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Apple Launches iMac With Coffee Lake and Vega

Today, Apple updated its iMac lineup with 9th generation Intel processors and AMD Vega graphics. The 21.5 inch iMac now sports up to 6 cores, while the 27 inch iMac gets what's presumably a fully enabled 8-core Coffee Lake die. Apple also says they're they're offering "Radeon Pro Vega graphics" in both the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs. The subtext reveals that the smaller iMac has an optional "Vega 20" graphics card, while the larger one features the long-rumored Radeon Pro Vega 48. It's not clear if we'll ever see desktop gaming versions of these Vega GPUs, but some people have already pointed out that smaller Vega GPUs could cut into sales for the recently-launched RX 590.

Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple's four software platforms - iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS - provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple's more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.

Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 11:13 AM (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.

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.

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

Win Some, Lose Some in Qualcomm vs Apple Saga

A jury in federal court in San Diego awarded Qualcomm $31 million in a patent infringement case against Apple. Qualcomm requested damages amounting to $1.41 per iPhone. The three patents that Apple allegedly violated were related to battery life in mobile phones. In another case, a U.S. federal judge issued a preliminary ruling favoring Apple related to patent royalty rebate payments. Factories that build Apple iPhones paid Qualcomm billions of dollars to use Qualcomm's technology. Apple agreed to reimburse the factories. "Qualcomm and Apple had a cooperation agreement under which Qualcomm would pay Apple a rebate on the iPhone patent payments if Apple agreed not to attack in court or with regulators." Apple filed a lawsuit after it says Qualcomm refused to issue $1 billion in patent royalty rebates. Qualcomm alleged that "Apple had broken the agreement by urging other smartphone makers to complain to regulators and making "false and misleading" statements to the Korean Fair Trade Commission." Apple said it was just responding to regulators.

The decision will not become final until after the trial in the case, which begins next month. And it is unlikely that Qualcomm will make a new payment to Apple. Apple's contract factories, which under normal circumstances would pay Qualcomm for patent royalties owed on iPhones, have already withheld the nearly $1 billion in payments to Qualcomm. "Apple has already offset the payment at issue under the agreement against royalties that were owed to Qualcomm," Qualcomm's Rosenberg told Reuters.

Posted by cageymaru March 15, 2019 3:32 PM (CDT)

Cinebench R20 Is Available on the Microsoft Store and Apple Store

Cinebench R20 is the latest CPU benchmark from Maxon and it is available for download from the Microsoft Store and Apple Store. Maxon has provided instructions for its use as many features of the program have been modernized to incorporate the latest advances of today's hardware and to reflect the capabilities of Cinema 4D. The new Cinebench R20 benchmark uses four times as much memory as Cinebench R15, requires 8x the computational power, and still retains the single core test option. This means the results of testing performed with Cinebench R15 aren't comparable to Cinebench R20 runs. Users can manually define a custom number of up to 256 render threads, even if your machine does not have that many cores. Cinebench R20 and Cinema 4D R20 incorporate the latest rendering architectures, including integration of Intel's Embree raytracing technology and advanced features on modern CPUs from AMD and Intel that allow users to render the same scene on the same hardware twice as fast as previously. No GPU support has been added to the benchmark.

Anyone who needs to evaluate hardware performance should add Maxon Cinebench to their testing arsenal. System administrators can use Cinebench to help make purchase decisions, journalists can use the results in reviewing hardware, hardware manufacturers can utilize the feedback in optimizing their latest products. Any computer owner can evaluate their individual system. Unlike abstract benchmarks, which only test specific functions of CPUs, Cinebench offers a real-world benchmark that incorporates a user's common tasks within Cinema 4D to measure a system's performance. Improvements to Cinebench Release 20 reflect the overall advancements to CPU and rendering technology in recent years, providing a more accurate measurement of Cinema 4D's ability to take advantage of multiple CPU cores and modern processor features available to the average user.

Posted by cageymaru March 05, 2019 4:46 PM (CST)

Samsung Offers to Supply Foldable Displays to Apple and Google

Sharing is caring: Korean IT news site ETNews is reporting Samsung has provided samples of its foldable display to Apple and Google, which will certainly make it easier for these giants to develop Galaxy Fold-type devices of their own, presuming they care to. MacRumors points out the former has been working on its own iteration of foldable-display technology, but if that doesn’t pan out, Apple can simply do business with Samsung.

Samsung has historically been both supplier and competitor to Apple and other smartphone manufacturers and provides the OLED screens for Apple's top of the line iPhones. According to the report, Samsung doesn't intend to keep foldable technology to itself and is instead working to dominate as a supplier for the technology. Samsung is said to be able to produced about 2.4 million units a year at this time but is considering moving up to 10 million units a year depending on demand.

Posted by Megalith March 03, 2019 10:40 AM (CST)

Tim Cook: Apple Is Working on Future Products That Will "Blow You Away"

Speaking at yesterday’s annual general meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook teased investors he was "planting seeds" and "rolling the dice" on future products that will just "blow you away." Cook didn’t specify what these would be but hinted the company could soon unveil AirPods that support Siri and wireless charging, as well as Apple Watch models with new health features. Augmented reality smart glasses or even a full self-driving vehicle could be further in the horizon.

On the topic of services, Cook said Apple is well on its way towards meeting the goal it set in 2016, which was to double its $25 billion revenue by 2020. Later this month, Apple is expected to unveil two new products in the services category, including a new streaming TV service outfitted with original television shows and a new Apple News service with access to subscription news sites and magazines for a monthly fee.

Posted by Megalith March 02, 2019 2:10 PM (CST)

Windows 10: New Study Shows Home Edition Users Are Baffled by Updates

With automatic updates being such a pain in the butt for Windows 10 users, UK researchers from the University College London sought to uncover precisely why with a study presented this week titled "In Control with No Control: Perceptions and Reality of Windows 10 Home Edition Update Features." They ended up constructing a detailed flow chart of Microsoft's update process, which was unsurprisingly very complex and revealed the two biggest issues: the "Active Hours" feature, and how often updates are delivered or the difference between monthly quality updates and semi-annual feature updates. The researchers’ biggest suggestion is that Windows should "obtain explicit permission for restarts consistently."

...among the 26 participants who were aware of the feature, 10 had not changed it from the default settings even though it clashed with their daily schedule. Not surprisingly, that resulted in about half of the survey respondents reporting that they had experienced unexpected restarts. The other noteworthy finding from the research is that users don't understand how often updates are delivered, nor do they appreciate the difference between monthly quality updates and semi-annual feature updates. That can lead to anxiety when an unexpected feature update takes well over an hour compared to the 12 minutes or less that a monthly cumulative update takes.

Posted by Megalith March 02, 2019 1:15 PM (CST)

Linus Torvalds Comments On Apple's Potential Move to ARM

Rumors about the Mac's theoretical transition to ARM have been swirling ever since the original iPhone came out, if not earlier, but those rumors got particularly heated last week when both Bloomberg and Axios published reports claiming that the Cupertino-based company could make the switch sooner rather than later. While this would undoubtedly be a huge shift for Apple alone, the bigger question is what it would mean for the rest of the industry. Some think that ARM SOCs from a slew of companies could take over x86, Intel and AMD-based laptop, desktop, and servers in the future, while others say its not even within the realm of possibility. On the Real World Technologies forums, Linus Torvalds, the creator and lead developer of Linux, decided to chime in. In his usual "warm and fuzzy" style, Linus said that the x86 ecosystem is entrenched, and that even if ARM server chips that offered a substantial performance and power advantage over x86 counterparts came out tomorrow, they would have a tough time gaining any significant market share. However, he does acknowledge "that the ARM laptops may make this all work out on the development side. Whether from the PC side ("WARM") or Apple cutting their laptops over." Having native ARM systems sitting in the homes and workplaces of developers is supposedly critical to the platform's adoption, meaning that low-power ARM laptops could be a stepping stone to the proliferation of higher-power ARM designs. Thanks to cageymaru for spotting the posts.

That said, I still strongly suspect that any "hyperscaling" 64-128 core system will be very underwhelming. It may be just good enough on Specrate style "nothing shared" benchmarks, and yes, you have the traditional network processor loads etc, but I think people always underestimate how big of a jump it really is from "look, we know how to make 4 cores work" to "look, we can cram a lot of cores on a die" and then to actually having something that truly scales. You simply need many many generations. And even then it's hard. So says a lot of mostly dead companies. Right now, ARM doesn't have even a single generation of server parts out, and they are pushing the hyperscaling story? Does that really make sense to anybody? (Yes, yes, I realize it makes tons of sense to all those people who already believe in the "sea or cores" fairytale despite not having any evidence of that ever working. But there's no arguing with delusion)

Posted by alphaatlas February 25, 2019 10:43 AM (CST)

Apple Plans on Combining iPhone, iPad, Mac Apps by 2021

Things are about to get a lot easier for iDevelopers in the coming years: Apple is currently working on a new software development kit allowing coders to create a single app that works on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac (alternate source sans paywall). The initiative, dubbed "Marzipan," will be fully realized by 2021: "developers won’t have to submit their work to different Apple App Stores, allowing iOS apps to be downloaded directly from Mac computers -- effectively combining the stores."

The work coincides with the company’s preparations to merge more of the underpinnings of its hardware. Currently, iPhones and iPads are powered by Apple processors, while Macs use Intel Corp. chips. Apple plans to start transitioning some Macs to its own chips as early as 2020, Bloomberg News reported last year. Despite the app merger plan, Apple has said it won’t combine iOS and macOS into a single operating system.

Posted by Megalith February 24, 2019 10:05 AM (CST)

Apple Will Reportedly Launch a Credit Card This Year

Apple will be giving iPhone users the courage to spend money they may not have with a new credit card developed in partnership with Goldman Sachs. Slated for release later this year, "the Apple Pay card will integrate with Apple's Wallet app bringing with it extra features including money, debt, and rewards management tools." The joint card will use Mastercard’s payment network and offer a cash back of about 2 percent on most purchases.

[Goldman is] reportedly splashing $200 million on the card's back end infrastructure, from customer-support call centers to an internal system to handle payments. Cardholder perks will apparently include cash back of about 2 percent on most purchases and possibly even more on Apple's devices and services, which the tech giant is set to expand courtesy of an incoming news subscription service and a video streaming platform. The card will use Mastercard's payment network, which is second only to Visa in the US, according to WSJ.

Posted by Megalith February 23, 2019 10:30 AM (CST)

Intel Officials Allegedly Say that Apple Could Move to ARM Soon

A recent report from Axios claims that Apple is "widely expected" to move their Mac lineup to custom ARM chips in the next few years. The publication cites a Bloomberg report claiming that Apple plans to merge their software stack and app ecosystem across all platforms, though that could theoretically be achieved with ARM ISA emulation on existing x86 processors. However, Axios also said "Although the company has yet to say so publicly, developers and Intel officials have privately told Axios they expect such a move as soon as next year." Thanks to AppleInsider for the tip.

If anything, the Bloomberg timeline suggests that Intel might actually have more Mac business in 2020 than some had been expecting. The key question is not the timeline but just how smoothly Apple is able to make the shift. For developers, it will likely mean an awkward period of time supporting new and classic Macs as well as new and old-style Mac apps. History lesson: Apple has already made several big shifts in the 25-year history of the Mac, moving from Motorola chips to PowerPC processors and then to Intel. It's also moved from the classic Macintosh operating system to the Unix-based Mac OS X.

Posted by alphaatlas February 22, 2019 9:58 AM (CST)