The numbers of VR-enabled smartphones and tablets, as well as shipments of VR devices bundled with gaming consoles or PCs will grow like topsy in the fourth quarter.
Beancounters at Digitimes Research have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and reached the conclusion that we should see some significant changes in the VR market soon.
Shipments of VR video-enabled smartphones and VR devices bundled with consoles will be higher compared to other devices. Vendors of VR-enabled tablets and VR headset bundled PCs which niche markets initially before they make headways by coming out with products with reduced prices and enriched content, should do rather well, the Digitimes Report claim.
Gaming and video are still the dominant VR applications in 2016. The successful launch of VR video-enabled flagship smartphones by Samsung Electronics in the first half of 2016 will encourage other vendors to follow suit.
Google and ARM updates to their VR video applications with reduced algorithm requirements in the fourth quarter of 2016 will help develop more VR video-enabled mobile devices.
Shipments of VR video-enabled smartphones are expected to reach 70 million units in 2016, accounting for 5 per cent of global smartphone shipments, Digitimes Research thinks.
Sony is expected to ship over three million PlayStation VR devices in the quarter, far higher than rival vendors.
While Intel has admitted it can’t build a 10nm chip, Mediatek is planning to release two of them using TSMC’s process.
According to the Economic Daily News MediaTek is considering rolling out two versions of its 10nm chips, the Helio X30 for high-end smartphones and the X35 for the lower-end segment.
It said that it will start volume production for the Helio X30-series SoCs as scheduled between the end of 2016 and early-2017. It is also thinking of having another 10nm series designed for mid- and high-end but not necessarily flagship smartphones.
The Helio X35 chips from MediaTek will also be built by TSMC using a lower-spec variant of the foundry’s 10nm processes. It is the first of TSMC’s first group of customers to adopt its 10nm process technology. The other is Apple.
TSMC said that its 10nm process has received product tape-outs from three clients, and will start generating revenues in the first quarter of 2017.
A few of you might remember that we exclusively posted the news that AMD is working on a 7nm CPU codenamed Starship. The 7nm APU is codenamed Gray Hawk and it aims to attain lower TDPs.
The AMD Starship X86 CPU is a 7nm unit with up to 48 cores and 96 threads and this definitely targets the high end server market as well as performance desktop computers. These CPUs will have a range of TDP values from 35W all the way to 180W. It is safe to assume that the version with 35W TDP ends up with much less than 48 cores.
Now AMD plans to launch its first 7nm and target some embedded markets. Of course, there will be a notebook version of a Gray Hawk, possibly with a different codename but AMD plans to use the 7nm quad core with eight threads, in 7nm for casino gaming machines, arcade gaming, industrial control and automation, retail signage, HMI and security machines. It will also fit into the highly profitable medical imaging market, premium thin clients and communication infrastructure.
We already said with that the APU that joins Polaris GPU architecture and 14nm FinFET Zen core is coming in the second half of 2017, and the Gray Hawk is the successor to that.
There is a big chance that this APU will mix with the Navi architecture that is also expected to launch in 7nm. This product is scheduled for a 2019 launch, so we have quite some time before it happens, but it is good to know that AMD is planning far ahead.
The lowest TPD parts will get to 10W, which sounds quite amazing considering what kind of specification that APU might end up having.
The middle of next year is when we expect to see the Zen / Polaris APUs in notebooks and a bit later in embedded systems. AMD’s Lisa Su was clear at Computex earlier this year. She said that the company plans to launch the desktop first, following with server then notebook and last of all t will be a unit aimed at the embedded market.
Bear in mind that these products should still be considered as concepts and they are subject to change. AMD first needs to master a 14nm FinFET low TDP notebook and embedded Zen based parts before it can more to the very exciting 7nm.
AMD Chief Technology Officer Mark Papermaster has told the world that AMD will become the top manufacturer when it comes to PCs and servers.
According to IDG, Papermaster said that the outfit will be making Vega 10 GPU available by first half of 2017. He added that AMD plans to release high-end PCs and servers which will be powered by the new Zen chip and the first Vega 10 GPU.
He thinks that this will gain market share in the gaming, virtual reality, other desktop applications, which will require high-performance GPUs. AMD is going to pitch Zen and Vega 10 GPU (possibly AMD Radeon GTX 490) as being the best of the PC generation. Apparently that positive attitude will give Nvidia and Intel a good kicking.
AMD’s next GPU architecture powered by HBM2, which is proven to increase performance significantly while maintaining power efficiency. HBM2 is also reported to provide maximum throughput of up to 256GBps, thus it is capable of carrying out all existing powerful apps such as virtual reality, 3D rendering and many more.
This leaves the budget and mid-level PCs running Polaris.
Basically this means that AMD is carrying on the same business model it always has done – compete on cost against Nvidia and Intel. That does not mean that the quality is noticeably different, but it does mean that it will always be cheaper.
Those players all participated in Battlefield 1’s beta across ten days, between August 30 and September 8. EA DICE has confirmed that the 13.2 million people make it “the biggest beta in EA’s history,” topping the previous record holder, Star Wars: Battlefront, which attracted more than 9 million players.
As big as Battlefront’s beta was, though, it was surpassed in popularity by Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch, which pulled in 9.7 million in May this year. The question surrounding Battlefield I, then, is whether it’s the most popular beta of this generation. While EA hadn’t laid claim to that at the time of writing, based on other publicly available figures it seems likely: Ubisoft’s The Division had 6.4 million players in its beta, while Activision’s Destiny had 4.6 million.
In any case, these will be glad tidings for EA DICE, and EA’s shareholders. As Niko Partners’ Daniel Ahmad pointed out on Twitter, Destiny, The Division, Battlefront and Overwatch all demonstrate a clear trend.
One trend I’ll note is that each of the full games above sold to more people than played the open beta’s within the 3 months from launch.
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) September 15, 2016
Battlefield 1 launches on October 21.
Those who thought that VR would be a cure for cancer will be disappointed to know that sales of the hardware have stalled already.
Earlier stock problems for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are now over but no one is buying according to a Steam survey.
We had already suggested that the Rift and Vive would not have mass market appeal, mostly because the hardware requirements were too great. It looks like betting the farm on the tech was not a good idea.
With the Oculus Rift priced at $550 and the HTC Vive at $800, the price is obviously the main problem, with a Steam survey showing that only 0.18 per cent of users own an HTC Vive and only 0.10 per cent have an Oculus Rift.
HTC Vive sales grew only 0.3 per cent in July and were completely flat in August. Oculus Rift sales grew by the same amount in July and just 0.1 per cent in August.
To be fair the Oculus Rift has not officially launched in the UK until September 20, but it is hard to see how it will be more popular in the EU.
This does not mean that the technology is stuffed. It just means that the small number of early adopters who wanted to play with it already have one. Interest from the great unwashed is not happening. This is mostly because there are no games or anything interesting to play with.
This might change with the arrival of the PlayStation Neo console,that is specifically designed with the PlayStation VR headset in mind. Not only will it be cheaper, at £350 it also has significant software support from the rest of the games industry. Still it is an Atlas-like task for Sony to convince the world that VR is a good idea.
AMD is talking about how it is life might be becoming easier thanks to the rise of virtual reality (VR).
Chatting to the Orlando Sentinel, vice president for AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group Joe Cox said that there was a big resurgence in virtual reality.
“Virtual reality is exciting because it’s new and there is an excitement around it right now. But it’s just now in its infancy and has a long road ahead for it.”
Its hope is that the company will pick up on the back of the developing VR market. It is not the only one which is making this claim. Bean counters for Mercury Research think that AMD has 12.3 percent of the graphics processor market, up from 11.8 percent the prior quarter. That was the first jump since the first quarter of 2012.
The paper quoted Richard Terrell, a virtual reality developer who think’s AMD’s new graphics processors enhance its ability to compete in virtual reality.
“This is one of the key things that puts them in a good position for the next generation of VR technology that is about to hit us. Looking at the history of AMD, the company is well suited for it. Intel hasn’t had this kind of competition in a while,” he said
Growing competition in virtual reality means more opportunity for AMD which has seen its shares increase to $7.68. They hit a more than 40-year low of $1.61 per share on July 27, 2015.
The Orlando office works heavily on the Radeon RX 480 processor, which one recent review called “the best $200 GPU you can buy today”.
Cox said he expects the group to keep having a good effect on the company’s overall performance.
“We need to keep moving the graphics architecture and double its performance and power. Augmented reality processors, they need to be extremely low power and high performance. The goal is more pixels, less wattage.”
Nvidia has updated its Grid software platform with deeper performance profiling and analytics tools for planning, deployment, and support of virtual GPU users.
According to the company the improved management tools address both host (server) managment and virtual client monitoring. Nvidia says that with the new Grid software, admins will be able to get information about the number of virtual graphics instances in use and the number they can potentially create.
They can also see usage information for the stream processors on board each card, the percentage of the card’s frame buffer that’s in use, and the load on each card’s dedicated video encode and decode hardware.
Each guest vGPU instance will tell admins information on encoder and decoder usage, frame buffer occupancy, and the vGPU use. Nvidia adds that it all takes the guess work out of vGPU provisioning and the data it’s exposing about vGPU usage will let system administrators tailor their virtual user profiles better.
All this means that it might stop the admins giving too much processing power to accounts when it is needed for the graphics team. Nvidia thinks those operational improvements will also help lower costs. The August 2016 Grid software update should be available immediately.
AMD has revealed a heap of details about its 32-core Zen based product – codenamed Naples – and we have a few things to add.
According to our well-informed sources the engineering samples were expected in Q4 2016 which starts in October. Remember, we were the first to mention Naples in detail in June 2016. Sometimes AMD calls these products Alpha versions but it looks like AMD was able to demonstrate the CPU a bit earlier as it did a public demonstration at the event in San Francisco last week. This could have been a pre-Alpha version that was stable enough to run.
The beta version will follow Q1 2017 and this CPU should be the pre-final version before the company goes to initial production. There is another step in between called the final/general sample that is expected in Q2 2017 and followed by initial production.
When a tech company says a product will launch in the second quarter, expect it to happen towards the end. Our best guess is a launch time around Computex 2017. It will take place in the last days of May or the first days of June 2017.
The fact that AMD now supports DDR4 memory, USB 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps, NVME makes its server portfolio a bit more competitive with Intel’s offering.
AMD’s Michael Clark is expected to give an audience at the Hot chips conference a bit more details about “
A New, High Performance x86 Core Design from AMD” but we doubt that he will talk about the possible launch date in as many details as we did.
According to a well-informed sources the engineering samples were expected in Q4 2016 which starts in October. Sometimes AMD calls these products an Alpha version but it looks like AMD was able to demonstrate the CPU a bit earlier as it did a public demonstration at the event in San Francisco last week. This might be a pre-alpha version that was stable enough to show.
The beta version is following already in Q1 2017 and this CPU should be the pre-final version before the company goes to initial production. There is another step in between called final / general sample that is expected in Q2 2017 and it is followed by initial production.
When a company says a second quarter for a launch, you should expect it to happen towards the end of it. Our best guess is a launch time around Computex 2017. It will take place in last days of May or first days of June 2017.
The fact that AMD now supports DDR4 memory, USB 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps, NVME makes its server portfolio a bit more competitive with Intel’s offering.
AMD’s Michael Clark is expected to give an audience at the Hot chips conference a bit more details about “A New, High Performance x86 Core Design from AMD” but we doubt that he will talk about the launch date in as many details as we just have.
TSMC is gearing up to build MediaTek’s new Helio X30 SoC using the 10nm process and it looks like everything will be set for volume production in the first quarter of 2017.
It looks like the chip will be out before TSMC uses the same process to make Apple’s new chips later in 2017. Of course when Apple releases its chip it will try to convince the world that it is the first and it invented the whole process.
TSMC will also offer its backend integrated fan-out (InFO) wafer-level packaging (WLP) technology for Apple’s 10nm A11 chips.. However this timetable it means that hte X30 will really be the ground breaking technology which tests TSMC’s 10nm and MediaTek is taking the biggest risk.
Digitimes said that Qualcomm worked with Samsung Electronics to produce its next-generation Snapdragon 830 chips using its 10nm technology and that TSMC lost the orders for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 series to Samsung.
TSMC told its July investors meeting that its 10nm process will start generating revenues in the first quarter of 2017. The node has received product tape-outs from three clients, and more tape-outs are expected to come later in 2016, the foundry said.
Pokemon Go is the only thing anyone wants to talk about. Even people who don’t want to talk about Pokemon Go end up talking about it all the time, if only to tell everyone how sick they are of people talking about Pokemon Go. Social networks are full of Pokemon Go, going out for a drink is now impossible without occasional interruptions as a buzzing phone signals the possible arrival of a rare beast, and comparisons of recent prized acquisitions have replaced complaints about the weather as smalltalk.
It’s not just your social group that’s talking about Pokemon Go, though. Damned near every conversation I’ve had within the industry in recent days has turned to Pokemon Go at some point. The games industry has produced some remarkable social phenomena in recent decades – Grand Theft Auto 3, Halo and Angry Birds all spring to mind as games that leapt across the boundaries to ignite the mainstream imagination, at least for a time – but none has been as fast, as widespread or as visible as Pokemon Go. It’s inevitable, then, that business people across the industry find themselves wondering how to help themselves to a slice of this pie.
Behind the headlines about the game itself, there’s another story building steam. Some investors and venture capitalists are hunting for the “next Pokemon Go”, or a “Pokemon Go killer”; developers are frantically preparing pitches and demos to that effect; IP holders are looking at their own franchises and trying to figure out which ones they could “do a Pokemon Go” with. I know of several investor meetings in the past week alone in which developers of quite different games were needled to push their titles towards mobile AR in an effort to replicate the success of Pokemon Go.
This is an ill-advised direction, to say the very least. From a creative standpoint, it’s hard not to roll one’s eyes, of course; this bandwagon-hopping occurs after every major hit game earns its success. For a couple of years after any truly huge game captures the industry’s imagination, it seems that the only words investors want to hear are “it’s like that hit game you think you understand, but with something extra”. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing; “it’s like Grand Theft Auto but with superpowers” was probably the pitch line for the excellent Crackdown, while “it’s like Grand Theft Auto but we drink more heavily in our design meetings” was probably not the pitch line for Saints Row, but should have been. This approach does also yield more than its fair share of anaemic clones of great games, but it has its merits, not least in being a clear way of communicating an idea to people who may not be experts in game design.
In the instance of Pokemon Go, however, there’s a really fundamental problem with the bandwagon jumping. Even as third parties fall over themselves to figure out how to hop aboard the Pokemon Go bandwagon, the fact is that we don’t even know if this bandwagon is rolling yet. Pokemon Go is a free-to-play mobile game, which means that its phenomenal launch is only the first step. In F2P, a great launch is not a sign of success, it’s a sign of potential; the hard work, and the real measure of a game’s success, is what comes next.
To put this in blunt terms, Pokemon Go has just managed to attract the largest audience of any mobile game within weeks of its launch – and it could just as readily find itself losing that audience almost in its entirety within a few weeks. If that happens, those enormous download numbers and the social phenomenon that has built up around the game will be almost meaningless. Mobile games make their money over long periods of time and rely upon engaging players for months; a mobile game that’s downloaded by millions, but is only being played by thousands within a few weeks, is not a success, it’s a catastrophic case study in squandered potential.
I’m not necessarily saying that this will happen to Pokemon Go – though there are warning signs there already, which I’ll get to in a moment – I’m saying, rather, that it could happen to Pokemon Go, and that it’s therefore vastly premature for anyone to be labelling this as a model for success or chasing after it with their own mobile AR titles. There are shades of what happened with VR, where Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus drove ludicrous amounts of capital into some very questionable VR startups and projects, inflating a valuation bubble which many investors are now feeling deeply uncomfortable about. Here, the initial buzz for Pokemon Go has sent capital seeking out similar projects long before we actually get any proper feedback on whether the model is sustainable or worthwhile.
There’s actually only one way in which Pokemon Go has been an unqualified success thus far, and that’s in its incredibly powerful validation of the Pokemon brand. Nintendo walks away from this whole affair a winner, no matter what; the extraordinary launch of the game is, as I’ve argued previously, a testament to the huge appeal of Pokemon, the golden age of nostalgia it’s going through, and the clever recognition of its perfect fit to the outdoor, AR-based gameplay of Niantic’s games. The thing is that thus far, we simply can’t tell to what extent Pokemon Go is riding the wave of that brand, and to what extent it’s actually bedding in as a sustainable game with a huge playing (and paying) audience.
I have my own suspicions that Pokemon Go is actually quite troubled on the latter count. Looked at from the standpoint of mobile and F2P game design, the game is severely lacking in the crucial area of player retention. At first, it does a great job; it trickle-feeds new Pokemon to you and filling out the first 100 or so entries in the Pokedex is a fun challenge that keeps players coming back each day. It’s then that things become more problematic. As players reach higher levels, the game applies significantly more friction (not necessarily in fun ways, with Niantic making some very dubious guesses as to the tolerance for frustration of their players) even as the actual reasons for playing start to fade away.
At high levels, finding or evolving new creatures is incredibly rare, and the only other thing for players to do is battling at Pokemon Gyms – which some players find entertaining, but which is a completely disconnected experience from the thing people have been enjoying up to that point, namely exploring and collecting new Pokemon. The idea that players who love exploring and collecting will be motivated by combat at Gyms seems naive, and misunderstands the different motivations different people have for playing games. My suspicion is that on the contrary, lots of players, perhaps a significant majority, will complete as much of their Pokedex as they reasonably can before churning out of the game – a high churn rate that will be exacerbated by the dying down of the “halo” of social media around the game, which inexplicably lacks any social features of its own.
I could be wrong – I’d be very happy to be wrong, in fact – but my sense of where Pokemon Go is headed is that, absent some dramatic updates and changes from Niantic in the coming weeks, the game is destined to be a fad. It will achieve its objective for Nintendo in some regards, establishing the value of the firm’s IP on mobile and probably igniting interest in this year’s upcoming 3DS Pokemon titles, but in the broad scheme of things it’s likely to end up being a fun summer fad that never converts into being a sustainable, long-term business.
In that case, those companies and investors chasing the Pokemon Go dollar with ideas for Pokemon Go killers or Pokemon Go-alikes are running down a blind alley. Crucially, they’re misunderstanding the game’s appeal and value; at the moment, Pokemon Go’s appeal is firmly rooted in its IP, and no other IP is ever going to replicate that in the same way. Digimon might have some appeal within a certain age group; Yokai Watch is largely unknown in the west and its players in Japan skew too young for an outdoor AR game to make much sense; I can think of no other franchise that would fit the “Pokemon Go model” well enough to make for an appealing game. If Pokemon Go turns out to be sustainable, then there’s potential for other companies to start thinking about what to do with this new audience of people who have fallen for mobile AR experiences; but until that happens, every VC dollar or man-hour of design time spent on a “Pokemon Go killer” is most likely being wasted entirely.
Samsung is shipping its PM1633a SSD which has 15.36TB of storage space however you are not going to get much change out of $10,000.
Samsung now has the drive available at select retailers but at $10,000 it is one of the most expensive SSD storage drives around. Pricing seems to vary too with CDW asking $10,311.99 while SHI wants $9,690 on pre-order. There is a 7.68TB flavour but that is $5,700.
The SSDs are based around 16 of Samsung’s 256Gb TLC 3D V-NAND memory chips. These chips make a 512GB package which are then scaled up. The biggest drive uses 32 of those packages to build the largest of the PM1633a SSDs. The is a new controller specifically for this drive to increase the performance offered. The 15.36TB SSD offers sequential read performance of up to 1200 MB/s and sequential write performance of up to 900 MB/s using a SAS-12Gbps interface.
Random read operations are 195,000 and write speds are 31,000 IPOPs. Those wanting to spend less money and needing less storage can get 480GB, 960GB, 1.92TB, 3.84TB, and 7.68TB models.
Although it looks pricey, actually it works out being cheaper for business running massive data centers. Power consumption is around 11W active and 4.5W idle for the SSDs.
Nvidia will be showing off its Pascal-based discrete notebook GPUs at Gamescom in Europe, on August 17-21.
Digitimes claims that Asustek Computer, MSI, Gigabyte Technology and Clevo are expected to be showing off their latest Pascal based offerings. What is interesting is that they see Europe as the major market for gaming PC products. The number of gamers in the region has been rising rapidly, many gaming PC vendors have been expanding their reach into Europe’s channel and have been sponsoring e-sport teams in Europe.
Apparently Nvidia is unifying its product names and will no longer use the letter M to differentiate its desktop and notebook products. At Gamescom, Nvidia will unveil its GeForce GTX 1080/1070/1060-series GPUs for notebooks.
This means, it seems, that Nvidia’s desktop and notebook GPUs with the same name will have equal performance, something which is a move away from the past when Nvidia’s notebook GPUs were weaker than its desktop parts. Meanwhile gaming notebooks with existing 980M/970M/960M GPUs are expected to see price cuts.
However, analysts at Canalys and IDC are seeing a glimmer of hope for the devices with business demand for detachable tablets like the Microsoft Surface Pro and the iPad Pro. The Windows 10 anniversary update, which rolls out tomorrow, could further the business trend toward detachable tablets as could the next version of Android, called Nougat, with its better multitasking support.
Canalys reported 35 million tablets shipped in the second quarter, down 16% from a year ago. IDC said overall shipments reached 38.7 million, a decline of 12.3%.
According to Canalys, Apple tablets took the top spot at a 28% share of the market, while Samsung took a 16% share and Lenovo and Huawei got 7% and 6% respectively. IDC’s numbers were about the same: Apple had 25.8%; Samsung, 15.6%; Lenovo, 6.6% and Huawei, 5.6%. IDC tracked Amazon with a 4% market share, citing its low-priced Fire tablets, based on an Android variant, including its 6-in. tablet, for the first time.
For more than two years, analysts have watched the tablet market decline. The reasons are primarily because users hold on to the devices for longer and because larger smartphones — those with displays over 5.5 inches — have caught on as an alternative to smaller tablets.
In June, IDC predicted global tablet shipments would drop by 9.6% for all of 2016, up from a prediction of a 6% decline in March.
IDC said the tablet decline would occur even when newer detachables tablets are included with slate tablets. Slates “are not coming back,” IDC analyst Jean Phillippe Bouchard said at the time.
Later in June, Bouchard joined IDC analyst Bryan Bassett in predicting that global business use of tablets would grow by nearly 6% annually through 2020. Even so, that figure would still not be enough to reach the number of total consumer and business tablets shipped in 2015. In 2015, IDC said 206 million tablets shipped, including 35 million for business users, but in 2020, the total number will reach only 202.6 million, including 59.4 million for business users.
AMD recently mentioned that it has built hardware directly with Samsung and there is a further option to tap the company in the future for product ramps.
Analyst Patrick Moorhead, of Moor Insights and Security made the announcement after AMD investors questions about where AMD was building most of its hardware became a little more pointed.
AMD has said that it has bought $75 million in wafers from GlobalFoundries in Q2, that number struck Moorhead and co as a bit on the small side.
Moorhead questioned AMD on the deal and was told:
“AMD has strong foundry partnerships and our primary manufacturing partners are GLOBALFOUNDRIES and TSMC. We have run some product at Samsung and we have the option of enabling production with Samsung if needed as part of the strategic collaboration agreement they have with GLOBALFOUNDRIES to deliver 14nm FinFET process technology capacity.”
If AMD has options to build at Samsung that could be a bad sign for GlobalFoundries. After all it only spun off the outfit because it wanted a more agile manufacturing partner. GlobalFoundries struggled with its customer base and AMD had to cancel its Krishna and Wichita parts and move to TSMC.
When GloFo canned its 20nm and 14nm XM nodes and licensed 14nm technology from Samsung only to experience delays with that too.
Getting more out of Samsung might not result in significant volumes but the option to do so will keep GloFo or TSMC clean if they run into ramping or yield problems. GloFo’s licensed version of Samsung’s 14nm could easily be done by Samsung.