AMD Vega II release date, news and rumors

AMD is having a killer year in 2019 – and it looks set to continue with the AMD Vega II, which will bring a new 7nm GPU architecture,  that allows AMD to pack its latest graphics cards with more transistors than ever before, without increasing the power draw.

Priced the same as the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, while delivering comparable performance – albeit without Nvidia Turing’s ray tracing or DLSS features – the Radeon VII has ensured that 2019 will be an exciting year for the best graphics cards.

At WWDC 2019, Apple also announced that the Radeon Pro Vega II will feature in its new Mac Pro. Apple's new workstation will be able to hold a number of Pro Vega II GPUs thanks to some canny cooling design choices with the MPX Module – which Apple states is the 'world's most powerful graphics card'.

While the AMD Radeon VII is at least partially related to Vega, we still don’t know whether or not it’s officially part of any Vega II lineup. Based on what we were hearing before CES 2019, the Radeon VII lines up with what we were expecting from Vega II, so we’ll be treating it as part of that lineup, even if it’s not official.

So, be sure to keep this page bookmarked, and we’ll dive into everything there is to know about AMD Vega II.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? AMD’s first 7nm consumer graphics cards
  • When is it out? February 7, 2019
  • What will it cost? $699 (about £550, AU$980)

AMD Vega II

Image Credit: AMD

AMD Vega II release date

AMD revealed the Radeon VII at CES 2019, as the first 7nm consumer graphics card. It actually released about a month later on February 7, 2019, offering buyers Devil May Cry V, Resident Evil 2 and the Division 2 as complementary additions.

The AMD Radeon VII had some supply issues when it first hit the market, but the high-end GPU is now widely available. This is good news, as AMD’s Navi cards may not even show up until October 2019. We have seen AMD CEO Lisa Su say that Team Red would “provide new details about the next generation of high-performance platforms and products” at Computex 2019. Either way, we’ll be sure to update this article with any new information that arises. 

AMD Vega II

Image Credit: AMD

AMD Vega II price

Right now there’s only one AMD Vega II card, the Radeon VII, and that has launched at $699 (£649, AU$1,109), bundled with three games. We’re sure that AMD will fill out the product stack with lower priced GPUs in the future, but we don’t know what the pricing will look like quite yet. However, you can probably assume it’s going to compete with Nvidia’s Turing product stack directly. 

AMD Vega II

Image Credit: TechRadar

AMD Vega II specs

The switch from a 14nm process to a 7nm process allows AMD to pack even more power into each GPU. For its graphics cards, this move means more transistors in each GPU without having to increase the die size or the power requirements.

And, the AMD Radeon VII is the fist 7nm graphics card for gamers, with 3,840 stream processors, 16GB HBM2 VRAM and 1TB/s of memory bandwidth. This goes directly against the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, which has 2,944 CUDA cores, 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM and 448GB/s of memory bandwidth. 

The Radeon VII will definitely outperform its competitor in some workloads thanks to sheer horsepower. But, it’s especially going to shine in creative workloads, meaning that it’s going to be the best graphics card for hobbyist video editors and content creators who don’t have the cash to drop on a professional product.

But, the AMD Radeon VII won’t offer the double-precision capabilities that the enterprise Radeon MI60 does, according to ExtremeTech, so it’s still very much a consumer graphics card. 

Aside from standalone cards, it seems all but guaranteed that the Vega II series will find its way into mobile and lower-power devices as integrated graphics processors. With a new generation of Ryzen processors expected, a new generation of Vega graphics to integrate into APUs is only fitting.

In fact, laptops will soon see a flurry of 2nd Gen Ryzen Mobile processors equipped with brand new Vega graphics. Even the anticipated Xbox Scarlet Cloud could see Vega II built into its APU.  

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Got AirPods? You can soon share songs with a friend thanks to SiriKit

If you thought the new Apple AirPods for 2019 were looking a little feature-light compared to what we were expecting from a true AirPods 2 hardware revision, perhaps we’ve all been a little too hasty in casting judgement. At WWDC 2019 Apple revealed a pair of significant new features coming to Apple’s true-wireless headphones.

First up, AirPods can now not only read message as notifications come in, but it can seamlessly respond to them, too. That’s thanks to SiriKit on your paired device – as a message is read out, a short pause will occur after it, giving you the opportunity to respond without needing to prompt Siri to dictate your words.

Whether its Apple’s own messaging app you’re using, or a third party messaging service, this feature will work across both.

Share a song

Audio sharing is also coming to Apple’s audio ecosystem. If you and your buddy both have a pair of AirPods, you need simply to tap two phones together and you’ll both be able to listen in with your individual AirPods to whatever is playing.

This also isn’t limited to any one app, being a system-level feature powered by SiriKit. So whether you’re watching a film, an online clip or streaming a song, you’ll be able to get this feature working.

While there’s still lots we’d like to see introduced to future AirPod models, these smart new features will be great conveniences for anyone jumping in with Apple’s earphones today.

Expect to see these new features land with the full release of iOS 13, which is likely to land in September 2019.

  • Catch all the announcements from the event in our WWDC 2019 news hub

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Mac Pro: everything you need to know

Apple has finally unveiled a new Mac Pro at WWDC 2019, complete with the modern hardware that creatives and professionals have been demanding for years. 

The new Mac Pro has up to a 28-core Intel Xeon processor, and up to 1.5TB of 6-channel system memory, meaning you should never run into any task that's too much for the new Mac Pro.

The big selling point here is the return of PCIe expansion, so you can actually upgrade your Mac with more powerful hardware, so it should never be out of date. And, starting with the AMD Radeon Pro 580X and going up to Radeon Vega II graphics, you'll get a ton of GPU power. 

Luckily, even with all of this power, Apple has packed the new Mac Pro with a unique cooling system that maximizes airflow while keeping things quiet – even with the massive fans it won't distract you from your work. 

Developing…

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Apple's new dedicated desktop
  • When is it out? TBC
  • What will it cost? TBC

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Metroid Prime 4: everything we know so far

It's been 10 years since the last Metroid Prime game, so to say fans are hungry for more Samus would be an understatement. Then finally during its E3 2017 livestream Nintendo announced a brand new Metroid Prime game is coming to Nintendo Switch: Metroid Prime 4.

But that's all we got, an announcement that included a logo for the new Metroid Prime and little else. No release date, no developer information, no footage. Nothing.

A brand new Metroid Prime title for the Switch is an exciting proposition – the Metroid Prime games, released between 2002 and 2007, were critical gold for the GameCube and Wii consoles; to see the series return on Nintendo’s most successful console in years would be fitting.

However in January 2019 fans were disappointed to learn that Metroid Prime 4 is probably going to be a while off as Nintendo scrapped the project and decided to start again with the help of Retro Studios. 

Regardless of the extra wait time, we're excited to see Metroid Prime 4 on the Nintendo Switch (whenever that will be). So here's everything we know about Metroid Prime 4 on Switch so far.

[Update: Nintendo has announced the time and date of its E3 2019 Direct. Could this be our chance to hear more about the progress being made on Metroid Prime 4? Read on to find out more.]

Cut to the chase

  • What is it?  A brand new Metroid Prime game 
  • What can I play it on? Nintendo Switch 
  • When can I play it? No release date just yet, but don’t expect it for a while 

Release date

We weren't quite sure when Metroid Prime 4 would release but now we know it definitely won't be for a while as Nintendo announced in January 2019 that it had scrapped the project and started again with help from Retro Studios. 

Trailers

Back at E3 2017, Nintendo released a first-look trailer for Metroid Prime 4. 

Check it out below:

News and rumors

E3 2019 Direct announced

E3 2019 is gaining on us and Nintendo has now confirmed the time and date it will be streaming its Nintendo Direct. The stream will begin on Tuesday June 11 at 5pm BST/ 9am PT/ 12pm ET. Nintendo has also confirmed that it will be bringing back its Treehouse livestreams which will go live each day of the show, showing off gameplay from upcoming releases. 

Nintendo hasn't released any kind of schedule for either its Direct stream or its Treehouse streams which means we can't be entirely certain that Metroid Prime 4 will appear. However, there's been little word since it was announced that Retro Studios took over development earlier this year and E3 would be the perfect time for Nintendo to update anxious fans. It seems unlikely, however, that the game would be a Treehouse livestream focus at this stage so a press conference mention is most likely if there's to be any sighting of Metroid Prime 4.

Retro Studios is hiring for Metroid Prime 4

It was something of a shock when Nintendo announced that it would be starting from scratch on the development of Metroid Prime 4 with Retro Studios. The latest news from this new phase in the game's development is that Retro Studios is now hiring and looking to increase numbers on its development team. The roles are wide-ranging and all are based at the studio in Austin, Texas. 

These advertisements suggest that the game is still in the early stages of development so it could be some time before we get any more solid updates on its progress. If you're a world class developer and a fan of Metroid, though, this could be your big break!

Nintendo scrap Metroid Prime 4 and start again

In a shock announcement back in January 2019, Nintendo revealed in a development update video that it scrapped the current project as it wasn't happy with the current progress. However, Nintendo still plans to reboot the project with help from original creators Retro Studios. 

“This change will essentially mean restarting development from the beginning, so completion of the game will be delayed from our initial internal plan,” Nintendo's senior managing executive officer Shinya Takahashi explains in the update video. “We strongly recognise that this delay will come as a dissapointment to the many fans who have been looking forward to the launch of Metroid Prime 4.”

You can watch the development update from Nintendo below:

The story

There’s so little Metroid Prime 4 information out there that piecing together the story is nigh impossible. What we will say is that Metroid Prime 3’s ending didn’t strike us as open enough for any kind of direct continuation. Though Samus’ went into hyperspace, giving the opportunity for a sequel to enter a new world or galaxy, we’d say the core story of the original trilogy is now closed. 

Back in 2015, Eurogamer interviewed series producer, Kensuke Tanabe, who stated that “the stories of Dark Samus and Phazon are done” adding that any new games in the series would focus on other Prime-series elements.

Given that the game is not being created by Metro Studios, this is likely to have an impact on the story or, the very least, the direction of the franchise.

Gameplay

One thing we can be fairly confident in is that, like other Prime games, Metroid Prime 4 is likely to be a first person shooter. Other than that we can’t say what kind of gameplay changes will arise from either the new developer, or the new Switch platform.

Coming in as a fresh start, there’s actually plenty of room for Metroid Prime 4 to innovate. Given The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario franchises have embraced more open worlds, we wonder if this is something that Nintendo will want to bring into the Prime series, too.

It’s like that, like other Switch games, there will be optional motion controls with the Joy-Cons – we’re imagining aiming, firing, an environment scanning, for example. 

Metroid Prime 4

What we want to see

A more open world

As we said above, this is a new start for Metroid Prime which means room for changes. Though we’re worried it could be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ we’d be interested to see the Metroid Prime games follow in the footsteps of Zelda and Mario to embrace a more open-world format.

The first three titles were already pretty big, but the Switch offers more scope. We think the Super Mario Odyssey approach of large interconnected worlds could translate well. The Metroid series is replete with interesting environments we’d love the chance to see more of and the Switch is the console that has enough power to make that possible. 

Be accessible

Just as a new start is a chance for innovation, it's also a chance to welcome a new generation of Metroid fans. It's the same with any series that goes on for a long time – there's a certain amount of assumed knowledge and lore that makes coming in as a new player feel more like a chore than a joy. 

We'd love to see Metroid Prime 4 take a Monster Hunter: World approach by retaining what makes it great while giving new players a way in. 

New weapons and abilities

The Metroid series has some seriously cool weapons and abilities for Samus’s armor and we’d like to see more of them. By all means, bring back the classics but bringing a couple of exciting new upgrades to the table will make us feel like we’re truly progressing in the game as well as the franchise as a whole. 

Make it feel like a true Switch game

With its motion controls and HD Rumble, the Switch has more than its portability to help its games stand out. We'd love to see Metroid Prime 4 make the most of them, though perhaps more of the HD Rumble and less of the motion control. 

Motion control could create some fun and interesting shooting and environment scanning opportunities, but integrating HD Rumble into puzzle solving or integrating it into combat situations to act as an enemy alert would be interesting.

Bring in Sylux

Back in 2015, producer Kensuke Tanabe said that the ship at the end of Metroid Prime 3 actually contained Sylux, a Hunter from Metroid Prime: Hunters. 

Tanabe said that he'd like to create a Metroid game which featured both Sylux and Samus and explored their dynamic, something which we'd also like to see happen; the characters have an unexplored and potentially interesting history. It's known that Sylux isn't the biggest fan for Samus or the Federation, yet he uses a Federation weapon. That alone has us thinking he'd make an engaging villain for a new title. 

(Image credits: Nintendo)

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UFC 238 is now ready to order – see how to live stream Saturday’s Chicago showdown

There's going to be titles on the line at the United Center in Chicago this Saturday, June 8. The awesome Henry Cejudo will try to add the Bantamweight gold to his resume and Valentina Shevchenko prepares to defend her Flyweight belt. It's almost time for UFC 238 and if you just can't wait to catch the epic-looking MMA event, ESPN+ has officially opened PPV sales so you can get prepared well in advance.

Last time Cejudo was in the Octagon, it took the Californian a mere 32 seconds to knockout T.J. Dillashaw with a brutal sequence of punches. Now he's stepping up to Bantamweight to try and bag another belt – the one that Dillashaw had to vacate thanks to a failed drugs test. But Marlon Moraes is ranked #1 in the official UFC Bantamweight rankings and should prove a worthy opponent.

Also on the packed card is the Kyrgyzstani Valentina Shevchenko, defending the Flyweight title she won at UFC 231 against Jessica 'Evil' Eye. While the heavyweight division is represented by Australian Tai Tuivasa and former Olympian Blagoy Ivanov from Bulgaria.

Tempted? You should be! And you can get ahead of the game now – read on to discover how to order the ESPN+'s UFC PPV now and get yourself a UFC 238 live stream. 

How to watch UFC online in the US exclusively on ESPN

Henry Cejudo was there right at the beginning of the relationship between UFC and ESPN+, headlining the very first fight night in January. The sports streaming service has exclusive rights to show every single UFC event in the US – and of course that includes UFC 238.

How much that costs depends on whether or not you already subscribe to the service. If you don't, then the best way to go is with a UFC Bundle, costing you $79.99. That won't just buy you the UFC 238 PPV, but you’ll get a year-long subscription to ESPN+ (that would normally cost $60 alone).

For those that already have an ESPN+ subscription, you can still buy access to UFC 238 for $59.99

And don't worry if you want to grab the PPV but are going to be outside the US when it's on. Just scroll down the page a little to discover how to use a VPN to watch a UFC 238 live stream from abroad.

Live stream UFC from anywhere in the world

Worry not if you're a huge UFC fan but aren't in the US to watch that ESPN+ coverage this weekend. If you've got your subscription sorted but then find the coverage is geo-blocked, you can try using a VPN to change your IP address to a US server and watch as if you were back at home.

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