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Palit and PC Partner Beat ASUS in Graphics Card Market Share

According to the latest global graphics card market share seen by Taiwanese tech industry observer DigiTimes, Palit Microsystems and PC Partner have each surpassed ASUSTek. The two relegated ASUS to the position of third biggest graphics card vendor by volume. ASUS is a vendor-neutral graphics card vendor, selling both NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards; while Palit beat it with a predominantly GeForce-based product stack. Although Palit Microsystems is vendor-neutral on paper, it virtually stopped making AMD Radeon-based products.

Palit Microsystems runs two major brands, Palit, and Gainward, which target different global markets, and are seldom found in the same market. PC Partner, on the other hand, runs Sapphire, which focuses on AMD Radeon products, and ZOTAC, focusing on NVIDIA GeForce. Both Palit Microsystems and PC Partners also contract-manufacture graphics cards for other companies. With the surge of Palit Microsystems and PC Partner, ASUSTek is pushed down to the third place in global market-share, followed by MSI and GIGABYTE.


Source: DigiTimes

NVIDIA Receives DARPA Contract Worth up to $20M for Embedded Processor Research

NVIDIA has been awarded a contract worth up to $20 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to research embedded processor technologies that could lead to dramatic improvements in the ability of autonomous vehicles to collect and process data from on-board sensors.

DARPA is the U.S. Defense Department's research and development arm. The five-year contract, awarded under DARPA's Power Efficiency Revolution For Embedded Computing Technologies (PERFECT) program, will fund research for processors that are 75-times more energy efficient than current embedded solutions. The goal is to enable surveillance and computer vision systems in ground and airborne vehicles to collect and analyze vastly more data than can be processed today in real time.

Human Head hasn't Worked on Prey 2 in Months, RUNE Sequel Possible

News that Prey 2 had not been cancelled, but rather delayed, was relieving to fans of the original. However, why has there been such secrecy surrounding the project over the last several months? According to a Shacknews source who asked not to be identified, Human Head was not happy with the terms of its contract with ZeniMax, and deliberately stopped work on the game in November so it could try to negotiate a more favorable deal. While doing that, many on the development team were laid off, with the hope they would be rehired if the contract issue was resolved favorably. The process seemed to be gathering some positive momentum until January when ZeniMax's responses all but stopped, causing some of the laid-off Prey 2 team to wonder if the game would ever see the light of day.

By March 1, the source said, things had progressed a bit, leaving the Prey 2 team hopeful that they would return to work soon. But that quickly soured the following day. The source could provide no further first-hand details after March 2. When contacted for a response, an official at ZeniMax responded that "we aren't commenting on the game's development beyond what was said in the statement that was released this morning." In light of the new information, the official stance that "the delay is due to the fact that game development has not progressed satisfactorily this past year, and the game does not currently meet our quality standards" seems to throw Human Head under the creative bus. With development stalled for months, it's no surprise that the game would be unable to meet so-called "quality standards."

Dell Expands Award-Winning ProSupport to Cover More Brands and Countries

To help customers address the inefficiencies and lost costs of managing multiple support vendors, Dell ProSupport for Multivendor has been globally expanded beyond x86 to include support for storage, networking and UNIX products. This expansion also includes support for additional vendors for servers, desktops and laptops. By consolidating support under one service provider, customers can ensure consistent processes and reduce the resources required to manage complex services contracts from multiple vendors, ultimately simplifying IT management and reducing their IT costs.

“Our customers rely on the expertise, global network and 24x7 availability of Dell ProSupport for their Dell systems and can now experience those same benefits across their entire environment,” said Doug Schmitt, vice president, Dell Services. “With the latest expansion of Dell ProSupport for Multivendor, customers around the world can rely on Dell for all of their support needs. From end-user systems to complex data centers and everything in between, customers will save time and money and receive the same award-winning support they’ve come to expect from Dell ProSupport.”

AMD Flogging Dodgy Chips? Gets Slapped With Lawsuit

AMD has been slapped with a lawsuit by Quanta for allegedly selling faulty CPUs & GPUs that were unfit for purpose, since they didn't meet specified heat tolerances and subsequently failed. Taiwan-based Quanta may not have a name that the general public immediately recognizes, however they are actually the world's largest contract manufacturer of notebooks, so this lawsuit is a big deal. They claim that the faulty parts were used in notebooks made for NEC. The lawsuit was filed in a district court in San Jose, California and in the filing, Quanta claims they have "suffered significant injury to prospective revenue and profits". As Bloomberg reports, "the lawsuit also claims breach of warranty, negligent misrepresentation, civil fraud and interference with a contract."

HDD Vendors Want Long-Term Contracts with PC Makers

Well, it seems that the flooding in Thailand has done a lot more than destroy lives, wreck a few factories and cause HDD prices to shoot up. There appears to be a lot of opportunities for changing the terms of business too - to less favourable ones for customers of hard disc drives. First, we had the severe and unwelcome warranty reductions and now we have HDD manufacturers trying to lock branded PC makers into expensive long-term contracts, according to Digitimes. Some PC makers buy hard disk drives on a quarterly basis, at a fixed price, but now that prices have shot up and supplies restricted, HDD manufacturers are trying to coerce them into signing one year contracts at current high prices. However, it looks like it might not be such a good deal for PC makers, because the recovery in supply is continuing, with a full recovery potentially not so far away, which will of course make those prices plummet again. As it is, HDD shipments are projected to be around 140 million units in the first quarter of 2012, while the same quarter last year was 170-180 million units - so the fall isn't really that hugely less than before anyway and should become less severe as 2012 wears on.

One does get the impression that the HDD manufacturers are playing up the difficulty of restoring production volumes in order to give them a better bargaining hand. There's also the fact that recovering from the disaster is hugely expensive for them, so HDD makers will want to charge more to recoup those costs faster, motivating them to use tactics like these.

U.S. Army Attacks the CryEngine

The U.S. Army might be financing one of the most epic videos games ever made that very few people may ever play. The "game" is called Dismounted Soldier Training System and was commissioned by the U.S. government back in May for a staggering cost of 57 million dollars. The contract was awarded to RealTime Immersive Inc. All of this according to PC Gamer. Everything about this simulator is said to be cutting edge but the hardware it runs on. In a GamePro interview with the director of strategic programs at Intelligent Decisions, Floyd West is said to have stated, "With CryEngine 3 being used for Crysis 2 and the capabilities that game engine provides, it allows us to make the most realistic simulation possible. We’re able to transport soldiers to accurately recreated locales like Afghanistan and Iraq, where we can simulate everything from visuals to 360-degree sound."

The virtual reality headsets the trainees wear will run from a backpack unit similar to a top of the range gaming laptop, called the 'Man Wearable Unit'. "While the man wearable units aren’t running on an off-the-shelf Alienware, the internal components themselves are commercial off-the-shelf CPUs and GPUs like NVIDIA graphic cards and whatnot."

As this is an internal military training simulator we the public may never play it. However that doesn't mean we cannot watch the trailers in awe and wonder if our own rigs could render thousands of kilometers in such massive detail.

Trailer 1 | Trailer 2

Source: PC Gamer

Sony's Anti-Class Action ToS Attracts Class Action Lawsuit!

In perhaps one of the more ironic legal moves to be seen recently, Sony's clause in its Terms of Service preventing PlayStation 3 owners from filing class action lawsuits has itself attracted a class action lawsuit! The lawsuit was filed in Northern California in November, by a man on behalf of PS3 owners who signed up for the PlayStation Network before September, when the ToS were updated and this anti-class action clause added.

The killer clause is buried deep into the contract and is very hard to spot, requiring the contract to be read all the way through with a fine toothcomb - if the reader can rise to the challenge of reading the complicated and dry legalese it's written in. Compounding the problem is that the agreement isn't even readily available online for anyone to study – it can only be viewed on the PS3 itself (so the console is already used before you can even see the agreement – hardly fair?) and appears near the bottom of the 21-page form. Previous agreements had been posted online for anyone to inspect. On top of that, the only way of opting out of it, is to mail a physical letter to Sony within 30 days of agreeing to the ToS – very inconvenient and likely to be forgotten by the average person. The main thrust of the lawsuit are allegations of unfair business practices, since PS3 owners are forced to choose between forfeiting their rights or access to the PSN. Note that since Sony introduced this clause, Electronic Arts and Microsoft have both introduced similar clauses, which doesn't put them in a very good light either and potentially at the receiving end of a lawsuit themselves.
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