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Bitcoin Hits Yet Another Record In Value

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Digital currency bitcoin blew past yet another record high this week, surging above $2,400, as demand for crypto-assets soared with the creation of new tokens to raise funding for start-ups using blockchain technology.

Blockchain, the underlying technology behind bitcoin, is a financial ledger maintained by a network of computers that can track the movement of any asset without the need for a central regulator.

Bitcoin hit a record of $2,409 BTC=BTSP on the BitStamp platform and was last up 4.3 percent at $2,363. So far this year, the price of bitcoin has more than doubled.

A key reason for bitcoin’s dominance in the nefarious online underworld, say technologists and cybercrime experts, is its size – the total value of all bitcoins in circulation is more than twice that of the nearest of hundreds of rivals.

Also, a big part of bitcoin’s recent surge is the increase in demand for other digital currencies being sold in so-called “initial coin offerings”, or ICOs. Under ICOs, blockchain start-ups sell their tokens directly to the public to raise capital without any regulatory oversight.

“Bitcoin up 100 percent in under 2 months. Shanghai down almost 10 percent same timeframe, compared to most global stocks up. Probably not a coincidence!”, Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive at DoubleLine Capital tweeted on Tuesday.

Strong demand for bitcoins in Japan has also fueled the rise of the virtual currency that can be moved like money around the world quickly and anonymously without the need for a central authority.

Is Nintendo’s Zelda Going Mobile?

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Zelda will be the next Nintendo IP to get the mobile treatment, according to sources speaking to The Wall Street Journal, with the new title expected to follow the Animal Crossing later this year.

The WSJ’s sources indicated that Animal Crossing is expected to launch in the second half of calendar 2017, with The Legend of Zelda to follow. However, the sources said that the order of the releases could still change, with Zelda arriving first.

With games based on Fire Emblem and Super Mario Bros. already released and Animal Crossing on the way, a version of Zelda was arguably inevitable. However, the success of Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch has bolstered public interest in the IP; in its recent financial results, Nintendo said that Breath of the Wild had sold 2.76 million units on Switch by March 31, despite the console only selling 2.74 million units.

One crucial detail that remains unclear is how the Zelda mobile game will be sold. Nintendo has talked openly about its reluctance to implement a traditional free-to-play model with its iconic franchises, opting for a free-to-try approach with Super Mario Run that ultimately carried a $10 in-app purchase to unlock the full game.

However, in March this year Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said the company was disappointed with the revenue earned from Super Mario Run. Fire Emblem Heroes uses a more typical version of the free-to-play model, but a Nintendo representative described it as “an outlier.”

“We honestly prefer the Super Mario Run model,” the company said. Whether that holds true for Zelda on mobile remains to be seen.

Nintendo and DeNA, which is involved with the game’s development, both resisted the WSJ’s request for comment.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Microsoft Right About USB Type-C

May 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

When Microsoft unveiled the Surface Laptop last week, it surprised everyone by its lack of a USB Type-C port.

According to general manager of Surface Engineering, Pete Kyriacou, Microsoft seems to think that the technology is not ready for the mainstream.

Kyriacou thinks that there are too many Type-C cables, useless chargers, far too many adapters, and the third-party Type-C docks.

That is why the Surface Laptop features only one USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port, one headphone jack, one Mini DisplayPort connector, and the Surface Connect port.

He said it is all simple and the connect port means that users can “safely” expand their Surface device experience.

Microsoft’s $200 Microsoft Surface Dock adds two Mini DisplayPort connectors, one gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, and one audio out port.

The dock connects to a compatible Surface device via Microsoft’s proprietary Surface Connect port.

It works with the Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book but the Surface Laptop show up eventually.

Cynics might say that limiting a Surface device’s connectivity seems like forcing customers into purchasing the dock, Vole claims it is all about brand stability.

It is better that punters do not get miffed at Microsoft because they are confused about the several types of cables, chargers, and so on.

Microsoft appears to have learnt from Apple that controlling the end-to-end experience is better than being chased by a lynch mob of angry peasants.

Courtesy-Fud

Western Digital Files Legal Challenge To Block Sale of Toshiba’s Chip Unit

May 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Western Digital Corp has sought international arbitration to halt its partner Toshiba Corp from selling its chips division without its consent, potentially derailing a much-needed capital injection for the Japanese conglomerate.

The two companies jointly operate Toshiba’s main semiconductor plant but Western Digital is not a favored bidder for the world’s second biggest NAND chip producer, having put in a much lower offer than other suitors, a source with knowledge of the matter has said.

A legal battle could delay or put an end to an auction that could fetch some $18 billion and has attracted suitors such as private equity firm KKR & Co LP, Taiwan’s Foxconn and U.S. chipmaker Broadcom.

Toshiba is depending on the sale to cover billions in dollars in cost overruns at its now bankrupt U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse. The Japanese firm logged a 950 billion yen ($8.4 billion) annual net loss and had negative shareholder equity of 540 billion yen, it said in an unaudited earnings release on Monday.

After months of souring relations, Western Digital has begun arbitration procedures with the International Chamber of Commerce, demanding Toshiba reverse a move to put their joint venture assets into a newly formed unit – Toshiba Memory – and stop any sale without Western Digital’ s consent.

Western Digital’s “efforts to achieve a resolution to date have been unsuccessful, and so we believe legal action is now a necessary next step,” CEO Steve Milligan said in a statement.

Toshiba CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa told a news conference the complaint was groundless and that Toshiba would push on with the sale, sticking to its plan to complete the second round of bidding on Friday.

“We will make efforts to convince bidders of the legitimacy of the chip-unit sale and wipe away their concerns,” he said.

Toshiba argues neither party can block a change of control by the other partner. It says Western Digital itself acquired the joint venture interest when it bought current unit SanDisk, and never sought or received Toshiba’s approval.

But Western Digital counters that the contract only allows Toshiba not to seek approval if the Japanese company is acquired by a third party.

Toshiba, Western Digital Clash Heat Up Over Chip Unit Sale

May 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Toshiba Corp warned Western Digital Corp not to interfere in the sale of its prized chip unit, refuting claims it has breached a joint venture contract and threatening legal action.

The clash between Toshiba and Western Digital – both its business partner and one of the bidders for the chip unit – risks delaying or even quashing an auction that the Japanese conglomerate is depending on to plug a $9 billion hole in its accounts.

Although the two companies jointly operate Toshiba’s main semiconductor plant, Western Digital is not seen as a favored bidder for the world’s second biggest NAND chip producer, having put in a much lower offer than other suitors, sources with knowledge of the matter, have said.

The U.S. firm has argued the Japanese company is violating their contract by transferring their joint venture’s rights to the newly formed unit and has asked for exclusive negotiating rights. Chief Executive Steve Milligan is currently visiting Japan to press its case.

But in a May 3 letter sent by Toshiba’s lawyers, the TVs-to-nuclear conglomerate disputed Western Digital’ s argument and said it would pursue all available remedies if it saw continued interference in the sale process.

Western Digital’s “campaign constitutes intentional interference with Toshiba’s prospective economic advantage and current contracts. It is improper, and it must stop,” the letter, which was seen by Reuters on Tuesday, said.

In a separate letter, also dated May 3, the general manager of Toshiba’s legal affairs accused Western Digital of failing to sign some joint venture agreements.

If Western Digital refuses to sign by May 15, the chip unit would protect its intellectual property rights by suspending Western Digital employees’ access to all of the unit’s facilities, networks and databases, the letter said.

A Western Digital spokeswoman in Japan declined to make immediate comment.

For some analysts, Western Digital has the upper hand.

“From a commonsense standpoint, it’s hard to buy Toshiba’s argument that it doesn’t need approval from its JV partner because it’s almost a 50-50 joint venture,” said Masahiko Ishino, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.

Toshiba believes that a consortium of U.S. private equity firm KKR & Co LP and Japanese government-backed investors would be the most feasible solution, a source familiar with the matter said this week.

But Western Digital has vehemently said it is opposed to a deal with Broadcom. Other suitors could also be blocked by the Japanese government which has vowed to prevent any deal that could allow the transfer of sensitive technologies and represent a risk to national security.

The source also said that Toshiba plans to report full-year results this month without an endorsement from its auditor – its second such earnings report – as disagreements over its books are unlikely to resolved.

The move puts the troubled Japanese conglomerate’s bourse listing in further jeopardy, after it submitted twice-delayed third-quarter results without approval from PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata (PwC) last month.

Bitcoin Value Hits Another High Mark

May 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Bitcoin surged to yet another all-time high above $1,400, after more than tripling in value over the past year, with its most recent rise attributed to strong demand in Japan, where the digital currency has been deemed a legal means of payment.

Cryptocompare, a data website that analyses bitcoin trading across dozens of exchanges globally, said around 50 percent of trading volume over the past 24 hours had been on the bitcoin/Japanese yen exchange rate.

“The Japanese have recently warmed their approach towards bitcoin by treating it legally as a form of payment – a ratification and bringing into the regulatory fold,” said Charles Hayter, the website’s founder.

“China’s clampdown on exchanges can also be seen as a positive move for the industry too,” he added.

Chinese authorities have increased scrutiny of exchanges this year and have forced them to start charging trading fees, after becoming concerned about bitcoin speculation and its potential use in money laundering.

Bitcoin surged as much as 3 percent on Tuesday on the Europe-based Bitstamp exchange, where trading is dollar-denominated, to hit $1,437, its highest since its 2008 launch. That marked a more than 200 percent increase from its price in early May last year.

Its current levels put the total value of all bitcoins in circulation – the so-called “market cap” – close to $25 billion, putting its worth on a par with a large-cap company.

Bitcoin analysts said the price had also been boosted by a request by the BATS exchange that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission review its March decision not to approve a bitcoin-tracking ETF set up by the Winklevoss brothers.

Is A Smaller Version Of The Nintendo Switch On The Horizon?

April 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

The Nintendo Switch straddles a line between the Mario maker’s portable and home console businesses, but it remains to be seen if Nintendo intends to follow the upgrade cadence of the former or the latter. According to a Bloomberg report, analysts from Citigroup Inc. are expecting Switch hardware refreshes more in line with the DS and 3DS than the Wii and Wii U.

Among the first big changes expected by Citigroup is a smaller version of the Switch to arrive in stores during Nintendo’s next fiscal year, which runs April 2018 through March 2019. While the current Switch is portable, it is decidedly bulkier than Nintendo’s previous handheld systems.

“Although the Nintendo Switch can be used as a handheld device, we think smaller children could struggle to use it comfortably in that format due to its size and weight,” Citigroup analysts said last week. “Accordingly, we think Nintendo will launch a lighter, dedicated handheld version of the Switch, possibly to be called the Switch Mini.”

Losing accessories like the dock for hooking the Switch to a TV could facilitate a cheaper dedicated handheld version of the hardware, but Citigroup did not speculate on a price for any sort of Switch Mini. However, the analysts did say it could sell 6.7 million units by the end of its launch fiscal year. They added that the standard Switch is expected to have an installed base of 25.7 million within the same timeframe.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Nikon Files Patent Lawsuit Against Carl Zeiss And ASML

April 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Japan’s Nikon Corp announced that it has taken legal action against ASML Holding NV and Carl Zeiss AG, saying the Dutch and Germany companies used its lithography technology without its permission.

Nikon, the world’s eighth-largest chip equipment maker, said it had filed patent infringement cases in the Netherlands, Germany and Japan against ASML, which makes semiconductor lithography machines, and Carl Zeiss, ASML’s optical supplier.

“ASML and Zeiss employ Nikon’s patented technology in ASML’s lithography systems, which are used globally to manufacture semiconductors, without Nikon’s permission, thereby infringing Nikon’s patents,” Nikon said in a statement.

Nikon said it is seeking damages and to prevent ASML and Zeiss from selling the technology.

ASML dominates the market for semiconductor lithography machines, which map out electronic circuits on silicon wafers. The Netherlands-based firm has a 90 percent market share in such high-end machines, according to a January research report from Fitch Ratings.

“Nikon’s litigation is unfounded, unnecessary and creates uncertainty for the semiconductor industry,” said ASML President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Wennink. ASML has repeatedly attempted to negotiate an extension of a cross-license agreement with Nikon, he said.

The legal action comes after mediation carried out by a retired judge in the United States failed to reach a settlement late last year, Nikon said.

Carl Zeiss was not immediately available to comment.

The dispute is the latest involving the three, with ASML and Carl Zeiss paying Nikon $87 million and $58 million respectively in 2004, according to Nikon.

Want To Digital Share Your Drink Over The Internet?

April 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Researchers in Singapore say they have invented a “virtual lemonade”, using electrodes to emulate the flavor of the beverage and LED lights to imitate its color, that could one day allow people to digitally share drinks over the internet.

“We are primarily motivated by the fact that our current digital interactions are not supportive for sharing beverages and food, which is something very common in our everyday lives,” said Nimesha Ranasinghe, who led the team that did the research.

The team conducting the research at the NUS-Keio CUTE Center, a collaboration between the National University of Singapore and Japan’s Keio University, decided to focus on the sour taste of lemonade to prove their idea.

A sensor dipped into a glass of real lemonade collects data on its acidity and color, which is transmitted via Bluetooth to silver electrode strips on the rim of a tumbler.

The action of a drinker running their tongue over the strip in taking a sip causes the electrodes to simulate the sour taste, while a light-emitting diode (LED) flashes yellow.

The technology can also simulate bitter and salty sensations, Ranasinghe said, adding that it could help people on restricted diets who need to cut back on salt or calories.

“We can even help the people who want to cut down their calorie intake,” she added. “If he craves lemonade, and can have a virtual lemonade, he can get the same experience, but zero calories.”

Still, the design needs some improvement, said student Genevieve Low, a volunteer who participated in tests of the drink.

“I think it’s definitely the way the tongue touches the cup, because no one would, sub-consciously or consciously, put their tongue onto the electrode and then drink the water,” she said in a recent test round.

Another volunteer student, Wang Pan, was surprised by the taste.

“I was imagining the electronic taste, but it’s actually quite real to me because it’s really mild, like mild-sweet. It’s less sour than the real lemonade,” she said.

Foxconn, Apple May Team Up For Toshiba’s Memory Business

April 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple could be mulling over joining forces with its China-based supplier Foxconn to acquire a major stake in Toshiba’s semiconductor unit.

In January, Toshiba officially announced it would seek to sell a portion of its flash memory business, including the SSD business of the Storage & Electronic Device Solutions Division, to a not-yet-named buyer.

The Nikkei Asian Review has reported that Toshiba may sell a 20% stake in the memory business for between $1.77 billion and $2.65 billion, “while retaining a majority stake and keeping the new company in group earnings.”

Toshiba’s solvency and fundraising ability are presently in doubt because of a $1.9 billion accounting scandal and a huge loss related to the purchase of a U.S. nuclear plant business. The company, which invented NAND flash in the early 1980s, had been considering spinning off its semiconductor operations and selling a partial stake to Western Digital (WD) and others, as it tries to cope with a massive impairment loss in its U.S. nuclear power unit.

Neither Toshiba nor WD have confirmed a potential sale, however.

Earlier this year, Toshiba took a writedown of $6.56 billion against its struggling U.S. nuclear equipment operations and it’s hoping to rebound from that loss with a sale.

“Its financial problems were a major drag on the growth of its memory business,” Sean Yang, research director of DRAMeXchange, said in an earlier interview.

Several potential buyers have been identified in reports, including Apple, according to Bloomberg’s news service. Apple is considering investing several billion in Toshiba’s memory business, according to the report.

“It seems like they are selling the Golden Goose and keeping the money pit,” said Jim Handy, an analyst with Objective-Analysis, referring to Toshiba.

If Apple were to purchase a stake in Toshiba’s semiconductor business, it would be a departure for a company that has historically outsourced most of its parts and labor, Handy said.

“Seagate and Western Digital used to believe that vertical integration was necessary in order to compete in the SSD market, although Seagate appears to have changed its tune,” Handy said. “A captive source of supply is a good thing to have during a shortage, but can be a millstone during an oversupply.”

Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., a major supplier to Apple, reportedly said it was not participating in talks after reviewing a possible deal “with interest.”

According to one report, Western Digital (WD) is none too happy about Toshiba’s plans to sell its memory business. WD reportedly sent a letter to Toshiba telling it the proposed sale breaches a joint-venture agreement as part of the FlashAlliance to build flash fabrication plants in Japan, which are operated by Toshiba. WD’s SanDisk holds a 49.9% share in the FlashAlliance and a Toshiba has a 50.1% share.

Any potential sale by Toshiba might be on hold for now as it deals with WD’s concerns.

If Toshiba does sell a major stake in its memory business — or the entire unit — it would do little to effect the memory market as a whole from the perspective of supply and demand, according to Handy.

“From the perspective of national security there are significant concerns that Japan will lose control of an important technology, and that it will be owned by a company from a country that has a difficult history with Japan,” Handy said, referring to China and Foxxcon. “From WD’s perspective it’s really strange, since they have a very good working relationship and understanding with Toshiba, but not necessarily with the buyer.

“I like to think of it as your spouse coming in and saying: ‘Here’s somebody new for you to be married to!’ then walking off.”

Foxconn Said To Be Preparing To Offer $27B For Toshiba’s Chip Business

April 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer made famous as the maker of iPhones and iPads for Apple, is rumored to be preparing a $27 billion bid to acquire Toshiba’s computer chip assets.

Toshiba is most commonly recognized for making NAND flash and memory chips, with all of its factories in Japan. However, chip manufacturing in Japan has slipped as rivals in South Korea and China gain in strength.

The news of the potential offer was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Foxconn is the latest of a number of companies, including SK Hynix and equity investor Silver Lake, interested in acquiring Toshiba’s chip assets.

An acquisition by Foxconn would give Toshiba the scale it needs to advance in the manufacturing of memory and storage. Toshiba is lagging behind Samsung, especially in storage, and hasn’t advanced its manufacturing processes as quickly.

Toshiba storage products can be purchased directly, but it also supplies and makes flash products for other hardware companies. The divestiture of its manufacturing assets could have an impact on SanDisk, which is a part of Toshiba.

In February, Toshiba said it was looking to sell its memory business. The need to sell the assets amplified after its Westinghouse Electric nuclear power unit filed for bankruptcy in late March. Overall, Toshiba is expecting a decline in revenue and profits this financial year.

Foxconn, on the other hand, is gathering up assets around the world, with factories in North America, Asia, Europe, and South America. Foxconn last year targeted another major Japanese company — Sharp — and it acquired a majority stake.

Japan still remains a technology powerhouse despite the dwindling of manufacturing assets. But last year, Japanese company SoftBank acquired ARM Holdings, which provides chip designs that go into many mobile devices.

Is Nintendo’s Switch Going To Be A True Success Story?

April 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

After a few years of writing articles cautioning people not to write Nintendo off just yet, it feels most peculiar to type these words, but here we go: could we all just calm down a little bit about Nintendo? Yes, the Switch is off to a very solid start; and yes, Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a damned near perfect video game – but the swing of the pendulum away from the doom and gloom of the Wii U’s final months is now threatening to bring us into breathless, giddy over-optimism that the company and its new platform may find it very hard to live up to.

There are plenty of examples out there – perhaps the most egregious is the pronouncement by GameStop’s senior director of merchandising, Eric Bright, that the launch numbers for Switch suggest that its sales could “eclipse the Wii”, but he’s far from alone in this general sentiment. Nintendo itself has lifted its 2017 shipments estimates markedly, which gives something of an official seal of approval to this change in tone, but it’s other commentators who are really talking up Switch to an extent that throws caution to the wind.

A little less than a month ago, before the launch, articles on this site by both myself and Christopher Dring concluded, fairly uncontroversially, that the real test for Switch would not come until the end of the year and that any solid assessment of the console’s performance could not be made until we reach that point. That view would have held true had Switch underperformed at launch; it ought to hold equally true in the wake of the great launch the console has actually enjoyed. Nintendo has come around the first corner in style, but this is a very, very long race.

When you come down to brass tacks, the reality is that we haven’t learned a lot from the launch of Switch. The console sold strongly around the world, but was supply-constrained, so all we can actually take away from its launch sales is that it’s appealed well to the core market of Nintendo fans. Zelda: Breath of the Wild has received rave reviews and has one of the strongest attach rates ever seen for a non-bundled title. What we learn from this is that core Nintendo fans are hugely enthused about new Zelda games (hold the front page) and that Nintendo’s game development talent is firing on all cylinders at the moment. This latter fact is important, but shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following the company in recent years; Nintendo’s software has arguably been going through a golden age that was tragically underserved by the Wii U’s hardware and marketing.

In actual data terms, then, there’s not a lot we can take away from the launch of Switch. It didn’t underperform, which is good news of course, but supply constraints mean we don’t know exactly how much demand existed and what proportion of it was satisfied. It’s important to note that one thing we didn’t see is a repeat of the Wii’s launch pattern; Switch has sold extremely well to core game fans who bought it to play Zelda, and as yet there’s nothing to suggest that it’s succeeded in enticing the kind of casual audiences who drove the Wii’s sales.

Ultimately, all of that information – data on demand, on demographics and so on – is data we won’t see until several months down the line; launches like Mario Kart 8.5 and Splatoon 2 will be big tests for the system, but it’s Christmas and the arrival of Mario Odyssey that’ll allow us to finally start to talk with real confidence about the performance and future prospects for Switch. The setting up of elevated expectations for the console at this early stage only creates potential disappointment down the line; while Nintendo would no doubt love to recreate the success of its most successful home console to date, the reality is that Switch could be a significant commercial success without troubling the track record of the Wii, and establishing a narrative which invites constant comparisons from this early stage is not in anyone’s best interest.

None of this, it should be added, detracts from the achievement the Switch launch represents. While the data the launch has provided us with is simply insufficient to underpin any serious or worthwhile forecasts for the system, the intangible aspects of the launch are unquestionably positive. Word of mouth for Switch is almost universally great, some minor hardware-related teething problems aside; the universal acclaim for Zelda, meanwhile, feels almost unprecedented. Consumer sentiment is hard to quantify, and it’s harder yet to guess at which groups or demographics have been touched by this positivity, but it’s fair to say that Nintendo has already placed itself on the path to recovery from the hugely disappointing and ultimately doomed Wii U.

If you’re keen to keep an eye on the data points that will really be meaningful for Switch in the coming months, though, here’s what to watch out for. Firstly, Nintendo’s ability to stick to its launch schedule and keep a consistent flow of software coming for the new system is vital; if major titles start to slip (Splatoon and Mario Odyssey being the really big ones) then it’s a big concern. Alongside that, the movements of major publishers with regard to Switch support are also worth watching. One interesting sentiment that I’ve seen from a lot of new Switch owners is that they love the form factor of the machine, and conversations over which other games they’d like to play on it have been commonplace; if that idea is making its way into conversations at third-party publishers, then combined with the confidence resulting from a solid launch, it should cause an uptick in third-party support for the system in the coming months.

The other thing to watch, of course, is demand for hardware shipments. Nintendo’s intention in launching the Switch so early in the year was undoubtedly twofold; firstly, to allow it to build a solid software library ahead of its first Christmas (and, again assuming no delays, the system should have its biggest brands – Zelda, Mario, Splatoon and Mario Kart – all on the shelves by that point), and secondly, to allow it to spread out launch demand over a six to nine month period, so supply will be able to keep pace over Christmas. There’s an oft-repeated fallacy that Nintendo deliberately manipulates supply figures to create artificial demand and buzz around its hardware; there’s simply no evidence of that, with the rather less moustache-twirling truth being that the company has often simply not been very good at predicting demand or at being flexible with its manufacturing volumes. With Switch, it’s trying to avoid both the excess demand for the Wii and the excess supply of the Wii U by launching earlier in the year.

That means we’ve got nine months of shipments to watch and evaluate – to see what audiences Nintendo is appealing to, whether demand remains high, and whether the launch of titles like Mario Kart and Splatoon 2 can really drive the console forward. Though there’ll no doubt be crazy speculation around each set of numbers, it’s the overall picture that’s important, and it’s only months of data that’ll really give us a sense of where this console is going. Switch is off to a good start – perhaps even a great start – and like many people, I truly believe that the games industry is better off with a healthy, successful Nintendo competing strongly at its heart. Getting engaged in wildly optimistic speculation off the back of such meagre data, though, is no better than being a Nintendo doom-merchant; it’s merely an error at the other end of the spectrum.

 

Courtesy-Biz

Can Nintendo Sell 20 Million Switches In 2017?

April 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Despite complaints that the Switch had a few problems, Nintendo thinks it will sell between 10-20 million of them in the first year.

Nintendo released the Switch in March 2017 and flogged a million units in the first week.

Nintendo president Kimishima Tatsumi said that by the time Nintendo wants to start selling something else, the Switch’s overall sales will have reached 110 million units.

Much depends on how well Microsoft’s new Xbox game console codenamed Project Scorpio will do when it is released at the E3 2017 event, targeting the year-end holiday season. Sony is expected to release a thinner version of its PlayStation 4 which could also cause people to question the value of the Switch.

Microsoft’s new game console will have Ultra HD and mixed reality (MR) support and PC vendors’ MR head-mounted display (HMD) devices are expected to be able to connect with the Project Scorpio.

Still it does mean that Nintendo seems to think that there are considerable legs to its Switch and there is a level of optimism we have not seen since the early days of the Wii.

Courtesy-Fud

Is The U.S. Losing The Supercomputer Race?

March 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Advanced computing experts at the National Security Agency and the Department of Energy are worried that that China is “extremely likely” to take the leadership in supercomputing as early as 2020.

A report with the catchy title “U.S. Leadership in High Performance Computing” has been penned by HPC technical experts at the NSA, the DOE, the National Science Foundation and several other agencies.

It said that China’s supercomputing advances are not only putting national security at risk, but also US leadership in high-tech manufacturing.

If China succeeds, it may “undermine profitable parts of the U.S. economy,” the report warns. Of course, it does not matter – the US government is going to start investing in private coal companies soon and that will sort the whole mess out. Nothing says high-tech like a coal powered factory. We are sure Isambard Kingdom Brunel could come up with a steam powered supercomputer, if he were alive, and American.

Of course the report will be dismissed by the current US government as it is written by scientists and no one believes them any more – after all they think the world is older than 6,000 years and that God is going to wipe us out with another flood, which he promised not to do.

The report said that it is easy for Americans to draw the wrong conclusions about what HPC investments by China mean — without considering China’s motivations.

“These participants stressed that their personal interactions with Chinese researchers and at supercomputing centres showed a mind-set where computing is first and foremost a strategic capability for improving the country; for pulling a billion people out of poverty; for supporting companies that are looking to build better products, or bridges, or rail networks; for transitioning away from a role as a low-cost manufacturer for the world; for enabling the economy to move from ‘Made in China’ to ‘Made by China’”.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Goes To The Cloud With Alibaba

March 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Alibaba Cloud (Aliyun), has announced a pilot program with Chipzilla for a cloud-based FPGA (field programmable gate array) acceleration service with the goal of enabling customers to have virtual access to powerful compute resources in the cloud to help them manage business, scientific and enterprise data application workloads more effectively.

By using Intel Arria 10 FPGAs, Intel Xeon processor-based servers and software development tools for application acceleration as a ready-to-go preconfigured infrastructure, Alibaba Cloud offers systems designers cloud-based workload acceleration as an alternative to investing in on-premises FPGA infrastructure.

The service delivers on-demand scalability of workload acceleration with FPGAs while reducing upfront investment risks and accelerating delivery of new infrastructure services.

Senior director, Alibaba Cloud the appropriately named Jin Li said that Alibaba Cloud offers customers access to a number of services in the cloud, and adding an FPGA-based acceleration offering means they can access it without the cost or requirement of building out their own infrastructure.

“This service greatly adds to our value as a leading provider of highly scalable cloud computing and data management services that provide businesses with flexible, reliable connectivity,” Jin said.

One of the key benefits of FPGAs is that they are programmable and can be customized to accelerate and scale for varying workloads, such as machine learning, data encryption and media transcode.

Dan McNamara, corporate vice president and general manager, Intel Programmable Solutions Group said that Intel FPGAs were enabling new business models such as Alibaba’s approach of using FPGAs to accelerate diverse workloads via cloud services.

“In addition, Intel offers customers scalable solutions for accelerated computing with its data center leadership in Intel Xeon processors, FPGAs, optimized tools and software, and a global partner ecosystem across the spectrum of deployment models.”

Courtesy-Fud

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