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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

DoesThe PS4 Pro Truly Offer 4K Gaming?

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-ps4-proA little bit of clarity can go a long way. A few weeks ago at the reveal of the PS4 Pro, in a staff roundtable I questioned whether Sony’s new console would hurt Microsoft’s chances with the more powerful Scorpio. I also gave Sony an edge because of its HDR rollout to all PS4s. As it turns out, the HDR update is practically useless (no games supported yet and no video streaming) and the PS4 Pro itself will see most games upscaled, according to Sony Interactive boss Andrew House.

While PS4 architect Mark Cerny did make it clear during the conference that the Pro does not render games in true 4K resolution, many fans had no doubt assumed it would and likely glossed over his technical explanation of the Pro’s “streamlined rendering techniques” and “temporal and spatial anti-aliasing.” It’s hard to say how much consumers will care when the Pro goes on sale in November, but Microsoft wasted no time in puffing up its chest to declare its superiority with a console that won’t ship for many, many months.

Microsoft Studios Publishing general manager Shannon Loftis told USA Today, “Any games we’re making that we’re launching in the Scorpio time frame, we’re making sure they can natively render at 4K.” Moreover, Albert Penello, senior director of product management and planning at Xbox, hammered home the point with our sister site Eurogamer, commenting, “I think there are a lot of caveats they’re giving customers right now around 4K. They’re talking about checkerboard rendering and up-scaling and things like that. There are just a lot of asterisks in their marketing around 4K, which is interesting because when we thought about what spec we wanted for Scorpio, we were very clear we wanted developers to take their Xbox One engines and render them in native, true 4K. That was why we picked the number, that’s why we have the memory bandwidth we have, that’s why we have the teraflops we have, because it’s what we heard from game developers was required to achieve native 4K.”

That’s a punch to the gut in true console war fashion, and one that Microsoft is no doubt happy to get in during a console cycle which has seen PS4 dominate. It may not seem like a big deal right now, as 4K TV sales are still relatively minor, but the prices are falling and interest in 4K and HDR is picking up, not only with consumers, but also with game developers and content providers for streaming services like Netflix. This could be a decent holiday for the 4K TV market, and by the time Scorpio actually does launch there will be that many more 4K TV owners to target with the only console that renders 4K natively. That’s a nice feather in Microsoft’s cap.

This week we also featured an interesting writeup on VR and AR from DICE Europe. While VR proponents like Unity’s Clive Downie said there will be over a billion people using VR in the next 10 years, others such as Niantic’s John Hanke and Apple boss Tim Cook cast doubt on the long-term appeal and commerical success of VR. Of course, this isn’t the first time that people have wondered whether VR will ever move beyond a niche category – and indeed, our Rob Fahey talks about the over-investment in the space in his column today – but the idea that VR is merely an intermediary step before AR comes into its own is the wrong way to think about these technologies in my view.

Just because they both offer altered realities and utilize headsets does not mean they should be lumped together. The use cases and experiences are vastly different for VR and AR, and while I agree that AR likely is the better bet from a commercial standpoint, I don’t underestimate VR for one second. I’ve had way too many fun game sessions using the tech already, and it’s early days. Beyond that, serious movie makers are starting to leverage the great potential of the medium. Jon Favreau (Iron Man, The Jungle Book), for example, is working on a VR film called Gnomes and Goblins and he’s even brought on veteran game designer Doug Church (System Shock, Thief) to fine tune the VR interactions.

The fact is VR has enormous storytelling potential and can immerse its users in ways that we’ve never experienced before. “As I work in film, so much has been done,” Favreau commented. “There are technological breakthroughs but there is less and less up in the air.  You’re really writing a song in the same format that has been going on for at least a hundred years. And what’s interesting about VR is that, although I really don’t know where it’s going or if it’s going to catch on in a significant way culturally, I do know that there is a lot of unexplored territory and a lot of fun things as a storyteller for me to experiment with. It’s exciting to have so much fresh snow that nobody has walked through yet. There’s been no medium that I’ve felt that way since I’ve come into the business, where it feels like you can really be a pioneer.”

AR will be tremendously exciting in its own right, and I can’t wait for Magic Leap, HoloLens and castAR, but to think that VR will be cast aside to make way for AR’s ascendancy is totally off base.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Virtual Reality Devices On The Rise

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The numbers of VR-enabled smartphones and tablets, as well as shipments of VR devices bundled with gaming consoles or PCs will grow like topsy in the fourth quarter.

Beancounters at Digitimes Research have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and reached the conclusion that we should see some significant changes in the VR market soon.

Shipments of VR video-enabled smartphones and VR devices bundled with consoles will be higher compared to other devices. Vendors of VR-enabled tablets and VR headset bundled PCs which niche markets initially before they make headways by coming out with products with reduced prices and enriched content, should do rather well, the Digitimes Report claim.

Gaming and video are still the dominant VR applications in 2016. The successful launch of VR video-enabled flagship smartphones by Samsung Electronics in the first half of 2016 will encourage other vendors to follow suit.

Google and ARM updates to their VR video applications with reduced algorithm requirements in the fourth quarter of 2016 will help develop more VR video-enabled mobile devices.

Shipments of VR video-enabled smartphones are expected to reach 70 million units in 2016, accounting for 5 per cent of global smartphone shipments, Digitimes Research thinks.

Sony is expected to ship over three million PlayStation VR devices in the quarter, far higher than rival vendors.

Courtesy-Fud

MediaTek Goes For Two With TSMC

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

While Intel has admitted it can’t build a 10nm chip, Mediatek is planning to release two of them using TSMC’s process.

According to the Economic Daily News MediaTek is considering rolling out two versions of its 10nm chips, the Helio X30 for high-end smartphones and the X35 for the lower-end segment.

It said that it will start volume production for the Helio X30-series SoCs as scheduled between the end of 2016 and early-2017. It is also thinking of having another 10nm series designed for mid- and high-end but not necessarily flagship smartphones.

The Helio X35 chips from MediaTek will also be built by TSMC using a lower-spec variant of the foundry’s 10nm processes. It is the first of TSMC’s first group of customers to adopt its 10nm process technology. The other is Apple.

TSMC said that its 10nm process has received product tape-outs from three clients, and will start generating revenues in the first quarter of 2017.

Courtesy-Fud

AMD 7nm APU Goes Gray Hawk

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

A few of you might remember that we exclusively posted the news that AMD is working on a 7nm CPU codenamed Starship. The 7nm APU is codenamed Gray Hawk and it aims to attain lower TDPs.

The AMD Starship X86 CPU is a 7nm unit with up to 48 cores and 96 threads and this definitely targets the high end server market as well as performance desktop computers. These CPUs will have a range of TDP values from 35W all the way to 180W. It is safe to assume that the version with 35W TDP ends up with much less than 48 cores.

Now AMD plans to launch its first 7nm and target some embedded markets. Of course, there will be a notebook version of a Gray Hawk, possibly with a different codename but AMD plans to use the 7nm quad core with eight threads, in 7nm for casino gaming machines, arcade gaming, industrial control and automation, retail signage, HMI and security machines. It will also fit into the highly profitable medical imaging market, premium thin clients and communication infrastructure.

We already said with that the APU that joins Polaris GPU architecture and 14nm FinFET Zen core is coming in the second half of 2017, and the Gray Hawk is the successor to that.

There is a big chance that this APU will mix with the Navi architecture that is also expected to launch in 7nm. This product is scheduled for a 2019 launch, so we have quite some time before it happens, but it is good to know that AMD is planning far ahead.

The lowest TPD parts will get to 10W, which sounds quite amazing considering what kind of specification that APU might end up having.

The middle of next year is when we expect to see the Zen / Polaris APUs in notebooks and a bit later in embedded systems. AMD’s Lisa Su was clear at Computex earlier this year. She said that the company plans to launch the desktop first, following with server then notebook and last of all t will be a unit aimed at the embedded market.

Bear in mind that these products should still be considered as concepts and they are subject to change. AMD first needs to master a 14nm FinFET low TDP notebook and embedded Zen based parts before it can more to the very exciting 7nm.

Courtesy-Fud

Can Qualcomm Win The 5G Race?

September 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf has been telling the world how it is going to win the 5G war which will bring about a bold new world based around the Internet of Things.

Writing in his bog, Mollenkopf claimed that Qualcomm was leading the way to 5G for the next 10 years and beyond.

He said that there will be 3G and 4G connected people, but 5G is going to connect everything.

“It’s a unifying, more capable communications fabric that will take on a much bigger role than previous generations of mobile technology. It’s a layer of connectivity that will become fundamental to our cities, jobs and ourselves. It’s the foundation of the next technological revolution.”

Lately 5G has been a bit of a buzz word lately, although there are no common standards issued yet. However if Mollenkopf is right, it will transform our daily lives once and for all by revolutionizing the way people interact with the world and with each other.

Hard to see how it can be any different. It might be faster, it might have different ways of connecting, but we will still have to talk to people. Mollenkopf said that 5G will expand mobile networks and technologies into a much wider range of industries.

“It will enable smart cities that can sustain tomorrow’s urban growth, automobiles that communicate with each other and traffic lights to save lives, VR headsets that allow us to experience the world in new ways, body sensors that monitor our health and make dietary recommendations, and so much more.”

Mollenkopf added that making this 5G connected world a reality is incredibly complex.

“ You need a new kind of mobile network to meet an expanding and radically diverse set of connectivity requirements – high throughput and low latency, high security and low power, high reliability and deep coverage. This will require new technology innovations that build upon the foundation that we have already created … Qualcomm is an invention company. We’ve been developing these 5G building blocks for years just as we pioneered many of the building blocks for 3G and 4G. Making one cutting-edge technology work well is difficult; making many of them work together is even harder. But that’s what Qualcomm does,” he said.

Courtesy-Fud

Notebook Sells Spike In August

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Figures just in for August show that there has been a spike in the sales of notebooks.

Beancounters at Digitimes research have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and come to the conclusion that the top-5 notebook vendors and top-3 notebook ODMs saw their shipments rise 27 percent  and 31 percent a month in August.

While it could mean that the notebook recession is over, the beancounters think that the spike is due to inventory preparation for the year-end holidays in Europe and North America, Windows 10’s annual upgrade, and mass shipments of Intel’s Kaby Lake processors.

The winner on the notebook front is HP which released some new products in August that successfully widened the vendor’s shipment gap by nearly 700,000 units. The number two was Lenovo. HP stayed firmly as the largest notebook vendor in the month. Dell turned its focus to the consumer sector in August, but its shipments only grew a single-digit percentage on month.

Digitimes Research said that Asustek Computer and Acer both saw boosts of 10 percent  on-month growths in August.

With HP’s significant shipment growth in August, the top three ODMs, which are all suppliers of HP, together achieved higher on-month growth than the top five vendors combined, while ODM’s combined on-year shipment growth turned positive for the first time in the past 16 months.

Quanta benefited from HP’s orders the most in the month, growing nearly 40 per cent from July.

Courtesy-Fud

4K TV Sales Growing Fast

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Despite having limited content, 4K Ultra HD televisions are expected to double sales to 15 million units in the US in 2016.

Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association said that the next-generation TVs are now being adopted at a faster rate than predecessor high-definition TVs. Sales of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players are also selling at a fast rate.

Shapiro said that 62 percent of consumers plan to buy a consumer electronics viewing device in the next year while a third will buy a smartphone, and 29 percent plan to buy a TV.

“Consumers are showing a strong preference for 4K,” which has four times as many on-screen pixels as HDTVs. It’s faster and more robust than HDTV.”

By 2017, 4K UHD TV sales will hit 20 million a year in the U.S. That number will grow to 23 million in 2018, and 26 million by 2019. The 2016 growth rate is 105 percent above the units sold for 2015, he said.

More than 700,000 4K Blu-ray players have been sold so far in 2016, Shapiro said. Blu-ray is now 10 years old as a technology, launched in support of HDTV content. Now all of the major studios are releasing content on the 4K UHD format. Netflix is also streaming movies in 4K formats online. More than 500,000 4K Blu-ray discs have been sold so far, according to the Digital Entertainment Group.

Shapiro said that 4 out of 10 TVs that ship this year will be 4K UltraHD, so sales of HDTVs remain strong as well. Almost every TV set over 50 inches diagonal is a 4K set, Shapiro said.

Prices are dropping too. The average 4K TV price in 2015 was $1,048, and that is dropping to $861 in 2016. Shapiro said that the new ATSC 3.0 television standard is being finalized for 4K transmission over Internet Protocol and on mobile devices, and he expects to see TVs that use the standard at the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2017.

Courtesy-Fud

Will AMD’s Zen Rule The Server Space?

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD Chief Technology Officer Mark Papermaster has told the world that AMD will become the top manufacturer when it comes to PCs and servers.

According to IDG, Papermaster said that the outfit will be making Vega 10 GPU available by first half of 2017. He added that AMD plans to release high-end PCs and servers which will be powered by the new Zen chip and the first Vega 10 GPU.

He thinks that this will gain market share in the gaming, virtual reality, other desktop applications, which will require high-performance GPUs. AMD is going to pitch Zen and Vega 10 GPU (possibly  AMD Radeon GTX 490) as being the best of the PC generation. Apparently that positive attitude will give Nvidia and Intel a good kicking.

AMD’s next GPU architecture powered by HBM2, which is proven to increase performance significantly while maintaining power efficiency. HBM2 is also reported to provide maximum throughput of up to 256GBps, thus it is capable of carrying out all existing powerful apps such as virtual reality, 3D rendering and many more.

This leaves the budget and mid-level PCs running Polaris.

Basically this means that AMD is carrying on the same business model it always has done – compete on cost against Nvidia and Intel. That does not mean that the quality is noticeably different, but it does mean that it will always be cheaper.

Courtesy-Fud

EA’s Battlefield 1 Beta Was An Overwhelming Success

September 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-battlefield-1Looking back to World War I may have pointed EA’s Battlefield franchise to a brighter future, with the beta of the latest game in the long-running series attracting 13.2 million players.

Those players all participated in Battlefield 1’s beta across ten days, between August 30 and September 8. EA DICE has confirmed that the 13.2 million people make it “the biggest beta in EA’s history,” topping the previous record holder, Star Wars: Battlefront, which attracted more than 9 million players.

As big as Battlefront’s beta was, though, it was surpassed in popularity by Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch, which pulled in 9.7 million in May this year. The question surrounding Battlefield I, then, is whether it’s the most popular beta of this generation. While EA hadn’t laid claim to that at the time of writing, based on other publicly available figures it seems likely: Ubisoft’s The Division had 6.4 million players in its beta, while Activision’s Destiny had 4.6 million.

In any case, these will be glad tidings for EA DICE, and EA’s shareholders. As Niko Partners’ Daniel Ahmad pointed out on Twitter, Destiny, The Division, Battlefront and Overwatch all demonstrate a clear trend.

One trend I’ll note is that each of the full games above sold to more people than played the open beta’s within the 3 months from launch.

— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) September 15, 2016

Battlefield 1 launches on October 21.

Courtesy-Fud

Da Vinci Mini 3D Printer Will Cost Less Than $300

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

da-vinci-mini-3d-printer-150x150XZY Printing has announced its least expensive 3D printer for students, educators and small businesses at a cost of $290.

The new da Vinci Mini is available at XYZ Printing’s online store, as well as at other online retailers such as Amazon, Overstock.com and Sam’s Club, which has priced it at $270.

The machine is 5.9-in x 5.9-in x 5.9-in in size, and comes with free use of the company’s XYZmaker 3D modeling software.

XYZ Printing, which has built a reputation around affordable consumer-grade machines, previously boasted its entry-level — the da Vinci Junior 1.0 — as the lowest-priced product at just $349.

Computerworld reviewed the da Vinci Junior 1.0 and noted that while it had some standout features, it was still a machine squarely targeted at beginners and didn’t offer a lot of sophisticated features.

Only the company’s da Vinci Minimaker, a 3D printer for children, is a less expensive machine — at $250.

“XYZ Printing’s new da Vinci Mini 3D printer… addresses the needs of 3D printing enthusiasts without sacrificing quality and ease-of-use,” Simon Chen, CEO of XYZ Printing, said in a statement. “No matter your level of 3D printing experience, the da Vinci Mini is the perfect tool to create high-quality products at an affordable price.”

The new da Vinci Mini comes with several features that are often associated with much more expensive 3D printers, such as embedded Wi-Fi, allowing users to transmit object files from their computers to the machine over their home networks.

The machine also self-calibrates its print bed, alleviating the need for users to level the bed by hand. The printer also comes with an auto-loading filament system, meaning users aren’t required to feed the PLA filament — the plastic material that’s used to create the printed object — into the heated print head by hand.

The da Vinci Mini has an aluminum print bed, which the company claims increases durability and is better at diffusing heat so that printed objects can more easily be removed without burning the user’s hands.

 

Sony Aims To Extend Content For Its Virtual-Reality Headset

September 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

playstation-vr-headset-150x150Sony Corp plans to extend content for its dedicated virtual-reality (VR) headset into non-gaming areas such as TV and film, and has no plans to join the burgeoning market for smartphone-based headsets, its gaming division chief said.

Andrew House, Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc’s chief executive, said in an interview that he was already in talks with media production companies to explore possibilities for the PlayStation VR headset, due for release on Oct. 13.

“We are talking about years into the future, but these are interesting conversations to start having now,” House said.

House’s gaming division has been one of Sony’s main sources of profit in recent years as sales of TV sets and other once-core electronics goods decline in the face of price competition.

As smartphone gaming now encroaches on the console market, Sony has opted to seek growth through innovations such as VR. However, analysts have said non-gaming content is necessary to broaden the appeal – and profitability – of VR.

Sony’s VR headset works in conjunction with its PlayStation 4 games console and will retail at a price lower than Facebook Inc’s Oculus Rift and HTC Corp’s Vive headsets that require more expensive personal computers to run.

But smartphone-powered headsets will be far cheaper and more portable because they use the smartphone screen as the display.

There are well over 100 smartphone-based VR headsets from 65 developers already on the market, according to Lux Research. Alphabet Inc’s Google will add to that number with its Daydream VR platform that works with its Android mobile operating system.

Sony’s House argued that smartphones would not be capable of achieving the highest quality VR experience.

“We are focused on great gaming VR experiences,” he said. “I haven’t seen a cellphone or mobile-based VR experience that really gets our content teams excited.”

House said, beyond gaming, Sony is looking into TV and film and will also concentrate on seeking “ways of bringing much more static experiences to life” in areas such as museums and planetariums.

Sony has said it is working with more than 230 developers globally, and expects over 50 titles by the end of the year, include non-gaming content such as cartoons and music, karaoke and landscape videos.

 

Virtual Reality Appears To Be On The Ropes

September 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Those who thought that VR would be a cure for cancer will be disappointed to know that sales of the hardware have stalled already.

Earlier stock problems for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are now over but no one is buying according to a Steam survey.

We had already suggested that the Rift and Vive would not have mass market appeal, mostly because the hardware requirements were too great. It looks like betting the farm on the tech was not a good idea.

With the Oculus Rift priced at $550 and the HTC Vive at $800, the price is obviously the main problem, with a Steam survey showing that only 0.18 per cent of users own an HTC Vive and only 0.10 per cent have an Oculus Rift.

HTC Vive sales grew only 0.3 per cent in July and were completely flat in August. Oculus Rift sales grew by the same amount in July and just 0.1 per cent in August.

To be fair the Oculus Rift has not officially launched in the UK until September 20, but it is hard to see how it will be more popular in the EU.

This does not mean that the technology is stuffed. It just means that the small number of early adopters who wanted to play with it already have one. Interest from the great unwashed is not happening. This is mostly because there are no games or anything interesting to play with.

This might change with the arrival of the PlayStation Neo console,that is specifically designed with the PlayStation VR headset in mind. Not only will it be cheaper, at £350 it also has significant software support from the rest of the games industry. Still it is an Atlas-like task for Sony to convince the world that VR is a good idea.

Courtesy-Fud

AMD’s Market Share Appears To Be Increasing

September 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has been on the blower to point out that figures from Mercury and Jon Peddie Research, show that it has been growing market share for the fourth consecutive quarter.

A spokesman for AMD said that for the last nine months, AMD has got its mojo back through its Radeon Technologies Group. During that time, the company has made significant investments in hardware, marketing, and software for the graphics line-up leading to four straight quarters of market share growth.

Mercury Research said that AMD gained three points of unit volume share in Q1 2016. The Mercury Research and Jon Peddie Research market share data for Q2 2016 shows AMD seeing its fourth consecutive quarter of desktop discrete GPU share growth, driven by AMD’s strongest quarter of channel GPU sales since 2015 and the commencement of shipping of the next generation Polaris GPUs.

In total discrete graphics, AMD gained 4.8 share points to 34.2 per cent of market by unit volume (based on Mercury Research). In desktop discrete sector, AMD saw a 7.3 share point increase, rising to 29.9 per cent market share.

“This is another positive testament AMD’s strategy is working as the company drives forward towards “Vega” offerings for the enthusiast GPU market, which AMD expects to bring to market in 2017 to complement our current generation of “Polaris” products,” the spokesperson said.

“AMD believes it is well positioned to continue this trend in market share gains with the recently launched Radeon RX 480, 470, and 460 GPUs that bring leadership performance and features to the nearly 85 per cent of enthusiasts who buy a GPU priced between $100 and $300,” she added.

Courtesy-Fud

Will The PS4 Pro Be A Success?

September 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-ps4proHalfway through Sony’s announcement event for its new consoles – the redesigned, slimmer PS4 and the new, more powerful PS4 Pro – I found myself thinking about the optics of these events. I’ve seen the announcement events for every console since the PS2, and of them all, this was by far the most muted. The lack of bombast and braggadocio could speak to a quietly understated confidence, or to uncertainty, depending on where you’re standing. I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle – Sony, achieving success it hasn’t seen since the PS2’s halcyon days, is certainly confident, but is also walking out onto uncertain territory with the PS4 Pro. The ground underfoot is no longer familiar.

The slim PS4, of course – perhaps the worst-kept secret in the history of the industry, given the appearance of functioning models on auction websites prior to the announcement – is nothing unexpected. Three years into the PS4’s lifespan, a slimmed down redesign was inevitable; it joins the (arguably rather more attractive) Xbox One S on the shelves as a sleeker model whose launch is somewhat overshadowed by impending obsolescence. Xbox One S, at least, has a year to run before the hugely more powerful Scorpio appears on the market. The new PS4 suffered the ignominy of being quickly announced and forgotten just moments before the unveiling of PS4 Pro, the device destined to replace it.

PS4 Pro, though, is a curious beast. It’ll run you $100 more than the slim PS4, it plays the same games and connects to the same online services. Sony has bent over backwards to avoid fragmenting their playerbase, and in theory, PS4 Pro is really designed only for the small minority of consumers with 4K displays in their living rooms. Yet the company must know the psychology of its consumers; it must know that for a large proportion of them, playing a game on a regular PS4 in the knowledge that an upgrade would make it that little bit sharper, that little bit smoother, is like Chinese water torture. That will only be exacerbated by the “Pro” moniker; so much of the market will feel an involuntary twitch of consumer desire at the very notion of their existing hardware being “amateur” or, god help us all, “noob”.

Ultimately, though, Sony’s cautious approach seems to be pitched just right. Those who will find themselves discombobulated by the notion of a needlessly dropped frame or a disappointingly undetailed hair strand, or quietly fuming at being branded a non-Pro, are precisely the audience expected to upgrade anyway. The benefits of PS4 Pro will be sufficient to keep them satisfied; while for pretty much everyone else, for the enormous audience of more casual consumers that Sony must access in the coming years in order to maintain the PS4’s sales trajectory, the benefits of the Pro seem minor enough not to bother with. The stroke of genius, perhaps, is that every upgrading gamer will release a second-hand PS4 into the market – handed off to a younger sibling or cousin, perhaps, or sold to a late upgrader from the last generation. That ought to do wonders to kick-start the PS4’s demographic expansion.

That’s not an easy balance to strike, and while it feels like it’s been skilfully done, only time and market data will tell. Sony enters Winter 2016 in a position of almost unprecedented strength; Nintendo’s NX won’t launch until next spring (and nobody really knows what it is), while Microsoft’s lovely Xbox One S is overshadowed by the plan to entirely outclass it with Scorpio next year. Both PS4 and PS4 Pro will do great guns this year (while PSVR, about which more in a moment, will undoubtedly be supply constrained). That’s not the real test; the test is how this line-up can fare against 2017’s launches, NX and Scorpio. Sony’s cards are now on the table for the next couple of years of the console war.

The other test, of course, is how this evolves. Much has been made of PS4 Pro representing the end of the console model; a final nail in the coffin of the five, seven or even ten year hardware cycle which has defined game consoles since the 1980s. Incremental updates like the PS4 Pro, maintaining compatibility and continuity while keeping pace with hardware advancements, are the future.

Well, perhaps they’re part of the future. Scorpio, with its dramatic upgrade over the Xbox One – so dramatic that the notion of Xbox One remaining fully capable of playing Scorpio titles seems ridiculous – suggests a somewhat different future. Equally, the muted nature of this week’s launch is suggestive of somewhat different thinking. Sony didn’t want to come out all guns blazing, shouting in triumph about its new hardware, because it cannot afford to alienate the 40 million existing owners of PS4 by implying that their consoles are obsolete. That’s a radical difference from console launches of old precisely because the whole purpose of those launches was to declare everything which came before obsolete. “Here, here is the new thing! All singing, all dancing, making the singing and dancing your existing console is capable of look merely like painful hopping and wheezing! Buy the new thing!” You can’t do that with an incremental upgrade; you can’t alienate your existing market in that way. Even smartphone makers have more freedom in their messaging, knowing that their hardware is expected to run on an 18 to 24 month upgrade cycle; consoles, though, you expect to remain “current” for four years, five years or more.

Incremental upgrades, then, lock us to a much more muted kind of message about new hardware. Does anyone really believe, though, that there’s no PS5 in the works? No grand, sweeping upgrade, that will be unveiled with bombast, and fireworks, and promises of walking on water and improbable feats of catering involving bread and fish? Of course that’s in the works. If PS4 Pro points us at something, it’s at the possibility of compatibility across generations in the very broad sense – perhaps, at last, we have entered a generation of consoles whose games will remain playable pretty much forever, or at least for as long as the capricious DRM gods smile upon us. The reverse, however, cannot remain true forever. Console generations will continue to roll past; it’s just that now, perhaps, there will be more mezzanines and landings between the floors.

Notably absent from Sony’s quiet little event was PlayStation VR. Oh, there was a logo, and there were a few words said, but you’d hardly imagine that this was a massive product launch that’s happening in just a few months’ time. Perhaps that’s because the aspect of PS4 Pro Sony is most anxious about is what impact it’s going to have on PSVR, and vice versa. Ever since the first leaks about PS4 Neo, as then was, hit the wild, there’s been a widespread assumption that part of the raison d’être for the new hardware was to drive PSVR headsets – with the existing PS4 simply being underpowered as a VR device.

If that’s not the case, Sony could have done a better job of pointing it out. Throwaway comments about the PS4 Pro yielding better frame rates for VR software sit uncomfortably with the company’s earlier pronouncements about 120Hz rendering for PSVR. Everything we’ve seen and learned about VR thus far suggests that this tech is all about framerate; if you can’t hit a consistent, high frame rate, users start to get severe motion sickness. If it’s the case that PS4 can hit those frame rates consistently, but PS4 Pro allows more visual finesse at the same frame rate, that’s great. If, on the other hand, PS4 is struggling with frame rate and PS4 Pro smoothes things out, that’s a big problem. PSVR cannot afford to be a poor experience on the existing PS4 installed base; if it is to be a success, it needs to work superbly on the 40 million PS4s already in the wild, not just on the fraction of the installed base which will be PS4 Pro.

Perhaps it does. Certainly, the demos of PSVR to date – all presumably running on PS4 standard hardware – have been fine, for the most part. Again, though, the optics are problematic; if you’re launching a VR headset within weeks of launching more powerful hardware, people are going to assume, not unreasonably, that they’re meant to complement each other. If that translates into users of the headset on stock PS4s getting physically ill where users on PS4 Pro do not, that’s a very big problem – and if that’s absolutely not the case, and there are procedures in place to prevent it, Sony needs to be discussing those things candidly and openly. (If it is the case, they might have been best served by doing something radical like only taking PSVR pre-orders alongside PS4 Pro pre-orders; let VR be the USP of PS4 Pro, and avoid the possibility of backlash from underpowered VR entirely.)

With the cards on the table, now we see how the hand plays. PS4 Pro is undoubtedly a shake-up to how the console business works. It’s one step closer to a world where console hardware is essentially a fixed-spec PC in a nice box that’s updated every few years – but we’re not in that world yet, and whether we ever arrive there will be determined by how Sony and its rivals fare in the coming 18 months.

Courtesy-GI.biz

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