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  Digital-Only Xbox One S Thread
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 03-08-2019, 02:57 AM - Forum: Xbox One - No Replies


Quote:Microsoft is reportedly bringing the new console to market as a way to lower the base cost of entry into the Xbox ecosystem. Pre-orders are expected by April, with the console actually going on-sale in May. Given the rumors, we suspect the system will be reworked to lower the BoM when possible, though no additional information has been provided in terms of port loadouts or wireless support. The rumor is that Microsoft is targeting a price point as much as $100 below the current $299 Xbox One S price.

The company hasn’t forgotten its customers who still rely on discs, however. Reportedly there will be a disc-to-digital program at Microsoft stores, allowing gamers to transfer physical copies to digital licenses. Details of how this would work haven’t been rolled out and the program isn’t officially announced. There’s also supposedly a cost-reduced version of the Xbox One S coming later this year as well that would keep the ability to play physical discs but still target a price below $299.
The chart from the NPD Group, shown above, illustrates just how dramatically sales have shifted from retail to online outlets. According to NPD data, even in 2013, 46 percent of console games were still sold in physical stores. Today, that ratio has fallen to 21 percent. I’ve long been a proponent of keeping physical distribution — there are too many people with metered connections or slow download speeds for me to feel comfortable with an all-digital distribution system — but it’s clear that patterns are changing. Microsoft’s latest Xbox One will attempt to change with them.

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  128-Layer 3D NAND
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 03-07-2019, 11:23 PM - Forum: General Hardware - No Replies


Quote:Toshiba and its strategic ally Western Digital are readying a high-density 128-layer 3D NAND flash memory. In Toshiba's nomenclature, the chip will be named BiCS-5. Interestingly, despite the spatial density, the chip will implement TLC (3 bits per cell), and not the newer QLC (4 bits per cell). This is probably because NAND flash makers are still spooked about the low yields of QLC chips. Regardless, the chip has a data density of 512 Gb. With 33% more capacity than 96-layer chips, the new 128-layer chips could hit commercial production in 2020-21.

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  Developers Can Game Steam's "Popular Upcoming" List
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 03-06-2019, 10:24 PM - Forum: Gaming - No Replies


Quote:That list is supposed to do exactly what it says: give people an easy way to find games that are coming out soon and have attracted lots of attention. But game developer Mike Rose revealed on Twitter that the Popular Upcoming list uses a back-end release date that can differ from the date shown on a title's Steam page. Changing this date can help get a game on this list. PCGamesN first reported on the tweets.

"Here's the thing: You can set any date for your game's release in the Steam backend, and it means nothing," Rose explained in one of his tweets about the issue. "You can set a date, and let it go by. Then you can set another date, and let it go by again. Setting this date has no meaning -- except for appearing in the Upcoming list."

Developers can use this otherwise useless date to make sure their game appears on Steam's front page, then, without consequence. Rose said it's also easy to set that date and then forget to change it when a game is all-but-inevitably delayed.
As it should: being featured on Steam can mean the difference between wasting years of work on a game that didn't get the right promotion and actually seeing a return on that investment. It's not an enviable position to be in--except for the part where Valve makes money no matter what games are popular--but at least it seems like the company's thinking about how to solve this.

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  Accelerators Are Going To Hit The Wall
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 03-04-2019, 10:18 PM - Forum: General Hardware - No Replies


Quote:What the team found was sobering. Performance gains in specialized silicon are fundamentally linked to the number of transistors available per millimeter of silicon over the long term, as well as the improvements to those transistors introduced with each new process node. Worse, there are fundamental limits to how much performance we can extract from improved accelerator design without simultaneous CMOS scaling improvements.

The phrase “over the long term” is important. Wentzlaff and Fuchs’ research shows that it’s not unusual for workload performance to improve dramatically when accelerators are initially deployed. Over time, as methods for optimally accelerating a given workload are explored and best practices are established, researchers converge on the most optimal approaches possible. The problems that tend to respond well to accelerators are those that are well-defined, parallelizable (think GPU workloads), and exist within a mature, well-studied domain. But this also means that the same traits that make a problem amenable to acceleration also limit the total advantage gained in the long term from doing so. The team dubs this the “accelerator wall.”

The HPC market may have had a sense of this for quite some time. Back in 2013, we wrote a story about the difficult road to exascale for mainstream supercomputers. Even back then, the TOP500 was predicting that accelerators would deliver a one-time leap in performance rankings, but not an improved rate of performance improvement.
The implications of this work are significant. It predicts domain-specific architectures will not continue to deliver significant improvements in performance once Moore’s law scaling has broken down. Even if chip designers are able to focus more tightly on improving performance in fixed transistor budgets, such gains are intrinsically limited by diminishing marginal returns for well-understood problems.

Wentzlaff and Fuch’s work points to a need for a fundamentally new approach to computing. Intel’s Meso architecture is one potential alternative. Fuchs and Wentzlaff have also suggested the use of non-CMOS materials and other types of beyond-CMOS specialization, including exploring the use of non-volatile emerging memory storage arrays as a type of workload accelerator. You can read more about the team’s effort in that domain here.

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  Servers Stranded In Space
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 03-01-2019, 11:27 AM - Forum: Technology News - No Replies


Quote:Somebody needs to convince Matt Damon to make a movie about getting the Spaceborne Computer back to Earth. The Linux device is comprised of two Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) servers that, according to the BBC, should have returned three months ago but are instead stranded in space with no guaranteed way to get back.
Here's the good news: both servers remain operational some 530-odd days after their August 2017 trip up to the ISS. As noted above, the original goal was to bring them back to Earth three months ago, so their continued operation is a good sign of their ability to work without a lot of maintenance.

The BBC said a Russian rocket failure in October 2018 delayed the servers' return flight. HPE senior content architect Adrian Kasbergen told the BBC that "right now they haven’t got a ticket" back to Earth, but the hope is to bring them back in June 2019. In the meantime, well, maybe Damon will rally behind the servers.

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  Is 4K Blu-ray In Trouble?
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 02-27-2019, 09:13 AM - Forum: Technology News - No Replies


Quote:Given these factors above, it’s not too surprising that 4K Blu-ray discs in the U.S accounted for only 5.3% of sales while even the aging DVD format still claims 57.9% according to the latest data from 2018. Those figures wouldn’t look too promising to Samsung either, whose existing 4K Blu-ray players have to compete with Sony, LG and Panasonic models while also failing to deliver complete HDR format support.

As for the 4K HDR Blu-ray format itself, it has been damaged by Samsung’s recent announcement but it’s not quite ready for the grave yet. The numbers of new ultra HD Blu-ray titles being released do keep increasing despite the very low market penetration mentioned above, and the 4K HDR disc format has its loyal share of followers. Most crucially of all, there are still several other major electronics brands that still make players for these discs.

One thing that’s also really worth mentioning in all this is just how genuinely good the 4K HDR Blu-ray format is. We think it absolutely deserves a longer future and more growth.
Despite its benefits however, the 4K Blu-ray market might still never really take off seriously unless its ideal fan-base keeps buying more of the discs that do get released, and maybe Samsung has seen certain writing on the wall indicating this.

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  Expensive Smartphones Are Losing Steam
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 02-22-2019, 09:03 AM - Forum: Smart Phones - No Replies


Quote:A few years ago, the best smartphones on the market might cost you $500 or $600 if purchased without a carrier subsidy. My, how times have changed. The best phones from companies like Samsung and Apple now cost about twice as much, and a new report from Gartner suggests consumers are getting fed up. According to Gartner, emerging Chinese brands are growing larger thanks to their comparatively low price tags and improving designs.
Consumers may be looking for alternatives as smartphone prices keep creeping higher, and Huawei is not the only company offering more budget-friendly options. Other Chinese firms like Oppo, Xiaomi, and Vivo are also on the rise, offering hardware that’s comparable to Samsung or Apple with a much lower price. Gartner says that consumer sentiment about the brands is shifting, too. People are increasingly proud to carry a Xiaomi phone like they used to be with Apple devices.

Selling $1,000 phones isn’t completely wrecking the leading OEMs, but it might not be a sustainable strategy. Samsung’s decision to launch a nearly $2,000 foldable phone suggests it’s not ready to learn that lesson, though.

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  Lenovo Settles Superfish Lawsuit
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 02-21-2019, 09:16 PM - Forum: General Hardware - No Replies


Quote:The settlement is expected to pay out between $40 and $750. People who submit a claim form without providing an itemized "proof of loss" will receive the $40. Those who provide those itemizations can get up to $750 to recover the costs of credit monitoring, technical assistance, and other services that may have been prompted by the revelation of the flaws in Superfish's tools.

Quote:That said, a rumor from Media Post is now stating users may be eligible for up to $55 thanks in part to fewer people coming forward than initially expected. This is likely not true as the settlement came out January 11th. Even so, this new rumor gaining traction at least serves as a good reminder that if you haven't done so and you have a system that qualifies (listed after the break) you can go here and submit a claim. All claimants have until March 25th, 2019 to file there claim.

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  70% Of Microsoft Patches Are Memory Fixes
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 02-21-2019, 02:33 AM - Forum: Software & Programming - No Replies

This should come as a surprise to nobody. Read this as well to see more evidence that C/C++ has security issues: https://robert.ocallahan.org/2017/07/con...ammer.html

Quote:Speaking to the assembled throngs at an Israel Security conference, a Microsoft engineer Matt Miller said that memory safety bugs happen when software, accidentally or intentionally, accesses system memory in a way that exceeds its allocated size and memory addresses.

He said that over the the last 12 years, around 70 percent of all Microsoft patches were fixes for memory safety bugs.

The reason for this high percentage is because Windows has been written mostly in C and C++, two "memory-unsafe" programming languages that allow developers fine-grained control of the memory addresses where their code can be executed.

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  Samsung Ends Blu-ray Player Production
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 02-20-2019, 10:31 PM - Forum: Technology News - No Replies


Quote:It may seem like a lifetime since the last video format war, but it’s been barely a decade since Blu-ray trounced HD DVD. The format, backed by Sony, brought full HD video into homes just as HDTVs became affordable, and it was ready for the future with enough capacity for 4K video. Nothing lasts forever, but Blu-ray is waning faster than anyone in the early 2000s would have expected. Samsung has announced that it is done making new Blu-ray players.
You won’t need to ponder too long to figure out what’s going on here. Consumers just don’t buy as many physical discs as they used to. Blu-ray usage is already in decline just a decade after it won the format war, and there’s no new physical disc to replace it. Instead, everyone is heading to streaming services.

Both Netflix and Amazon offer all-you-can-eat 4K streaming on select content, and online stores like Vudu, iTunes, and Google Play all offer 4K purchases and rentals. The quality of 4K streaming content is arguably not as good as a 4K Blu-ray, but most consumers don’t seem to care. They’re watching more Netflix and buying fewer physical discs. It’s also much easier to stream 4K content than it used to be. Some TVs can do it out of the box, and a 4K-enabled box like the Roku Premiere only costs $40. The best 4K Blu-ray players cost $300-500, and even the cheapest ones are almost $100.

It might take a while for 4K Blu-ray to taper off completely. Image quality enthusiasts will keep purchasing the players and discs as long as they’re able, but you may not see budget-friendly options much longer.

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