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Samsung Bixby Arrives On Refrigerators

October 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Get ready for smarter appliances.

Samsung has announced the second generation of its Bixby digital assistant will be coming to its various non-mobile devices including its smart TVs in the US and Korea in 2018, as well as its Family Hub refrigerator. The company also announced a new SDK for developers to make apps that work with Bixby.

Bixby 2.0, Samsung’s answer to the likes of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, is smarter than its first version, with deep-linking capabilities and improved natural language capabilities. It can better recognize individual users and better predict peoples’ needs. The update integrates predictive technology from Viv, which Samsung has said would help the software work with third-party apps.

At the Samsung Developer Conference on Wednesday, Koh Dong-jin, the head of Samsung’s mobile business, laid out the company’s vision for the future beyond the smartphone: everything connected.

“At Samsung we see a new era of seamless experiences that break the barrier of a single device,” Koh said.

Samsung made the announcements at its fourth annual developers conference, taking place this week in San Francisco. The event, which started off small at a San Francisco hotel, last year expanded to Moscone Center West, where Apple previously held its developer conference. This year, 5,000 people are attending SDC, Koh said. Last year, about 4,000 developers attended.

Samsung has had difficulty generating enthusiasm for many of its software products. The company leans on Google’s Android software to run the vast majority of its smartphones and tablets, while its own Tizen operating system has struggled to gain a foothold. Meanwhile, Samsung has scrapped many of the services it’s created, like the Samsung Media Hub and Milk Video.

But it keeps trying. Samsung introduced Bixby on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus earlier this year and has been pushing SmartThings. It’s also partnered with Facebook’s Oculus on virtual reality for mobile devices. For Samsung, getting developers to create unique apps for its broad range of products — from its televisions to its smartwatches — is key.

Are Rising Game Development Cost Hurting Some Studios

October 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Making games is expensive. Let me rephrase that: making games is really, really expensive.

Obviously, that’s no secret, but the numbers involved are even surprising to those of us who follow the industry every day. Last month, Kotaku reported many studios budget around $10,000 per person per month to cover salaries plus overhead. Considering that many of the more polished games on the market can take years to create, budgets can spiral out of control very easily and this has a impact on the entire ecosystem.

Moreover, that $10,000 figure is actually lower than many studios spend, industry veterans Brian Fargo (inXile Entertainment) and Jeff Pobst (Hidden Path Entertainment) tell me.

“I used $10,000 per man-month [for budgets] when I was a producer for Sierra online in 2000,” Pobst notes.

Fargo concurs: “I would say [$10,000 is] on the low side. I think Tim Schafer pointed out a couple of years ago that this is why these things cost so much to make. There’s a big difference between small developers cutting their teeth that have no overhead versus a team of people who’ve been in the business for two decades. They have families and expect medical insurance, and so it’s not going to be something that costs less than $10,000 on average for my people.

“That’s on the low end by maybe 20% or 30%. I don’t think we’re seeing double that, but certainly it’s the trajectory we’re all going towards. I think that’s a fair number. It’s always been a funny disparity. We talk about making a game with a budget of, say, $10 million and the smaller developers tend to look at it and go, ‘How do they waste so much money?’ And then the triple-A guys say, ‘How do they do it for so cheap?’

“That seems to be the perpetual argument on these budgets when you want to do something that is ambitious, and that’s ultimately what we get rewarded for. Any title that comes out that is ambitious in some way is more likely to be rewarded than one that isn’t.”

Ambition is a wonderful thing, and most developers have ambitious visions for their games, but then they meet the reality of what ambition costs. The double-A space is now having to invest more than is reasonable for small or mid-sized studios.

“The industry continues to get more binary between the haves and have nots,” Fargo continues. “When I see something like salaries going to as high as $20,000 per man-month in San Francisco, that really only affects the smaller to mid-size companies. The big companies – take Blizzard, for example – they can drop $70 million on a project, kill it and then start all over again. Rockstar can spend five years on a game.

“The extra salaries really don’t affect them, in my opinion, as much as it does the smaller to the mid-size companies. So yeah, it definitely puts pressure on us.

“Also, what I’m seeing recently is that there was the single-A and double-A indie space that was sort of ripe for opportunity for a while – us included, and we’ve been doing well – but that’s getting more competitive. And the budgets of the double-A products are starting to approach triple-A budgets of 10 years ago.”

Citing Ninja Theory’s Hellblade and Larian’s Divinity: Original Sin 2 as recent examples, Fargo laments that expectations for games coming out of the double-A space are rising too rapidly.

“All of a sudden double-A developers are spending in excess of $10 million,” he says. “And it’s only a matter of time before this rises to $20 million. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some at those values already. So now what you’ve got is the triple-A people who are unaffected by the salaries and they’re going to be spending hundreds of millions of dollars between production and marketing, and then you’ve got the double-A companies now starting to spend significant money. What that’s going to do is to create an expectation from a user’s perspective of what the visuals should look like.

“It creates a harder dynamic for even the smaller companies, because some product is at $39 or $44.95 that doesn’t have a multi-million dollar marketing budget. It’s still going to have production values that are incredible, and so what will people expect out of a smaller developer? That’s the cascading effect of all these different things, and of course you layer on top of that the discoverability issue we’ve all got with an un-curated platform and it makes it very tricky.”

While the major publishers like Activision or EA still manage to reap massive profits, other studios are certainly not getting wealthy by making games. California, where so much of the industry is based, makes the cost equation even more difficult.

“Consumers don’t fully understand how truly expensive it is to put out a AAA game now,” says Turtle Rock GM Steve Goldstein. “If you start looking at what it costs for someone to be employed in southern California, working in the knowledge industry, it’s a lot. And the most frustrating thing actually, and it’s something I complain about at the studio all the time, is that we got people here that are working their butts off, who do well, but still can’t afford to buy a house in southern California. It’s ridiculous. The cost of doing business in tech is so high, especially in California, [that] unless you are the biggest of the biggest, there’s a real risk of being able to continue in this medium.

“For us to make a new IP that’s AAA and that’s a boxed product just doesn’t make sense. Because the publisher’s going to have to spend $50 to $100 million, which, as your math just points out, isn’t making anybody rich over in development. They’re going to make that investment… They’ll release [that IP] during the holiday season so they can get that additional sales push, but it’s going to be coming out amidst a ton of other titles and established franchises, so you have to try to get above the noise level just to get the IP known – it just doesn’t pencil out.”

When you combine the continued escalation of costs with the challenge of getting above the noise upon release, it can feel like a Sisyphean task for a small or mid-sized games studio.

Fargo offers, “It feels like the budgets for the double-A products have doubled to tripled just in the last five years. Back in 2012 when Broken Age and Pillars [of Eternity] came out, I know what our budgets were then [for Wasteland 2] and I know what the budgets are going to now. I have a sense of what Larian and Obsidian are spending, and I know these numbers have gone up significantly.

“Curation has always been a hot topic. One might argue there’s a greater risk of a game being lost in a sea of products, than that of a great game not making it through the quality bar to be in the store. The stats of more and more and more games hitting Steam have not been favorable for any of us… You’ve got kind of a one, two, three-punch against the smaller publishers/developers.”

The shift to digital storefronts and the rise in the sheer number of titles flooding those digital shelves is not ideal, Pobst agrees, and it’s making life hard for the really small indies out there.

“For a period of time… we could sell games that were not $60 top price games, and we could make good money… and we could get the opportunity to make more games,” he says. “That opportunity is being challenged because there is such a large number of games at low prices in the marketplace. That takes the market, which gives lots of people choice and is really good for gamers in the one sense, and it splits the amount of money against a large number of people.

“I know a large number of individual indies who are closing up shop because they aren’t now even making enough money to pay for their own well-being. And that used to be a pretty sure thing. If you had a three-person shop or a four-person shop, you could sell enough to actually make a living. Now that’s becoming challenging with so many games available for purchase.”

One way to alleviate the sting of rising costs has been to use crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, and while that has been a boon for the mid-size studios like Double Fine or inXile, in some ways the crowdfunding phenomenon has been a double-edged sword when it comes to setting expectations on budgets, says Pobst.

“If there’s a financial pressure, it’s really hard for people to get together and actually make great entertainment. So this is hard; this is really hard. And the only reason I think that there is a surprise is in part because of the Kickstarter phenomenon, where people were looking to raise the last $500,000 of a $2 million game, and people thought the game was made for $500,000… Games are really expensive to make, especially the kind that the consumer really desires.

“What we saw with the crowdfunding experience, that we went through ourselves as well as many others, is that the average experience where you get a certain amount of money or you just make your minimum, becomes an expectation of what it takes to actually create product, and that’s pretty much not true. You’re typically investing some of your own money or another investor’s money into the product and, often, people are using crowdfunding to complement that so that they can have enough to make the whole thing.”

The $10,000 man-month figure, while scary, is not necessarily universally applicable. Location of your studio and cost of living certainly is a factor in how much employees get paid, and smaller indies aren’t going to have the same overhead as double-A teams filled with veterans. Beyond that, there are different approaches to what kind of team to build.

Pobst explains: “If you visit a development studio there are going to be several different models. The model we [use] at Hidden Path, and I’ve heard places like Crystal Dynamics, is to try and favor a smaller staff with more highly compensated people… The philosophy is that, if you have people who know each other really well and work together really well, their output is going to exceed what the other model [yields].

“The other model is a few highly experienced people that you compensate very highly because they’re your leadership, and then [you hire] a larger number of younger and more inexpensive people. You tend to have more of those people to do the same amount of work, and there’s a lot more management overhead. That can work, and there are many companies that use that model. In fact, if you start looking at successful titles, you’re going to find examples of both. There is no one right model.”

While the cost per head may not compare perfectly on a project-to-project or company-to-company basis, the budgets for games continue to go up no matter what. What can the mid-size studios do to compensate for this worrying fact?

“It depends on the genre you’re in, but the scope and scale of the thing is what you really need to keep an eye on,” Fargo advises. “The visual and audio expectations are rising as the budgets for the double-A games has risen… I would tell developers to keep a really close eye on the scope of the product; better to have something that’s very small and tight and polished than something that’s overly large… and hits a lot of different things but don’t quite visually hold up to the others.”

The other issue to contend with is how games are transforming to games-as-a-service, which could be a positive in terms of generating more revenue or a negative because of the need to support staff year-round.

“As I look out towards the future, we are most definitely looking to incorporate aspects of that business model,” Fargo notes. “The plus sides of it, of course, is that there’s no piracy, and you’re able to do better business in some territories where piracy is extremely high. But also it allows you to build a community and have a live-ops team and do [fewer] products, but keep people on it everyday and make it better – doing tournaments and all of those things… It’s a very compelling thing to have [but] it does put pressure on a single-player experience game.”

Turtle Rock’s Goldstein sees the games-as-a-service model going one step further, effectively becoming Netflix-like subscriptions to access content; something big publishers like Ubisoft and EA have predicted is on the horizon. Subscription revenue could be a way to help mitigate rising costs.

“I can absolutely see something like that happening down the line,” he says. “Netflix is now playing with budgets that are approaching blockbuster films, so I could see those numbers working for each of the publishers, where they have their users paying a subscription and they release a certain number of really high-end titles as well as a bunch of indie titles… I could see that in five years.”

Rising costs have been putting the squeeze on mid-sized studios, but that’s not to say triple-A developers and publishers are immune. As Pobst points out, “There used to be a lot more publishers than there are now.” As the saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and smaller companies have a chance to succeed by being more nimble.

“Adapting is part of the game industry,” Pobst continues. “You try and find the areas to adapt to that match your skill set. If you’re a great narrative designer and your team makes great narrative games, you probably don’t go into mobile and focus on free-to-play monetization. It’s not really playing to your strengths.”

Being nimble allows a studio to try new things. VR is the perfect example of that. Both Hidden Path and Turtle Rock are taking a chance on the emerging medium in the hope that it does become a growth market, and their respective experience should set them up well for the future if VR truly goes mainstream.

And if a studio manages to create a hit, suddenly you have a built-in audience that’s more likely to purchase your next title, based on studio reputation alone.

“You’ve got to give Bungie credit for creating Halo after several other games before that, and then creating Destiny after Halo – that’s a big challenge to do,” Pobst says. “And then the folks as Blizzard, they’ve created multiple different hits, which is fairly rare in our industry. If you can build trust with an audience and they can really buy into the anticipation of whatever you’re going to do, your ability to spend more to get it right is there.

“Once you do cross over that threshold, Bungie or Blizzard, their budgets are going to be much, much larger than anything you or I have talked about. Their per head rate or the amount of money they’ll put into a game is much, much higher for two reasons: one, they know that if they deliver something quality, people will buy it because of the reputation they have. And two, by spending more money, they are putting a greater distance between them and the next competitor. And that greater distance will pay off in the long run.”

If a studio does manage to cross that threshold, a huge advantage is unlocked. Suddenly, you’re not worried as much about the money to achieve your creative vision, Pobst says.

“If I’m really focused on the dollars…then I’m not actually focused on the best entertainment I can possibly create. If you know that the audience is going to come in a disproportionate way to what you spend, spending stops becoming the problem. A lot of these [bigger] studios are really focused on: ‘How do I execute the best? How do I have my team work well? How do I know exactly which features to invest in and which features not to invest in?’ You get to a whole set of problems that are far beyond the money problems.”

Some have made comparisons to Hollywood and the drastic divide between indie film labels and behemoth studios like Universal, but for all the talk of haves and have nots, Fargo concedes that game creators have a chance at success for lower investments – for now, at least.

“You look at PUBG, that would be considered a smaller Hollywood film and it sells 15 million copies, but that’s more profitable than most of the Hollywood blockbusters,” he says. “I don’t know that there’s a parallel in the film business where people on a semi-regular basis are spending under $10 million on a movie yet it’s producing blockbuster Hollywood profits. The games business does continue to do that – Rocket League, for example.

“There’s enough cases where these smaller titles have just nailed it, but the effect of that is their next ones are going to see a huge difference in budget.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Facebook’s Oculus Turns Focus Towards Enterprise VR

October 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Oculus is looking to entice corporate users into getting on board the VR train with the launch of a business-focused product bundle.

The Facebook-owned company sees a variety of uses for its headsets, from enterprise collaboration to employee training, in a range of industries. Putting VR technology in the hands of more businesses is a crucial step to growing the market, and Oculus wants to make the process easier with Oculus for Business.

The $900 package contains an Oculus Rift headset, Touch controllers, remote, three sensors and three Rift Fits headset foam pads. Business customers will also receive dedicated customer support and extended licenses and warranties.

“Businesses of all types can use Rift to boost productivity, accelerate training, and present the otherwise impossible to their employees and customers ­– across industries like tourism, education, medical, construction, manufacturing, automotive, and retail,” the company said in a blog post.

Oculus’ launch follows a similar move from rival VR hardware vendor HTC Vive last year.  HTC’s Vive Business Edition contains a range of Vive products, along with dedicated support and 12 month warranty. That package costs $1,200.

Oculus’ own announcement shows how the firm has lagged behind HTC in the commercial market, as well as with consumers, said Moor Insights and Strategy analyst Anshel Sag.

“This move seems like the beginning of Oculus’ recognition that they need to formally address the business market, otherwise the enterprise doesn’t believe they’ll get the support they need,” he said.

The backing of Oculus and Facebook will help further the case for VR at work in terms of growing the market, said Sag. However, support for business users is still emerging.

“I do believe that if Oculus wants to serve this market appropriately, they are going to have to also offer services that address enterprise needs and not just sell them a ‘business kit,’” he said.

Oculus for Business is aimed at a variety of use cases. Audi is using Oculus to create virtual showrooms for its cars that let prospective customers try out thousands of custom configurations before making an order. There is also potential around employee training, with DHL showing staff safety procedures when lifting heavy objects.

Workplace collaboration is another emerging use.

Oculus has partnered with Cisco for trials of a VR version of Spark, its collaboration platform that  supports messaging, voice calls and video conversations. Spark in VR allows remote workers to meet and communicate in virtual environments using avatars, allowing them to brainstorm on virtual whiteboards and interact with files. There are also integrations with Cisco’s  digital whiteboard, Spark Board.

This is likely just the beginning for VR as a collaboration tool.

 

DirecTV Now Streaming Service Showing Signs Of Live

October 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

AT&T’s entrance into the online streaming video business is finally gaining ground.

The Dallas telecommunications giant disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it had added a net 300,000 customers to its DirecTV Nowstreaming service in the third quarter. That’s compared to the 491,000 customers it added in the first half of the year.

Overall, the company warned that it had lost 90,000 US video subscribers, blaming a combination of the impact from several hurricanes, higher credit standards and competition from both traditional pay TV players and online alternatives.

AT&T is in the midst of transforming itself beyond providing you with basic phone, internet and wireless service. It also wants to be an entertainment powerhouse, as evidenced by its acquisition of satellite TV provider DirecTV and its pending deal to buy Time Warner, the home of “Superman” and “Game of Thrones.” The results were likely helped by a promotion that offered DirecTV Now at a discount when budgeted with its wireless plans.

AT&T warned that it had 900,000 fewer handset equipment upgrades than a year ago, although it said the decline didn’t affect its customer growth and that turnover levels were still low.

The company blamed the hurricanes and an earthquake in Mexico, where it owns several wireless assets, on revenue falling $90 million and its pre-tax earnings to decline by $210 million. It expects further reductions in the fourth quarter.

The company, however, also maintained its 2017 forecast of mid-single digit adjusted earnings growth.

Is The Ryzen 5 Falling

October 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The price of AMD’s top-of-the-line AMD Ryzen 5 microprocessor has fallen to below $265.00 and is cheaper than the cut-price Ryzen 5 1600.

Apparently, it is all due to the fact that the cheaper 3.2GHz Ryzen 5 1600, which can be overclocked to similar speeds to the 1600X, and has a Wraith Spire CPU cooler is super popular. Those who get a 3.6GHz 1600X will need to splash out on a cooler.

The Ryzen 5 1600X was first cut to less than £200 over the weekend by Aria PC, as a  “super special price” of $197.94, plus £6.95 for postage and packing. A day later, eBuyer slashed the price  to $225.98, the lowest that the Ryzen 5 1600X has been since it was launched just six months ago.

There are some other cool bargains – the price of the Ryzen 7 1800X is down by more than £90 to$388.98 at eBuyer, $11 cheaper at Aria PC and at $400.00 on Amazon – almost $150 less than its original list price.

All this happens as Itel unveiled its Coffee Lake codenamed CPUs in Intel’s first real response to AMD’s Ryzen launches and AMD promises Pinnacle for those who can wait until next year.

AMD is soon to launch Ryzen APUs, with Ryzen CPUs integrated with Vega-based GPUs for use in laptops and other mobile devices.

Courtesy-Fud

Is TSMC Going 3nm

October 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

As predicted, TSMC will build the ‘world’s first’ semiconductor plant to support the creation of 3nm node silicon chips in Taiwan.

This will be news to the US which thought the plant would be built in the US.  According to DigiTimes, 3nm TSMC will be staying in Taiwan at the Tainan Science Park to “fully leverage the company’s existing cluster advantage” and see the benefit of a “comprehensive supply chain”.

The company has a 5nm fab in the same location even if it has not started producing 5nm chips yet. These are “scheduled to start risk production in the second quarter of 2019″.

However, last year TSMC said that there was not enough space at the park for the new fab and it was lobbying the government.

TSMC needed 50 to 80 hectares of land and was pushing the Taiwan government to have land and supplies of electricity ready in time for the new project. TSMC has complained   of shortages of water and power in Taiwan, where the company still does most of its production. 

TSMC said it was thinking of setting up its 3nm wafer fab in the US due mainly to the availability of stable power supply there. For any 12-inch wafer plant, more advanced process requires higher power consumption, with electricity consumed by 3nm process likely to double that by 5nm process. Accordingly, after a massive power outage occurred on August 15, 2017 around Taiwan, doubts had deepened over whether Taiwan’s power supply could secure normal operation of a 3nm wafer fab in the country.

It is unclear now what TSMC will build in the US. In January, TSMC Chairman Morris Chang had said the company did not rule out the idea of building a US foundry, joining a slew of global firms from automakers to luggage makers that are considering manufacturing in the United States amid President Donald Trump’s push to create more jobs.

“We won’t decide until next year”, TSMC spokesperson Michael Kramer said. The company currently gets about 65 percent of its total revenue from the United States.  However, it might be that the US talk was simply to get the Tawain authorities to pull finger and approve the land, water and sort out the power issues.

Courtesy-Fud

Does Virtual Reality Devices Have A Future

October 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Analyst at IDC have been shuffling their tarot decks and reached the conclusion that AR and VR are going to continue to grow like crazy – despite the fact that other analysts are not so sure.

IDC is forecasting the combined augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headset market to reach 13.7 million units in 2017, growing to 81.2 million units by 2021 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 56.1 percent. VR headsets will account for more than 90 percent of the market until 2019 while AR will account for the rest. In the final two years of forecast, IDC expects AR headsets to experience exponential growth as they capture a quarter of the market by the end of the forecast.

Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers said that AR headset shipments today are a fraction of where IDC expects them to be in the next five years, both in terms of volume and functionality. “AR headsets are also on track to account for over US$30 billion in revenues by 2021, almost double that of VR, as most of the AR headsets will carry much higher average selling prices with earlier adopters being the commercial segment. Meanwhile, most consumers will experience AR on mobile devices, although it’s only a matter of time before Apple’s ARKit- and Google’s ARCore-enabled apps make their way into the market.

“AR headsets are also on track to account for over US$30 billion in revenues by 2021, almost double that of VR, as most of the AR headsets will carry much higher average selling prices with earlier adopters being the commercial segment. Meanwhile, most consumers will experience AR on mobile devices, although it’s only a matter of time before Apple’s ARKit- and Google’s ARCore-enabled apps make their way into consumer grade headsets.”

While AR headsets are poised for long-term growth along with a profound impact on the way businesses and consumers compute, VR headsets will drive a near-term shift in computing. Recent price reductions across all the major platforms, plus new entrants appearing in the next month, should drive growth in the second half of 2017 and will help to offset a slow start to the year. Screenless viewers such as the Gear VR will continue to maintain a majority share throughout the forecast, although the category’s share will continue to decline as lower-priced tethered head-mounted displays (HMDs) gain share over the course of the next two years. Meanwhile, IDC is predicting that standalone HMDs will gain share in the outer years of the forecast.

Tom Mainelli, vice president, Devices and AR/VR at IDC said: “Virtual reality has suffered from some unrealistic growth expectations in 2017, but overall the market is still growing at a reasonable rate and new products from Microsoft and its partners should help drive additional interest in the final quarter of this year. As we head into 2018 we’ll see additional new products appearing, including standalone headsets from major players, and we expect to see a growing number of companies embracing the technology to enable new business processes and training opportunities.”

Courtesy-Fud

Did AMD Optimize The RX Vega For Forza

October 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

AMD has apparently done a hell of a job optimizing its drivers for Forza Motorsport 7 game as its Radeon RX Vega 64 and Vega 56 graphics cards managed to beat Nvidia’s GTX 1080 Ti and GTX 1080.

According to benchmarks done by Computerbase.de, using Intel’s Core i7-6850K CPU, 16GB of DDR4-3000 memory and latest Radeon and Geforce drivers, AMD’s Radeon RX Vega 64 managed to beat Nvidia’s GTX 1080 Ti by quite a margin.

The RX Vega lineup managed to beat the Nvidia counterparts at both 1080p and 1440p resolutions while the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti managed to regain its lead on the higher 2160p resolution, but only in average FPS, whereas both RX Vega 64 and RX Vega 56 were high up in the table in 99th Percentile.

To make things even more interesting, AMD’s Radeon RX 580 and the R9 Fury X both exceeded the GTX 1080 Ti in those 99th Percentile results at lower 1080p resolution.

Computerbase.de also gave a heads up to Nvidia, which said that this is the correct performance of its graphics cards on DirectX 12 and Forza Motorsport 7, which means that AMD is certainly doing something right when it comes to driver optimizations, as those RX Vega graphics cards were nowhere near Nvidia’s GTX 1080/1080 Ti in earlier benchmarks.

Hopefully, AMD will be able to push more developers and optimize its RX Vega lineup for future and the rest of the current games.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Apple Face-ID on The iPhone X Secure

October 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple’s face scanning software can be broken by anyone under the age of 13 and the fruity cargo cult has been forced to admit that it does not really work for kids.

Apparently, the Face ID facial recognition system thinks kids look the same – it’s fair enough really – I think they all look the same, and all babies look like Winston Churchill no matter what their mums think.

However, in a security guide, Apple recommends that children under the age of 13 do not use Face ID due to the probability of a false match being significantly higher for young children.

It is the kids’ fault of course. Apple says this was because “their distinct facial features may not have fully developed”. We assume they are talking about the children and not Apple’s face scanning software.

The Tame Apple Press claims that it does not matter as few young children are likely to be given a $999 iPhone, false matches are also more likely for twins and siblings. In all those situations, the company recommends concerned users disable Face ID and use a passcode instead.

Another area where Apple is having problems is facial coverings. Apple says that “Face ID is designed to work with hats, scarves, glasses, contact lenses and many sunglasses”. 

But if the coverings must be transparent to infrared light and the system can see the eyes, nose and mouth. While some fabrics are more transparent to infrared than they may seem, that means iPhone users who cover their faces may be forced to rely on a passcode when out and about.

Courtesy-Fud

Amazon Echo Users Lean Towards Apple, Study Says

October 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

What does your choice of smart speaker reveal about your other preferences?

If you choose a Google Home speaker, does that mean you drift Android-ward? And what if you bought an Amazon Echo?

Well, let me tell you. I have just been made smarter by a piece of research from securities intelligence consultancy Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

It chatted with 300 Amazon Echo and Google Homeowners between July 11 and 27.

It concluded that those who own an Echo — which reminds me of the result of an ill-starred relationship between an air-purifier and a lipstick — have a penchant for Cupertino.

Of those surveyed, 55 percent of Echo users have an iPhone. The remainder have Android. Conversely, 75 percent of those who bought the oversized salt cellar known as Google Home are committed to Android phones.

Josh Lowitz, partner and co-founder of CIRP, insisted in a press release that the proportion of iPhone owners among Echo users was higher than the phone’s share of the US market. That stands at roughly 34 percent.

As for the proportion of Android users among Homeowners, that was merely consistent with Android’s share of the US phone market, he said. (Numbers vary as to how big Android’s share is. Some place it at around the 55 percent mark.)

Lowitz didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

When it comes to tablets, Echo owners also skew toward Apple, says the research. 49 percent have an iPad, while 25 percent own an Amazon Fire tablet.

AMD To Launch 12nm Lower Power Ryzen Processor In Early 2018

October 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has told its partners that it plans to launch in February 2018 an upgraded version of its Ryzen series processors built using a 12nm low-power (12LP) process at Globalfoundries.

According to Digitimes,which has been talking to its deep throats among the motherboard makers, AMD will initially release the CPUs codenamed Pinnacle 7, followed by mid-range Pinnacle 5 and entry-level Pinnacle 3 processors in March 2018.

AMD will launch the low power version of Pinnacle processors in April 2018 and the enterprise version Pinnacle Pro in May 2018.

Their corresponding chipsets, the 400 series, will also become available in March 2018 with X470- or B450-based motherboards to be the first to hit the store shelves. The chipsets are still designed by ASMedia and its orders for the chipsets are expected to grow dramatically starting January 2018.

Thanks to stable chip orders for Microsoft’s and Sony’s game consoles, increased demand for graphics cards, growing sales for its Ryzen 7/5 processors, new Ryzen Pro product line for the enterprise sector and the top-end Ryzen Treadripper processors, AMD managed to achieve 19 percent sequential growth in second-quarter 2017 revenues and expects the amount to grow further by 23 percent in the third quarter.

AMD is also expected to see its share of the desktop CPU market return to 30 percent in the first half of 2018.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Atari’s New AtariBox Console Succeed

October 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Atari has revealed more juicy details about its upcoming Ataribox console, due for release in 2018.

The Ataribox will be based on PC tech, and as such won’t be tied to any one ecosystem. Now, usually this would send us screaming for the hills, but we know this one is going to get funded, so we’re not sweating about sharing some more info.

Thanks to a report in VentureBeat including an interview with Feargal Mac, the creator of the device and reviver of the company, we now know it’ll be an Indiegogo job, which means there’s less of the “all or nothing” fear attached with Kickstarter.

“I was blown away when a 12-year-old knew every single game Atari had published. That’s brand magic. We’re coming in like a startup with a legacy,” Mac said. “We’ve attracted a lot of interest, and AMD showed a lot of interest in supporting us and working with us. With Indiegogo, we also have a strong partnership.”

It should ship in Spring 2018, if all goes well, and will come with a custom AMD processor, with AMD Radeon Graphics. The Linux operating system will be customizable and will run not only Atari emulators, but potentially other app portals such as Steam.

Here’s the return of the Mac: “We wanted to create a killer TV product where people can game, stream and browse with as much freedom as possible, including accessing pre-owned games from other content providers.”

Projected price is $250-$300 but as we all know, when it comes to crowd-funding, timescales can slip and prices can rise.

The important thing is that this is more than just another retro console. It will boast a customized Linux interface for TV, and users will be able to do as much tinkering about under the bonnet as they like.

We’re not looking at a gaming powerhouse, but it should be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with a good, non-game-specific PC.

The big draw, of course is that looks-wise, it is a sleek, more refined version of the classic Atari 2600, walnut wood finish and all.

Courtesy-TheInq

Roku’s New Feature Expands On How We Can Watch TV

October 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Ever been browsing the guide on your TV, see something you like airing in the future, and say to yourself: “I wish I could watch that right now.”

With a new feature on Roku TVs, you can.

Smart TVs from brands like TCL, Hisense, RCA and others that run Roku’s Smart TV system have long held an advantage. One big reason is that, unlike competing Smart TV systems, Roku is always rolling out updates that add new functions, like the ability to pause live TV, no DVR required and suggest streams based on what you’re watching live.

The latest free update, Roku OS 8, brings a slew of new additions. The coolest is integrated into the all new grid-style program guide for live TV, which Roku calls Smart Guide. It takes the form of innocuous purple asterisks next to show names.

When you see an asterisked a title, like “Night Court” or “Jack and the Beanstalk” from the image above, you can hit the asterisk key on the remote and up comes a page labeled “More Ways to Watch.” It shows which streaming services carry that show and episode, and another click launches it.

The feature builds on the original implementation of More Ways to Watch, which used automatic content recognition to pop up windows and suggest streams based on what you’re watching regardless of source. The new Smart Guide only works with over-the-air antenna shows, but has the advantage of including future airings in a familiar grid format. And since it doesn’t use ACR, it doesn’t have that technology’s privacy concerns.

Roku Gears Up For IPO, Sets Shares At $14

September 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Roku, the video streaming platform, set its initial public offering price at $14 per share, giving the company a value of $1.3 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The maker of set-top streaming boxes and software priced at the high end of its expected range, raising roughly $219 million Wednesday night ahead of its debut on the Nasdaq stock market Thursday, The Journal reported.

Roku may not be as recognizable a name as some of its streaming box competitors, which are all monolithic tech companies like Apple, Google and Amazon. But Roku is the most pervasive box in US households and tends to be one of the main ways people stream long-form TV from services like Netflix and Hulu, according to research firm Nielsen.

Roku, which announced its intention to go public earlier this month, said in June it has 15 million monthly active accounts, a 61 percent increase in the previous 12 months. The company had $400 million in revenue in 2016.

Will Apple Delay The iPhone X

September 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The iPhone X, which is already late, probably will not see the light of day until next year, according to a leading financial services company.

Apple needs the iPhone to go out on October 27 so that it can go into the Christmas stockings of extremely rich spoiled kids.

Financial services company Raymond James thinks the iPhone X might come much, much later, around December. But to make matters worse that is the time that the orders are possible and it might be a few months after that the iPhone X will ship.  This means that the lucrative Christmas market will have come and gone.

Raymond James’ chip analyst Christopher Caso claims that production on the phone has not begun yet. If the iPhone X is supposed to ship in late October or even early November, production should have already begun.

Caso’s survey of key “supply chain players” seems to suggest that things haven’t ramped up at all. No reason has been given yet as to why that is the case, whether it’s from difficulties in acquiring components or the low yield of the components themselves.

The Tame Apple Press is doing its best to discredit Caso’s comments, saying wacky things like “suppliers are not supposed to talk to analysts so he can’t know”.

However, the comments tally with what we have been told about problems Apple is having with the yield for the screens.

Apple’s dull iPhone 8 – which is more or less an iPhone 7 which was more or less an iPhone 6 – will go out as expected and Apple fanboys will have to make do with that.

The iPhone X is already about 18 months behind Samsung and other premium Android phones so when it does finally come out it will be more dated than a 1970’s sitcom.

Courtesy-Fud

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