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Will AMD’s Zen Rule The Server Space?

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

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.

Courtesy-Fud

EA’s Battlefield 1 Beta Was An Overwhelming Success

September 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-battlefield-1Looking back to World War I may have pointed EA’s Battlefield franchise to a brighter future, with the beta of the latest game in the long-running series attracting 13.2 million players.

Those players all participated in Battlefield 1’s beta across ten days, between August 30 and September 8. EA DICE has confirmed that the 13.2 million people make it “the biggest beta in EA’s history,” topping the previous record holder, Star Wars: Battlefront, which attracted more than 9 million players.

As big as Battlefront’s beta was, though, it was surpassed in popularity by Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch, which pulled in 9.7 million in May this year. The question surrounding Battlefield I, then, is whether it’s the most popular beta of this generation. While EA hadn’t laid claim to that at the time of writing, based on other publicly available figures it seems likely: Ubisoft’s The Division had 6.4 million players in its beta, while Activision’s Destiny had 4.6 million.

In any case, these will be glad tidings for EA DICE, and EA’s shareholders. As Niko Partners’ Daniel Ahmad pointed out on Twitter, Destiny, The Division, Battlefront and Overwatch all demonstrate a clear trend.

One trend I’ll note is that each of the full games above sold to more people than played the open beta’s within the 3 months from launch.

— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) September 15, 2016

Battlefield 1 launches on October 21.

Courtesy-Fud

Virtual Reality Appears To Be On The Ropes

September 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

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.

Courtesy-Fud

Will The PS4 Pro Be A Success?

September 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-ps4proHalfway through Sony’s announcement event for its new consoles – the redesigned, slimmer PS4 and the new, more powerful PS4 Pro – I found myself thinking about the optics of these events. I’ve seen the announcement events for every console since the PS2, and of them all, this was by far the most muted. The lack of bombast and braggadocio could speak to a quietly understated confidence, or to uncertainty, depending on where you’re standing. I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle – Sony, achieving success it hasn’t seen since the PS2’s halcyon days, is certainly confident, but is also walking out onto uncertain territory with the PS4 Pro. The ground underfoot is no longer familiar.

The slim PS4, of course – perhaps the worst-kept secret in the history of the industry, given the appearance of functioning models on auction websites prior to the announcement – is nothing unexpected. Three years into the PS4’s lifespan, a slimmed down redesign was inevitable; it joins the (arguably rather more attractive) Xbox One S on the shelves as a sleeker model whose launch is somewhat overshadowed by impending obsolescence. Xbox One S, at least, has a year to run before the hugely more powerful Scorpio appears on the market. The new PS4 suffered the ignominy of being quickly announced and forgotten just moments before the unveiling of PS4 Pro, the device destined to replace it.

PS4 Pro, though, is a curious beast. It’ll run you $100 more than the slim PS4, it plays the same games and connects to the same online services. Sony has bent over backwards to avoid fragmenting their playerbase, and in theory, PS4 Pro is really designed only for the small minority of consumers with 4K displays in their living rooms. Yet the company must know the psychology of its consumers; it must know that for a large proportion of them, playing a game on a regular PS4 in the knowledge that an upgrade would make it that little bit sharper, that little bit smoother, is like Chinese water torture. That will only be exacerbated by the “Pro” moniker; so much of the market will feel an involuntary twitch of consumer desire at the very notion of their existing hardware being “amateur” or, god help us all, “noob”.

Ultimately, though, Sony’s cautious approach seems to be pitched just right. Those who will find themselves discombobulated by the notion of a needlessly dropped frame or a disappointingly undetailed hair strand, or quietly fuming at being branded a non-Pro, are precisely the audience expected to upgrade anyway. The benefits of PS4 Pro will be sufficient to keep them satisfied; while for pretty much everyone else, for the enormous audience of more casual consumers that Sony must access in the coming years in order to maintain the PS4’s sales trajectory, the benefits of the Pro seem minor enough not to bother with. The stroke of genius, perhaps, is that every upgrading gamer will release a second-hand PS4 into the market – handed off to a younger sibling or cousin, perhaps, or sold to a late upgrader from the last generation. That ought to do wonders to kick-start the PS4’s demographic expansion.

That’s not an easy balance to strike, and while it feels like it’s been skilfully done, only time and market data will tell. Sony enters Winter 2016 in a position of almost unprecedented strength; Nintendo’s NX won’t launch until next spring (and nobody really knows what it is), while Microsoft’s lovely Xbox One S is overshadowed by the plan to entirely outclass it with Scorpio next year. Both PS4 and PS4 Pro will do great guns this year (while PSVR, about which more in a moment, will undoubtedly be supply constrained). That’s not the real test; the test is how this line-up can fare against 2017’s launches, NX and Scorpio. Sony’s cards are now on the table for the next couple of years of the console war.

The other test, of course, is how this evolves. Much has been made of PS4 Pro representing the end of the console model; a final nail in the coffin of the five, seven or even ten year hardware cycle which has defined game consoles since the 1980s. Incremental updates like the PS4 Pro, maintaining compatibility and continuity while keeping pace with hardware advancements, are the future.

Well, perhaps they’re part of the future. Scorpio, with its dramatic upgrade over the Xbox One – so dramatic that the notion of Xbox One remaining fully capable of playing Scorpio titles seems ridiculous – suggests a somewhat different future. Equally, the muted nature of this week’s launch is suggestive of somewhat different thinking. Sony didn’t want to come out all guns blazing, shouting in triumph about its new hardware, because it cannot afford to alienate the 40 million existing owners of PS4 by implying that their consoles are obsolete. That’s a radical difference from console launches of old precisely because the whole purpose of those launches was to declare everything which came before obsolete. “Here, here is the new thing! All singing, all dancing, making the singing and dancing your existing console is capable of look merely like painful hopping and wheezing! Buy the new thing!” You can’t do that with an incremental upgrade; you can’t alienate your existing market in that way. Even smartphone makers have more freedom in their messaging, knowing that their hardware is expected to run on an 18 to 24 month upgrade cycle; consoles, though, you expect to remain “current” for four years, five years or more.

Incremental upgrades, then, lock us to a much more muted kind of message about new hardware. Does anyone really believe, though, that there’s no PS5 in the works? No grand, sweeping upgrade, that will be unveiled with bombast, and fireworks, and promises of walking on water and improbable feats of catering involving bread and fish? Of course that’s in the works. If PS4 Pro points us at something, it’s at the possibility of compatibility across generations in the very broad sense – perhaps, at last, we have entered a generation of consoles whose games will remain playable pretty much forever, or at least for as long as the capricious DRM gods smile upon us. The reverse, however, cannot remain true forever. Console generations will continue to roll past; it’s just that now, perhaps, there will be more mezzanines and landings between the floors.

Notably absent from Sony’s quiet little event was PlayStation VR. Oh, there was a logo, and there were a few words said, but you’d hardly imagine that this was a massive product launch that’s happening in just a few months’ time. Perhaps that’s because the aspect of PS4 Pro Sony is most anxious about is what impact it’s going to have on PSVR, and vice versa. Ever since the first leaks about PS4 Neo, as then was, hit the wild, there’s been a widespread assumption that part of the raison d’être for the new hardware was to drive PSVR headsets – with the existing PS4 simply being underpowered as a VR device.

If that’s not the case, Sony could have done a better job of pointing it out. Throwaway comments about the PS4 Pro yielding better frame rates for VR software sit uncomfortably with the company’s earlier pronouncements about 120Hz rendering for PSVR. Everything we’ve seen and learned about VR thus far suggests that this tech is all about framerate; if you can’t hit a consistent, high frame rate, users start to get severe motion sickness. If it’s the case that PS4 can hit those frame rates consistently, but PS4 Pro allows more visual finesse at the same frame rate, that’s great. If, on the other hand, PS4 is struggling with frame rate and PS4 Pro smoothes things out, that’s a big problem. PSVR cannot afford to be a poor experience on the existing PS4 installed base; if it is to be a success, it needs to work superbly on the 40 million PS4s already in the wild, not just on the fraction of the installed base which will be PS4 Pro.

Perhaps it does. Certainly, the demos of PSVR to date – all presumably running on PS4 standard hardware – have been fine, for the most part. Again, though, the optics are problematic; if you’re launching a VR headset within weeks of launching more powerful hardware, people are going to assume, not unreasonably, that they’re meant to complement each other. If that translates into users of the headset on stock PS4s getting physically ill where users on PS4 Pro do not, that’s a very big problem – and if that’s absolutely not the case, and there are procedures in place to prevent it, Sony needs to be discussing those things candidly and openly. (If it is the case, they might have been best served by doing something radical like only taking PSVR pre-orders alongside PS4 Pro pre-orders; let VR be the USP of PS4 Pro, and avoid the possibility of backlash from underpowered VR entirely.)

With the cards on the table, now we see how the hand plays. PS4 Pro is undoubtedly a shake-up to how the console business works. It’s one step closer to a world where console hardware is essentially a fixed-spec PC in a nice box that’s updated every few years – but we’re not in that world yet, and whether we ever arrive there will be determined by how Sony and its rivals fare in the coming 18 months.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Is TSMC Experiencing Unusual Growth?

September 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

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.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Virtual Reality A Good Move For AMD?

September 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

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.”

 

Courtesy-Fud

nVidia Updates Its Grid Platform

August 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

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.

Courtesy-Fud

EA Appears To Be Going HD With Old Games

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Electronic Arts has one of the deepest back catalogs in the industry, but to date it has steered clear of mining it for new revenue through remastered and HD editions. That’s likely to change soon, according to a Game Informer interview with EA Studios executive VP Patrick Soderlund from last week at Gamescom. When asked if anything in EA’s stance on remasters had evolved in the last year, Soderlund tipped the publisher’s hand.

“What’s changed is that there is proof in the market that people want it, maybe more than there was when we spoke [previously],” Soderlund said. “There were some that did it before, but I think there is even more clear evidence that this is something that people really want. The honest answer is that we are absolutely actively looking at it. I can’t announce anything today, but you can expect us most likely to follow our fellow partners in Activision and other companies that have done this successfully.”

Soderlund added that if EA were to remaster games, it would “have to be careful in choosing the right brands for the right reasons at the right time.” Part of that would be ensuring the company handles the remasters properly instead of just selling quick and dirty ports.

That attitude is a pretty clear pivot from where the company’s thinking was just a year ago. Last October, Peter Moore said EA wasn’t interested in remakes and remasters because “it feels like pushing stuff out because you’ve run out of ideas,” adding, “I don’t know where we find the time to do remakes. We’re a company that just likes to push forward.”

While EA hasn’t been especially aggressive with remastered games, it has produced HD versions of older games like American McGee’s Alice and Crysis, primarily as preorder incentives for sequels in those series.

Courtesy-GI.biz

AMD’s 32-Core Send Coming In Q2 2017

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has revealed a heap of details about its 32-core Zen based product – codenamed Naples – and we have a few things to add. 

According to our well-informed sources the engineering samples were expected in Q4 2016 which starts in October. Remember, we were the first to mention Naples in detail in June 2016. Sometimes AMD calls these products  Alpha versions  but it looks like AMD was able to demonstrate the CPU a bit earlier as it did a public demonstration at the event in San Francisco last week. This could have  been a pre-Alpha version that was stable enough to run.   

The beta version will follow Q1 2017 and this CPU should be the pre-final version before the company goes to initial production. There is another step in between called the final/general sample that is expected in Q2 2017 and  followed by initial production.

When a tech company says a product will launch in the second quarter, expect it to happen towards the end. Our best guess is a launch time around Computex 2017. It will take place in the last days of May or the first days of June 2017.

The fact that AMD now supports DDR4 memory, USB 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps, NVME makes its server portfolio a bit more competitive with Intel’s offering.

AMD’s Michael Clark is expected to give an audience at the Hot chips conference a bit more details about “
A New, High Performance x86 Core Design from AMD” but we doubt that he will talk about the possible launch date in as many details as we did.

According to a well-informed sources the engineering samples were expected in Q4 2016 which starts in October. Sometimes AMD calls these products an Alpha version but it looks like AMD was able to demonstrate the CPU a bit earlier as it did a public demonstration at the event in San Francisco last week. This might be a pre-alpha version that was stable enough to show.   

The beta version is following already in Q1 2017 and this CPU should be the pre-final version before the company goes to initial production. There is another step in between called final / general sample that is expected in Q2 2017 and it is followed by initial production.

When a company says a second quarter for a launch, you should expect it to happen towards the end of it. Our best guess is a launch time around Computex 2017. It will take place in last days of May or first days of June 2017.

http://www.fudzilla.com/news/processors/41376-amd-s-ceo-showcases-8-and-32-core-zen

The fact that AMD now supports DDR4 memory, USB 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps, NVME makes its server portfolio a bit more competitive with Intel’s offering.

AMD’s Michael Clark is expected to give an audience at the Hot chips conference a bit more details about “A New, High Performance x86 Core Design from AMD” but we doubt that he will talk about the  launch date in as many details as we just have.

Courtesy-Fud

Samsung Beats TSMC For FinFET Business

August 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Tech giant Samsung Electronics  won a contract to make Nvidia GPUs according to South Korea’s Chosun Biz newspaper.

The paper said Samsung would start making the next-generation Pascal GPUs using its 14-nanometre production technology before year-end. It did not specify the value of the order or say how many chips will be made. Samsung and Nvidia are not saying anything.

According to the newspaper Samsung Electronics is currently testing the Nvidia Pascal (Pascal) architecture on new production lines at the S1 campus Giheung, Gyeonggi Province. It is expected that the first GPU from Nvidia will be supplied by Samsung later this year.

Nvidia normally ships this sort of thing through Taiwan’s TSMC but has changed its mind because of recent unstable supply issues and the fact it wants to diversify its production line, the paper claimed.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Will MediaTek’s Helio X30 SoC Debut In Early 2017?

August 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

TSMC is gearing up to build MediaTek’s new Helio X30 SoC using the 10nm process and it looks like everything will be set for volume production in the first quarter of 2017.

It looks like the chip will be out before TSMC uses the same process to make Apple’s new chips later in 2017. Of course when Apple releases its chip it will try to convince the world that it is the first and it invented the whole process.

TSMC will also offer its backend integrated fan-out (InFO) wafer-level packaging (WLP) technology for Apple’s 10nm A11 chips.. However this timetable it means that hte X30 will really be the ground breaking technology which tests TSMC’s 10nm and MediaTek is taking the biggest risk.

Digitimes said that Qualcomm worked with Samsung Electronics to produce its next-generation Snapdragon 830 chips using its 10nm technology and that TSMC lost the orders for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 series to Samsung.

TSMC told its July investors meeting that its 10nm process will start generating revenues in the first quarter of 2017. The node has received product tape-outs from three clients, and more tape-outs are expected to come later in 2016, the foundry said.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Will Other Hop On The Pokeman Go Bandwagon?

August 11, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Pokemon Go is the only thing anyone wants to talk about. Even people who don’t want to talk about Pokemon Go end up talking about it all the time, if only to tell everyone how sick they are of people talking about Pokemon Go. Social networks are full of Pokemon Go, going out for a drink is now impossible without occasional interruptions as a buzzing phone signals the possible arrival of a rare beast, and comparisons of recent prized acquisitions have replaced complaints about the weather as smalltalk.

It’s not just your social group that’s talking about Pokemon Go, though. Damned near every conversation I’ve had within the industry in recent days has turned to Pokemon Go at some point. The games industry has produced some remarkable social phenomena in recent decades – Grand Theft Auto 3, Halo and Angry Birds all spring to mind as games that leapt across the boundaries to ignite the mainstream imagination, at least for a time – but none has been as fast, as widespread or as visible as Pokemon Go. It’s inevitable, then, that business people across the industry find themselves wondering how to help themselves to a slice of this pie.

Behind the headlines about the game itself, there’s another story building steam. Some investors and venture capitalists are hunting for the “next Pokemon Go”, or a “Pokemon Go killer”; developers are frantically preparing pitches and demos to that effect; IP holders are looking at their own franchises and trying to figure out which ones they could “do a Pokemon Go” with. I know of several investor meetings in the past week alone in which developers of quite different games were needled to push their titles towards mobile AR in an effort to replicate the success of Pokemon Go.

This is an ill-advised direction, to say the very least. From a creative standpoint, it’s hard not to roll one’s eyes, of course; this bandwagon-hopping occurs after every major hit game earns its success. For a couple of years after any truly huge game captures the industry’s imagination, it seems that the only words investors want to hear are “it’s like that hit game you think you understand, but with something extra”. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing; “it’s like Grand Theft Auto but with superpowers” was probably the pitch line for the excellent Crackdown, while “it’s like Grand Theft Auto but we drink more heavily in our design meetings” was probably not the pitch line for Saints Row, but should have been. This approach does also yield more than its fair share of anaemic clones of great games, but it has its merits, not least in being a clear way of communicating an idea to people who may not be experts in game design.

In the instance of Pokemon Go, however, there’s a really fundamental problem with the bandwagon jumping. Even as third parties fall over themselves to figure out how to hop aboard the Pokemon Go bandwagon, the fact is that we don’t even know if this bandwagon is rolling yet. Pokemon Go is a free-to-play mobile game, which means that its phenomenal launch is only the first step. In F2P, a great launch is not a sign of success, it’s a sign of potential; the hard work, and the real measure of a game’s success, is what comes next.

To put this in blunt terms, Pokemon Go has just managed to attract the largest audience of any mobile game within weeks of its launch – and it could just as readily find itself losing that audience almost in its entirety within a few weeks. If that happens, those enormous download numbers and the social phenomenon that has built up around the game will be almost meaningless. Mobile games make their money over long periods of time and rely upon engaging players for months; a mobile game that’s downloaded by millions, but is only being played by thousands within a few weeks, is not a success, it’s a catastrophic case study in squandered potential.

I’m not necessarily saying that this will happen to Pokemon Go – though there are warning signs there already, which I’ll get to in a moment – I’m saying, rather, that it could happen to Pokemon Go, and that it’s therefore vastly premature for anyone to be labelling this as a model for success or chasing after it with their own mobile AR titles. There are shades of what happened with VR, where Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus drove ludicrous amounts of capital into some very questionable VR startups and projects, inflating a valuation bubble which many investors are now feeling deeply uncomfortable about. Here, the initial buzz for Pokemon Go has sent capital seeking out similar projects long before we actually get any proper feedback on whether the model is sustainable or worthwhile.

There’s actually only one way in which Pokemon Go has been an unqualified success thus far, and that’s in its incredibly powerful validation of the Pokemon brand. Nintendo walks away from this whole affair a winner, no matter what; the extraordinary launch of the game is, as I’ve argued previously, a testament to the huge appeal of Pokemon, the golden age of nostalgia it’s going through, and the clever recognition of its perfect fit to the outdoor, AR-based gameplay of Niantic’s games. The thing is that thus far, we simply can’t tell to what extent Pokemon Go is riding the wave of that brand, and to what extent it’s actually bedding in as a sustainable game with a huge playing (and paying) audience.

I have my own suspicions that Pokemon Go is actually quite troubled on the latter count. Looked at from the standpoint of mobile and F2P game design, the game is severely lacking in the crucial area of player retention. At first, it does a great job; it trickle-feeds new Pokemon to you and filling out the first 100 or so entries in the Pokedex is a fun challenge that keeps players coming back each day. It’s then that things become more problematic. As players reach higher levels, the game applies significantly more friction (not necessarily in fun ways, with Niantic making some very dubious guesses as to the tolerance for frustration of their players) even as the actual reasons for playing start to fade away.

At high levels, finding or evolving new creatures is incredibly rare, and the only other thing for players to do is battling at Pokemon Gyms – which some players find entertaining, but which is a completely disconnected experience from the thing people have been enjoying up to that point, namely exploring and collecting new Pokemon. The idea that players who love exploring and collecting will be motivated by combat at Gyms seems naive, and misunderstands the different motivations different people have for playing games. My suspicion is that on the contrary, lots of players, perhaps a significant majority, will complete as much of their Pokedex as they reasonably can before churning out of the game – a high churn rate that will be exacerbated by the dying down of the “halo” of social media around the game, which inexplicably lacks any social features of its own.

I could be wrong – I’d be very happy to be wrong, in fact – but my sense of where Pokemon Go is headed is that, absent some dramatic updates and changes from Niantic in the coming weeks, the game is destined to be a fad. It will achieve its objective for Nintendo in some regards, establishing the value of the firm’s IP on mobile and probably igniting interest in this year’s upcoming 3DS Pokemon titles, but in the broad scheme of things it’s likely to end up being a fun summer fad that never converts into being a sustainable, long-term business.

In that case, those companies and investors chasing the Pokemon Go dollar with ideas for Pokemon Go killers or Pokemon Go-alikes are running down a blind alley. Crucially, they’re misunderstanding the game’s appeal and value; at the moment, Pokemon Go’s appeal is firmly rooted in its IP, and no other IP is ever going to replicate that in the same way. Digimon might have some appeal within a certain age group; Yokai Watch is largely unknown in the west and its players in Japan skew too young for an outdoor AR game to make much sense; I can think of no other franchise that would fit the “Pokemon Go model” well enough to make for an appealing game. If Pokemon Go turns out to be sustainable, then there’s potential for other companies to start thinking about what to do with this new audience of people who have fallen for mobile AR experiences; but until that happens, every VC dollar or man-hour of design time spent on a “Pokemon Go killer” is most likely being wasted entirely.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Will nVidia Debut Pascal For Laptops This Month?

August 4, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Nvidia will be showing off its Pascal-based discrete notebook GPUs at Gamescom in Europe, on August 17-21.

Digitimes claims that Asustek Computer, MSI, Gigabyte Technology and Clevo are expected to be showing off their latest Pascal based offerings. What is interesting is that they see Europe as the major market for gaming PC products. The number of gamers in the region has been rising rapidly, many gaming PC vendors have been expanding their reach into Europe’s channel and have been sponsoring e-sport teams in Europe.

Apparently Nvidia is unifying its product names and will no longer use the letter M to differentiate its desktop and notebook products. At Gamescom, Nvidia will unveil its GeForce GTX 1080/1070/1060-series GPUs for notebooks.

This means, it seems,  that Nvidia’s desktop and notebook GPUs with the same name will have equal performance, something which is a move away from the past when Nvidia’s notebook GPUs were weaker than its desktop parts. Meanwhile gaming notebooks with existing 980M/970M/960M GPUs are expected to see price cuts.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is AMD Getting Extremely Close To Samsung?

August 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD’s relationship with GloFlo has always been described as “complicated” and appears to be getting more open.

AMD recently mentioned that it has built hardware directly with Samsung and there is a further option to tap the company in the future for product ramps.

Analyst Patrick Moorhead, of Moor Insights and Security made the announcement after AMD investors questions about where AMD was building most of its hardware became a little more pointed.

AMD has said that it has bought $75 million in wafers from GlobalFoundries in Q2, that number struck Moorhead and co as a bit on the small side.

Moorhead questioned AMD on the deal and was told:

“AMD has strong foundry partnerships and our primary manufacturing partners are GLOBALFOUNDRIES and TSMC. We have run some product at Samsung and we have the option of enabling production with Samsung if needed as part of the strategic collaboration agreement they have with GLOBALFOUNDRIES to deliver 14nm FinFET process technology capacity.”

If AMD has options to build at Samsung that could be a bad sign for GlobalFoundries. After all it only spun off the outfit because it wanted a more agile manufacturing partner. GlobalFoundries struggled with its customer base and AMD had to cancel its Krishna and Wichita parts and move to TSMC.

When GloFo canned its 20nm and 14nm XM nodes and licensed 14nm technology from Samsung only to experience delays with that too.

Getting more out of Samsung might not result in significant volumes but the option to do so will keep GloFo or TSMC clean if they run into ramping or yield problems. GloFo’s licensed version of Samsung’s 14nm could easily be done by Samsung.

Courtesy-Fud

Will AMD Go CPU/GPU In Datacenters?

July 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD is drawing up a cunning plan to build a “super-chip” with a CPU and a GPU in a single box to put the fear of god into Nvidia and Intel in the data centre.

According to PC World the move will put AMD back into the server business, which is pretty much dead in the water at the moment.

Apparently when Zen arrives it wants to merge the CPU with a high-performance GPU to create a mega-chip for high-performance tasks.

AMD CEO Lisa Su said the tech will involve fusing Vega and Zen into one big chip for enterprise servers and supercomputing.

She said the move will come “in time”. “It’s an area where combining the two technologies makes a lot of sense.”

AMD has had a crack at this before. It has already combined full-featured CPUs and GPUs on made-to-order chips for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The 5-billion transistor Xbox One chip uses an eight-core AMD CPU code-named Jaguar and a Radeon graphics processor. But this is the first time that it has been talked about as a way of getting itself back into serverland.

Ironically it is possible thanks to the fact that GPUs are being used as co-processors in some of the world’s fastest computers. Google has slipped them into data centers for deep learning tasks. But this is world where Nvidia rules.

The only way for AMD to beat Nvidia and Intel in that space is to fuse the GPU and CPU into a single speedy box. Chances are it would push into the market on price and efficiency based on the concept that companies would only have to buy one chip.

Courtesy-Fud

 

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