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Microsoft Opens Up Halo

December 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Project Orleans, the cloud engine that powers Xbox hits Halo Reach and Halo 4, is being taken open source.

The engine, which has also played a vital role in the development of Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform, will be released under an MIT licence next year by Microsoft Technologies after being trailed at this year’s Microsoft Build Conference.

This is the latest in a long line of open-source announcements by Microsoft this year as the company tries to reinvent itself for the age where its stranglehold on the market has reduced and a wide variety of non-proprietary alternatives exist.

At the same Build conference, the company also announced that it will open source the .NET framework, on which most Windows applications depend.

The project, as described by the team itself, is “an implementation of an improved actor model that borrows heavily from Erlang and distributed objects systems, adds static typing, message indirection and actor virtualisation, exposing them in an integrated programming model”.

The team added that, whereas Erlang is a pure functional language with its own custom virtual machine, the Orleans programming model “directly leverages .NET and its object-oriented capabilities”.

One example available to try is an analysis of Twitter sentiment gauging reaction to a given hash-tag based on the language around it and creating visual representations of the mood of the web.

The code will be available as an extension to Microsoft Studio 12 or 13 with samples and supporting documentation already available, including for the Azure implementations. Non-Azure users can grab a free trial version before they buy.

Courtesy-TheInq

Is The Semiconductor Industry Really Growing?

December 5, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization released its autumn 2014 industry forecast on Tuesday, predicting that the semiconductor market will continue to grow next year.

The WSTS reported that the global semiconductor market will see nine percent growth year over year in 2014 to $333bn, driven mainly by double digit growth in memory shipments and supported by growth in all other product categories.

The trade group said that the highest rates of growth this year are in memory products (17.3 percent), discrete products (12.3 percent) and analogue devices (10.3 percent).

Semiconductor shipments grew in all geographical regions this year, according to the WSTS, driven largely by strong demand in the smartphone and automotive markets.

Assuming that the global economic recovery will continue into 2015 and beyond and the strong semiconductor markets will continue to mature, the WSTS forecasts continuing steady, although moderating, market growth in all product categories and regions next year.

The WSTS forecasts that the worldwide semiconductor market will increase 3.4 percent in 2015 to $345bn, and 3.1 percent in 2016 to $355bn.

The automotive and communications product categories will show stronger growth than the global market as a whole, while consumer and computer product shipments will remain almost flat in the forecast period.

Asia-Pacific, which already accounts for nearly 60 percent of the global market, will continue to show the fastest growth in 2016, reaching a value of $209bn, according to the predictions.

In June, Gartner predicted that the global semiconductor market would increase to $336bn in 2014, which it reckoned would be 6.7 percent growth for the year.

The WSTS produces semiconductor industry forecasts in May and November each year.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Samsung Sheds Fiber Optics Unit

December 3, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd agreed to sell its fiber optics operations to U.S. specialty glass maker Corning Inc, shutting the door on another non-core business to focus on shoring up underperforming key areas like smartphones.

Terms of the sale, including plants in China and South Korea, weren’t disclosed. Announced by both parties on Tuesday, the South Korean firm’s second exit from a business line this quarter comes as it braces for its lowest annual profit in three years, squeezed by stiff competition.

The world’s top maker of smartphones has been caught between Chinese rivals like Xiaomi Technology Co Ltd  at the low end and Apple Inc’s iPhones at the top. Samsung Electronics’ share of the global smartphone industry has shrunk year-on-year for the last three quarters.

“We have decided to sell our fibre optics business, in order to focus on our core business areas,” a Samsung Electronics spokeswoman said. The company declined to comment on how much revenue the division generates.

The firm also said in October it will halt its light emitting diode lighting business outside of its home country, which was also considered a non-core business.

 

 

Sony Hires FireEye To Assist With Data Breach

December 2, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Sony Pictures Entertainment has hired FireEye’s Mandiant forensics unit to clean up a cyber attack that knocked out the studio’s computer network nearly a week ago, and resulted in three movies ending up online.

The FBI is also investigating the incident. Sony went down last Monday after displaying a red skull and the phrase “Hacked By #GOP,” which reportedly stands for Guardians of Peace. Emails to Sony have been bouncing back with messages asking senders to call employees because the system was “experiencing a disruption.”

Mandiant is an incident response firm that helps victims of breaches identify the extent of attacks, clean up networks and restore systems. The firm has handled some of the largest breaches uncovered to date, including the 2013 holiday attack on Target. Sony is investigating to determine whether hackers working on behalf of North Korea have launched the attack in retribution for the studio’s backing of the film “The Interview” which is to be released on Dec. 25 in the United States and Canada.

The movie is a comedy about a CIA attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is such a funny guy. The Pyongyang government denounced the film as “undisguised sponsoring of terrorism, as well as an act of war” in a letter to UN. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Samsung Moves To Block nVidia Chips

December 1, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung has moved to try and block the sales of Nvidia chips in the US.

Samsung has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission as part of patent war which appears to have broken out between the two chipmakers. Samsung claims Nvidia infringed several of its chip-related patents and for making false claims about its products. This is effectively counter-suing after Nvidia filed a suit against the company in September making more or less the same charges.

Nvidia accused Samsung and rival Qualcomm of infringing patents on its graphics-processing unit (GPU). Samsung, which had filed the lawsuit in a US federal court on November 4, is seeking damages for deliberate infringement of several technical patents, including a few that govern the way semiconductors buffer and use data.

The ITC complaint also named computer-parts manufacturers Biostar Microtech and Elitegroup. These things run and run and usually wind up with a settlement where both sides agree to keep the details quiet. The ITC is often used as leverage in such cases because it deals with things a little quicker and a product embargo to the US can be seriously damage a company’s wealth.

Courtesy-Fud

Sony To Slash Mobile Phone, TV Product Lines

November 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Japan’s hemorrhaging technology giant Sony Corp plans to slice its TV and mobile phone product line-ups to cut costs, counting on multi-billion dollar revenue surges for its buoyant PlayStation 4 and image sensor businesses over the next three years.

Having lost ground to nimbler rivals like Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in consumer electronics, Sony said on Tuesday its goal for TV and smartphones is to turn a profit, even if sales slide as much as 30 percent.

“We’re not aiming for size or market share but better profits,” Hiroki Totoki, Sony’s newly appointed chief of its mobile division told an investors’ conference. A poor showing by its Xperia smartphones has weighed heavily on recent earnings and Sony said more detail on plans for the unit will be unveiled before end-March.

Under its new three-year electronics business plan, Sony said it was aiming to boost sales for its videogame division by a quarter to as much as 1.6 trillion yen ($13.6 billion). It said that will be helped by personalized TV, video and music distribution services that should lift revenue per paying user.

At its devices division, which houses its image sensor business, Sony said sales could increase 70 percent to as much as 1.5 trillion yen. Sony’s sensor sales are already robust, with Apple using them in its iPhones while Chinese handset manufacturers are increasingly adopting them.

In a similar event last week for its entertainment units, the conglomerate said it was aiming to lift its movie and TV programming revenues by a third over the next three years.

 

 

4K Monitors Fall Below $500

November 25, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Prices for 4K monitors have fallen below $500, bringing them within the reach of cost-conscious buyers looking to replace 1080p displays.

The prices have been falling steadily from $700 or more earlier this year. 4K monitors are available from Samsung, Sharp, Dell, Asus, Acer, Monoprice and small vendors.

4K gives a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, or four times deeper than conventional 1080p resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

Dell is selling its 28 Ultra HD P2815Q monitor for $449.99, down from $699.99 when the product started shipping earlier this year. Newegg is selling 28-inch monitors from AOC and Planar for $499.99.

Samsung has also dropped the price of its 28-inch 4K monitor, the UD590, which is now selling for $599.99 through retailers like Best Buy and Newegg.

Not all 4K prices have dipped so low. Lenovo’s ThinkVision 28-inch Pro2840m is still selling for $799.99. It was announced in January and started shipping around the middle of the year.

It’s important to check all the features on lower priced monitors. They often have a all the main features and ports but suffer on refresh rates, which affect the display’s ability to cope with fast-moving images. For example, Dell’s P2815Q monitor has been criticized for its 30Hz refresh rate. Samsung’s UD590 has the more desirable 60Hz refresh rate via its DisplayPort 1.2, but it drops to 30Hz when connected to a PC via the HDMI port.

Increased competition is bringing prices down, as monitor makers try to attract buyers. Intel recently predicted that 4K monitor prices will fall to below $400 by the end of this year.

As with the other types of computer hardware, prices will continue to fall quickly over the next couple of years and then more gradually after that, said Jonathan Gaw, a research manager at IDC.

 

 

 

Was Sony’s Playstation Network Hacked Again?

November 25, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Sony has denied the claims of DerpTrolling, a hacker group which claimed it had raided the databases of the PSN, along with a number of other online services.

The group had published a list of emails and passwords for PSN, Windows Live Mail and 2K Games accounts online, and claimed to be prepared to release more, but Sony says that they’ve come from other sources than hacking.

“We have investigated the claims that our network was breached and have found no evidence that there was any intrusion into our network,” the company wrote in a declaration to Joystiq. “Unfortunately, Internet fraud including phishing and password matching are realities that consumers and online networks face on a regular basis. We take these reports very seriously and will continue to monitor our network closely.”

 

 

Courtesy-GI.biz

Is World Of Warcraft On The Rise?

November 24, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Blizzard is happy and why shouldn’t they be as World of Warcraft subscriptions are up. The reason for the increase can be traced to the release of the latest expansion pack which was recently released. The latest WOW expansion pack is called Warlords of Draeno and its release has driven subscriptions to 10 million.

Selling over 3.3 million copies of the Warlords of Draenor on the first day alone, growth has been seen in all major territories since release. The numbers do include those players that are using the 1 month free subscription that comes with the expansion pack. WoW subscriptions had climbed to 7.4 million last quarter after being down.

Of course the release of Warlords of Draenor has not been without its problems. Still Blizzard says that they are working around the clock to address them. Owners have been offered free play time as compensation.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Sunset Overdrive Make It To The PC?

November 21, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Microsoft has seen a number of Xbox One exclusive titles already be ported to the PC. Both Dead Rising 3 and Ryse have already made it to the PC, but we are now again hearing that Sunset Overdrive again is heading to the PC and Forza Horizon 2 maybe following as well.

This is not the first time we have heard rumors of Sunset Overdrive coming to the PC. An ad that suggested as much was down played at the time by Insomiac as a mistake. Now Sunset Overdrive and Forza Horizon 2 showed up on Amazon France as coming for the PC.

While Phil Spencer has suggested that Microsoft will have more to say about the PC in 2015 and that it would be a good thing for PC gamers. The reality is that Microsoft has not pushed PC game development in a longtime as it chose to focus on titles for the Xbox and Xbox 360. With the Xbox One being closer in design to the PC, porting a title to the PC is easier and Microsoft of course wants to be a player in this space.

We will have to wait and see what actually happens, but should Sunset Overdrive and Forza Horizon 2 make their way to the PC, it will be a good thing for PC gamers. Then again it could just be nothing more than a mistake.

Courtesy-Fud

NVidia Reveals The Tesla K80 GPU

November 20, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

nVidia has unveiled what it claims is the world’s highest-performing GPU accelerator designed for high performance computing (HPC) applications.

Launched as an addition to the Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform, the Tesla K80 dual GPU accelerator is the most powerful in Nvidia’s line-up and is aimed at accelerating a wide range of data analytics and scientific computing machine learning.

“It combines the world’s fastest GPU accelerators, the widely used CUDA parallel computing model, and a comprehensive ecosystem of software developers, software vendors, and data centre system OEMs,” said Nvidia.

The firm explained how the Tesla K80 delivers almost double the performance and double the memory bandwidth of its predecessor, the Tesla K40 GPU accelerator.

“With 10 times higher performance than today’s fastest CPU, it outperforms CPUs and competing accelerators on hundreds of complex analytics and large, computationally intensive scientific computing applications,” the firm added.

The accelerator boasts an enhanced version of Nvidia GPU Boost technology, which boosts applications by dynamically converting power headroom into the optimal performance enhancement for each individual application.

The GPU was designed to tackle “the most difficult computational challenges”, ranging from astrophysics and genomics to quantum chemistry and data analytics.

It is also optimised for deep learning tasks, a segment of the machine learning field which Nvidia says is the fastest growing.

Featuring two GPUs per board, the Tesla K80 dual-GPU accelerator doubles throughput of applications designed to take advantage of multiple GPUs.

It offers 24GB of ultra-fast GDDR5 memory (12GB of memory per GPU) as well as twice the memory of the Tesla K40 GPU, which allows the processing of double-sized datasets.

A 480GBps memory bandwidth offers an increased data throughput so that data scientists can crunch though petabytes of information in half the time compared with the Tesla K10 accelerator.

Nvidia said that the GPU’s 4,992 CUDA parallel processing cores also boost applications by up to 10 times compared with using a CPU alone.

“The Tesla K80 dual-GPU accelerators are up to 10 times faster than CPUs when enabling scientific breakthroughs in some of our key applications, and provide a low energy footprint,” said Wolfgang Nagel, director of the Centre for Information Services and HPC at Technische Universität Dresden in Germany.

“Our researchers use the available GPU resources on the Taurus supercomputer extensively to enable a more refined cancer therapy, understand cells by watching them live, and study asteroids as part of ESA’s Rosetta mission.”

The Tesla K80 dual-GPU accelerator starts shipping today from server manufacturers including Asus, Bull, Cirrascale, Cray, Dell, Gigabyte, HP, Inspur, Penguin, Quanta, Sugon, Supermicro and Tyan.

The Tesla K80 dual-GPU accelerator can also be tried for free on remotely hosted clusters.

Courtesy-TheInq

Should AMD And nVidia Get The Blame For Assassin’s Creed’s PC Issues?

November 19, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Ubisoft is claiming that the reason that its latest Assassin’s Creed game was so bad was because of AMD and Nvidia configurations. Last week the Ubisoft was panned for releasing a game which was clearly not ready and Ubisoft originally blamed AMD for its faulty game. Now Ubisoft has amended an original forum post to include and acknowledge problems on Nvidia hardware as well.

Originally the post read “We are aware that the graphics performance of Assassin’s Creed Unity on PC may be adversely affected by certain AMD CPU and GPU configurations. This should not affect the vast majority of PC players, but rest assured that AMD and Ubisoft are continuing to work together closely to resolve the issue, and will provide more information as soon as it is available.”

However there is no equivalent Nvidia-centric post on the main forum, and no mention of the fact that if you own any Nvidia card which is not a GTX 970 or 980. What is amazing is that with the problems so widespread, Ubisoft did not see them in its own testing before sending it out to the shops. Unless they only played the game on an Nvidia GTX 970 and did not bother to test it on a console, it is inconceivable that they could not have seen it.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Rolls Out Skype For Web

November 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft announced that it is launching a beta of Skype for the Web, allowing browser-based video chats that don’t require a separate app.

“We’ve made Skype available on computers, mobile phones, TVs and even games consoles,” wrote Jonathan Watson, Skype product marketing manager for Microsoft, in a blog post. “Expanding to different platforms has helped us grow to over 2 billion daily minutes (that’s over 33 million hours) of voice and video calls…. Now, not only can Skype be used on just about any screen you lay your hands on, but you can also enjoy Skype on a browser.”

Skype for Web, which is expected to roll out in the coming weeks, will be available via Internet Explorer, Chrome on Windows, Firefox or Safari.

“If you already use Skype, go to Skype.com and sign in to see all your contacts and latest conversation history,” wrote Watson. “We’re making Skype for Web available to small number of existing and new users to begin with, and gradually rolling out worldwide in the coming months — look out for an invite when you sign in to your Skype account on Skype.com.”

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said this is a good move for Microsoft because it opens Skype up to more users in more places.

“The requirement to have a client means one might not always be able to use Skype,” he said. “For example, if I’m on a shared computer, say in an airport, I can’t use Skype…. Maybe I can’t get on the airport Wi-Fi, but there’s a public Internet terminal or I might want to use a friend’s computer. But with Skype Web, now I can. So now Skype can be pervasive across all devices, not just ones that I happen to own.”

 

 

 

Mozilla Goes Oculus Rift

November 14, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Mozilla is continuing its 10th birthday celebrations with the launch of a virtual reality (VR) website.

MozVR will be a portal to sites compatible with the Oculus Rift VR helmet, accessible by a VR-enabled version of the Firefox browser.

The site is designed to act as a sharing platform for VR web experiences as well as a place where developers can get hold of resources to help create their own.

MozVR has been built to be a “native VR” site and navigating around from site to site is completely immersive, described by the developers as like being teleported from place to place.

All the tools to create VR websites are open source, as you would expect from Mozilla, and have been posted to Github, including the full source code, a collection of tools and a range of tutorials.

Mozilla has contributed its own experience to the site in the form of Talk Chat Show Thing, the world’s first VR talk show, presented from the roof of Mozilla’s offices in San Francisco.

MozVR will also render correctly in VR versions of Chromium, the open source version of Google Chrome, giving Mozilla a significant foothold in a burgeoning early-adopter market.

In March of this year, Facebook purchased Oculus Rift maker Oculus VR, which continues to be run as a separate subsidiary.

The move caused animosity between developers and early adopters who felt that Facebook was an inappropriate home for the cutting edge device which had been originally crowdfunded through Kickstarter.

Courtesy-TheInq

Sony Announces PlayStation Vue Roll Out Plans

November 14, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony Network Entertainment International LLC, a unit of Sony Corp of America, rolled out a new cloud-based TV service, PlayStation Vue, expected to be commercially launched during the first quarter of 2015.

The web-based television service allows users to access live TV and on-demand content without a cable or satellite service, the company said.

The service offers catch-up and on-demand TV. It makes the past three days of popular programming available without the need to schedule recordings, the company said.

During the invite-only beta, PlayStation Vue will initially offer around 75 channels per market from major programmers, such as CBS, Discovery Communications, Fox, NBCUniversal, Scripps Networks Interactive and Viacom.

PlayStation Vue will begin an invite-only beta preview during November for select PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 owners, with a phased rollout starting in New York followed by Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the company said.

The service will also be available on iPad shortly thereafter, and later on to more Sony and non-Sony devices.