The numbers of VR-enabled smartphones and tablets, as well as shipments of VR devices bundled with gaming consoles or PCs will grow like topsy in the fourth quarter.
Beancounters at Digitimes Research have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and reached the conclusion that we should see some significant changes in the VR market soon.
Shipments of VR video-enabled smartphones and VR devices bundled with consoles will be higher compared to other devices. Vendors of VR-enabled tablets and VR headset bundled PCs which niche markets initially before they make headways by coming out with products with reduced prices and enriched content, should do rather well, the Digitimes Report claim.
Gaming and video are still the dominant VR applications in 2016. The successful launch of VR video-enabled flagship smartphones by Samsung Electronics in the first half of 2016 will encourage other vendors to follow suit.
Google and ARM updates to their VR video applications with reduced algorithm requirements in the fourth quarter of 2016 will help develop more VR video-enabled mobile devices.
Shipments of VR video-enabled smartphones are expected to reach 70 million units in 2016, accounting for 5 per cent of global smartphone shipments, Digitimes Research thinks.
Sony is expected to ship over three million PlayStation VR devices in the quarter, far higher than rival vendors.
While Intel has admitted it can’t build a 10nm chip, Mediatek is planning to release two of them using TSMC’s process.
According to the Economic Daily News MediaTek is considering rolling out two versions of its 10nm chips, the Helio X30 for high-end smartphones and the X35 for the lower-end segment.
It said that it will start volume production for the Helio X30-series SoCs as scheduled between the end of 2016 and early-2017. It is also thinking of having another 10nm series designed for mid- and high-end but not necessarily flagship smartphones.
The Helio X35 chips from MediaTek will also be built by TSMC using a lower-spec variant of the foundry’s 10nm processes. It is the first of TSMC’s first group of customers to adopt its 10nm process technology. The other is Apple.
TSMC said that its 10nm process has received product tape-outs from three clients, and will start generating revenues in the first quarter of 2017.
A few of you might remember that we exclusively posted the news that AMD is working on a 7nm CPU codenamed Starship. The 7nm APU is codenamed Gray Hawk and it aims to attain lower TDPs.
The AMD Starship X86 CPU is a 7nm unit with up to 48 cores and 96 threads and this definitely targets the high end server market as well as performance desktop computers. These CPUs will have a range of TDP values from 35W all the way to 180W. It is safe to assume that the version with 35W TDP ends up with much less than 48 cores.
Now AMD plans to launch its first 7nm and target some embedded markets. Of course, there will be a notebook version of a Gray Hawk, possibly with a different codename but AMD plans to use the 7nm quad core with eight threads, in 7nm for casino gaming machines, arcade gaming, industrial control and automation, retail signage, HMI and security machines. It will also fit into the highly profitable medical imaging market, premium thin clients and communication infrastructure.
We already said with that the APU that joins Polaris GPU architecture and 14nm FinFET Zen core is coming in the second half of 2017, and the Gray Hawk is the successor to that.
There is a big chance that this APU will mix with the Navi architecture that is also expected to launch in 7nm. This product is scheduled for a 2019 launch, so we have quite some time before it happens, but it is good to know that AMD is planning far ahead.
The lowest TPD parts will get to 10W, which sounds quite amazing considering what kind of specification that APU might end up having.
The middle of next year is when we expect to see the Zen / Polaris APUs in notebooks and a bit later in embedded systems. AMD’s Lisa Su was clear at Computex earlier this year. She said that the company plans to launch the desktop first, following with server then notebook and last of all t will be a unit aimed at the embedded market.
Bear in mind that these products should still be considered as concepts and they are subject to change. AMD first needs to master a 14nm FinFET low TDP notebook and embedded Zen based parts before it can more to the very exciting 7nm.
AMD Chief Technology Officer Mark Papermaster has told the world that AMD will become the top manufacturer when it comes to PCs and servers.
According to IDG, Papermaster said that the outfit will be making Vega 10 GPU available by first half of 2017. He added that AMD plans to release high-end PCs and servers which will be powered by the new Zen chip and the first Vega 10 GPU.
He thinks that this will gain market share in the gaming, virtual reality, other desktop applications, which will require high-performance GPUs. AMD is going to pitch Zen and Vega 10 GPU (possibly AMD Radeon GTX 490) as being the best of the PC generation. Apparently that positive attitude will give Nvidia and Intel a good kicking.
AMD’s next GPU architecture powered by HBM2, which is proven to increase performance significantly while maintaining power efficiency. HBM2 is also reported to provide maximum throughput of up to 256GBps, thus it is capable of carrying out all existing powerful apps such as virtual reality, 3D rendering and many more.
This leaves the budget and mid-level PCs running Polaris.
Basically this means that AMD is carrying on the same business model it always has done – compete on cost against Nvidia and Intel. That does not mean that the quality is noticeably different, but it does mean that it will always be cheaper.
A Wall Street analyst, with no thought to his personal safety, has dared to question what AMD fans have been telling us for ages – Zen will bring about peace on earth, cure cancer and above all give Intel a good kicking.
However, Christopher Danely with Citigroup has bravely claimed that with its “Kaby Lake” family of processors, Intel remains a “step-function ahead of AMD Zen when Zen chips are released in Q416.”
He also doubts the benchmark stats that AMD presented to promote Zen’s capabilities relative to Intel’s microprocessors claiming that the AMD controlled benchmark compared an engineering sample of a Zen processor that has not been released yet against a three-month old Intel processor, with both chips clocked at 3.0 Ghz.
“We note the maximum speed for the Intel chip is 3.2 GHz. The result showed AMD completing the benchmark 2 per cent faster than Intel, implying higher CPU efficiency on a “clock for clock” basis. AMD kept both 8 core chips at the same clock speed of 3.0 Ghz, below the native clock speed of the Intel chip. The benchmark result showed the Zen Summit Ridge processor completing the Blender rendering benchmark in 48.07 seconds, 2 per cent ahead of Intel Broadwell-E chip’s time of 49.06 seconds. We note this is only one benchmark using a custom workload performed at an AMD event under controlled conditions, and therefore cannot be verified by third parties and does not represent expected results under all workloads, Danely said.
Instead he thinks that Chipzilla will benefit from its process technology lead while AMD’s manufacturing partner, Global Foundries, which has a “spotty track record.”
“After several of delays and eventually failing to develop 20nm and 14nm on its own, GlobalFoundries entered into a partnership agreement with Samsung in April 2014 to adopt Samsung’s 14nm FinFET process. Despite using the same tools, recipes, and materials as Samsung’s 14nm process, products built on GlobalFoundries’ 14nm did not appear until earlier this year, roughly a year after Samsung released its Exynos 7420 SoC built on its 14nm process,” Danely pointed out.
Since the partnership agreement with Samsung does not include 10nm or lower nodes, we think the technology gap between AMD and Intel will widen again once Intel migrates to 10nm next year.
Meanwhile Intel released its new Kaby Lake chips on an improved 14+nm process this month, featuring a 15 per cent performance improvement over its Skylake chips. Kaby Lake chips deliver up to 12 per cent faster productivity performance and 19 per cent faster web performance over comparable Skylake chips
“We expect independent benchmarks to show Intel’ performance is a step function ahead of AMD Zen when Zen chips are released in 4Q16,” he said.
Below you will find lots of rantings from Intel and AMD fanboys and we expect the language to be colourful. Those of a sensitive disposition might want to look away now.
Those who thought that VR would be a cure for cancer will be disappointed to know that sales of the hardware have stalled already.
Earlier stock problems for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are now over but no one is buying according to a Steam survey.
We had already suggested that the Rift and Vive would not have mass market appeal, mostly because the hardware requirements were too great. It looks like betting the farm on the tech was not a good idea.
With the Oculus Rift priced at $550 and the HTC Vive at $800, the price is obviously the main problem, with a Steam survey showing that only 0.18 per cent of users own an HTC Vive and only 0.10 per cent have an Oculus Rift.
HTC Vive sales grew only 0.3 per cent in July and were completely flat in August. Oculus Rift sales grew by the same amount in July and just 0.1 per cent in August.
To be fair the Oculus Rift has not officially launched in the UK until September 20, but it is hard to see how it will be more popular in the EU.
This does not mean that the technology is stuffed. It just means that the small number of early adopters who wanted to play with it already have one. Interest from the great unwashed is not happening. This is mostly because there are no games or anything interesting to play with.
This might change with the arrival of the PlayStation Neo console,that is specifically designed with the PlayStation VR headset in mind. Not only will it be cheaper, at £350 it also has significant software support from the rest of the games industry. Still it is an Atlas-like task for Sony to convince the world that VR is a good idea.
AMD has been on the blower to point out that figures from Mercury and Jon Peddie Research, show that it has been growing market share for the fourth consecutive quarter.
A spokesman for AMD said that for the last nine months, AMD has got its mojo back through its Radeon Technologies Group. During that time, the company has made significant investments in hardware, marketing, and software for the graphics line-up leading to four straight quarters of market share growth.
Mercury Research said that AMD gained three points of unit volume share in Q1 2016. The Mercury Research and Jon Peddie Research market share data for Q2 2016 shows AMD seeing its fourth consecutive quarter of desktop discrete GPU share growth, driven by AMD’s strongest quarter of channel GPU sales since 2015 and the commencement of shipping of the next generation Polaris GPUs.
In total discrete graphics, AMD gained 4.8 share points to 34.2 per cent of market by unit volume (based on Mercury Research). In desktop discrete sector, AMD saw a 7.3 share point increase, rising to 29.9 per cent market share.
“This is another positive testament AMD’s strategy is working as the company drives forward towards “Vega” offerings for the enthusiast GPU market, which AMD expects to bring to market in 2017 to complement our current generation of “Polaris” products,” the spokesperson said.
“AMD believes it is well positioned to continue this trend in market share gains with the recently launched Radeon RX 480, 470, and 460 GPUs that bring leadership performance and features to the nearly 85 per cent of enthusiasts who buy a GPU priced between $100 and $300,” she added.
Dubbed the 220.127.116.1101 driver, the software adds Unify colours for different panels and support for 5K3K panel. It also provides content protection for Overlay and non-Overlay drivers.
The 6th-gen camera pipe gets Windows 7 support and will allow for three DVI/HDMI displays on 6th-gen processors and x2 DP mode for type-C systems. Other improvements include a new LACE(Local Adaptive Contrast Enhancement) feature, because you can never have too much lace.
Intel said that the update improves the DX12 performance on some benchmarks. It also selects outputs to be active when more compatible displays are available, and synchronizes the operating system and driver gamma values.
It also has a fix in the OGL component to resolve TDR problems when running the 3D-CAD application “FJICAD/SX,” and removes the bug that prevented the display from switching back to LCD-only in certain situations.
Intel has provided two downloadable archives suitable for Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 operating systems, one for each 32 and 64-bit architecture.
TSMC s expected to see a 10 percent revenue increase in 2016.
Company co-CEO Mark Liu said that while the fourth quarter could be a bit rough as customers start their inventory adjustments, TSMC’s sales for the quarter will still outperform those for the third quarter.
Talking to Digitimes Lui said that smartphone demand was affected negatively by macroeconomic factors in the first half of 2016. But apparently smartphone chip clients are ordering again in the second half of the year.
TSMC previously estimated its 2016 revenues would grow 5-10 per cent. The foundry expects to meet the high end of the growth guidance, Liu said. In his speech at the CEO Forum of SEMICON Taiwan 2016. Liu claimed that the foundry industry growth is being driven by the markets for smartphones, HPC, automotive and IoT.
Apps like Pokemon G will require more silicon chips used in mobile devices that will be another growth driver in the future, Liu said.
AMD CTO, Mark Papermaster, has told the world+dog that despite claims to the contrary Moore’s Law is not dead, it is getting better, and be going Vroom any day now.
Intel co-founder Gordon Moore said in 1965 that computing power would double every two years thanks to developments in technology over time leading to shrinking transistor sizes and while he has been right until now, Intel said it would move away from the prediction for the first time, shifting transistor size from two to 2.5 years.
Papermaster said that Moore’s Law is alive and well, and said only narrow-minded people think its evolution is just about transistor size.
“It’s not just about the transistor anymore; we can’t just have transistors improving every cycle. It does take semiconductor transistor improvements, but the elements that we do in design in architecture, and how we put solutions together, also keep in line with a Moore’s Law pace.
He said that AMD had adopted an idea called Moore’s Law Plus. This means you stay in a Moore’s Law pace of computing improvement. So you can keep in with a Moore’s Law cycle but you don’t rely on just semiconductor chips, you do it with a combination of other techniques.
These include design changes and how you architect those system solutions that will keep on the Moore’s Law pace.
You can mix and match combinations of CPU and GPU, other accelerators, different memory configurations, or how they are pieced together – there is room for lots of innovation at the next level.
I can’t remember how many times in the last 20 years that I’ve written up rumors that AMD is ripe for a takeover but now it seems it’s time to do it one more time.
This time the speculation is from the guys at Seeking Alpha – in a note to clients it suggests that it’s the magic X86 licences that could be the lure for a company with the financial muscle to make it go somewhere.
There aren’t that many of those around but the rumor mill mentions Qualcomm, Broadcom and Oracle as possible candidates.
There is, of course, the slight matter that Intel would no doubt spin up a legal challenge because it knows where it is with the AMD X86 licenses but might find itself losing that just like it lost it after AMD’s sale of its factories to GloFo.
Even more spectacularly, Seeking Alpha thinks that Intel could take over AMD but we can’t see that one being a goer.
Seeking Alpha doesn’t stop at Qualcomm, Broadcom, Oracle and Intel. It claims Microsoft, Samsung and even TSMC.
Heck, is it really going to happen? We’ve heard the rumors so many times before that perhaps it’s just that time of year.
AMD is talking about how it is life might be becoming easier thanks to the rise of virtual reality (VR).
Chatting to the Orlando Sentinel, vice president for AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group Joe Cox said that there was a big resurgence in virtual reality.
“Virtual reality is exciting because it’s new and there is an excitement around it right now. But it’s just now in its infancy and has a long road ahead for it.”
Its hope is that the company will pick up on the back of the developing VR market. It is not the only one which is making this claim. Bean counters for Mercury Research think that AMD has 12.3 percent of the graphics processor market, up from 11.8 percent the prior quarter. That was the first jump since the first quarter of 2012.
The paper quoted Richard Terrell, a virtual reality developer who think’s AMD’s new graphics processors enhance its ability to compete in virtual reality.
“This is one of the key things that puts them in a good position for the next generation of VR technology that is about to hit us. Looking at the history of AMD, the company is well suited for it. Intel hasn’t had this kind of competition in a while,” he said
Growing competition in virtual reality means more opportunity for AMD which has seen its shares increase to $7.68. They hit a more than 40-year low of $1.61 per share on July 27, 2015.
The Orlando office works heavily on the Radeon RX 480 processor, which one recent review called “the best $200 GPU you can buy today”.
Cox said he expects the group to keep having a good effect on the company’s overall performance.
“We need to keep moving the graphics architecture and double its performance and power. Augmented reality processors, they need to be extremely low power and high performance. The goal is more pixels, less wattage.”
Intel has launched the 7th-Generation Core chip, dubbed Kaby Lake, intended to power the next-generation of 4K UHD, 360-degree and virtual reality (VR) content.
The firm announced earlier this month that the processor was in the hands of PC makers, and spilled more details on Wednesday, saying that it will power more than 100 2-in-1 devices and notebooks before the year is out.
Kaby Lake is built on Intel’s 14nm+ manufacturing process, which offers a 12 per cent performance increase compared with standard 14nm, according to Intel, and is “designed to tackle the immersive internet”.
Karen Regis, director of mobile platform marketing at Intel, said: “Consumers’ appetite for rich immersion has become insatiable. People want more interactive experiences. This is what we call the ‘immersive industry’. We think this provides a lot of opportunity for end users and the industry alike.”
Looking past Intel’s marketing guff, this essentially means that the chip is designed to improve the performance of new(ish) internet-led experiences, such as 4K UHD content, 360-degree video, VR, merged reality (apparently) and e-sports.
For example, Intel’s 7th-Generation Core chip’s energy efficiency improvements allow it to offer “all-day” (well, 9.5 hours) 4K video playback, whereas its Skylake predecessor supported only 1080p footage.
With this in mind, Intel said that the processor will crop up in more systems with 4K screen options.
The chip also has HEVC-10-bit and VP9 decode capability, and provides smooth 4K UHD playback while multitasking, according to Intel.
Kaby Lake will allow seven hours of playback for 360-degree footage, which Intel said has generated more than 800 million views globally since it launched on Facebook and YouTube. This is 1.7 times longer than the four hours of the 6th-Gen chip.
Intel claimed that Kaby Lake will provide 12 per cent overall productivity gains compared with Skylake, and a 19 per cent increase in web performance.
The chip will also allow slimmer machines, according to Intel, and will show up in 10mm convertibles, sub-10mm clamshells and 7mm fanless detachables.
More functionality can be expected from these skinny devices as Microsoft’s Windows Hello authentication and Thunderbolt support will be included.
Further Kaby Lake SKUs will crop up in January targeting enterprises and enthusiast machines such as desktops PCs, workstations and gaming laptops.
Nvidia has updated its Grid software platform with deeper performance profiling and analytics tools for planning, deployment, and support of virtual GPU users.
According to the company the improved management tools address both host (server) managment and virtual client monitoring. Nvidia says that with the new Grid software, admins will be able to get information about the number of virtual graphics instances in use and the number they can potentially create.
They can also see usage information for the stream processors on board each card, the percentage of the card’s frame buffer that’s in use, and the load on each card’s dedicated video encode and decode hardware.
Each guest vGPU instance will tell admins information on encoder and decoder usage, frame buffer occupancy, and the vGPU use. Nvidia adds that it all takes the guess work out of vGPU provisioning and the data it’s exposing about vGPU usage will let system administrators tailor their virtual user profiles better.
All this means that it might stop the admins giving too much processing power to accounts when it is needed for the graphics team. Nvidia thinks those operational improvements will also help lower costs. The August 2016 Grid software update should be available immediately.
A report from the folks at NotebookCheck.net shows an Intel slide detailing some updates to the company’s mobile ULV processor lineup based on the Kaby Lake third-generation 14nm processor lineup.
As we mentioned in July, Intel is describing Kaby Lake mostly as a “2017 platform” and plans to launch some desktop processors in the fourth quarter of this year, but will have larger volumes planned for Q1 2017 and will probably announce them formally at next year’s CES.
Quad-core ULV chips arriving for the first time
With Skylake, Intel currently has its mobile processors separated into four categories – “Y”-series (Core M) for 2-in-1 notebooks, “U”-series for thin and light notebooks, “H”-series for gaming notebooks (with unlocked “HK” and “HQ” quad-core variants). The lineup includes some chips with Intel HD Graphics (listed as “+ 2” for “Tier 2”), while others feature upgraded Intel Iris Graphics (listed as “+ 3e” for “Tier 3”).
“U” series gets a quad-core 15W design
There will not be any new chip configurations for Core M from Skylake to Kaby Lake, as the new generation will also feature dual-core CPUs with Intel HD Graphics and a 6W TDP. According to the source, however, the Kaby Lake “U” series will be receiving a new quad-core variant with Intel HD Graphics inside a 15W TDP. This will be placed alongside two current dual-core CPUs with Intel Iris Graphics (3e) in 15W and 28W designs.
“H” gaming series gets a quad-core 18W design
The Kaby Lake “H” gaming series will also be receiving a quad-core design with Intel HD Graphics inside a remarkable 18W TDP.
Not much has been reported about Kaby Lake notebook processor lineups yet, other than that the integrated GPUs will be be capable of supporting High Dynamic Range (HDR) content, Wide Color Gamut (Rec.2020) and HDCP2.2 playback. This is a great value for consumers seeking thin and lightweight ultrabook lineups that don’t necessarily have physical room for a dedicated GPU, but who still want to experience 4K Ultra HD and similar resolutions with the benefits of a more complete color spectrum.