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Bitcoin Hits Yet Another Record In Value

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lenovo Return To Profit, Despite Losses In Mobile Business

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

China’s Lenovo Group Ltd, the world’s largest personal computer (PC) manufacturer, has returned to profitability, but said rising component prices may put pressure on its bottom line this year as supply shortages extend to batteries.

Profit reached $535 million in the year to March on revenue that fell 4 percent, just missing analyst estimates. The news sent Lenovo shares up as much as 6 percent in Hong Kong trade.

The result comes as Lenovo navigates a PC market that has shrunk markedly since the advent of tablet computers. According to researcher Gartner, global PC shipments fell for the 10th consecutive quarter in January-March, dipping below 63 million units for the first time since 2007.

Lenovo’s annual shipments fell 1 percent versus a market decline of 3 percent, with its share rising 0.4 percentage point to a record 21.4 percent. Revenue in its PC and smart devices unit – which makes up 70 percent of the total – fell 2 percent.

The company blamed the declines on transition in its smartphone and data center businesses, as well as on a difficult macro environment and component supply constraints.

Memory shortage is likely to continue this year, particularly solid-state drives (SSD), pushing up parts costs, said Corporate President and Chief Executive Officer Gianfranco Lanci at an earnings briefing.

“We are starting to see shortage in batteries,” Lanci added. “That is mainly because of cars consuming many more batteries than before.”

Lanci said it could take a year for battery suppliers to catch up with demand and for prices to normalize, having risen by a single digit percent so far this year.

Lenovo’s mobile business, which accounts for 18 percent of revenue, booked a loss which widened somewhat to $566 million, though the firm said it was enjoying strong growth in Latin America and Western Europe.

Is AMD Going To Rome

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has presented a long-term 7nm roadmap and the new codenames for the server products have an Italian theme.

The Zen-based server core, the product that will give a birth to the  Epyc line of data center / server products should debut next month with Naples. Naples is the first 32 core with 64 threads to launch, and this is a 14nm FinFET product. It is named after a city of very rude Italians who are sitting on a super volcano which will eventually explode and take most of southern Europe out with it.

Now Forrest Norrod, a SVP and General Manager of AMD’s enterprise, embedded and semi custom business group, has shared what will come after Zen and it appears the product names are keepting to the Italian theme.

The next in line is based on 7nm and is what the company internally calls Zen 2. Making the transistors smaller will let it put more transistors per square meter and give it a much better efficiency. In servers, it is all about the efficiency per square millimeter, or performance per watt metric.

The Zen 2 data center is codenamed Rome which is named after a city which worshipped a fire goddess and nicked most of its technology from the rest of Europe. Rome also invented exploding public toilets and Catholicism. 

GlobalFoundries said that 7nm risk production can start early next year, so we can expect to see the Zen 2 core at the end of 2018 at the earliest.

The Zen 3 based core is likely based on a 7nm+  process, whatever that might become. AMD’s client and data center group is in sync with its roadmap, at least partially. Both groups are planning to have Zen 2 and Zen 3 based products after they finally manage to ship Zen this year. AMD is using “Milan” as the codename for its Zen 3 product. It is named after a city which thinks it rules the whole of Italy. People from Milan also believe in putting blue cheese on pizzas, which makes them seen as barbarians by the rest of the country.

According to a Powerpoint deck, Milan is coming in its Blue Vein glory sometime before 2020. These time frames are not set in stone.

Forrest said that  a Zen based Epyc processor should be expected in 30+ 1S and 2S servers during 2017. 5000 Epyc CPUs are seeded with OEMs, end customers and partners and AMD is hoping that they will get to see the beauty of its Epyc platform and make some more designs.

Multiple Hypersacele providers have programs and evaluation for the Epyc processor,  hoping to score a good deal in the latter part of the year and beyond. AMD has confirmed that its Risorgimento should be on schedule to launch in June 2017. 

Courtesy-Fud

Microsoft To Acquire Cyber Security Firm Hexadite

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft has made a deal to purchase cyber security firm Hexadite for $100 million, according to Israeli financial news website Calcalist.

Hexadite, headquartered in Boston with its research and development center in Israel, provides technology to automate responses to cyber attacks that it says increases productivity and reduces costs for businesses.

Microsoft officials declined to comment. Officials at Hexadite could not immediately be reach for comment.

Investors in Hexadite include Hewlett Packard Ventures, and venture capital firms TenEleven and YL Ventures.

Microsoft said in January it plans to continue to invest more than $1 billion annually on cyber security research and development in the coming years. Israel has already benefited from that investment.

Intel Goes AMD GPU Inside

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

We can now confirm the rumors that Intel has given up on Nvidia because it has written a checkto license AMD’s graphics.

It looks like veteran GPU editor Kyle Bennet was right when he first reported the rumor, however wild it sounded. We didn’t contemplate it but wrote about it  several times. Intel needs a GPU licence and the Nvidia – Intel licensing agreement ended on March 17 2017, so Intel doesn’t have a license. It is more likely that Intel has a licencee from AMD but neither company has officially announced it.  

Apple is licensing GPU tech from Imagination Technologies at least for the next eighteen to twenty four months until it gets its own. Samsung, MediaTek use ARM or Imagination Graphics IP but even without these two have good desktop / notebook graphics. Qualcomm acquired a huge set of IP from ATI when it was known as Imagion, and was the foundation for the Adreno today.

Nvidia Intel’s shotgun wedding ends in divorce

If you are in Intel’s shoes,there are two options, Nvidia or AMD. We know that Nvidia sued Intel and forced it into a settlement and now that the shotgun wedding is over, Intel wants out. Nvidia and Intel had many  disagreements over the Nforce chipset and the licensing, that resulted with $1.5 Billion settlement that Intel agreed to pay for five years. It does tend to sour a marriage somewhat if you go to court BEFORE the honeymoon, or indeed the marriage. Or the copulation – oh sorry we didn’t mean to menion sex.

AMD  needs money and licensing is a healthy revenue stream that will keep it going for numerous quarters. The licensing money usually positively affects gross margins, again something that AMD desperately needs to improve.

AMD loves Intel

Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group worked at Apple and worked closely with Intel too. He probably played an important role in these negotiations.

It remains to be seen when it will be formally announced and when it will start affecting AMD’s bottom line. The cooperation and agreement will allow Intel to access AMD’s graphics Intellectual Properties and most things Radeonish.

AMD will  weaken its position to fight Intel on in the integrated solutions, but licensing money should help overcome that issue. Despite that fact that these companies  compete, they are close when it comes to graphics.  

Of course, when we came to know the existence of the deal, we will dig much harder  to get the many more details about potential new products and if the Radeon will get inside of the future Intel CPUs. Intel takes a lot of time to implement a new architecture.

Courtesy-Fud

Is The MP3 Codec Finished?

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The MP3 digital audio coding format has now been officially confirmed as dead by its inventors.

The Fraunhofer Institute officially terminated its licensing program for certain MP3-related patents, in a move widely interpreted by tech experts as MP3’s “official death warrant”.

It is all symbolic, you can still use MP3 files if you want to, but the removal of support for the format signals an official shift in the industry.

Basically there are better quality formats that offer more efficient compression and more functionality are now the standard. With cheaper and faster hard-drives you also have more space for less compressed higher quality music.

The Fraunhofer Institute said in a statement said that although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, MP3 is still very popular amongst consumers.

“However, most of the latest media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs, such as the AAC [Advanced Audio Coding] family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to MP3.”

Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, which is a division of a German research institution that contributed to the development of MP3 in the late 1980s, helped create AAC.
It said AAC was now the “de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones”.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Update Now Allows Mac Users To Install Windows 10 Creators Version

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Apple has updated macOS Sierra to version 10.12.5 with more than three dozen security patches, and a change that allows users install Microsoft’s latest version of Windows 10 on their Macs.

Sierra 10.12.5 “adds support for media-free installation of Windows 10 Creators Update using Boot Camp,” the update’s brief release notes read. Creators Update was the name Microsoft assigned to Windows 10 1703, the upgrade issued last month.

Boot Camp, which is baked into macOS, lets Mac owners run Windows on their machines. A Windows license is required. Boot Camp, while not virtualization software like VMware’s Fusion or Parallels International’s Parallels Desktop, serves the same purpose: Running Windows applications, including custom or mission-critical corporate software, on a Mac personal computer.

Previously, Mac users were forced onto a circuitous road to put Windows 10 Creators Update into Boot Camp. According to a Microsoft support document published before the upgrade was released, Mac owners first had to install an .iso of 2016’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update, aka 1607, to Boot Camp. Once 1607 was in place, they could then upgrade Windows 10 to 1703 from within Boot Camp.

Monday’s macOS update voids that workaround: Mac owners may instead directly install a disk image — in .iso format — of Windows 10 1703 into Boot Camp.

Sierra 10.12.5 also patched 37 vulnerabilities in macOS. Apple also released security updates for Sierra’s two predecessors, 2015’s macOS El Capitan and 2014’s macOS Yosemite.

Expedia Now Accepting Online Reservations For Cuba

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

U.S. online travel services company Expedia announced that it had started offering online booking for hotels in Communist-run Cuba, looking to capitalize on a boom in tourism to the Caribbean island.

Expedia joins a dozen U.S. airlines and cruise operators that have already ventured into the Cuban market since the United States announced a detente with its former Cold War foe in 2014 and eased travel and trade restrictions.

“I see a lot of potential. We are talking about the largest country in the Caribbean with significant hotel expansion plans,” Veronica Vega, Expedia area manager for Caribbean, said in an interview.

The number of visitors to Cuba rose 13 percent to a record 4 million in 2016, driven by a 74 percent jump in U.S. travelers. A survey recently showed the number of American visitors alone could multiply sevenfold to 2 million by 2025.

Expedia’s move comes as U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration conducts a full review of U.S. policy toward Cuba. During his campaign, Trump had threatened to roll back the normalization of relations.

That does not seem to have dampened U.S. interest in the Cuban market. Analysts and corporate executives said it was hard to imagine Trump, a former businessman, taking measures that would harm U.S. companies already in Cuba.

U.S. law still bans general tourism to Cuba, but former President Barack Obama’s administration allowed Americans to travel more easily to Cuba for educational, cultural and other authorized purposes without having to go on organized group tours.

Expedia said Americans would simply have to certify that their trips fell under one of the 12 categories of authorized travel.

“We are very excited about being able to facilitate travel and give people the independence to select their itinerary,” said Vega.

Expedia said it would offer both hotel and BnB options and that customers would be able to pay online at the time of booking.

Is Nintendo’s Zelda Going Mobile?

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy-Fud

Will SSDs Take The Place Of Hard Drives

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Flash memory based solid state storage devices (SSD) are pushing hard disk drives out of the market and will replace them, according to the president of NAND controller developer Silicon Motion.

Robert Fan told New Electronics  that SSDs were taking over the whole category now and we’re seeing with Seagate and Western Digital that their hard disk market is declining.

Fan said flash moves the data quicker and more reliably. Because it is not mechanically-based it has better durability to withstand shocks, high pressures and temperatures. He claims it consumes much less power.

Flash controllers will also organize the way data is stored to achieve ‘wear levelling’. The locations in a flash memory will gradually wear out with repeated write/erase cycles, so using the available memory cells equally is important to avoid premature failure.

Applying single- and multi-cell technologies in its products, Silicon Motion is also exploring 3D NAND. According to Fan. pictured left: “3D NAND is the latest generation of flash technology. It enables very high capacity and very low cost. All the NAND vendors – like Samsung, Toshiba – are moving towards supplying 3D NAND.”

While much has been written about the benefits of SSDs in enterprise applications, the technology is also finding uses in other areas. “One of our key growth areas in the past couple of years has been in the client SSDs,” Fan noted. Client SSDs are built for the consumer market, rather than for enterprise applications, and may provide fewer write cycles.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Kittson Really A Successor To The Itanium Line

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has released the successors to the Itanium “Poulson” microprocessors and they are showing all the development and evolution of an Apple product.

The Itanium 9720, 9740, 9750 and 9760 CPUs are better known as “Kittson” and really are so similar to their predecessor you could not tell them apart.

In fact the only improvement in “Kittson” lineup is slightly increased operating frequency in two models.

The new range has four and eight CPU cores depending on SKU, up to 32 MB of last level cache, and 2 DDR3 memory controllers. They are clocked at up to 2.66 GHz, and support Hyper-Threading technology. Other supported features are Turbo Boost and Virtualization technologies.

They have shedloads of RAS features, such as machine check architecture with ECC and parity protection, Instruction Replay technology, hot add and removal.

Each on-chip memory controller supports two interconnects to Intel 7500 and 7510 Scalable Memory Buffers. The CPU works with DDR3-800 and DDR3-1066 memory. The Itanium 9720 is rated at 130 Watt TDP and the 9740, 9750 and 9760 SKUs have 170 Watt TDP.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Unveil Cloud IoT Core Services For Businesses

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Google has launched a cloud platform service to help organizations collect vital data from billions of Internet of Things devices.

The service, Google Cloud IoT Core, is designed to help enterprises, including utilities and transportation agencies, securely connect globally distributed devices to the Google Cloud Platform. There, the data can be centrally managed and integrated with Google’s data analytics services, said Indranil Chakraborty, cloud product manager at Google.

One customer who has been testing the new service for two months is Energyworx, a company of 40 workers that has used Google cloud services since 2014. Energyworx provides data analytics to utilities to help them plan better and improve performance.

The new Cloud IoT Core has been deployed by Energyworx to get real-time data readings from thousands of solar inverters and electric vehicle charging ports that have been deployed in California and other locales, said Edwin Poot, founder and visionary for Energyworx, in an interview. He said he expects to expand the test of Cloud IoT Core to include collection of data from millions of smart utility meters used to measure water and gas in coming years.

Cloud IoT Core provides a communications bridge between Google analytics and devices in the field, Poot said. Many of the devices, including solar invertors, rely on distinct or arcane data protocols that Google services can translate without manual intervention. (A solar inverter converts the variable direct current of a solar panel into a utility frequency alternating current that can be fed into the commercial electric grid.)

With the service, utilities can send control commands to meters, turning them on off, he said.

Energyworx only pays Google for the IoT devices it uses to receive data, Poot said, which should keep costs low. Overall, Poot said Google cloud services have cost a 10th what Energyworx was paying to Amazon Web Services, which it used prior to 2014.

“We’re seeing the power of cloud will grow fast and this [Google IoT] approach will be scalable,” Poot said. “We don’t install anything and don’t maintain anything. We just program it and use it and don’t worry about anything else.”

Samsung On The Hunt For Acquisitions

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to continue their hunt for acquisition opportunities, a company executive said on Monday, as the firm seeks to build software and services to further differentiate its products.

“We are going to be bullish on finding companies that fit our strategy,” Peter Koo, a senior vice president for Samsung’s mobile division, said during an investor event in Hong Kong. He did not elaborate on specific targets or technologies that Samsung is looking to acquire.

The world’s top maker of memory chips, smartphones and televisions has grown more aggressive in acquiring companies in recent years, breaking from its past preference to rely on its own talent and use its cash for capital expenditures amid intensifying competition from the likes of Apple Inc and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

In addition to buying firms such as Viv Labs and LoopPay, deals that bolstered Samsung’s existing efforts for artificial intelligence and mobile payments services, Samsung is also spending money to break into new businesses.

The firm completed an $8 billion acquisition of Harman International Industries early this year, its biggest ever deal, in an attempt to speed up its entry into the automotive components industry and develop a new growth engine.

Koo said Samsung’s aim with software and services is to primarily make its products more attractive to consumers, and that the firm will look for partnerships as well as acquisitions to bolster its offerings.

Angry Birds Movie To Get A Sequel, Says Rovio Entertainment

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Finnish mobile games and animation studio Rovio Entertainment approved plans to proceed with a sequel to its Angry Birds movie, it said on Monday, aiming for release in September 2019.

The Angry Birds Movie 2 will be produced with Columbia Pictures and distributed by Sony Pictures, Rovio said.

The first Angry Birds movie, released last year, earned about $350 million at the box office and gave a boost to Rovio’s game sales, helping the company to swing to an annual profit after years of falling earnings, job cuts and divestments.

Rovio said the new movie will be directed by Thurop Van Orman, the creator of animated TV series “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack”.

The original Angry Birds game — in which smartphone players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds’ eggs — became a phenomenon in 2009, but the franchise faltered in the following years amid tough competition.

Alongside the movie plan, Rovio is looking to reduce its dependence on Angry Birds — earlier this month it launched “Battle Bay”, the firm’s first multiplayer game which does not carry the Angry Birds name.

Square Enix Is Giving IO Interactive The Boot

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Square Enix is dropping IO Interactive, the Danish studio behind the long-running Hitman franchise.

In a statement released today, the Japanese publisher said the decision was part of a strategy to “focus our resources and energies on key franchises and studios.”

The withdrawal was in effect as of the end of the last financial year, on March 31, 2017, and resulted in a ¥4.9 billion ($43 million) extraordinary loss on the company’s balance sheet.

Square Enix has already started discussion with potential new investors, the company said. “Whilst there can be no guarantees that the negotiations will be concluded successfully, they are being explored since this is in the best interests of our shareholders, the studio and the industry as a whole.”

IO Interactive was acquired by Eidos in 2003, just before it launched Hitman: Contracts, the third game in what was already its signature franchise. Eidos was acquired by Square Enix in 2009, and it has launched four games in the time since: Mini Ninjas, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, Hitman: Absolution, and Hitman, last year’s episodic take on its most celebrated IP.

The bold new structure implemented in Hitman saw the game’s missions being separately on digital platforms, with various live events and challenges taking place between the release of each one. Square Enix originally planned to give the entire series a boxed retail release, but that never materialised. It has never disclosed official numbers regarding the sales figures for Hitman, either as a series or for individual episodes.

However, the series’ ámbition was widely appreciated within the games press – it was named 11th best game of 2016 by Eurogamer, for example, and was Giant Bomb’s overall Game of the Year. When we talked to IO studio head Hannes Seifert last year, he described the pride his team felt at the “new feeling” the game created, and made it clear that plans for Hitman extended far beyond a single season of epsiodes.

“When we say an ever expanding world of assassination, it means we don’t have to take everything that’s out there, throw it away and make a new game,” he said. “We can actually build on that. Just imagine after two or three seasons, you enter at that point in time, the amount of content will just blow your mind. That’s where we want to be.”

Seifert stepped down as IO’s studio head in February this year. He was replaced by Hakan Abrak, IO’s former studio production director.

Courtesy-GI.biz

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