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Is MediaTek Falling Behind

September 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

According to Digitimes, the outfit is not going be able to release anything using these technologies in 2018, as it has moved to focus on the mid-range smartphone market segment.

MediaTek has shifted its R&D resources to the Helio P series mobile chips designed for mid-range devices, and put the development of its high-end Helio X series on hold.  Alll this could be a warning that Taiwan’s IC design industry growth could be limited.

MediaTek has been a leading Taiwan-based IC designer and usually partners with TSMC to develop advanced-node mobile chips. MediaTek’s development of 7/10nm chips is slowing down, as the fabless chipmaker has decided to go back to basics to overcome its structural challenges, Digitimes claimed.

MediaTek has suffered declines in smartphone chip shipments and market share since 2016. The company’s gross margin for 2016 reached a record low of 35.6 percent, despite record revenues.

MediaTek co-CEO Rick Tsai was quoted in previous reports saying the company will be striving to improve its gross margin by 1-2pp every quarter over the next 2-3 quarters, and expects its gross margin to return to the 37-39 percent level as early as the second half of 2018.

Tsai also noted the Helio P-series smartphone SoCs will be a major product focus of the company, and 12nm will be the main process technology MediaTek’s mobile chips will be made using during the first half of 2018. Nevertheless, Tsai disclosed MediaTek will complete tape-out of 7nm products in the second half of 2018.

Courtesy-Fud

Is nVidia Planning A Geforce 1070 Ti

September 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

According to the newest leak, Nvidia may be working on a GTX 1070 Ti, which could put a lot of pressure on AMD’s RX Vega lineup.

The alleged GTX 1070 Ti was originally spotted as a part of a specifications list on My Drivers site, caught by PCPer.com, and is listed as the Asus GTX 1070 Ti Strix O8G. While there were no precise details regarding the card, the O8G in the name suggests it packs 8GB of memory.

Further rumors suggest that it could be based on the latest GP104 GPU and pack 2304 CUDA cores, which would put it smack between the GTX 1070, which comes with 1920 CUDA cores, and the GTX 1080 with 2560 CUDA cores. 

Since Nvidia has already launched GTX 1080 with 11Gbps GDDR5X memory, the gap between the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 has become significantly wider.

In any case, this will put a lot of pressure on AMD’s RX Vega lineup and could give NVidia a significant lead in the market. In the end, it will all come down to the price/performance factor, availability and the MSRP, which tends to suffer from a big demand from coin miners.

Courtesy-Fud

Will 7nm SoCs Come To Market Next Year

September 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

The current generation of SoC and the one that comes after will remain at 10nm, since it will take some time to move to 7nm. This is the conclusion we gathered after talking to a number of industry insiders.

Qualcomm is at 10nm with its Snapdragon 835, Samsung has shipped the Exynos 8895 since Q2 2017 while the rest of the competition is slowly working its way into the 10nm SoC universe.

The current iPhone 7 A10 SoC is manufactured in 16nm TSMC manufacturing process while the one that comes in the new iPhone next week is the 10nm. MediaTek has the 16nm X30 SoC out and Huawei already announced that it has the Kirin 970 in 10nm, ready to debut in the P10 phone some five weeks from now.

From what our sources have been telling us, the Galaxy S9 will be powered by a 10nm SoC and it is expected that the Galaxy S8 successor will launch in early Q2 2018.  2018 will be a big year for the 7nm process, as we expect that AMD might make some GPUs in a similar timeframe.

Getting from 10nm to 7nm will enable more transistors per square millimeter, and it will reduce the power consumption of the whole device. This has always been the pinnacle of progress in the mobile industry.  

Just a decade ago, the first-generation iPhone used a 65nm ARM 11 based ARM1176JZF SoC and now some 10 years later the new iPhone will get a 10nm SoC. This is huge progress that enabled a lot of innovation including Gigabit LTE performance, 4K playback, 360 video as well as AR/XR performing decently on the device that sits in your pocket.  

And, of course, the next generation iPhone and the Galaxy S9 and later S10 will get faster, thinner, and better, partially thanks to a second generation 10nm and later 7nm SoCs.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Virtual Reality Poised To Take Off

September 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Virtual reality may be growing at a slower pace than many would like, but its enthusiastic supporters remain staunch in their belief that VR is still going to take off. Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games and a Carnegie Mellon professor, is one such person. His studio’s VR puzzle title I Expect You To Die (IEYTD), which launched last December, just recently passed the $1 million revenue mark. GamesIndustry.biz caught up with Schell following the news to learn more about his VR development experiences and to gain some perspective on where he sees the VR/AR business headed.

“We’ve learned so much. The experience has confirmed our theories that making games specifically designed for the strengths of the medium is absolutely the right thing to do,” he says.

“IEYTD works because we focused on protecting player immersion as much as possible: making sure in-game and out of game player body poses are proprioceptively aligned, ensuring there is a depth of interactive sound effects, and playtesting much more than for a normal game, so that you can respond to everything that players try to do in the game. The best part is that our experience confirmed for us that VR is amazing, and that people want great experiences in it.”

IEYTD is one of a handful of VR success stories, but even “success” at this stage in VR’s infancy when installed bases are so low, doesn’t mean profitability is guaranteed. Schell is not deterred, however.

“We don’t generally share specifics of internal budgets, but it was more than a million — so, not quite profitable yet on a pure cash basis, but when it comes to lessons learned, and some of the other projects this has brought our way, this has been a very profitable project indeed,” he explains.

During GDC 2016, Schell gave a talk outlining his 40 predictions for VR/AR, and one of those was that by 2017 we’d see 8 million high-end VR headsets sold, with Oculus Rift at 3 million, PSVR at 4 million and Vive at 1 million. Clearly, the actual numbers are going to fall way short of these predictions, and a big part of that is a result of price. Even with the price cuts we’ve seen this year so far on the respective headsets, the devices are too expensive for many. It’s only a matter of time before that changes, though, and then Schell sees the market really picking up. He likens it to the early computer era.

“The numbers are slower than I anticipated, and this is partly because prices are higher than I anticipated. But the growth is absolutely happening,” he says. “What will create a tipping point will be a combination of price drops with a hit title, probably a social multiplayer title.

“We are in a time like when home computers first arrived in 1978. At that time, we had the Atari 800 and the Apple II, and they each cost over $1,000, and people said, ‘Yeah, pretty cool, but too expensive — these home computers will never take off.’ A few years later, and we had the Commodore 64 at $299, and it sold ten times the number of units as the Apple II. Price will really be the driving factor. There are already hundreds of great studios making interesting content. When the prices get low enough, we’ll see the growth curve take off.” While a number of Schell’s other predictions will undoubtedly not hold up, there are some that the designer is not afraid to double down on. The social ramifications of VR is one of those.

“My confidence in the power of social VR continues to grow,” he notes. “Games like Rec Room are proving that out, and social VR is now the prime focus for our next wave of VR titles. The sense of physical proximity to a real person while you hear their voice and see their body language is powerful in a way that no other medium can touch.”

Schell is also still a believer in Nintendo doing something in the space. Thus far, publicly at least, the house of Mario has avoided committing to VR/AR, but Schell thinks that Nintendo is working on a standalone device behind closed doors. And if a company with Nintendo’s weight gets behind VR, that can only help make the technology more mainstream and more accessible. That said, it’s not vital for Nintendo to get in the game for VR to succeed.

“With Nintendo’s passion for invention, they must be working on a VR device with a unique Nintendo spin,” Schell muses. “Certainly they can help make VR more mainstream, but they don’t need to. There are already dozens of headset manufacturers, and more on the way, and exciting tech and price breakthroughs are being announced every few weeks.”

While many people have predicted a far larger and more impactful market for augmented reality, especially as companies like Apple and Google get involved, the differences between the related technologies are beginning to blur. Additionally, when it comes to pure gaming use cases, Schell stresses that VR will remain the better tech for hardcore gamers.

“One prediction I am definitely rethinking is my prediction that VR and AR headsets would remain very separate entities. I am coming to believe that as VR headsets start to sport stereo cameras, that having video pass-thru AR experiences on VR headsets will actually become the dominant form of AR, because it will be cheaper and have a wider field of view,” he says.

“When it comes to games, I more and more think that VR is to AR as console is to mobile… That is to say, VR will be more for the hardcore gamers who want deep, immersive experiences, and AR will be more for casual gamers who want lighter, less immersive experiences. AR may have more users in the long run (provided it can find some killer apps), but VR will be where the best gaming experiences are.”

The unfortunate state of actual reality, when you consider global politics, terrorism, climate change and more, could also be a factor in virtual reality’s favor. As Schell says, “In troubled times, people are always looking for places to escape to. The Great Depression was the best thing that ever happened to Hollywood. When people are frustrated with how the news cycle makes them feel, their appetite for fantasy experiences vastly increases.”

As VR does become more popular in the mainstream, Schell thinks the media may start drumming up stories to point fingers at the tech in much the way that news outlets blamed video game violence for real-world crimes. “The media likes to scare us about anything that is new, because we always want to know about the dangers of new things, so it is good business to feed our fears. I can’t say I’m worried about it, but it is certainly inevitable. Horror movies about VR gone wrong will be a hot ticket in the summer of 2019,” he says.

One area of the VR industry that is hard to predict is the arcade or location-based segment. Vive has made a big push with its Viveport Arcade, particularly in China, but VR arcades may not necessarily be a more natural fit than VR in the home, as some have said.

“There is room for VR in arcades; I am sure of this because I helped developed the Aladdin’s Magic Carpet VR experience that ran continuously at DisneyQuest in Walt Disney World for nineteen years! However, VR in arcades has many challenges,” Schell says. “The systems are hard to keep clean, and are often too fragile for that environment. These are solvable problems, but not trival ones. Ultimately, people expect a VR arcade experience that is a radical step up from the home experience, and that is expensive to create, especially because there is an expectation of multiplayer gameplay at VR arcades, because people go to arcades to be in social groups. So, developing VR arcade content is very expensive. Arcades are a great intro to the experience while the tech is new, but as the tech matures, it will be much more at home, uh, at home.”

Getting into VR development is not for the faint of heart. Game makers may have to endure some hard times, but the pay off will ultimately be worth it, Schell believes.

“If you are looking for a short-term win, or to just port the same games you’ve been playing for 20 years to VR, go do something else. But if you are ready to invent the most important medium of this century, and you can afford to be a little patient as the rest of the world catches up with your futuristic visions, this is your time,” Schell says.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Is Mixed-Reality A Big Move For Microsoft

September 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

2017 is shaping up to be perhaps the most important year ever for Microsoft’s ambitions as a consumer technology company.

The firm, which in recent years has struggled to balance its commitment to business solutions and cloud services against the often conflicting demands of being a consumer tech firm, is set to launch two major product lines this year – an update to the Xbox One console that is, in essence, an entirely new home console device, and a range of “Mixed Reality” headsets, controllers and certified PCs, which are being manufactured to Microsoft’s specs by some of the industry’s leading hardware firms.

Both of these are big launches, and each of them deserving of attention. On the surface, you might expect that Xbox One X – the new console – would be a far more mainstream prospect than a range of VR headsets, especially given how niche VR remains in spite of the buzz that’s been built up around it. Yet all of the signs point to Mixed Reality being Microsoft’s really big launch for 2017, and the one that may have the most impact on the company – and the whole technology industry – down the line, while Xbox One X is being positioned both by commentators and by the company itself as something of a niche device for a specific and limited audience.

In a sense, the direction being taken with these two devices is entirely different. Xbox One X takes an established platform (albeit one running a distant second behind Sony’s dominant PS4) and essentially creates a high-end “premium” version, with price tag to match. It doesn’t so much represent a turning point in Xbox strategy (there’s no surge in first-party software or major service launch to accompany it) as an appeal to the slim but high-value slice of the market for whom constant talk of 4K HDR screens and Dolby Atmos sound systems says “this is the best you can get,” as distinct from “this isn’t for the likes of you.”

On the other hand, Mixed Reality is all about the democratisation of a technology that’s often seemed inaccessible to average consumers. Its hardware specification calls for headsets with inside-out tracking (so no external cameras or sensors) which mount cameras on the front of the headset to track motion controllers – again, removing external sensors from the setup – while its business model aims to create a range of low-cost headsets by leveraging competition between manufacturers like Dell and Asus. The PC specs being certified for use with the headsets also promise relatively low cost of entry to consumers interested in VR.

In essence, Mixed Reality (which is a bit of a misnomer, as these first-generation headsets are not the bridging of VR and AR promised by the “Hololens” concept; they are VR headsets, pure and simple) is an extremely well-designed and technologically impressive mixture of the best parts of many VR approaches we’ve seen so far. It’s about as affordable as Sony’s PSVR and just as easy to set up (in fact, slightly more so, since PSVR still requires a single camera); yet it offers a technological fidelity that’s surprisingly close to that of Oculus and HTC’s pioneering headsets.

Working with firms like Dell ensures ubiquity, while Microsoft’s control of the Windows ecosystem ensures compatibility and ease of use, and the firm’s highly open approach with the standards it’s promoting – including supporting content from Steam from day one – is an enormous bonus. As the only console VR platform out there, and with Sony’s content support behind it, PSVR will continue to have a market, but anyone picking winners in the VR space right now is likely favouring Microsoft’s play in the long run, especially given its potential for non-gaming applications (which may yet turn out to be VR’s “killer app”). It’s notable that Sony’s small PSVR price-drop came this week just as Mixed Reality gear was being lauded at IFA in Berlin, though also notable that the company’s promised restocking of PSVR hardware into retail channels has still not come to pass.

The elephant in the room here needs addressing; why, given two hardware launches that seem so complementary, isn’t Xbox One X supporting Mixed Reality headsets out the gate? The door seemingly remains open to that possibility down the line, but thus far Microsoft’s two big consumer tech efforts of 2017 remain frustratingly separate. On paper, you’d imagine that launching the most powerful console ever with the ability to drive high-quality VR experiences through a range of new headsets would be a far more exciting prospect than simply updating the Xbox One to take advantage of some very, very expensive televisions; even if VR is more niche than console gaming right now, the prospects for growth in VR are huge and the chance for a firm like Microsoft to establish and own the standards that define an entire sector for years to come is surely too important to pass up.

Microsoft’s own position seems to express that sentiment; while Xbox One X is rolling out with very few major software releases to support it (essentially copying the low-key rollout of PS4 Pro), the upcoming slate of software supporting Mixed Reality is being talked up significantly and includes a Halo title from 343 Industries. For an Xbox console to launch without a Halo title in support, or even officially on the slate (though one will inevitably be forthcoming), while a different Microsoft product has a Halo title being talked up, is actually rather eye-opening.

The reason for Xbox One X not supporting Mixed Reality at the outset may be quite prosaic; Microsoft’s strategy for its headsets involves cooperation with hardware manufacturers who want to use Mixed Reality as a way to sell PCs. Those partners might be far cooler on being involved with this initiative if they felt that their PCs were going to have to compete with a partially-subsidised console being sold by Microsoft itself, and the exclusion of Xbox from the Mixed Reality ecosystem may (this is all speculation) have been a condition of the likes of Asus throwing full-throated support behind the new headsets.

If so, it may be a timed exclusion, with headset support coming to Xbox One X down the line; or it may be that this helps to explain why so much of Microsoft’s software approach for Xbox One appears to have shifted to being about well-optimised One and One X versions of Windows 10 software rather than console exclusives. This would potentially allow people with high-end home theatre setups to enjoy the best possible version on Xbox One X, while VR fans can enjoy the same software as optimised for Mixed Reality, and those with Xbox Ones or gaming PCs would enjoy their own tailored version. That fits well with Microsoft’s vision both for a contiguous ecosystem and for how cross-platform development should work, the inability to plug a headset into an Xbox being only a small wrinkle in this cloth.

While in the long run not a big deal, in terms of this year alone, the separation of headsets from console creates an odd tension in Microsoft’s line-up; Xbox One X may even find itself competing for Christmas dollars from the same set of consumers who are considering a Mixed Reality setup. With Switch also riding high in customer’s mindshare and PS4 continuing to steamroller ahead of the competition – not to mention major consumer electronics launches outside the gaming space, like Apple’s iPhone Pro or whatever they’re going to call it – this winter is going to be one of the most competitive ever in consumer technology, and Microsoft is entering the game with a hell of a strong hand.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Will Gamers Support CoD Going GaaS

September 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Eric Hirshberg has addressed suggestions that Call of Duty could evolve into an ongoing, persistent product rather than follow the yearly cycle of new releases it has followed for more than a decade.

In an interview with Game Informer, it was suggested that the introduction of the Headquarters social space (among other things) points to Activision’s flagship shooter franchise moving towards a games-as-a-service model. The CEO responded: “It already is in many ways.”

He pointed to the “very high percentage” of players that buy each new Call of Duty on a yearly basis, and shift with their friends to the next multiplayer mode in order to maintain social ties.

He continued: “Now, I understand that the properties it doesn’t have are that sort of continuous world with expansions and a continuous string of accomplishments that carry over from game to game, so it doesn’t have those things that I think classically people associate with a persistent platform, but it does have a very stable community that has been very committed to the franchise and very ‘sticky’ for a very large number of people, which is, I think, one of the main benefits of a game as a service.

“I think that we have tried to find the right solution for each franchise individually, and Call of Duty has really benefitted from that annual innovation moment, that annual reengagement moment where a lot of people, who maybe played for a couple months and had a great experience but moved on to other things, come back and check out the new game.”

The conversation moved to a comparison with Destiny, perhaps the most high profile games-as-a-service product to emerge from the console space. While the Bungie franchise has done an admirable job of retaining its community with regular in-game events and multiple expansions, Hirshberg notes that there are disadvantages too.

“We see that sometimes it’s harder to bring a new player into an environment where they feel like ‘Oh, I’m three years behind my buddy who’s been playing persistently for that length of time’,” he said. “So I think there are gives and takes on both sides.”

Hirshberg said Activision will continue to service the Call of Duty community based on which game they’re playing, citing the release of a new DLC pack for Black Ops III earlier this year – two and a half years after the game’s launch.

He concluded: “I think that our goal is to not necessarily completely reinvent the things that are working, but to make the experience for “I’m a Call of Duty player, I like multiple titles within the franchise” – make that experience better, create more benefits for being a loyal player, those are things that we’re working on and trying to improve.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

YouTube Live Updated, Streaming Simplified

September 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

YouTube is aiming to make your livestreaming more about the moment and less about the technicalities.

New launched updates to YouTube Live will bring more streaming power to your iPhone or iPad, help you moderate comments, and stream with less of a delay, Kurt Wilms, product lead for YouTube Live, said in a blog post.

“Whether it’s solar eclipses, NBA superstars, the hottest music artists, pro gamers, creators donating to charity, or the world’s most famous giraffe, creators use live to connect with fans during the moments that matter,” Wilms said.

The additions come as more celebrities, YouTubers and regular folks experiment with broadcasting video via their phones. It helps that there are myriad options, including Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope. The tech giants behind livestreaming all hope that when you feel the need to broadcast in real time, you’ll pick them.

YouTube’s updates include making it simpler to stream from your Apple iPhone and iPad. Although you can already livestream from certain apps via the YouTube Gaming app, the feature will now come to the main YouTube app so you can use your phone’s microphone and front-facing camera to add audio and video commentary to your stream.

No matter what you’re streaming, you’ll be doing it with lower latency, or less of a delay between when you broadcast the video and when people actually see the feed. The new feature is called ultra-low latency and cuts down on lag so you can answer questions or get viewer response faster. It’s a step toward real-time interaction with folks watching your live video.

Finally, there are also several new tools aimed at chat moderation. One lets you pause the chat to moderate by pressing and holding “alt/option.” Another lets you check for inappropriate messages and hold them for approval. The system, if you opt in to it, learns over time what you want to hold for review. Another tool is shared hidden user lists, which let moderators use the same hidden user lists for comments and live chat. A hidden user list consists of people a creator does not allow to comment.

Blizzard Get Tougher on Bad Gamers

September 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Blizzard has reassured its community that it will be clamping down on those who are consistently abusing other players or demonstrating bad behaviour in Overwatch.

A user post on the official forums described the community as “toxic” and the reporting system “a failure”. Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan responded to this with more details on what the developer plans to do.

In the short term, the Overwatch team plans to re-evaluate which punishments are assigned to various offences, and as “in the process of converting silences over to suspensions”, according to Kaplan. Suspensions will also be extended as the original user post observed that a one-week ban isn’t particularly threatening to some players.

Blizzard plans to eventually phase out silences and rely solely on suspensions and bans, although users causing violations with their BattleTag name will be forced to change.

Repeated offenders within the Competitive Play mode will face permanent bans. Currently bans are only in force for the rest of the current season, but if Blizzard bans the user for more than a certain number of seasons, they will not be allowed to play this mode ever again.

Kaplan promised Blizzard will be “way more aggressive” during the upcoming sixth season of Competitive Play.

An email system will also be introduced that informs players if someone they reported has been punished, as well as an in-game notification system that delivers similar information. While the emails won’t offer full details, the idea is to encourage more users to report abusive behaviour by showing that it is acted upon.

Kaplan finished by calling on Overwatch players to help identify the most toxic members of the community, and hopes that one day effort spent on dealing with them can be put to better use.

“In the long term, we really want to work on systems that encourage positive behavior and reward good players. It really bums us out to spend so much time punishing people for being bad sports. We like making cool, fun game systems — that’s what we do for a living. But because people seem to lack self-control or because people like to abuse anonymity and free speech we’re put in a position of spending a tremendous amount of our time and resources policing the community. We will do this as it is our responsibility but we’d like to spend more time rewarding good players rather than having to focus on poor sportsmanship and unacceptable bad behavior so much.

“Like it or not, this is an ‘us, the OW community problem’ and not just an ‘OW team problem’. For better or for worse, we’re in this together. We’re working hard to make changes. I hope you all do too.”

A video update about plans for a stronger regulation system has already been filmed and will go live soon, although Kaplan was not sure when.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Is AMD Losing Money On Vega

September 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Our industry sources have confirmed to Fudzilla that AMD loses at least $100 on every Vega 64 card it sells at its $499 Suggested Etail Price (SEP).

The pricing of the HBM 2.0 memory, the packaging and substrate cost are simply too high to have a sustainable price of $499. We have mentioned this before, but Vega for AMD is not about making money. Don’t get me wrong, every company would like to make money with every product that it makes, but for AMD it is more important to win market share. First you win the market share, then you go after better ASPs (Average Selling Prices) and potentially start running a positive business.  

The company made a statement that it still has the power to interest its loyal customers with a high-end part and win some higher end GPU market from Nvidia. AMD is waiting for the second HBM 2 supplier to try to get a bit more favorable HBM 2 price and Hynix is expected to start delivering its HBM 2 memory in October.

Vega sells well

Vega 64 and 56 will definitely put a dent in the Nvidia dominated higher end GPU market. There are people who are willing to buy AMD, no matter what. Frankly the performance of Vega is enough to get a lot of people excited. The only downside of the Vega architecture is that the TDP power is too high, compared to the Geforce GTX 1070/1080 competition. Despite that, the performance and price ratio are quite balanced and are gaining a lot of sales for AMD.

The real manufacturing price or BOM (Bill of Materials) price of Vega is a well kept secret. The Vega GPU is being manufactured by GlobalFoundries (GloFo) and AMD has a sweetheart deal with this chip fab. It even has a five year wafer supply agreement with GlobalFoundries.

Vega pricing far north from SEP

This is where AMD saves some cost, but it currently cannot really do much about the high HBM 2 memory prices. So when AMD lets its Etailers sell Vega at the higher prices than SEP, it is actually making some money.

The pricing leaves a bitter taste as traditionally companies are very strict in controlling that no one really goes over the board with Suggested Etail Prices. Withthe Vega 64 and now the Vega 56, the $499 and $399 prices that were served up as official and caused reviewers to draw some conclusions on them based on the pricing, were far less than what the etailers were charging for the cards.

AMD claims that all this will be over soon as they are manufacturing more cards, but one thing is certain, it is still hard to buy any Vega 64 and 56 card, and even if you get one, it will cost you an arm and a leg.

Courtesy-Fud

Will AMD RX Vega Supply Problem Improve In October

September 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

According to a report, AMD Radeon RX Vega shortages could last until October and while HBM2 might be a part of the problem, it appears that packaging is to blame.

According to a report coming from Digitimes.com, the issue is in the packaging of the RX Vega GPU and HBM2 memory on a single interposer, which is probably why we have seen different packages of Radeon RX Vega GPUs, coming from different sources. Other reports also suggested that the issue can be attributed to the problems with Advanced Semiconductor Engineering’s (ASE) packaging technology.

While there is certainly a shortage of HBM2 memory, which has been confirmed by various sources, the the recent announcement of the production ramp up at Samsung, as well as further production increase from SK Hynix, is likely to eventually overcome this problem.

AMD is facing heavy RX Vega shortages and as we wrote earlier, we expect to see higher Radeon RX Vega 64 and RX Vega 56 stock as well as custom versions of both versions sometime next month. AMD also announced that it is working to increase Vega stock in the coming weeks.

The shortage heavily impacts the price of these cards on retail/e-tail shelves and despite AMD’s assurance that it is sticking to the announced SEP (suggested e-tail price), Radeon RX Vega 64 has been selling at way over its US $499 MSRP.

Hopefully, AMD will be able to overcome the shortages and finally put some pressure on Nvidia’s higher-end line-up.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple, Accenture Team Up For Better Business Apps

August 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Technology giant Apple Inc and professional services firm Accenture PLC announced that they will team up to help businesses build better applications for iOS, the operating system that powers Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

Accenture helps large companies write new software and adopt new technology. The company will create special teams dedicated to helping its customers, which include banks and retailers, write iOS apps. Apple employees, including software engineers and user-interface designers, will work alongside Accenture engineers on the teams.

The first joint team will be located in San Francisco, Gene Reznik, senior managing director of technology and ecosystem at Accenture told Reuters. The companies did not say how many combined Apple-Accenture teams will eventually exist.

 But the engineering teams will focus on apps that are used by front-line workers and consumers, such as apps that run on iPads for the lobbies of retail banks, where a teller and a customer might both interact with the app.

“If you look at something like retail banking, you can imagine really redesigning the apps and coming up with a unique perspective on how agents can interact with their customers,” Reznik said.

Reznik said another focus will be so-called augmented reality, in which digital objects float over real objects on a screen. That technology could be useful to service technicians in the field, for example by pointing an iPhone or iPad at an engine and highlighting a faulty part that needs repair.

For Apple, the partnership is part of a continued push to win over business clients and try to knock Microsoft Corp from its long-held throne as the default operating system in the corporate world. To that end, Apple has established partnerships with International Business Machines Corp, Cisco Systems Inc, Deloitte and SAP SE aimed at moving more business applications over to iOS devices and making them easier to use in corporate settings.

“All those features really help it be a better overall productivity machine,” Susan Prescott, vice president of application product marketing at Apple, told Reuters. “It’s becoming more realistic for more workers to use iOS as their primary device.”

Are AMD And nVidia Benefiting From Data Miners

August 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Sales of PC graphics add-in cards rose in the second quarter for the first time in nearly a decade, benefiting Nvidia and AMD.

Data from Jon Peddie Research (JPR), add-in card sales jumped 30.9 per cent in the second quarter from the first quarter, and 34.9 per cent from a year earlier.

More than $3.6 billion of add-in hardware was sold last quarter, representing an increase of about $850 million over the first three months of the year.

GPUs from AMD and Nvidia have seen projected sales increases over the past few months because of the rise of the cryptocurrency market. Bitcoin and Ethereum miners use the hardware to earn, find and verify transactions at an accelerated rate.

Potential buyers in all market segments have been plagued by graphics card shortages and price increases in recent months because of the demand for coin-mining hardware. Jon Peddie Research (JPR) has provided the sales numbers to put in context.

Sales of add-in cards of AMD and Nvidia hardware were 520,000 units higher in the second quarter compared with the first quarter, according to JPR.

Traditionally, we would expect the standard seasonal drop of 10,000-20,000 units. This indicates that upwards of 500,000 total units of high-end graphics were sold into the channel and, indeed, for mining-specific uses. About one in three graphics cards sold at retail, to OEMs or businesses was used for cryptocurrency mining.

AMD Radeon graphics cards are better at cryptocurrency-mining workloads than Nvidia’s GeForce family, and miners targeted the AMD parts first. AMD gained nearly two percentage points of share 27.5 per cent to 29.4 per cent, while Nvidia dropped from 72.5 per cent to 70.6 per cent quarter to quarter.

The growth in add-in card sales is even more impressive when compared with the second-quarter’s 30 per cent drop in unit sales of desktop PCs.

Though the primary PC segment has declined dramatically, the discrete graphics space rose by 34.9 per cent.

However, there is already a levelling of the growth of Ethereum mining and thinks might not last.

The Nvidia product line remains better placed for the gaming landscape, and AMD has struggled with its release of a new architecture, code-named Vega. AMD benefits more from the continued strength of coin mining as it hides any potential deficiencies in the gaming segment, JPR said.

Courtesy-Fud

Are NAND Prices Skyrocketing

August 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Average selling prices for NAND flash memory chips rose three to 10 percent in the second quarter and are projected to continue rising through the third quarter.

According to DRAMeXchange, a market research firm that tracks memory chip pricing, NAND suppliers to post excellent third quarter financial results thanks to slight increases in contract pricing for mobile products like universal flash storage (UFS) and eMMC and solid state drives.

A tight supply of memory chips, particularly NAND and DRAM, is lifting the broader semiconductor industry to what is expected to be the best growth year since the recession recovery year of 2010, when chip sales grew by more than 30 percent. Market research firm IC Insights forecasts that NAND sales will rise 35 percent this year compared with 2016.

Last week, the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization become the latest semiconductor industry market watcher to revise upward its forecast for 2017 sales, saying it now expects chip sales to grow by 17 percent this year.

Senior research manager at DRAMeXchange, Alan Chen said through a statement that suppliers that scaling limitations on planar NAND are pushing suppliers to shift to 3D NAND. This, transition, Chen said, has resulted in a substantial loss in production capacity, leading to tight supply and rising ASPs.

“We expect supply to be under strain for the rest of 2017”, Chen said. “Relief will come later in 2018, when the manufacturing of 64- and 72-layer 3D-NAND flash reaches maturity.”

Courtesy-Fud

Is Sony Facing Another Class Action Lawsuit

August 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

A US Federal Court has approved a class action lawsuit against Sony for ‘deceptively advertising’ its Xperia smartphones and tablets as “waterproof”. 

The lawsuit, first reported on by The Verge, alleges that Sony’s Xperia devices have been misrepresented as “waterproof” as they are not designed for or capable of ordinary underwater use and are more on the “water-resistant” level of protection.

“Sony exploited certain international water resistance ratings in order to launch a deceptive marketing campaign promoting the devices,” the lawsuit claims. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Sony’s dodgy “waterproof claims”. Back in 2015, the Japanese firm warned buyers of its Xperia Z5 that, despite having advertised the smartphone as ‘waterproof’, getting it wet could void the warranty.

The class action seeks a 12-month warranty extension for recently purchased devices or a reimbursement of up to 50 per cent off the affected device’s suggested retail price, which means owners of an Xperia Z4 Tablet, for example, could receive a $300 reimbursement.

However, The Verge notes that “this may not be the final value the company is liable to refund”, as Sony will still need to settle with the court again on 1 December and agree on final terms.

The lawsuit is also calling for Sony to make changes to its packing, labelling and advertising. 

Devices included in the class action include the Xperia Z2 Tablet, Xperia Z3 Tablet, Compact Xperia Z4 Tablet, Xperia M2 Aqua, Xperia M4 Aqua, Xperia ZR Xperia Z Ultra Xperia Z1, Z1s, Z1 Compact Xperia Z2 Xperia Z3, Z3 Compact, Xperia Z3v, Xperia Z3+, Xperia Z3+ Dual, Xperia Z5, and the Xperia Z5 Compact.

The class action only applies to customers in the US. Those eligible and interested in taking part of the claim can sign up here by 30 January 2018. Affected customers will need to have a record of their interactions with Sony or they will not be eligible.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will AMD’s Ryzen Mobile GPUs Hit The Street By The Holiday Season

August 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

While AMD is trying to get its RX Vega desktop graphics cards to the market, its Radeon Vega Mobile GPUs have been spotted in Kishonti’s CompuBench and GFXBench benchmarks.

Originally spotted by Computerbase.de, the leaked GPUs are named by these benchmarks as the Radeon Vega 10 Mobile and Radeon Vega 8 Mobile. Both are based on Radeon Vega 10 GPU  – not to be confused with the Vega 10 desktop GPU – and are a part of AMD’s upcoming Ryzen Mobile 2000 series APUs (the Ryzen 7 2700U and Ryzen 5 2500U), which combine Zen-based CPU with Vega-based GPU.

It also appears that these IGPs will bring some confusion to the market as the Ryzen 7 2700U comes with Radeon Vega 10 Mobile, which packs eight Compute Units (CUs) or a total of 512 Stream Processors, while the Ryzen 5 2500U comes with Radeon Vega 8 Mobile, which has 11 CUs and 704 Stream Processors.

RADEON VEGA 8 MOBILE — CL_DEVICE_MAX_COMPUTE_UNITS: 11
RADEON VEGA 10 MOBILE — CL_DEVICE_MAX_COMPUTE_UNITS: 8

Of course, bear in mind that these are just early leaks and might not be completely accurate and names could be changed at the later date.

In any case, these APUs could pack a significant punch with such a combination, offering decent performance on both the CPU and the GPU side. As we wrote earlier, notebooks with Ryzen Mobile APUs should be on the shelves for the holiday season.

Courtesy-Fud

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