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HTC Releases New Virtual Reality Gadgets

October 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-vr-gadgetsHTC has been showing off the prototype of its VR controller and position-tracking modules for its virtual reality headsets.

The assorted throngs at Valve’s Steam Dev Days developer conference had a chance to play with the new gear although the press were banned from taking photos. Apparently some members of the great unwashed who were not showing their press cards managed to tweet pictures of them playing with the new controllers before HTC bouncers could stop them.

The controller is smaller than the current Vive controller and it strap to the player’s palm, so users can open their hands without dropping them. HTC said there are 21 sensors on the current prototype but was managing to keep all other technical details under wraps.

Personally we are not impressed with this line of technology. Strapping on armour to play a game, or do anything important is not really the way VR should work.  These remind us a little too much like handcuffs, and while that is great for watching sometime of VR porn, it will not be useful for the rest of the time.

It would be much better if they did everything with external cameras which track your every movement and limit the number of censors you have to wear. Making the user look like an idiot will always be a big handicap for VR and this sort of thing does not help.    


Will Sound Push The Oculus VR To Faster Growth?

October 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Oculus VR has introduced new Oculus Earphones which it claims will give “next-level audio integration,”

The outfit added that they will be a  “new sound solution to satisfy even the most serious audiophiles.” We have grave doubts about that from the outset.

Any audiophile will dismiss earbuds in any shape simply on principle, particularly when they are priced at $49. Earbuds which lost lesst han $50 will be the audiophone equivalent of listening to sound between two bean tins attached with a piece of string. The fact that these are being touted as an improvement on the Company’s Rift VR headset there is now worries me –  it means that the sound is currently as a Justin Beiber concert but you can get an upgrade so that it sounds like a Céline Dion concert held in a rubbish skip.

Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe, who announced them at the third-annual Oculus Connect developers conference in San Jose, CA.

Oculus Earphones will be available to buy from 6 December, though you can pre-order them starting 10 October on There’s no word yet on pricing or availability outside of the US.


Will Windows Have Long Term Cannonlake Support?

October 11, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Software king of the world Microsoft will not support the upcoming Intel Cannonlake and Coffeelake CPU architectures in its current Long-Term Servicing Branch version of Windows 10.

Vole has said that users who want support for the next generation Intel CPUs will require a regular ‘current branch’ Windows 10 version.

The next update of Windows 10 LTSB will appear in 2019, but before that happens Intel will release two new CPU architectures.

The LTSB version of Windows 10 is designed for long term support of hardware and software. It receives security updates but doesn’t get any new features, including no support for newer hardware.

Michael Niehaus, Director of Product Marketing at Microsoft, told the company is aware of the problem but, “officially every new CPU and chipset requires a new version of Windows, which is the same for LTSB versions.”

“In the past you only needed new drivers to support new CPUs and chipsets, however nowadays chipsets need specific setting in the operating system to work with reasonable performance and battery life.”

This means that users of the current LTSB build 1607 can’t use any of the new CPUs and Intel Cannonlake and Coffeelake architectures will only be supported by ‘current branch’ Windows 10 versions, such as installed on most computers.

Normally new LTSB versions are released every two or three years, however Microsoft also released an update for together with the Anniversary Update. The first LTSB version saw the light in 2015 together with the RTM version of Windows 10.


Microsoft Acknowledges Windows 10 Adoption Rate Has Cooled

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

windows-10-150x150Microsoft has acknowledged that the Windows 10 adoption rate has slowed when it claimed the new operating system was running on approximately 400 million devices.

The company reset the Windows 10 uptake status on the same day it kicked off the 2016 edition of its Ignite conference in Atlanta.

Microsoft’s last Windows 10 update was at the end of June, a month before it halted the free upgrade for consumers and small businesses running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Then Microsoft pegged the number of “active devices” — a metric of those machines that ran the OS at least once in the past four weeks — at 350 million.

The increase of 50 million over more than 12 weeks — or about 17 million every four weeks — was lower than during the free upgrade offer period. For example, in the eight weeks from May 5 to June 29, Microsoft claimed 50 million active users were added to the Windows 10 rolls, or 25 million every four weeks.

Other measurements of Windows 10 have agreed with Microsoft’s assessment: Windows 10’s growth has slowed in the last month and more.

But Microsoft’s claim was in the same ballpark as Computerworld‘s latest calculation, which was based on Net Applications’ measurement of Windows 10’s user share and Microsoft’s oft-cited contention that 1.5 billion machines run Windows. At the end of last month, Computerworld‘s estimate of in-place Windows 10 stood at 380 million systems.

Microsoft has pledged to continue updating its Windows 10 “devices served” number, even though it back-pedaled two months ago from its previous 1-billion-by-mid-2018 goal. The timetable, the company said then, was unrealistic after it bailed out of virtually all the smartphone hardware market.

AMD’s Market Share Appears To Be Increasing

September 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD has been on the blower to point out that figures from Mercury and Jon Peddie Research, show that it has been growing market share for the fourth consecutive quarter.

A spokesman for AMD said that for the last nine months, AMD has got its mojo back through its Radeon Technologies Group. During that time, the company has made significant investments in hardware, marketing, and software for the graphics line-up leading to four straight quarters of market share growth.

Mercury Research said that AMD gained three points of unit volume share in Q1 2016. The Mercury Research and Jon Peddie Research market share data for Q2 2016 shows AMD seeing its fourth consecutive quarter of desktop discrete GPU share growth, driven by AMD’s strongest quarter of channel GPU sales since 2015 and the commencement of shipping of the next generation Polaris GPUs.

In total discrete graphics, AMD gained 4.8 share points to 34.2 per cent of market by unit volume (based on Mercury Research). In desktop discrete sector, AMD saw a 7.3 share point increase, rising to 29.9 per cent market share.

“This is another positive testament AMD’s strategy is working as the company drives forward towards “Vega” offerings for the enthusiast GPU market, which AMD expects to bring to market in 2017 to complement our current generation of “Polaris” products,” the spokesperson said.

“AMD believes it is well positioned to continue this trend in market share gains with the recently launched Radeon RX 480, 470, and 460 GPUs that bring leadership performance and features to the nearly 85 per cent of enthusiasts who buy a GPU priced between $100 and $300,” she added.


Is AMD A Takeover Target?

September 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

I can’t remember how many times in the last 20 years that I’ve written up rumors that AMD is ripe for a takeover but now it seems it’s time to do it one more time.

This time the speculation is from the guys at Seeking Alpha – in a note to clients it suggests that it’s the magic X86 licences that could be the lure for a company with the financial muscle to make it go somewhere.

There aren’t that many of those around but the rumor mill mentions Qualcomm, Broadcom and Oracle as possible candidates.

There is, of course, the slight matter that Intel would no doubt spin up a legal challenge because it knows where it is with the AMD X86 licenses but might find itself losing that just like it lost it after AMD’s sale of its factories to GloFo.

Even more spectacularly, Seeking Alpha thinks that Intel could take over AMD but we can’t see that one being a goer.

Seeking Alpha doesn’t stop at Qualcomm, Broadcom, Oracle and Intel. It claims Microsoft, Samsung and even TSMC.

Heck, is it really going to happen? We’ve heard the rumors so many times before that perhaps it’s just that time of year.


Microsoft Makes A Deal With Lenovo

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Software King of the World Microsoft has apparently been seen in public with the PC supremo Lenovo and insiders have been told that they want something more serious.

The pair have announced that they are deepening strategic ties but have not hinted about financial details. Instead Lenovo will load Microsoft’s productivity apps, including Microsoft Office, OneDrive and Skype on select Lenovo devices that use the Android operating system.

Microsoft did not say how much gear would be involved in the deal. Lenovo expects to ship millions of these Android-based devices worldwide over the next several years.

The deal is the latest in a string of similar deals by Microsoft with more than 70 Android device makers, including Samsung, HTC, Asus, Acer and Xiaomi.

The expanded collaboration between Microsoft and Lenovo also includes a patent cross-licensing agreement that covers Lenovo and Motorola devices.

Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, it has entered into more than 1,200 licensing agreements.

Nick Parker, corporate vice-president OEM division, Microsoft said that Vole was thrilled that its productivity apps will be pre-installed on Lenovo’s premium devices and was talking about marrage.

“The marriage of Microsoft’s apps and Lenovo’s Android-based devices will enable customers worldwide to be more productive and connected and achieve even more,” he said.


Some Qualcomm Processors May Have Security Issues

August 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Some Qualcomm chips have four serious holes which allow potential attackers to “trigger privilege escalations for the purpose of gaining root access to a device.”

According to security outfit Checkpoint, Quadrooter flaws are particularly nasty, if only because they appear in a large number of phones.

Most of the major recent Android devices are expected to be affected by the flaw, including the BlackBerry Priv, Blackphone 1 and Blackphone 2, Google Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, and Nexus 6P, HTC One, HTC M9, and HTC 10, LG G4, LG G5, and LG V10, Moto X, OnePlus One, OnePlus 2, and OnePlus 3, Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung S7 Edge and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra.

Three of the four holes have already been patched, with a solution for the fourth is coming but given the fact that handset manufacturers work at glacial speed applying them the world could see a lot of these being exploited.

Google has pushed patches to its phones, but the others might release theirs when hell freezes over. One of the weak points about Andorid is that phone manufacturers or a Mobile Carriers think developing a new versions of software and patches is expensive, some of the might chose not to do it.  But that is the whole fragmentation thing and the reason why you cant get an decent Android update for your phone.

Checkpoint revealed its findings over the weekend at the Defcon security conference in Las Vegas. It said that the “vulnerabilities can give attackers complete control of devices and unrestricted access to sensitive personal and enterprise data on them.”

Qualcomm has yet to issue an official statement so we don’t know how many chips are effected.  Meanwhile there is an App to know if you have a problem.



Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Goes 10nm

August 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Last week Qualcomm’s CEO  confirmed to its investors that the company has taped out its 10nm system on a chip (SoC).

This news kind of went unnoticed and we have decided to revisit this. A few months back Fudzilla was talking with a few industry sources about 10nm and it was the general impression that Apple and Qualcomm would get to 10nm quite  soon.

When David Wong from Wells Fargo asked Steve Mollenkopf when we could expect a tape out of 10 nanometers and samples, Steve answered that it had already happened.

We expect to see the successor of Snapdragon 820 being introduced this year and shipping in phones in late Q1 early Q2 2017. This has been the course of things for a while at Qualcomm. The timing also mateches a normal phone refresh lifecycle as most companies –  including Samsung – will launch their next generation phones at the Mobile World Congress that takes place in Barcelona on February 27 2017.

This might be the 10nm that Mollenkopf mentioned and confirmed that it has been sampled to customers. We can call it Snapdragon 830 but there are no real guarantees that this will be the final branding. Steve also said that Qualcomm will continue its multi-sourcing strategy for 10nm and beyond.

Multi-sourcing is always a good strategy, as having more than one supplier is definitely better and safer. After 10nm, Samsung, TSMC, GlobalFoundries and Intel will use 7nm and then 5nm.

From what we’ve heard, we will be stuck at 10nm for a while probably through 2017 while we might see some of the first 7nm products in 2018. After 7nm comes 5nm and then it becomes very interesting as the semiconductor manufacturing industry can’t work out how to get smaller than that. It’s the end of Moore’s Law.

So the next generation phones that we expect in early 2017, powered by the next generation 10nm Snapdragon will definitely get faster on a CPU, DSP and GPU side, probably getting more processing power and performance at the same time. This has been the case since the introduction of the smartphone, and won’t change anytime soon.

Qualcomm will also have a server ARM based product in 10nm, as we exclusively reported too.



Microsoft Steps Up Pressure On Software Pirates, Files Lawsuits

July 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft last week stepped up its campaign to stop software pirates when it filed the fifth lawsuit in as many months accusing unidentified individuals with illegally activating more than 1,000 copies of Windows, including the newest Windows 10, and Office.

The suit was filed in a Seattle court last Thursday. It was almost identical to others submitted since February, when Microsoft started a string of cases targeting numerous “John Does.”

“Microsoft’s cyberforensics have identified over one thousand activations of Microsoft software originating from IP address (‘the IP Address’), which is presently assigned to Cable One, Inc.,” Microsoft’s complaint read.

Microsoft did not identify the culprits, but tagged them as “John Doe” 1 through 10.

“Defendants have activated and attempted to active [sic] copies of Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Office 2013, Office 2010, and Windows Server 2008,” Microsoft charged.

As with the previous four John Doe cases of 2016, Microsoft asserted that it tracked the allegedly illegal activations to the IP address, and that the number and pattern of those activations “make it more likely than not” that they were using stolen product keys or abusing legitimate keys.

Microsoft has been given permission in two of the 2016 cases — both filed in early June — to serve subpoenas to internet service providers (ISPs) Comcast and EarthLink. Those subpoenas have demanded that the ISPs identify the alleged software pirates who have been assigned the IP addresses Microsoft had fingered.




Is Google Really Working On Augmented Reality Devices?

July 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

The rumor mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn claiming that Google has abandoned its VR projects and is secretly working on a an augmented reality-style headset.

Engadget reported that the Californian technology giant is building the head-mounted computer that will work independently of smartphones and desktop PCs.

It claims that this secret project, which is quietly in development, is a replacement for an Oculus Rift style project that has been axed.

Actually the project sounds more like a hybrid VR-AR setup: “While it does have a screen, it will offer features more in line with augmented reality systems than existing VR headsets.”

Google is not saying anything and it does have a habit of working on things and then giving up on them. But the rumours are indicative of just how important AR and VR is becoming for the industry’s major players:

It is widely viewed as the next major platform, with similar possibilities to the early days of mobile. Facebook has the Oculus Rift, Microsoft has its AR Hololens headset, and there are rumours about Apple’s intentions to get into virtual reality after everyone else has done the legwork and then it will arrive and claim it has invented it.

Google was into mobile-powered VR game early with its DIY Cardboard headset, and earlier this year it announced Daydream — a virtual reality platform that, like Cardboard (but much more sophisticated), uses a smartphone as its hardware base.

Engadget claims that employees working on the secretive alternative headset have been told that Daydream is “not the company’s long-term plan for virtual and augmented reality.”



Is AMD Share Price Making A Comeback?

July 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

A report from financial analysts Seeking Alpha has issued guidance on the share price of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and said the company’s outlook is quite bright.

The report said that only 11 months back AMD was one of the most shorted stocks in the USA largely as a result of falling revenues and losses.

But, said Bill Maurer at Seeking Alpha, all that has completely changed now. Analysts think that AMD’s share price is currently overvalued.

It all hangs on how well AMD performs when it releases its earnings next week.

The introduction of the RX 480 was supposed to help out on revenues but there’s a question mark over how well it’s contributed to the bottom line.

On the bright side, the arrangement it had with Nantong Microelectronics terminated in the quarter and that ended up meaning a net cash bonus of over $320 million.

The share price currently stands at over $5. AMD’s biggest phone the processors based on Zen architecture are promised to start shipping later this year. This should have an effect on the stock value.



IBM Funds Researchers Who Create KiloCore Processor

June 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering have developed 1000-core processor which will eventually be put onto the commercial market.

The team, from t developed the energy-efficient 621 million transistor “KiloCore” chip so that it could manage 1.78 trillion instructions per second and since the project has IBM’s backing it could end up in the shops soon.

Team leader Bevan Baas, professor of electrical and computer engineering said that it could be the world’s first 1,000-processor chip and it is the highest clock-rate processor ever designed in a university.

While other multiple-processor chips have been created, none exceed about 300 processors. Most of those were created for research purposes and few are sold commercially. IBM, using its 32 nm CMOS technology, fabricated the KiloCore chip and could make a production run if required.

Because each processor is independently clocked, it can shut itself down to further save energy when not needed, said graduate student Brent Bohnenstiehl, who developed the principal architecture. Cores operate at an average maximum clock frequency of 1.78 GHz, and they transfer data directly to each other rather than using a pooled memory area that can become a bottleneck for data.

The 1,000 processors can execute 115 billion instructions per second while dissipating only 0.7 Watts which mean it can be powered by a single AA battery. The KiloCore chip executes instructions more than 100 times more efficiently than a modern laptop processor.

The processor is already adapted for wireless coding/decoding, video processing, encryption, and others involving large amounts of parallel data such as scientific data applications and datacentre work.



Will AMD’s Naples Processor Have 32 Cores?

June 16, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

AMD’s Zen chip will have as much as 32 cores, 64 threads and more L3 cache than you can poke a stick at.

Codenamed Naples, the chip uses the Zen architecture. Each Zen core has its own dedicated 512kb cache. A cluster [shurely that should be cloister.ed] of Zen cores shares a 8MB L3 cache which makes the total amount of L3 shared cache 64MB. This is a big chip and of course there will be a 16 core variant.

This will be a 14nm FinFET product manufactured in GlobalFoundries and supporting the X86 instruction set. Naples has eight independent memory channels and up to 128 lanes of gen 3 PCIe.  This makes it suitable for fast NVMO memory controllers and drives. Naples also support up to 32 SATA or NVME drives.

If you like the fast network interface, Naples supports 16x10GbE and the controller is integrated, probably in the chipset. Naples is using SP3 LGA server socket.

The first Zen based server / enterprise products will range between a modest 35W TDP to a maximum of 180W TDP for the fastest ones.

There will be dual, quad, sixteen and thirty-two core server versions of Zen, arriving at different times. Most of them will launch in 2017 with a possibility of very late 2016 introduction.

It is another one of those Fudzilla told you so moments. We have already revealed a few Zen based products last year. The Zen chip with Greenland / Vega HBM2 powered GPU with HSA support will come too, but much later.

Lisa Su, AMD’s CEO  told Fudzilla that the desktop version will come first, followed by server, notebook and finally embedded. If that 40 percent IPC happens to be across more than just a single task, AMD has a chance of giving Intel a run for its money.




Qualcomm and LG Settle Dispute

April 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Qualcomm has buried the hatchet with LG after the smartphone vendor agreed to pay more for its chips.

LG said the dispute with Qualcomm has been completely settled, although it did not say how much it had agreed to pay. Earlier it had claimed Qualcomm had overcharged for the chips under a licensing contract.

The news about the lawsuit settlement emerged following Qualcomm’s profit forecast for the second quarter in January, which was below what Wall Street’s tarot readers had predicted.

The company expected its mobile chip shipment to fall by 16-25 per cent in the second quarter. Additionally, it expected 3G and 4G device shipment to decline by 4 to 14 per cent. As for the first quarter of 2016, Qualcomm’s chip shipment fell 10 per cent , with a drop in revenue by 21.6 per cent. Revenue from licensing declined 10.4 per cent, suggests a Reuters report.

An LG spokesperson said that this kind of dispute was “actually nothing” and was similar to the ones that the industries had in the past.

“Qualcomm has lowered its royalty rate to LG in return for LG’s guaranteed purchase of Qualcomm processors, which are currently being used in its flagship handsets and will be used in upcoming flagship models,” added the official.

Qualcomm might have been a little nervy.  LG has invested millions to develop its own chipset, in an attempt to cut down its dependency on Qualcomm for mobile processors.



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