Google’s Project Stream beta to end Jan. 15, AMD Radeon GPUs used for gaming service

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Google launched a public best test of Project Stream, its PC game streaming service, back in October 2018. It allowed people to stream and play the full version of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey at 1080p/60 in the Chrome web browser either on their PC or a low-end Chromebook.  Now, the search giant has confirmed on its FAQ page for Project Stream that the beta test will officially end on Jan. 15.

At the time of the beta test launch, Google didn’t reveal much about the hardware backend of Project Stream. Today, however, AMD announced that Google’s service is using its Radeon GPUs. The reveal was made during AMD’s CES 2019 keynote address today (via VentureBeat) by the company’s President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su.

Specifically, the cloud server service uses AMD’s Radeon Pro GPUs that rely on its Vega architecture. Hu added that AMD has worked closely with Google to optimize Project Stream so that this kind of service can work well without any buffering on the gamer’s end.

A screenshot from Google's Project Stream service. Google

Hu, unfortunately, didn’t provide any other concrete details on AMD’s partnership with Google on Project Stream.

If you have yet to check out Project Stream, live in the U.S., and are 17 years of age or older, you can still sign up for the beta test at the link below before the deadline. If you do play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey for at least one hour on Project Stream before Jan. 15, you will be able to get the PC version for free with a Ubisoft Uplay account. 

Google has not yet revealed what plans it has for Project Stream beyond the end of the beta test, but we will keep an eye out for more news on this exciting venture in the coming weeks and months.

Acer’s new Chromebook 315 hits CES 2019 with custom AMD processors

Acer just introduced the Chromebook 315 during the CES 2019 trade show in Las Vegas. Scheduled to arrive this quarter, it will be the company’s first Chromebook based on an all-in-one “APU” processor manufactured by AMD. Acer typically guns for Intel-based processors in Chromebooks, but the company chose custom APUs for this model to better support Chrome- and Android-based apps. APUs (standing for “Accelerated Processing Unit”) combine a CPU and GPU in a single chip.

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Acer’s Chromebook 315 will rely on two seventh-generation AMD A-Series APUs: The A6-9220C and the A4-9120C. These APUs weren’t pulled directly from the shelf, but instead revised to consume less power. That means they enable a longer battery life and produce less heat, making them a great fit for ultra-thin laptop designs. The tradeoff is that you’ll see lower CPU core speeds versus AMD’s original off-the-shelf APUs released in Q2 2017.

Here’s a comparison between the tweaked “c” variants and AMD’s stock A-Series APUs:

  A6-9220 A6-9220C A4-9120 A4-9120C
Process node: 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
CPU cores: 2 2 2 2
Threads: 2 2 2 2
Base speed: 2.5GHz 1.8GHz 2.2GHz 1.6GHz
Maximum speed: 2.9GHz 2.7GHz 2.5GHz 2.4GHz
Graphics cores: 2 3 2 3
Graphics shaders: 192 128 128 128
Graphics type: Radeon R5 Radeon R5 Radeon R3 Radeon R4
Base speed: 655MHz 720MHz 655MHz 600MHz
Maximum TDP: 15 watts 6 watts 15 watts 6 watts

These tweaked APUs will power an IPS-based 15.6-inch screen with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. Acer will offer versions with touch (CB315-2HT) and without touch (CB315-2H). You’ll also see up to 8GB of system memory and up to 32GB of storage. Given you’ll likely consume most of that storage with Android apps, Acer threw in a microSD card reader to store music, videos, images, and other files.

Acer Chromebook 315

In addition to the card slot, the Chromebook 315 will include two USB Type-C ports (5Gbps), two USB Type-A ports (5Gbps), and a microphone/headphone combo jack. A full-size upward-facing speaker will reside on each side of the keyboard, providing crisp audio versus the annoying muffled audio typically heard with downward-facing speakers. The touch-capable version will feature a backlit keyboard, whereas the non-touch version won’t have any backlighting. Rounding out the multimedia aspect is an HD webcam with an 88-degree field-of-view.

“The Chromebook 315 features a stylish IMR top cover and palm rest that are durable and light enough for moving around the home or office,” the company said in a pre-show press release. “It can speed through demanding apps, while running multiple tabs and extensions, all during a battery life of up to 10 hours.”

Acer Chromebook 315

Acer also notes that parents can easily manage the Chromebook 315 using Google’s Family Link Android app for mobile. With this free service enabled, children can’t install apps and extensions from the Chrome Web Store, view violent and sexually explicit sites, or use incognito mode. There’s nothing parents need to install on the Chromebook itself, as all restrictions are controlled through the child’s Google Account.

Read: What is a Chromebook and what can it do?

Acer’s upcoming Chromebook will measure 0.79 inches thick and weigh a mere 3.79 pounds. It won’t be available until sometime during the first quarter of 2019 sporting a starting price of $280.

The new Acer Swift 7 Windows 10 notebook

In addition to its new Chromebook, Acer also announced a new Windows 10 laptop, the Swift 7. The 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen notebook has very thin bezels, allowing it to have a 92 percent screen-to-body ratio. The body of the notebook is also very thin at just 9.95mm and is incredibly light at just 1.96 pounds, as it is made of magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminum alloys. The display is also covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 6 for extra protection.

Inside, the Acer Swift 7 has the 8th generation Intel Core i7-8500Y processor and can support either 8GB or 16GB of RAM and either 256GB or 512GB of onboard storage. The battery life is supposed to last up to 10 hours on a single charge. The power button on the laptop doubles as a fingerprint reader so you can log onto Windows 10 as you power the notebook up, via Windows Hello. It has a push-to-open camera for webchats and video recording that can be closed back inside the notebook when not in use.

The Acer Swift 7 won’t be available for a little while. It will go on sale in April in Europe starting at €1,799, and also in China starting at ¥14,999. It won’t be available in the US until May, for the starting price of $1,699.