever reviewed, the $9,000 Acer Predator 21 X. But at more reasonable prices, systems from Asus, Alienware, Origin PC, Lenovo, HP, MSI and Razer, among others, are all represented.

As we test many more everyday laptops than gaming ones, the last few spots get us into crossover territory, with Nvidia and AMD GPUs that aren’t really for gaming, so serious gamers should stick with something that has at least an Nvidia 1050 graphics card.

More details on each laptop, including links to reviews and benchmark scores, are in our roundup gallery, with a top-level overview below. We’ll update the rankings as new gaming laptops are tested in the CNET Labs.

acer-predator-21-x-22.jpg

Acer’s frankly insane $9,000 Predator 21 X was the top performer in this roundup.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Top 25 Gaming Laptop Performers

System Name 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra score Graphics Card
1 Acer Predator 21X 9444 (2) Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
2 MSI GT83 8594 (2) Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
3 Asus ROG G701V 5226 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
4 Alienware 17 R4 5024 Nvidia GTX GeForce GTX 1080
5 Origin PC Eon17-X (2017) 4970 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
6 Origin PC Eon17-X (2016) 4919 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
7 Razer Blade Pro 4456 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
8 Asus ROG G752VS-XS74K 4126 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
9 Asus ROG Zephyrus 4095 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 with Max-Q Design
10 Alienware 15 R4 4054 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
11 HP Omen (17-inch) 3816 Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070
12 Origin PC Evo 15-S 2671 Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060
13 MSI GS73VR-7RF Stealth Pro 2647 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
14 Alienware 13 R3 (OLED late 2016) 2609 Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060
15 Razer Blade 2593 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
16 Lenovo Legion Y720 2523 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
17 Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming 1871 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti
18 Origin PC EON15-S 1861 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti
19 Lenovo Legion Y520 1855 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
20 Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 1822 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti
21 Acer Aspire VX 15 -591G 1252 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
22 Dell XPS 15 (2017) 1242 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
23 Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 810 Nvidia Quadro M100M
24 Samsung NoteBook 9 Pro 547 AMD Radeon 540 Graphics
25 HP Spectre x360 357 Nvidia GeForce 940MX

 

Source: cnet.com

3D graphics of Nvidia Uses AI are Now Better Than an Artist

Nvidia spans both gaming graphics and artificial intelligence, and it is showing that with its announcements this week at the Siggraph computer graphics event in Los Angeles.

Those announcements range from providing external graphics processing for content creators to testing AI robotics technology inside a virtual environment known as the Holodeck, named after the virtual reality simulator in the Star Trek series. In fact, Nvidia’s researchers have created a way for AI to create realistic human facial animations in a fraction of the time it takes human artists to do the same thing.

“We are bringing artificial intelligence to computer graphics,” said Greg Estes, vice president of developer marketing at Nvidia, in an interview with GamesBeat. “It’s bringing things full circle. If you look at our history in graphics, we took that into high-performance computing and took that into a dominant position in deep learning and AI. Now we are closing that loop and bringing AI into graphics.”

“Our strategy is to lead with research and break new ground,” he said. “Then we take that lead in research and take it into software development kits for developers.”

Above: Nvidia’s Optix 5.0 can “de-noise” images by removing graininess.

Image Credit: Nvidia

Nvidia has 10 research papers this year at the Siggraph event, Estes said. And some of that will be relevant to Nvidia’s developers, which number about 550,000 now. About half of those developers are in games, while the rest are in high-performance computing, robotics, and AI.”

Among the announcements, one is particularly cool. Estes said that Nvidial will show off its Isaac robots in a new environment. These robots, which are being used to vet AI algorithms, will be brought inside the virtual environment that Nvidia calls Project Holodeck. Project Holodeck is a virtual space for collaboration, where full simulations of things like cars and robots are possible. By putting the Isaac robots inside that world, they can learn how to behave, without causing havoc in the real world.

Above: The Project Holodeck demo

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

“A robot will be able to learn things in VR,” Estes said. “We can train it in a simulated environment.”

Nvidia is providing external Titan X or Quadro graphics cards through an external graphics processing unit (eGPU) chassis. That will boost workflows for people who use their laptop computers for video editing, interactive rendering, VR content creation, AI development
and more, Estes said.

To ensure professionals can enjoy great performance with applications such as Autodesk Maya and Adobe Premier Pro, Nvidia is releasing a new performance driver for Titan X hardware to make it faster. The Quadro eGPU solutions will be available in September through partners such as Bizon, Sonnet, and One Stop Systems/Magma.

Nvidia also said it was launching its Optix 5.0 SDK on the Nvidia DGX AI workstation. That will give designers, artists, and other content-creation professionals the rendering capability of 150 standard central processing unit (CPU) servers.

The tech could be used by millions of people, Estes said. And that kind of system would cost $75,000 over three years, compared to $4 million for a CPU-based system, the company said.

OptiX 5.0’s new ray tracing capabilities will speed up the process required to visualize designs or characters, thereby increasing a creative professional’s ability to interact with their content. It features new AI “de-noising” capability to accelerate the removal of graininess from images, and brings GPU-accelerated motion blur for realistic animation effects. It will be available for free in November.

By running Nvidia Optix 5.0 on a DGX Station, content creators can significantly accelerate training, inference and rendering (meaning both AI and graphics tasks).

“AI is transforming industries everywhere,” said Steve May, vice president and chief technology officer of Pixar, in a statement. “We’re excited to see how Nvidia’s new AI technologies will improve the filmmaking process.”

On the research side, Nvidia is showing how it can animate realistic human faces and simulate how light interacts with surfaces. It will tap AI technology to improve the realism of the facial animations. Right now, it takes human artists hundreds of hours to create digital faces that more closely match the faces of human actors.

Nvidia Research partnered with Remedy Entertainment, maker of games such as Quantum Break, Max Payne and Alan Wake, to help game makers produce more realistic faces with less effort and at lower cost.

Above: Nvidia is using AI to create human facial animations.

Image Credit: Nvidia

The parties combined Remedy’s animation data and Nvidia’s deep learning technology to train a neural network to produce facial animations directly from actor videos. The research was done by Samuli Laine, Tero Karras, Timo Aila, and Jaakko Lehtinen. Nvidia’s solution requires only five minutes of training data to generate all the facial animation needed for an entire game from a simple video stream.

Antti Herva, lead character technical artist at Remedy, said that over time, the new methods will let the studio build larger, richer game worlds with more characters than are now possible.

Already, the studio is creating high-quality facial animation in much less time than in the past.

 

“Based on the Nvidia research work we’ve seen in AI-driven facial animation, we’re convinced AI will revolutionize content creation,” said Herva, in a statement. “Complex facial animation for digital doubles like that in Quantum Break can take several man-years to create. After working with Nvidia to build video- and audio-driven deep neural networks for facial animation, we can reduce that time by 80 percent in large scale projects and free our artists to focus on other tasks.”

In another research project, Nvidia trained a system to generate realistic facial animation using only audio. With this tool, game studios will be able to add more supporting game characters, create live animated avatars, and more easily produce games in multiple languages.

Above: AI can smooth out the “jaggies,” or rough edges in 3D graphics.

Image Credit: Nvidai

AI also holds promise for rendering 3D graphics, the process that turns digital worlds into the life-like images you see on the screen. Film makers and designers use a technique called “ray tracing” to simulate light reflecting from surfaces in the virtual scene. Nvidia is using AI to improve both ray tracing and rasterization, a less costly rendering technique used in computer games.

In a related project, Nvidia researchers used AI to tackle a problem in computer game rendering known as anti-aliasing. Like the de-noising problem, anti-aliasing removes artifacts from partially-computed images, with this artifact looking like stair-stepped “jaggies.” Nvidia researchers Marco Salvi and Anjul Patney trained a neural network to recognize jaggy artifacts and replace those pixels with smooth anti-aliased pixels. The AI-based solution produces images that are sharper (less blurry) than existing algorithms.

Nvidia is also developing more efficient methods to trace virtual light rays. Computers sample the paths of many light rays to generate a photorealistic image. The problem is that not all of those light paths contribute to the final image.

Researchers Ken Daum and Alex Keller trained a neural network to guide the choice of light paths. They accomplished this by connecting the math of tracing light rays to the AI concept of reinforcement learning. Their solution taught the neural network to distinguish the paths most likely to connect lights with virtual cameras, from the paths that don’t contribute to the image.

Above: Nvidia uses AI to figure out light sources in 3D graphics.

Image Credit: Nvidia

Lastly, Nvidia said it taking immersive VR to more people by releasing the VRWorks 360 Video SDK to enable production houses to livestream high-quality, 360-degree, stereo video to their audiences.

Normally, it takes a lot of computation time to stitch together images for 360-degree videos. By doing live 360-degree stereo stitching, Nvidia is making life a lot easier for the live-production and live-event industries, said Zvi Greenstein, vice president at Nvidia.

The VRWorks SDK enables production studios, camera makers and app developers to integrate 360 degree, stereo stitching SDK into their existing workflow for live and post production. The Z Cam V1 Pro (made by VR camera firm Z Cam) is the first professional 360 degree VR camera that will fully integrate the VRWorks SDK.

“We have clients across a wide range of industries, from travel through sports, who want high quality, 360 degree video,” said Chris Grainger, CEO of Grainger VR, in a statement. “This allows filmmakers to push the boundaries of live storytelling.”

Source: Venturebeat.com

That Million Dollar Curb Appeal for the DIY-er

exterior rendering

This article is originally posted at smoothair.ca. If you want to read full article, visit http://www.smoothair.ca/home/million-dollar-curb-appeal-diy-er/

April showers bring May flowers…or so they once said! Hopefully that English proverb holds true for us here in the Pacific North West this spring. While it has been dreary outside, long days and warmer weather await!

But what to do with your front yard once the weather turns?

Right now it is useless. It looks tired. It looks old. The neighbours think the house is abandoned (not actually but you get the point). This spring you are going to make your yard scream modernity – and on a DIY budget no less! Now roll up your sleeves and prepare to transform your tired yard into a magnificently modern masterpiece.

Lawn TLC

The key to a beautiful house is a beautiful lawn. Spring and autumn are the best seasons for lawn repair and a bag of turf builder, combined with a regiment of moss killer and weed remover, are quick and cheap options to restore that deep green hue.
Consider borrowing your neighbour’s push-mower to get that short uniform look and do not forget to edge the lawn. With proper edging and a close shave, you will have a fantastic looking lawn all summer – don’t forget to water!

Plant A Tree

A regularly pruned tree of moderate height, say…no larger than 7 feet, can be a focal point in your garden. It draws eyes from the house itself and provides depth to a well manicured lawn that is cut both short and uniform. You can grab a juvenile tree for around $20.

Be Bold: Stain Your Cement

The world of stained cement is a marvelous one. You are only limited by your imagination…and maybe your budget. But I know you are a DIY master with a small pocketbook. Fear not! The people over at doityourself have a wonderful breakdown of staining that cement, and for as little as 50 cents per square foot. Not bad at all!

Accentuate with Native Shrubs

Small, upright shrubs placed in strategic areas in your front yard provide multiple benefits. Shrubbery helps to define features by framing or highlighting them and provides privacy when used as a hedge.

Using native vegetation is better because you know it can survive in your yard and requires less maintenance over time. It can also be cheaper as you can transplant vegetation from a local forest significantly reducing the costs associated with preparing your yard (don’t snag any plants from your neighbourhood park).

Also, using native vegetation will attract wildlife such as butterflies and birds. Local vegetation can be used to create waterwise gardens too; meaning you can have a garden that looks like a million bucks, and is environmentally friendly!

Modern Lighting for Any Budget

At this point your front yard is most likely the envy of the block. But you can really make this thing pop. Small, stainless steel bollards are a perfect accent to a well manicured yard that can give that million-dollar curb appeal for under 100 hundred dollars.

There is a HUGE selection of bollards to choose from, but we are going for an ultra modern aesthetic and short, stainless steel bollards are all the rage. If you buy solar, you don’t have to pay for electricity or bury any wire! Double Bonus.

I should warn you though. Making these simple, easy changes to your front yard may cause realtors to approach you with an offer of selling your house. That is the price a successful DIY-er must pay for their ingenuity.

Credit to Realspace 3D for this post.