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Does ASUS Have A New Mobile GPU In Waiting?

May 27, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Asus has dropped a bomb ahead of the Computex 2016 by teasing Nvidia’s upcoming mobile Geforce GPU which is actually faster than desktop GTX Titan X.

Teased at its Republic of Gamers website, Asus did not reveal a lot of information but it did show a screenshot of the 3DMark 11 where the new mystery GPU scores above GTX Titan X.

While it is obviously based on Nvidia’s new Pascal GPU architecture, there are few information regarding the new mystery GPU, but rumors suggest that this might be the GTX 1080m.

Nvidia might have gone the same way it did with the GTX 980 for notebooks and has released a fully-enabled GP104 GPU with 2560 CUDA cores as the score is pretty much identical to the desktop GTX 1080. The GTX 1080m could end up with a GDDR5 memory and not the GDDR5X as the desktop GTX 1080, which should make it more similar to the upcoming GTX 1070.

According to the results, the new mobile GPU scores P20811 in 3DMark 11, which is significantly higher than the GTX 980 Ti and even a higher score than GTX Titan X.

We will certainly keep an eye on this mystery GPU and hopefully Asus will reveal a bit more information before Computex 2016 show where the official announcement is expected.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Intel’s PC Group Hit The Hardest

May 26, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel’s restructuring axe seems to be falling on its PC client division and software areas with more than 12000 jobs to go.

Our well-placed sources are confident that the PC group will be the hardest hit. This is all because the PC market has stopped growing and Intel has to find its way to new markets to supplement loss of this business.

Latest research data from IDC indicates that in 2016 PC market will decline from 275.8 million units in 2015 to 260.8 million units in 2016 and the current projections for 2017 show the PC market slightly decreasing to 257.9 million units. At its peak PC market was at 364.0 million units, but this was in 2011 when things were rosier, kids were polite to their parents, and rock stars played decent music. These times are clearly behind us and Intel knows it.

The PC group downsize is being supervised by Dr. Venkata “Murthy” Renduchintala who is Intel’s number two. He is the bloke who was paid $25 million dollars to defect from Qualcomm. Murthy has already done a high level clean up at PC client group and is believed to be thinking about dusting the top of the corporate bookshelf next.

Another team which will be pummeled is Rene James’s old software outfit. People from software services and the security division formerly known as McAfee are expected to mostly go the same way as the artist formerly known as Prince.

Murthy’s also wants to get Intel to the right course with IoT market. Marketing for that area is expected to grow from $655.8 billion in 2014 to $1.7 trillion in 2020. Intel wants the piece of that cake, and perhaps a few tea and biscuits to go with it and it will be interesting to look the fight in this promising land market.

There is still no killer app to help the IoT market which defines it. IoT right now is nothing and everything.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Google Unveils A.I. Challenger To Amazon’s Alexa

May 20, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Alphabet’s Google Inc  introduced us to its answer to Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant along with new messaging and virtual reality products at its annual I/O developer conference on Wednesday, doubling down on artificial intelligence and machine learning as the keys to its future.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai introduced Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant, along with the tabletop speaker appliance Google Home.

He also unveiled Allo, a new messaging service that will compete with Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger products and feature a chatbot powered by the Google Assistant. Allo, like WhatsApp, will also have end-to-end encryption when it is rolled out this summer.

Amazon’s Echo, a surprise hit that has other tech giants racing to match it, uses a virtual assistant called Alexa, a cloud-based system that controls the Echo speaker and responds to voice-controlled commands by users.

Like Alexa, Google Assistant can search the internet and adjust your schedule. However, Pichai said Google Assistant can use images and other information to provide more intuitive results.

“You can be in front of this structure in Chicago and ask Google who designed this and it will understand in this context that the name of that designer is Anish Kapoor,” said Pichai, pointing toward a photo of Chicago’s Cloud Gate sculpture.

For Google Home, the Google Assistant merges with Chromecast and smart home devices to control televisions, thermostats and other products. Google did not offer a specific release date or pricing for Google Home, saying only that it will be available later this year.

 

 

Is There A ‘For Sale’ Sign In Pandora Music’s Future?

May 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Corvex Management LP disclosed that it owns 9.9 percent of Pandora Media Inc and urged the internet music streaming company to consider being sold instead of pursuing a “costly and uncertain business plan.”

Corvex, a hedge fund run by Keith Meister, a protégé of billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, said it had met with the company’s management and had withdrawn a plan to replace some of its board members. However, it now believes Pandora should hire an investment bank to help the company explore its strategic options including a sale.

“We believe there is likely to be significant strategic interest in the company at a substantial premium to the company’s recent stock price,” Corvex said, adding that large internet companies, handset makers and media companies could be potential buyers.

Pandora’s shares are down more than 25 percent in 2016 and more than 45 percent year-over-year. Corvex owns about 22.7 million shares in the company, making the hedge fund Pandora’s largest shareholder.

Pandora said in response that it is in constant dialogue with shareholders and committed to achieving long-term value for them.

“Pandora has a profitable core business, combined with a strong balance sheet. We are confidently investing to fully capture the massive opportunity ahead of us,” the company said in a statement.

Oakland, California-based Pandora has faced tough competition from music-streaming rivals such as Spotify, Apple Inc , Alphabet Inc’s Google and Amazon.com and has failed to turn an annual profit as a public company.

Analysts have said Pandora, which had a market capitalization of $2.29 billion on Monday, could be an acquisition target for larger media or internet companies looking to beef up their online music offerings.

Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren, a former musician who spearheaded Pandora’s music algorithm technology, returned to the company March 28 to become CEO, squashing some investors’ hopes the company could be sold.

Westergren told Reuters on April 15, “If you want to sell a company, you don’t do that by spending half a billion on acquisitions and hiring a new CEO.”

 

 

Photos, Links To No Longer Count In Tweet’s 140 Character Limit

May 18, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Twitter Inc users will soon have more flexibility in posting tweets because the company plans to discontinue including photos and links as part of its 140-character limit, according to a Bloomberg report.

The social media platform has faced stagnant user growth. Months earlier, Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said the company would simplify its product in an effort to attract new users.

“We think there’s a lot of opportunity in our product to fix some broken windows that we know are inhibiting growth,” Dorsey said during a February earnings call.

Links currently take up to 23 characters of a tweet, limiting the amount of commentary that users can offer when sharing articles or other content.

Twitter has faced stagnant user growth, and shares have fallen more than 70 percent over the past year.

Twitter declined to comment on the report.

 

Nintendo Mulls Entering The Film Business

May 17, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Movies like “Mario Kart” and “The Legend of Zelda” may possibly be making it to the big screen soon.

Nintendo Co Ltd is holding discussions with several global production companies about expanding its video content business, including making movies, said Tatsumi Kimishima, president of the Japanese videogame maker.

The move is aimed at strengthening Nintendo’s character business and expanding the global gaming population, he told the Asahi newspaper in an interview published Monday.

“We’re talking with various partners. I think we’ll be able to decide something in the not-too-distant future,” Kimishima told the Japanese daily.

Kimishima declined to say when any projects would be announced but said it would not be as far off as five years. He would not say which of Nintendo’s popular characters were being considered for use.

A Nintendo spokesman told Reuters that Kimishima’s comments referred to “video content” but did not deny the possibility of making movies.

Nintendo is diversifying its operations to counter a shrinking console business. It has entered the fast-growing mobile game segment and reached a deal with NBCUniversal to develop theme-park attractions.

In fact, Nintendo already allows film companies to use its characters through licensing agreements, such as for the “Pokemon” franchise. There was also a Hollywood live-action movie based on “Super Mario” in 1993 but it was a box office and critical bomb.

But Kimishima told the Asahi that this time, Nintendo would like to do things itself as much as possible, rather than just licensing out its content, and said it was unlikely to be live-action.

In 2014, “Super Mario” creator Shigeru Miyamoto screened a 3D short-animation film based on Nintendo’s Pikmin characters at the Tokyo International Film Festival, and in an interview with Reuters left the door open to future film projects.

 

 

The U.S. International Trade Commission Investigating 7 Smartphone Makers

May 10, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The U.S. International Trade Commission has launched an investigation into seven smartphone makers on charges of patent infringement, which could lead to a ban on the sale of certain phones imported and sold by these vendors in the country.

The commission said it is looking into devices from a group of mainly Asian companies, including Lenovo and its Motorola subsidiary, Samsung Electronics, ZTE, Sony, LG Electronics, HTC and BlackBerry.

The complaint was filed against these companies by Creative Technology of Singapore and its U.S. subsidiary Creative Labs of Milpitas, California, on March 24.

Known for its Sound Blaster sound cards for PC audio, Creative has charged these companies with infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,928,433 entitled “Automatic Hierarchical Categorization of Music by Metadata,” which claims various methods for accessing different types of data, such as music or video files, on a portable media player.

Apple is said to be one of the licensees of the patent, and in 2006, Apple paid Creative $100 million for a nonexclusive license, according to Creative’s complaint. Creative had earlier that year asked the ITC to block the sale of Apple’s iPod devices for allegedly infringing the same patent.

Among the alleged infringing products named in the complaint are Samsung’s Galaxy S6 smartphone and other Samsung phones containing either the Google Play Music app (version 5.9.l854R.l904527), or the Samsung Music app (version 6.0.1508051449), which were installed on the phones prior to import.

The products at issue in the investigation are smartphones, “with the capability of playing stored media files selected by a user from a hierarchical display,” the ITC said in a statement Thursday.

If it finds infringement after investigation, the ITC can place a ban on the sale of products by these vendors, under a limited exclusion order requested by the complainant. The ITC cautioned that the launch of an investigation did not imply a decision on the merits of the case. It will set a target date for completion of the investigation within 45 days of its institution.

 

 

Intel’s Core i7 Kaby Lake Leaked

May 6, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

On Monday, a SiSoft benchmarking software leak revealed some performance numbers for Intel’s upcoming Core i7 7700K CPU, based on third-generation 14nm Kaby Lake architecture.

According to the results, the Core i7 7700K is a quad-core chip running at 3.60GHz (up to 4.2GHz Turbo) and features eight threads, 8MB of L3 cache, and includes integrated graphics with 24 execution units and the same 1,150MHz clockspeed as the Core i7 6700K (Intel HD Graphics 530, GT2, 24 units).

Running at the 4.20GHz Turbo clock frequency in Windows 10 x64 (and perhaps using an engineering sample), the benchmarks show 118.71 GOPS (giga-operations per second) across eight threads, 313.84 megapixels per-second in the multimedia test, 35.30 GOPS in the Microsoft .NET arithmetic benchmark, 5.59GB/s cryptographic performance, 23.2 nanoseconds DDR4 latency, and 37.41 megapixels per-second GPU performance.

This particular chip is the successor to Intel’s Skylake-based Core i7 6700K, the company’s top quad-core option for Socket LGA 1151, which launched in Q3 2015 at a 4.0GHz base frequency (4.2GHz Turbo), eight threads, 8MB L3 cache and a 91W TDP at $349 MSRP.

Intel’s Core i7 7700K is likely to become the company’s new LGA 1151 unlocked flagship between now and Q3 of next year when it unveils its 10-nanometer Cannonlake lineup (see: Intel’s updated Moore’s Law development model). Meanwhile, most brand vendors will likely start shipping Kaby Lake CPUs between July and October 2016.

Kaby Lake desktop CPUs like the Core i7 7700K will retain full compatibility with existing Intel Z170 motherboards, but the company will also offer a newer 200-series chipset built on LGA 1151 with a few more I/O-side improvements. The chipset is said to include up to 24 PCI-Express 3.0 lanes (up from 20), six native SATA III 6Gbps ports and ten USB 3.0 ports.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Semiconductor Sales Improving

May 5, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Global semiconductor sales saw a slight increase in March for the first time in five months.

According to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) trade group March chip sales totaled $26.1 billion on a three-month average basis, up 0.3% compared with February.

Total first quarter chip sales totaled just $78.3 billion, down 5.5 per cent  compared to the fourth quarter of 2015 and down 5.8 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2015.

John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO, in a statement that while global semiconductor sales increased in March for the first time in five months, soft demand, market cyclicality, and macroeconomic conditions continue to impede more robust growth.

First quarter sales declined sequentially in nearly all regions, with the Americas showing the sharpest decline.

March sales improved over February by 4.8 per cent in Japan, 2.3 per cent  in the Asia-Pacific region and 0.1 per cent in Europe. Sales declined by 1.1 per cent  sequentially in China and 2.8 per cent  in the Americas.

Sales for March increased in Japan and compared to March 2015, but decreased significantly in Europe, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific region, the SIA said. Sales in the Americas were down nearly 16 per cent compared to March 2015.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Samsung Scores With Apple

May 2, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

After five years, it seems that Apple is back to loving Samsung’s NAND flash memory again.

According to ETNews, Samsung will be back inside the iPhone 7 after five years.  While many thought that the reason that Apple pulled Samsung out of the iPhone 6s was pettiness over the trademark battle over who invented the rounded rectangle, it turns out that Apple’s wanted electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding requirements or special coatings on the memory packages.

Apple was looking to individually shield more parts inside its devices so it could dispense with discrete metal shielding components, which could ultimately save on logic board space and allow more room. At the time Samsung’s use of ball grid array (BGA) packaging put it at a disadvantage to competing products that use land grid array (LGA) package contacts, which allow the package to sit flush with the printed circuit board.

Samsung’s existing sputter coat EMI shielding technologies were insufficient for Apple’s performance requirements, becuase of the shielding gaps created by the raised BGA contacts. However new, cheaper spray techniques for ultra-thin coats of metal shielding has changed all that.  Also Samsungs 3D V-NAND memories offering up to 256 Gb densities on the market currently.

Samsung is also set to start supplying Apple with OLED panels for future iPhones. All up it means that a big chunk of your iPhone is a Samsung. Still you get what you pay for. Anyway, with the acception of Foxconn, being an Apple supplier is a kiss of death in the long term. Maybe Apple thought it was better to score its revenge on Samsung by making it a partner.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Samsung’s Gear 360 VR Camera Goes On Sale

April 29, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung’s Gear 360 camera for creating virtual reality content went on sale online today, the company announced.

The Gear 360 will initially be available only in South Korea and Singapore, a company representative said. A U.S. shipping date hasn’t been announced. In Korea, it will cost 399,000 won (US$347).

The camera, a bit larger than a golf ball, is Samsung’s bid to get consumers involved in creating virtual-reality content instead of just consuming it.

“We think 2016 is shaping up to be the year of VR,” said Andrew Dickerson, director of software engineering for Samsung VR, in a keynote presentation at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco.

The camera will have two 180-degree fisheye lenses back to back and will stitch together the video from each for a 360-degree view. With a total of 30 megapixels of resolution, it will provide 4K video quality. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones will link directly to the Gear 360 to act as live viewfinders.

VR is a key part of Samsung’s combined hardware, software and services strategy. The Gear 360 will join the Gear VR viewer and the recently announced Milk VR service for authoring and sharing content as part of the company’s plan to expand in this area.

In the next few years, Samsung expects to deliver a “holodeck” experience, said Injong Rhee, executive vice president and head of R&D for software and services. He was referring to the virtual environment used on the TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

That experience will be truly immersive and allow users to roam around a physical space. It will make use of capabilities like gesture tracking to allow users to feel they are touching virtual objects, he said. To do this, the company is working to overcome problems including poor image quality, insufficient computing power, the heavy weight and restricted mobility of VR headsets, and the dizziness some users experience, Rhee said.

 

 

 

Can USB-C Replace The 3.5mm Headphone Jack?

April 29, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel has called for the standard 3.5mm headphone jack to be dropped in favor of connections like USB-C.

Intel does not think there is much wrong with the 3.5mm audio jack, but apparently there are more advantages to a digital connection. USB-C would allow would mean higher quality and “cleaner” audio, apparently. USB-C could also allow for headphones to track health data like your body temperature and tell the doctors if your ears are bleeding.

At present, Intel is finalizing the USB Type-C Digital Audio technology and plans to release its specification later in Q2. The company does not reveal a lot about the standard right now, but notes that it is working on updating the USB Audio Device Class 2.0 specifications to support new connector, expand the list of recent audio specifications and features, improve power management and simplify the discovery and configuration model to make the upcoming headsets as easy to use as today’s headsets.

Intel calls like this can be taken with a grain of salt. OEMs are the people who decide this sort of thing, but with Intel’s support maybe more companies might consider it. However digital is not all it is cracked up to be.  In the audio world there is a new trend back to old style vinyl and tube amps are still a thing.

At the moment there is no actual music being produced and those who can actually write good music are dying off, so it probably does not matter what headphone socket you have – there is going to be nothing worth listening to in a few years.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Is Nintendo Making A Mistaking With The NX?

April 29, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo has confirmed that its next-gen console, the Nintendo NX, will launch in March 2017.

Causing many to screw up their Christmas lists, the company told shareholders during its earnings call on Tuesday: “For our dedicated video game platform business, Nintendo is currently developing a gaming platform codenamed ‘NX’ with a brand-new concept. NX will be launched in March 2017 globally.”

Probably also causing some to cancel a trip to Los Angeles, Nintendo said that the NX will not be demonstrated at the upcoming E3 video games conference in June, despite speculation that Sony plans to show off its so-called PlayStation 4.5 console.

Nintendo’s keynote at the games show will focus instead on the next Legend of Zelda game, which will launch simultaneously on the Wii U and Nintendo NX in 2017. Rumour has it that Smash Bros 4, Splatoon and Super Mario Maker are all set to receive an NX makeover too.

A launch is now less than a year away, but we still don’t know much about the Nintendo NX, which Nintendo confirmed this week is just a codename for the incoming console. However, rumour claims that it will arrive as a hybrid between a home console and a mobile games console to sit alongside the New Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo president and CEO Tatsumi Kimishima reiterated in December last year that the company is “not building the next version of Wii or Wii U” and that the device will be something “unique and different”.

News of the Nintendo NX’s launch date no doubt came as the firm looked to play down the fact that its profits fell 61 per cent year over year. Worked, didn’t it?

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Twitter Troubles Continue, Misses Revenue Estimates

April 28, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Twitter Inc  disappointed investors once again with first-quarter results that revealed stagnant revenue growth as the microblogging service struggles to grab new users amid efforts to improve its complicated interface with several new features.

Twitter’s user base grew modestly to 310 million monthly active users in the quarter ended March 31 from 305 million in the fourth quarter, above analysts’ expectations. But investors were let down by the revenue miss since outlining a turnaround plan.

“It’s obvious Twitter is having trouble,” said Arvind Bhatia, analyst with CRT Capital. “It’s not growing anywhere close to where people expected a while back.”

On a call with analysts, executives said advertisers, especially in Europe, held back spending ahead of major events, including the Olympics and the European Champions League. They also said users were spending more time watching and sharing video, but that advertisers’ budgets had not yet shifted from legacy advertising products such as promoted tweets.

Chief Financial Officer Anthony Noto said Twitter’s long-term goal was to have “millions of advertisers like our competitors.” Facebook Inc has more than 3 million advertisers.

Twitter has struggled with stagnant user growth as its complex interface makes it less attractive to new users.

As part of its turnaround plan, the company has emphasized its live offerings, including live commentary and video streaming through its Periscope app, to attract new users. But it faces fierce competition from Facebook Inc  which has recently ramped up its live video product, Facebook Live.

Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said that talent recruitment was a top priority for the year, especially on the engineering and product teams. Twitter lost several top executives earlier this year and has since added two new board members and a new chief marketing officer.

The company forecast revenue of $590 million to $610 million for the second quarter. Analysts on average were expecting $677.57 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

First-quarter revenue rose 36 percent from a year earlier to $594.5 million, but widely missed the average analyst estimate of $607.8 million.

 

 

Mac Finally Gets Skype For Business App

April 28, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft’s new business communication product is finally making its way to the Mac.

The company announced the first technical preview of Skype for Business for Mac on Tuesday, giving users of Apple computers an easy way to connect to meetings they have scheduled through Microsoft’s professional audio and videoconferencing software.

When users sign into the app, they’ll see their Skype for Business meetings for the current day and the following one, and will be able to easily join in with the other people invited.

Skype for Business is the successor to the company’s venerable Lync product, which is still available for Mac during this transition.

The final release of the Mac version of Skype for Business is slated for the third quarter. Between now and then, Microsoft has two additional beta phases planned for the app. The second beta phase will include instant messaging, presence indicators and access to a user’s contacts.

In the third beta phase, Microsoft will bring along support for telephony and other advanced features supported by other versions of the product. That’s important for businesses that have paid for advanced Skype for Business features like the ability to place phone calls from the application over a traditional phone line.

This beta push is part of Microsoft’s ongoing strategy to extend the reach of its products to a wide variety of platforms, including the Mac.