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Will Windows 10 On ARM Finally Materialize?

December 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft dropped a bomb on December 7th.  At WinHEC it announced that the Next generation Qualcomm Snapdragon processors have full Windows 10 support. Yes, this time, they will run every Windows X86 application via an emulator.

It looks like 2017 will be a fun year. Qualcomm,  all of a sudden got support for Windows 10 on its mobile computing devices. This will enable new anytime, anywhere connected device form factors. What Qualcomm and Microsoft are trying to say is that you can expect some tablet/notebook devices powered by SoCs that aren’t coming from Intel nor AMD.

This will help the synergy between mobile devices and computers and may well be the right way to do the Windows “continuum” in the right way.

The Windows 10 devices powered by Snapdragon are expected to support all aspects of Microsoft’s latest operating system including Microsoft Office, Microsoft Edge browser, Windows 10 gaming titles like Crysis 2 and World of Tanks, Windows Hello, and touchscreen features like Windows Pen. Qualcomm Snapdragon powered devices are expected to support Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and Win32 apps through emulation, providing users with a wide selection of full featured applications. There is no label but most things should work, if not all of them.

This is definitely better than Windows RT, when Microsoft tried to develop Windows on ARM – a platform that simply confused the market as it would not run X86 applications. Now that problem is solved.

Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft said:

“We are excited to bring Windows 10 to the ARM ecosystem with our partner, Qualcomm Technologies, We continue to look for ways to empower our customers to create wherever they are. Bringing Windows 10 to life with a range of thin, light, power-efficient and always-connected devices, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon platform, is the next step in delivering the innovations our customers love – touch, pen, Windows Hello, and more – anytime, anywhere.”

Cristiano Amon, executive vice president, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and president, QCT said:

“Qualcomm Snapdragon processors offer one of the world’s most advanced mobile computing features, including Gigabit LTE connectivity, advanced multimedia support, machine learning and superior hardware security features, all while supporting thin, fan-less designs and long battery life. “With full compatibility with the Windows 10 ecosystem, the Qualcomm Snapdragon platform is expected to support mobility to cloud computing and redefine how people will use their compute devices.”

The first devices running the full Windows 10 experience based on Snapdragon processors are expected to be commercially available in the second half of 2017. From what we understand, this cooperation will not only include Snapdragon 835 and it looks like that all  future chips might end up getting  support for Windows 10. We will have to wait until  the second half of next year to see which will be the first company to launch a device powered by Snapdragon.

It will be interesting to see if that incurs a performance penalty for emulating the applications written for X86 on ARM architecture as emulation always cost you some performance. But Qualcomm and Microsoft would not go to this venture if it wasn’t something they could generally contribute to. This announcement has just put a lot of fuel to a Snapdragon 835 powered Surface phone, or at least a Surface device at some point.

We have a feeling that that might be Microsoft itself of one of the big OEMs think Dell, HP, Lenovo kind of customers.

 

Courtesy-Fud

Does AMD Have A New Graphics Card In Route?

December 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

A mystery AMD GPU has been spotted in the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark database, which goes in line with previous rumors that AMD is possibly preparing a new graphics card, called the RX 490.

The Radeon RX 490 has been already spotted online a few times and there have been quite a few rumors that AMD is working on a new graphics card. According to newest benchmark results, the graphics card, with Device ID 687F:C18, is very close to the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080.

While it is currently anyone’s guess, the mystery graphics card spotted in these benchmarks is most likely a dual-GPU Polaris graphics card and the score is in line with what you would get with two Radeon RX 480 graphics cards in Crossfire. On the other hand, the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark does detect multi-GPU configurations and it did not detect it in these results.

We have already managed to confirm that AMD Radeon Technologies Group should launch its new Vega GPU architecture, with a Vega 10 GPU, sometime in the first half of 2017 with possible briefings sometime this month. Bear in mind that some sources suggest that Vega could launch as early as Q1 2017.

The AMD Vega 10 GPU is expected to hit 24 TFLOPs of half-precision and 12 TFLOPs of single-precision compute performance. It is expected to pack 4096 Stream Processors and come with 16GB of HBM2 memory.

The aforementioned benchmark result might easily be a sample of the Vega GPU, but that would be a big surprise. Results were pulled from the benchmark data site but Techpowerup.com managed to get all the screenshots.

As you already know, AMD is hosting the big “New Horizon” event on December 13, where we expect it to preview its new Zen CPU architecture as well as new AM4+ desktop motherboards and hopefully preview or at least mention a new graphics card.

Courtesy-Fud

Is The PSVR Really Selling?

December 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

As the numbers from Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend continue to trickle in, many analysts are examining how the holiday sales picture is coming together this year. While The NPD Group is not ready to give its full assessment just yet, the firm did note to GamesIndustry.biz that digital promotions on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live were much more aggressive this year and may have impacted the retail channel. Digital aside, the sector that seemed to struggle the most is virtual reality, according to SuperData, which said VR has been the “biggest loser.”

Thanks to “notably fewer units sold than expected due to a relatively fragmented title line-up and modest marketing effort,” VR headsets are now expected to sell even fewer than previously thought. SuperData’s revised forecast for 2016 calls for under 750k PlayStation VR units sold (their previous estimate was 2.6 million) with Google’s Daydream selling just 261k (down from 450k). Previous estimates for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Gear VR remain unchanged at 450k, 355k and 2.3 million, respectively.

As you can see, expectations for PSVR have seen the most dramatic shift. Stephanie Llamas, director of research and insights at SuperData, explained to us, “PSVR had the best opportunity to benefit from the holidays but their supply inconsistencies and lack of marketing have put them behind their potential. They did not offer any first-party deals this weekend, restock bundles or market the device, pushing instead for the PS 4 Pro. They have also pointed out that VR looks even better on a Pro than a standard or slim PS 4, so the message to most gamers is: Get the Pro now, then the PSVR later. As a result, we won’t see them break 1M shipments until well into the new year.”

Llamas added that Sony may be deliberately limiting PSVR supply until it can do a better job with supporting the platform. “Had Sony pushed the PSVR the way they’ve been pushing their other new hardware, the demand would have certainly fulfilled a supply of over 2 million. However, given its quiet release it’s clear they’re being cautious before fully investing in the tech. Without the ‘killer app’ and the slow, steady release of AAA content, they will release less than 1 million devices until they have content they feel confident will bring in the praise they want. They can afford to take it slow since they have no competition for now, so their supply and sales will rise steadily into 2017 as opposed to riding the seasonal wave,” she said.

As for Oculus, Llamas believes they’ve taken a risk by possibly splitting their own user base. “The Rift’s Touch controllers are an opportunity for Oculus to penetrate, but not many headsets have moved, especially with their round-about deal where purchasers earned $100 Oculus credit rather than just getting $100 off. Oculus’s hardware release strategy has also slowed them down and split their user base, so developers are having to make some choices around whether they should develop for both Touch and non-Touch users. This means development has slowed and is becoming another barrier to growth,” she remarked.

Looking at the non-VR games market, Nintendo may actually prove to be the biggest winner, thanks to updates both to Pokémon GO and selling out of its NES mini. “On mobile we recorded a spike in earnings as players made the most of the Thanksgiving special for Pokémon GO. The game’s ability to stay in the forefront of people’s minds as we approach the release date for Super Mario Run may prove beneficial for Nintendo, which has yet to make a convincing claim on the $38 billion mobile games market,” said Joost van Dreunen.

Overall digital game sales this holiday are down 2% from 2015 so far, but the impact of digital has grown tremendously in just a few years. “In 2012 full game downloads accounted for only 6% of total unit sales around the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. For 2016E that number was four times higher at 24%,” van Dreunen said.

The other big contributor to the slow holiday start has been big discounting, according to Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter. “We saw greater discounting of high-profile new video games this Black Friday compared to last year. Last year’s top sellers, Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Black Ops III , Bethesda Softworks’ Fallout 4, and EA’s Star Wars Battlefront, saw sticky pricing on Black Friday, with the $60 price point remaining largely intact. While discounting of sports games happens each year, many other titles that maintain pricing on Black Friday were listed at discounts of 40% or more this weekend,” he observed.

“For example, Walmart had EA’s Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 at $27, and Microsoft’s Gears of War 4 and Take-Two’s Mafia III at $35. Walmart also had Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition, which includes Modern Warfare Remastered , for $57, a $23 discount. Discounting of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare began earlier in the week, with widespread discounts of roughly $20 for the different versions of the game. Hardware discounting for the PS4 and Xbox One was largely consistent with 2015, as $50 discounts were commonplace.”

Pachter also agreed that the “pace of the mix shift to digital full game downloads continues to be brisk,” but we probably won’t know whether digital sales fully made up for retail declines until we get the complete NPD report for 2016 sometime in January.

Courtesy-GI.biz

AMD Value Rises With New GPUs

October 31, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Last week, AMD posted its earnings report for Q3 2016, showing a revenue increase of 27 percent over the previous quarter and up 23 percent year-over-year.

The company is reporting revenue of $1.31 billion, up from $1.03 billion the previous quarter, with an operating loss of $293 million and net loss of $406 million. Meanwhile, Non-GAAP revenue remains the same with an operating loss of $70 million and a net loss of $27 million.

The company says the operating loss this quarter, compared to an $8 million operating loss in Q2, was due to a $340 million Wafer Supply Agreement (WSA) with GlobalFoundries. The agreement, amended in August, lasts five years and allows AMD to source its 7nm process node from GlobalFoundries, along with a warrant for common stock.

The computing and graphics segment increased 9 percent from last quarter and 11 percent from Q3 2015, mostly from increased GPU sales and offset by a decrease in desktop CPUs and chipsets. Meanwhile, the enterprise, embedded and semi-custom segment revenue of $835 million increased 41 percent sequentially and 31 percent year-over-year.

The company’s highlights for the quarter include a first look at its Zen-based Naples, a 32-core server CPU, a technical overview of its upcoming Zen architecture, the launch of Radeon RX 470, RX 460, and the Radeon Pro WX series, and an introduction of its upcoming Radeon Pro SSG (Solid State Graphics) cards.

Other announcements this quarter include the AMD AM4 socket for 7th-generation A-Series APUs and the company’s involvement in developing custom-SoCs for Sony’s revised PS4 Slim and PlayStation 4 Pro.

“Our third quarter financial results highlight the progress we are making across our business,” said Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO. “We now expect to deliver higher 2016 annual revenue based on stronger demand for AMD semi-custom solutions and Polaris GPUs. This positions us well to accelerate our growth in 2017 as we introduce new high-performance computing and graphics products.”

st until some future mission approaches the ice giant once again.

The new work has been accepted to The Astronomical Journal, and is available online at the preprint site arXiv.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Microsoft Go VR With The Xbox Scorpio?

October 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-vr-scorpioAt a Microsoft event to showcase its Windows 10 Creators Update coming next year, the software giant made it absolutely clear that it has big plans for VR, not just AR and HoloLens. By partnering with HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer and Asus to offer a range of VR headsets that are priced at $299 and feature inside-out tracking, the company has taken an important step towards democratizing VR for the masses. But what’s the larger play here? How will VR headsets like these impact Project Scorpio next year and the Xbox business moving forward?

Tim Merel, founder of Digi-Capital and CEO of Eyetouch Reality, believes the VR news from Microsoft is a true “game changer” and he speculates that the company will look to make Scorpio an even more enticing proposition for gamers by bundling in VR. “The greatest potential for the Microsoft VR headset could come from bundling it with Xbox One Project Scorpio, which Microsoft has already highlighted as supporting next generation VR. With an Xbox One installed base over 20 million users, this might be Microsoft’s silver bullet for both VR specifically and the console market more generally. So Microsoft could be using its new VR headset to leapfrog competitors in two markets at the same time, leveraging for VR some of the great work already done by Phil Spencer, Alex Kipman and Kudo Tsunoda with Windows 10 and HoloLens in the adjacent AR market,” he says.

Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter agrees with Merel, telling GamesIndustry.biz, “Tim is spot on. A standalone headset without a CPU/GPU makes no sense, and if it requires the purchase of a high end PC, it’s not clear that anyone will buy it instead of Oculus/Vive/PSVR. However, if it works with Scorpio, it’s a formidable competitor for PSVR (albeit with a starting installed base of zero). I think that’s probably the plan, and am curious if software for Oculus and Vive will work with the Microsoft headset.”

Other analysts are more skeptical of Microsoft’s chances in VR, however. Stephanie Llamas, Director of Research and Insights at SuperData, still thinks HoloLens and augmented or mixed reality will be more impactful for the company.

“A VR device will not be a silver bullet for any market for a very long time,” she cautions. “First off, Microsoft is banking on consumers they don’t even have yet: Xbox One will not support the line of devices, so they are actually starting from a user base of zero that they hope will buy the Xbox One Project Scorpio. Early VR adopters already bought their PSVR, Vive or Oculus — inside-out tracking alone isn’t going to entice them to spend on another VR device this early in the market’s lifecycle. This product is going to be secondary to a purchaser’s decision to buy Project Scorpio, not the other way around.

“Second, this is just a MS-compatible line of headsets. So Microsoft will have to tout a third-party accessory with a first-party device, which definitely complicates their marketing and potential for bundling. Microsoft should have done this a year ago, or at least given us more promise than including their controller with the Oculus Rift, but they are already too far behind. Where they should continue to focus, and where they have shown a unique value proposition, is with the HoloLens’s potential for augmented and mixed reality.”

EEDAR’s Patrick Walker, on the other hand, is confident that a pivot towards VR is a smart move for Microsoft at this juncture. “While many technology thinkers are significantly more excited about the potential of AR long-term, VR is much closer to reaching a mainstream market,” he remarks. “It is also becoming more and more clear that the line between VR and AR will likely be blurred. Microsoft’s VR initiatives on the Xbox One portfolio also make a lot of sense considering the console’s position in the market. The PS4 has had a much more successful launch than the Xbox One so it is in Microsoft’s interest to push technology initiatives that disrupt the console generation, including the VR headsets and the merger of PC and console gaming.

“The increased VR capability of the Scorpio could provide a compelling reason for PS4 gamers to jump into the Xbox One platform. This creates a nice short term strategy of regaining console share, a mid-term strategy of generating VR revenue across PC and console, and a continued long-term strategy of developing for the future of AR.”

DFC Intelligence’s David Cole falls more in the skeptic’s camp. “The big issue in the VR market is that there needs to be a clear market driver that can package up the experience for the mass consumer. Right now the only one with that solution is PlayStation VR, which has a clear price point and an easy to use solution that is getting out to the masses,” he says. “The problem with the other VR devices is not having that clear distribution or message. Just having a product available doesn’t push it to consumers and that is the big problem Microsoft faces…who is going to communicate that message to consumers? This is still a pitch to the tech elite. There is also going to be a great deal of consumer confusion with multiple devices.

“VR is a new form of entertainment that needs to be introduced as such. The issue is many of these headset manufacturers are not strong at consumer marketing so who is going to get the message out? Right now for 2017 we see PSVR as being far and away the leading high-end VR device. I don’t think these products are launching until later in 2017 so we see a lot of announcements coming in this space.”

Inside-out tracking is important because it means you don’t need sensors all over your room to track your headset and controller motions, but as long as players are tethered to a device the experience will feel somewhat limited. “Losing the wire will be bigger. VR is still in its infancy and we expect even more price reductions and innovation to drive the market,” Cole continues.

“Microsoft has pretty much indicated that they plan for Project Scorpio to work with multiple VR headsets. The real issue will be Project Scorpio is too little, too late. Project Scorpio will actually be starting from a zero install base, not 20 million, so I think Windows VR should move the needle more than Project Scorpio.”

Merel remains more positive, though, and unlike Llamas, does not think that offering third-party VR hardware is a downside. “Microsoft’s new VR headset is the next stage of VR going mass consumer. For consumers, inside-out tracking without the need to buy or set up external sensors in a dedicated VR playroom is huge. The $299 price point is much less expensive than other PC based VR products. Launching with partners HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer gives Microsoft an accelerated hardware platform and also spreads its market risk,” he notes.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Will AMD’s RX-460 Be Out Before The Holidays?

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing, Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-amdAccording to a couple of reports, it seems that AMD is working on a couple of  cut down versions of its Polaris 10 Ellesmere GPU that should put additional pressure on Nvidia’s recently released GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 1050 graphics cards.

According to a report from Videocardz.com, AMD’s Polaris 10 GPU with 36 Compute Units (CUs), 2,304 Stream Processors, is the perfect candidate as there is enough room to make a cut-down GPU that should fit between the RX 460 and RX 470.

The cut down Polaris 10 GPU could end up with 28 Compute Units (CUs), which means it should end up with 1,792 Stream Processors. With RX 470 with 32 CUs and 2048 Stream Processors, this new SKU could squeeze in between this graphics card and RX 460. According to a leak from Chiphell.com, such graphics card, conveniently named RX 470 SE, could still pack 4GB of GDDR5 7.0GHz clocked memory with the same 256-bit memory interface, leaving it with the same 224GB/s memory bandwidth.

According to leaked 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme and 3DMark Time Spy benchmarks, such graphics cards could be around 11 percent slower than the RX 470 but still end up faster than the GTX 1050 Ti, putting a lot more pressure on AMD in the market segment.

In any case, AMD will have to come up with those graphics cards soon and be ready for the Christmas shopping season if it wants to put a big dent in Nvidia’s Geforce sales.

Courtesy-Fud

With Polaris In Mind AMD Has New VR Projects On The Horizon

October 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

In a bid to push its Polaris chip, AMD has launched several new VR projects.

On the list of cunning plans is a VR GPU certification, enhancements to its software/hardware platform and setting up a new VR supply chain. If this pans out, it should expand its presence in the VR market, and provide a rather nice channel for its Polaris GPUs.

Also included is a cunning plan to pushing VR Internet cafes in China. AMD has been assisting the development of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive as well as partnering with content providers to create applications for the gaming, entertainment, education, science, medical care and news sectors.

Other projects include AMD’s LiquidVR project which aims to help simplify and optimise VR content creation. It has started promoting its Radeon Pro technology solution to help VR content creators create movie-like VR content.

This is all about Polaris. The VR solution is based around AMD’s Polaris-based Radeon Pro WX 7100 GPU which is priced at $1,000. We will see it  released at the end of 2016.  Well, when we say we will see it, the day that I am allowed to spend $1000 on a GPU is the day I have won the lottery.

AMD  is also marketing its Loom project to help partners create Ultra HD-standard VR movies. The open source project will also be released at the end of the year.

Courtesy-Fud

Is AMD’s Polaris Getting Tweaked?

October 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-polarisWhile no-one had been expected much from AMD before Vega in the next few months, it appears the outfit is going to ship revised versions of the Polaris 10 and 11 graphics chips.

Word on the street is that they will have a 50-percent improvement in performance per watt, which seems a bit high. These are the beasties you will find in the RX 480 and RX 460 which were already praised for their high performance with low power draw.

It could mean that an embedded Polaris 11 card which had a 75w draw will go to 50w and get a 0.35 Tflop increase in raw performance.

This should bring about a range of mid-generation GPUs with refreshed internals that make them far more capable.
Polaris 10 found in the RX 480 will get 5.8 Teraflops performance need less than 95 watts.

They should be out under RX 4XX branding in a few months but it will mean that the mid-range laptops that have them will have much longer battery life.
While the specs are pretty good, Vega will clean their clock so it is probably better to wait.

Courtesy-Fud

The Xbox One Appears To Be Making A Comeback

October 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Microsoft has been making some headway in the generation eight console battle, with the Xbox One celebrating a third month running as the best-selling console in the US. The combined sales of the original One and the new S model also put it at the head of the pack in the UK in September.

US figures come from the NPD group and UK numbers from GfK, although no actual unit values were given. The full US sales report from NPD is due next week.

It’s likely that some of that recent lead is a result of a dip in PS4 sales thanks to the imminent launch of the PlayStation Pro, but the One has also been building momentum too, with sales up across many territories.

“Xbox One was the only gen eight console to see year-over-year growth in September in the U.S., Australia, the U.K and many other countries worldwide,” said corporate VP of Xbox marketing Mike Nichols. “This success was driven by our fans and their support for Xbox One S, which is the only console available this holiday with built-in UHD 4K Blu-ray, 4K video streaming and HDR for gaming and video.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Did AMD Kill Gaming Evolved?

October 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-amd-evolvedAMD has apparently decided to discontinue support for Raptr’s Gaming Evolved App which will no longer be bundled with Radeon Software drivers package.

Since it did not come with some of the latest AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition driver packages, the guys over at Wccftech.com contacted AMD which gave them an official response that since September 12th, AMD is no longer bundling the AMD Gaming Evolved App by Raptr with its Radeon Software and will not provide any official support for it, including compatibility testing, install support or general technical support.

Those that still want to use it can get the Gaming Evolved App directly from Raptr or with previous builds of Radeon Software drivers package.

AMD is either making a new in-house app that will replace the one from Raptr or is simply now focusing on hardware and drivers. Unfortunately, this leaves it without any competition for the Nvidia’s Geforce Experience app which recently got completely overhauled and looks quite good.

Courtesy-Fud

IBM, Partners To Take On Intel With Introduction Of OpenCAPI

October 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

ibm-opencapi-150x150Technology heavyweights IBM Corp, Google and seven others have teamed up to launch an open specification that can boost data center server performance by up to ten times, to take on Intel Corp.

The new standard, called Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (OpenCAPI), is an open forum to provide a high bandwidth, low latency open interface design specification.

The open interface will help corporate and cloud data centers to speed up big data, machine learning, analytics and other emerging workloads.

The consortium plans to make the OpenCAPI specification available to the public before the end of the year and expects servers and related products based on the new standard in the second half of 2017, it said in a statement.

Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, is known to protect its server technologies and has chosen to sit out of the new consortium. In the past also, it had stayed away from prominent open standards technology groups such as CCIX and Gen-Z.

“As artificial intelligence, machine learning and advanced analytics become the price of doing business in today’s digital era, huge volumes of data are now the norm,” Doug Balog, general manager for IBM Power, told Reuters.

“It’s clear that today’s data centers can no longer rely on one company alone to drive innovation,” Balog said.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co, Mellanox Technologies Ltd, Micron Technology Inc, NVIDIA Corp and Xilinx Inc are also members of the OpenCAPI consortium.

 

Will Playstation VR Succeed?

October 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-playvrIn a week’s time, what is arguably the first truly great commercial experiment of the new VR age will begin. For the first time, consumers will be able to go out and buy a VR headset that’s (relatively) inexpensive, that doesn’t require a costly hobbyist PC to operate, and that provides a “good enough” VR experience for gaming and other applications. If there’s to be a sweet spot in the virtual reality market, Sony will be planting its flag firmly in it next Thursday.

Reviews of the device have started to appear and are pretty much what you’d expect. It’s good; we’ve known that from the countless demos and trade show appearances PSVR has made this year. It’s not as technically accomplished as the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift, but it’s a far more comfortable, well-designed piece of hardware, and its technical shortfalls are far fewer and less noticeable than you’d expect from such a cheap device running on such comparatively low-powered hardware. It’s certainly an entirely different class of experience than any of the “toy” VR experiences currently offered by mobile tech like Samsung’s Gear VR, a situation which Google’s newly announced Daydream headset seems unlikely to change.

So yes, this is the sweet spot, if such a thing exists. Good enough to actually want to use, unlike current mobile VR devices, cheap enough to be accessible to a wider audience of gamers and enthusiasts, and with common sense (if occasionally frustrating) trade offs between complexity of setup and physical arrangement, and accuracy of control. If a VR headset is to rescue this putative Year of VR from the somewhat disappointing launches of HTC and Oculus’ consumer devices – both of which saw interest plateau in the post-launch period – then it’s going to be PlayStation VR.

Is that what Sony has in mind, though? One peculiarity of the PSVR launch is that beyond the specialist press, it’s something of a non-event. Marketing support for the launch is minimal; there’s far less hype and visibility around the product than there would be around, for example, the launch of a major game. Here in Japan, PSVR barely warrants a mention in Sony’s current barrage of advertising, which is promoting PlayStation 4 with TV and streaming site commercials that highlight the launch of games like Persona 5 and Yakuza 6, the arrival of new console hardware, and oh yeah, PSVR is a thing too.

One could argue that Sony would be foolish to push PSVR too hard given that pretty much the entirety of its early shipments are spoken for by pre-orders. We still don’t know how many units of PSVR will ship for launch, or how many are projected to ship by year-end, but every indication is that the numbers are relatively small, at least by comparison with the PS4’s installed base. It’s not unreasonable to expect that PSVR will be for all intents and purposes supply-constrained through into early 2017, making it comfortably the most commercially successful of the tethered VR platforms – regardless of whether the company spends a single cent on further marketing.

However, the slightest glance back over the history of hardware launches in the games business and beyond would demonstrate that companies generally do not row back their marketing budgets just because of being supply-constrained; if anything, this encourages them to redouble their efforts. That’s because supply constraints act as a multiplier on marketing budgets. When demand is outstripping supply, every extra notch that you can ratchet up that demand through your marketing efforts guarantees more media coverage, more word of mouth and more visibility for your product, creating a halo of desirability around the platform which can give a long-term boost to sales that lasts for months or even years after the initial supply constraints are lifted.

That Sony has seemingly decided to eschew that strategy for PSVR is interesting, but probably speaks to a confluence of a number of different factors. For a start, it’s rare for a platform holder to be putting not one but two major new pieces of hardware on the market at once, which is what Sony is doing with PSVR in October and PS4 Pro in November. A huge marketing push, widespread coverage of shortages and the resulting desirability halo that would build around PSVR would be great for the VR headset, but might negatively impact the now overshadowed PS4 Pro. That would hurt all the more if, as is likely, PS4 Pro is not supply constrained while PSVR is. That’s definitely a factor playing into Sony’s decision making here.

There’s something else in play too, though. Lots of software is on the way for PSVR, and there’s actually a pretty respectable line-up at the outset – but reviews of the system are fairly blunt about the extent to which much of it feels more like it’s demoing the hardware, and the concept of VR itself, rather than being a proper, full-strength VR game experience. The games aren’t just short, they expose kinks in the PS Move control system (which may be fixable or may be an innate problem PSVR just has to work around forever) and sidestep major issues instead of tackling them – for example, the Batman VR title’s decision to make the player jump from location to location, rather than walking between them, to avoid motion sickness.

In short, while there’s interesting and even accomplished stuff in there, it all sounds rather like the kind of thing that you play to show off a new system’s capabilities, rather than the kind of thing that makes you say, “you’ve got to go out and get PSVR so you can play this game”. The enthusiasts and the VR faithful don’t need a killer app – they just need enough of a taster to convince themselves that the killer apps will come, given time – but the general public absolutely does. It’s easy for enthusiasts – a category which, if you’re reading this, probably encompasses you – to underestimate the psychological barrier VR needs to overcome. For many consumers, the prospect of strapping on a headset that looks like a Daft Punk cosplay prop, isolating themselves from the world around them and potentially looking like a complete tool as they flail around with objects nobody else in the room can see is a pretty big ask.

A great killer app game that gets the world gushing will overcome that barrier. That may be on the way; all eyes are on January’s Resident Evil 7, which could potentially be VR’s first truly huge AAA title. Until that kind of game is available, though, Sony may be well advised to focus on the VR faithful and keep its marketing powder dry. That’s certainly what seems to have happened so far; this is entirely anecdotal, but I’ve been surprised at just how few people have asked whether I’m getting a PSVR (and if they can bring an offering of beer around in order to have a go on it). Far fewer people have asked me about PSVR than have asked about PS4 Pro, or even Xbox One S. Enthusiasts know about it; the average gamer simply doesn’t seem to care yet.

Given the hurdles facing mainstream VR adoption, that may be for the best. It’s important that when the majority of consumers start to experience VR, their experience of it is fantastic, not just a demo or a proof of concept but a game that makes them want to own this technology right now. Saving the marketing blitz and letting PSVR’s software library mature first could be the best way to prevent the so-called Year of VR from ending with the Winter of VR Discontent.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Can TSMC Take Moore’s Law Further?

October 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

TSMC has said it will prop up Moore’s Law and will innovate to keep it going.

TSMC co-CEO Mark Liu told the assorted throngs at a recent event in Hsinchu that his outfit has been mass producing 16nm chips, and is looking to enter volume production of 10nm chips by the end of 2016.

The next plan is to start risk production of 7nm chips in early 2017, and meanwhile has been engaged in the development of 5nm process technology he said.
While TSMC’s R&D for 5nm process continues, a team of the foundry’s 300-400 engineers has already been involved in R&D for 3nm process, Liu claimed.

The company is apparently chatting to academics about how it can develop 2nm process technology. If all comes to fruition, said Liu Moore’s Law will continue to be relevant.

TMSC said that its cunning plan includes smartphones being its main growth momentum. He thinks that smartphones will arrive with more innovative features and with more ICs and sensors than you can point a stick at.

Chipmakers will have to constantly upgrade their technologies for the manufacture of advanced ICs and sensors for phones, Liu said.

High-performance computing (HPC), Internet of Things (IoT) and system integration are also the applications that will drive TSMC’s future growth, Liu added.

Courtesy-Fud

Will AMD Launch The Vega 10 GPU By Years End?

October 4, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Our well-informed sources have confirmed that Vega 10, AMD’s first HBM 2 card will get announced before the end of this year, at least for the professional market.

One might expect that this could take place at this year’s Supercomputer show that takes place in November but we didn’t get a precise date. AMD can use Vega 10 for both the professional graphics market as well as the compute market.

The Vega 10 GPU on the highest end has 16GB HBM 2.0 memory, the same amount you got to see with Nvidia P100 cards. There will be a version of the card will less memory too.

The fact that AMD / RTG plans to launch the card this year, doesn’t mean that they will have a bunch to sell. The general idea is to get the customers excited and probably ship in volume in early 2017.

This will get the RTG professional group in a better position as the Vega 10 is expected to compete better against Nvidia solutions. We will see how much the new Vega architecture can benefit from the faster memory and much faster memory interface as AMD could use a sales push in this highly profitable market.

As Fudzilla already suggested, there will also be a Vega 20 GPU, a successor to Vega architecture coming after the first one.

Courtesy-Fud

Are Developers Giving Up On The Oculus Rift

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe has emphasized the freedom that Oculus VR allows its employees to support their personal views, a freedom he said also applied to Palmer Luckey.

In a post on his Facebook page, Iribe spoke about Luckey’s regret at the negative impact the situation had created for “the company, our partners, and the industry.” However, he offered a measure of support for Oculus VR’s founder, citing Luckey’s right to independent political beliefs.

“Everyone at Oculus is free to support the issues or causes that matter to them, whether or not we agree with those views,” he said. “It is important to remember that Palmer acted independently in a personal capacity, and was in no way representing the company.”

Original Story: After numerous publications (GamesIndustry.biz included) no doubt flooded Oculus with requests for comment on Friday, when the story broke that Palmer Luckey allegedly had been funding a pro-Trump “shitposting” group, the man himself took to Facebook (which owns Oculus) to apologize for his actions.

“I am deeply sorry that my actions are negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners.The recent news stories about me do not accurately represent my views,” he wrote. “Here’s more background: I contributed $10,000 to Nimble America because I thought the organization had fresh ideas on how to communicate with young voters through the use of several billboards. I am a libertarian who has publicly supported Ron Paul and Gary Johnson in the past, and I plan on voting for Gary in this election as well.”

Luckey went on to deny that he was the author behind the ‘NimbleRichMan’ posts on Reddit and the vice president of Nimble America: “I am committed to the principles of fair play and equal treatment. I did not write the ‘NimbleRichMan’ posts, nor did I delete the account. Reports that I am a founder or employee of Nimble America are false. I don’t have any plans to donate beyond what I have already given to Nimble America. Still, my actions were my own and do not represent Oculus. I’m sorry for the impact my actions are having on the community.”

The original Daily Beast article, however, confirmed that Luckey was indeed the man behind “NimbleRichMan” and author Gideon Resnick reiterated that fact on his Twitter account today.

Here is where I sought that clarification from him and what he said. pic.twitter.com/pPfLKUX5Cg

— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) September 24, 2016

One more email: Luckey clearly states in here that the NimbleRichMan account represents him. pic.twitter.com/RC4mXPFDkM

— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) September 24, 2016

So it’s essentially Resnick’s word against Luckey’s, but Oculus Head of Content Jason Rubin urged people to take Luckey at his word. “I wanted to give @PalmerLuckey a chance to respond before I posted… knowing Palmer, I take him at his word,” Rubin tweeted, adding, “30 years in the Game business I would not work in a place that I thought condoned or spread hate. Nor would I remain silent if I saw it.”

Denials from Luckey and support from Oculus colleagues aside, the development community is already reacting, and some are pulling support for the Rift. Polytron, which is making a VR game called SuperHyperCube, noted on Twitter that it will not be supporting Oculus now. Scruta Games took it one step further, asking that Luckey leave the company he founded: “Until @PalmerLuckey steps down from his position at @oculus, we will be cancelling Oculus support for our games,” the developer said. Tomorrow Today Labs issued a similar sentiment: “Hey @oculus, @PalmerLuckey’s actions are unacceptable. NewtonVR will not be supporting the Oculus Touch as long as he is employed there.”

Edge of Nowhere developer Insomniac Games said it “condemns all forms of hate speech” and issued the following statement to Polygon as well: “While everyone has a right to express his or her political opinion, the behavior and sentiments reported do not reflect the values of our company. We are also confident that this behavior and sentiment does not reflect the values of the many Oculus employees we work with on a daily basis.”

Not all developers are punishing Oculus for Luckey’s actions, however. James Green, co-founder of VR developer Carbon Games, commented to Motherboard, “This backlash is nonsense. I absolutely support him doing whatever he wants politically if it’s legal. To take any other position is against American values.”

Oculus has had a number of obstacles to overcome on its path to retail, with Rift headsets not making it out to Kickstarter backers for months after launch and some consumers feeling that they had been misled on what the actual price of the unit would be. Luckey admitted that he “handled the messaging poorly” back in January, and now just as manufacturing of the headset has finally improved and the flow of software has started to increase as the company prepares to launch its Oculus Touch controllers, this PR storm and accusations that its founder is vice president of a racist, pro-Trump organization could represent a significant setback. It’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out in the next few weeks and as we head into the holiday shopping season.

Courtesy-GI.biz

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