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Nintendo’s Switch Helps Push Profits Higher

February 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

The former maker of playing cards Nintendo reported its biggest third quarter operating profit in eight years, driven by smashing demand for its new Switch games console.

The outfit now expects annual earnings to outstrip its previous estimate. This is thanks to the growing popularity of the hybrid home-portable Switch which nearly doubled Nintendo’s stock price to nine-year highs. Sales have far exceeded initial estimates, beating those of predecessor Wii U, and leaving suppliers scrambling for parts.

Nintendo posted an operating profit of $1.07 billion for the third quarter, up almost fourfold from a year ago. This is the highest ever that the company has earned in the October-December period since 2009.

Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima said that Switch sales during the holiday season were stronger than expected in Japan, the United States, and Europe.

Nintendo sold 7.2 million Switch consoles in the three months through December and raised its annual sales forecast to 15 million units from 14 million units.

That already exceeds lifetime sales of 13.56 million consoles for the Wii U which was on the market for about five years.

The company expects Switch console sales to further rise to 20 million units or more next year, starting April.

As yet another attempt to diversify, Nintendo said this month it would launch in April “Labo” a set of LEGO-style accessories for the Switch console that kids can build themselves on cardboard sheets.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Watch Sets Record For Shipped Devices

February 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The electronics giant, Apple, has shipped 8 million Apple Watches in the fourth quarter of 2017, Canalys research shows, which the firm said is a record for wearables sold by a company during a quarter. Fitbit was the previous record holder, Canalys told CNET, shipping 6.1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015.

“Apple has won the wearables game,” said Jason Low, senior analyst at Canalys. The company shipped 18 million Watch devices throughout 2017, a 54 percent increase on 2016.

While Android Wear competitors, like the Samsung Gear S3 and Huawei’s Watch 2, are compatible with both Androids and iPhones, Apple’s Watch devices don’t work with Android phones. “Despite innovative designs, such as the rotating bezels and circular screens employed by other vendors, Apple has pulled far ahead as it continues to focus on its core iPhone user base,” Low added.

Apple’s 2017 wearable success is in large part thanks to its September-released Watch Series 3, which added cellular connection — allowing you to make phone calls from your Watch — to the product range. Canalys said the Watch did particularly well in the US, Australia and Japan, where major carriers sold it over the holiday season.

It’s congruent with what Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a call to investors last week. “It was our best quarter ever for the Apple Watch,” he said, “with over 50 percent growth in revenue and units for the fourth quarter in a row and strong double-digit growth in every geographic segment.”

In terms of volume, Apple’s closest competitor is Chinese company Xiaomi and its inexpensive Mi Bands: In 2017’s third quarter, Apple held 23 percent of the market, compared to Xiaomi’s 21 percent. Fitbit wasn’t far behind though, with a market share of 20 percent.

Sprint Showing Signs Of Improvement, Beats Earnings Estimate

February 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint Corp reported quarterly revenue on Friday that beat analyst projections, as the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier raised its free cash flow outlook for the 2017 fiscal year.

Shares rose 3.7 percent to $5.29 in early trading, a day after sliding 5.7 percent to their lowest in a year and a half.

The company has sought to strengthen its balance sheet by cutting costs and mortgaging a portion of its airwaves and equipment, but industry analysts have raised concerns about how it can adequately fund network improvements after merger talks with rival T-Mobile US Inc ended last year.

Sprint now expects $2.5 billion to $2.7 billion in operating income, up from its previous estimate of $2.1 billion to $2.5 billion. It expects adjusted free cash flow of $500 million to $700 million, compared to previous estimates of breaking even.

“We think recent weakness in shares is reflective of lowered investor expectations, while in-line to slightly better financial results could provide some near-term relief,” said Matthew Niknam, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, in a research note.

On the post-earnings conference call, Sprint Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Claure said Sprint would launch a mobile 5G network in the United States by the first half of 2019.

The company is also looking for ways to reduce the number of executives at the top, he said. Sprint cut costs by about $260 million in the quarter, excluding $100 million of hurricane-related charges.

Claure said “becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of (SoftBank Group Corp) could be a possibility” but that the decision would be up to SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son. Japan’s SoftBank owns a majority of Sprint and has been increasing its stake.

For the quarter, Sprint reported net additions of 184,000 phone subscribers who pay a monthly bill, compared to additions of 368,000 a year earlier.

Net operating revenue in the third quarter ended Dec. 31 was $8.24 billion, down from $8.55 billion a year earlier.

 

Walmart To Launch Online Grocery Store

January 29, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Walmart has signed a dea with e-commerce firm Rakuten Inc to launch an online grocery delivery service in Japan, its latest effort to forge an alliance with a popular homegrown chain to crack a competitive market.

The world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, said the service will launch in the latter half of 2018.

Walmart’s leadership is looking for new ways to grow its international business, which is no longer the growth engine it once was, as it has grappled with economic woes in Brazil and competition from discount retailers in Britain.

In Japan, the new service will replace Walmart’s existing online grocery delivery offering and will be called “Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper.” Seiyu GK is the name of Walmart’s wholly-owned Japanese unit.

It will allow customers to place an order on Rakuten’s online marketplace platform, which will then be fulfilled by the Walmart-Rakuten joint venture. Walmart-Rakuten will open a warehouse to service these orders in addition to using Seiyu stores, the companies said.

Fresh food delivery has been around in Japan for decades but has lagged the growth seen in other areas of e-commerce. Amazon is trialing its “Fresh” service in parts of Tokyo and retailers are trying to beef up their online grocery services.

Seven and i Holdings Co Ltd, operator of Japan’s largest chain of convenience stores, last year announced it would cooperate on fresh food delivery with Askul Corp.

Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani told reporters in Tokyo he hoped the joint effort could lead to cooperation in other areas.

“We would like to have an alliance in a broader sense, not just in Japan but for our global businesses,” he said.

Rakuten’s overseas operations include the United States and Europe. And last month it announced it was aiming to become Japan’s fourth major wireless carrier, potentially binding users to its wide range of services.

 

Are Hackers On The Verge Of Jailbreaking Nintendo’s Switch

January 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

The dark satanic rumor mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn claiming that hackers are on the verge of opening the Nintendo Switch thanks to Nvidia being rather too forthcoming about the GPU.

Throughout 2017 hackers had been recording partial vulnerabilities on the firmware but had no joy at completely knocking it over.

Now according to Ars Technica hackers have discovered a Webkit flaw that allows for basic “user level” access to some portions of the underlying system and a service-level initialization flaw that gives hackers slightly more control over the Switch OS. Last month at the 34th Chaos Communication Congress (34C3) in Leipzig Germany, hackers Plutoo, Derrek, and Naehrwert outlined an intricate method for gaining kernel-level access and nearly full control of the Switch hardware.”

They worked out a few basic exploits discussed above as a wedge to dig deep into how the Switch works at the most basic level. They also managed to sniff data coming through the Switch’s memory bus to figure out the timing for an important security check. They also solder an FPGA onto the Switch’s ARM chip and bit-bang their way to decoding the secret key that unlocks all of the Switch’s encrypted system binaries.

Oddly though the hackers efforts received an unexpected hand from chipmaker Nvidia. The “custom chip” inside the Switch is apparently so similar to an off-the-shelf Nvidia Tegra X1 that a $700 Jetson TX1 development kit let the hackers get significant insight into the Switch’s innards.

More than that, amid the thousands of pages of Nvidia’s public documentation for the X1 is a section on how to “bypass the SMMU” (the System Memory Management Unit), which gave the hackers a viable method to copy and write a modified kernel to the Switch’s system RAM. As Plutoo put it in the talk, “Nvidia backdoored themselves.”

Courtesy-Fud

Are NAND Memory Pricing Falling

January 23, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

After an 18-month boom, there has been a sudden drop in some memory prices, which is causing jitters among investors who had thought the chip boom would last at least another year.

Prices of high-end flash memory chips,dropped nearly five percent in the fourth quarter and some analysts now expect the industry’s growth rate will fall by more than half this year to 30 percent.

That led shares in Samsung to dip 7.5 percent last week, while its home rival SK Hynix fell 6.2 percent. But analysts say that there is unlikely to be a sudden crash, and that 2018 should be a relatively stable year for chipmakers.

Yuanta Securities Korea analyst Lee Jae-yun told investors that memory chips will likely see a gradual price decline in 2018 if demand remains strong and appetite from servers holds.

However, 30 percent growth is still a strong gain in an industry known for volatility, and the market is still on course for its longest ever boom after shrinking six percent in 2016.

The supply of NAND flash memory chips, in particular, will grow 43 percent this year, up from last year’s 34 percent, causing prices to drop by about 10 percent, brokerage Nomura estimates.

Nomura expects growth in output will be largely led by the likes of Western Digital, Toshiba and Micron as they seek to catch up with top-ranked Samsung, which controls about 40 percent of the flash memory chip market.

Smartphone vendors have been including more memory in their phones and charging more for them, allowing them to weather last year’s price surge, analysts say.

Average DRAM memory of new models launched last quarter increased by 38 percent from the second quarter of 2016, while NAND content measured by gigabyte jumped 84 percent, according to an analysis by BNP Paribas.

Such solid demand will keep the industry’s margin healthy this year, and chipmakers’ investment in more advanced technology will help them cut production costs and stay profitable even as prices ease, analysts say.

The DRAM memory chip market, which is about $20 billion bigger than the NAND industry, is seen as much tighter. Prices are expected to gain nearly 9 percent because of a severe supply shortage.

With DRAM manufacturers’ rushing to ramp up production – they are likely to nearly quadruple capital spending for 2017 and 2018 combined to $38 billion from 2016’s $10 billion – prices may decline as much as 18 percent next year, according to Nomura.

That gives some investors’ confidence in the industry’s long-term future.

“Although supply-demand dynamics are still solid, clients’ pressure to lower prices make it hard to predict” what will happen”, said MS Hwang, an analyst at Samsung Securities, which is an affiliate of Samsung Electronics.

Courtesy-Fud

The EU To Challenge China In The Supercomputing Space

January 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

British computer scientist are worried about missing out on the benefits of a new initiative to build supercomputers in Europe, because of Brexit.

13 countries have formally signed up to the initiative, launched in March last year, to develop computers that can perform at least a hundred quadrillion (that’s a million billion) calculations per second.

The goal of the EuroHPC project is to build two ‘world-class’ machines, with at least two mid-range systems that can perform tens of quadrillions calculations, by 2020. The EU is spending €1bn on the project, in an effort to catch up with similar schemes in the USA, China and Japan and keep sensitive data in Europe.

These computers will act as a stepping stone to progress towards the ultimate goal of a next-gen ‘exascale’ system, which could perform at least a quintillion calculations each second – and yes, that’s a billion billion.

The EU will put €486m towards the project by 2020, with a similar figure being sourced from other member states and ‘associated countries’. So far Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland have signed up to be part of the scheme. Private entities are also able to make contributions.

But where’s the UK?

The United Kingdom has still not formally signed on to EuroHPC, and scientists have expressed concerns.

Alastair Clifton, a spokesman for the UK’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which looks after the government’s science budget, did not say why the UK had not signed the declaration.

Clifton did, however, tell Bloomberg that the UK has been taking “an active part in development” and whether the country would sign up to the initiative “is an open question.”

Simon McIntosh-Smith, a professor of high-performance computing at the University of Bristol, said: “Brexit has thrown a lot of uncertainty around the UK’s participation and it is really unfortunate and causing delay and confusion.”

Mark Parsons of the University of Edinburgh said that it would make much more sense for the UK to work on supercomputer development with other countries and that a lot of the viability would depend on the country’s political status post-Brexit.

“Associated countries [like Switzerland and Norway] can participate in the research programs just like a member state,” Parsons said. However, research teams from so-called third countries, like Canada, cannot receive EU funding even though they can bid to take part in projects.

Courtesy-TheInq

South Korea To Ban Crytocurrency Trading

January 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

South Korea’s government has announced it will ban cryptocurrency trading, sending bitcoin prices plummeting and throwing the virtual coin market into turmoil as the nation’s police and tax authorities raided local exchanges on alleged tax evasion.

The clampdown in South Korea, a crucial source of global demand for cryptocurrency, came as policymakers around the world struggled to regulate an asset whose value has skyrocketed over the last year.

Justice minister Park Sang-ki said the government was preparing a bill to ban trading of the virtual currency on domestic exchanges.

“There are great concerns regarding virtual currencies and the justice ministry is basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges,” Park told a news conference, according to the ministry’s press office.

After the market’s sharp reaction to the announcement, the nation’s Presidential office hours later said a ban on the country’s virtual coin exchanges had not yet been finalized while it was one of the measures being considered.

A press official at the justice ministry said the proposed ban on cryptocurrency trading was announced after “enough discussion” with other government agencies, including the nation’s finance ministry and financial regulators.

Once a bill is drafted, legislation for an outright ban of virtual coin trading will require a majority vote of the total 297 members of the National Assembly, a process that could take months or even years.

The government’s tough stance triggered a selloff of the cryptocurrency on both local and offshore exchanges.

The local price of bitcoin plunged as much as 21 percent in midday trade to 18.3 million won (12,730.35 pounds) after the minister’s comments. It still trades at around a 30 percent premium compared to other countries.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP was down more than 10 percent on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp at $13,199, after earlier dropping as low as $13,120, its weakest since Jan. 2.

 South Korea’s cryptocurrency-related shares were also hammered. Vidente and Omnitel, which are stakeholders of Bithumb, skidded by the daily trading limit of 30 percent each.

Once enforced, South Korea’s ban “will make trading difficult here, but not impossible,” said Mun Chong-hyun, chief analyst at EST Security.

“Keen traders, especially hackers, will find it tough to cash out their gains from virtual coin investments in Korea but they can go overseas, for example Japan,” Mun said.

Park Nok-sun, a cryptocurrency analyst at NH Investment & Securities, said the herd behaviour in South Korea’s virtual coin market has raised concerns.

Indeed, bitcoin’s BTC=BTSP 1,500 percent surge last year has stoked huge demand for cryptocurency in South Korea, drawing college students to housewives and sparking worries of a gambling addiction.

“Some officials are pushing for stronger and stronger regulations because they only see more (investors) jumping in, not out,” Park said.

By Thursday afternoon, the Justice Ministry’s announcement had prompted more than 55,000 South Koreans to join a petition asking the presidential Blue House to halt the crackdown on the virtual currency, making the Blue House website intermittently unavailable due to heavy traffic, the website showed.

Do Retro Games Resonate With Gamers

January 9, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

Almost half of all gamers in Europe like to go back and play games from their youth.

The latest data comes from ISFE and Ipsos Connect’s GameTrack consumer survey, and is based on a question posed by GamesIndustry.biz.

The results also show that 41% of consumers are eager to go back and experience games that they missed first time around.

The figures confirm the motivation behind the success of retro gaming products such as the NES and SNES Mini consoles, plus the popularity of remakes such as last year’s Crash Bandicoot.

However, the majority of gamers disagree that classic games are better than modern titles (only 22% agreed with the statement), while 45% are of the belief that realistic graphics are an important part of a great game.

The survey also specifically spoke to users of recent retro products, including the NES and SNES Mini, Crash Bandicoot, the Sega Forever project and more. It’s unsurprising that these consumers are more enthusiastic about going back and experiencing classic games (66% like to revisit games from their youth, while 67% like to play older games that they missed). 49% of these consumers also admit that nostalgia is one of the key reasons behind why it buys the games and consoles that they do.

41% of retro gamers are also of the belief that older games are better than current ones, with just 23% disagreeing with that statement (the rest neither agree or disagree). However, a number do find themselves disappointed with their trips down memory lane, with 38% stating that classic games are never as good as they remember.

The question (which combines online sampling with over-the-phone and face-to-face surveys) was posed to gamers from the UK, Spain, France and Germany. In terms of individual territories, French gamers are narrowly the more nostalgic consumer, although the results are relatively consistent across each market.

You can find out more information about the GameTrack survey here.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Hacker Exploit The Nintendo Switch

January 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Gaming

A homebrew kit could be the key to getting more games onto the Nintendo Switch, as hackers have figured out how to crack the console through its Nvidia chipset.

Nintendo consoles are notoriously locked-down in order to keep software and game development limited to Nintendo’s in-house or approved third-party developers; homebrew games have not been welcome even though Nintendo has been more supportive of indy titles.

But at the 34C3 hacking conference in Germany, hackers Derrek, Naehrwert and Plutoo demonstrated how they had managed to crack into the kernel of the Switch thanks to the use of a Nvidia Tegra X1 chip, which is well documented and has easily accessible debugging and diagnostic tools.

Through some hard work, as reported by wololo.net, the hackers got past the Switch’s security layers on the Tegra X1’s System Memory Management Unit (SMMU).

This essentially allowed the hackers to have higher privileges on the Switch than Nintendo allows, which would provide the means to run non-Nintendo approved software on the hybrid console.

While the hackers are keeping their kernel exploits under wraps, likely to prevent others from stealing it or for the effective backdoor to be slammed shut by Nvidia or Nintendo, they are planning to release a homebrew kit to allow for extra software to be run on the Switch.

This is good news for people bored of gaming gems like Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But it’s worth noting the exploit and subsequent homebrew will only work on Switch consoles running firmware version 3.0.0.

The use of ‘off-the-shelf’ components like the Tegra X1 is one way to fuel the rise of such hobby hacking, as there’s often a lot of information on how such hardware works; this is in direct contrast to some of the custom chipsets the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One X have, though we doubt that prevents curious hackers from poking them with a metaphorical stick.

Courtesy-TheInq

British Company Sues Uber, Alleges Ad Fraud

January 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A British mobile ad firm has filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc to force the ride-hailing company to pay millions of dollars of bills that Uber had refused to pay after claiming that ads being generated were fraudulent.

Fetch Media Ltd filed its lawsuit on Tuesday in the same California federal court where Uber had sued Fetch in September, accusing the agency of billing it for nonexistent, nonviewable or fraudulent ads, and failing to pass back rebates and commissions.

Uber voluntarily dismissed that lawsuit on Dec. 22, two weeks after the case was reassigned to U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, and said it would instead pursue related claims in a San Francisco state court.

Ad fraud, sometimes called click fraud, is a persistent issue in online advertising, occurring when automated programs mimic legitimate users by clicking ads.

Fetch, a London-based unit of Japan’s Dentsu Inc, suggested that Uber dismissed its federal case on concern it might lose after it was assigned to Rogers, who has overseen other litigation involving the San Francisco-based company.

 In Tuesday’s lawsuit, Fetch asked that Rogers be assigned to determine both companies’ contractual responsibilities, and direct Uber pay more than $19.7 million of invoices still owed for 2017.

“Fetch does not believe that Uber can avoid federal-court scrutiny of its incorrect contract theories so easily,” the company said.

Uber did not immediately respond on Wednesday to requests for comment.

The Association of National Advertisers, a trade group, last May estimated that marketers would lose $6.5 billion in 2017 because of fake web traffic caused by “bots.”

Uber said in September that it had hired Fetch to place ads to encourage new riders to download the Uber app, and would pay for “legitimate clicks” that helped attract riders.

But it said Fetch wrongly claimed credit for app downloads that occurred without ads ever being clicked. Uber said it paid Fetch more than $82.5 million, but that Fetch’s failure to stop ad fraud contributed to at least $50 million of damages.

According to Uber, the alleged fraud surfaced in early 2017 as customers began complaining about where its ads appeared.

 Uber said, in one example, it had asked Fetch not to place ads on Breitbart.com, the conservative news website run by Steve Bannon, a former strategist for U.S. President Donald Trump, but that ads appeared there anyway.

In court papers, Fetch called Uber a “faithless business partner,” and said it had helped Uber monitor ad fraud despite not being contractually required. Fetch also said its work helped Uber register more than 35 million riders.

The case is Fetch Media Ltd v. Uber Technologies Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-00015.

POE-USBC Appears To Be Coming To Fruition

January 2, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

As many manufacturers including Apple, Google, and Samsung standardise on USB Type-C (USB-C) with the new Power Delivery (PD) protocol, CoolGear and PoE Texas have joined forces to combine USB-C with PD and Power Over Ethernet.

In early 2018, PoE Texas will launch the POE-USBC-Kit and the AT-USBC-Kit which will allow USB-C PD over Ethernet.

While USB Type-C Power has ten times the power capacity of earlier USB protocols, USB-C powers modern electronics with the ability to charge a phone in 15 minutes or simultaneously charge a laptop and power an external monitor.  Unfortunately, finding a USB-C charger compatible with a variety of devices has proven consistently challenging for consumers. CoolGear developed the CG-DCPD21W, a sleek, cost-effective USB-C PD device with the broadest possible compatibility.

PoE lowers the cost of adopting USB-C by eliminating the need for new electrical infrastructure. Unlike USB-C, which can transmit power less than ten feet (three meters) and is uncommon in buildings and homes, Ethernet can transmit power and data 328 feet (100 meters) and is nearly ubiquitous in modern construction.

PoE Texas has created an AT-USBC-Kit – a custom 802.3af/PoE+ splitter that supports 25 watts PoE+ (both active and passive).

It is 24 Volt Passive for those who want to control both the Power Supplying Equipment (PSE) and the Powered Device (PD). The POE-USBC-Kit uses the 24 volt PoE standard at up to 25 watts.

It is based around uPoE (IEEE 802.3bt) which is likely to be the new standard in 2018. PoE Texas has developed 60 watt PoE PSEs with upcoming designs for 60 watt PoE splitters to support full capacity USB-C PD.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung Develops The Smallest DRAM

December 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Samsung Electronics claims it has developed the world’s smallest DRAM chip, widening its technical lead on competitors.

The “second-generation” 10-nanometre class, 8-gigabit DRAM chips has improved energy efficiency and data processing performance and is to be targeted at
premium data-crunching electronics such as cloud computing centres, mobile devices and high-speed graphic cards.

The global leader in computer chips, televisions and smartphones said it would shift most of its existing DRAM production capacity to 10-nano chips in 2018.

Samsung Electronics Memory Business president Gyoyoung Jin said that this “aggressive” production expansion would “accommodate strong market demand.”

Samsung’s 2nd-generation 10nm-class 8Gb DDR4 features an approximate 30 percent productivity gain over the company’s 1st–generation 10nm-class 8Gb DDR4. In addition, the new 8Gb DDR4’s performance levels and energy efficiency have been improved about 10 and 15 percent respectively, thanks to the use of an advanced, proprietary circuit design technology. The new 8Gb DDR4 can operate at 3,600 megabits per second (Mbps) per pin, compared to 3,200 Mbps of the company’s 1x-nm 8Gb DDR4.

To enable these achievements, Samsung has applied new technologies, without the use of an EUV process. The innovation here includes use of a high-sensitivity cell data sensing system and a progressive “air spacer” scheme.

In the cells of Samsung’s 2nd-generation 10nm-class DRAM, a newly devised data sensing system enables a more accurate determination of the data stored in each cell, which leads to a significant increase in the level of circuit integration and manufacturing productivity.

The new 10nm-class DRAM also makes use of a unique air spacer that has been placed around its bit lines to dramatically decrease parasitic capacitance**. Use of the air spacer enables not only a higher level of scaling, but also rapid cell operation.

With these advancements, Samsung is now accelerating its plans for much faster introductions of next-generation DRAM chips and systems, including DDR5, HBM3, LPDDR5 and GDDR6, for use in enterprise servers, mobile devices, supercomputers, HPC systems and high-speed graphics cards.

Samsung has finished validating its 2nd-generation 10nm-class DDR4 modules with CPU manufacturers, and next plans to work closely with its global IT customers in the development of more efficient next-generation computing systems.

In addition, the world’s leading DRAM producer expects to not only rapidly increase the production volume of the 2nd-generation 10nm-class DRAM lineups, but also to manufacture more of its mainstream 1st-generation 10nm-class DRAM, which together will meet the growing demands for DRAM in premium electronic systems worldwide.

Samsung said it was not looking to expand chip shipments immediately but was investing to maintain longer-term market position.

Courtesy-Fud

Sony Focuing On Its Sensor Business For Growth

December 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Sony Corp is on track to report its highest-ever profit this year on strong sales of image sensors after years of losing ground in consumer electronics and hopes to develop the technology for use in robotics and self-driving cars as competition heats up.

The results will mark a significant turnaround for the conglomerate, once famed for leading the world in consumer gadgets such as its Walkman music player, but now finding a new focus on image sensors and gaming.

Sony  forecasts that operating profit in the year through March will more than double to 630 billion yen ($5.6 billion) compared with the year earlier and expects the chips division, most of which is made up of the image sensors business, to be the conglomerate’s biggest growth driver.

Executives say a technological breakthrough in image sensors and sea change in the company’s thinking are behind the success. The breakthrough, creating a sensor that captures more light to produce sharper images, coincided with soaring consumer demand for better smartphone cameras for sharing photos on social media.

The breakthrough, which involved reconfiguring the sensor layout and known as backside illumination, allowed Sony to grab nearly half of the market for image sensors.

“We knew we wouldn’t be able to win if we did what our rivals were doing,” said Teruo Hirayama, technology chief of Sony’s chip business, recalling initial skepticism around the technology that is now used widely.

Japanese names such as Hitachi Ltd,  NEC Corp and Fujitsu Ltd,  which dominated mainstream chips through the late 1980s, have lost business to Asian rivals such as Samsung Electronics.

 Sony’s success “is really a function of having decided a long time ago to focus on that niche within semiconductors,” says Andrew Daniels, a Tokyo-based managing director at Indus Capital, an investment management firm. He declined to say whether his fund owns Sony shares.

“The process technology is very much that kind of ‘takumi-no-waza’,” he said, using a Japanese phrase for the pursuit of manufacturing perfection.

Is The Nintendo Switch A Runaway Success

December 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

How well you think you will do and how you end up doing dictates our reaction. That’s why Resident Evil 7 can sell 4 million copies and be described as ‘disappointing’, whereas a strategy game can shift 250,000 units and be called an unmitigated success.

In that regard, Nintendo Switch is an unquestionable triumph.

Nintendo had set itself a target of 2 million consoles sold by the end of its first month and ended up selling 2.74 million, having to fly in stock to try and meet demand (at great additional cost). The firm raised its full year projections to 10 million and then, three months later, raised projections again to 14 million for its financial year. By the end of March, Nintendo expects to have shipped 16.74 million Switch consoles worldwide.

So it has utterly smashed its own expectations but, just as significantly, it outshone everyone else’s estimations, too. IHS expected Switch to sell 4.4 million units by the end of 2017 (it did that by the end of July), SuperData was slightly more optimistic with a 5 million prediction (it passed that shortly afterwards). Both analysts felt they had been optimistic, as both numbers were higher than what the Wii U managed.

Daniel Ahmad at Niko Partners took to Twitter to suggest that it isn’t impossible for Switch to ship 10 million units in its first year. Even that optimistic analysis is likely to be beaten.

Nintendo’s strategy and pitch just worked. The initial weak software line-up and high priced accessories and games didn’t have the negative impact many had predicted, partially due to the quality of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The decision to spread out releases throughout the year turned out to be a brilliant one, with the console continually in the news with critically acclaimed software such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Arms, Splatoon 2, Mario + Rabbids and Super Mario Odyssey.

There’s no denying it, Switch (along with PUBG) is this year’s success story.

Nintendo has stated that the Switch is a home console, and you can see why; the games feel like home console titles, and according to Nintendo’s own data, most gamers are playing the device on the TV at least occasionally. In fact, the data did show that 30 per cent of the audience primarily play in handheld mode, but it’s not clear exactly where they are playing (because if they are anything like me, they’re probably playing from the comfort of their sofa).

This means the market and media has been comparing Switch to Wii U, and seeing as that console was a big flop, the comparisons look favourable. Switch has already more than doubled Wii U’s first year and will likely have passed its lifetime sales number before the end of 2017.

However, the market expectation is that the Switch will be Nintendo’s only console hardware release for some time, effectively replacing Wii U and its 3DS sister machine (although the 3DS continues to have a retail presence at this moment). Comparisons to 3DS are less favourable. 3DS had a lower price point, yet it suffered a troubled first few months, and still shipped almost 17m units by the end of its first year. That’s pretty much identical to what Nintendo Switch is expected to do.

Indeed, over the course of the Wii U/3DS generation, Nintendo will have sold around 85 million consoles – and this is a generation widely seen as a disappointment for the company (as a comparison, Xbox 360 and PS3 both sold around 84 million consoles each).

Comparing Wii U and 3DS to Nintendo Switch is not completely fair, of course. The product is very different to both devices, there will have been a significant cross-over between the Wii U and 3DS audiences, and 3DS’ price point was (and is) significantly lower. In addition, Nintendo’s investment in smartphone games may effectively replace its legacy handheld business over time.

Nevertheless, if Nintendo wants to have a bigger generation this time around, then it needs to beat 85 million. The 100 million Switch sales figure that Nintendo has casually suggested in its financial calls now looks more like a genuine sales target. It’s been a decent first year, but we are a long way away from reaching those figures.

In addition, with a reliance on one console, Nintendo will be hoping for a higher spend per user on Switch than what it has achieved previously. This is going to require a stronger slate of software and digital add-ons that extends beyond its first few years; not just from Nintendo, but third-parties, too.

There are a few positive signs here. Nintendo’s first party slate has been good thus far, and independent developers are achieving strong results from the eShop. Yet there are also multiple warning signs.

IHS estimates that around 20 per cent of Switch software sales are digital, which is far below PS4 and Xbox One. With physical retail under threat, that creates a real challenge for Nintendo moving forward in terms of reaching its consumers. The Switch’s small internal storage space has not been friendly for gamers that like to download, either.

What’s more, the costs of the cartridges are high. This has prevented some developers from creating physical product (because it forces the price of the game upwards), and has also made things challenging for bigger third-party publishers. Indeed, we’ve seen numerous third-party ports to Switch that have been priced significantly higher than their counterparts on other machines. This is an issue when you consider that Switch has been attracting a sizeable core gamer audience – the sort of consumer that may already own a PS4, PC or Xbox One – which will impact sales of games such as Doom or Skyrim.

The lack of flexibility on pricing is one issue that will hinder Nintendo’s efforts in trying to pull in more third-party support.

There’s no doubt that 2017 has been a good year for Nintendo. Switch has sold in large quantities, and products like the SNES Mini are selling faster than they can be made. It’s a positive position for the company to be in.

However, 2018 will be just as crucial. It is the year Nintendo needs to keep the pressure on in terms of big Switch launches (the current release slate is lacking, although there’s almost certainly a new Nintendo Direct on the horizon), it’ll need to ramp up its digital business significantly, and it will want to find some consistency in the smartphone market.

Only then can we feel confident that the troubles of Nintendo’s recent past have been put firmly to bed.

Wii sales came to a crawl after five years, they were 90 million at that time. That makes an average of 18 million sales per year. Sony just announced 70 million sales after four years, which puts them at an average of 17.5 per year with a product priced between 300€ to 400€ over its lifetime.

The Switch certainly started strong enough to play in that league, but whether sales can be sustained for another four years is a tough question. It depends on whether you see Nintendo on the same level as Sony or not.

The continued success of the Switch is entirely down to Nintendo’s slate of titles, how regularly they arrive and how much penetration they can make into the family / casual market. Third parties aren’t going to support the Switch, the compromise from PS4/Xbox One to Switch is an expensive one, nobody wrote an engine ground up to run on all three. In addition to that the PS4/XBox One market is largely 18-35, while those people will quite possibly own a Switch as a second console any mainstream title they’ll buy for their main console at home. Publisher’s know that which is why they’re either on the sidelines, dipping their toes or being funded to port older titles.

Comparisons to the Wii are way off in my belief, that platform was a total anomaly in terms of time and place and demographic. The other factor that’s interesting is that local retail still has Switches in stock, albeit aided by Nintendo nearly shutting off supply through the middle of the year to stock pile that’s a big difference.. It’s clearly selling well but you couldn’t buy a Wii for TWO Christmas’s at retail without lining up, this is the Switches first Christmas and there isn’t anything like the frenzy associated with it. Now you can argue their Switch supply is definitely outstripping their Wii supply and they stage managed the Wii better but there is a very demonstrable difference here in the US at least.

If I were Nintendo I’d be looking at 25m and then 50m ; talk of 85m of 100m is fantasy land.

Courtesy-GI.biz

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