Posted on Friday, October 20 2017 @ 11:01:21 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
How the mighty have fallen. Not that long ago pirates considered Denuvo to be almost unbreakable, but these days the state-of-the-art piracy protection is getting cracked in record time.
Previously, it took crackers weeks or even months to defeat the Denuvo protection, but now an increasing number of games are getting cracked within a day of their launch. Up until a couple of months ago, Denuvo was a useful tool for game developers as it could keep games safe from piracy during the crucial initial sales window, but this is no longer the case:
This week's release of South Park: The Fractured but Whole is the latest to see its protections broken less than 24 hours after its release, but it's not alone. Middle Earth: Shadow of War was broken within a day last week, and last month saw cracks for Total War: Warhammer 2 and FIFA 18 the very same day as their public release. Then there's The Evil Within 2, which reportedly used Denuvo in prerelease review copies but then launched without that protection last week, effectively ceding the game to immediate potential piracy.
Posted on Friday, October 20 2017 @ 10:53:29 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
New materials from Intel for software developers suggest the future 10nm Cannon Lake consumer processors will adopt the AVX-512 instruction set, as well as a bunch of other new instructions. At the moment, the AVX-512 instruction set is exclusively supported by Intel'x Xeon Skylake-SP processors but it looks like the instruction set will go mainstream in 2018 with the launch of Cannon Lake. The document also reveals Ice Lake will add even more AVX-512 functionality.
The addition of the AVX-512 to the future consumer CPUs is a good news for those who use such processors for things like video encoding, rendering or other applications that are common for workstations. Meanwhile, with the Ice Lake consumer chips, Intel is adding a deep learning-specific (AVX512_VNNI) 512-bit instructions as well as the NV-DIMM-oriented features such as CLWB, although immediate advantages for this market segment are unclear.
More details as well as a run-down of the benefits of these new instructions can be read at AnandTech. Besides the AVX-512 instructions, Cannon Lake and Ice Lake will also have a couple of other instruction sets to improve security and performance. By making this information public before the launch of these chips, Intel is giving software developers the opportunity to develop software in advance.
Posted on Friday, October 20 2017 @ 10:43:46 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
A new AI-based image colorizing technology was shown at the Adobe MAX 2017 conference in Las Vegas. The project is codenamed Scribbler, it uses a neural network that was trained to recognize faces and the most likely colors of recognizable objects. The result is that Project Scribbler can turn black and white photos into colored versions in mere seconds:
Demoing several different photos and sketches, Lu showed how Scribbler was able to consistently apply not only colors, but shading and even image textures to objects within seconds. By dragging and dropping texture samples onto sketches, designers will be able to quickly iterate designs and test different styles with clients before adding details to their imagery.
Presumably, Adobe will include this technology in future versions of its Creative Cloud tools.
Posted on Friday, October 20 2017 @ 10:36:07 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Here's a new video from Google's DeepMind unit. It talks about how the AlphaGo Zero algorithm trained itself to master the ancient Chinese game of Go. The computer required no human input and rapidly evolved into world's best Go player. DeepMind says it took just 70 hours for AlphaGo Zero to develop superhuman-like capabilities in this game.
Previous versions of AlphaGo initially trained on thousands of human amateur and professional games to learn how to play Go. AlphaGo Zero skips this step and learns to play simply by playing games against itself, starting from completely random play. In doing so, it quickly surpassed human level of play and defeated the previously published champion-defeating version of AlphaGo by 100 games to 0.
Pretty impressive stuff. DeepMind hopes similar techniques can be used to train AI agents to solve challenging real-world problems, like protein folding, cutting energy consumption, or material science issues.
Posted on Friday, October 20 2017 @ 10:30:22 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Razer introduces the Electra V2 gaming headset series, a new line for gamers who don't want to spend three digits on a headset. The product is offered in two versions, you have the regular Electra V2 and the Electra V2 USB, which has somewhat better specifications. These headsets are sold via the Razer webshop for $59.99 (59.99EUR) and $69.99 (69.99EUR), respectively.
RAZER ELECTRA V2:
The Razer Electra V2 is an essential headset for gaming which is compatible with the widest array of devices. The headset was designed to deliver outstanding sound quality and versatility regardless of the device being used. Its 40mm Neodymium drivers were custom-tuned to provide the best possible audio experience while gaming on PC or consoles, or when listening to music on a phone. A unified audio and mic connector makes it easy to use with any PC, Mac, Xbox One™, PlayStation®4, or phone with a 3.5 mm audio jack. A removable boom microphone complements gamers’ mobile lifestyles.
“We created the ideal headset for the modern gamer,” says Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO. “The Razer Electra V2 was updated with more durable and comfortable materials for extended hours of great-sounding gameplay. Lightweight with great audio fidelity, it fits the bill for anyone at home or on the go.”
The Electra V2 was designed for hours of continuous use. Comfort and durability features include a lightweight, flexible aluminum frame with a suspended headrest and plush leatherette ear cushions. A detachable boom mic allows for crisp, clear communication during battles or in phone conversations. Removing the mic allows for a streamlined, undistracted audio experience.
These high-end options, now standard on the Electra V2, were often limited to more expensive headsets until now.
RAZER ELECTRA V2 USB:
The Razer Electra V2 USB shares all the features of the Razer Electra V2, but it is optimized for PC-only use via a single USB connection. Users can activate Razer green backlighting on the ear cups, and virtual 7.1 surround sound digital audio quality is delivered via Razer Synapse – Razer’s cloud-based configurator.
Posted on Friday, October 20 2017 @ 10:09:15 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Taiwanese foundry TSMC told investors earlier today that it expects 10nm demand will soar this year. Apple, which is TSMC's largest customer, is ramping up production of the iPhone X and that will be a major boon to TSMC's 10nm revenue. TSMC is now more upbeat about demand for its 10nm node than a quarter ago.
Production on the 10nm node started in Q2 2017 and is expected to account for about $3.2 billion in revenue this year. Analysts estimate close to 25 percent of TSMC's revenue this quarter will be generated by 10nm sales, but they're worried about a drop in Q1 2018 due to the seasonality of smartphone sales:
“For the fourth quarter, 10nm will be about 25 percent of your total revenue,” Citigroup analyst Roland Shu said to the TSMC executives at the Taipei event. “With this high figure for the fourth quarter, are you worried about the first quarter of next year?”
Shu’s calculation “is quite close to the number we have,” [TSMC Co-CEO CC] Wei replied. “In smartphones, there is that seasonality. We don’t know the impact yet, but our customer is working on migration to the next node. That will ramp up in the second half of next year.
More details about TSMC's financials can be read at EE Times.
Posted on Friday, October 20 2017 @ 10:03:55 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Earlier this week a photo leaked of a GeForce GTX 1070 Ti from Gigabyte and now there are a couple of photos of the KFA2 GeForce GTX 1070 Ti EX. VideoCardz reports this card seems to confirm the rumors that NVIDIA will not be allowing factory overclockers on the GTX 1070 Ti, it's clocked at 1607MHz base and 1683MHz Boost, just like the other models that leaked. The site also confirms the card has 2432 CUDA cores, 8GB GDDR5 memory and 6+8-pin PCIe power connectors.
The launch of the GTX 1070 Ti is expected in one week, while retail availability is still two weeks away from us.
Posted on Thursday, October 19 2017 @ 20:45:33 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Sources in the upstream supply chain confided to DigiTimes that video card vendors are upbeat about continued strong demand from cryptocurrency miners. Initially, some thought this was a development that would subside quickly but now graphics card makers are increasing orders for NVIDIA and AMD GPUs.
Gigabyte, MSI, TUL, Colorful an Galaxy have reportedly all seen a big spike in sales volume. Earlier this year, ASUS was one of the more conservative companies in terms of cryptocurrency expectations but now the company expects the mining trend will continue until at least the end of 2017.
DigiTimes also has a bit of commentary about how video card makers are profiting from the GPU mining boom. The site claims Gigabyte is now earning more money from video cards than motherboards for the first time:
Thanks to the strong graphics cards sales, several graphics cards vendors such as TUL and Sapphires saw their operations turn profitable in the second quarter, while MSI and Gigabyte also saw significant incomes from related businesses in both the second and third quarters. Gigabyte's profits from the graphics card business also surpassed those from the motherboard segment for the first time, the sources stated.
The unexpectedly strong demand from Ethereum miners severely disrupted traditional sales channels, and resulted in big price increases for gamers. Hopefully, the extra supply will be able to get things back towards more normal levels.
Posted on Thursday, October 19 2017 @ 14:06:26 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Gartner analysts predict global sales of PCs, tablets and smartphones will hit 2.35 billion units in 2018, an increase of 2.0 percent versus 2017. Not every product category scores well though, sales of desktop PCs, regular laptops, and tablets are expected to decline in 2018. Mobile phone sales are expected to see very tiny growth, while ultra-portable laptop sales are expected to grow at a low double-digit rate.
Total PC sales are expected to grow from 263 million units in 2017 to 265 million units in 2018. The growth is attributed to two factors, first Gartner expects an uptick in demand from businesses, especially in West-Europe. Secondly, the research firm predicts a switch to Windows 10 in China will positively impact PC sales.
If the predictions pan out, it seems like the PC market may have seen the worst of this cycle. However, things are still not very positive, especially if you look at traditional PC sales.
Worldwide shipments of PCs, tablets and smartphones are predicted to exceed 2.35 billion units in 2018, an increase of 2.0 percent from 2017, according to Gartner, Inc. This would be the highest year-over-year growth since 2015.
The misconception persists that the world has gone mobile and relies solely on smartphones. "However, our latest online end-user survey* shows that users depend just as much on PCs or tablets as they do on smartphones," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "Forty percent of respondents said that they use mostly a PC/tablet for certain daily experiences, such as reading and writing detailed emails or watching videos, while 34 percent mostly use a smartphone for its convenience while on the move."
Mr. Atwal added: "Users holding onto their PCs for longer remains a major issue for the PC market. In contrast, users continue to replace their smartphone quite frequently."
Business PC shipments are estimated to return to growth by the end of 2017, driven by faster Windows 10 replacement in many regions, especially in Western Europe. "Despite the fact that prices have been rising due to higher component costs, Windows 10 replacements have kept the PC market relatively stable through 2017," said Mr. Atwal. "We estimate that the PC market (desk-based, notebook and ultramobiles) is set to return to 0.8 percent growth in 2018."
This upward trend is assisted by two factors. The PC market in Russia has been positively influenced by an upturn in the country's economic prospects, which has seen business spending on PCs increase by 5 percent in 2017. This growth will persist into 2018. Spending is primarily focused on desktop PCs, which are more aggressively priced than mobile PCs or hybrid devices.
The second factor is China, where the move to Windows 10 has been delayed due to security and privacy issues, leading to slow PC sales in 2017. However, Microsoft is now working with a Chinese government agency to develop a government-approved version. "The features of Windows 10 could be particularly useful for the Chinese Government that is looking to move from desktops and notebooks to ultramobile premium devices," said Mr. Atwal. "We expect this development to positively impact the PC market in 2018."
Smartphone Sales to Total More Than 1.6 Billion Units in 2018
Mobile phone sales are expected to return to year-over-year growth in 2018, with shipments totaling 1.9 billion units. Smartphones will represent 86 percent of total mobile phone shipments in 2018, up 6 percent from 2017.
Gartner expects Apple's iPhone X to be the sales driver in North America, China and Western Europe, despite its high price. "Given the late November availability of the iPhone X, we expect the iPhone's replacement cycle to flow more strongly into 2018," said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.
Component shortages could lead to the inability to meet smartphone demand in the fourth quarter of 2017, further favoring unit sales moving into 2018. "Decrease in total mobile phone demand in 2017 is also expected to come from a weaker lower end of the smartphone market," said Ms. Cozza. "For this segment, local vendors continue to struggle against the shift toward top brands, while component price increases affect the ability of some Android vendors to compete more aggressively on price." While this is expecting to limit smartphone growth in 2017, the 2018 growth rate is accordingly estimated to be higher than previously forecast.
Posted on Thursday, October 19 2017 @ 13:45:28 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Seagate is making some naming changes in its enterprise storage portfolio. From now on, the firm's enterprise HDDs will be known as the "Exos" series, while the enterprise SSD solutions will be known as "Nytro". Both series feature new spaceship inspired logos.
The Exos lineup features HDDs with a capacity of up to 12TB (helium-filled), while the Nytro series contains SSDs with a capacity of up to 15TB.
Seagate welcomes the continually evolving challenge with our newly branded Enterprise Datasphere Fleet of solutions. The Datasphere Fleet includes Seagate’s trusted Exos™ family of hard drives, offering the world’s fastest and highest capacity hard drives on the market today, and the Nytro® line of solid-state drives, offering blazing speed and solid reliability for a wide array of enterprise storage needs. Now with Seagate Secure™ protection, every drive in the Enterprise Datasphere Fleet complies with the top industry standards for security, guarding your most valuable data.