Recently, Sony Computer Entertainment filed a patent with the USPTO to integrate a camera into a wearer’s contact lens, complete with the imaging sensor as well as data storage and a wireless communication module. The technology, powered wirelessly and controlled by blinking, also offers the possibility of auto-focus, zooming and image stabilization.
Sony is the second to file a patent for integrating a wearable camera into a contact lens, after it was discovered that Samsung filed a patent in South Korea for a similar concept on April 5th. Sony’s patent is filed under the name “Contact Lens and Storage Medium” and is slated to become a full-fledged camera device, complete with a lens, main CPU, imaging sensor, storage area, and a wireless communication module. The camera unit also includes support for autofocus, zooming, and image stabilization.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen wireless sensor technology integrated into a contact lens. In January 2014, Google announced its ambitions to create a glucose-level monitoring contact lens for the diagnosis and monitoring of blood sugar levels for diabetic patients. Google’s project integrates several miniscule sensors loaded with tens of thousands of transistors that measure glucose levels from a wearer’s tear drops, along with a low-power wireless transmitter to send results to other wearable devices along with smartphones and PCs.
More recently on April 7, it was discovered that Samsung could be working on mass-marketing a CMOS imaging sensor into a contact lens thanks to a new patent discovered by SamMobile and GalaxyClub.nl. The patent application, filed in South Korea, includes a display that projects images directly into a wearer’s field of view and includes a camera, an antenna, and several sensors for detecting movement and eye blinks.
Sony’s contact lens patent could be successor to its HMZ 3D displays
Rather than placing focus solely as a healthcare solution, Sony’s patent appears to become a more biologically integrated implementation of the company’s early head-mounted displays (HMDs) with wireless video streaming. The big difference this time, however, will be the inclusion of a camera lens and near-undetectable appearance, depending on how well Sony manages to camoflauge any chips and modules into its first-generation contact lens units.
In November 2011, Sony introduced its first-generation HMZ-T1 head mounted 3D display, complete with dual 1280x720p OLED displays, support for 5.1 channel surround via earbuds and signal input from an HDMI 1.4a cable. This model weighed 420g / 0.93lbs with a launch price of $799.
In October 2012, Sony introduced the second-generation HMZ-T2 follow up in Japan. This model reduced weight by nearly 20 percent (330g / 0.73lbs) and replaced earbuds with a dedicated 3.5mm headphone jack, complete with near-latency free wireless HD viewing (dual 1280x720p displays), 24p cinema picture support, and signal input via HDMI 1.4a cable.
In November 2013, Sony introduced the HMZ-T3W, the third-generation of its head mounted 3D viewer with near-latency free, wireless HD viewing (dual 1280x720p displays) with a 32-bit DAC delivering 7.1 channel audio (5Hz – 24KHz), and signal input via MHL cable and HDMI 1.4a. This device was not available in the United States and launched in Europe for a stunning £1,300 ($2,035) and is alternatively available as an import from Japan for $1090.
Will not come cheap
Based on the initial launch prices of Sony’s previous HMZ headsets ($799 and above) and the Google Glass launch price of $1499, and depending on the company’s target market, we might expect Sony’s first-generation contact lenses to be somewhere in between these two price points when they begin mass-production within the next couple years.
Acer’s boss Jason Chen says his company will not make its own VR devices and will focus on getting its gaming products to work with the existing VR platforms.
Eyebrows were raised when Acer released its new Predator series products which support virtual reality devices. The thought was that Acer might have a device of its own in the works. However Acer CEO Jason Chen said there were no plans and the goal was to get everythink working with the four current major VR platforms Oculus, HTC’s Vive, OSVR and StarVR.
He said that VR was still at a rather early stage and so far still has not yet had any killer apps or software. Although that never stopped the development of tablet which to this day has not got itself a killer app. But Chen said that its demand for high-performance hardware will be a good opportunity for Acer.
Acer is planning to add support for VR devices into all of its future Predator series products and some of its high-end PC products.
Chen told Digitimes that said Acer was investing in two robot projects, the home-care Jibo and the robot arm Kubi in the US, and the company internally has also been developing robot technologies and should achieve some results within two years. Acer’s robot products will target mainly the enterprise market.
Virtual reality is, without a doubt, the most exciting thing that’s going to happen to videogames in 2016 – but it’s becoming increasingly clear, in the cold light of day, that it’s only going to be providing thrills to a relatively limited number of consumers. Market research firm Superdata has downgraded its forecast for the size of the VR market this year once more, taking it from a dizzying $5.1 billion projection at the start of the year to a more reasonable sounding $2.9 billion; though I’d argue that even this figure is optimistic, assuming as it does supply-constrained purchases of 7.2 million VR headsets by American consumers alone in 2016.
Yes, supply-constrained; Superdata reckons that some 13 million Americans will want a VR headset this year, but only 7.2 million will ship, of which half will be Samsung’s Gear VR – which is an interesting gadget in some regards, but I can’t help but feel that its toy-like nature and the low-powered hardware which drives it isn’t quite what most proponents of VR have in mind for their revolution. Perhaps the limited selection of content consumers can access on Gear VR will whet their appetite for the real thing; pessimistically, though, there’s also every chance that it will queer the pitch entirely, with 3.5 million low-powered VR gadgets being a pretty likely source of negative word of mouth regarding nausea or headaches, for example.
This is a problem VR needs to tackle; for a great many consumers, without proactive moves from the industry, word of mouth is all they’re going to get regarding VR. It’s a transformative technology, when the experience is good – as it generally is on PSVR, Rift and Vive – but it’s not one you can explain easily in a video, or on a billboard, because the whole point is that it’s a new way of seeing 3D worlds that isn’t possible on existing screens. Worse, when you see someone else using a VR headset in a video or in real life, it just looks weird and a bit silly. The technology only starts to shine for most consumers when they either experience it, or speak to a friend evangelising it on the basis of their own experience; either way, it all comes down to experience.
That’s why it was interesting to hear GameStop talk up its role as a place where consumers can come and try out PlayStation VR headsets this year. That’s precisely what the technology needs; where at the moment, there are a handful of places you can go to try out VR, but it’s utterly insufficient. VR’s objective for 2016 isn’t just to get into the hands of a few million consumers – it’s to become desired, deeply desired, by tens of millions more. The only way that will happen is to create that army of evangelists by creating a large number of easily accessible opportunities to experience VR – and GameStop is right to position itself as the industry’s best chance of doing so in the USA. Pop-up VR booths in trendy spots might excite bloggers, but what this new sector needs in the latter half of 2016 is much more down to earth – it needs as many of America’s malls as possible to be places where shoppers can drop in and try out VR for themselves.
In a sense, what’s happening here is deeply ironic; after years of digital distribution and online shopping making retail all but irrelevant, to the point where it’s practically disappeared in some countries, the industry suddenly needs retail stores again – not to sell games, because those are, in truth, better sold online, but to sell hardware, to sell an experience. How exactly you structure a long-term business model around that – the games retailer as showroom – is something I’m honestly not sure about, but it’s something GameStop and its industry partners need to figure out, because what VR makes clear is that games do sometimes need a way to reach consumers physically, in the real world, and right now only games retail chains are positioned to do that.
This isn’t a one-time thing, either – we know that, because this has happened before, in the not-so-distant past. Nintendo’s Wii enjoyed an extraordinary sales trajectory from its first Christmas post-launch into its first full year on the market, not least because the company did a good job of putting demo units (mostly running Wii Sports, of course) into not only every games store in the world, but also into countless other popular shopping areas. It was nigh-on impossible, in the early months of the Wii, to go out shopping without encountering the brand, seeing people playing the games and having the opportunity to do so yourself – an enormously important thing for a device which, like VR, really needed to be experienced in person for its worth to become apparent. VR, if anything, magnifies that problem; at least with Wii Sports, observers could see people having fun with it. Observing someone using VR, as mentioned above, just looks daft and a bit uncomfortable.
GameStop has weathered the storm rather better than some of its peers in other countries. The United Kingdom has seen its games retail devastated; it’s all but impossible to actually walk into a specialist store and buy a game in many UK city centres, including London. Would a modern-day version of the Wii be able to thrive in an environment lacking these ready-made showrooms for its capabilities on every high street and in every shopping mall? Perhaps, but it would take enormous effort and investment; something that VR firms, especially Sony, are going to have to take very seriously as they plan how to get the broader public interested in their device, and how to break out beyond the early adopter market.
Much of the VR industry’s performance in 2016 is going to be measured in raw sales figures, which is a bit of a shame; Vive and Rift are enormously supply constrained and having fulfillment difficulties, and the numbers we’ve seen floating around for Sony’s intentions suggest that PSVR will also be supply constrained through Christmas. The VR industry – ignoring the slightly worrying, premature offshoot that is mobile VR – is going to sell every headset it can manufacture in 2016. If it doesn’t, then there’s a very serious problem, but every indication says that this year’s key limiter will be supply, not demand.
The real measurement of how VR has performed in 2016, then, should be something else – the purchasing intent and interest level of the rest of the population. If by the time the world is mumbling through the second line of Auld Lang Syne and welcoming in 2017, consumer awareness of VR is low and purchasing intent isn’t skyrocketing – or worse, if the media’s dominant narratives about the technology are all about vomiting and migraines – then the industry will have done itself a grievous disservice. This is the year of VR, but not for the vast majority of consumers – which means that the real task of VR firms in 2016 is to convince the world that a VR headset is something it simply must own in 2017.
AMD is rumoured to have won some key contracts for its forthcoming Polaris GPU.
According to TechPowerUp AMD’s Polaris will go under the bonnet of Apple Mac desktops and laptops and will supply a Polaris GPU with 2,304 stream processors to Sony for the PlayStation 4.5 /PS4K.
On the Apple side the rumour says that both of its upcoming Radeon 400 series 14nm FinFET graphics chips, Polaris 10 and Polaris 11″ provide iMacs and MacBooks with energy efficient graphics acceleration.
There is no indication when the deal will go through. People have been waiting a long time for Apple to upgrade the Macs so a refresh could be due soon. Some think it could be in the second half of this year, soon after Polaris is officially announced.
It looks like the chips will be seen in the PlayStation 4.5 or 4k. The new SoC behind the PlayStation 4K, upgraded for 4K and VR gaming, will feature an 8-core 64-bit Jaguar x86 CPU running at 2.1GHz paired with a GPU with 2,304 stream processors and 36 next-gen GCN compute units.
This sounds similar to the specs of the Polaris 10 ‘Ellesmere’ chip in its Radeon R9 480 configuration.”
The stream processor count will be double that of the current PS4. It will have a 256-bit GDDR5 memory interface with 8GB of memory increasing system memory bandwidth from 176GB/s to 218GB/s.
Troubled camera brand GoPro is going for broke and getting into the emerging VR market.
The outfit has GoPro has announced a new channel dedicated to 360-degree or VR content, which it calls GoPro VR. It has also unveiled a new version of its HeroCast wireless streaming tool, LiveVR, that’s dedicated to VR content. It seems to think that this effort will bail it out of its financial woes.
Meanwhile it has been talking up its VR camera rig. This is a six-camera Omni VR which will cost $5,000 for a complete bundle which can create extreme 360-degree content. It is even offering a $1,500 discount for those who already have a stack of GoPro cameras.
Pre-orders for the Omni VR camera will be opening up today, which is when the GoPro VR platform will also be launching. Today will also see the launch of GoPro VR apps for iOS and Android. Much of GloPro’s VR work is based around Kolor Eyes which was a 360-degree software specialist GoPro acquired around this time last year.
We expect to see the rest of the VR product line-up at the NAB show that starts in Las Vegas later today.
Software giant Microsoft has moved to deny a daft internet rumor that it was responsible for the ongoing Oculus Rift supply issues.
Oculus Rift customers were kept in the dark about the delays following the 28 March release date. Oculus confirmed that a component shortage was to blame for the long delays in supplying its VR headset to those who had pre-ordered. Then a rumour started that the mysterious “missing component” was actually the Xbox One control pad.
The rumour got a fair bit of traffic among the IT press which did not check the facts and liked making Microsoft the villian for all its woes. A moment engaging brain would have knocked the rumor stone dead. The source of the rumor came from a Reddit post from a bloke who claimed to have an inside source who told him. In journalism this is called a “man you met down the pub” source. You get around it by naming the source or using the information to stand the story up.
Someone finally did the right thing and asked Redmond, they were promptly told that the rumor was totally false and if anyone had any question about Rift delays they should ask Oculus VR.
This morning Reddit marked the post as a “confirmed fake.” An Oculus customer support worker, whose identity was verified, also dismissed the claim.
“Totally fake, but super-entertaining,” he said. “Thanks for this! Keep the fanatic coming!”
Clearly who ever fabricated the leak did not know what a supply issue really is. It is when there is not enough bits ordered to make up the final machine. Sometimes it is caused by a batch of faulty components, but normally it is because someone did not order enough.
Oculus has assured customers that it is working to overcome its supply issues. “We’ve taken steps to address the component shortage, and we’ll continue shipping in higher volumes each week,” reads its statement.
“We’ve also increased our manufacturing capacity to allow us to deliver in higher quantities, faster. Many Rifts will ship less than four weeks from original estimates, and we hope to beat the new estimates we’ve provided.”
Nvidia has dragged Qualcomm into court for allegedly crushing a $352 million chipset deal.
Nvidia claims it was forced to wind down its cellular mobile broadband chipset business, including its Icera unit just four years after buying it, because of Qualcomm’s anti-trust antics.
Qualcomm’s alleged tactics led to “unexplained delays in customer orders, reductions in demand volumes and contracts never being entered into, even after a customer or mobile network cooperating with a prospective customer has agreed or expressed a strong intention to purchase” Nvidia’s chipsets, the company moaned.
The claim for cash comes as European Union regulators step up antitrust investigations into Qualcomm sales tactics that officials said thwarted other designers of mobile-phone chip technology. This could result in fines or an EU order forcing a company to change its behaviour.
The EU thinks Qualcomm may have charged below-cost fees for chips used in mobile Internet modems known as dongles from 2009 to 2011 to thwart smaller competitor Icera. Regulators are separately probing what they say are exclusivity payments Qualcomm paid to a phone and tablet manufacturer for using its designs.
Qualcomm is “confident” it would prevail in both the EU investigation and the lawsuit.
Nvidia is seeking a declaration from the judge that Qualcomm’s conduct was an abuse of a dominant position, compensation, and an account of the profits it says Qualcomm gained from unlawful conduct, according to the court filings.
When was the last time you played as a black character in a game who wasn’t either a) the sidekick to a strapping white dude or b) a stereotypical gang member? We Are Chicago, from Indie studio Culture Shock, offers something different: a realistic representation of the life of a person of color in Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods.
“It was interesting to think about how you make a game about something that’s actually happened, a true story, and still give the player agency,” explains studio founder Michael Block.
“So we were talking about those ideas. We’re from Chicago and at the time we had started doing some volunteer stuff and talking to some people on the South Side, a very racially-segregated section of the city, very poor and has a lot of issues with gangs and violence. We realized it’s a really interesting story and nobody is talking about this stuff.”
This was the moment that led to the game I played a few weeks ago at GDC, which Block calls a documentary game, a game which gives players an insight into the world of high school student Aaron. During the very first scene, Aaron’s family sits down to dinner, only to hear the sound of gunshots. It’s shocking not because I’ve never heard a gunshot in a game before, but because the family carries on with dinner, discussing their situation but accepting the violence as part of the background to their lives.
“We brought on a writer from one of the neighborhoods to write the actual dialogue”
Scenes like this aren’t just based on Culture Shock’s preconceived ideas about the South Side, but on the sort of research that would make any journalist proud.
The growth of narrative games
“Part of it comes to down to places like Telltale, I think what they were able to do which has been super helpful, and they’ve been paving the way for everyone else to do all this stuff, is because they had this tie-in to an IP that people really liked and then they were able to tell a really compelling story with that IP. I think that got people into that genre.
“That has benefited us in unimaginable ways because it allows people to come into it with an open mind and know what they’re getting.”
“At the beginning we did interviews. We actually got really lucky: there was a non-profit group that we were volunteering with that basically blanketed the city with volunteers and they had a survey that could have been written for our game. Things like, what are you seeing in your neighbourhood that could be problematic? What are the things that you’re seeing are really good? Are you seeing any solutions that are working well? What do you wish was there?”
“From that we were doing interviews with people at bus stops on the South Side and we just asked a bunch of people all these questions and then gave that all back to the non-profit. Then we met a whole bunch of people who we were volunteering and people that they knew and put us in touch with and we did more in-depth interviews.”
As well as researching their subject matter, We Are Chicago took their commitment to representing the stories into the studio via recruitment.
“We brought on a writer from one of the neighborhoods to write the actual dialogue. So we had the outline in place, we had the ideas that we wanted to talk about and we went to him and said ‘let’s figure out how to make this into a narrative arc’. Then we brought on environment artists as well from the neighborhoods that we were looking at to work on the content of the game and they’ve also looked over the script and made sure everything makes sense to them as well.”
Block and his team also plan to continue working with the non-profits of Chicago, taking a build of the game to a couple of schools in Chicago to do play-testing with young kids and to make sure that the game is true to their experiences. He also reveals that he plans to do a revenue share with some of the non-profits, as a way of giving back.
That’s Block’s motivation here, and it’s a noble one. We Are Chicago is a difficult game to make and difficult game to sell, but its importance to its creators goes beyond simple profit and loss.
“I’m working on this project because for all of my career – I’ve worked on Organ Trail and I’ve worked at mid-sized studios before and released other games – I didn’t really feel like they were having the impact I wanted to have. I wanted to do something that was positive for our society and our community and so this feels very important to me personally because it feels like I’m able to achieve that,” says Block.
“We’ve had some really great responses from people. Seeing some people express more racist sentiments and ideas and then after playing the game actually not express those things is really validating and really satisfying, to think that we might actually be able to have that impact. It’s a very strong connection for me because I’m hoping that we can prove that this is possible with games and that we’re doing it.”
We Are Chicago will be released this year on PC, Mac and Linux.
Details of AMD’s Vega GPU were leaked and then taken down from AMD R&D Manager’s LinkedIn profile page over Easter.
Hexus spotted Yu Zheng, an R&D Manager at AMD Shanghai had listed the work on Project Greenland as a work experience highlight on his LinkedIn profile page. Greenland is described as “A leading chip of the first graphics IP v9.0 generation, it has full capacity of 4096 shader processor along with whole new SOC v15 architecture.”
The Graphics IP v9.0 designation is thought to signify a Vega GPU in the making. Zheng mentions this is an SOC, but then Hawaii and Fiji chips were described the same. Fiji is part of the graphics IP v8.0 family, as will be Polaris.
Vega following after Polaris, and designated as a ‘HMB2′ GPU by AMD, it looks like Vega based graphics cards will be the successors to the HBM equipped Fiji range such as the Radeon Fury and Nano. Fiju can manage 4096 stream processors, but with an upgrade to HBM2, 14nm process and other optimisation it is estimated that a Greenland/Vega GPU based graphics cards will offer 20 to 30 per cent better performance.
So with Greenland/Vega sporting HBM2 memory Hexus thinks that Polaris packing graphics cards will therefore feature GDDR5/X memory.
Raja Koduri, senior vice president and chief architect of AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group has said that the outift is open to making a graphics processor for mobile devices but only in select circumstances.
AMD flogged its mobile graphics division in 2009 to Qualcomm, which uses the technology in a mobile GPU called Adreno, an anagram of Radeon. It was a classic own goal because the mobile market was just starting to take off.
However according to ITworld Koduri said it could make a mobile GPU as part of a partnership or a licensing deal, but otherwise has no active plans to build an end product for mobile devices.
AMD could make one as part of a large custom chip deal, potentially worth millions of dollars. To do that of course it would need a mobile partner willing to take a gamble. The sort of thing that AMD would do is like it did for Microsoft’s Xbox or PlayStation 4.
There is nothing to stop AMD breaking down its GPUs into smaller cores and tweaking them so they use less power. They should be able to manage 4K video.
However AMD would have to look at Nvidia’s GPUs which are seen as too power hungry to do much good. Its biggest rival is Imagination, with its Mali graphics used in Samsung’s Galaxy handsets.
A mobile AMD chip might enable some radical technology improvements which might make a partner more interested. However it is also unlikely that anyone is going to take up Koduri’s offer.
The dark satanic rumor mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn which claims that the outfit which nearly killed off VR gaming with its “Virtual Boy” wants to get back into the industry.
More than 20 years ago Nintendo came up with its $179.95 Virtual Boy it was marketed as the first “portable” video game console capable of displaying “true 3D graphics.” It failed because it was too pricey, was not really portable and made users sick. It was pulled within a year and was cited as proof as to why VR was not ready yet.
Not surprisingly Nintendo didn’t want to go back to that AI place. Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime even claimed it “just isn’t fun” enough. Now that appears to have changed and Nintendo saying it was “looking at VR” but wouldn’t be in a position to give more details any time soon.
Carnegie Mellon University professor and game designer Jesse Schell outlined his 40 predictions for VR and and Augmented Reality on the list was Schell’s belief that the Japanese company is already working on a headset, and that it could be the one which takes the industry in a new direction.
Schell feels that by 2022, most of the cash spent on VR will be related to portable, self-contained systems that are not dependant on other mobile tech (like Samsung’s Gear VR, which needs a Samsung smartphone to function) or require a PC or console, and are free from cables and wires which restriction movement and immersion.
AMD has revealed two chips aimed at the world of gaming with silicon that kicks out more power but sweats less.
First is the snappily named A10-7890K, an APU that mixes 64-bit processors with GPUs on a single chip. The new APU offers 1.02 teraflops of theoretical computing power mixed with built-in Radeon R7 graphics processing to provide what AMD calls its fastest desktop APU to date.
This breaks down into 4.3GHz of CPU processing speed from a quad-core chip and 866MHz of GPU power, with a 4MB L2 Cache and an unlocked CPU multiplier thrown in for good measure.
Speed is not the only thing on AMD’s mind. The A10-7890K uses AMD’s Wraith Cooler to keep the chip from getting hot and bothered as it squirts out graphics. This chills the chip with a near-silent fan rather than a ghostly presence. That being said, the fan is illuminated to live up to its spectral moniker.
It also comes with support for DirectX 12, OpenGL, Vulkan and FreeSync APIs, meaning that the chip is ready for today’s and tomorrow’s graphics standards, according to AMD.
The APU can pump out frame rates well above 50 per second for games like Dota 2, League of Legends and Counter Strike: Global Offensive running at 1080p resolutions and high detail settings.
The second CPU is the Athlon X4 880K that features a quad-core architecture capable of running up to 4.2GHz with the turbo clock running.
The CPU multiplier is also unlocked to allow chip tweakers to squeeze more performance from the processor if they fancy getting their hands dirty. This, of course, voids the warranty.
The X4 880K can deliver solid 1080p performance for games running high detail settings when paired with a Radeon R7 360 GPU, and maintain frame rates over the sweet spot of 60 per second at 4K resolution in Counter Strike: Global Offensive when using a separate Radeon R7 370-series GPU.
It comes with a 125W cooling array to prevent gamers being deafened by the roar of the fans as the X4 880K gets underway. AMD said that the CPU offers near-silent running of the Wraith but without the illuminated shroud.
The same cooler will be added to the current A10-7870K APU at no extra charge. We do love a bargain.
AMD is pushing its new graphics-focused G-series processing chips to create 4K gaming machines.
Scott Aylor, corporate vice president and general manager for enterprise solutions at AMD said that this would lead to a more immersive gaming experience. He thinks that gambling could also become more interactive through gesture and face recognition on devices using the chip. AMD also sees a big opportunity for the chips in pachinko arcades in Japan.
This is a sideline for AMD which is looking for new ways to make cash outside the PC market. Graphics-hungry hardware, such as medical equipment, digital signs, ATMs, point-of-sale systems and industrial hardware are being seen as a good place to go.
The gambling market is an unusual way for AMD to score big contracts to supply millions of chips – if it plays its cards right. The LX family is based on the Jaguar CPU core, which is installed in the latest gaming consoles. It draws up to 10 watts of power. The G I and G J series have Excavator CPU core and are more graphics intensive, although the power draw is greater. The chips support Windows and Linux operating systems. AMD has no plans to support Google’s Chrome OS.
AMD’s G-series system on a chip (SoC) products for the embedded market are being expanded at the high and low end, adding products that will enable device makers to target the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as bringing to the game its Excavator CPU core and richer media capabilities.
AMD said that many trends are affecting the embedded industry, one of which is smart devices for the IoT. But devices are also becoming more interactive, and more advanced user interfaces call for demanding graphics or speech input.
The expansion of the G-Series aims to address this with SoC devices that cover a range of performance levels while presenting as consistent a platform as possible from a developer standpoint.
The new G-Series chips, announced at the Embedded World 2016 conference in Nuremberg, splits AMD’s embedded portfolio into two pin-compatible stacks, one topped off by the existing G-Series, the other by the R-Series and aimed at greater performance.
Both stacks enable hardware vendors to upgrade to a more capable chip if required, without having to redesign the entire circuit board.
All the new chips also have a planned 10-year support lifecycle, a key requirement for hardware vendors looking to embed them into product lines.
At the lower end of the scale, the G-Series LX family comes in below the existing first- and second-generation G-Series chips with which it is socket compatible.
Higher up the scale, the third generation of G-Series (right side of image) is split into an I family and a J family, both of which come in below the R-Series that AMD launched last year to target more demanding embedded applications, and which are socket compatible with it.
The G-Series LX family delivers a cost-optimised solution, but still offers a decent level of performance with two Jaguar CPU cores and a single Radeon GPU compute unit.
“This platform is delivering 64-bit x86 performance into price points and applications that are typically more associated with 32-bit ARM offerings,” said Colin Cureton, director of product management for AMD enterprise solutions.
The G-Series LX targets point-of-sale terminals, networking and communications equipment, and industrial control applications, but also so-called zero clients, endpoint devices designed to provide end user access for virtual desktops.
The G-Series LX chips are specified for a thermal design power (TDP) of 6W to 15W, and have a single 64-bit DDR3 memory channel. As a SoC, they also have integrated I/O, comprising four single lane PCI Express ports, two USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 ports, two Sata ports for connecting storage devices and dual display outputs.
Meanwhile, the other G-Series chips added deliver more processing performance by using a pair of CPU cores based on AMD’s most recent Excavator core design introduced last year.
This new G-Series is split into the J family, which has two Radeon GPU cores and a TDP of 6W to 10W, and the I family which has four Radeon GPU cores and a TDP of 12W to 15W. The J family has a single memory channel for 64-bit DDR4 or DDR3 memory, while the I family has two channels.
This makes the I family more optimised for higher performance, while the J family is better tuned for lower power consumption, according to AMD.
“This brings unprecedented choice in terms of selecting an AMD embedded processor and ease of scalability and migration between the devices, allowing customers to right-size the processor they choose while reducing the number of platforms they have to build in order to scale their systems into different applications,” Cureton said.
The G-Series I and J families have a similar I/O complement to the LX family, but use a four-lane PCI Express port in addition to the four single lanes, two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, two Sata ports for connecting storage devices and dual display outputs capable of 4K video.
The range of applications that AMD foresees for these mainstream third-generation G-Series chips includes thin client terminals, but also industrial control, automation and machine vision, and medical imaging thanks to the increased CPU and graphics performance.
AMD said that the first versions of the third-generation G-Series chips are available from today, while the G-Series LX family is due to be available from March. Customers are ready to go with hardware designs, so the first devices should come to market over the coming weeks and months, according to the firm.
Sony’s entry into the virtual reality market may be just a few short months away, thanks to an interview segment with GameStop CEO Paul Raines with Fox Business on Monday.
According to the interview segment, Raines told the network that GameStop is being centrally positioned for the launch of several major virtual reality (VR) projects, which he claims will be a “lucrative business.”
“We are right now preparing for the launches of the major VR products,” Raines told Fox Business. “So we’re now in discussions with Oculus, with HTC Vive, and with Sony. The market size is really hard to measure right now, but there are a lot of different measurements — all of them start with a [billion]. In fact, I saw a Goldman Sachs report the other day that said that the virtual reality segment will be worth about $80 billion by 2025. So it’s a big launch. We’re getting ready for it. We will launch the Sony product this fall, and we are in discussions with the other two players.”
Although the GameStop CEO did not refer to the headset by name, there is not much doubt that he was referring to Sony’s PlayStation VR, previously known by the codename “Project Morpheus.”
The first time the public learned about Sony’s Project Morpheus was during the 2015 Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco last spring, where a prototype was revealed using a 5.7-inch 1920x1080p OLED display (960x1080p per eye) with an RGB sub-pixel matrix running at 120 frames per second. The headset uses custom curved lenses to magnify and stretch the display across a wearer’s field of vision.
The stereoscopic 3D headset features a 100-degree field of view (FOV), six degrees of freedom (up, down, back, forward, right, left, yaw), and unwrapped (flat) output to a TV for use with a separate display or for viewing by others. Sony claims this is to prevent the unit from becoming a solitary experience, as it sees VR as a multi-user technology. The unit is controlled with a standard DualShock 4 game controller for most games, a PlayStation Camera to track physical movements, and can also be used with PlayStation Move wand controllers to simulate hand interactions in virtual game environments.
There are currently 82 games listed for the PlayStation VR, only sixteen of which have been announced so far with a 2016 release date. Some notable titles include Ace Combat 7 (Namco Bandai), Battlezone (Rebellion Developments), Eagle Flight (Ubisoft), Earthlight (Opaque Media), EVE: Valkyrie (CCP Games), Job Simulator (Owlchemy Labs), The London Heist (Sony Computer Entertainment), Robinson: The Journey (Crytek), Tekken 7 (Namco Bandai) and Vector 36 (Red River Studio), among others.