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All Digital Xbox One S Could Launch May 7

Following up on previous reports claiming that Microsoft could unveil a disc-less Xbox One in April, Windows Central allegedly got their hands on some photographs of the upcoming console, and recreated them in Photoshop to protect their source. "Additional documents" they obtained suggest that the new Xbone could launch on May 7 in a "global simultaneous release," but as we've noted with some of our own predictions, exact launch dates can be fuzzy this far ahead of time. The publication thinks that Microsoft is positioning this as a replacement to the original Xbox One, rather than a replacement to the newer disc-based consoles.

The design of the Xbox One S All-Digital appears to be virtually identical to the current Xbox One S, without the disc drive and eject button. The product shots we received seem to indicate that it will come with a 1TB HDD and with Forza Horizon 3, Sea of Thieves, and Minecraft digital codes bundled into the box. It doesn't look as though it will be bundled with Microsoft's Netflix-like subscription service for games, Xbox Game Pass. Our information suggests that the Xbox One S All-Digital edition will have the lowest recommended retail price (RRP) of all current Xbox One consoles, aimed at newcomers to the ecosystem, although the exact pricing is unknown at this time.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 11:04 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)

Digital Foundry Analyzes Google's Stadia Platform

Following Google's "Stadia" game streaming service announcement yesterday, Digital Foundry decided to take a closer look at the hardware behind the platform. Google says they use a "Custom 2.7GHz hyper-threaded x86 CPU with AVX2 SIMD and 9.5MB L2+L3 cache," and while they didn't mention the vendor, DF notes that they haven't seen such a configuration in any of AMD's currently shipping server CPUs, and that it should significantly outpace anything found in a modern console. Meanwhile, the GPU largely resembles a Vega 56 card with 16GB of HBM2, and the games are reportedly loaded from an SSD. Through their own testing, DF came away impressed with the platform's consistent frame pacing, and in some cases, total latency is on par with locally-run games on a console or PC.

Google has also demonstrated scalability on the graphics side, with a demonstration of three of the AMD GPUs running in concert. Its stated aim is to remove as many of the limiting factors impacting game-makers as possible, and with that in mind, the option is there for developers to scale projects across multiple cloud units: "The way that we describe what we are is a new generation because it's purpose-built for the 21st century," says Google's Phil Harrison. "It does not have any of the hallmarks of a legacy system. It is not a discrete device in the cloud. It is an elastic compute in the cloud and that allows developers to use an unprecedented amount of compute in support of their games, both on CPU and GPU, but also particularly around multiplayer."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 9:14 AM (CDT)

Google Partners with AMD for Google Stadia Game Streaming Service

Google has selected AMD as its partner for the Google Stadia game streaming service. Google will use high-performance, custom AMD Radeon datacenter GPUs for its Vulkan and Linux-based Google Stadia. AMD noted how its commitment to open-source AMD Linux drivers would allow Google and its development partners to inspect the code and understand exactly how the driver works, enabling them to better optimize their applications to interface with AMD Radeon GPUs. AMD supplies other tools such as the AMD Radeon GPU Profiler (RGP) that allows developers to identify timing issues that might lead to optimizations. The Google Stadia service will feature game streams with resolutions up to 4K HDR 60 FPS. Google announced a 2019 launch time for the game streaming service.

Streaming graphics-rich games to millions of users on demand and from the cloud requires ultra high-performance processing capabilities to minimize latency and maximize game performance. It also requires advanced technologies to tackle unique datacenter challenges, including security, manageability, and scalability. The AMD graphics architecture supports a wide range of today's gaming platforms -- from PCs to major game consoles -- enabling developers to optimize their games for a single GPU architecture and extend these benefits across multiple platforms which now include large-scale cloud gaming platforms.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 19, 2019 4:41 PM (CDT)

Google GDC 2019 Gaming Announcement

Here is the Google GDC gaming announcement.

Gather around as we unveil Google's vision for the future of gaming at #GDC19.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 19, 2019 12:23 PM (CDT)

Not All RTX 2080s are Created Equal

Manufacturers have had some time to stock store shelves and warehouses with Nvidia RTX laptops, but as Techspot pointed out earlier this year, the nomenclature can be very confusing. The laptop "RTX 2080," for example, doesn't have the same performance as the desktop version of RTX 2080, and there are multiple version of the "RTX 2080 Max-Q" with different levels of performance. Hardware Unboxed tested the performance difference between the various versions, which you can see in the video below:
The fact that Nvidia can cram a 545mm^2 GPU into a low-power laptop at all is remarkable, and generally speaking, the RTX chips perform well in their relatively small power envelopes. But as the video points out, be careful if you're in the market for a gaming laptop, as the actual performance level of some RTX GPUs can be difficult to discern. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 10:24 AM (CDT)

All Myspace Data Before 2016 is Gone

Thanks to a "faulty server migration," MySpace has lost all data uploaded to the site before 2016. MySpace users started noticing the problem over a year ago, but tech support staff only recently started acknowledging that users' data may never come back. The Guardian claims "50m tracks from 14 million artists have been lost," and according to one of their articles from last year, the site still has many dedicated users.

Some have questioned how the embattled company, which was purchased by Time Inc in 2016, could make such a blunder. "I'm deeply sceptical this was an accident," wrote the web expert Andy Baio. "Flagrant incompetence may be bad PR, but it still sounds better than, 'We can't be bothered with the effort and cost of migrating and hosting 50m old MP3s.'" Myspace initially claimed the deletion was a temporary error, with customer support staff telling one user: "I have been informed the issue will be fixed." But by July last year it was publicly acknowledging that no such fix was forthcoming.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 8:39 AM (CDT)

What If Zen 2 Actually Sucks?

In some of his recent videos, Scottish YouTuber AdoredTV mentioned that he's often criticized for having a bias towards AMD. Obviously, he doesn't believe that to be true, as he has no problem with positivity or negativity towards any manufacturer, but the criticism apparently inspired him to take a look at the potential performance of Zen 2 based on public demos. As we've noted before, benchmarks and demos from chip designers need to be taken with a grain of salt, so the YouTuber decided to take a closer look at the claims AMD has made, and the conditions they ran the demos in. Check out the analysis below:

What if AMD cherry picked the best scenarios and Zen 2 actually sucks?

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 18, 2019 10:16 AM (CDT)

Epic's Tim Sweeney Calls Store Exclusives "Procompetitive"

As controversy continues to mount, Tim Sweeney has returned to social media to justify store exclusives and defend the Epic Games Store from accusations it is bribing its way to the top with anti-competitive practices. Sweeney seems to believe the criticism is unfair because there’s nothing stopping Steam and other storefronts from playing his game, pointing out partnerships are a perfectly legit way of doing business. From where he’s standing, exclusives are "procompetitive," in that they compel other stores to differentiate themselves.

I get that you guys don’t like store-exclusive games, but that’s a completely separate, and PROCOMPETITIVE issue, compared to closing down platforms like Windows to monopolize distribution, as iOS does, and as Microsoft was trying to do with UWP and locked-down versions of Windows -- which failed, and whose proponents are now gone and replaced with great leaders like Satya Nadella and Phil Spencer who are driving Windows forward as an open platform!

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 11:55 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)

Study Claims 39% of Counter-Strike Servers are Infected With Malware

In spite of the battle royale craze and a more modern sequel, the original Counter-Strike is still a massively popular game. The FPS had nearly 15,000 concurrent players at the time of this writing, and there are still thousands of registered 3rd party servers. However, a recent study from Dr. Web clams that 1,951 CS 1.6 servers, which represents about 39% of the servers they analyzed, are infected with malware. The trojan propagates itself through vulnerabilities within the official Counter Strike client, and is used to promote other CS servers. Unlike previously reported incidents, this exploit requires no conformation on the user's end, and Dr. Web says they "have informed Valve about these and other vulnerabilities of the game, but as of now, there is no data on when the vulnerabilities will be fixed."

Many owners of popular game servers also raise money from players by selling various privileges such as protection against bans, access to weapons, etc. Some server owners advertise themselves independently, while others purchase server promotion services from contractors. Having paid for a service, customers often remain oblivious as to how exactly their servers are advertised. As it turned out, the developer nicknamed, "Belonard", resorted to illegal means of promotion. His server infected the devices of players with a Trojan and used their accounts to promote other game servers. The owner of the malicious server uses the vulnerabilities of the game client and a newly written Trojan as a technical foundation for their business. The Trojan is to infect players' devices and download malware to secure the Trojan in the system and distribute it to devices of other players. For that, they exploit Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerabilities, two of which have been found in the official game client and four in the pirated one. Once set up in the system, Trojan.Belonard replaces the list of available game servers in the game client and creates proxies on the infected computer to spread the Trojan. As a rule, proxy servers show a lower ping, so other players will see them at the top of the list. By selecting one of them, a player gets redirected to a malicious server where their computer become infected with Trojan.Belonard.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 11:36 AM (CDT)

America and Canada Ground All Boeing 737 MAX Planes

President Trump has issued an emergency order of prohibition to ground all flights of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 including planes associated with that line after new evidence came to light. "'The safety of the American people, of all people, is our paramount concern,' Trump said, adding that the grounding would take effect as soon as the planes landed and would continue until further notice." The Canadian Minister of Transport announced a similar ban on the Boeing planes based on "a result of new data that we received this morning, and had the chance to analyze." CNN is reporting that satellite company Aireon provided the data showing the Ethiopian plane's flight position data. Aireon doesn't analyze the information captured by its satellites. Jessie Hillenbrand, director of Public Relations at Aireon said, "'aircraft transmits its position twice a second, our satellites catch it. We have caught that data in real time and provided that to authorities.'" Boeing announced support of the action to temporarily ground 737 MAX operations "out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft's safety." The company expressed full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX as it "recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft." Other countries had grounded the planes earlier this week after the second Boeing 737 MAX accident in 4 months.

"On behalf of the entire Boeing team, we extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives in these two tragic accidents," said Dennis Muilenburg, president, CEO, Chairman of The Boeing Company. "We are supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution. Safety is a core value at Boeing for as long as we have been building airplanes; and it always will be. There is no greater priority for our company and our industry. We are doing everything we can to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again." Boeing makes this recommendation and supports the decision by the FAA.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 3:41 PM (CDT)