News Posts matching "Microsoft"

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AMD's Q3 2016 Earnings Call - Revenue is Up, Debt is Down

AMD today released their earnings call for 3Q 2016, giving us some interesting tidbits in regards to their financial robustness. The balance of AMD's economics seems to be pending towards better execution, and, coeteris paribus, a much better outlook for the coming quarters, after the monumental missteps in the past that almost threw AMD under the proverbial bus. Reception for the results seems to be a tangled mess, however, with some sides claiming that AMD beat expectations, while others prefer to draw attention to AMD's 2% stock decline since the report was outed.

AMD posted revenue of $1,307 million, up 27% sequentially and 23% year-over-year. This revenue was distributed unevenly through AMD's divisions, though. "Computing and Graphics" segment revenue was $472 million, up 9% from Q2 2016, primarily due to increased GPU sales (where Polaris picked up the grunt of the work, being responsible for 50% of AMD's GPU revenue), offset by lower sales of client desktop processors and chipsets; whereas "Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom" segment revenue was $835 million, up 41% sequentially, primarily due to record semi-custom SoC sales (such as those found in Microsoft's XBOX One and Sony's PS4 and upcoming PS4 Pro).

NVIDIA Claws Back Console Chips Business: Nintendo Switch Announced

After months of speculation, the lid is off Nintendo's "NX" project, with the company finally announcing today its much-awaited games console, the Nintendo Switch. With an expected release slated for March 2017, the console blurs the line between a games console and a handheld device, by making use of a docking station which will allow it to connect to a television, much like a traditional games console, while instantly entering a so called "portable mode" when it is undocked. As both a console and a portable device, the Nintendo Switch will use cartridges known as Game Cards, displaying games in a "high definition display" embedded on the console while on the go, with two detachable Joy-Con controllers stepping in as input devices.

For PC hardware enthusiasts, that may not be all too interesting. What is arguably more interesting is that this games console will make use of NVIDIA hardware: most notably, a custom Tegra processor is the one pulling out all of the console's processing needs, with the graphics being served by what the company calls "the same architecture as the world's top-performing GeForce gaming graphics cards."

Closer to the Metal: Shader Intrinsic Functions

Shader intrinsic functions stand as a partial solution for granting developers more control over existing computational resources and how they are leveraged. This capability (much touted by AMD as a performance-enhancing feature on their GCN-based products) essentially exposes features and capabilities that exist on the hardware developers are programming for, but wouldn't generally be able to access. This can happen either because they're being abstracted by a high-level API (Application Programming Interface, like DX11), or because the API isn't functionally able to access them. To understand why high-level APIs such as DX11 don't usually offer support for a piece of hardware's full feature list, or full processing capabilities, we must first look at the basic architecture of a given computer system.

Microsoft Entering Agreements with Laptop Makers to Block Linux

Digital freedom activists are up in arms over a discovery by Lenovo Yoga 900S and Yoga 710S users that you simply can't replace the pre-installed Windows 10 Signature Edition operating system with one of your choice, such as Linux. Redditor BaronHK tried installing Linux on their notebooks and couldn't, so a support ticket was raised with Lenovo to guide them to install Linux. Lenovo responded that the notebook features Windows 10 Signature Edition, and that "it has been locked as per Lenovo's agreement with Microsoft."

On the Yoga 900S and 710S, Lenovo deployed a proprietary soft-RAID setup that cannot be recognized by Linux installers. You can't even change the SATA controller mode in the BIOS setup program. Even Windows installations don't succeed without special F6_install drivers by Lenovo, and the company only provides drivers for Windows. Lenovo cannot argue that its hardware specifically requires Windows, because Live images of Linux, (such as Ubuntu) function just fine on these notebooks. It's just that you can't make your Live session permanent by installing Ubuntu on the device. Lenovo has since gone into full damage control and denial. It removed the thread from its support forums (view a cached copy), and even changed its explanation from "we blatantly admitted to anti-competitive practices that could cost us a billion-dollar class-action lawsuit" to "we simply don't have drivers for our deliberately unusual RAID setup."

Source: The Next Web

NVIDIA Announces Gears of War 4 Bundle with Select GeForce GTX GPUs

NVIDIA today announced that it is bundling "Gears of War 4" with GeForce GTX 1080, and GeForce GTX 1070 graphics cards, and notebooks powered by mobile variants of the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070. What's more, the game will be given away as an Xbox Anywhere digital entitlement, so you can enjoy not just its PC version with eye-candy maxed out, but also its Xbox One version in your living room.

Microsoft recommends GeForce GTX 1080 as the "ideal" solution for "Gears of War 4" at 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 pixels) resolution. It also finds that a GeForce GTX 1060 should have the muscle for running the game at WQHD (2560 x 1440 pixels). A GeForce GTX 750 Ti should handle 1080p. NVIDIA also set up this page, which helps you locate which retailer in your country is running the promotion.

Kingston HyperX Revolver Gears of War Gaming Headset Now Shipping

HyperX, a division of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., the independent world leader in memory products, announced it is shipping its official Xbox licensed gaming headset, CloudX Revolver Gears of War. Fans of Gears of War can show their pride as the headset features an exclusive battle-weathered design that complements the Xbox One S Gears of War 4 Limited Edition 2TB Bundle and Xbox One Gears of War 4 Crimson Omen Limited Edition Wireless Controller.

HyperX CloudX Revolver Gears of War headset is ideal for FPS and open-environment gameplay. It offers a studio-grade sound stage that lets gamers hear opponents from farther away and more accurately. HyperX CloudX Revolver Gears of War features a 3.5mm (4-pole) plug and 2M PC extension cable to go with the genuine leather headband and high-quality, award-winning HyperX memory foam for hours of gaming in ultimate comfort.

HP Reinvents the Desktop to Enable New Experiences

HP Inc. today debuted two new PCs, HP Pavilion Wave and HP Elite Slice, that are revolutionizing traditional designs for the home and workplace. HP is transforming the desktop PC to create unique experiences that deliver the power customers expect in small, creative designs. The HP Pavilion Wave is designed for entertainment and productivity for the home by combining desktop power and great audio experiences.

For customers who want a PC that can fit into small places, the new offering is a beautiful and compact design with the power of a full-sized desktop. This unique desktop is built around a fully integrated, advanced audio system to play music, listen to movies, web chats and Cortana. It features an iconic triangular form with an innovative parabolic reflector with an integrated speaker on top of the PC for superb, 360-degree sound to fill a room with crisp audio.

Vega Not Before 2017: AMD to Investors

In a leaked presentation meant for its investors, AMD states that it expects to launch the "Vega" GPU architecture no sooner than 2017. The company plans to get it out within the first half of 2017. What makes this decision significant is that the company isn't planning on making bigger GPUs on its existing "Polaris" architecture, and its biggest product is the $249 Radeon RX 480. This leaves the company's discrete GPU lineup virtually untended at key price-points above, against NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1070, GTX 1080, and TITAN X Pascal, at least for the next five months.

In the mean time, AMD could launch additional mobile SKUs based on the Polaris 10 and Polaris 11 chips. The reasons behind this slow-crawl could be many - AMD could be turning its chip-design resources to the various semi-custom SoCs it's working on, for Microsoft and Sony, with their next-generation game consoles; AMD Vega development could also be running in-sync with market availability of HBM2 memory. 2017 promises to be a hectic year for AMD, with launch of not just Vega, but also its "ZEN" CPU architecture, the "Summit Ridge" processor, and APUs based on the CPU micro-architecture.

Microsoft Rolls Out the Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Microsoft late Tuesday rolled out the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, marking 1 year in the market for the operating system, and with it, ending the Windows 10 Free Upgrade offer. The new update bears the internal version 1607, with build 14393. The update is several gigabytes in size, and effectively replaces your existing Windows 10 installation.

The update adds new features to Windows Ink, the stylus-based live notes app; Cortana, the voice assistant, which can now be accessed right from the lock-screen, and is integrated with even more apps; and Windows Hello, the in-built biometric ID system, which has been integrated with many more third-party services, such as Dropbox; improvements to Windows Defender, the anti-malware tool; and various under-the-hood improvements that increase performance and energy-efficiency (lower battery usage).

SoC Powering Xbox One S Leverages 16 nm FinFET from TSMC

Microsoft's new slim Xbox One S console achieves its slimness - including its inbuilt power-supply, by significantly reducing thermal load of its key components. This begins at the heart of the console, its SoC. A semi-custom chip by Microsoft and AMD, the SoC powering the Xbox One S is built on the 16 nm FinFET process at TSMC. The chip powering the original Xbox One was built on the same foundry's 28 nm node.

The new SoC isn't merely an optical shrink of the original 28 nm chip down to 16 nm FinFET, Microsoft added a few components to the chip, including an HEVC hardware decoder, hardware CODECs for Blu-ray UHD with HDR; and a revamped display controller with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2. The chip also performs 1080p to 4K UHD upscaling, with a native upscaling algorithm. The eSRAM memory bandwidth is increased slightly from 204 GB/s from 219 GB/s.

Source: Eurogamer

Microsoft Out to Destroy Steam: Epic's Tim Sweeney

Tim Sweeney, a lead developer with Epic Games, behind the industry-leading Unreal game engine, once again raised concerns in a recent interview with print-magazine "Edge," that Microsoft is systematically killing digital distribution platform Steam, by deliberately eroding the reliability and longevity of the Win32 programming interface for PC versions of Windows, in favor of its UWP (universal Windows platform), through updates to the OS.

Microsoft, Sweeney argues, is carefully avoiding big changes to the way third-party software is distributed and used on Windows, but is definitely seen to be taking small strategic steps, "sneaky maneuvers," that could lead to Windows Store either monopolizing all third-party software distribution on the platform, or worse, making it the only way you can get third-party apps. The rising reliability issues affecting Steam, a Win32 API-based platform that distributes Win32 software, Sweeney claims are telltale signs of that dark future of the PC platform. Microsoft's biggest argument in favor of UWP is that software is inherently more secure, since it's sandboxed (covered in abstraction layers and virtualized by the OS) even further.

Futuremark Releases 3DMark Time Spy DirectX 12 Benchmark

Futuremark released the latest addition to the 3DMark benchmark suite, the new "Time Spy" benchmark and stress-test. All existing 3DMark Basic and Advanced users have limited access to "Time Spy," existing 3DMark Advanced users have the option of unlocking the full feature-set of "Time Spy" with an upgrade key that's priced at US $9.99. The price of 3DMark Advanced for new users has been revised from its existing $24.99 to $29.99, as new 3DMark Advanced purchases include the fully-unlocked "Time Spy." Futuremark announced limited-period offers that last up till 23rd July, in which the "Time Spy" upgrade key for existing 3DMark Advanced users can be had for $4.99, and the 3DMark Advanced Edition (minus "Time Spy") for $9.99.

Futuremark 3DMark "Time Spy" has been developed with inputs from AMD, NVIDIA, Intel, and Microsoft, and takes advantage of the new DirectX 12 API. For this reason, the test requires Windows 10. The test almost exponentially increases the 3D processing load over "Fire Strike," by leveraging the low-overhead API features of DirectX 12, to present a graphically intense 3D test-scene that can make any gaming/enthusiast PC of today break a sweat. It can also make use of several beyond-4K display resolutions.

DOWNLOAD: 3DMark with TimeSpy v2.1.2852

Microsoft Refines DirectX 12 Multi-GPU with Simple Abstraction Layer

Microsoft is sparing no efforts in promoting DirectX 12 native multi-GPU as the go-to multi-GPU solution for game developers, obsoleting proprietary technologies like SLI and CrossFire. The company recently announced that it is making it easier for game developers to code their games to take advantage of multiple GPUs without as much coding as they do now. This involves the use of a new hardware abstraction layer that simplifies the process of pooling multiple GPUs in a system, which will let developers bypass the Explicit Multi-Adapter (EMA) mode of graphics cards.

This is the first major step by Microsoft since its announcement that DirectX 12, in theory, supports true Mixed Multi-Adapter configurations. The company stated that it will release the new abstraction layer as part of a comprehensive framework into the company's GitHub repository with two sample projects, one which takes advantage of the new multi-GPU tech, and one without. Exposed to this code, game developers' learning curve will be significantly reduced, and they will have a template on how to implement multi-GPU in their DirectX 12 projects with minimal effort. With this, Microsoft is supporting game developers in implementing API native multi-GPU, even as GPU manufacturers stated that while their GPUs will support EMA, the onus will be on game-developers to keep their games optimized.Source: GitHub

Microsoft Hit by First Successful Windows 10 Forced Upgrade Lawsuit

Microsoft has been hit by the first successful lawsuit over its forced Windows 10 upgrade. The first of possibly many, Teri Goldstein from California, successfully sued Microsoft for $10,000 in damages and legal fees over its deceptively designed Windows 10 upgrade software, which automatically downloaded and upgraded her computer's Windows 7 installation almost without the consent of the user. She convinced the court that the upgrade made her computer slower, and that she lost business due to the upgrade process and the slowing down of her computer. Microsoft dropped its appeal and paid up.

Microsoft is heavily criticized for the way it distributes its free Windows 10 upgrade for PCs with Windows 7 and Windows 8. What started out as an optional upgrade, quickly evolved into an almost unavoidable upgrade that forces itself upon the users, through clever design of the upgrade software's user interface. Microsoft recently changed Windows 10 upgrade into a "recommended update" for Windows 7/8, making users with auto-install for recommended updates discover that their machines have been upgraded almost without their consent. Could this be the first of many successful lawsuits over this issue at least in a precedent-driven American civil justice system?

Source: The Guardian, Many Thanks to revin for the tip.

Futuremark Teases 3DMark "Time Spy" DirectX 12 Benchmark

Futuremark teased its first benchmark for DirectX 12 graphics, the 3DMark "Time Spy." Likely marketed as an add-on to the 3DMark (2013) suite, "Time Spy" tests DirectX 12 features in a silicon-scorching 3D scene that's rich in geometric, textural, and visual detail. The benchmark is also ready for new generation displays including high resolutions beyond 4K Ultra HD. Existing users of 3DMark get "Basic" access to "Time Spy" when it comes out, with the option to purchase its "Advanced" and "Professional" modes.

Under the hood, "Time Spy" takes advantage of Direct3D feature-level 12_0, including Asynchronous Compute, heavily multi-threaded CPUs (which can make use of as many CPU cores as you can throw at it), and DirectX explicit multi-adapter (native multi-GPU, including mixed setups). Futuremark stated that the benchmark was developed with inputs from AMD, Intel, NVIDIA, Microsoft, and other partners of the Futuremark Benchmark Development Program.
A teaser trailer video follows.

Microsoft XBOX Scorpio SoC Powered by "Polaris" and "Zen"

It looks like Microsoft will overpower Sony in the next round of the console wars, with a more powerful SoC on paper. The new XBOX "Scorpio" 4K Ultra HD game console will feature a custom-design SoC by AMD, which will combine not just a GPU based on the "Polaris" architecture, but also a CPU based on the "Zen" microarchitecture. This is significant because it sees a departure from using 8 smaller "Jaguar" CPU cores, and upshifts to stronger "Zen" ones. The chip could be built on the 14 nm process.

The SoC powering the XBOX Scorpio could feature a CPU component with eight "Zen" CPU cores, with SMT enabling 16 logical CPUs, and a "Polaris" GPU with 6 TFLOP/s of compute power. The combined compute power is expected to be close to 10 TFLOP/s. The Radeon RX 480, for instance features 5.84 TFLOP/s of power at its given clock speed. The CPU and GPU will likely share a common memory interface, belting out a memory bandwidth of 320 GB/s. The silicon muscle of this console should power 4K Ultra HD, 1080p @ 60 Hz HDR, and "good VR" solutions such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Games for the console could leverage DirectX 12.

Source: TweakTown

No Takers for VR: TechPowerUp New GPU Survey

The latest TechPowerUp front-page survey springs up some interesting findings on what our readers are most looking forward to, with the upcoming GPUs. Timed ahead of market availability of new GPUs from both NVIDIA and AMD, this poll gains relevance. At the time of writing of this article, we had received 4,650 votes over a week-long period, which amounts to a reasonable sample size. Some of the findings were surprising.

An overwhelming 60 percent of the respondents find price/performance most important. Interestingly, only 7 percent find efficiency/noise important. The second most popular choice, at 14 percent, was "4K Playability" (the ability for the GPU to play games at 4K Ultra HD resolution, at playable frame-rates). Our readers are seven times more likely to invest on 4K Ultra HD monitors (which start at $300 if you look in the right places), than picking up a VR (virtual reality) headset. A negligible 2 percent of our readers find VR most important.

Microsoft Botches Up UEFI Support for Windows 7 on ASUS Motherboards

Microsoft inadvertently bricked a vast number of PCs running Windows 7, by changing the priority of an erroneous software update. Earlier this month, Microsoft changed the priority of an obscure-sounding security update for Windows 7 from "Optional" to "Recommended," (which by default gets automatically downloaded and installed). This update, KB3133977, bricks machines running ASUS motherboards, in the UEFI mode.

Windows 7 inherently does not support Secure Boot, a feature introduced with Windows 8, which takes advantage of UEFI to provide users with a layer of system integrity throughout the boot process. With KB3133977 installed on Windows 7 machines that use UEFI boot, the motherboard senses a Secure Boot violation, and invalidates the boot device (refuses to boot from it). ASUS recommended a BIOS setting with which you can deactivate Secure Boot while making your motherboard continuing to boot in UEFI mode.

Sources: InfoWorld, Forbes. Many Thanks to revin for the tip.

Microsoft Reports $20 Billion in Revenue for Q3 of FY2016

Microsoft Corp. today announced the following results for the quarter ended March 31, 2016:
  • Revenue was $20.5 billion GAAP, and $22.1 billion non-GAAP
  • Operating income was $5.3 billion GAAP, and $6.8 billion non-GAAP
  • Net income was $3.8 billion GAAP, and $5.0 billion non-GAAP
  • Earnings per share was $0.47 GAAP, and $0.62 non-GAAP
"Organizations using digital technology to transform and drive new growth increasingly choose Microsoft as a partner," said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer at Microsoft. "As these organizations turn to us, we're seeing momentum across Microsoft's cloud services and with Windows 10."

Windows 10 BSOD Errors to Come with Troubleshooting QR-Codes

With its latest Preview Build (build 14316), Microsoft patched Windows 10 to make BSOD (blue-screen of death) errors more useful for system analysts and power-users. The blue-screen now puts up a QR-code to the knowledge-base page related to the error. Microsoft also set up an easy to remember URL at "" for quick-reference to info and possible fixes to various kinds of errors.

The Register makes a valid case for how QR-codes in BSOD screens can be misused by malware developers. Malware or ransomware developers can now make their wares fake a BSOD screen with a QR-code that leads to their web-page to steal your information, or point you to download even more malware.

Source: The Register

AMD Announces Exciting DirectX 12 Game Engine Developer Partnerships

AMD today once again took the pole position in the DirectX 12 era with an impressive roster of state-of-the-art DirectX 12 games and engines, each with extensive tuning for the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture at the heart of modern Radeon GPUs.

"DirectX 12 is poised to transform the world of PC gaming, and Radeon GPUs are central to the experience of developing and enjoying great content," said Roy Taylor, corporate vice president, Content and Alliances, AMD. "With a definitive range of industry partnerships for exhilarating content, plus an indisputable record of winning framerates, Radeon GPUs are an end-to-end solution for consumers who deserve the latest and greatest in DirectX 12 gaming."

Microsoft Details Shader Model 6.0

Microsoft is giving final touches to Shader Model 6.0, an update to a key component of its Direct3D API. This succeeds Shader Model 5.0, which remained largely unchanged since the introduction of DirectX 11.0 in 2009. Shader Model 6.0 provides a more optimized pathway for shader code to make its way to the metal (GPU, hardware). The outgoing Shader Model 5.0, which is featured on DirectX 11 and DirectX 12, relies on FXC, an offline shader compiler, to both compile and optimize HLSL shader code, supporting HLSL v1.4 to v5.1 code.

Shader Model 6.0, on the other hand, dedicates compiling to Clang HLSL compiler, and optimization to multiple LLVM passes. Since Shader Model 6.0 supports HLSL code from v5.0 upwards, it should also benefit existing DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 apps, while relegating older apps to the then legacy Shader Model 5.0 pathway. In addition, Shader Model 6.0 claims to provide the right performance to cope with API level features such as tiled resources (mega-textures). It remains to be seen how Microsoft deploys Shader Model 6.0.

Source: PCGH

No Enterprise Support for Older Windows Versions on the Latest Processors: Microsoft

Microsoft, in a tactfully-worded blog post by Exec VP for its Windows and Devices Group, Terry Myerson, announced that it won't support older versions of Windows (eg: Windows 7 and Windows 8.1) on the latest/upcoming processors. The software might run on the new hardware, but the company won't provide enterprise support for such platforms. This could include software updates, as the platform won't technically meet the software's requirements.

In the post, Microsoft named upcoming platforms from the big three CPU makers - Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm, to which the company will provide enterprise support only for Windows 10. These include the 7th generation Core "Kaby Lake" processors from Intel, "Bristol Ridge" processors from AMD, and the "8996" SoC from Qualcomm. Machines running a select few models of Core "Skylake" processors will receive enterprise support, but only till 17th July, 2017. After this date, only the most critical security updates will be released for the OS running on those platforms.Sources: Microsoft, Engadget

Seagate Launches Thinnest 2TB Mobile Hard Drive With Backup Plus Ultra Slim

Seagate Technology plc, a world leader in storage solutions, today announced the launch of the Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim, the world's thinnest 2TB mobile hard drive. This new product builds on the award-winning Backup Plus Slim drive, delivering a stunning new design with the same leading capacity in an even slimmer profile. The Backup Plus Ultra Slim also includes 200GB of Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage and Lyve software compatibility, so users can back up, access and share their favorite files from any device or location.

"The launch of the Backup Plus Ultra Slim builds on Seagate's rich history of award-winning innovation to give users even more capacity in an incredibly small form factor," said Tim Bucher, vice president for Seagate's Consumer Group. "Based on our breakthrough ultra-mobile hard drive technology, this new storage solution gives them a better way to manage the increase in both data volumes and number of devices."

Microsoft Could Refresh Xbox One Design with Polaris Based SoC

Microsoft could make the Xbox One "slimmer" and more energy-efficient by leveraging AMD's upcoming 4th generation Graphics CoreNext architecture, codenamed "Polaris." Found in the footnotes of AMD's "Polaris" press-deck, mentioned as an ominous-sounding "Xbox One Polaris," the mention hints at a revision of Xbox One that features an SoC running a "Polaris" based SoC. Microsoft could leverage the energy-efficiency improvements, and possibly upcoming processes, such as 14 nm FinFET, to bring down power-draw, thermal requirements, and possibly cost.

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