Subscribe to:

Subscribe to :: TheGuruReview.net ::

MediaTek Devops New Chip For 4K TVs

January 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

MediaTek has been showing off its MT5598 chipset for HDR-enabled 4K TVs.

The MT5598 is a high-spec UltraHD SmartTV platform. It supports lots of different entry-to-enthusiast HDR technologies, and allows 4K TV manufacturers the flexibility to pair it with a range of LCD panels, backlight combinations, licensed or free technologies and localized content standards. These standards cover UltraHD Blu-ray and streaming services from Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, VuDu, VQQ, Voole, iQIY and YouKu.

Media Tek claims that its MT5598 brings MediaTek AI enhancements that enable voice control, plus audience, environmental and content awareness to SmartTV’s. These can collectively enhance the user experience by providing a tailored, real-time reaction in picture quality, channel selection and more based on who, how and what is being watched.

MediaTek General Manager of Home Display and Custom IC Business Unit Evan Su said that for 20 years, MediaTek has been a market leader in developing innovative chipsets for home entertainment products and devices.

“Our newest SmartTV chipset will bring the most advanced online streaming standards and superior picture quality into homes around the world.”

In addition to HDR-enabled content, MT5598 has its own HDR dynamic range remapping engine. It provides HDR post-processing enhancement to SDR content on HDR-capable displays, re-imbuing color, saturation and the dynamic range of brightness that is lost in SDR content. Combined with its 13th generation Picture Quality Engine, the MediaTek Super Resolution System (SRS) selectively enhances fine details without artifacting, sharpens edges and provides 4K Motion Estimation and Motion Compensation (MEMC).

Courtesy-Fud

AMD Going 7nm With Vega

January 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD’s Lisa Su has announced Vega 7nm as a machine learning “instinct part” first. AMD is quite clear that this is for machine learning first and don’t want to comment on our curiosity whether Vega 7nm can make it to the market as a gaming product soon.

Radeon Instinct Vega 7nm sounds like a shrink down of Vega architecture, a much safer approach than the new architecture Navi in 7nm. It is simply safer to shrink the existing architecture, such as Vega from 14nm to 7nm, than to jump to a new manufacturing process and a new architecture.

AMD calls this new product the Radeon Instinct Vega 7nm and this is a direct successor to the Radeon Instinct MI25. Of course, this card addresses machine learning, a market that is currently dominated by Nvidia Volta parts, but, at the same time, AMD is not charging an arm and leg for its products either.

Nvidia’s Volta is a 12nm part, while Vega at 7nm is likely to bring higher clocks, better performance and some optimizations on the architecture side.

7nm in 2018 won’t be easy

AMD states that 7nm Radeon Vega Architecture has been built for machine learning, which might imply that there will be some significant architecture optimizations for machine learning.

Lisa Su said that AMD has a production level machine learning software stack. It is questionable how much impact AMD made with its Instinct products as the industry massively follows the  Nvidia Cuda based solution, but we will be following the latest developments.

Late 2018 would be when we would expect any kind of 7nm, but we won’t go into details about this right now.

Courtesy-Fud

Will AMD Launch The Ryzen 2000 This Quarter

January 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

According to a report coming from Japan, AMD’s Ryzen 2000-series (Ryzen 2) processors, may launch in March, alongside its new motherboard chipsets, the X470 and the B450.

According to Hermitage Akihabara, retailers in Japan are gearing up for the Ryzen 2 launch in March this year, which should bring decent performance improvements thanks to an optical shrink.

According to an earlier roadmap leak, Pinnacle Ridge can be considered as the “tick” in AMD’s CPU lineup as it will be based on the same Summit Ridge architecture or Zen+ cores, which should bring slight IPC improvement, mostly thanks to the 12nm LP manufacturing process.

It is most likely that AMD will be able to squeeze higher clocks and better power efficiency, and some rumors also suggested higher memory frequency support.

As noted, the new Ryzen 2000 series chips will be paired up with the new 400 series chipset, including the X470 and B450-based motherboards. While these will be based on the same AM4 socket, it is still not clear if the 300-series chipset motherboards will be supporting the new Ryzen 2000 series CPUs.

Hopefully, more information will surface as soon as CES 2018 show kicks off next week.

Courtesy-Fud

Security Researcher Discover Old Mac OS Zero-Day Flaw

January 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Apple’s bad luck seems to be continuing into 2018, with a researcher uncovering a previously-undiscovered macOS flaw that’s thought to be around 15-years-old. 

While the flaw isn’t hugely devastating, it shows how companies like Apple fail to identify and fix security problems. Wccftech, which broke the story, described it as “sloppy”.

The researcher, who goes by the name of ‘Hobbyist Hacker’, claims that cyber crooks can tap into the flaw to get access to macOS systems, execute arbitrary code and gain root permissions.

Described as a local privilege escalation (LPE) vulnerability, it affects an extension of MacOS called IOHIDFamily. Hackers are able to deploy a “root shell”.

That’s not all, though. Crooks can also use the vulnerability to target the System Integrity Protection (SIP) and Apple Mobile File Integrity (AMFI) security programmes.

For the exploit to be a success, attackers have to log users out of the system. And by that point, it’s likely most people will have become alarmed.

There is a sneaky side of the vulnerability, though. To avoid detection, attackers can target the exploit when users shut down or restart their computers.

The researcher explained: “Needs to be running on the host already (nothing remote), achieves full system compromise by itself, but logs you out in the process.

“Can wait for logout though and is fast enough to run on shutdown/reboot until 10.13.1. On 10.13.2 it takes a fair bit longer (maybe half a minute) after logging out, so if your OS logs you out unexpectedly… maybe pull the plug?”

Luckily, the vulnerability doesn’t affect other Apple products, including iOS. The company has yet to comment on the situation, and you can find more details here.

Courtesy-TheInq

Google Drops The Pixel C

January 4, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has finally given up on its Pixel C flagship tablet.

Google started flogging the Pixel C about two years ago, but it was not exactly committed to the market. The world had mostly woken up to the fact that keyboardless netbooks were not going to be the cure for cancer that Steve Jobs claimed they were.

The Tame Apple Press was hard on the Pixel C, mostly because it was rather good, and it had a high price – something which the iPad already claimed for its own.  The Pixel had been originally designed to run Chrome OS, but Google couldn’t get it to go on time. So, the Pixel C became an Android slate, and it has been selling continuously since late 2015.

Google stopped selling the 32GB Pixel C, but the 64GB flavour was around for $599. There’s no new tablet to replace it so it might indicate that Google’s interest in Android tablets is over and it is sticking to Chromebooks instead. After all, a netbook with a keyboard is always going to be better than a netbook without one.

Still, the Tame Apple Press is happy, as there is one less high-end tablet for Apple to have to compete with. In fact, many announcements of the news claim that it failed because it was too expensive, however it was nearly $100 cheaper than the equivalent iPad. 

Courtesy-Fud

Is The Popularity Of HBM2 Becoming More Popular

January 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

Analyst at Digitimes Research have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and worked out that HBM2 (second-generation high bandwidth memory) have been becoming more popular.

Th researchers found that the reason has been due to the adoption of such products by Nvidia’s Tesla P100 accelerator and Quadro GP 100 graphics card as well as AMD’s Radeon Vega chip.

In addition to HBM-based products, there is a variant version of HMC (hybrid memory cube) chips. While both HBM and HMC solutions are made with a similar vertical stacking process to integrate multilayer DRAM devices on a base logic die, the HBM is more like a 2.5D stacked-die packaging solution, and the HMC is closer to a 3D stacked-die packaging process.

SK Hynix and Samsung Electronics are using wafer-level packaging (WLP) process to fabricate HBM2-based chips, TSMC is using chip-on-wafer-on-substrate for HBM2 devices. Micron Technology and Chipzilla focus mainly on HMC-based products.

Intel’s deep-learning chip, Lake Crest, which came following its acquisition of Nervana, has come with HMB2. This indicates that HBM-based architecture will be the primary development direction of memory solutions for HPC solutions by GPU vendors, Digitimes Research things.

The high packaging cost and compatibility are likely to continue to affect the applications and popularity the HBM2 chips, Digitimes Research added.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Fixes A Vulnerability In HomeKit

December 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A security vulnerability has been uncovered in Apple’s connected home app, Homekit

Present in the current version of iOS 11.2, the bug, which was demonstrated to 9to5Mac, allows unauthorized control of connected smart accessories.

According to 9to5Mac’s source, the vulnerability was difficult to reproduce, and allowed unauthorized control of HomeKit-connected accessories including smart lights, thermostats, and plugs.

Although the flaw didn’t concern connected smart home products, instead it was to do with the HomeKit framework itself that helps to connect the different products from various smart device makers.

Since making Apple aware of the bug, the firm has rolled out a server-side fix that now prevents unauthorized access from occurring while limiting some functionality. Apple said an update to iOS 11.2 will be coming next week and this will restore that full functionality.

“The issue affecting HomeKit users running iOS 11.2 has been fixed. The fix temporarily disables remote access to shared users, which will be restored in a software update early next week,” Apple said in a statement to 9to5Mac.

The news of the HomeKit bug fix comes just a week after Apple issued a fix for the ‘devastating’ macOS High Sierra bug that allowed anyone to gain root access without a password.

The fix arrived as ‘Security Update 2017-001’, and is available to download from the Mac App Store, promising to plug the easy-to-exploit flaw.

In a statement, the firm said: “Security is a top priority for every Apple product, and regrettably we stumbled with this release of macOS.

“When our security engineers became aware of the issue Tuesday afternoon, we immediately began working on an update that closes the security hole.

The flaw let anyone gain admin rights on a macOS machine by typing “root” as the username in the authentication dialogue box, leaving the password fielding blank and clicking on the “unlock” button twice.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will EPYC Help AMD Next Year

December 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD had a pretty good year this year, but that did not appear to do much for its share price which remained fairly static.

Wall Street thinks that its stock is risky because the outfit has low and fluctuating margins. However some analysts think that the launch of its EPYC line of server processors earlier this year to compete with Intel which has long dominated this market.

In fact word on the street is that the initial traction and reviews have been positive, and this could present AMD an opportunity to grab some share and give a boost to its valuation.

If the numbers pad out, AMD could add 25 per cent to its value by being more aggressive in the server market.

Forbes is predicting that of AMD gains a 10 percent share in the server processor market, it would imply a nearly 25% upside to its EPS, which would drive a similar upside to our price estimate assuming the valuation multiples remain constant.

It suggest that EPYC server processors could gain enough market share thanks to the lower cost, and simplification of the future development roadmap. EPYC performance per watt is attractive and the company has seen some good traction lately.

The prediction is that global server CPU shipments in 2019 to reach 26 million, meaning a 10 per cent market share gain will imply 2.6 million server CPUs shipped, This would mean incremental server revenue would be roughly $1.4 billion assuming average processor pricing of $550.

This would increase AMD’s EBITDA by around $250 million and lead to incremental earnings of about $160 million, or 17 cents per share. This, in turn, would imply a 25 percent jump in EPS in 2019, and even more upside in the long run, Forbes said.

Courtesy-Fud

Are AMD’s Ryzen 2 Processors Arriving Next Month

December 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD must be tired of the success it enjoyed with the Ryzen CPUs as its second-gen processors are set to launch early 2018.

The Ryzen 2 lineup, according to WCCTech, will be made up of the Ryzen 7, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 2000 chips, and are set to bring in better performance with jacked-up clockspeeds and overclocking capabilities. Bet Intel’s happy about that….

Core specifications for chip fans include the Ryzen 2 family being the first chips AMD will have built using the 12 nanometre fabrication processes to pack in more transistors into small squares of silicone.

The Ryzen 2 familiy will feature AMD’s Zen+ CPU architecture, which is set to offer more power efficiency alongside beefier speeds and support for DDR4 memory running at higher frequencies.

Dubbed Pinnacle Ridge, the wave of second-gen Ryzen chips will start predictably with the flagship Ryzen 7 in February, followed by its less gutsy siblings in March.

With up to eight cores and clock-speeds reckoned to hit up to 4.4GHz, the Ryzen 2 CPUs are not only set to butt heads with Intel’s eighth-generation processors, but also take on Intel’s 9000 series CPUs set to make a splash mid next year.

The first bout of Ryzen CPUs made their debut earlier this year and offered enough performance on tap to give people an alternative to Intel chips, which had for some time offered better performance than AMD’s CPUs.

But the Ryze 2 family demonstrates there’s still more to be had out of AMD’s Zen architecture and that the chip maker wants to build upon its CPU rise with Ryzen.

There’s not a vast amount of extra information about what we can expect from Ryzen 2, but we reckon the chipset will be more of an evolution in performance rather than a massive power hike to annoy people who bought a Ryzen CPU earlier this year.

That being said, later down the line we’d not be surprised to see a new ‘Threadripper’ chip built on the same Zen+ architecture but rocking a serious number or cores, or perhaps a 2000x series chip with 12 cores and 24 threads to really stick two fingers up at Intel. But as ever time will tell.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will Apple Sell A Cheaper iPad

December 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A report said that Apple will introduce a 9.7-inch iPad next year, with a comparatively low-price tag.

According to Digitimes, which quotes unnamed Apple suppliers, the unit will sell for around $250 or so.

The tablet market is somewhat flat because people don’t have to replace them for quite some time, and those that want tablets generally have one, unless they’re tempted like a magpie for more bright shiny things.

The iPad is slated for the second quarter of next year and the wire said that Compal is likely to make the unit with other firms like Compeq and Unitech contributing to the components. Apple also wants to shift iPad into the industrial sector too.

If the reports are true, it is likely to spur Apple competitors to cut their prices too.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple’s iOS 11.2 Adds Apple Pay Cash

December 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Apple’s new iOS 11.2 software update became available on Saturday, adding Apple Pay Cash and faster wireless charging to supported iPhones.

For anyone with an iPhone 6 or later, the update’s Apple Pay Cash feature opens up the ability to send cash to friends and family over iMessage. While I didn’t see the feature immediately turned on after updating my own iPhone to iOS 11.2, when it does appear it should work similarly to Paypal’s Venmo service.

Anyone with the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X can look forward to faster wireless charging, with the update release specifically noting improvements when using third-party chargers. That’s pretty much every Qi wireless charger currently out, as Apple’s own AirPower charging mat is planned for a 2018 release.

Other improvements and fixes listed by Apple include:

  • Improves video camera stabilization
  • Adds support in Podcasts to automatically advance to the next episode from the same show
  • Adds support in HealthKit for downhill snow sports distance as a data type
  • Fixes an issue that could cause Mail to appear to be checking for new messages even when a download is complete
  • Fixes an issue that could cause cleared Mail notifications from Exchange accounts to reappear
  • Improves stability in Calendar
  • Resolves an issue where Settings could open to a blank screen
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent swiping to Today View or Camera from the Lock Screen
  • Addresses an issue that could prevent Music controls from displaying on the Lock Screen
  • Fixes an issue that could cause app icons to be arranged incorrectly on the Home Screen
  • Addresses an issue that could prevent users from deleting recent photos when iCloud storage is exceeded
  • Addresses an issue where Find My iPhone sometimes wouldn’t display a map
  • Fixes an issue in Messages where the keyboard could overlap the most recent message
  • Fixes an issue in Calculator where typing numbers rapidly could lead to incorrect results
  • Addressed an issue where the keyboard could respond slowly
  • Adds support for real-time text (RTT) phone calls for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Improves VoiceOver stability in Messages, Settings, App Store and Music
  • Resolves an issue that prevented VoiceOver from announcing incoming Notifications

Qualcomm Goes 7nm With TSMC

November 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Korean based Etnews has mentioned that Qualcomm 7nm manufacturing has been a big win for TSMC while two other US and China customers chose Samsung’s 7nm. TSMC traditionially have dibs on Nvidia and MediaTek too. 

The Taiwan based foundry and Qualcomm are expected to ship in volume in early 2019 with announcement of the new product in late 2018, no surprises there. This will be the chip that comes after the soon to be announced Snapdragon 845.

The most talked phone after iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S9, is the first chip to feature the Snapdragon 845 but Samsung will use its own 10nm Exynos 8910 for some markets too. Luckily for Qualcomm no one else will use Exynos, as the majority of the Android high end phones exclusively use the Snapdragon 800 series chips.

Samsung is of course expected to manufacture its chips at its own fabs and we would expect this to happen in 2019 and volume production with some risk production in late 2018.  This is the SoC that comes after Exynos 8910 and if all goes well, it will first ship in the 2019 Galaxy S phone.

Qualcomm and Broadcom, according to the report are designing their next generation chips with TSMC’s7-nano PDK. The reason why Qualcomm went with 7nm with TSMC is the fact that the fab uses normal steppers while Samsung wants to make its 7nm with more bold and riskier EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet) photolithography technology.

Samsung is expected to be later to the 7nm game and early adopters had to go with TSMC. EUV is still technology that is not entirely ready for the mass market and there is a disagreement weather you should need to use Extreme Ultraviolet light manufacturing with 7nm or first with 5nm. Obviously the two main fabs disagree while GlobalFoundries cooperates and shares technology with Samsung, and will have Samsung to rely upon for 7nm.

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft Unveils ‘Near Share’ Wireless File-sharing Feature

November 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft last week unveiled another Windows 10 preview, a regular occurrence in its Insider program, that featured a handful of additions to the under-construction OS. One of those, called “Near Share,” is a simple wireless service meant for impromptu file transfer between devices.

The easiest way to pigeonhole Near Share is to think of it as Microsoft’s belated doppelgänger of Apple’s “AirDrop,” the share service that debuted on Macs, iPhones and iPads six years ago.

Although AirDrop is one of the most under-used tools in macOS and iOS, there’s no reason Near Share has to follow suit on Windows 10. That’s why Computerworld dug up information on the feature now, rather than wait for its debut next year.

Near Share is Microsoft’s name for its ad hoc file transfer feature in Windows 10.

Like Apple’s AirDrop, which it resembles, Near Share is a file transfer service that works only between nearby devices. It’s designed for occasional inter-device transfer where simplicity and convenience are paramount. Rather than email a presentation from one device to another, for example, or upload to an online storage service or the network, Near Share lets one user zip the file directly from his or her PC to a colleague’s.

Not to beat the comparison horse, but again, it works much like AirDrop, the iOS and macOS file-sharing feature. Near Share relies on both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth alone, to sniff out nearby devices, create an ad hoc peer-to-peer network, then transfer the file.

Like AirDrop, Windows 10’s Near Share uses Bluetooth to broadcast the presence of the sharing-enabled device, detect other ready devices, then negotiate the connection between the two. For all but the smallest files – which are transmitted via Bluetooth – Near Share moves the file over a point-to-point Wi-Fi link.

That Wi-Fi connection uses the Wi-Fi Direct peer-to-peer (P2P) industry standard.

Microsoft doesn’t say, but Bluetooth – the limiting factor here – can reach as far as 300 feet. Most Bluetooth, however, maxes out at an effective range that’s considerably less. Apple, for instance, recommends that AirDrop be used only when devices are within 30 feet of each other.

Microsoft debuted the file transmission in Build 17035 of its Windows 10 Insider program, released Nov. 8. Devices on both ends of the transfer must be running that or a later build of Insider. The feature must also be enabled on both devices by toggling the “Near Share” switch under the “Shared Experiences” section of Settings.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios must also be present in both devices. A Wi-Fi connection to the Internet, or even a Wi-Fi network, is not necessary.

Apple, Qualcomm Relations Takes A Negative Turn

November 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Qualcomm Inc filed suit against Apple Inc, alleging that it violated a software license contract to benefit rival chipmaker Intel Corp for making broadband modems, the latest salvo in the longstanding dispute between Qualcomm and Apple.

Qualcomm said in a lawsuit filed in California state court in San Diego on Wednesday that Apple used its commercial leverage to demand unprecedented access to the chipmaker’s highly confidential software, including source code.

Apple declined to comment on the suit. The company started using Intel’s broadband modem chips in the iPhone 7.

In its complaint, Qualcomm alleged that Apple was required under its contract to ensure that Apple engineers working with Qualcomm did not communicate details about Qualcomm chips to Apple engineers working on competing chips from Intel.

Qualcomm alleged that in July, Apple emailed Qualcomm to request “highly confidential” information about how its chips work on an unidentified wireless carrier’s network. Apple copied an Intel engineer in the email for information, Qualcomm alleged.

In another instance, Qualcomm alleged that an Apple engineer working on a competing chip asked an Apple engineer working with Qualcomm to get technical information from Qualcomm.

Reuters reported earlier this week that Apple would drop Qualcomm’s chips altogether from its iPhones and iPads beginning next year.

Does Virtual Reality Have Unlimited Potential

November 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Virtual reality, exciting as it may be for enthusiasts, is a technology that has yet to truly take hold with the masses, let alone transform people’s daily lives in the way that smartphones have. First, 2016 was supposed to be the “Year of VR.” Then, in 2017, we’ve heard over and over about the trough of disillusionment from VR developers. But that’s okay, because these early VR developers believe that they can become the leaders of a VR space that one day will be mainstream.

Certainly, that’s what Oculus VP of Content Jason Rubin thinks and it’s why his company continues to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the ecosystem. If you ask Rubin to respond to analysts’ assessment that VR’s so-called trough is becoming more of an abyss, he’ll tell you why comparisons to other technologies, like Kinect, simply aren’t valid.

“I tried to explain this in my keynote [at Oculus Connect] in a few sentences and I think I utterly failed to get the point across,” Rubin tells me. “When I said that VR gets compared to other technologies, each technology is different. I would suggest the easiest explanation I can give to a type of technology that VR gets compared to that is exactly wrong to compare would be 3D TV. 3D TV, when it came out, you could understand exactly how good 3D TV could get… It’s two cameras sitting next to one another. It’s still not real 3D yet. It’s stereoscopic, but you can’t move your head and see behind things. So I could say right then and there I am not spending a dollar extra on 3D. And, for that reason, none of the networks wanted to make 3D content…So you saw the entire potential of that device in the moment it was launched and you could easily dismiss it. 

“Let’s look at VR. I can tell you that there is a world in which VR acts a little bit more like a holodeck than it does today. That is way out of our timeline, but if you talk to Michael Abrash about what VR could be in his lifetime or the next lifetime, you start to get into some weird discussions, because VR could be, literally, anything. There is nothing that can come after VR because VR could simulate anything.

He continues, “VR’s potential is literally infinite because as we go from, as Mark [Zuckerberg] said, admittedly bulky goggles to smaller glasses to tricking your inner ear to getting into haptic and touch, you can imagine a world in which VR can do literally anything you can imagine. So, if we judge VR on today’s market, we are making a mistake. Even if the trough of disillusionment is deeper than many analysts might have wanted it to be, or they’re making that momentary discussion, this is silly… Can we imagine a world where there’s no screen door effect? Yes. Can we imagine a world where it’s not heavy? Yes. Can we imagine a world where there’s more content? Yes. So, unlike 3D TV, in exactly the opposite way, it has infinite potential. Not limited potential. Infinite potential. The question is, how long will it take to get there?”

Some have used the discontinuation of the Kinect from Microsoft not only as a reminder of the demise of traditional motion gaming ushered in by the Wii, but as a cautionary tale for technology that just doesn’t resonate on a large enough scale.

Rubin dismisses any Kinect comparisons as well: “Kinect was not as easy to understand as 3D TV. So I cannot look at Kinect and say, ‘Well, that’s [like] 3D TV.’ When I looked at Kinect first, I thought, ‘Huh, this could do some interesting stuff.’ But it was also not [something with] infinite potential because, ultimately, all it can do is track one or more bodies and put the information that those one or more bodies was transmitting onto a screen.

“So Kinect looked great, reached its potential quickly, and then the additional potential failed to deliver. And developers looked at Kinect – and I was there, I remember I was talking to Microsoft about building a Kinect game at one point very early on – and two years later it was pretty clear to everyone that this was not going to be the future. We had reached the potential. So, while Kinect started looking like VR, it very quickly reached its potential. I will tell you as we sit here today, whether this generation of VR, or a next generation of VR, one generation of VR will take over the world. That’s infinite potential. And that’s why I don’t like any of these analogies. They all fall flat for me.”

An analogy he does like, however, is one that Intel’s Kim Pallister shared with me recently. And that is the VR space is still searching for its Wii – a headset that sacrifices some performance for a much more attractive price and accessibility. When Oculus Go launches next year at $199 – $100 more than Gear VR, with which it’ll share a library – Rubin believes the standalone headset could be the answer to the Wii question.

“The perfect product market fit is the right hardware quality with the right price point and the right software to drive it,” he says. “I would suggest that VR is on the path to finding that perfect product.”

Go is far from perfect, but Rubin believes it will offer consumers a good balance between price and performance. “That $199 buys you a significant amount of capability,” he offers. “First of all, it’s fully contained. It doesn’t need a phone to plug into it. So, right off the bat, if you happen not to be a Samsung phone user… it doesn’t require you to switch to Android from iOS or switch to Samsung from another Android marketplace. In being all-in-one, it also allows you to take it on and off quickly. It won’t draw on your phone’s battery. Updates, carrier things, other stuff like that are taken care of much more cleanly because it’s not doing double duty as a phone and a VR device.

“The lenses are fantastic. They’re our latest technology. They’re amazing. If you try it, you will know I’m not exaggerating. The ergonomics are fantastic. When you take apart a phone and you take the pieces you need for a VR device out and distribute it around a headset appropriately, the weight isn’t slung all the way out at the end of your nose, so it feels better. [Gear VR] is still a great way of getting VR inexpensively. But if you’re a big VR enthusiast and you use it often or if you don’t have a Samsung device, Oculus Go gives you an opportunity to jump into the market. So our addressable market at low price point radically improves.”

The other major hardware announcement at Oculus Connect was the company’s Santa Cruz headset – an all-in-one HMD that offers six degrees of freedom and hand-tracking (as compared with 3DOF on Gear/Go) but Oculus isn’t revealing it as a consumer product just yet. Similar to the multiple dev kit iterations that Rift went through following its Kickstarter reveal, it appears that Santa Cruz is going to continue to be tweaked by the engineers on the team. One thing is clear, though: barring a technological miracle, there’s no way Santa Cruz will be able to replicate the exact high-end VR experience that Rift provides.

“To be completely honest, that [power equation] is still a part of our research,” Rubin notes. “That’s what we’re doing. We’re looking at the marketplace that it would come into. We’re looking at the capabilities that are needed to run inside-out tracking, because all of that has to be in the device. We’ll make that decision. Having said that, anyone with a mild amount of technical expertise, could pretty quickly determine that the power usage, the cooling, and the other demands of the PC min spec even that we’ve taken on Rift is not likely to show up in a portable device in the immediate future.”

There’s no doubt that committing to VR remains a risky proposition for many studios still. EVE Valkyrie dev CCP Games just exited VR altogether, and while this interview was conducted prior to that news, Rubin sees a light at the end of this chaotic VR tunnel. Studios may rise and fall around VR in the next few years, but those who manage to stick around may be amply rewarded.

“The chaos and excitement is creating a lot of failure that will eventually lead to success,” Rubin stresses. “So if a company or three or five or ten are struggling, that is the business. They understand that. They may complain, but that’s the world we live in. They’re betting on the long-term success of the hardware, and their ability to be the Naughty Dog, the Zynga, the Rovio, whatever, of VR. There are companies now that are succeeding if you look at the numbers, making million dollar, multi-million dollar titles.

“That did not exist a few years ago. They could not [invest that much]. A few hundred thousand dollars, maybe you could make your money back. Could you make a million dollar title? Probably not. But if you just read across the press, there are companies out there that are self-sustaining and they’re making titles that are a few million dollars… As we continue to make more and more [games with larger budgets], we bring more consumers into the marketplace. As we keep our price reasonable, we bring more people into the marketplace. That allows $2 million games to become $3 million games, etc, etc. As long as we stay ahead of that curve, and continue to expand the size and scope of the products we’re making, we will continue to make the ecosystem larger and larger, and that will bring more and more people in and that makes developers more likely to succeed on their own.”

For that reason, Oculus has been funding games by investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the ecosystem. But it’s clear that Oculus would rather see the ecosystem become self-sustaining. At that point, then we’ll truly see some AAA efforts on digital storefronts.

“If we pull this off – and I intend to – in the long run, we will be able to back away, and there will be companies like EA and Activision and Take-Two and everyone else that are putting $100 million into VR games and making their money back without any input from us,” Rubin adds. “That is the eventual success state. When we reach that point, to wrap this into some of the other questions you asked, some of those people will also want to do non-game things, and that will lead to opportunities to create the next Uber of VR or the Airbnb of VR or whatever strikes the people.”

There’s been a fair amount of controversy surrounding Oculus’ exclusives, but to Rubin it’s the competition that’s not doing VR any favors. “Again, if you’re not investing in the ecosystem, you are not driving VR’s success. You are coming along for the ride,” he states.

These days, Oculus closely scrutinizes every project before it commits to funding rather than looking to fund every small developer that comes knocking at its door.

“If a team comes to Oculus with a $1 million title or so, the question we ask ourselves is, ‘Do we need to finance this?’ That title can make its money back,” he says. “Especially, when we don’t fund it, they can put it out on multiple VR platforms, which we’re all for. It just increases the odds of making their money back. As Microsoft and others enter the marketplace, that is good for VR, because it is yet more pieces of hardware out there. Unfunded content that comes out for all of them has a better chance of making its money back.

“The shape of what we fund will change as that window of investment that can pay off gets larger and larger every year as the consumer base grows. And it may be that we continue to stay ahead of that to the point where we’re funding very expensive games and very expensive non-games. If we get to that point where we’re spending twice what we’re spending now on an average title, the only way we’ve gotten there is the average self-invested title is significantly larger too, because it can afford to make that investment and get a return on its investment. I’m not looking to retire anytime soon. But I do think we’ll get there some day.”

As Rubin alludes to, non-games could very well become a large chunk of Oculus’ business in the future. Right now, Oculus is a games-first company, but clearly social platform software and enterprise software for various industries is gaining in importance. And with the new VR interface for Oculus (called Dash) that allows you to control all your programs within VR, thereby eliminating the PC monitor, it’s conceivable that Oculus could become more like Microsoft – gaming would be just a slice of the corporation.

“Games were a big part of the launch of the [Apple] App Store because it was a low hanging fruit and it was obvious. But, in the long run, there is no question that, when we reach a billion people [in VR], games will be A use case, not THE use case,” Rubin says. “Social will be a massive use case…So will applications and utilities, because we all have things to achieve in our life. Seems to me, since I’ve been alive, every year we get more things we need to achieve in our life. So if we find a technology that makes some of those things easier, faster, or more efficient, we will adopt it. And that is exactly what drove mobile phone usage. It’s in your pocket. Look at how much easier I can do x, y, or z, and you immediately start doing it. By definition, as a computer platform, we will do all of those things. But we will start with entertainment and move towards them. By the way, we announced our enterprise partner program, so we are already taking steps to broaden.” 

One of the problems that content producers may have with VR is that it’s such a young technology that keeps evolving. It’s effectively changing faster than some studios can keep up with. This, too, will stabilize, Rubin promises.

“As a long-term developer of content… the most frustrating and exciting times always happen at the same point,” he says. “It is frustrating because there is so much change. So as a developer, creative, or other app creator, you are frustrated by how much things are changing and how rapidly they’re changing. But it’s also the most exciting time because, invariably, that change leads to opportunity and then opportunity leads to success. I can give you an endless number of examples of this. When cartridge based 2D games went CD and 3D, 2D cartridge based character action game makers stuck with 2D because 2D was something they knew and they made hundreds of millions of dollars at that time making those products. My little team at Naughty Dog didn’t have that background, so we joined the frustrating and exciting change to 3D and we watched a lot of companies try and fail at how to get various things into 3D. My company happened to get it right and we created Naughty Dog and billion-dollar franchises. 

“The exact same thing happened at the beginning of mobile,” he continues. “If you remember iPhone 1, iPhone 2 – every resolution of the screens would radically change. The capability of the screens would change. It was crazy town. And we didn’t know what people wanted out of the devices… Again, when Facebook opened up the opportunity for people to make apps on Facebook, nobody knew how to make a social app. [That] created Zynga. Was it frustrating? Oh my God! I actually was working on games back then. I’m sitting in Facebook’s offices [and] I will still say this. They changed the underlying SDK and rule-set on a bi-weekly basis and we were working on stuff that was going to take six months to a year to come out. It was incredibly frustrating and crazy. [But] it created multiple billion-dollar companies.”

VR developers are in the midst of figuring out how to best leverage the medium’s best traits. Titanfall creator Respawn, for example, announced a new project at Oculus Connect that aims to depict the realism of being a soldier. Rather than simply glorify the violence the way some shooters do today, Respawn wants to make you feel the tension and fear that someone on the battlefield must endure.

very empathetic,” Rubin notes. “I would also add that it may be that if you experience certain things in VR, it will teach you a lesson about what that would be like in real life. And so everything is a lesson and a learning. I will also say that Respawn is very aware of what they make. They’re good citizens. So judge us when the product comes out.”

Respawn’s title isn’t due until 2019, but as we’ve seen with the VR marketplace itself, patience is a virtue.

“The one thing I have no control of at Oculus is bringing software through production any faster. And it pains me,” Rubin laments. “All the Crash [Bandicoot games] were made in a year. Jax took two years. Two years is aggressive these days. At some point, it’s going to be a lifetime to bring out software. I hope we can figure out a better way. But, yes, unfortunately, it will take a little while, but the payoff will be there when we finish.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Next Page »