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AMD Confirms Stadia Will Run on Intel CPUs

As one of the world's most pervasive cloud service providers, Google is in a better position to launch a successful game streaming platform than almost anyone. The hardware they choose to use for the launch of their "Stadia" streaming service will undoubtedly influence future game streaming efforts, hence AMD's stock price shot through the roof when Google announced they were using AMD GPUs. However, PCGamesN writer Dave James noticed that Google was conspicuously silent when it came to Stadia's CPUs. They were happy to share clock speeds, cache numbers and the fact that they're using "custom" x86 chips, but they refused to confirm the vendor of the platform's CPU. Eventually, AMD reached out and said that "the Stadia platform is using custom AMD Radeon datacentre GPUs, not AMD CPUs." Barring any surprise announcements from VIA, that more or less confirms that Stadia will run on some sort of Intel CPU platform, but just why Google refused to mention Chipzilla by name remains a mystery. The author suggested that Intel might not want to associate themself with what might be a "doomed" venture. Maybe Google plans to switch to EPYC CPUs or an unannounced Intel server platform sometime in the future, or maybe they just don't think it's particularly relevant. Whatever the reason may be, I also find the omission to be curious, and look forward to seeing what happens with Stadia's hardware in the future.

A switch to AMD's EPYC processors has been mooted as a potential future step for Stadia, and Google's Phil Harrison told us himself that "we're just talking about Gen 1 at the moment, but there will be iterations on that technology over time," so there is some potential for a changing of the processor guard either before or after launch. Whatever the truth of the matter is I still find it beyond strange that no-one involved is talking about the Intel CPUs being used for Google Stadia, even if they're not necessarily doing anything that special with regards the innovative streaming service. Certainly the multi-GPU features on offer with the Radeon graphics cards warranted mention, but just a note on the specs slide alone could have still done good things for Intel.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 11:20 AM (CDT)

PCIe SSDs Will Overtake SATA in 2019

A recent report from Digitimes claims that PCIe SSDs could finally overtake SATA SSD shipments in 2019. Unit prices for 512GB PCIe SSDs have supposedly fallen 11% sequentially, down to a price of $55 in Q1 2019, while SATA SSD prices only dropped 9%. The price gap between the different SSDs was around 30% in 2018, and according to the publication's market sources, that gap is only going to shrink as time goes on. Meanwhile, thanks to the rapidly falling prices of NAND flash memory chips, total SSD shipments are expected to rise dramatically. Digitimes expects shipments to increase "20-25%" in 2019, while a separate report claims that changes in enterprise market shipments could be even more dramatic. Relatively low prices for high performance drives with capacities of up to 16TB are apparently tempting many companies away from HDDs. Meanwhile, laptop makers are starting to ship lower-cost devices with SSDs by default, and according to PCPartPicker's latest charts, retail prices for standalone consumer drives have been dropping as well. Overall, it looks like 2019 will be a great year for anyone who's looking for more speedy storage, but the big flash manufacturer's efforts to slow production could stop the tumbling prices by 2020.

Falling average selling prices for consumer Gen 3.0x2 PCIe SSDs fitted in notebooks will accelerate the adoption of such SSDs by OEMs. This, coupled with demand for ever-higher storage capacity and speed to support cloud computing, 5G and autonomous driving applications, will further stimulate market demand for PCIe SSDs and inspire brand vendors to gear up production of such lucrative storage devices and related chips, the sources indicated. For instance, Taiwan-based IC designers Silicon Motion Technology, Phison Electronics, and Silicon Integrated Systems are racing to roll out enhanced version of PCI SSD controller chips, while major brand vendors such as Kingston Technology, Adata Technology, Transcend Information, Seagate and Micron have also listed PCIe SSDs as their mainstream product lines.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 10:17 AM (CDT)

Facebook Unveils the Oculus Rift S

At GDC, Facebook unveiled their next PC virtual reality headset. Among other things, the Oculus Rift S features a "higher pixel density" and "improved optics," but doesn't divulge many technical details. According to UploadVR, the new headset now uses a single 2560x1440 LCD instead of dual PenTile 2160x1200 OLED displays. And instead of requiring external sensors, the new Rift uses built-in cameras for tracking. It also features "enhanced" comfort, integrated audio, a better passthrough feature to keep you from bumping into walls, as well as compatibility with the same game library as the previous Rift, along with the same hardware requirements. Facebook says that the Rift S is launching in Spring 2019 for $399 USD.

Oculus Rift S is our most advanced PC-powered headset. Take on VR's best games with improved resolution and comfortable new design. No external sensors. No complicated set up. Just hands-on action and interaction. Step into the game and the future of PC VR. Coming Spring 2019.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 10:47 AM (CDT)

Google Fined $1.7 Billion Over Monopolistic Practices

The European commission has reportedly slapped Google with a 1.49 billion Euro (or $1.69 billion USD) fine for "abusing its monopoly in online advertising." More specifically, the report alleges that Google prevented companies that using its search service from running any third party adverts, and the commission claims that "Google's rivals were not able to compete on the merits, either because there was an outright prohibition for them to appear on publisher websites or because Google reserved for itself by far the most valuable commercial space on those websites, while at the same time controlling how rival search adverts could appear." Google apparently changed these practices in 2016, but it took some time for the repercussions to catch up with them.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition commissioner, said: "Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate - and consumers the benefits of competition."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 10:30 AM (CDT)

MSI Expected to Overtake Samsung in the Curved Monitor Market

A recent report from Digitimes claims that MSI could soon steal the title of "world's largest supplier of curved gaming monitors" from Samsung in 2019. While flat monitors have dominated "gaming monitor" sales in the past, MSI claims that curved monitors accounted for about 60% of all gaming monitor shipments in 2018, and could rise to 66.7% in 2019. The gaming hardware market is still growing, even as the PC market continues to shrink as a whole, so its not surprising to see the big manufacturers increase their focus on their enthusiast and "gaming" lineups.

The company's motherboard business is currently facing issues including CPU shortages and decreasing demand. Despite Intel having already promised to ease the tight supply by the end of the second quarter, MSI still expects overall motherboard shipments to shrink by over 10% in 2019. MSI shipped around six million motherboards in 2018 and is expected to maintain a similar volume in 2019. Meanwhile, MSI is expected to finish digesting its graphics card inventory in the second quarter and begin promoting Nvidia's new cards to help increase its sales. MSI is expected to deliver around four million graphics cards in 2019, about the same level as in the past couple of years.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 9:00 AM (CDT)

Lazareth Teases a Transforming Hoverbike

French car and bike maker Lazareth just teased a flying, turbine powered "hoverbike" that can transform into a motorcycle. No, I wouldn't believe them either, and many were skeptical of the company's claims back when they showed off renderings of the LMV 496 years ago, but they uploaded a live demonstration as proof. The contraption reportedly uses 4 96,000 RPM JetCat jet turbines to lift itself off the ground, and only weights about 308 lb while making as much as 529 lb of thrust. However, what isn't clear is how the bike is powered in "road" mode, or if the prototype's wheels are even powered at all. New Atlas seems to think there's some kind of electric drive train, and I wouldn't be surprised if the turbines were used to drive the car in road mode. Jet turbines have been used to make ridiculously high power motorcycles before, but as far as I know, this is the first one that can fly with them.

Lazareth has hover-tested the bike on tethers to a height of 1 m (3.3 ft), with his brave and lightweight girlfriend Vanessa at the helm... The Lazareth team will be bringing the Moto Volante to Gitex in Dubai this October, and will launch pre-orders there at a price of 496,000 Euros (approx. US$560,000). La Moto Volante joins Jetpack Aviation's Speeder as the only two jet-powered flying motorcycle concepts we've seen to date. Mind you, the Speeder is much more of a single-purpose vehicle without any road capability, and as such we'd expect its flight dynamics to be superior and less compromised. But Lazareth's got a full size prototype in the air that's also road-certified, so congratulations to the Lazareth team for building what must be acknowledged as a ground-breaking multi-mode vehicle.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 18, 2019 11:48 AM (CDT)

Captain Marvel Will Lead the MCU, Kevin Feige Says

Like her or hate her, Marvel fans are going to be seeing much, much more of Brie Larson: MCU architect Kevin Feige has gone on record with his enthusiasm and plans for Captain Marvel, stating she will "take the lead and be at the forefront of the entire Cinematic Universe." The character is already slated to reappear in next month’s Avengers: Endgame, improving the odds against Thanos. There is a rumor some cast members aren’t happy with how an overpowered newbie is swooping in to save the day, however.

When we found out that Brie Larson might be interested in joining our world, we had a number of meetings. She was a huge fan of the character in the comics. One of the highlights of my career at Marvel was introducing her at Comic-Con and having her come out on stage and stand there with literally almost everybody else from our movies. There she was at the forefront, and it was a great foreshadowing – not just for how audiences are going to embrace Brie as this character, but also for how Captain Marvel is about to take the lead and be at the forefront of the entire Cinematic Universe.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 1:35 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Will Pester Windows 7 Users to Upgrade to W10 with Pop-Up Notifications

Microsoft has come up with another way to convince users to upgrade to Windows 10: corporate vice president Matt Barlow explained in a blog post this week Windows 7 users would be subjected to regular pop-up messages urging them to update to the latest version of the OS. That may not be the worst idea, as support for W7 officially ends January 14, 2020.

This is a courtesy reminder that you can expect to see a handful of times in 2019. By starting the reminders now, our hope is that you have time to plan and prepare for this transition. These notifications are designed to help provide information only and if you would prefer not to receive them again, you'll be able to select an option for "do not notify me again", and we will not send you any further reminders. Just as software has changed over the years, so has hardware.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 5:00 PM (CDT)

Apple Will Unveil Its Streaming Video Service on March 25

"It’s show time": Apple has sent out an invite for its next event on March 25, which indicates an official unveiling of the company’s long-rumored streaming video service. While the actual launch is reportedly months away, Apple is expected to tease some of its original TV content, which includes stars such as Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell. A Bloomberg report suggests the company wants to win an Oscar badly.

Apple is spending billions of dollars on projects that feature stars like Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Durant, and producers such as J.J. Abrams. It’s also building a slate of films from Oscar-winning studios A24 and Cartoon Saloon. The company is racing to complete content deals with partners by this Friday, Bloomberg News reported this week. Apple will charge for some content, while other video will be free for Apple device users.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 1:05 PM (CDT)

Tumblr Defends Controversial Porn Ban despite 20 Percent Drop in Traffic

Tumblr’s pornography ban in December has resulted in a major exodus: numbers from web analytics firm Similarweb reveal the blogging site has lost over 100 million monthly page views since the end of January and saw a 17 percent decline in visits over the last 30 days. Despite this slump, Tumblr has defended the ban, calling it "the right decision."

In December, Tumblr CEO Jeff D'Onofrio said in a blog post that it chose to remove adult content after weighting the pros and cons of expression in the community. D'Onofrio said the platform had to consider the impact on different age groups, demographics, cultures and mindsets. "We made a strategic decision for the business that better positions it for long-term growth among more types of users. This was the right decision," a Tumblr spokesperson said Thursday in an emailed statement.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 9:25 AM (CDT)

No Mans Sky "Beyond" Update Will Feature Multiplayer

No Man's Sky had a rough launch, to say the least, and most people expected the developers to distance themselves from it as much as they could. Instead, Hello Games has been steadily working No Man's Sky over the years, and the game managed to make a big comeback in 2018. Today, the developers announced what they claim to be the biggest overhaul to No Man's Sky yet. The "Beyond" update is supposedly the culmination of several features they've been planning for some time, as it "will contain those three major updates rolled into one larger free release." The first of those components is a new multiplayer experience, and Hello Games says they'll talk about the other components "in the coming weeks."

No Man's Sky Online includes a radical new social and multiplayer experience which empowers players everywhere in the universe to meet and play together. Whilst this brings people together like never before, and has many recognisable online elements, we don't consider No Man's Sky to be an MMO - it won't require a subscription, won't contain microtransactions, and will be free for all existing players. These changes are an answer to how we have seen people playing since the release of NEXT, and is something we've dreamed of for a long time. We will talk more about each component when we know we can be precise, and look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 15, 2019 10:16 AM (CDT)

Intel's 5G Modems Will Allegedly Enter Mass Production in 2020

Ever since unveiling their 5G modems in 2017, Intel has been talking up 5G technology as loudly as they possibly can. However, facing stiff competition from rivals like Qualcomm, Intel more or less acknowledged that that their first generation modem won't be particularly competitive, and recently "made a strategic decision to pull in the launch of this [second generation] modem by half a year to deliver a leading 5G solution." Intel claimed they would introduce the more advanced XMM 8160 modem in the 2nd half of 2019, but Digitimes' industry sources think it won't be ready for mass production until 2020.

Intel is reportedly to begin working on engineering projects that will enable mass-production of 5G modem chips with its collaborative partners in the second quarter of 2019, according to sources from Taiwan's IC backend service providers... Intel is gearing up efforts to compete with Qualcomm, or even MediaTek, for 5G modem chip orders from Apple for its next-generation iPhone devices, the sources noted. However, judging from factors including heterogeneous integration, complexity of 5G modem chip design, and lengthy final test (FT) of relevant chips at packaging-level testing, it seems that Intel is unlikely to enter volume production of 5G modem chips until 2020, indicated the sources. Nevertheless, demand for Intel's modem chips for use in the Phone 8 and even iPhone 7 series will continue in the first half of 2019 as sales of the old-generation iPhones still remain robust, said the sources.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 15, 2019 9:58 AM (CDT)