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Is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 Going Eight Cores?

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has already revealed that Snapdragon 835 is officially the world’s first 10nm SoC, and Fudzilla exclusively posted this in April 2016. At that time, Qualcomm didn’t want to officially talk about the insides of the Snapdragon 835, but a leaked roadmap claims that the new SoC has 4+4 cores based on updated Kryo 200 architecture. 

The same leak doesn’t talk about any clock speeds, but one can assume that there are four faster and more powerful and four slower cores, something that you saw with the Snapdragon 810 and the  Snapdragon 600 series. A Chinese source includes the fact that this is a 10nm FinFET processor and has a Snapdragon X16 Gigabit class modem. These two things have been officially confirmed by Qualcomm.

The roadmap details Adreno 540, obviously, with faster GPU support for 4x LPDDR 4x @ 1866 MHz memory. The new Snapdragon 835 (also called MSM 8998 internally) supports UFS 2.1 storage and it is supposed to arrive in Q1 2017. The source is quite confident that you can expect to see this SoC inside some versions of Samsung Galaxy S8 phones.

Snapdragon 660 is clearly a successor to the recently launched Snapdragon 653. The Snapdragon 653 comes with four Cortex A72 with speeds up to 1.95GHz and four Cortex A53 for power saving. The new Snapdragon 653 supports a few important features that will drive phone sales in the mainstream part of the market in 2017. The Snapdragon 653 has a Snapdragon X9 Cat 7 modem with 300 Mbps downlink speeds and 150 Mbps uplink speeds, dual cameras, and supports 8GB of RAM.

This is what you will see in mainstream phones in early 2017. Let’s not forget the Qualcomm upload plus. It comes with 2x20MHz carrier aggregation and 64-QAM modulation on both upload and download side. We think 8GB will be very big for mainstream and performance phones, but of course is pure marketing and very little to do with need or necessity.  

According to the leaked roadmap, the information about the chip potentially called Snapdragon 660 are all over the place. First they called it the MSM 8976 Plus and Qualcomm  shared on its website that the Snapdragon 653 also shares a 8976 Pro internal branding. The Snapdragon 660 and 8976 Plus might be two different chips. In any case they would come to replace the Snapdragon 653 / 652 SoCs. 

The roadmap also claims that the MSM 8976 Plus chip comes with Kryo 4×4 configuration while the Snapdragon 660 comes with Cortex A73 quad core with four Cortex A53s. It would make a lot of sense to see the 14nm Cortex A73 quad core with four Cortex A53 cores. The GPU is updated to Adreno 512, while the Snapdragon 653 comes with Adreno 510. The 14nm makes sense as it will offer a lot of power savings compared to the Snapdragon 652 and 653, both based on a 28nm manufacturing process. 

We would not expect to see Snapdragon 660 and mysterious MSM 8976 Plus before the middle of next year at the earliest, but the roadmap also claims that the new chip comes with Snapdragon X10 300/ 150 Mbit capable LTE Category 13 (uplink) LTE Category 7 (downlink) modem.

Last and not least, the new MSM 8976 Plus might support UFS 2.1 storage and 2x LPDDR4 4X at 1866 MHz.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Word-Of-Mouth The Best Way To Advertise Games?

November 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Last week, over three and a half years after its initial release, Digital Extremes’ free-to-play shooter Warframe broke its concurrent player record with expansion The War Within, hitting Steam’s top three on the weekend of release, recording a maximum of 68,530 players online at once and logging an incredible 1.2 million hours of playtime in a single day. Across PC and the more recent Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game, over 1 million of the 26 million players who have registered since the game’s 2013 launch had played by November’s halfway point, beating all previous monthly unique records with a fortnight to go.

Those are impressive numbers, especially for a game at a point in its lifecycle where it could certainly be forgiven for slowing down – and it’s no anomalous bump. Instead, a quick glance at SteamSpy’s graphs for the game show a steadily increasing number of players for the game, as well as a very healthy schedule of updates, patches and big content drops. Rather than leeching users to other games as it ages, Warframe is going from strength to strength.

Meridith Braun, VP Publishing at Digital Extremes, says that it’s been a tight compromise of strategies – resulting in a success which far exceeds the expectations of a game which was initially seen as something of a make or break exercise. Key to that, she says, has been a careful acquisition process, but not one which has come at the cost of long term curation and engagement of existing players.

“It’s definitely a balancing act between catering development to new players and veterans of the game,” Braun explains, “but after 3.5 years, the core of the game has grown so much that for new players there are literally hundreds of hours of missions, quests, customising and exploring game systems before they catch up to where veteran players are.

“Whilst many of our updates focus on adding new content and improving game systems that our veterans are most interested in, earlier this year we took a fresh look at the new player experience and released an update that refined some of the tutorials, updated the UI, tied quests together to help the lore flow better, and revamped the market for easier functionality. It was not our most played update, like The Second Dream or The War Within, but it served a long-tail purpose of making Warframe more inviting and easier to understand for new players. It helps them navigate to the really intricate depths of the game with the intent to retain them long-term.”

“We spend very little compared to other free-to-play games that focus a large amount of their budgets on acquisition”

Polishing the tip of the spear is a tried and tested acquisition technique, but it’s not usually a way of sidestepping the vast costs which many companies associate with gathering new players. Warframe’s marketing, though, was forged in a crucible of necessity, at a time when budgets were almost non-existent. As a result, the studio has learned to maximise the gain from channels which deliver users without draining revenue, although the financial success of the game has also enabled them to operate in areas previously well beyond their price range.

“We spend very little compared to other free-to-play games that focus a large amount of their budgets on acquisition,” says Braun. “Warframe was a passion project – the studio’s ‘Hail Mary’ pass, if you will. There was barely budget to buy an account server for the game, let alone to spend on marketing at the time. We turned to viral everything to get the word out: live streaming, social media, Reddit, forums, PR, knocking on partner’s doors for promotional opportunities. Once we launched in open beta and more players got a taste of the game, it was clear we had something unique on our hands. Since then our acquisition strategy has focused primarily on our update schedule and community involvement.

“We discovered early on that frequent significant updates – updates that added dramatic gameplay changes, enhancements and content, and transparency with our community, brought in droves of new players. Now that we have more wiggle room in our coffers, we work the usual acquisition channels – online CPA-focused advertising, social media, streaming, etc. – but nothing beats age old word-of-mouth between players telling their friends to join in on a game that only gets better and better over time.”

What’s perhaps even more unusual about the current high that Warframe finds itself riding upon is that it comes at a time when the AAA shooter market is crowded with a wide spread of very high quality competitors – many of which are under-performing at retail. The game’s peak numbers come at a point when there are brand new Battlefield and Call of Duty games at market, as well as extremely well reviewed releases like the Titanfall and Dishonored sequels.

“Warframe was a passion project – the studio’s ‘Hail Mary’ pass, if you will. There was barely budget to buy an account server for the game, let alone to spend on marketing at the time”

Braun very much sees free-to-play as playing a significant part in the difficulties which Warframe’s boxed rivals are experiencing.

“I think we’re seeing the F2P model disrupting the standard retail model for larger budget games,” she says. “The continued rise of AAA-quality, free-to-play games coming to market – and their ability to fill the long gaps between large IP releases – is taking a bite out of the big game market. Just this year it was great to see F2P titles like Paragon and Paladins launch to great fanfare and numbers, I’m sure they both had some effect on the big budget FPS games alongside Warframe.

“It’s hard to compete with free. Sure, we want people to eventually pay for the entertainment they’re receiving – but when you have the ability to try out a game for free for as long as you want, a game with equally great production value, and then decide if it’s a game that deserves your money, that’s pretty stiff competition. The larger games also aren’t built to be as agile and reactive to the market after they ship. Free games at their core are made to continually update and improve, offering incredible value and entertainment over a longer period of time.”

Blizzard probably has a few things to say about the notion that free-to-play games offer the best long-term player engagement and responsive improvement, and Braun freely admits that games like Overwatch share that strategy of player curation. Warframe, she says, also offers something else, though. Because it wasn’t a Blizzard game, born almost fully-fledged and slickly functional, early adopters have had the joy of watching it smooth out its rougher edges.

“When Warframe first launched it was a shell of the size of game it has become, and our players have stayed with our growth throughout its life-span. They enjoy taking the ride with us, being a part of the evolution, experiencing game development from the front seat. If you’re not thinking about long-term engagement and game service at the heart of your game design as a good part of the future of gaming, you may have yet to come to grips with the dwindling projections of one-and-done games.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Will The iPhone 8 Go OLED?

November 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Hopes that Apple might sex up its iPhone 8 with OLED technology could be dashed by the fact that its suppliers can’t make enough of the technology.

After producing an iPhone 7 which was more or less the same as the last one, Apple had been expected to do something special with the iPhone 8. OLED screens were being touted as a way that the tax-dodging cargo cult might pull that off.

However according to the IB Times  suppliers may not be able to meet the demand.

This could force Apple to release limited next-gen iPhone units in 2017 with the rest using the older LCD technology. In other words it will be regurgitating the same technology it has used for years meaning that the iPhone 8 will look and feel like the iPhone 7, which looked suspiciously like the iPhone 6, which was not much of an advance from the iPhone 5.

Samsung Display, LG Display, Sharp and Japan Display cannot mass produce enough units as demanded by the smartphone industry. OLED screens are difficult and time-consuming to produce and it is likely that this constraint will spill over to 2018.

Samsung is reported to be the chief supplier for iPhone’s OLED panels in 2017 but it is facing low yield rates along with its high demand. Apple ordered an initial round of 100 million units for 2017 but Samsung is likely to produce only a portion of that.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple may resort to releasing a fair amount of units featuring screens that use older LCD technology.

Courtesy-Fud

China Asks Apple To Investigate Mysterious iPhone 6 Shutdowns

November 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

 

iphone-6-150x150A consumer protection group in China has made a request to Apple to investigate an issue with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S units that are automatically shutting off.

Recently, iPhone customers in the country have complained about the problem to the China Consumers Association, the group said in a statement on Tuesday. The shutdowns occur when the phone’s battery charge drops to between 60 and 50 percent.

The problem will persist despite upgrading to the latest version of iOS. It will also occur in both cold environments and at room temperature.  After the automatic shutdown, the phones will also fail to turn on without connecting to a power supply.

A “considerable number” of consumers have contacted the China Consumers Association, and many have the same problem, the group said. It made the statement as the local press in the country have written stories about the shutdowns.

Apple hasn’t publicly commented on the matter.

Prior to Tuesday’s statement from the consumer association, affected iPhone users in the country also took to local social media services to express their complaints.

“When the battery is at 60 percent it shuts down,” wrote one user on Sina Weibo. “On restart, the phone will display no battery. Then when I turn it on again, it will be normal, only to automatically shut down again.”

Local Chinese media have posted the letter the China Consumers Association sent to Apple. It asks that the company reply within 10 days.

The association is asking Apple what the problem is, whether the phone’s battery is responsible, and what steps the company will take to address the issue.

WhatsApp Adds Full Encryption To Video Calls

November 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

whatsapp-logo-150x150One of the most popular means of communication, Facebook’s  WhatsApp, had included fully encrypted video calling to its messaging app as of Monday, a move that comes as privacy advocates worry about the potential for stepped-up government surveillance under a Trump administration.

WhatsApp, which boasts more than a billion users worldwide, adopted end-to-end encryption early this year, making it technically impossible for the company or government authorities to read messages or listen to calls.

The new video calling service will thus provide another means for people to communicate without fear of eavesdropping though WhatsApp does retain other data such as an individual’s list of contacts.

WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum said in an interview that video calls will be rolled out to 180 countries within hours after the feature is introduced at an event in India.

“We obviously try to be in tune with what our users want,” Koum said at the company’s unmarked Mountain View, California headquarters building. “We’re obsessed with making sure that voice and video work well even on low-end phones.”

Koum told Reuters that improvements in phone cameras, battery life and bandwidth had made the service viable for a significant proportion of WhatsApp users, even those using inexpensive smartphones.

Apple Inc  offers its FaceTime video calls to iPhone users, and Microsoft Corp’s  Skype offers video calls on multiple platforms. But WhatsApp has built a massive installed base of mobile customers and has been steadily adding more features to what began as a simple chat applications.

Do 8-bit Video Games Compete In The Industry Today?

November 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

8-bit-gamesNostalgia has become a powerful tool in entertainment these past few years.

Whether it is the return of X-Files and Twin Peaks, or Shenmue and Pokémon, bringing back classic IP has become a safe way to secure headlines and generate copious amounts of hype.

Yet it’s not just brands that are tapping into our love for the familiar. Take this summer’s smash Netflix show Stranger Things, which plays homage to both ’80s Spielberg and classic horror. Or indeed the millions of dollars that the likes of Yooka-Laylee and Bloodstained have raised on Kickstarter – the former riffing on 1990s platformers like Banjo-Kazooie (and made by many of the same team members), with the latter acting as the spiritual successor to Castlevania (from former producer Koji Igarashi).

Ron Gilbert is another person looking to recreate those ’90s feelings. The adventure game maker behind the likes of Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island is creating a new one called Thimbleweed Park, a point-and-click adventure with retro 8-bit visuals that raised $626,250 via Kickstarter.

“I think a lot of the nostalgia that is around right now comes from a desire to go back to a simpler time,” suggest Gilbert, speaking to Gamesindustry.biz shortly after appearing at Melbourne International Games Week in Australia.

“Back then games were a little bit simpler and seeping with charm. A lot of people that love the 8-bit games today might not have even been alive back then, but they still identify with that era because it was so interesting and charming.

“It is really one of the reasons we did Thimbleweed Park. We were looking at and asking why was Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion so appealing? What is it about modern adventure games, although they’re interesting and have great stories, that means they lack the charm those games from that era had? Can we recreate that old feeling today?”

Point-and-click adventure games are enjoying a small renaissance, thanks in part to the rise of indie developers – as indeed are platformers, Metroidvania games and a whole host of other genres long thought dead.

“I don’t know exactly why adventure games faded away,” Gilbert continues.

“I do feel that somewhere around the mid-90s, point-and-click adventures sort of ran off the rails. A lot of really – for want of a better word – stupid puzzles were being made. I think what happened was that people looked at this, and went: ‘Wait a minute, you’re asking me to do completely ridiculous and random things to get through these games.’ Some players just checked out at that point.

“You also had games like Doom that came along and were first person and were more action orientated, and those games attracted a very different audience into games. So I don’t know if adventure games necessarily fell, but they certainly didn’t grow with the rest of the industry. But now we are seeing this place where we are attracting a much broader audience, and a little bit of that is due to mobile games being so ubiquitous. There are just so many more people playing games these days, and with adventure games being very story and character focused, they are able to attract that broader audience.”

He continues: “You have games that have always been niche markets. Now, because of digital distribution and the way the democratization of development tools is working, niche markets can be viable markets.”

Gilbert is enjoying the current state of indie development and the ability to make decent games with relatively small teams. It speaks to his days making titles in the ’80s and ’90s. Maniac Mansion was made with three people, Monkey Island had five full time members of staff, which increased to seven for its sequel.

Thimbleweed Park is also being made by just a handful of creators, with input from the game’s plentiful Kickstarter supporters. But this desire to go back to those early days is not just about how the visuals looked or how small the teams were, Gilbert also wants to head back to a period when developers didn’t take themselves quite so seriously.

“When we were making games back then, it was all kind of new,” Gilbert remembers. “We didn’t have anything to go from, so it was a more innocent time. Games today, although I love modern adventure games like Firewatch or Kentucky Route Zero, they are very deep and thoughtful. They require a lot from me as a player, or the viewer, because there are very interesting, deep messages that I am gleaming from this stuff. And that’s largely just the advancement of the art form. The games of the ’80s and early ’90s, they were just more innocent, and simple and therefore more charming.

“Adventure games have certainly improved. Visually, games like Firewatch are much more advanced. But I think they’ve advanced in some ways and they’ve actually de-evolved in others. I think they’re more advanced because they are trying to tell more meaningful stories, stories that are truly about something interesting or important.

“But in other ways, they haven’t moved forward. Games like Kentucky Route Zero… although I enjoyed that game quite a bit, I sort of jokingly call it the ‘press A to continue game’, because I didn’t feel like I was making a lot of choices. I was just kind of pressing the A button to get to the next piece of dialogue, and it was greatly written dialogue and it was a captivating world, which made it ok. In Firewatch, you are spending a lot of time walking around and exploring this world, and it is a very fascinating world and a very beautiful place, so I was utterly enthralled with it, but there’s not actually a lot to do. The old school adventure games really required you to work. It was a case of: ‘here is a load of puzzles and here is a bunch of story, and you have to solve all these puzzles, which should lead to uncovering the next part of the mystery’. The classic adventure games were more sophisticated in that sense.”

Like Yooka-Laylee with Banjo-Kazooie and Bloodstained with Castlevania, Thimbleweed Park is a game that could easily have had the words ‘Maniac Mansion’ or ‘Monkey Island’ plastered on the artwork. Gilbert does hope his new IP can be successful enough to become a series, but he also, quite publicly, wants to revisit those classic franchises that made his name. Both Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island were created at LucasArts, so the rights to them currently reside in the vaults somewhere at Disney’s HQ.

Disney has largely moved on from video games, and Gilbert has asked the media giant on Twitter to let him buy back the rights to his old franchises. To no avail, so far.

We ended our conversation by asking Gilbert if he had considered returning to Kickstarter to raise the funds he might need to acquire those 1990s brands.

“Buying the rights back for those games… it’s not a matter of money, it is a matter of Disney being willing to sell them,” Gilbert concludes. “If Disney came to me and said: ‘Hey, we’ll sell you Monkey Island’. I will go get the money. No amount of crowd-funding is going to make this happen, it’s just a case of Disney agreeing to sell them.

“I’ve not managed to talk to anyone at Disney who is high enough up the ladder to make that decision. I fear that the people who would make that decision have no idea what Monkey Island is.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Apple Made Owning A MacBook Pro A Little Bit More Affordable

November 7, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

apple-usb-c-adapter-150x150Apple has made life slightly less expensive for buyers of new MacBook Pros. The company has lower the prices for many of its USB-C adapters, which are necessary for users who want to connect their devices to the new laptop.

The new MacBook Pro has Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, which have a different connector than that of USB-A devices and cables like the iPhone sync cable. That means you need to buy an adapter. Depending on your devices, you may need to buy several adapters.

The prices reduction were first reported by The Loop. “We recognize that many users, especially pros, rely on legacy connectors to get work done today and they face a transition,” Apple said in a statement to The Loop. “We want to help them move to the latest technology and peripherals, as well as accelerate the growth of this new ecosystem. Through the end of the year, we are reducing prices on all USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 peripherals we sell, as well as the prices on Apple’s USB-C adapters and cables.”

Some of the USB-C adapters in the Apple Store include:

  • USB-C to USB Adapter ($9; was $19)
  • USB-C to Lightning Cable (2m) ($29; was $35)
  • USB-C to Lightning Cable (1m) ($19; was $25)
  • Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter ($29; was $49)

Prices have also been cut on some non-Apple adapters that are available in the Apple Store:

  • Belkin 2.0 USB-C to USB-B Printer Cable ($14; was $20)
  • Belkin USB-C to Micro-B Cable (USB 3.1) ($22; was $30)
  • Belkin USB-C to VGA Adapter ($29; was $40)
  • Belkin USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter ($26; was $35)
  • SanDisk Extreme Pro SD UHS-II Card USB-C Reader ($29; was $50)

Refer to our MacBook Pro Thunderbolt 3 adapter guide to figure out what adapters you need.

Is Electronic Arts Bullish On Next Quarter?

November 7, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

The second fiscal quarter is historically the quietest stretch for Electronic Arts, but the three months ended September 30 gave the publisher reason for optimism heading into the crucial holiday season. The company today released its second quarter results, beating its net income guidance and showing strong growth in its EA Sports Ultimate Team efforts.

“Q2 was an excellent quarter for Electronic Arts, led by breakthrough new EA Sports titles engaging players across console and mobile,” CEO Andrew Wilson said. “We are in an outstanding position for the quarter ahead, with two of the highest-rated games of this console generation in Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, global competitive gaming tournaments underway, and our first virtual reality experiences coming soon. Across all platforms, this holiday season will be a fantastic time to play.”

While Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 launched after the second quarter, EA used the report to tout the games’ early achievements. For Battlefield 1, the company said the total player base during the first week of release nearly doubled that of 2013’s Battlefield 4. As for Titanfall 2, which just launched last Friday, the company said dozens of press outlets had given review scores the equivalent of a 90 out of 100 or above.

As for the releases actually covered by EA’s second quarter results, they would include EA Sports mainstays Madden 17 and FIFA 17. The company said “20% more players were engaged” in FIFA 17 during its first week than in the first week of FIFA 16, but made no mention of specific performance for Madden. However, the EA Sports Ultimate Team game modes appear to be healthy, as EA said Ultimate Team’s net sales between the FIFA, Madden, and NHL series are up 15% year-over-year on a trailing 12-month basis.

For the second quarter, EA reported net revenues of $898 million, up 10% from last year, but short of the $915 million it had given as guidance. However, the company’s net loss for the quarter of $38 million was a significant improvement on the previous second quarter’s net loss of $140 million, and better than the projected $51 million net loss.

EA gave the early performance of FIFA 17 and the holiday slate of releases as reason enough to adjust its full-year expectations, with the company now expecting net revenue for the year ending March 31, 2017 to be $4.775 billion, up from $4.75 billion. Net income for the year is also projected to reach $848 million, compared to the previous guidance of $809 million.

Update: On the earnings call, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen addressed the early feedback on Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, noting that it’s too early to update any sales projections but that there’s “incredible excitement” around both and the company is “very optimistic” not just for this holiday season but for the longer term. Citing the fact that “quite a few players” were still playing Battlefield 4 years after it released, Jorgensen said he expects similar long-term interest in both titles. More generally, looking at EA’s business, Jorgensen is also encouraged by the opportunity that this generation’s consoles and the mid-cycle upgrades affords a big publisher like EA since the console installed base is already up 33% in the West compared to the previous generation, he said.

Interestingly, when asked about one of EA’s big upcoming titles, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Jorgensen effectively said that EA is not afraid to push the title back yet again (it was originally scheduled for 2016 but is now loosely slated for Q4, which ends next March). While that shouldn’t be read as a sign of trouble – Jorgensen said Mass Effect is “tracking extremely well” – it appears EA wants to be 100% sure that the game does not need any additional time before it commits more fully to a release date.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Researchers Develop Smartphone Sensor That Detects Cancer

November 3, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

wsu-cancer-sensor-150x150Researchers at Washington State University have developed a portable sensor that utilizes smartphones cameras to detect a biological indicator for several types of cancers with 99% accuracy, yielding laboratory quality results.

The sensor, a light spectrometer, can process up to eight blood or tissue samples at the same time (or one sample in eight wells) and can detect the human protein  interleukin-6 (IL-6). That protein is a known biological marker for lung, prostate, liver, breast and epithelial cancers.

“At a time when patients and medical professionals expect always faster results, researchers are trying to translate biodetection technologies used in laboratories to the field and clinic, so patients can get nearly instant diagnoses in a physician’s office, an ambulance or the emergency room,” the researchers said in a statement.

A spectrometer analyzes the amount and type of chemicals in a sample by measuring the light spectrum. The research was published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.

While smartphone spectrometers exist today, the WSU researchers said the eight-channel smartphone spectrometer is unique, and inexpensive to produce — about $150.

A custom smartphone multi-view app uses the phone’s built-in camera and was developed to control the optical sensing parameters and to align each sample to the corresponding spectrometer channel. The captured images are converted into a  spectrum in the visible wavelength range.

The initial cancer spectrometer was created for an iPhone 5, but it can be adjusted to work with any smartphone, according to Lei Li, an assistant professor in WSU’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. Li, who led the research team, also filed a provisional patent for the work.

“With our eight-channel spectrometer, we can put eight different samples to do the same test, or one sample in eight different wells to do eight different tests. This increases our device’s efficiency,” Li said.

 

Is Sharp Making A Comeback?

October 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Troubled Japanese television manufacturer Sharp is expecting significant improvement in annual profit due to restructuring with its new owner Foxconn.

Shares in the outfit soared more than 10 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that Sharp forecasts operating profit of about $385 million for the business year through March which was much better than expected.

Meeting the forecast would mark the first operating profit in three years for Sharp, which is rebuilding under Taiwan’s Foxconn which bought two-thirds of the telly maker in August.

Sharp slashed about 6,000 jobs in the last financial year through early retirement and an operations overhaul including withdrawal from its money-losing North American TV set business.

Sharp said it expected profit to improve but revenue to fall. Its shares subsequently jumped nearly 11 percent to their highest price in about six months, far outperforming the benchmark Nikkei average share price index.

However the prospects of Sharp’s mainstay display panel business are not that hot. The global panel market is on the cusp of improvement as a production cutback resolved a supply glut.

But Sharp still has to find ways to compete with Chinese peers rapidly expanding capacity, and with South Korean makers far ahead in next-generation technology.

Sharp said it would provide a full-year earnings forecast on 1 November when it announces its second-quarter results.

Courtesy-Fud

Can Qualcomm Succeed With Two Versions Of The Snapdragon 830?

October 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm appears to be returning to the two high end chips strategy and you can expect to see two variants of what we call Snapdragon 830. They will end up with two different product numbers, one being higher than the other.

Back in 2014, Qualcomm announced Snapdragon 808 and 810 and the company plans to use the same two chip strategy with the latest 10nm SoC. We don’t have definitive information what will be the difference between the two chips and what the final brands are going to be, but we do know that there will be two different SoC chips.

Even the Snapdragon 820 had two versions, something that was not really loudly communicated. Xiaomi launched its entry level Xiaomi Mi5 phone with Snapdragon 820 “lite”, the SoC that used the same internal MSM8996 name but clocked to 1.8GHz for the fast cores and 1.36GHz for two power saving cores. The faster version of Snapdragon 820 ended up with 2.15GHz for two fast cores and 1.56 GHz for the power saving cores.

Apart from the Xiaomi Mi5 32GB / 3GB RAM we are not aware that any other manufacturer used the MSM8996 lite.

The chip that all the press persistently calls the Snapdragon 830, a 10nm FinFET MSM8996 is rumored to have as much as eight Kryo 200 cores, Adreno 540 GPU, support LPDDR4X memory and come with Snapdragon X16, and a 1Gbps capable modem. The Snapdragon X16 modem supports LTE Cat 16 (1000Mbit/s) download and LTE Cat 13 (150Mbit/s) upload speeds.

Qualcomm launched a standalone version of the modem in February 2016 and it looks like that these speeds will be integrated in the Snapdragon 830 SoC.

Snapdragon 820 was definitely a successful product for Qualcomm as it ended up in more than 150 phones and it was even re-released as Snapdragon 821, clocked at 2.34 GHz for the high performance and 2.19 GHz for the power saving Kryo cores. Even the GPU clock jumped from its original 624MHz to 653MHz. The company told us to expect that GPU performance would increase by some 10 percent.  

So far, the new Snapdragon 821 landed up in a few prominent phones, including ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe, Xiaomi Mi 5s, Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus, LeEco Le Pro 3 and the recently  announced Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL.

Semiconductor companies like Intel or Qualcomm can always further optimize the chip a few quarters after a release, but  only choose to do so if a major customer expresses a wish for it, and of course, orders enough SoCs to make it financially viable.

With that in mind, Snapdragon 830 could get a faster version in Q3 2017 that might power some higher end phones launching in Q4 2017 too.

Courtesy-Fud

Sharp Goes All-In On OLED

October 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Japan’s Sharp is to spend $570 million on its OLED screen business in one of the first major investments since it was taken over by Foxconn.

While the figure sounds large, if you have ever tried to get a mortage, it is actually rather small compared to what Sharp’s South Korean rivals are spending on OLED development.

Sharp said it will invest in pilot production lines at its plants in Osaka and in Mie prefecture, western Japan, which are due to start between April and June 2018.

New CEO Tai Jeng-wu has previously said that Sharp will work with Japan Display on OLED displays. Foxconn took control of Sharp last month in a deal that gives its access to the Japanese firm’s advanced screen technology. That move was probably to squeeze more cash out of its major client Apple. But it is pretty clear that something has to be done with OLEDs.

Research firm IHS has forecast that shipments of OLED smartphone panels will overtake LCDs in 2020.

Courtesy-Fud

Will Intel Succeed In Banking With Blockchain?

September 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The Intel backed blockchain project has apparently passed its tests with more than eight finance outfits on their bond transactions.

For those that came in late, blockchain is similar technology which is behind bitcoin and is being looked at by the finance houses as a secure way to carrying out banking translations. Intel has baded a financial innovation start-up R3 to push the tech and it trialed it with eight banks, including HSBC and State Street.

The platform featured advanced smart contract technology that enabled trading, matching, and settlement of U.S. Treasury bonds, as well as automated coupon payments and redemption, R3 said in a statement.

Tim Grant, chief executive officer of R3’s Lab and Research Center said the goal at R3 was to bring our members together with the strongest technology players and work collaboratively to evaluate and accelerate this technology to production using real-world use cases.

R3 is leading a consortium of more than 60 of the world’s largest financial institutions created to develop commercial applications of blockchain technology for the financial services industry. The R3 consortium members involved in U.S. Treasury debt project included CIBC, ING Bank, HSBC, Scotiabank, Societe Generale scgly , State Street stt , UBS ubs , and UniCredit.

The blockchain trial was undertaken at R3’s Lab and Research Center. R3, Intel and each of the banks used physical, “non-cloud-based nodes” hosted across the U.S., Canada, Asia, Australia and Europe to interact and simulate US Treasury trading on the blockchain.

Courtesy-Fud

Super Carmaker McClaren Denies Rumors Of Apple Takeover

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mclaren-and-apple-150x150McLaren shot down a reports that Apple Inc had made an approach for the British Formula One team owner and supercar maker.

“We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment,” a McLaren spokesman said.

“As you would expect, the nature of our brand means we regularly have confidential conversations with a wide range of parties, but we keep them confidential.”

The Financial Times newspaper, citing three sources it said had been briefed on negotiations, had reported that Apple had made an approach for a strategic investment or a potential buyout.

It reported that the automotive group could be valued at between 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) and 1.5 billion pounds.

Reports have suggested that Apple, which had no immediate response to the Financial Times story, is working on a self-driving car. The iPhone maker has hired dozens of automotive experts over the past year and is exploring making charging stations for electric cars. Apple also invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing earlier this year.

The McLaren Formula One team is partnered by Honda, who provide the power units. The team is the second most successful after Ferrari in terms of race wins and titles but has not won a grand prix since 2012.

Is The iPhone 7 Selling Well In Europe?

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-i7Apple has been accepting pre-orders for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus since the September 9 and today, five days later you can get an iPhone 7 128GB or 256GB shipped in six to eight days. 

Since’ve we followed iPhone 6S launch and availability closely, after some 24 hours the iPhone 6S was sold out and it took two to three weeks of waiting to get either a iPhone 6S or 6S Plus.

Apple seems to be selling the 32GB well but there are plenty of 128GB and 256GB available –  expect the diamond black one that is only available in 128GB and 256GB. Both of them will ship in three to five weeks as with this new color, everyone will know you have the new iPhone. It is still impressive that Apple can take away some features and come up with a new color and call it a feature. It seems that too many Apple customers are watching way too much keeping up with the Kardashians.

The iPhone 7 Plus seems to be doing a bit better as for most colors you need to wait two to three weeks and the jet black version will only be available in November.

Most Fudzilla readers do realize that  customers can help companies to find the way to go. Apple’s iPhone that sells for $649 + tax in the US suddenly started selling for €759 in the EU with VAT. The US price doesn’t include the tax since it varies from 1.75 percent in some states such as Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon while in some places in rich Cupertino or Santa Clara, California you end up paying 8.75%.  

In the worst case, if you get your 32GB iPhone 7 black in Cupertino you will end up paying $705.78 or €628.90. The difference between the €759 that European Union countries pay and €628.90  is a whopping €130.1 difference. This should be called a EU stupidity tax.  

The UK gets slightly a better deal as the actual difference today is £68 but bear in mind that the pound has dropped significantly since the Brexit vote.

The good thing is that the European Union, despite being slow, bureaucratic and inefficient in many ways ended up fining Microsoft and Intel for monopolistic behavior. It will probably collect the tiny 13.5 billion that Apple robbed from 500 million people in the European Union.

Courtesy-Fud

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