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TSMC 5 nm Node Supply Fully Booked, Apple the Biggest Customer

TSMC has hit a jackpot with its newer nodes like 7 nm and now 5 nm, as the company is working with quite good yields. To boast, TSMC has seen all of its capacity of 7 nm being fully booked by customers like AMD, Apple, and NVIDIA. However, it seems like the company's next-generation 5 nm node is also getting high demand. According to the latest report from DigiTimes, TSMC's N5 5 nm node is fully booked to the end of 2020. And the biggest reason for that is the biggest company in the world - Apple. Since Apple plans to launch the next-generation iPhone, iPad, and Arm-based MacBook, the company has reportedly booked most of the 5 nm capacity for 2020, meaning that there are lots of chips that Apple will consume. TSMC can't be dependent only on one company like Apple, so the smaller portion of capacity went to other customers as well.

Apple's Custom GPU is Reportedly Faster than Intel iGPU

When Apple announced their transition form Intel processors to Apple Silicon, we were left wondering how the silicon will perform and what characteristics will it bring with it. According to the latest report from The China Times, the Apple custom GPU found inside the new Apple Silicon will bring better performance and energy efficiency compared to Intel iGPU it replaces. The 5 nm GPU manufactured on TSMC's N5 semiconductor manufacturing node is supposedly codenamed "Lifuka" and it brings Apple's best to the table. Planned to power a 12-inch MacBook, the GPU will be paired with a custom CPU based on Arm ISA as well. The same chips powering iPhone and iPad devices will go into MacBook devices, with the TDP increased as MacBook will probably have much higher cooling capacity. The first Apple Silicon MacBook will come in H2 of 2021.
Here is the copy of a full report from The China Times below:

A Battle Royale for the Ages: Apple Announces Decision to Remove Unreal Engine from iOS and Mac Tools; Epic Games Responds With Another Lawsuit

The epic (ahem) battle between Epic Games and Apple is becoming increasingly nastier, as Apple has communicated to the game and game engine developers that it plans on terminating all of Epic developer accounts on its ecosystem (both on iOS or MacOS) by August 28th. If done, this would impede not only Epic from developing for these systems, but also would impact any and all companies that actually employ the Unreal Engine in their development process, be it final or merely as a toolbox. It's case to say that Apple has its finger firmly set on the big, red button.

This move from Apple comes in wake of the calculated feud initiated by Epic Games last week with both Google and Apple. What some may have failed to see is that the Epic Games move was a coordinated, well-thought-out one, in that the company knew - or thought they knew - the full ramifications of what they were setting in motion. Epic Games, with its newfound budget and clout, is looking to become a banner for developers, spearheading a charge that is looking to brunt the walled garden approach. In fact, the company is even looking to form a "coalition of Apple critics", and is looking for companies to join its bandwagon in fighting against the Apple walled-garden and middle-man approach to software distribution.

Synaptics to Acquire DisplayLink, Extending Video Interface Market Leadership

Synaptics Incorporated today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire DisplayLink Corp., a leader in high-performance video compression technology, for $305 million in an all-cash transaction. The deal is expected to close in Synaptics' first quarter of fiscal year 2021, subject to customary closing conditions, and be financed from existing cash on hand. Synaptics expects the transaction to add approximately $94 million in annualized sales and be immediately accretive to non-GAAP gross margins, non-GAAP operating margins, and non-GAAP earnings post-close.

DisplayLink's high performance software compression technology enables universal docking and casting of high bandwidth video from any device to any display using any transport medium such as USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi. For the Enterprise IT market, the solution supports multi-OS environments including Windows, MacOS, ChromeOS and Ubuntu Linux enabling a myriad of devices to seamlessly dock to multiple high resolution (4K, 8K) displays.

TSMC to Manufacture Apple Silicon for Arm-Based Macs

Apple has recently announced its transition from Intel-based Mac computers to custom Arm-based Apple silicon equipped Macs. The speculations for such transition have lasted a few years and we finally got that confirmation. So the question remains: who will manufacture Apple's custom processors for Arm-based Macs? The answer is pretty simple. It is TSMC who will again become Apple's main supplier of silicon. With its broad offerings of the latest silicon nodes, it was no brainer choice for Apple. Combined with the history of collaboration with Apple, TSMC was the only choice for new Apple silicon. Whatever the company will use the new 5 nm node or use the "old" 7 nm one, the question remains.

TSMC expects to see huge orders from Apple in the second half of 2021, for Apple silicon, so Apple will become perhaps the biggest customer of TSMC. It is also worth pointing out that Apple will be using ASMedia's USB controller for Arm-based Macs, as the original report suggests.

SoftBank Reportedly Considering Selling Arm Holdings

According to the report from The Wall Street Journal, we have obtained information that SoftBank, owner of Arm Holdings, is considering a future of Arm Holdings without SoftBank's ownership. The report is indicating that SoftBank can either sell its subsidiary or make it go to public with Initial Public Offering (IPO). If we recall, SoftBank has purchased Arm Holdings in 2016 for 32 billion USD, and the company is potentially worth much more today. Arm Holdings was established as a joint between Acorn Computers, Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.), and VLSI Technology. The news of SoftBank selling Arm Holdings is coming just after Apple decided to make a Mac based on Arm ISA.

The report from WSJ says that the market interest for such acquisition is unknown, so there is a big possibility that SoftBank will ultimately do nothing and just keep the company. My speculations could be that Apple may have an interest in the company since it is using its royalties and intellectual property. If such a thing happens Apple would be forced to sign a deal by antitrust regulators that force the company to continue offering to license the ISA. After all, Apple was one of the founding members of the joint venture. The possibility of that is of course very low. If another option such as IPO happens, the company would still be in ownership of SoftBank, it would just go to the public trading market.

Apple Silicon Will Support Thunderbolt 4

Since Apple has announced its transition from Intel to its custom Apple Silicon processors, there has been quite a lot of speculations on what the new processors will bring. Just a few days ago, Intel announced the latest advancement of its Thunderbolt port in the form of Thunderbolt 4, which further advances the Thunderbolt standard with a heap of new features. Since Apple has decided to do away from Intel silicon, there has been a question whatever Apple will offer Thunderbolt 4 support on its Macs. And it seems like we don't have to wonder any further. In the statement below, which Apple spokesman gave to The Verge, the answer is loud and clear.
Apple spokesman for The Verge
Over a decade ago, Apple partnered with Intel to design and develop Thunderbolt, and today our customers enjoy the speed and flexibility it brings to every Mac. We remain committed to the future of Thunderbolt and will support it in Macs with Apple silicon.

Intel Announces Thunderbolt 4: Universal Cable Connectivity for Everyone

Today, Intel revealed new details about Thunderbolt 4, the next generation of its universal cable connectivity solution, delivering increased minimum performance requirements, expanded capabilities and USB4 specification compliance. For the first time, Thunderbolt 4 will offer docks with up to four Thunderbolt ports and universal cables up to 2 meters in length. Intel's upcoming mobile PC processors, code-named "Tiger Lake," will be the first to integrate Thunderbolt 4. Intel also announced the Thunderbolt 4 controller 8000 series, compatible with the hundreds of millions of Thunderbolt 3 PCs and accessories already available. Thunderbolt 4 developer kits and certification testing are now available.

"Thunderbolt provides consumers with a leading connectivity standard across a range of devices, helping to advance computing experiences and delivering on the promise of USB-C with simplicity, performance and reliability. The arrival of Thunderbolt 4 underscores how Intel is advancing the PC ecosystem toward truly universal connectivity solutions," said Jason Ziller, Intel general manager of the Client Connectivity Division.

Basemark GPU will be the first benchmark for Apple Silicon based Macs

On Monday 22nd of June Apple announced Mac transition to Apple Silicon. Even though this transition was quite expected, the industry got very excited upon the announcement. Apple released quite a lot of information about their plans, but one key question remained unanswered: how fast are Apple's new ARM based Mac chips?

Apple said people should expect pure performance in one category in particular - graphical performance. What is the performance difference over the Intel integrated graphics that ship in a new MacBook Air? There is no public information available about it.
Basemark Benchmark Apple Silion

Apple announces Mac transition to Apple silicon

In a historic day for the Mac, Apple today announced it will transition the Mac to its world-class custom silicon to deliver industry-leading performance and powerful new technologies. Developers can now get started updating their apps to take advantage of the advanced capabilities of Apple silicon in the Mac. This transition will also establish a common architecture across all Apple products, making it far easier for developers to write and optimize their apps for the entire ecosystem.

Apple today also introduced macOS Big Sur, the next major release of macOS, which delivers its biggest update in more than a decade and includes technologies that will ensure a smooth and seamless transition to Apple silicon. Developers can easily convert their existing apps to run on Apple silicon, taking advantage of its powerful technologies and performance. And for the first time, developers can make their iOS and iPadOS apps available on the Mac without any modifications.

Apple to Announce its own Mac Processor at WWDC (Late June)

Apple is planning to launch its own high-performance processors designed for Macs at the 2020 WWDC, held in the week of 22 June, 2020. This would be the the first step among many toward the replacement of Intel processors and the x86 machine architecture from the Apple Mac ecosystem, in the same fashion as the company replaced PowerPC with x86 last decade. Apple has codenamed the process of graduating to the new machine architecture "Kalamata," and besides detailing the new processor and its architecture, the company could announce a large-scale developer support initiative to help Mac software vendors to transition to the new architecture in time for the first Macs with the new processors to roll out in 2021.

A Bloomberg report on the new processors states that the chips will be based on the "same technology" as the company's A-series SoCs for iOS devices, meaning that Apple will leverage the Arm machine architecture, and has probably developed a high performance CPU core that can match Intel's x64 cores in IPC and efficiency. Macs based on the new processors, will however run MacOS and not iOS, which means much of the clean-break transition woes between PPC and x86 Macs are bound to return, but probably better managed by software vendors. It also remains to be seen how Apple handles graphics. The company could scale up the Metal-optimized iGPU found in its A-series SoCs on its new Mac processor, while also giving them the platform I/O capability to support discrete graphics from companies such as AMD.

Apple Invests $330 Million into Micro-LED Factory

The information has been circulating the industry about Apple and its plans to integrate Micro-LED technology into its products for some time now. Micro-LED is a new display technology that allows for much better characteristics of panels like higher brightness, fuller color gamut, and higher dynamic range. The technology also offers a higher refreshing rate, wider viewing angles, and lower power consumption. Being that Micro-LED display is physically thinner, it will allow for more portable devices and it will leave more room for other components.

According to the report from CENS, a Taiwanese media, Apple is investing $330 million into a new Micro-LED factory for Apple devices. A future factory located in Taiwan is seeing major investments from the company. Being that Apple plans to use Micro-LED displays in its future products like iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, it is expected to see this move from them. However, Apple isn't doing it alone. They have partnered with Epistar, Taiwan's biggest LED producer and Taiwanese LCD panel maker, AU Optronics. These two are experienced makers of panels so they should help Apple successfully launch and operate manufacturing facilities.
Micro-LED Technology

Sonarworks Releases SoundID Listen: Personalized Sound on your Computer

Sonarworks had caught our eye back at CES 2019, when they showed off their then-still-in-progress mobile app for personalized sound signatures called True-Fi. The Latvia-based company has credentials to back all their claims, and the in-suite demo was impressive to say the least. Getting it out in the real world meant that the company had to build up their database of compatible headphones to first normalize the sound signature, and then work on the best option for recuperating R&D costs without breaking any wallets. As it turns out, the company had more insight on this at CES 2020 but are only now ready to show their retail plans in the form of SoundID.

SoundID, as both a mobile app (iOS, Android) and the new desktop SoundID Listen experience, takes over from where True-Fi started. The interface is more colorful and user-friendly to the masses, and the mobile app in the current beta form is being marketed more for profile-creation than usage, although it has the option to plug into your Spotify library. The older A/B tests are retained here, and at CES 2020 the app only had the "Core" experience. As of May, the app has new features to coincide with the desktop client's release, and read past the break for more on both.

SteelSeries Launches Apple Exclusive Nimbus+ Wireless Gamepad Controller

SteelSeries, the worldwide leader in gaming and esports peripherals, today announces the Nimbus+ Wireless Gamepad Controller for Apple devices. The Nimbus+ builds on the wildly popular original Nimbus controller, adding a bevy of new features, including clickable joysticks, new Hall effect triggers, and a new 50-hour battery. Purchase of Nimbus+ also includes the new Nimbus+ iPhone Mount which allows users to attach their iPhone directly onto the controller, allowing them to play games more comfortably.

Designed specifically for gaming on Apple devices, the Nimbus+ brings console-quality game controls to iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and Apple TV. With an ergonomic design, ultra-responsive triggers and buttons, and a range of Apple connectivity options, Nimbus+ is the best solution to help bring gaming on Apple devices to the next level.

Google Chrome Beta Receives Tab Grouping Feature

There are two types of people in the world: tab minimalists who have just a few tabs open at a time and tab collectors who have...significantly more. For minimalists and collectors alike, we're bringing a new way to organize your tabs to Chrome: tab groups. This feature is available now in Chrome Beta. Now, with a simple right click, you can group your tabs together and label them with a custom name and color. Once the tabs are grouped together, you can move and reorder them on the tab strip.

Apple Rumored to Launch New Mac in 2021 with 5 nm A14 SoC, x86 no More

In a recent report by Bloomberg it was revealed that Apple is planning to start selling Mac computers featuring their upcoming in-house A14 ARM chip which will power the next generation iPhone & iPad in 2021. According to sources familiar with the matter Apple is developing three new processors based on the A14 to power some 2021 Mac products, these chips will be manufactured on TSMCs 5 nm process. One of these new processors is expected to be more powerful then the iPhone version.

This marks a significant move for Apple as they shift from x86 to in-house ARM designs across their entire product lineup, we have an editorial on the rise of ARM here. This development is part of Apple's plan to increase control over their products in an attempt to fully unify the Apple ecosystem and reduce reliance on Intel who has struggled to offer significant performance increases in recent years, this will come as a major blow to Intel who benefited greatly from Apple's demand. Apple will need to adapt MacOS for an ARM based design and ensure their is compatibility for third party x86 applications. The first processor is expected to feature 8 "Firestorm" cores and at least four energy-efficient "Icestorm" cores, Apple is also exploring options for up to 12 core processors based on the same design for use in future Macs.

x86 Lacks Innovation, Arm is Catching up. Enough to Replace the Giant?

Intel's x86 processor architecture has been the dominant CPU instruction set for many decades, since IBM decided to put the Intel 8086 microprocessor into its first Personal Computer. Later, in 2006, Apple decided to replace their PowerPC based processors in Macintosh computers with Intel chips, too. This was the time when x86 became the only option for the masses to use and develop all their software on. While mobile phones and embedded devices are mostly Arm today, it is clear that x86 is still the dominant ISA (Instruction Set Architecture) for desktop computers today, with both Intel and AMD producing processors for it. Those processors are going inside millions of PCs that are used every day. Today I would like to share my thoughts on the demise of the x86 platform and how it might vanish in favor of the RISC-based Arm architecture.

Both AMD and Intel as producer, and millions of companies as consumer, have invested heavily in the x86 architecture, so why would x86 ever go extinct if "it just works"? The answer is that it doesn't just work.

Apple ARM Based MacBooks and iMacs to come in 2021

Apple has been working on replacing Intel CPUs in its lineup of products for a while now, and the first batch of products to feature the new Arm-based CPUs should be coming soon. Having a completely custom CPU inside it's MacBook or an iMac device will allow Apple to overtake control of the performance and security of those devices, just like they did with their iPhone models. Apple has proved that its custom-built CPUs based on Arm Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) can be very powerful and match Intel's best offerings, all while being much more efficient with a TDP of only a few Watts.

According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple has started an "aggressive processor replacement strategy", which should give some results by the end of 2020, around Q4, or the beginning of 2021 when the first quarter arrives. According to Kuo, the approach of doing in-house design will result in not only tighter control of the system, but rather a financial benefit, as the custom processor will be 40% to 60% cheaper compared to current Intel CPU prices.
Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro

OWC Unveils the Newest Iteration of its Wildly Popular Mercury Elite Pro External Storage Solution

OWC a leading zero emissions Mac and PC technology company and one of the world's most respected providers of hard drives, SSDs, Mac & PC docking solutions and performance upgrade kits, today announced the latest edition of its legendary Mercury Elite Pro external storage system for Mac, PC, Linux machines, Smart TVs, and PS4 and Xbox consoles. The 3.5-inch USB 3.2 5 Gb/s hard drive system is a modern day workhorse, delivering real-world performance up to 283 MB/s and capacities up to 16 TB to keep pace with the demands of everything from video editing projects, critical business data, and irreplaceable personal content to expanding PS4/Xbox One game storage and enjoying music/video content via a Smart TV.

The Essential External Storage Solution for Everyone
The Mercury Elite Pro kicked off OWC's rich, storied history of storage solution innovations nearly 20 years ago, and it has successfully stood the test of time by continuing to offer an incomparable blend of performance, quality, and value in a single HDD storage solution.
OWC Mercury Elite Pro OWC Mercury Elite Pro

Cyberpunk 2077 is Coming to GeForce NOW

NVIDIA's GeForce NOW game streaming service has recently suffered a big blow coming from Activision Blizzard, as the company has pulled its entire game library from the GeForce NOW platform. However, there is some good news for GeForce NOW coming. In its announcement blog, NVIDIA shared that upcoming game that is perhaps the most anticipated release of 2020, Cyberpunk 2077, will be available on its game streaming service. One of the NVIDIA staff shared that "GeForce NOW members will be able to grab their copy on Steam and play the game the moment it's available. GeForce NOW Founders members can explore the streets of Night City with RTX ON, fully optimized and instantly available, even on your Mac laptop."

Logitech Announces 4K Pro Magnetic Webcam for Apple Pro Display XDR

Logitech introduced the first webcam designed specifically for the new Apple Pro Display XDR, available today. With a contemporary design and seamless mounting experience, the Logitech 4K Pro Magnetic Webcam offers high-quality video to communicate, collaborate and record right from your desk with the new Pro Display XDR.

Delivering crystal-clear 4K Ultra HD video with crisp resolution, color and detail, the Logitech 4K Pro Magnetic Webcam is perfect for Mac users who use Pro Display XDR. The webcam's secure magnetic mount makes set up effortless and holds your webcam firmly in place, even when it is tilted up and down. Featuring RightLight 3 with HDR technology, the lighting on the webcam automatically adjusts so you look great regardless if you are low light or direct sunlight situations. The Logitech Camera Settings app also allows you to customize and adjust brightness, color intensity, contrast and more, so you always look your best on camera.

Din's Legacy Released

Soldak Entertainment today announced Din's Legacy has been released. Din's Legacy is an action RPG with mutating characters, set in a dynamic, evolving, fantasy world for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

During the Orc Schism, the entire Orc race was violently split into Dark Orcs, Zombielords, and the Mutated. The Mutated are tainted with Orc blood, a zombie parasite, and necromancer magic. This makes people seriously mistrust and even fear them. The fact that they slowly mutate over time makes it even worse. Who is going to trust you when you grow horns overnight?

Battle Heresy from Within - Heretek is Out Now

Kasedo Games and Bulwark Studios are pleased to announce that Heretek, the expansion to the critically acclaimed Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus, is now available for Windows PC, Mac & Linux, priced at $9.99, €9.99, £6.99.

Exposing the dark underbelly of the Adeptus Mechanicus faction like never before, in Heretek, players must uncover what has brought civil unrest to The Caestus Metalican while also battling the fearsome Necrons on Silva Tenebris.

Apple: Protecting Macs from MDS Vulnerabilities May Reduce Performance by up to 40%

Apple has advised users that they should disable Intel's Hyper-Threading feature on the company's computers due to the recently exposed MDS vulnerabilities. Citing internal testing, Apple said that users can expect an up to 40% performance loss in such a scenario (depending on system and workload, naturally) in various benchmarks and multithreaded workloads. The performance loss is understandable - you're essentially halving the number of threads available for your CPU to process data.

Like Intel said, it becomes an issue of how much users value their performance compared to the security risks involved: a classic risk/benefit scenario, which shouldn't ever be in the equation, after all. If users buy a system with a CPU that has known performance levels, they will obviously expect those to be valid for the longevity of the product, unless otherwise stated and considering operational variances that fall within a margin of error/product obsolescence. Halving your performance because of a design flaw that resulted from an effort to achieve higher and higher IPC increases doesn't strike as a way to inspire confidence in your products.

Apple iMac Gets a 2x Performance Boost

Apple today updated its iMac line with up to 8-core Intel 9th-generation processors for the first time and powerful Vega graphics options, delivering dramatic increases in both compute and graphics performance. From consumers to pros alike, users will notice their iMac is faster for everyday tasks all the way up to the most demanding pro workloads. This boost in performance, combined with its gorgeous Retina display, sleek all-in-one design, quiet operation, fast storage and memory, modern connectivity and macOS Mojave, makes iMac the world's best desktop.

"Customers are going to love the huge boost in iMac performance. With up to 8-core processors and powerful Vega graphics, the iMac lineup is stronger than ever," said Tom Boger, Apple's senior director of Mac Product Marketing. "With its stunning Retina display, amazing design, twice the performance, and macOS Mojave that our customers love, iMac is by far the best desktop in the world."
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