Subscribe to:

Subscribe to :: TheGuruReview.net ::

MediaTek Devops New Chip For 4K TVs

January 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

MediaTek has been showing off its MT5598 chipset for HDR-enabled 4K TVs.

The MT5598 is a high-spec UltraHD SmartTV platform. It supports lots of different entry-to-enthusiast HDR technologies, and allows 4K TV manufacturers the flexibility to pair it with a range of LCD panels, backlight combinations, licensed or free technologies and localized content standards. These standards cover UltraHD Blu-ray and streaming services from Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, VuDu, VQQ, Voole, iQIY and YouKu.

Media Tek claims that its MT5598 brings MediaTek AI enhancements that enable voice control, plus audience, environmental and content awareness to SmartTV’s. These can collectively enhance the user experience by providing a tailored, real-time reaction in picture quality, channel selection and more based on who, how and what is being watched.

MediaTek General Manager of Home Display and Custom IC Business Unit Evan Su said that for 20 years, MediaTek has been a market leader in developing innovative chipsets for home entertainment products and devices.

“Our newest SmartTV chipset will bring the most advanced online streaming standards and superior picture quality into homes around the world.”

In addition to HDR-enabled content, MT5598 has its own HDR dynamic range remapping engine. It provides HDR post-processing enhancement to SDR content on HDR-capable displays, re-imbuing color, saturation and the dynamic range of brightness that is lost in SDR content. Combined with its 13th generation Picture Quality Engine, the MediaTek Super Resolution System (SRS) selectively enhances fine details without artifacting, sharpens edges and provides 4K Motion Estimation and Motion Compensation (MEMC).

Courtesy-Fud

AMD Going 7nm With Vega

January 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD’s Lisa Su has announced Vega 7nm as a machine learning “instinct part” first. AMD is quite clear that this is for machine learning first and don’t want to comment on our curiosity whether Vega 7nm can make it to the market as a gaming product soon.

Radeon Instinct Vega 7nm sounds like a shrink down of Vega architecture, a much safer approach than the new architecture Navi in 7nm. It is simply safer to shrink the existing architecture, such as Vega from 14nm to 7nm, than to jump to a new manufacturing process and a new architecture.

AMD calls this new product the Radeon Instinct Vega 7nm and this is a direct successor to the Radeon Instinct MI25. Of course, this card addresses machine learning, a market that is currently dominated by Nvidia Volta parts, but, at the same time, AMD is not charging an arm and leg for its products either.

Nvidia’s Volta is a 12nm part, while Vega at 7nm is likely to bring higher clocks, better performance and some optimizations on the architecture side.

7nm in 2018 won’t be easy

AMD states that 7nm Radeon Vega Architecture has been built for machine learning, which might imply that there will be some significant architecture optimizations for machine learning.

Lisa Su said that AMD has a production level machine learning software stack. It is questionable how much impact AMD made with its Instinct products as the industry massively follows the  Nvidia Cuda based solution, but we will be following the latest developments.

Late 2018 would be when we would expect any kind of 7nm, but we won’t go into details about this right now.

Courtesy-Fud

Will AMD Launch The Ryzen 2000 This Quarter

January 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

According to a report coming from Japan, AMD’s Ryzen 2000-series (Ryzen 2) processors, may launch in March, alongside its new motherboard chipsets, the X470 and the B450.

According to Hermitage Akihabara, retailers in Japan are gearing up for the Ryzen 2 launch in March this year, which should bring decent performance improvements thanks to an optical shrink.

According to an earlier roadmap leak, Pinnacle Ridge can be considered as the “tick” in AMD’s CPU lineup as it will be based on the same Summit Ridge architecture or Zen+ cores, which should bring slight IPC improvement, mostly thanks to the 12nm LP manufacturing process.

It is most likely that AMD will be able to squeeze higher clocks and better power efficiency, and some rumors also suggested higher memory frequency support.

As noted, the new Ryzen 2000 series chips will be paired up with the new 400 series chipset, including the X470 and B450-based motherboards. While these will be based on the same AM4 socket, it is still not clear if the 300-series chipset motherboards will be supporting the new Ryzen 2000 series CPUs.

Hopefully, more information will surface as soon as CES 2018 show kicks off next week.

Courtesy-Fud

Will EPYC Help AMD Next Year

December 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD had a pretty good year this year, but that did not appear to do much for its share price which remained fairly static.

Wall Street thinks that its stock is risky because the outfit has low and fluctuating margins. However some analysts think that the launch of its EPYC line of server processors earlier this year to compete with Intel which has long dominated this market.

In fact word on the street is that the initial traction and reviews have been positive, and this could present AMD an opportunity to grab some share and give a boost to its valuation.

If the numbers pad out, AMD could add 25 per cent to its value by being more aggressive in the server market.

Forbes is predicting that of AMD gains a 10 percent share in the server processor market, it would imply a nearly 25% upside to its EPS, which would drive a similar upside to our price estimate assuming the valuation multiples remain constant.

It suggest that EPYC server processors could gain enough market share thanks to the lower cost, and simplification of the future development roadmap. EPYC performance per watt is attractive and the company has seen some good traction lately.

The prediction is that global server CPU shipments in 2019 to reach 26 million, meaning a 10 per cent market share gain will imply 2.6 million server CPUs shipped, This would mean incremental server revenue would be roughly $1.4 billion assuming average processor pricing of $550.

This would increase AMD’s EBITDA by around $250 million and lead to incremental earnings of about $160 million, or 17 cents per share. This, in turn, would imply a 25 percent jump in EPS in 2019, and even more upside in the long run, Forbes said.

Courtesy-Fud

Are Video Games Contributing To Inflation In Great Britan

December 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

The price of video games has been highlighted as a key factor in the latest rise in UK inflation, a report claims.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that the Consumer Prices Index has risen by 3.1% in the twelve months ending November 2017. This is an increase on the 3.0% recorded in October and the highest since March 2012.

While the largest contribution to this increase was identified as air fares, the ONS notes that: “Rising prices for a range of recreational and cultural goods and services, most notably computer games, also had an upward effect.”

The increase in prices for video games, toys and other hobbies between October and November was much sharper than in 2016, with the ONS adding: “This effect came from computer games whose prices are heavily dependent on the composition of bestseller charts, often resulting in large overall price changes from month to month.”

This is no doubt partially down to the sheer number of new releases over the past couple of months, traditionally the busiest time for the games industry’s release slate.

It’s also worth noting that while the biggest new releases have often been heavily discounted within a few weeks of launch in the past, there seems to have been less significant price cuts in 2017. Certainly, Black Friday appeared to have less of an impact when it comes to titles less than a month old dropping from £50 to around the £20 to £30 mark.

That said, the ONS’ declaration that computer game prices have risen to the point where they can be singled out as a contributing factor to UK inflation is somewhat frustrating.

By and large, video game prices have remained relatively static over the past decade, with new releases almost always around the £50 price point – despite the rising cost of development. This is something developers commented on when discussing the increasing need for monetisation mechanics like loot boxes, controversial though they may be.

Similarly, publishers have previously seen a backlash when trying to adjust prices to account for economic shifts. Most notably, Paradox Interactive attempted to raise the cost of its games earlier this year and was immediately met with consumer complaints – to the extent where the publisher was compelled to retain its previous price points and offer refunds to those affected.

Time will tell whether the impact on UK inflation further deters publishers and retailers from increasing the cost of games.

Courtesy-GI.bz

Are AMD’s Ryzen 2 Processors Arriving Next Month

December 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD must be tired of the success it enjoyed with the Ryzen CPUs as its second-gen processors are set to launch early 2018.

The Ryzen 2 lineup, according to WCCTech, will be made up of the Ryzen 7, Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 2000 chips, and are set to bring in better performance with jacked-up clockspeeds and overclocking capabilities. Bet Intel’s happy about that….

Core specifications for chip fans include the Ryzen 2 family being the first chips AMD will have built using the 12 nanometre fabrication processes to pack in more transistors into small squares of silicone.

The Ryzen 2 familiy will feature AMD’s Zen+ CPU architecture, which is set to offer more power efficiency alongside beefier speeds and support for DDR4 memory running at higher frequencies.

Dubbed Pinnacle Ridge, the wave of second-gen Ryzen chips will start predictably with the flagship Ryzen 7 in February, followed by its less gutsy siblings in March.

With up to eight cores and clock-speeds reckoned to hit up to 4.4GHz, the Ryzen 2 CPUs are not only set to butt heads with Intel’s eighth-generation processors, but also take on Intel’s 9000 series CPUs set to make a splash mid next year.

The first bout of Ryzen CPUs made their debut earlier this year and offered enough performance on tap to give people an alternative to Intel chips, which had for some time offered better performance than AMD’s CPUs.

But the Ryze 2 family demonstrates there’s still more to be had out of AMD’s Zen architecture and that the chip maker wants to build upon its CPU rise with Ryzen.

There’s not a vast amount of extra information about what we can expect from Ryzen 2, but we reckon the chipset will be more of an evolution in performance rather than a massive power hike to annoy people who bought a Ryzen CPU earlier this year.

That being said, later down the line we’d not be surprised to see a new ‘Threadripper’ chip built on the same Zen+ architecture but rocking a serious number or cores, or perhaps a 2000x series chip with 12 cores and 24 threads to really stick two fingers up at Intel. But as ever time will tell.

Courtesy-TheInq

Can EA Learn From Rainbow Six Siege With 25 Million Players

December 12, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Ubisoft has announced that two years after launch, Rainbow Six Siege has over 25 million registered players.

Now entering its third year, Ubisoft has lined-up more content to prolong the life of the game for another season, proving that games-as-a-service can be done properly in the AAA space.

When Siege launched at the tail end of 2015, critics took the game to task over its threadbare offerings, which featured a single PvP mode, no campaign, and only a handful of maps, not to mention a litany of bugs.

Since then, however, many of the criticisms have been dealt with and Siege has held a regular spot in the UK top 20.

What’s especially interesting about the success of Siege is how quiet it’s been. With each competitor that shambles onto the market, whether that be Star Wars Battlefront II or the latest addition to the monolithic Call of Duty franchise, Siege has rarely attracted the same level of controversy, despite employing the most common games-as-as-service monetization techniques.

With games-as-a-service reportedly having tripled the value of the industry, and EA looking to replace annual sports games with live services, has Ubisoft laid out the framework for how to do it right?

“Player investment has been core to the success of the game with longevity being always very important to us. As the game progressed, we continued to develop it with the community in mind,” said Alexandre Remy, Rainbow Six Siege brand director in a statement.

A community-centric approach is the obvious answer to increasing the longevity of any game. Over recent months, we’ve seen a great deal of discussion around finding the “sweet spot” for monetization techniques, and we’ve also seen the fallout of what happens when communities feel disrespected. Loot boxes and season pass DLC can work, Siege has demonstrated that, but striking that delicate balance is something publishers have long struggled with, and continue to do so.

That said, it’s important to consider the particular niche that Siege operates in. Yes, it’s a competitive online shooter, but unlike many of its contemporaries, it’s a much more strategic and team-focused affair. While there is definitely a crossover between Call of Duty players and Siege players, the latter has a niche appeal the former cannot possibly hope to replicate without disenfranchising its mainstream audience.

The likes of Activision and EA can certainly learn from Ubisoft’s approach to games-as-a-service. With no immediate Siege sequel on the horizon, a further cash investment into the game is a relatively easy thing for consumers to justify.

However, when players know that the life of a game will be artificially shortened by an annual release, rather than extended by DLC, it becomes difficult to rationalize spending anything above the $60 entry price, especially when the monetization techniques are perceived to be so aggressive.

Ubisoft is not the only publisher to have successfully implemented these techniques with minimal backlash. Blizzard, for example, kept its hands relatively clean with Overwatch and only recently got caught-up in the Belgian Gambling Commission’s investigation which mainly cast its attention towards Star Wars Battlefront II.

But with Siege, Ubisoft has employed the delicate and reasoned approach that’s been missing from the industry’s clumsy, heavy-handed adoption of the games-as-a-service model. As a result, the two-year-old game boasts a large, dedicated community that numbers in the millions and is willing to spend.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Is EA Screwing Up The Planned Move To Games As A Service

December 8, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Every now and then, a major publisher goes through a bit of a rough patch in PR terms; the hits just seem to keep on coming, with company execs and representatives seemingly incapable of opening their mouths without shoving their feet right inside, and every decision being either poorly communicated or simply wrongheaded to begin with. At present it’s EA that can’t seem to put a foot right, from Battlefront 2’s microtransactions to lingering bad feeling over the closure of Visceral; every major company in the industry, though, has had its fair share of turns in the barrel.

These cycles come around for a couple of reasons. Part of it is just down to narrative; once something goes wrong for a company, they are scrutinised more closely for a while, and statements that might have slipped under the radar usually are blown up by the attention. Another part of it, though, is genuinely down to phases that companies go through; common enough periods in which the balance between the two audiences a major company must serve, its consumers and its investors, is not being managed and maintained expertly enough.

Most companies encounter this difficulty from time to time, because the demands and desires of shareholders are often damned near diametrically opposed to those of customers. The biggest problems arise, however, when a firm ends up having to take a Janus-faced approach, presenting a different picture in financial calls and investor conferences to the one it tries to convey in its customer-facing PR and marketing efforts.

That’s broadly speaking the situation EA has found itself in once again; forced to be conciliatory and diplomatic in talking to customers about everything from loot boxes to its commitment (or lack of same) to single-player experiences, while simultaneously being bullish with investors who want to see clear signs of progress in the shift towards a set of business paradigms core consumers volubly dislike.

CFO Blake Jorgensen’s comments at Credit Suisse’s conference earlier this week are archetypal of this genre of corporate communication; from a blunt denial that the company’s microtransaction strategy on Battlefront 2 is changing overall to a throwaway comment about Visceral’s closure being related to declining popularity (by which, being a CFO, he meant revenue) of linear game experiences, Jorgensen spoke to investors in a way that was quite markedly different from how the rest of the company has addressed its actual customers on these issues.

You can argue quite reasonably that this approach is dishonest in spirit if not in substance; even if the words of each statement are chosen carefully so the investor messages don’t technically contradict the consumer messages, the intent is so clearly tangential that consumers have every right to feel rather miffed. I think it’s worthwhile, however, to look beyond that to the motivation and strategy behind this – not just in terms of EA’s month of bad PR, but looking beyond that to the industry as a whole, because pretty much every major publisher is undertaking a similar strategic shift in a direction they know perfectly well is going to annoy many of their core customers, and they’re all going to have their own turn in the barrel as a consequence.

At the heart of this issue lies the fact that for many investors and executives, the business model that has sustained the games industry for decades has started to look frustratingly quaint and backwards. “Games as a Product”, whereby a game is made and sold, perhaps followed up by a handful of add-ons that are also made and sold (essentially smaller add-on products in their own right), is a model beloved of core consumers – but business people point out, not entirely unfairly, that it has many glaring flaws.

Some of those flaws are very real – the product model creates a high barrier to entry (you can’t attract new customers without convincing them through expensive marketing to spend $50 to $60 on trying out your game), hence limiting audience growth, and has not scaled effectively with the rising costs of AAA development. More controversially, they dislike the fact that the product model creates a relatively low cap on spending – after buying a game, there’s only so much money a consumer can spend on DLC packs (each of which has its own associated development costs) before they hit a hard limit on their purchases.

Hence the pressure to move to a “Games as a Service” model, which neatly – if not uncontroversially – solves each of these issues. The service model can be priced as low as zero to create a minimal barrier to entry, though for major titles with a big brand attached publishers still show a preference for having their cake and eating it, charging full AAA pricing for entry to an essentially freemium-style experience. An individual player’s spending may be theoretically limitless, as purchases of cosmetic or consumable items could run to many thousands of dollars in some cases – hence also allowing the game’s revenue to scale up to match the huge AAA development and marketing budgets that went into its creation.

You can “blame” mobile games for this if you wish, but in a sense they were merely the canary in the coalmine; the speed with which the mobile gaming market converged on the F2P model and the aggression with which it was pursued was a clear sign that the rest of the industry would eventually try to move in a similar direction. The reality is that mobile games shone a light on something a few industry types had been saying for years; that there was a massive, largely untapped audience for games out there, who would never climb over the barriers to entry to the traditional market but who could potentially be immensely valuable customers of games with lower barriers to entry.

The correct height for those barriers turned out to be “free games for devices you already own”, and yet this market did turn out to be enormously valuable; and now much of the industry is eyeing up the model that works on smartphones, looking at their own rising costs and shrinking slice of the pie, and wondering how to get from over here to over there.

The problem is that making that crossing – from being a successful creator or publisher of core games to being a successful company in a smartphone-style paradigm – is damned tricky to do when the business model you (and your investors!) want to have is anathema to many of the customers you actually have right now. Not all of them, by any means – plenty of core gamers are actually pretty relaxed about these models, for the most part – but enough of them to make a lot of noise and to potentially put a major dent in the bottom line of a company that genuinely manages to drive them away.

Hence, much of the approach we’ve seen in 2017 (and prior) has really been akin to the parable about putting a frog in cold water and gradually raising the heat; companies have slowly, softly been adding service-style features and approaches to their games, hoping that the slowly warming water won’t startle its occupants too much.

When things spill over as they have done for EA in the past month, it tends to indicate that someone got impatient; that investors were too demanding or executives pushed too hard, and the water started to heat up too rapidly. The course will be corrected, but the destination remains the same. Short of a really major pushback and some serious revenue damage across the board from these approaches – which bluntly seems unlikely to materialise – the move towards games as a service is inexorable, and 2018 will bring far, far more of the same. Whether you view that as the industry’s salvation or its ruin is really a matter of personal perspective, but it’s a new reality for AAA titles that we’re all going to have to make some kind of peace with.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Disney Very Protective Of IP and Brand

December 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A decade or two ago, a common topic of speculation in the games business was which of its giant publishers would be the one to topple Disney from its position as the world’s most important warehouse of intellectual property. EA, then the industry’s big beast, was comfortably the favorite, especially as it seemed set on weaning itself off its reliance on licensed sports titles in favor of building new IP. Activision was on the radar for some; Nintendo, though the industry’s most obviously ‘Disney-like’ company, seemed slow to produce and capitalize on new IP at the time.

History didn’t play out that way. EA became embroiled in a decade long turnaround and restructuring effort; Activision, though boosted massively by its merger with Blizzard and the success of games like Call of Duty and Destiny, has fumbled in its management of properties outside the high-spending core. Nintendo’s library of IP has grown and thrived, of course – but none of these companies can come close to matching what’s happened at Disney. Since the time when we speculated over when EA might overtake them, Disney has absorbed first Pixar, then Marvel, then Lucasfilm, placing itself beyond any reasonable challenge. It is the world’s most valuable IP holder, and will be for years to come.

Along the way, Disney has largely given up its ambitions of being a game developer or publisher – at least for now. It shuttered studios. It shut down internal projects in favor of licensing its properties to other developers and publishers. There is a slight twist of irony to the fact that, in the process, Disney has gone from being a second- or third-tier publisher to being arguably the most powerful company in the games business; a licensor absolutely aware of the value of its IP, and willing to protect that IP and its development regardless of the cost to any partner company.

This month we’ve seen two examples of Disney flexing that muscle. The company severed ties with Gazillion Entertainment, developer of licensed Diablo-esque RPG Marvel Heroes; what happened behind the scenes to precipitate this is unclear as yet, but there were signs that Disney was dissatisfied with the developer or with its relationship for some time, and the company ultimately pulled the plug on the game. Just a few weeks later, a much bigger firm, Electronic Arts, also got a taste of Disney’s willingness to exercise its power; the controversy over pay-to-win loot box mechanics in Star Wars Battlefront 2 took an abrupt turn when pressure from Disney forced EA to remove premium currency from the game before its launch, pending a re-engineering of the game’s monetization systems.

For Gazillion, the consequences are stark; the firm has shut down, with staff claiming on social media that they are not receiving severance pay or PTO. The chances of refunds for players who bought expensive items in the free-to-play game seem slim. EA, of course, won’t face anything remotely that drastic as a consequence of the changes to Battlefront, but that’s more to do with the scale of EA and its capacity to absorb losses than anything else.

The company’s financial projections for Star Wars Battlefront 2 were based on the assumption of a premium currency and loot box system that worked in a certain way and attracted a certain amount of revenue. It set its development budget based on those projections, spent money on marketing based on those projections; Disney has now unceremoniously dumped those projections in the bin.

Entirely independent of the conversation over whether EA’s monetization model was ill-conceived or not, there can be little doubt that the company’s bottom line for this project will be hit by the removal of premium currency, even temporarily. Without seeing the company’s internal figures it’s hard to say, but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that, given high enough costs for licensing, development and marketing, this change could even leave EA struggling to stay in the black on what should have been one of its most profitable titles of the quarter.

For Disney, these decisions no doubt make absolute sense. To a large extent, Disney’s choices about games are based on the same rationale as Nintendo’s have been; an understanding that preservation of the value of the IP needs to come ahead of short-term profitability of any one product based on that IP. Just as Nintendo will severely delay games and leave its release schedule looking anaemic at times in order to ensure quality of its finished products and preserve the value of the IP, Disney will shut down, delay or change games that look like they pose a threat to that value – even at risk of damaging business relationships and thoroughly screwing over partners.

Disney has a dual objective with every licensing deal it signs for a major property, such as a game or a TV show. It wants to make money, of course, but it also wants to support the IP it’s licensing; keeping it relevant and in the public eye, preferably boosting its appeal, and whatever else, no matter what, absolutely not damaging or devaluing it.

This makes working with Disney – even for a company as big and powerful in its own right as EA – into something of a risky and challenging business. It’s natural that any developer or publisher would jump at the chance to work on Star Wars, a property tied in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or something related to a major Pixar movie, but these deals are not the license to print money they may look like at first glance.

Disney’s willingness to aggressively protect its IP and flex its muscle in these arrangements makes it vital to bear in mind that Disney and the companies that license its IP to make games have different objectives; of course both parties want to make money, but for Disney that comes with a powerful and often overruling caveat. It will sacrifice profit for long-term health, and a developer or publisher, with no financial interest in that long-term health, may be hung out to dry as decisions made in service of profitability are reversed.

In a sense, Disney’s position in the games industry has become similar to Apple’s in the hardware business. Apple makes some of the best-selling high-end products in the world, but for a manufacturing firm to join that supply chain is actually a double-edged sword, because the company is famous for micro-managing the processes of its suppliers and shaving their margins down to the knuckle. Working with Apple can mean enormous contracts to supply high-end parts for globally famous products; it can also mean paper-thin margins, constant supervision and tough contract terms from a company whose business objectives do not always align neatly with those of its suppliers.

Of course, the lure of working on Disney IP will not diminish. These are among the world’s most valuable brands, and for game creators they’re a treasure chest. But before diving into those waters, even the biggest of companies would do well to think about whether their intentions actually align with what Disney will permit. This is a company at the peak of its power; the rewards for working with it may be great, but no publisher should fool itself that Disney will ever put a business relationship ahead of its own central interest in the protection of its IP.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Qualcomm Goes 7nm With TSMC

November 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Korean based Etnews has mentioned that Qualcomm 7nm manufacturing has been a big win for TSMC while two other US and China customers chose Samsung’s 7nm. TSMC traditionially have dibs on Nvidia and MediaTek too. 

The Taiwan based foundry and Qualcomm are expected to ship in volume in early 2019 with announcement of the new product in late 2018, no surprises there. This will be the chip that comes after the soon to be announced Snapdragon 845.

The most talked phone after iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S9, is the first chip to feature the Snapdragon 845 but Samsung will use its own 10nm Exynos 8910 for some markets too. Luckily for Qualcomm no one else will use Exynos, as the majority of the Android high end phones exclusively use the Snapdragon 800 series chips.

Samsung is of course expected to manufacture its chips at its own fabs and we would expect this to happen in 2019 and volume production with some risk production in late 2018.  This is the SoC that comes after Exynos 8910 and if all goes well, it will first ship in the 2019 Galaxy S phone.

Qualcomm and Broadcom, according to the report are designing their next generation chips with TSMC’s7-nano PDK. The reason why Qualcomm went with 7nm with TSMC is the fact that the fab uses normal steppers while Samsung wants to make its 7nm with more bold and riskier EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet) photolithography technology.

Samsung is expected to be later to the 7nm game and early adopters had to go with TSMC. EUV is still technology that is not entirely ready for the mass market and there is a disagreement weather you should need to use Extreme Ultraviolet light manufacturing with 7nm or first with 5nm. Obviously the two main fabs disagree while GlobalFoundries cooperates and shares technology with Samsung, and will have Samsung to rely upon for 7nm.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Toshiba Staying In The PC Business

November 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Toshiba has said that it has not entered into talks with any company to sell its personal computer business, denying media reports that it was in negotiations to sell the unit to Taiwan’s Asustek.

To be fair, it was not the only outfit supposed to be snuffling around Tosh’s headquarters, The Nikkei business daily reported. China’s Lenovo had also expressed interest in the PC unit

Cash-strapped Toshiba has previously said it is looking to sell the PC business, a small part of the industrial conglomerate, as it races to bolster its balance sheet by the end of March to avoid a possible delisting. The PC business accounted for just 3.5 percent of Toshiba’s net revenue in April-September of $747 million and was not worth the effort.

Hit by liabilities arising from its now bankrupt US nuclear unit, Toshiba has been plunged into financial crisis and agreed in September to sell its prized chip unit, Toshiba Memory, to a group led by Bain Capital for $18 billion.

But a highly competitive and contentious auction process led to delays in deciding on the buyer and has meant that Toshiba may not obtain the necessary antitrust clearance by the end of the financial year in March. Without funds from the sale, it is likely to end the year in negative net worth for a second year in a row, putting pressure on the Tokyo Stock Exchange to delist it.

To avoid that, Toshiba is looking at raising $5.3 billion by offering new shares in a third-party allotment – and hopes to finalize the capital injection by the end of the year to allow for shareholder approval.

Toshiba repeated on Friday its stance that it was aiming to close the chip unit deal by the end of March.

It said earlier this week that it would sell its television unit to China’s Hisense Group for $115 million.

Courtesy-Fud

Did The Star Wars Battlefront 2 Fiasco Hurt The Franchise

November 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

The run-up to launch for Star Wars: Battlefront II has been, to put it bluntly, a fiasco. I would suggest that it has also provided a model for publishers to follow in the future.

When Electronic Arts announced at E3 that it was scrapping the Season Pass model for Battlefront II, the move was met warmly by players. After all, the Season Pass split the player base into people with the DLC and without, preventing them from enjoying new maps and game modes together. At the time, the understanding was that EA would introduce a system for unlocking content within the game, where progress could either be earned through gameplay or purchased through microtransactions. And for the most part, people were fine with that.

But as the company revealed exactly how the system would be implemented, details like how long it would take to unlock things without paying and what sort of advantages paying players could expect in multiplayer matches rankled players. EA’s repeated insistence that it was taking the feedback seriously and changing the system in response did little to appease the angry fans. The uproar seemed to gain more traction as the game’s release approached until, on the literal eve of launch day, EA announced that it was shutting off the game’s microtransactions, reinstating them at a later date when the progression system had been properly fine-tuned.

You could characterize it as a desperate move to salvage the launch of a massive publisher’s holiday lynchpin release, or you could point to it as a new standard, a potential solution to a problem that has dogged the AAA industry since Oblivion’s horse armor first debuted over a decade ago. Why don’t more AAA games launch with a microtransaction-free grace period?

The benefits to the players are fairly clear. By not having microtransactions turned on at launch, publishers know they have to provide an experience that is fun and engaging for non-payers, and ensures that in-game systems won’t be designed around an intolerable grind pushing people into spending more money. It dissuades developers from locking content that players would consider essential (like, say, playing as Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader in a Star Wars game) behind unreasonably high progression walls. In short, it “keeps them honest,” while the early adopters who pay full price (or close to it) for a new release get to enjoy a premium, limited-time experience without the constant pressure to spend more money.

At the same time, it provides publishers with plenty of upside as well. For one, they get to monitor how paying customers are behaving in their game under real-world conditions for a length of time to help with balancing the microtransaction system. And assuming they design the game to be fun without the microtransactions, they’ll almost certainly benefit from better word of mouth and review scores at launch.

And most crucial of all, publishers who adopt a grace period before instituting microtransactions will be mitigating some of the harmful effects of the AAA marketing hype cycle. It’s no coincidence that the backlash to Battlefront II’s microtransactions has grown as the game has neared launch, even though EA has apologized and downgraded the aggressiveness of its approach multiple times in response.

The company’s successful marketing campaign was designed to generate interest and excitement and passion in such a way that would crescendo at launch. And it did. But as we’ve seen too many times in recent years, “passion” in the player base is not an exclusively positive thing. Passion is a multiplier of other emotions. It makes those who love a game get tattoos, and those who hate it lob death threats online. Waiting until after the launch window to turn microtransactions on allows publishers to benefit from the passion they’ve spent so much time and money building, while putting off one obvious source of potential backlash until people have cooled down a bit and the monetization scheme of last holiday’s big shooter release just doesn’t seem like something worth grabbing a pitchfork over. This is especially true given how many members of the pitchfork mob will have purchased the game, played it, and traded it in or redirected their enthusiasm to the next big release in the meantime.

And what would it cost the publishers to do this? A couple months’ worth of microtransaction revenues in games that are designed and intended to be live services. For a successful live service game, the first months of revenue are well worth sacrificing if it might buy you the traction you need for the long run. (Grand Theft Auto Online is four years old and just had its most lucrative quarter ever.)

Microtransactions are a powerful force for the games industry these days, opening up a slew of alternative business models and providing potential answers to many of the problems that have long dogged publishers. EA may have unwittingly showed us a way to finally bring balance to the Force.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Belgian’s Decide Star Wars Loot Boxes Is A Form Of Gambling

November 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

The Belgian Gambling Commission has decided that loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront II constitute gambling, and the practice should be banned.

Last week the gambling authority turned its eye towards the issue and since concluded that loot boxes present a danger to children.

VTM News reported that Belgian minister of justice Koen Geens said the gambling commission will take the matter to Europe.

The Dutch authorities joined the recent investigation too, and while a decision has yet to be reached, arriving at the same conclusion as Belgium doesn’t seem unlikely.

Accompanying the news was an announcement that Hawaiian legislators are also considering action against loot boxes in games.

At a press conference, Hawaiian democratic state representative Chris Lee described Battlefront II as a “Star Wars-themed online casino,” warning that it was a “trap” for children.

“We’re looking at legislation this coming year which could prohibit access, or prohibit sale of these games to folks who are under age in order to protect families, as well as prohibiting different kinds of mechanisms within those games,” he said.

“We’ve been talking with several other states as well, with legislators there who are looking at the same thing. I think this is the appropriate time to make sure that these issues are addressed before this becomes the new norm for every game.”

At the same press conference, fellow representative Sean Quinlan draw comparison to ’80s and ’90s cigarette mascot Joe Camel.

“We didn’t allow Joe Camel to encourage our kids to smoke cigarettes, and we shouldn’t allow Star Wars to encourage our kids to gamble,” he said.

Writing recently for GamesIndustry.biz, Rob Fahey warned against interference from legislators if publishers overstepped the mark with loot boxes.

“There’s a real chance that companies involved in this are on the hook for permitting minors access to a gambling platform,” he suggested.

“If the games business doesn’t figure out where the sensible limits to this kind of business model lie, they risk a public outcry leading to regulators stepping in.”

Avoiding a moral panic has never been a strength of games, but with politicians across the world diving into the fray, the industry could find itself facing another assault from the mainstream media and outside pundits.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Did EA Screw Up SW Battlefront II With Microtransactions

November 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

EA has suspended microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront II following a furor over loot boxes, hours before the game’s launch earlier today.

Loot boxes have been increasingly controversial in recent months but the backlash towards Star Wars Battlefront II has eclipsed the debate.

While other developers and publishers have been embroiled in the controversy, EA has taken the brunt due to the imbalance potentially caused by randomized loot in a competitive multiplayer shooter.

“We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases,” said DICE general manager Oskar Gabrielson in a statement. “We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing, and tuning.”

The option to purchase in-game currency will be taken offline until a later date while the team make changes to the game. Until then, all progress will be earned through gameplay.

“Our goal has always been to create the best possible game for all of you – devoted Star Wars fans and game players alike,” added Gabrielson.

launch, it’s clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design. We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages. And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right.”

Just yesterday DICE took to Reddit for an Ask Me Anything session which was met with derision from the community due to the the developer’s vague, non-committal answers.

The news comes just days after it was announced that the Belgian and Dutch gambling authorities are investigating whether loot boxes in Battlefront II and Overwatch constitute gambling.

 

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

 

MediaTek Goes Up

November 2, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

MediaTek saw its gross margin rise to 36.4 percent in the third quarter from 35 percent in the second, while net profits soared 129 percent sequentially to $167.8 million.

The company said that its gross margin was an improvement compared with 35.2 percent during the same period in 2016. This was possible thank to a favourable product mix led to the gross margin growth, the outfit said.

MediaTek’s third quarter revenues were up 9.6percent on quarter but down 18.8 percent from a year ago. This was due to a seasonal pick-up in demand for certain consumer electronics products. It added the on-year decrease mainly to lower chip shipments for smartphones.

Operating profits were up 110.3 percent sequentially but down 34.9 percent on year. Operating margin for the quarter was 7.8 percent, up from 4.1percent in the prior quarter but down from 9.7 percent in the year-ago quarter.

Net profits for the third quarter of 2017 were a 35.4 percent on-year decline.

MediaTek predicted it will post revenues of between $ 1.96 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, with gross margin ranging from 34.5 percent to 37.5 percent.

Sales of MediaTek’s smartphone and tablet chips accounted for 35-40 percent of the company’s total revenues in the third quarter.

MediaTek co-CEO Rick Tsai said that shipments of MediaTek’s Helio P23 series that comes with new LTE Cat 7 modem already kicked off in small volume in the third quarter, said Tsai, adding that the shipments will expand in the fourth quarter.

MediaTek has started shipping its entry-level MT6739 chips in the fourth quarter, Tsai indicated. Shipments of MediaTek’s mobile chips will reach a combined 110-120 million units in the fourth quarter.

The outfit is preparing to launch of new Helio P-series mobile chips that will support AI, facial recognition, AR and VR capabilities in the first quarter of 2018, Tsai noted. The new products will help the company continue to improve its gross margin and regain market share, Tsai said.

Non-mobile SoC chips sales including solutions for IoT applications, power management ICs and ASIC chips will see impressive growth in the fourth quarter, Tsai claimed. The segment is expected grow by a third in 2017, Tsai said.

Courtesy-Fud

Next Page »