Not really a big surprise but the only product announcement at Apple's event today was the new MacBook Pro lineup, which features a Touch Bar and a fingerprint scanner right on top of the keyboard.
The new models are thinner, more compact and less heavy than before, and feature a brighter display with up to 500 nits of brightness. The Force Touchpad is twice as large as before, the keyboard features a second-generation Butterfly mechanism and you get Thunderbolt 3/USB Type-C ports, which are also used to charge the laptop because Apple ditched its traditional MagSafe connector. If you need a traditional USB port, perhaps to charge your brand new iPhone, you're out of luck. Apple is basically forcing you to buy an adapter.
Unfortunately, because the desired Kaby Lake CPUs from Intel aren't available yet, Apple had to stick with the Intel Skylake lineup. The base versions feature integrated graphics while the more expensive models feature Polaris-based AMD Radeon Pro video cards, but even the maxed-out model features just a Radeon Pro 455.
The new MacBook Pro is offered in 13" and 15" versions. Pricing starts at $1,499 for the most basic 13" MacBook Pro without Touch Bar, which is designed to replace the MacBook Air. The 13" models with Touch Bar will cost you at least $1,799 and pricing of the 15" lineup starts at $2,399. The non-Touch Bar model ships immediately, while the Touch Bar models are expected by mid-November.
The video below showcases the highlights and reveals some practical uses for the OLED Touch Bar.
Sources at PC brand vendors told DigiTimes that they expect to see strong growth in demand for PCs in Q1 2017 thanks to the launch of Intel's Kaby Lake and the long-awaited arrival of the AMD Zen. The site heard AMD's first Zen-based processors will feature a better than expected price/performance ratio. If rumors from earlier this week were accurate, Zen may offer a clock-for-clock performance level that falls somewhere between the Intel Haswell and Broadwel architectures.
The site also heard that motherboard makers are aggressively preparing motherboards based on AMD's high-end X370, mainstream B350 and entry-level A320 chipsets. The first motherboards with the X370 are expected to ship towards the end of November.
Motherboard makers are also preparing lines of 200-series based motherboards for Intel's Kaby Lake. These boards will be showcased at CES 2017.
Hot on the heels of AT&T's plan to acquire Time Warner there's another mega-merger in the making as Qualcomm announced it wants to take over Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductor for $47 billion. This is the largest deal ever in the semiconductor industry and it follows less than a year after NXP closed its $12 billion acquisition of Freescale.
Last year, Qualcomm was world's fourth largest semiconductor supplier, while NXP ranked seventh. NXP was formed ten years ago via the spin-off of the semiconductor activities of Philips. The company is the co-inventor of near field communication (NFC) technology and sources roughly 40 percent of its revenue from automotive-related electronics. The deal makes Qualcomm less dependent on the smartphone market.
Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) and NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) today announced a definitive agreement, unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, under which Qualcomm will acquire NXP. Pursuant to the agreement, a subsidiary of Qualcomm will commence a tender offer to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of NXP for $110.00 per share in cash, representing a total enterprise value of approximately $47 billion.
NXP is a leader in high-performance, mixed-signal semiconductor electronics, with innovative products and solutions and leadership positions in automotive, broad-based microcontrollers, secure identification, network processing and RF power. As a leading semiconductor solutions supplier to the automotive industry, NXP also has leading positions in automotive infotainment, networking and safety systems, with solutions designed into 14 of the top 15 infotainment customers in 2016. NXP has a broad customer base, serving more than 25,000 customers through its direct sales channel and global network of distribution channel partners.
“With innovation and invention at our core, Qualcomm has played a critical role in driving the evolution of the mobile industry. The NXP acquisition accelerates our strategy to extend our leading mobile technology into robust new opportunities, where we will be well positioned to lead by delivering integrated semiconductor solutions at scale,” said Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm Incorporated. “By joining Qualcomm’s leading SoC capabilities and technology roadmap with NXP’s leading industry sales channels and positions in automotive, security and IoT, we will be even better positioned to empower customers and consumers to realize all the benefits of the intelligently connected world.”
The combined company is expected to have annual revenues of more than $30 billion, serviceable addressable markets of $138 billion in 2020 and leadership positions across mobile, automotive, IoT, security, RF and networking.
Further details about the deal can be read at Qualcomm. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2017, pending regulatory approvals.
Adobe released an out-of-cycle security update for Flash that plugs a dangerous security hole.
The update resolves a use-after-free vulnerability (CVE-2016-7855) that could lead to code execution. Updating as soon as possible as highly recommended as Adobe said it's aware of an exploit that exists in the wild, and is being used in limited, targeted attacks on systems running Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.
It would be better if we could get rid of Flash entirely but sadly there are still a lot of sites and tools that require Flash.
Taiwanese foundry UMC announced it's on track to offer its 14nm FinFET process for volume production in the second quarter of 2014. The first client of the new node will be BitFury, which will use the 14nm FinFET process for the production of its Bitcoin ASIC. Limited volume should leave the fab in Q2 2017, with broader volume expected in Q3 2017.
This also means that sometime in the near-future, UMC will be able to kick off 28nm production at its Xiamen fab to satisfy just-in-time demand from China's local IC design firms. At the moment, UMC isn't able to make 28nm chips in China because the Taiwanese government prohibits foundries to make chips on their most advanced process technologies at their China fabs.
China's goal of raising its self-sufficiency rate for ICs, as well as government incentives building up the capability of China's local fabless firms and system vendors, have encouraged Taiwan-based foundries led by TSMC to set up 12-inch lines locally and better compete with their China-based peers.
UMC's Xiamen fab dubbed 12X will enter volume production for 40/55nm chips later in the fourth quarter of 2016, the company said at a recent investors meeting. The foundry also disclosed its 28nm process technology accounted for 21% of total wafer sales in the third quarter.
There are a lot of fields in technology right now that are growing fast and are likely to change business, economy and society in profound ways over the next couple of decades. Earlier this week there was a news story about how Uber's Otto division completed a driverless delivery for beer giant AB InBev.
While a human driver was still required for busy city traffic, the driverless truck completed a 120-mile stretch of highway without a driver in the front seat. It's not going to happen tomorrow or even next year, but sometime in the not too far future driverless technology is going to severely disrupt the transportation industry.
Another interesting field of technology involves deep learning. New Scientist writes Google managed to teach its neural networks how to use encryption techniques. The experiment involved three separate neural nets called Alice, Bob and Eve. The goal was to let Alice transmit encrypted messages to Bob, Bob's job was to decode this message and Eve's job was to attempt to eavesdrop. Alice and Bob started with a pre-agreed key, which Eve didn't have access to.
While neural nets are generally not meant to be great at cryptography, the experiment had some interesting results but neural nets are still far from the sophistication of human-made encryption methods.
Initially, the neural nets were fairly poor at sending secret messages. But as they got more practice, Alice slowly developed her own encryption strategy, and Bob worked out how to decrypt it.
After the scenario had been played out 15,000 times, Bob was able to convert Alice’s cipher text message back into plain text, while Eve could guess just 8 of the 16 bits forming the message. As each bit was just a 1 or a 0, that is the same success rate you would expect from pure chance.
One final tidbit from Microsoft's Windows 10 event. The software giant talked a lot about Windows 10's virtual reality and holographic capabilities, and hinted that much cheaper VR headsets are going to hit the market in 2017.
Microsoft said firms like HP, Lenovo, Dell, Acer and ASUS will launch VR/AR headsets that contain built-in sensors to enable inside-out, six-degrees of freedom without the need for external sensors.
The more affordable VR headsets will hit the market in 2017 with prices starting at $299.
Mixed reality blends the virtual world with the real world to change the way people create, communicate, learn and play across virtual reality, augmented reality and everything in between. To demonstrate the possibilities of mixed reality, the company showed a proof of concept together with Houzz — a leader in home renovation and design. Using the Microsoft Edge browser on HoloLens, Houzz users could preview products in their own home before they buy. Microsoft Edge was the first browser to bring inking to the web, and will be the first browser to fully embrace 3-D.
The Creators Update will be the most powerful and affordable way to experience mixed reality. Microsoft announced that HP, Lenovo, Dell, Acer and ASUS will ship the first VR headsets capable of mixed reality through the Creators Update. Coming in 2017, these accessories will contain built-in sensors to enable inside-out, six-degrees of freedom for simplified setup and to more easily move around your home as you experience virtual worlds —no markers required.
Less powerful VR accessories today start at over $500 ERP USD. With the Windows 10 Creators Update, the new VR accessories will work with affordable laptops and PCs and start at just $299 ERP USD.
Microsoft also revealed a new Surface Book with an Intel Core i7 6th generation processor and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M GPU, making it the fastest Surface Book to date. Furthermore, the new version also has a longer battery life, of up to 16 hours. Like its predecessors, the screen is detachable from the base, so you can use it like a laptop or like a tablet.
Shipments start on November 10 but be prepared to drain your bank account as pricing starts at $2,399.
Microsoft also introduced Surface Book with Performance Base, making the most powerful laptop in its class even better. The three new Surface Book models feature 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors and pack more than twice the graphics processing power as the original Surface Book. Plus Surface Book with Performance Base brings 16 hours of battery life into the same sleek, versatile design people love. With Surface Book with Performance Base, engineers can spin 3-D CAD models with thousands of parts, designers and developers can render large files quickly, and gamers can play more of their favorite games. No other laptop combines similar battery life, performance and pixels in as lightweight a package.
At today's Windows 10 event, Microsoft showed its Surface Studio. The maxed-out version of this device features an Intel Core i7 series processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M GPU, 32GB DDR4 memory, a 2TB HDD and a 28" screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a massive 4500 x 3000 pixels resolution! The Surface Studio has an aluminium body, a thickness of just 12.5mm and it has a "zero-gravity hinge" that lets you transition the screen from desktop to studio mode.
While it does look pretty cool, the bad news is the pricing of this Apple iMac rival starts at a massive $2,999. Limited availability is planned for this holiday season, with more volume coming in early 2017.
Surface Studio is a new class of device designed for how people naturally create and bring ideas to life. The 28-inch PixelSense™ Display immerses the user in 13.5 million pixels of pure, true-to-life color, and the Zero Gravity Hinge allows the screen to effortlessly adjust to each stage of the creative process. When the screen transitions from Desktop Mode to Studio Mode, it sits at a 20-degree angle, the same angle as a standard drafting board, making it ideal for sketching, writing and designing.
The 6th Generation Intel® Core™ processors accelerated by a discrete NVIDIA® GeForce® GPU deliver smooth and immersive graphics performance and the power to run professional programs such as Siemens’ NX™ software,2 taking people through their workflow from end to end. Now architects can sketch their ideas with the Surface Pen, put them into production using powerful 3-D modeling software, and review and mark up plans with a client, all on one device.
Surface Studio starts at $2,999 estimated retail price (ERP) USD. It is available for pre-order today in the U.S. through Microsoft Stores, MicrosoftStore.com and BestBuy.com, and will begin shipping in limited quantities this holiday with broader availability in early 2017.
Also coming up is the Surface Dial, this peripheral will ship on November 10 for $99:
Surface Dial is a new peripheral designed for the creative process. It integrates with Windows 10 to work with Surface for a faster and more intuitive way to scroll, zoom and navigate. The Dial also enables a set of unique experiences exclusive to Surface Studio. When you place the Dial directly on the screen, it brings up a set of digital tools specific to the app that is open, allowing people to more seamlessly move through their workflow. For example, with Surface Dial, artists can change the color or the size of their brush tip as they paint without ever moving the pen away from the screen. The combination of Dial, pen and touch creates a more immersive and tactile way for people to create in digital environments. Partners like BlueBeam Inc.,2 Drawboard,2 Mental Canvas,2 Siemens PLM Software,2 Silicon Benders,2 Smith Micro Software, Inc.2 and StaffPad have already optimized their software to take advantage of the new experiences Surface Dial provides.
Microsoft showcased Windows 10 Creators Update, a new update that is expected to become available in early 2017. This update will feature Paint 3D, better gaming (including 4k and in-game broadcasting) features, a new photo and video sharing feature, and augmented reality and virtual reality updates.
This is the update that was formerly known as "Redstone 2". An Insiders Preview will follow later this week.
With the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft unveiled a comprehensive vision across hardware and software to bring 3-D to everyone.
Microsoft introduced a new way to bring your ideas to life with Paint 3D. Building on the popularity of Microsoft Paint, with more than 100 million monthly users on Windows, Paint 3D will be your all-new, easy-to-use 3-D art studio. The company also introduced the new online community Remix3D.com, connecting creators and creations around the world. Remix 3D will enable all-new scenarios for creators, including the ability for Minecraft players to share their 3-D creations broadly with the Remix 3D community.
To inspire a new wave of creativity, Microsoft is partnering with Trimble to bring the 3-D modeling program Sketchup — and its millions of creators and creations from 3D Warehouse — to Remix3D.com.
To further demonstrate the possibilities of 3-D in Windows 10, Microsoft showed how easy it is to use your phone to capture a real-world object in 3-D — like a sand castle from your family vacation — to save, personalize and share as a 3-D memory or photo. To bring your ideas to life, Microsoft is also adding support for 3-D in Word, Excel and PowerPoint over the next year, which means with the Windows 10 Creators Update, Office features will work seamlessly with 3-D models.
Everyone is welcome to start creating and sharing in Paint 3D today by joining the Windows Insider Program at insider.Windows.com. To learn more about 3-D in Windows 10, go to http://www.Remix3D.com.
Read more at http://news.microsoft.com/2016/10/26/microsoft-introduces-surface-studio-and-the-windows-10-creators-update/#jY48wsyVfXM8xYmJ.99