Subscribe to:

Subscribe to :: ::

Automakers, Google Unhappy With CA Rules Governing Self-driving Cars

October 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

google-self-driving-car-150x150Alphabet Inc’s Google unit and automakers express their dissatisfaction with California’s proposals to set new, mandatory rules for testing self-driving cars in the state, which industry officials said could hobble their efforts in the home to much of self-driving vehicle testing and development.

Automakers and Google raised a litany of concerns about California’s proposal at a hearing in Sacramento on Wednesday. They expressed opposition to the state proposal to require compliance with guidelines that federal regulators issued last month, but made voluntary.

They questioned why California would require a new autonomous vehicle data recorder and what data they would be required to test, and they objected to a proposal they said would force a 12-month delay between testing a vehicle and deploying it on public roads.

Automakers also questioned whether police should be able to get any self-driving data within 24 hours without seeking a warrant or subpoena.

California regulatory policy is important to automakers and technology companies because of its impact on operations in the state, and because the policies enacted in the most populous U.S. state often influence what other states and other countries do.

The proposed requirement that manufacturers generate a year of driverless testing data before applying for an operating permit drew objections from General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG, Honda Motor Co, Ford Motor Co, and Google.

The state’s approach “could greatly delay the benefits that self-driving vehicles can bring to safety and mobility for individuals,” said David Strickland, who heads the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets that includes Google, Ford, Lyft, Uber Technologies Inc  and Volvo Car Group.

Brian Soublet, deputy director of the California DMV, said Wednesday the department wants concrete suggestions to help improve its proposal. Soublet said the department will be considering potential changes over the next several months but he did not give a timetable for finalizing the rules.

“The goal is making sure that we can get this life-saving technology out on the streets,” Soublet said.

California’s proposal would allow for the absence of a human driver and a steering wheel in advanced self-driving cars. In December, California had proposed to require licensed drivers and controls in self-driving vehicles.

Ron Medford, director of safety for Google’s self-driving car project, said California’s proposal to require manufacturers to obtain local approval is “unworkable.” The rule could prevent manufacturers from testing a vehicle that can travel from one area to another.

Advocacy group Consumer Watchdog urged California to prohibit autonomous vehicles without a human driver until federal regulators enact enforceable standards.

Big Blue Appears To Be On The Up Swing

October 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

The ever shrinking Biggish Blue posted better-than-expected third-quarter revenue thanks to its moves to the cloud and analytics businesses.

Since Ginni Rometty took over IBM, the outfit has attempted to shift toward more profitable areas, such as cloud services, artificial intelligence, analytics, and security. Meanwhile it has killed off its traditional hardware and services businesses.

Revenue from those areas, which the company calls “strategic imperatives,” rose 16 percent to $8 billion in the third quarter. Cloud revenue jumped 44 percent compared with a 30 percent rise in the second quarter, it said.

Curiously though, shareholders were not that impressed and were more concerned about the fact the company had reported its 18th straight quarter of declining revenue. Shares were down 3.1 percent at $150.60 in after-market trading.

IBM has made a string of acquisitions focused on elements of its strategic imperatives business, including The Weather Company and Truven Health, spending $5.45 billion so far this year. IBM spent $821 million on acquisitions in the same period last year.

IBM’s operating gross margin fell 2.1 percentage points to 48 percent in the quarter, as a result of higher investments in the company’s cloud business and the shift to a subscription-based as-a-service model.

The company’s revenue marginally fell to $19.23 billion in the quarter ended 30 September from $19.28 billion a year earlier, but beat the average analyst estimate of $19 billion. Net income fell to $2.85 billion from $2.95 billion.


Will EA’s Battlefield 1 Be A Hit?

October 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

The conventional wisdom said that military first-person shooters avoided World War I because it wasn’t a “fun” war. EA DICE set out to prove the conventional wisdom wrong with Battlefield 1, and the initial wave of reviews suggests they succeeded.

As Polygon’s Arthur Gies noted in his 9 out of 10 review of the game, one of the ways DICE accomplished that was by using its single-player War Stories mode as a way to convey just how horrific the war really was.

“Battlefield 1 navigates the tonal challenges of the awful human cost of WWI well, in part by not ignoring them,” Gies said. “There’s a consistent acknowledgment of the abject terror and hopelessness that sat atop the people involved in the conflict on all sides, in part thanks to a grimly effective prologue. There’s also less explicit demonetization of the ‘enemy’ – something that feels like a real relief in the military shooter space, which seems hell-bent on giving players something they can feel good about shooting at.”

War Stories is a mostly unconnected series of short campaigns that total about six hours of playtime in total. The anthology puts players in the roles of different individuals in different combat zones, each one with their own distinct motivations and skill sets.

“Battlefield 1 feels like a move away from military shooter doctrine in plenty of ways,” Gies said. “But the biggest departure is in how little shooting there can be, at least compared to the game’s contemporaries. From tank pilot to fighter ace, from Italian shock trooper to Bedouin horse-back resistance fighter, I was never bored, because I was never doing the same thing for long.”

The change in setting also impacted the multiplayer portion of the game, which Gies appreciated. While DICE made some changes in player classes that Gies seemed to think unnecessary but “mostly fine,” he was particularly taken with the way the series’ signature physics-driven chaos and destruction felt fresh in a new (old) setting.

“Small issues aside, Battlefield 1 marks an impressive, risk-taking reinvention for the series,” Gies said. “That the multiplayer is as good and distinctive as it is is less surprising than a campaign that takes a difficult setting and navigates it with skill and invention. The end result is a shooter than succeeded far beyond my expectations, and one that exists as the best, most complete Battlefield package since 2010.”

Like Gies, GameSpot’s Miguel Concepcion gave the game a 9 out of 10. Also like Gies, Concepcion labelled the game as the best Battlefield since Bad Company 2, praising the War Stories single-player mode and its novel approach to entertaining while also attempting to inform players as to the horrors of the war.

“Beyond these heartfelt tales of brotherhood and solemn reflection, War Stories gracefully complements the multiplayer scenarios as a glorified yet effective training mode,” Concepcion said. “Along with practice time commanding vehicles and heavy artillery, it provides an opportunity to learn melee combat, as well as how to survive against high concentrations of enemy forces.”

Concepcion was also taken with the audiovisual impact of the game, long a selling point for the Battlefield franchise.

“However accurate or inaccurate Battlefield 1 is–lite J.J. Abrams lens effects notwithstanding–the immersive production values superbly amplify the sights and sounds that have previously existed in other war shooters,” Concepcion said. “Examples include the distinct clatter of empty shells dropping on the metal floor of a tank and the delayed sound of an exploding balloon from far away. The brushed metal on a specific part of a revolver is the kind of eye-catching distraction that can get you killed. Beyond the usual cacophony of a 64-player match, salvos from tanks and artillery guns add bombast and bass to the large map match. And many vistas are accentuated with weather-affected lighting with dramatic results, like the blinding white sunlight that reflects off a lake after a rainstorm.

“With Battlefield 1, EA and DICE have proven the viability of World War 1 as a time period worth revisiting in first-person shooters. It brings into focus countries and nationalities that do not exist today while also shedding light on how the outcome of that war has shaped our lives.”

In giving the game four stars out of five, Games Radar’s David Roberts also lauded the way DICE balanced a fun shooter with the horror of war.

“Even though Battlefield 1 skews toward fun rather than realism whenever it gets the chance, it’s as much about the reflection on the real history of these battles and the people who fought in them as it is about the gleeful embrace of ridiculous virtual combat,” Roberts said.

Like his peers, Roberts was impressed by the game’s War Stories single-player mode, but found the anthology format slightly restricting.

“As much as I enjoyed the narratives these missions tell, I wished each one had a little more time to breathe,” Roberts said. “Each chapter is about an hour long, and just when you get invested, they’re over. Battlefield 1’s War Stories barely skim the surface of the history, but – to be fair – this is in-line with the game’s focus on fun over fastidious accuracy.”

As for the multiplayer, Roberts said its “as good here as it’s ever been” for the Battlefield franchise. Even though the setting meant trading in the modern assault rifles of previous Battlefield games for more antiquated rifles and iron sights, Roberts said the overall impact has been an improvement on the game’s online modes.

He also found the franchise focus on destruction was given new meaning by its fresh context.

“When all’s said and done, when the matches end and the dust settles, you’ll see that large portions of the maps have transformed, their buildings pockmarked by blasts, their fortifications turned into piles of rubble,” Roberts said. “Even though bloody entertainment is at Battlefield 1’s heart, the post-game wasteland is a reminder of the toll that conflict takes on the people it consumes. Whether in single or multiplayer Battlefield 1 absolutely nails the historical sense of adventure and expectation before swiftly giving way to dread as the war takes a physical and mental toll on its participants. And this – as much as the intimate, brutal virtual warfare – is the game’s most impressive feat.”

While EGM’s Nick Plessas gave the game an 8 out of 10, he included slightly more critical comments than some other reviewers doling out equivalent scores. He was generally upbeat about the War Stories approach, but said it “misses the forest for the trees somewhat by not giving any story enough time for effectual investment.” He also identified two other issues that hamper the gameplay segments of the single-player mode.

“First, enemy AI leaves much to be desired, so that even on Hard difficulty your foes’ failure to react, flank, or recognize you as a threat syphons some of the fun out of fights,” Plessas said. “Second, the game adds a focus on stealth with a collection of mechanics like enemy awareness levels and distraction tools. While this isn’t inherently a bad thing, the Battlefield games’ fast pace and stiff controls don’t suit stealth very well, and the enemies’ recurring AI deficiencies makes these sections a slog.”

As for online, Plessas said new features like Behemoth vehicles (zeppelins, trains, and warships) were well-handled, as were “elite” classes like flamethrower troops. The addition of cavalry troops and era-appropriate weapons and planes will also require players to adjust the tactics they might have relied on in previous Battlefield games. However, the adjustment may not be as drastic as one might expect.

“These comparisons are integral because they represent the crux of what is truly new in Battlefield 1,” Plessas said. “A World War I setting is novel indeed, but this installment in the franchise is fundamentally the Battlefield game we have played before-and returning players may fall into a familiar groove quicker than expected. This isn’t necessarily bad for those in love with Battlefield, however, and while the setting may be the most significant shift, those invested in the series will find Battlefield 1 as another terrific reason to load up.”


With Polaris In Mind AMD Has New VR Projects On The Horizon

October 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

In a bid to push its Polaris chip, AMD has launched several new VR projects.

On the list of cunning plans is a VR GPU certification, enhancements to its software/hardware platform and setting up a new VR supply chain. If this pans out, it should expand its presence in the VR market, and provide a rather nice channel for its Polaris GPUs.

Also included is a cunning plan to pushing VR Internet cafes in China. AMD has been assisting the development of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive as well as partnering with content providers to create applications for the gaming, entertainment, education, science, medical care and news sectors.

Other projects include AMD’s LiquidVR project which aims to help simplify and optimise VR content creation. It has started promoting its Radeon Pro technology solution to help VR content creators create movie-like VR content.

This is all about Polaris. The VR solution is based around AMD’s Polaris-based Radeon Pro WX 7100 GPU which is priced at $1,000. We will see it  released at the end of 2016.  Well, when we say we will see it, the day that I am allowed to spend $1000 on a GPU is the day I have won the lottery.

AMD  is also marketing its Loom project to help partners create Ultra HD-standard VR movies. The open source project will also be released at the end of the year.


Facebook Continues To Lose Younger Users To Snapchat, Instagram

October 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

facebook-teens-150x150Facebook has been having a hard time attracting  younger users for several years now and it looks like the problem is getting worse.

According to Piper Jaffray Companies, a recent survey of 10,000 U.S. teenagers showed that 52% used Facebook at least once a month this fall, compared to 60% who used it monthly in the spring.

“Factoring out shifts in the population surveyed, core Facebook usage likely declined by three basis points, which indicates Facebook is gradually becoming less relevant versus Instagram and Snapchat,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote in a research note to investors.

The same survey, however, showed that teen use of Facebook-owned Instagram has gone from 70% to 74% in the same time frame — and rose from 75% to 80% for rival Snapchat.

When asked what their favorite social network was this fall, 35% said Snapchat; 24% said Instagram; and 13% said Twitter and Facebook (which tied for third place).

While older users – say anywhere from 35 to 65 years old – have shown to be loyal Facebook users, the site isn’t pulling in enough users 24 and younger to offset losses as older users die off.

“Well, think about it,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. “If Facebook just lost 8% of all teens, that’s millions of users…. Over time, they need to keep the funnel of users coming in on the younger side. I think it creates a huge issue down the road. It’s not likely they can add users that are of older generations. They probably have all they will get from anyone 30 and older.”

Facebook certainly has been working to draw in younger users.

In August, Facebook unveiled its Lifestage stand-alone app. Designed for iOS devices, the app enables teen users to share videos with other people in their schools.

Lifestage was born as a rival to Snapchat and basically a video version of an early stage Facebook.

Also, in March, the company bought face-swapping app Masquerade or MSQRD. The app enables users to dress up their photos and selfies with an Iron Man helmet or a panda outfit.

Facebook hoped that by being able to add special effects to their pics, teens and young adults would be pulled onto Facebook — or at least one of the apps. But so far, at least, those efforts don’t appear to be panning out.

Singapore To Put Self-driving Buses On The Road

October 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

self-driving-buses-150x150Singapore has signed an agreement to begin testing self-driving buses, as the city-state pushes ahead with its vision of using autonomous technology to help deal with the challenges posed by its limited land and labor.

Countries around the world are encouraging the development of such technologies, and high-density Singapore is hoping driverless vehicles will prompt its residents to use more shared vehicles and public transport.

“They say big dreams start small, so we are collaborating with NTU (Nanyang Technological University) on an autonomous bus trial, starting with two electric hybrid buses,” Singapore’s transport regulator said in a Facebook post.

The Land Transport Authority hopes eventually to outfit existing buses with sensors and develop a self-driving system that can effectively navigate Singapore’s traffic and climate conditions.

It did not specify when the trial would start.

Earlier this week, Singapore said it would seek information from the industry and research institutes on the potential use of self-driving vehicles for street cleaning and refuse collection.

Self-driving vehicles are also being tested in another western Singapore district, where a driverless car collided with a truck on Tuesday when changing lanes. Developer nuTonomy, which started trials of the world’s first robo-taxis in August, said it was investigating the accident.

Is AMD’s Polaris Getting Tweaked?

October 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-polarisWhile no-one had been expected much from AMD before Vega in the next few months, it appears the outfit is going to ship revised versions of the Polaris 10 and 11 graphics chips.

Word on the street is that they will have a 50-percent improvement in performance per watt, which seems a bit high. These are the beasties you will find in the RX 480 and RX 460 which were already praised for their high performance with low power draw.

It could mean that an embedded Polaris 11 card which had a 75w draw will go to 50w and get a 0.35 Tflop increase in raw performance.

This should bring about a range of mid-generation GPUs with refreshed internals that make them far more capable.
Polaris 10 found in the RX 480 will get 5.8 Teraflops performance need less than 95 watts.

They should be out under RX 4XX branding in a few months but it will mean that the mid-range laptops that have them will have much longer battery life.
While the specs are pretty good, Vega will clean their clock so it is probably better to wait.


AMD’s Zen To Add More Secure Enterprise Features

October 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel had been working to bake in security into the chip, but it seems that effort has drawn to a close with the selloff of its security division into a revamped McAfee company. Now AMD appears to be taking up the idea.

AMD has a cunning plan to push its Zen chips into the Enterprise market on the back of its new Secure Memory Encryption (SME) and Secure Encrypted Virtualisation (SEV) security features.

These new functions will help enterprises protect their databases that run on Zen servers and this could be just the edge required to get AMD back onto the corporate buy list.

This sort of tech is really useful on virtualised servers which are used through cloud hosts. This makes them affordable and flexible compared to hosting on a physical server. The virtual servers adjust accordingly the load it receives and no bandwidth is wasted.

Normally virtual servers are insecure because the data can be hacked, but the SME and SEV features will help servers protect the data.

So far Intel has not come up with any of this sort of function for its processors, despite the fact that was predicted when it wrote a big cheque for McAfee. What we are still waiting for is the information as to how the Zen chips will help consumer gamers who are leaning on discrete GPUs.


Cybercriminals Unleash A New Banking Trojan Program

October 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

dyre-trojan-150x150Cybercriminals have pushed out a new banking Trojan program on the internet and it has striking similarities to Dyre, a malware threat believed to have been dead for almost a year.

The new Trojan is called TrickBot and first appeared in September, targeting users of banks in Australia. After a closer analysis, researchers from Fidelis Cybersecurity believe that it is a rewrite of the Dyre Trojan that plagued online banking users for more than a year until the gang behind it was dismantled by Russian authorities.

While TrickBot is still a work in progress and doesn’t have all of Dyre’s features, there are enough similarities in their components to suggest that at the very least, one served as inspiration for the other. At the same time, there are also significant differences in how some functions have been implemented in the new Trojan, which also has more C++ code than its predecessor.

This leads the Fidelis researchers to conclude that TrickBot is a reimplementation of Dyre rather than a continuation of the older project.

“It is our assessment with strong confidence that there is a clear link between Dyre and TrickBot but that there is considerable new development that has been invested into TrickBot,” the researchers said in a blog post. “With moderate confidence, we assess that one or more of the original developers of Dyre are involved with TrickBot.”

Dyre, which stole tens of millions of dollars from customers of more than 1,000 banks, financial institutions and other organizations worldwide, disappeared almost overnight in November last year.

It remains to be seen if this new Trojan will reach or even surpass the previous size of the Dyre operation. According to the Fidelis researchers, the TrickBot gang is also trying to rebuild the Cutwail spam botnet which was previously used to distribute Dyre.

Online banking Trojans are designed to inject malicious code into financial websites when displayed locally in browsers on infected computers. The rogue code can hijack transactions in the background or ask users for sensitive information, like payment card details which can then be used for fraud.

Users should run an up-to-date antivirus program and if able, should perform online banking transactions from a separate dedicated computer, an OS running from a live CD or from a virtual machine.

Qualcomm Plans To Ship 5G Modems In 2018

October 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

qualcom-bldg-150x1505G networks will be five times as fast as the quickest LTE technology by taking advantage of the highest cellular frequencies ever, according to Qualcomm.

The X50 modem won’t ship until the first half of 2018, and 5G networks aren’t expected to go commercial until 2020. But Qualcomm will have a lot to say about the new technology at its 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong. At the same event, it’s announcing plans around its gigabit-speed X16 LTE modem.

The X50 will offer download speeds as high as 5Gbps (bits per second), where networks support them, using millimeter-wave frequencies and futuristic techniques for beaming signals to devices, according to slides prepared for the 4G/5G Summit. Qualcomm shared the materials in advance.

The X50 initially will use the 28GHz band, which is also the focus of 5G development work at the Verizon 5G Technology Forum and Korea Telecom 5G Special Interest Group. It’s one of several millimeter-wave bands that are widely expected to be used for 5G.

Cellular networks up to now have stayed below 6GHz, because higher frequencies don’t naturally travel as far or go through objects as easily. But a lot more bandwidth is expected to become available in millimeter-wave bands in the coming years. Qualcomm says the X50 will be able to use a combined 800MHz of spectrum, compared with up to 80MHz for the X16.

The future modem will use several emerging techniques to make this work. Key tools are beam-forming and beam-tracking, in which a cell can focus its signal to reach a specific mobile device and then follow that device as it moves around. The X50 will even be able to bounce its signal off hard surfaces in order to get around objects between the cell and the user.

Qualcomm expects the X50 modem to ship to system makers in sample quantities starting in the second half of next year. Combined with a gigabit-speed LTE modem, the X50 will form the basis of dual-mode 4G/5G devices. LTE and 5G are expected to coexist for many years.

Meanwhile, the X16 LTE modem will be coming out in a consumer device in the next few months. The NetGear Mobile Router MR1100, a mobile hotspot that provides a Wi-Fi connection on the go, will be sold by Australian carrier Telstra, Qualcomm announced Tuesday.

Netflix Enjoying A Boom As Subscribers Grows

October 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

netflix-new-deal-150x150Netflix Inc added over 50 percent more subscribers than expected in the third quarter as original shows such as “Stranger Things” attracted new international viewers and kept U.S. customers despite a price hike.

The company’s performance represented a turnaround from the previous quarter of disappointing subscription growth. Netflix, which has spent heavily to expand outside its home market, also said that it was on track to start harvesting “material global profits” next year, even as it raised spending on original programming.

Netflix added about 3.20 million subscribers internationally in the third quarter, higher than the 2.01 million average analyst estimate.

In the United States, Netflix added 370,000 subscriptions, compared with analysts’ estimate of 309,000, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

“Investors appear laser focused on subscriber growth, and so long as Netflix delivers on that metric, investors will bid its shares up,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. However, Pachter said he thought the continuing cost of developing new shows would undermine plans to deliver material profits in 2017.

Netflix has expanded into more than 130 markets worldwide, including most major countries, except China. It said on Monday it was dropping plans to launch a service in China in the near term, opting instead to license its shows for “modest” revenue.

The company said it still hopes to launch service in China “eventually.”

In the meantime, Netflix plans to keep pouring money into building its stable of original and licensed TV shows and movies. Content spending will rise to $6 billion next year, a $1 billion increase from 2016, the company said.”We will keep investing in growing the content spend, even domestically, for quite a long time,” Chief Executive Reed Hastings said on webcast.

Netflix has been facing a slowdown in subscription growth in the United States as the market matures and a planned U.S. price hike raised concerns it would not hit its targets. It also faces competition from the likes of Hulu and Inc.

But the company, whose other popular original shows include “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards”, said it expects to add 1.45 million subscribers in the United States in the current quarter.

Analysts on average were expecting 1.27 million additions, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.


Is Qualcomm Moving Toward Iris And Retina World?

October 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm’s Sy Choundhury, Senior Director of Product Management, talked to the media audience in Hong Kong at the 4G and 5G summit about the security mechanisms and machine learning capabilities of Snapdragon processors. 

He came up with a nice reference when talking about security, saying it is comparable with talking about hygiene. You don’t know where it starts and where it stops and this topic doesn’t get a lot of traffic unless one gets hacked / compromised.

Sy talked about security beyond fingerprint and predicts that eye-based security will happen with a lot of OEM devices next year.

Fingerprint sounds secure and it is good enough for most customers, but it looks like eye-based technologies will take over in more devices over the next year.

Microsoft and HP launched rather low volume Windows-based phones, first with iris-based recognition last year. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was the high volume phone that got positive reviews on iris recognition and security performance.

Unfortunately, Samsung canned the Note 7 due the battery issues but there will be more phones with iris security in the near future. Some companies chose to use the retina recognition, which is interesting as it doesn’t require any additional hardware. While iris recognition needs additional hardware that adds a few dollars to the Bill of Materials (BOM), retina scanning uses the RGB camera that you already have on your phone.

The downside is that you need a lot of computation power on both the CPU and GPU side, but since the SoCs are getting better and faster this should be a matter of software optimization to really make good use of the mobile chipsets.

Iris scanning seems to be an industry leader, and it will coexist with retina scanning, but it can take up to 4 years for both iris and retina sensors to be as widely used as fingerprint sensors are used now. Not to mention, security experts will love the fact that with iris and fingerprint sensors, you can get a two-factor authentication.

Companies like AliPay are investing a lot of money and they acquired EyeVerify, the company that was working on a retina-based verification solution. AliPay naturally works on a secured payment and as many of you know Apple Pay, along with Android Pay and Samsung Pay do rely on a fingerprint and with that authentication they do quite a good job.

Face recognition is also something that might be used by some devices and there is a lot of research about it as apparently your face has enough distinctive features to make it work reliably.

The future will bring some additional ways of security, and should be viewed as a good thing. Despite the whole fuss, most computers still use passwords, and most homes still use a physical key to unlock.


The Xbox One Appears To Be Making A Comeback

October 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Microsoft has been making some headway in the generation eight console battle, with the Xbox One celebrating a third month running as the best-selling console in the US. The combined sales of the original One and the new S model also put it at the head of the pack in the UK in September.

US figures come from the NPD group and UK numbers from GfK, although no actual unit values were given. The full US sales report from NPD is due next week.

It’s likely that some of that recent lead is a result of a dip in PS4 sales thanks to the imminent launch of the PlayStation Pro, but the One has also been building momentum too, with sales up across many territories.

“Xbox One was the only gen eight console to see year-over-year growth in September in the U.S., Australia, the U.K and many other countries worldwide,” said corporate VP of Xbox marketing Mike Nichols. “This success was driven by our fans and their support for Xbox One S, which is the only console available this holiday with built-in UHD 4K Blu-ray, 4K video streaming and HDR for gaming and video.”

Qualcomm’s First 5G Modem Coming In 2017

October 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Qualcomm has surprised the audience at the 4G/5G summit this week in Hong Kong by launching the world’s first 5G modem. The Snapdragon X50, as it is called, supports operations in the millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 28GHz band.

It will employ Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking techniques. Before we get you any additional details, we want to let you know that with 800 MHz bandwidth support, you get to peak download speeds of 5Gbps. That translates to about  625MB/s maximum download speed.

Qualcomm’s X16 modem is the world’s first gigabit-class modem that can theoretically get you to 1000Mbps, or 125MB/s maximal speed.

One of the limitations of the mmWave spectrum is that it doesn’t really penetrate walls, but with the help of beam forming and beam tracking the signal can propagate off walls and get you the desired speeds.

Snapdragon X50, on the other hand, is a chip that works together with Snapdragon 4G modems. Since Snapdragon X50 is launching in the second part of 2017, it should launch in devices in 2018. Fudzilla wrote before that 2018 is the year when real life trials of 5G networks will start around the world. The real deployment is expected by 2020 by at least major telecoms, but you got to start somewhere.

“The Snapdragon X50 5G modem heralds the arrival of 5G as operators and OEMs reach the cellular network and device testing phase,” says Cristiano Amon, Executive Vice President, QTI and President, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. “Utilizing our long history of LTE and Wi-Fi leadership, we are thrilled to deliver a product that will help play a critical role in bringing 5G devices and networks to reality. This shows that we’re not just talking about 5G, we’re truly committed to it.”

The 5G modem will need a 4G modem to use the standard LTE 1 Gbps class services. The Snapdragon X80 is designed to be used for multi-mode 4G/5G mobile broadband via dual connectivity.

The Snapdragon X50 will provide 5G services while Snapdragon X16 will provide traditional 4G LTE-A services. Naturally with times we can see that the 4G part will get integrated in the 5G modem, but this is a bit down the road from now.

If you have any doubts that 5Gbps peak speeds are too much, you think about 360 videos, 4K and 8K video, virtual reality streaming, and you will quickly realize that we will one again be able to eat up the data.

The data caps will largely increase, but just give it some time. T-Mobile in the US has a sort of unlimited data plan today, and things will only get better from this point.


Tesla And Panasonic Join Forces On Solar Cell Production

October 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

tesla-powerwall-150x150Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors said it would join forces with Japan’s Panasonic Corp to mass produce solar cells and modules in New York.

Under the agreement, which is a non-binding letter of intent, Tesla said it will use the cells and modules in a solar energy system that will work seamlessly with its energy storage products Powerwall and Powerpack.

The Japanese company is already working with the U.S. automaker to supply batteries for the Model 3, its first mass-market car.

Panasonic is expected to begin production at the Buffalo facility in 2017 and Tesla intends to provide a long-term purchase commitment for those cells, Tesla said in a statement, adding the agreement is contingent on shareholders’ approval of its acquisition of SolarCity.

Last week Tesla and SolarCity Corp shareholders agreed to vote on the proposed merger on Nov. 17, and the automaker said it would provide plans for the combined company ahead of the vote.

Next Page »