Subscribe to:

Subscribe to :: TheGuruReview.net ::

LG’s New G5 Smartphone To Debut ‘Always On’ Display

February 12, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

LG’s next flagship Android smartphone, the G5, will come with an “always on” screen, according to a teaser posted  the LG Facebook page.

The full reveal of the G5 is expected on Feb. 21, just prior to the start of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

LG hasn’t given many other hints about the G5, although it tagged an animation on the Facebook page with the line, “Never go asleep while others do.”

The G5 is also rumored to have a removable battery that is pulled out from the bottom of the phone. LG’s invitation to its Feb. 21 event includes the words “play begins” and a picture of a jack-in-the-box toy, leading some analysts to conjecture that the G5 will focus heavily on gaming uses.

How LG markets and advertises the G5 could be a sign of growing recognition by vendors that smartphone growth is slowing. As a result, vendors will attempt to draw attention to new features that are relatively minor compared to past years. Many smartphone users need a bigger incentive to upgrade than an always-on display, one analyst said.

“Android unit shipments and revenue growth are slowing year-to-year, and with news like [an always on display], it’s clear [LG] is getting a little antsy about what 2016 has in store,” said Jack Narcotta, an analyst at TBR.

He said that an always-on display isn’t much different from LG’s previous Glance View or even the Motorola Moto X with its gesture-based features.

“From the user’s perspective, always-on is a quirky feature that will have a niche audience, at best,” he said. “Is it really that much of a distraction or effort or waste of time to press a button the side, top or bottom of your phone to see what you’ve missed?”

LG also hasn’t indicated what always-on will mean for sapping battery power, a concern that buyers will surely have, analysts said.

 

Google Sinks Teeth Deeper Into Virtual Reality

February 11, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Google is researching into a more virtual realtiy technology which will probably just end up in the beta stage before the search engine gives up on the whole project.

Google is apparently developing a new virtual-reality headset for smartphones, and adding extra support for the technology to Android in a cunning plan to give Oculus a run for its money. We are not holding our breath, we keep getting announcements like this from Google and they always turn to be vapourware like Google Glass..

Anyway this one is to be a successor to Cardboard, the cheap-and-cheerful mobile VR viewer that Google launched in 2014 and you can sort of buy and sold more than than 5 million units.

This one will feature better sensors, lenses and a more solid plastic casing, according to people familiar with its plans. The smartphone-based device will be similar to the Gear VR, a collaboration between Samsung and Oculus that went on sale to consumers late last year.

Google is expected to release its rival headset, alongside new Android VR technology, this year. Like Cardboard and Gear VR, the new headset will use an existing smartphone, slotted into the device, for its display and most of its processing power.  But it will still be VR for dummies. Google Cardboard relies solely on sensors already built into modern smartphones to detect the position of a user’s head while real VR kits are a bit better and suffer less from latency issues.

The updated Google headset will be compatible with a much broader range of Android devices than Gear VR, which only works with a handful of recent Samsung Galaxy smartphone models, as the Alphabet unit tries to bring the technology to a wider audience.

The thought is that by improving resolution and latency, the combination of better Android software and the new headset will allow viewers to spend longer in VR and enable developers to create more sophisticated apps.


Courtesy-Fud

 

Are 3D TVs Dead Again?

February 11, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

It is looking like 3D technology is dead in the water with both Samsung and LG phasing it out in new TVs.

This confirms what we noticed at CES where there were few people even showing 3D as a feature and one of them was LG.

Speaking to ET News in Korea, an LG representative stated that only its premium sets this year will be 3D capable, slashing the number of supporting TVs by half.

“Although 40 per cent of all TVs last year had 3D functions, only 20 per cent this year will. There are still consumers who enjoy 3D movies and others, so we are going to apply it mainly on premium products.”

Apparently Samsung is going the same way according to a supplier of 3D glasses who was told not to bother making compatible specs this year.

3D in the home has been in decline for the last two to three years, with first the BBC stopping producing its 3D material and Sky started killing off its dedicated channels last June. Sky still offers some 3D movies and content on demand.

It does not mean that 3D video is a dead format. It is still going strong in cinemas and we will probably see films made in that format for years.  It is just that it never really worked in the home.  Some of that might have been due to content, other reasons is that it tended to be erratic technology whcih was a little too much like hard work to set up.  Quality also suffered in comparison some of the HD and UH pictures which were suddenly more realistic.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Will Nintendo Get Into Virtual Reality Gaming?

February 10, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo’s earnings report and briefing earlier this week were a bit of a damp squib for anyone hoping for more information on the company’s future plans; on NX and on smartphone games alike, the company remained utterly silent. We found out that you’ll be able to pre-register for the Miitomo smartphone app on the 17th of February, with the app itself to launch in March, but you’d have to be a truly ardent follower of Nintendo’s fortunes for that to create more than the slightest flicker of interest. What we actually knew by the end of the earnings report was this – Splatoon is really popular, people are buying an extraordinary number of amiibos, and there’s a special Pokemon-themed edition of the 3DS coming later this month to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Pokemon, which is important news because it means it’s 20 years since Pokemon launched and we’re all really, really old.

The frisson of excitement that spread around the media at the comment that the publisher is “looking into” virtual reality, then, is understandable – for journalists and fans looking for something interesting in the otherwise barren briefing, this was a sip of ice water in hell. Nintendo and VR! VR and Nintendo! An opportunity not only to speculate wildly about NX, but to dust off some hoary old jokes about the Virtual Boy; who could pass up on such a thing?

The thing is, “we’re looking into VR” is perhaps the most lukewarm statement Nintendo or any other company could make about VR. On the blandness scale, it ranks alongside “we know it exists” and “we’ve looked it up and figured out what the letters stand for”. To say any less would have required an active dismissal of VR; simply saying that the company knows VR is happening, and is keeping an eye on developments, is the bare minimum that you’d expect from any company in the industry. “Nintendo aware that VR exists” isn’t much of a headline, I’ll grant you, but it’s pretty close to what was actually announced by the company.

Of course, Nintendo isn’t going to dismiss VR out of hand; the company knows, perhaps better than most, that technological disruption can come from the most unexpected directions and upset market segments in unforeseen ways. The 3DS will never match sales of the DS, not because it’s got a weak software line-up – the software line-up is downright remarkable – but because Apple, a company that spent decades making expensive computers for artists and designers and never had the slightest truck with the videogame market, invented a tiny computer with a touch-screen and sold about, oh, a billion of them, to people who promptly decided that they didn’t need another tiny computer just to play videogames on the train. Is VR going to do something similar to other market segments? Sure, maybe (I’d argue that VR’s potential to disrupt areas of “serious” computing is perhaps greater than its potential to significantly change the videogame market); either way, Nintendo is absolutely going to be watching it closely and making sure it’s not left looking stupid if things take off in an unexpected direction.

For now, though, watching carefully is all anyone should expect of Nintendo and VR. The reality is that, the company’s ill-fated experiments with early iterations of the technology notwithstanding, VR doesn’t fit with Nintendo’s philosophy as a company. Although the multiplayer and social networking aspects of VR are yet to be explored (remember that Facebook is, at great cost, a big player in this field), one thing is absolutely certain about VR interaction – it’s remarkably anti-social in a “people in the same room as you” sense. The whole point of putting on a VR headset is to immerse yourself in a different world; of necessity, this involves cutting yourself off from the world, and the people, around you. That’s not a bad thing, per se; if immersion is what you want, it’s actually a selling point. It’s also sharply contrary to the most basic nature of Nintendo’s design philosophy.

Nintendo is about social gaming; if there’s one core concept that sums up the brand and the appeal of Nintendo over the past couple of decades, it’s that one. Playing with other people, ideally in a physical, real-world context, is at the heart of the design philosophy that underlies both Nintendo’s hardware and its software. The company’s home consoles are designed to support multiple controllers easily (the sadly under-utilised core concept of the Wii U was to create asymmetric gameplay opportunities using the GamePad and a clutch of Wiimote controllers, for instance), while its handheld consoles are designed with communication features that enable online play, sure, but are most effectively deployed in enabling communication with nearby players. In software terms, of course, it’s not that Nintendo lacks games designed for one player – there’s not much social gaming mileage in Fire Emblem, Legend of Zelda or Xenoblade – but many of the core titles that support the company’s systems are deeply focused on social play. Mario Kart is perhaps the most obvious of these, but local multiplayer in racing games is nothing new; to see how deeply ingrained in Nintendo’s DNA social play really is, think of how the company reworked the role-playing game to encourage local multiplayer match-ups with Pokemon, its expansion of the beat ‘em up from a head-to-head experience to a four-player rumble with Super Smash Bros. or even, all the way back then, the reimagining of online FPS gameplay, still in its infancy, into the four-player split-screen of Rare’s Goldeneye.

If you’ve owned Nintendo consoles recently, as most of you probably have, think about what you’ve owned for them. In my own living room, there’s no question which console gets the most usage – in spite of our love for Splatoon, it’s the PS4 that’s used most, followed by the PS3 – but we own one PS4 control pad, and while there’s a second PS3 pad somewhere I don’t think it’s been plugged in since we moved house over a year ago. For the Wii U, meanwhile, we own a GamePad, two classic controllers and three Wiimotes – and the Wii U is always, always the console that gets turned on when friends come over for drinks. It occupies a very different position in terms of usage and context to the PlayStation consoles, and that is very much by design on Nintendo’s part, not by accident. Television advertising for Nintendo games, in Japan at least, strongly emphasises this social aspect; almost every ad features multiple people sitting on a sofa enjoying a game together (boyband members racing each other in Mario Kart, kids putting their heads together to design a fiendish Mario Maker stage that dad won’t be able to beat, etc.). The social nature of Nintendo games is front and centre, and strongly contrasts with ads for PlayStation games, which rarely feature any imagery of the (solo) player at all.

How would VR fit with that? It’s not a question of whether Nintendo’s hardware would be capable of it (we still don’t know what NX will be capable of at all) or whether the company would be able to make good VR games (the firm’s track record surely proves that it’s perfectly capable of making good games on just about anything). It’s a question of how the entire brand Nintendo has cultivated, the perceptions it has built and the philosophy it espouses, would fit with the image of someone not only playing a game entirely solo (which is just fine), but actively donning a headset to block out the world around them while they engage with that world. In Nintendo’s conception of fun, the entertainment value of a game extends beyond the screen to the physical world and the people around you with whom you’re competing, cooperating and sharing the experience. VR flies in the face of that, and undermines the nature of the games which Nintendo has been most successful with over the years.

This isn’t to say that some aspects of VR technology won’t be of interest to Nintendo. Augmented Reality, the technology underlying Microsoft’s Hololens, is a much more natural fit for Nintendo; the company has actually messed with AR technology on the 3DS, although it didn’t use it for anything markedly exciting, and it’s entirely probable that the NX will build on that to some degree (although I don’t anticipate anything even remotely like the Hololens headset). Virtual reality headsets, though, are not going to carry a Nintendo logo any time soon – and unless they become a truly disruptive force in gaming, they probably never will. The company has wide-ranging interests, but a clear vision of what it means for something to be a “Nintendo product” – and that’s a vision that simply doesn’t include VR.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Nintendo Keeps Drop Year Over Year

February 4, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo’s finances took a dip in the company’s third quarter report for FY 2015 – sales stayed relatively stable with just 3.9 per cent shrinkage to 427.7 billion Yen ($3.5bn), but profits dropped by 32 per cent year-on-year to 40.5 billion Yen ($336m).

Although the bottom line failed to excite, plenty of familiar faces performed well for the publisher’s software arm, as well as a few new names. Top seller was Child friendly Wii U shooter Splatoon, shifting over four million units. Super Mario maker wasn’t far behind on 3.34 million, whilst Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer reached 2.93 million. Collectively the 3DS family sold 5.88 million units of hardware and 38.87 million games. The Wii U totalled 3.06 million consoles and 22.62 million pieces of software. 20.50 million Amiibo figures were sold, and approximately 21.50 million Amiibo cards.

Those eagerly awaiting news of either the new NX system or the company’s first smartphone game will be disappointed – neither was mentioned in the company’s forward looking statements. Instead, the publisher focused on relatively known quantities.

“For Nintendo 3DS, we will globally release a special edition hardware pre-installed with Pokémon title(s) from the original Pokémon series on February 27 which marks the 20th year since the original Pokémon series release,2 read the accompanying statement.

“Furthermore, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and key titles from third-party publishers are scheduled for release. For Wii U, we will strive to maintain the attention level of Splatoon and Super Mario Maker, which are continuing to show steady sales, while introducing new titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. Meanwhile, for Amiibo, we will continue to expand the product lineup in order to maintain momentum. At the same time, we will aim to further expand sales by offering new gaming experiences with the use of Amiibo. In addition, the first application for smart devices, Miitomo, is scheduled for release.”

The company has maintained its full year target of 35 billion Yen in profit.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Microsoft Goes Deep With Underwater Data Center

February 2, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Technology giants are finding some of the strangest places for data centers these days.

Facebook, for example, built a data center in Lulea in Sweden because the icy cold temperatures there would help cut the energy required for cooling. A proposed Facebook data center in Clonee, Ireland, will rely heavily on locally available wind energy. Google’s data center in Hamina in Finland uses sea water from the Bay of Finland for cooling.

Now, Microsoft is looking at locating data centers under the sea.

The company is testing underwater data centers with an eye to reducing data latency for the many users who live close to the sea and also to enable rapid deployment of a data center.

Microsoft, which has designed, built, and deployed its own subsea data center in the ocean, in the period of about a year, started working on the project in late 2014, a year after Microsoft employee, Sean James, who served on a U.S. Navy submarine, submitted a paper on the concept.

A prototype vessel, named the Leona Philpot after an Xbox game character, operated on the seafloor about 1 kilometer from the Pacific coast of the U.S. from August to November 2015, according to a Microsoft page on the project.

The subsea data center experiment, called Project Natick after a town in Massachusetts, is in the research stage and Microsoft warns it is “still early days” to evaluate whether the concept could be adopted by the company and other cloud service providers.

“Project Natick reflects Microsoft’s ongoing quest for cloud datacenter solutions that offer rapid provisioning, lower costs, high responsiveness, and are more environmentally sustainable,” the company said.

Using undersea data centers helps because they can serve the 50 percent of people who live within 200 kilometers from the ocean. Microsoft said in an FAQ that deployment in deepwater offers “ready access to cooling, renewable power sources, and a controlled environment.” Moreover, a data center can be deployed from start to finish in 90 days.

 

 

Will eSport Grow To One Half Billion Dollar Market This Year?

January 28, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

According to Newzoo’s 2016 Global eSports Market Report, this year is expected to be a “pivotal” one for the eSports sector. The firm said that last year’s tally for worldwide eSports revenues came to $325 million, and this year the full eSports economy should grow 43 percent to $463 million; Newzoo said this correlates with an audience of 131 million eSports enthusiasts and another 125 million “occasional viewers who tune in mainly for the big international events.” Overall, Newzoo’s report states that global and local eSports markets should jointly generate $1.1 billion in 2019.

Looking a bit deeper, Newzoo found that investment into and advertising associated with eSports continue to grow at a rapid clip. “This year has been dominated by the amount of investors getting involved in eSports. An increasing amount of traditional media companies have become aware of the value of the eSports sphere and have launched their first eSports initiatives. With these parties getting involved, there will be an increased focus on content and media rights. All major publishers have increased their investment into the space, realizing that convergence of video, live events and the game itself are providing consumers the cross-screen entertainment they desire from their favorite franchises,” Newzoo commented.

Online advertising in particular is the fastest growing revenue segment within eSports, jumping up 99.6 percent on a global scale compared to 2014. North America is expected to lead the charge worldwide.

“In 2016, North America will strengthen its lead in terms of revenues with an anticipated $175 million generated through merchandise, event tickets, sponsorships, online advertising and media rights. A significant part of these revenues flows back to the game publisher, but across all publishers, more money is invested into the eSports economy than is directly recouped by their eSports activities,” said Newzoo’s eSports Analyst, Pieter van den Heuvel.

“China and Korea together will represent 23 percent of global esports revenues, totalling $106 million in 2016. Audience-wise, the situation is different, with Asia contributing 44 percent of global eSports enthusiasts. Growth in this region is, for a large part, fuelled by an explosive uptake in Southeast Asia.”

While eSports is certainly on a good path for growth, game companies would be wise to not get too caught up by the hype. The average annual revenue per eSports enthusiast was $2.83 in 2015 and is expected to grow to $3.53 this year, Newzoo said, but that’s still a factor four lower than a mainstream sport such as basketball, which generates revenues of $15 per fan per year.

Peter Warman, CEO at Newzoo added, “The initial buzz will settle down and the way forward on several key factors, such as regulations, content rights and involvement of traditional media, will become more clear. The collapse of MLG was a reminder that this market still has a long road to maturity and we need to be realistic about the opportunities it provides. In that respect, it is in nobody’s interest that current market estimates differ so strongly. Luckily, when zooming in on the highest market estimates of more than $700 million, the difference is explainable by an in-depth look. This estimate only differs in the revenues generated in Asia (Korea in particular), and by taking betting revenues into account. At Newzoo, we believe betting on eSports should not be mixed into direct eSports revenues as the money does not flow into the eSports economy. Similarly, sports betting is not reported in sports market reports.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Is Capcom Finally Getting Into eSports?

January 26, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

On February 16, Street Fighter V will launch on PlayStation 4 and PC. It will not be launching to Xbox One thanks to an exclusivity deal signed with Sony. And as Capcom director of brand marketing and eSports Matt Dahlgren told GamesIndustry.biz recently, there are a few reasons for that.

Dahlgren called the deal “the largest strategic partnership that fighting games have ever seen,” and said it addressed several problems the publisher has had surrounding its fighting games for years.

“Basically every SKU of a game we released had its own segmented community,” he said. “No one was really able to play together and online leaderboards were always segmented, so it was very difficult to find out who would be the best online and compare everybody across the board.”

Street Fighter V should alleviate that problem as it’s only on two platforms, and gamers on each will be able to play with those on the other. Dahlgren said it will also help salt away problems that stemmed from differences between platforms. For example, the Xbox 360 version of Street Fighter IV had less input lag than the PS3 version. That fraction of a second difference between button press and action on-screen might have been unnoticeable to most casual players, but it was felt by high-level players who know the game down to the last frame of animation.

“There were varying degrees of input lag, so when those players ended up playing each other, it wasn’t necessarily on an equal playing field,” Dahlgren said. “This time around, by standardizing the platform and making everyone play together, there will be a tournament standard and everyone is on an equal playing field.”

Finally, Dahlgren said the deal with Sony will help take Street Fighter to the next level when it comes to eSports. In some ways, it’s a wonder it’s not there already.

“I think fighting games are one of the purest forms of 1v1 competition,” Dahlgren said. “A lot of the other eSports games out there are team-based, and while there’s an appeal to those, there’s something about having a single champion and having that 1v1 showdown that’s just inherently easy for people to understand.”

Street Fighter has a competitive gaming legacy longer than League of Legends or DOTA, but isn’t mentioned in the same breath as those hits on the eSports scene. In some ways, that legacy might have stymied the franchise’s growth in eSports.

“A lot of our community was really built by the fans themselves,” Dahlgren said. “Our tournament scene was built by grassroots tournament organizers, really without the help of Capcom throughout the years. And I would say a lot of those fans have been somewhat defensive [about expanding the game's appeal to new audiences]. It hasn’t been as inclusive as it could have been. With that said, I do definitely feel a shift in our community. There’s always been a talking point with our hardcore fans as to whether or not Street Fighter is an eSport, and what eSports could do for the scene. Could it potentially hurt it? There’s been all this controversy behind it.”

Even Capcom has shifted stances on how to handle Street Fighter as an eSport.

“In the past, we were actually against partnering up with any sort of corporations or companies out there that were treating eSports more like a business,” Dahlgren said. “And that has to do out of respect for some of our long-term tournament organizers… Our fear was that if we go out and partner up with companies concerned more about making a profit off the scene instead of the values that drive the community, then it could end up stomping out all these tournament organizers who are very passionate and have done so much for our franchise.”

“In the past, we were actually against partnering up with any sort of corporations or companies out there that were treating eSports more like a business.”

So instead of teaming with the MLGs or ESLs of the world, Capcom teamed with Twitch and formed its own Pro Tour in 2014. Local tournament organizers handle the logistics of the shows and retain the rights to their brands, while Capcom provides marketing support and helps with production values.

“I can’t say Capcom wouldn’t partner up with some of the other, more established eSports leagues out there,” Dahlgren said. “I do think there’s a way to make both of them exist, but our priority in the beginning was paying homage to our hardcore fans that helped build the scene, protecting them and allowing them to still have the entrepreneurial spirit to grow their own events. That comes first, before partnering with larger organizations.”

Just as Capcom’s stance toward tournaments has changed to better suit Street Fighter’s growth as an eSport, so too has the business model behind the game. The company has clearly looked at the success of many free-to-play eSports favorites and incorporated elements of them (except the whole “free-to-play” thing) into Street Fighter V. Previously, Capcom would release a core Street Fighter game, followed by annual or bi-annual updates with a handful of new fighters and balancing tweaks. Street Fighter V will have no such “Super” versions, with all new content and tweaks made to the game on a rolling basis.

“We are treating the game now more as a platform and a service, and are going to be continually adding new content post-launch,” Dahlgren said. “This is the first time we’re actually having our own in-game economy and in-game currency. So the more you play the game online, you’re going to generate fight money, and then you can use that fight money to earn DLC content post-launch free of charge, which is a first in our franchise. So essentially we’re looking at an approach that takes the best of both worlds. It’s not too far away from what our players really expect from a SF game, yet we get some of the benefits of continually releasing content post-launch and giving fans more of what they want to increase engagement long-term.”

Even if it’s not quite free-to-play, Street Fighter V may at least be cheaper to play. Dahlgren said that pricey arcade stick peripherals are not as essential for dedicated players as they might have seemed in the past.

“Since Street Fighter comes from an arcade heritage, a lot of people have this general belief that arcade sticks are the premier way of playing,” Dahlgren said. “I think now that the platform choice has moved more towards consoles, pad play has definitely become much more prevalent. I would believe that at launch you’re probably going to have more pad players than you actually have stick players. And in the competitive scene, we’ve seen the rise of a lot of very impressive pad players, which has pretty much shown that Street Fighter is a game that’s not necessarily dictated by the controller you play with; it’s the strategies and tactics you employ. And both of them are essentially on equal playing ground.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Does HTC Plan To Spin-Off Its VR Division?

January 21, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Rumors circulated this week that HTC is planning to set up a new company focusing entirely on virtual reality (VR), but the firm denied the reports on Tuesday.

The Chinese-language Commercial Times cited “unnamed industry sources” in stating that HTC chairwoman Cher Wang was planning to spin off the firm’s VR operations into an independent entity, but the company issued a statement on Tuesday saying that this is not true.

HTC said that it will chart a direction for the development of its VR operations with the goal of creating the best value for its shareholders, according to a report in Focus Taiwan.

Nevertheless, HTC stock rose 5.23 percent on Monday to NT$76.5 (£1.59) and remained unchanged on Tuesday.

The rumour came just a week after HTC confirmed that its Vive VR headset will be available to pre-order from 29 February and should still see an April shipping date as previously reported.

HTC unveiled the Vive Pre at CES 2016, a new and improved version of the headset that will soon go out as a development kit. The company promises to create “fully immersive experiences that change how we communicate, how we are entertained, and how we learn and train”.

The Vive Pre features components that have been redesigned from the ground up to provide better comfort, ergonomics and performance. There are also improvements in visuals and versatility, said HTC, to “create a world without limits”.

Wang explained in an interview with The Telegraph that the company had chosen to refocus on VR and away from smartphones, as it is now “more realistic”.

“Yes, smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables VR is more important,” she said.

The pre-order announcement comes a few days after VR rival the Oculus Rift finally went on sale to the general public. However, since the device’s official price of $599 was unveiled, the makers behind the headset have been criticized for underestimating its price in the past, and potential buyers have said that it is far more expensive than they were led to believe.

Courtesy-TheInq

Is nVidia Going All-In On Autonomous Cars

January 18, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Nvidia is applying all that it knows about deep learning to enable autonomous vehicles.

The GPU vendor has launched NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 which is an autonomous vehicle development platform powered by the 16nm FinFET-based Pascal GPU.

The GPU maker issued a version of DRIVE PX last year to its automotive partners including Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford and dozens more. This newer  version is equipped with two Tegra SOCs with ARM cores plus two discrete Pascal GPUs.

Nvidia said that the new platform is capable of 24 trillion deep learning operations per second ten times more than the last generation.

It can also offer an aggregate of 8 teraflops of single-precision performance which is a four-fold increase over the PX 1 and many times faster than using a slide rule or counting on your fingers.

The development platform includes the Caffe deep learning framework to run DNN models designed and trained on DIGITS, NVIDIA’s interactive deep learning training system.

Nivida wants to take humans out of the drivers’ seat to reduce the one million automotive-related fatalities each year.

Perception is the main issue and deep learning is able to achieve super-human perception capability. DRIVE PX 2 can process 12 video cameras, plus lidar, radar and ultrasonic sensors. This 360 degree assessment makes it possible to detect objects, identify them and their position relative to the car, and then calculate a safe and comfortable trajectory.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Expensive Gaming Desktops, Laptops Gems Of Slumping PC Market

January 14, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

In an increasingly waning PC market, high-priced gaming desktops and laptops are thriving.

PC shipments totaled 71.9 million units during the fourth quarter last year, declining by 10.6 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2014, according to a study released by IDC on Tuesday.

But high-end gaming PCs are the fastest-growing segment alongside all-in-one PCs, IDC analysts said. Gamers upgrade hardware much more quickly than other users and are typically not affected by the industry trends that led to a decline in PC shipments overall.

For one, smartphones and tablets haven’t replaced gaming PCs, as has happened with mainstream PCs, said Lewis Ward, research director for gaming at IDC.

Gamers also aren’t price-sensitive and are willing to spend to get the latest and greatest technologies. Many gaming systems are built by enthusiasts at home.

Though a small share of the overall PC market, gamers also upgrade computers much more quickly than users of regular PCs. Intel last week estimated that gamers refresh PCs roughly every two years. It also estimated that enthusiast gaming PC shipments are growing at about 26 percent per year.

IDC couldn’t provide specific growth numbers for gaming PCs, but said it’s a relatively small segment of the overall PC market.

Top PC makers Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Acer are chasing the gaming market aggressively with tricked-up PCs. Lenovo is even writing its own game called Game State in order to break into the gamer market.

Virtual reality and augmented reality will likely aid the growth of gaming PCs, said Loren Loverde, vice president at IDC. Virtual reality headsets are usually attached to desktops with the latest graphics cards.

PC shipments otherwise declined due to fewer upgrades than expected. Sales in China, which is usually a source of PC growth, suffered along with its declining stock market.

 

 

 

 

Lenovo To Introduce Project Tango Mobile Phone This Summer

January 11, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Lenovo will start selling a sub-$500 mobile phone that uses Google’s Project Tango 3D mapping technology starting this summer, the company announced at CES.

Project Tango is an ongoing effort by Google to allow a mobile device like a smartphone to measure spaces and provide information to a user that can be useful for navigating indoor locations. Lenovo also envisions adding augmented reality apps that can be used in games or in shopping for furniture and sizing up how the furniture fits in a room. The apps rely on the physical space around a smartphone user as detected by the 3D Project Tango technology.

The phone’s display will be smaller than 6.5-in. and the body very thin, although Lenovo hasn’t yet come up with a name, Jeff Meredith, Lenovo vice president of development, said during a press conference. It will use a Snapdragon processor and run Android, no surprise given the phone’s connection to Google.

Adding Project Tango to a smartphone is a “fundamental shift,” Meredith said. “This has significant capability of changing how we interact with smartphones.”

The device will feature three cameras in addition to the two traditional cameras used on modern smartphones. The three are a depth sensor, a fisheye camera for wide angle views and an RGB (red, green, blue) camera for acquiring very accurate color images.

Google Project Tango’s head of development, Johnny Lee, used a special 7-in. tablet developed by Google to show off how Tango will work. He measured the length and width of a small stage where he stood, calculated the size of a box onstage and played a virtual game of Jenga.

Lee was also able to show how he could fit a virtual couch and a refrigerator into the space on the stage, as depicted on the tablet screen.

Lenovo didn’t offer many details about the phone and showed photos that only offered a glimpse of what it will look like.

 

 

 

Does AMD Have A Bright Future Ahead?

January 11, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Most of the investment has been speculative and short term as traders are hoping for AMD to move above $3.50 before July but this is a little odd. AMD hasn’t traded above $3.50 since September 2014 and it is $2.94 now.

Last year was up-and-down year for AMD. The shares struggled during the summer months, but have rallied over 70 per cent during the fourth quarter. But until Zen arrives we can’t see much on the horizon for investors to get excited about.

But in share prices it is all about timing and if AMD’s cunning plan pays off there are going to be some seriously wealthy people out there. AMD has slowly entered the data centre market with a longer roadmap and enhanced architecture. “Zen” targeted at high growth markets such as data centres and HPC (high performance computers). Currently this is controlled by Intel which will once again find itself facing a better and cheaper rival. If it works then Zen’s stock would jump into the growth trajectory. The advantage is that if the shares are this low then the gains are going to be huge.

AMD is revamping its GPU product line to make it competitive with Nvidia. AMD has also secured three design wins for its semi-custom SoCs. These wins will start earning revenue beginning in the second half of 2016 with the first two wins expected to generate a combined revenue of $1 billion over a period of three years. The third design win is rumoured to be with Nintendo for its NX game console.

PricewaterCoopers expects worldwide console game sales to reach $28 billion by the end of 2016. However, it expects PC games, where Nvidia is King, to overtake console games. However that is assuming that AMD does not pull a rabbit out of its hat over discrete GPUs too and manages to claw back some sales fast.

Of course it could all go tits up. Zen might not work, or not produce what it is claimed. In which case there will be a lot of investor who lose money. But with AMD’s share prices this low, they are not going to lose that much.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Nvidia Teams Up With Volvo For Self-Driving Car Computer

January 6, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Nvidia Corp. took the wraps off of a new, lunchbox-size super-computer for self-driving cars and announced that Volvo Car Group will be the new device’s first customer.

Volvo, of Sweden, is owned by China’s Geely Automotive Holdings.

Nvidia made the announcement at the beginning of the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. Calls to Volvo’s spokesman in China were not immediately answered.

The new Drive PX 2, said company CEO Jen-Hsung Huang, has computing power equivalent to 150 MacBook Pro computers, and can deliver up to 24 trillion “deep learning” operations – allowing the computer to use artificial intelligence to program itself to recognize driving situations – per second.

Partnerships between automakers and Silicon Valley companies on self-driving technologies are taking center stage at this year’s show.

Also on Monday, General Motors Co. announced a $500 million investment in ride-sharing service Lyft.

Huang didn’t offer revenue projections for Drive PX 2, but automotive is the fastest-growing business segment for Nvidia, whose largest revenue source is video games.

 

 

Lenovo Debuts OLED Screen With New ThinkPad X1 Yoga Hybrid

January 5, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Lenovo’s new ThinkPad X1 products are outfitted with snazzy new technology, including an OLED display on its X1 Yoga hybrid and newfangled docks for its X1 Tablet.

With the new X1 products, which include the X1 Carbon laptop, Lenovo wants to change staid PC designs. Lenovo has also slimmed down devices, pumped in more performance and added longer battery life.

Lenovo claims the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is the first hybrid in the world with an optional Samsung OLED screen, which offers crisper images than conventional LCD screens.

OLED screens — which are already in smartphones, tablets and TVs — are also attractive for their super-slim form factor, light weight, wide viewing angle, color gamut and low power consumption.

The X1 Yoga belongs to Lenovo’s long line of Yoga products, in which an attached keyboard flips around to turn the device into a tablet. It is 16 millimeters thick and weighs 1.27 kilograms.

The hybrid is available with up to Intel Core i7 processors, 1TB of solid-state drive storage and 16GB of DDR3 RAM. A base model will ship this month starting at $1,449 with a basic high-definition LCD screen. The OLED model will become available in April; that price has not yet been determined.

The 12-inch ThinkPad X1 Tablet has full laptop features in its 8.4-millimeter thick, 795-gram frame. The tablet’s versatile docking features stand out, with the ability to snap on a keyboard, projector, 3D camera module or an extended battery to the device. The modules are thin and light, and the battery pack can add an additional five hours to the tablet’s 10-hour battery life.

The X1 Tablet will ship next month starting at $899. A base model will have a 2160 x 1440-pixel screen. Other features include Intel processors up to Core M7, up to 1TB of solid-state drive storage, 16GB of RAM, and 2-megapixel or 8-megapixel cameras. An OLED screen is not available with the tablet.