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Bug in HDMI 2.1 Chipset May Cause Black Screen on Your Xbox Series X Console or NVIDIA GPU

A German website, Heise.de, has discovered a bug in HDMI 2.1 chipset that causes black screen issues on specific hardware. On AV chipsets sourced by Panasonic, and used by Denon, Marantz, and Yamaha HDMI 2.1 AV receivers, the chipset experiences a specific issue of a black screen. More specifically, the bug happens once you connect Microsoft's newest console, Xbox Series X, or NVIDIA's Ampere graphics cards. When connecting these sources at resolutions like 4K/120 Hz HDR and 8K/60 Hz HDR to Panasonic HDMI 2.1 chipsets, the black screen happens. This represents a major problem for every manufacturer planning to use the Panasonic HDMI 2.1 chipset in its AV receivers, meaning that the issue has to be addressed. The Audioholics website has reached out to Sound United and Yamaha to see what their responses were, and you can check them out below.

Microsoft Confirms 120 FPS Update For Halo Master Chief Collection on Xbox Series X/S

Microsoft has confirmed that Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be receiving a next-generation upgrade for the Xbox Series X/S. The upgrades include 120 FPS support in Campaign & Multiplayer game modes along with split-screen improvements. These updates are similar to the improvements found in the PC version of the game which has been progressively releasing. The Xbox Series X version will also be receiving 4K support when the upgrade launches on November 17th as a free update for owners of the game. The Halo: The Master Chief Collection will also be available through Xbox Game Pass and contains Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4.

Intel Introduces new Security Technologies for 3rd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable Platform, Code-named "Ice Lake"

Intel today unveiled the suite of new security features for the upcoming 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable platform, code-named "Ice Lake." Intel is doubling down on its Security First Pledge, bringing its pioneering and proven Intel Software Guard Extension (Intel SGX) to the full spectrum of Ice Lake platforms, along with new features that include Intel Total Memory Encryption (Intel TME), Intel Platform Firmware Resilience (Intel PFR) and new cryptographic accelerators to strengthen the platform and improve the overall confidentiality and integrity of data.

Data is a critical asset both in terms of the business value it may yield and the personal information that must be protected, so cybersecurity is a top concern. The security features in Ice Lake enable Intel's customers to develop solutions that help improve their security posture and reduce risks related to privacy and compliance, such as regulated data in financial services and healthcare.

Microsoft Flight Simulator VR Support Coming in Closed Beta

Microsoft has been working to bring VR support to Flight Simulator in time for the launch of the HP Reverb G2 WMR headset later this year. Microsoft is now ready to test VR support in a limited two-phase closed beta. The first phase will focus on Windows Mixed Reality Devices with the second phase expanding to include additional devices. The minimum specifications for VR support were also revealed by Microsoft to be an Intel i5-8400/Ryzen 5 1500X, NVIDIA GTX 1080, and 16 GB ram.

The Microsoft Flight Simulator team is looking for dedicated Microsoft Flight Simulator community members to help test the upcoming VR builds. Participants will require a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator, a compatible VR headset, and sign an NDA to join the beta. If you are interested in being part of these tests be sure to review the criteria and then head over to the sign-up page.

Microsoft Introduces Surface Laptop Go, New Updates to Surface Pro X and New Accessories

The idea of working and learning from home, which at one point felt temporary, has for many of us started to feel more permanent. Even as some people in cities around the world return to work and schools in person, many others have found themselves reorganizing homes to create makeshift offices and classrooms. Whether your commute is across the house or across town, the PC continues to play an integral role in keeping all of us connected to our work, school, and lives - and each person in the household needs one.

As we continue to expand our Surface family of devices with the new Surface Laptop Go and updates to Surface Pro X, our goal is to design a Surface for every person, work style and location. To give every person in your household or organization a laptop that's not just something you need to use, but something you want to use. A virtual office you want to be in, a virtual classroom that engages you to learn, a place you can play your favorite game or watch a movie - with a bright vibrant screen, a fluid and comfortable keyboard, high quality cameras and mics, and the versatility of touch screens.

Microsoft Accelerates x64 Application Support for Windows 10 on Arm

Microsoft has announced that they will be pushing x64 app support on their Windows 10 on Arm operating system. This is part of a move by Microsoft to mainstream adoption of their OS (and related services) on Arm-based platforms, ensuring that the company has a foothold in that market - especially as competition between Arm and x86-x64 architectures increases further and reaches more and more areas. Whereas before, Arm was relegated to low-power, relatively low performance designs, recent years have seen Arm's design performance (and philosophy) looking for higher performance use-cases both in the consumer and server/supercomputing spaces. One needs not look further than NVIDIA's plans to acquire Arm to see how much stock is being placed in Arm's future,

The x64 application support for Windows 10 on Arm will first be enabled for Windows Insiders come November, and will support all Windows 10 on Arm system released in the last couple of years, no matter the processor. This support works through emulation, though, so it remains to be seen exactly how well - and at what performance - these applications run. Microsoft has already improved tools and SDKs for application porting efforts to its Windows 10 on Arm ecosystem, and the company will be releasing custom-tailored versions of the Edge Browser, Microsoft Teams, and Visual Studio that play on the platform's strengths. Interesting times lie ahead of us - and if NVIDIA is able to go through with its Arm acquisition (which is a long way from being a guarantee), we might be looking at NVIDIA-branded laptops that run Windows 10 on Arm alongside branded Arm CPUs and NVIDIA GPUs.

Doom Eternal Arriving on Xbox Game Pass Next Month

Doom Eternal has been called one of the best first-person shooters ever. If you haven't already experienced its unique brand of fast-paced, push-forward, first-person combat, now's the time to blast your way into id Software's critically acclaimed game coming to Xbox Game Pass on October 1 and Xbox Game Pass for PC later in 2020.

In Doom Eternal, you step into the armor of the Slayer, an unstoppable and unyielding force with a singular mission - Raze Hell and save humanity. Battle demons in an epic single-player campaign that takes you to Earth, to Mars, through Hell, and across dimensions never seen before.

Xbox Series X Pre-Orders Also Out of Stock; Xbox One X Sales Skyrocket

In the latest episode of "next-generation gaming issues", the Xbox Series X console pre-order has also seen its stock depleted from all online merchants. Following issues with both the RTX 3080 and PS5 supplies, now it's the time for Microsoft to be in the spotlight, as the question of low stock or fundamentally impressive demand arises once again. This is likely an answer we won't ever have; however, it also has to be said that there is plenty of time for stocks to be replenished for both Microsoft's Xbox Series X and Sony's PlayStation 5 before their respective launches. I wouldn't worry too much for now.

At the same time as Xbox Series X pre-orders made stock go the way of the dodo, the usual scalpers have already surfaced on the common secondhand marketplaces, looking to sell their "pre-order" confirmed consoles for prices that usually sit around at double the MSRP (set at $499 by Microsoft). Remember to not let yourself be a part of this chain; save yourself money, and be part of the solution to scalpers by not engaging with their offerings. You still have time to secure your console.

Xbox Game Pass Surpasses 15 Million Subscribers

Microsoft Xbox Game Pass continues to grow at a remarkable rate with the subscription service recently surpassing 15 million subscribers. Microsoft have been heavily investing in the service bringing more games onboard with EA Play inclusion and the recent acquisition of Bethesda. Select games from this growing catalog are now available on mobile devices through Microsoft Project xCloud in addition to the existing PC library. Microsoft's large investment in the service is beginning to pay off with subscriptions increasing by 5 million in just 6 months and the service will likely play as a major drawcard for next-generation systems.

Microsoft Releases Flight Simulator Patch Improving Performance By 10%

Microsoft have recently released Flight Simulator patch 1.8.3.0 which provides major optimizations, especially in CPU-limited scenarios. The specific improvements include; Optimized cockpit screen display when screens are not displayed on screen, New option available to control cockpit screen update frequency, Tweaked CPU thread priorities to reduce interruption of frame critical threads, Optimized loading system to reduce overall loading times, Optimized heavy airport scenes impact on CPU, Reduced the amount of GPU overdraw to improve GPU performance, Memory optimizations to reduce software memory footprint and improve performance on limited memory computers.

These improvements will provide strong performance benefits to all players especially those who are CPU constrained. Overclock 3D has tested the latest patch and have recorded improvements of 11.4% at 1080p with average framerates increasing from 79.5 FPS to 88.6 FPS on their NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti and an AMD Ryzen 9 3950X test bench. They also noted an improvement in 1st Percentile framerates increasing from 71.3 FPS to 74.6 FPS. These performance improvements will be most notable in "heavy airport scenes" where Microsoft has focused their optimization efforts.

Microsoft Announces Acquisition of Bethesda Parent Company ZeniMax Media

Microsoft today dropped a giant bomb on the balance of game development: the company announced the acquisition of ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda Softworks, and all its related IP. The purchase, which is expected to close for a tidy $7.5 billion, will carry over all ZeniMax Media subsidiaries. This includes Bethesda (The Elder Scrolls, Fallout), id Software (DOOM), Arkane Studios (Prey, Dishonored, upcoming Deathloop), MachineGames (Wolfenstein), among others.

The deal is the costliest acquisition for Microsoft (to date) in its push to increase the number of in-house development studios (up to 23 from 15 prior to this deal). Microsoft has announced that as part of the deal, games published by ZeniMax Media and subsidiaries (and in the future, by Microsoft) will be available on its Xbox Games Pass subscription service for Xbox and PC gaming. Microsoft is acquiring some of the most iconic gaming franchises ever with this deal, including all in-development IP. It's a huge boon for the company; it remains to be seen exactly how will this evolve over the years. But one thing is for certain: Microsoft isn't slowing down on its doubling down on game development.

Microsoft Underwater Data Center Initiative Project Natick Declared a Success After Two Years

Microsoft has announced it considers the result of its underwater data center initiative, named Project Natick, a success. This announcement comes after Microsoft recovered its data center capsule from the seafloor alongside the Orkney Islands after a two-year-long deployment. The self-contained server pod (made up of 12 racks and 864 servers) was filled with nitrogen, and achieved a much lower failure rate - component-wise - compared to traditional onshore data centers. In fact, its failure rate was one-eight that of traditional servers. The absence of oxygen and lower humidity levels (no need to keep air comfortable and breathable for human technicians) may have been deciding factors in this failure rate.

There are some obvious advantages from such an offshore server deployment. For one, all that cold water really helps in cooling down the components inside - there's no need for added expense in cooling solutions. There is also no need for land acquisition or infrastructure development that's typically associated with onshore server sites. The fact that Project Natick was fully powered by renewable energy sources, courtesy of the Orkneys' grid - supplied 100 percent by wind, solar, and experimental green technologies under development at the European Marine Energy Centre. considering its success, it can certainly be expected that Microsoft - and other companies - double down on this type of server deployment.

Microsoft Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Expands To Include EA Play

Microsoft and EA have recently announced that Xbox Game Pass Ultimate & Xbox Game Pass for PC members will soon be receiving an EA Play membership at no additional cost starting this holiday. EA Play formally EA Access & Origin Access is the game subscription service from Electronic Arts which grants access to a library of over 60 EA games along with providing a variety of perks such as early access and discounts on new games. This means Ultimate members can enjoy EA Play on Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, and Windows 10 PCs, while Xbox Game Pass for PC members get EA Play on Windows 10. Microsoft seems to be going all-in with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with the launch of next-generation consoles with the recently announced console/subscription bundles and the android xCloud support.

Microsoft Reveals Final Pricing and Availability of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S

Microsoft today finalized the pricing and announced availability dates of its next-generation Xbox entertainment systems. The company has segmented its console lineup to target two price points, with the mighty Xbox Series X being priced at USD $499 (ERP), and the newly announced Xbox Series S at $299 (ERP). Both models will be available from November 10, 2020, but pre-orders for both begin from September 22. The Xbox Series X covers the complete next-generation hardware feature-set of Microsoft's next-gen console, offering 4K UHD gaming, and an optical disc drive for physical media.

The Xbox Series S, on the other hand, is an all-digital console, meaning that the games you own are downloaded onto its local storage to play, there's no optical disc drive. The Xbox Series S further offers 1440p gameplay at frame-rates of up to 120 FPS, or 4K UHD gameplay upscaled from a lower resolution, or high refresh-rate 1440p/1080p gameplay. You still do get the full DirectX 12 Ultimate feature-set. The NVMe SSD-based local storage for the Xbox Series S is 512 GB, half that of the Xbox Series X.

Microsoft Unveils the Xbox Series S: The Smallest Xbox Ever

Microsoft today surprised us with the Xbox Series S announcement. The Xbox Series S offers "next gen performance" and is the "smallest Xbox ever." The company promised to share more details, but when it goes on sale, it will cost just USD $299 (ERP). The announcement teaser had a pretty clear image of the finished product, revealing it to be barely more than two controllers in volume. A large fan intake makes up one of its side panels. It retains the general design of the larger Xbox Series X. Microsoft stated it will share more details about the new console.

Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition Launching October 15th on Xbox Game Pass, Steam

Microsoft is gearing up for release of the Definitive Edition for Age of Empires III, the latest release (looking way back at 2005) in the acclaimed RTS series. The new Definitive Edition will see 4K graphics, rebuilt 3D assets, a modernized UI, cross-play multiplayer, and fully enhanced soundtrack and audio. It will also feature all expansions released for the original game (The WarChiefs and The Asian Dynasties). All in all, we're talking about three full campaigns, and a total of 16 playable civilizations (14 from the original game and expansions, and two new factions in the form of the Incas and Swedes).

Interesting to note is that Microsoft realized they weren't faithfully representing Native American civilizations and their cultures in the original game, and "worked with tribal consultants to respectfully and accurately capture the uniqueness of their peoples, history, and cultures". As a result, "returning players will find there's been some fundamental changes to the Native American civilizations ".

Microsoft Rolls Out DirectX 12 Feature-level 12_2: Turing and RDNA2 Support it

Microsoft on Thursday rolled out the DirectX 12 feature-level 12_2 specification. This adds a set of new API-level features to DirectX 12 feature-level 12_1. It's important to understand that 12_2 is not DirectX 12 Ultimate, even though Microsoft explains in its developer blog that the four key features that make up DirectX 12 Ultimate logo requirements were important enough to be bundled into a new feature-level. At the same time, Ultimate isn't feature-level 12_1, either. The DirectX 12 Ultimate logo requirement consists of DirectX Raytracing, Mesh Shaders, Sampler Feedback, and Variable Rate Shading. These four, combined with an assortment of new features make up feature-level 12_2.

Among the updates introduced with feature-level 12_2 are DXR 1.1, Shader Model 6.5, Variable Rate Shading tier-2, Resource Binding tier-3, Tiled Resources tier-3, Conservative Rasterization tier-3, Root Signature tier-1.1, WriteBufferImmediateSupportFlags, GPU Virtual Address Bits resource expansion, among several other Direct3D raster rendering features. Feature-level 12_2 requires a WDDM 2.0 driver, and a compatible GPU. Currently, NVIDIA's "Turing" based GeForce RTX 20-series are the only GPUs capable of feature-level 12_2. Microsoft announced that AMD's upcoming RDNA2 architecture supports 12_2, too. NVIDIA's upcoming "Ampere" (RTX 20-series successors) may support it, too.

Epic vs Apple: Microsoft Files in Support of Epic Games

In the ongoing turf war between Epic Games and Apple, the game and engine development company has now signed a powerful ally to its side: Microsoft. In an announcement via Twitter, XBOX vice president Phil Spencer announced that Microsoft had filed a statement in support of Epic's lawsuit against Apple - specifically, regarding the maintenance of Unreal Engine resources, tools, and developer credentials in the Apple store. This comes weeks after the battle royale between Apple and Epic begun, and after Epic started a social media and industry-wide call for support among consumers and corporations alike.

While the merits on Epic's initial move and subsequent lawsuit against Apple may be up for debate, and it's likely that any court of law will say that Epic clearly intended to breach contract terms they had already accepted when distributing Fortnite through the Apple Store, this second one has a much higher amount of O2 to breathe. Apple terminating the Unreal Engine affiliation with its store and development capabilities can potentially send a ripple effect throughout the entire games industry, whether in already-shipped games, currently in development ones, or future development intentions. That Microsoft themselves backed Epic on this particular issue goes to show just how wide a net this conflict is escalating towards.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Expected to Stimulate Billions in PC Hardware Sales

In a recent report from Jon Peddie Research (JPR) they estimate that $2.6 billion will be spent on PC gaming hardware in the next three years thanks to the release of Microsoft Flight Simulator. This $2.6 billion will be split across Entry-Level, Mid-Range, and High-End PC gamers with the High-End category contributing the most. JPR estimates that 2.27 million copies of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 will sell over the next three years. JPR predicts that these sales numbers will result in $2.6 billion being spent on hardware with the specific intent of improving the game's experience while much more will be spent over the title's complete life cycle.

This estimation includes new computer builds, processor upgrades, display upgrades, flight sticks and throttles, flight system control units, rudder pedals, simulation pit components such as seats and frames, and VR sales. This will benefit all computer components and accessory manufacturers as hardware upgrades are required across the board in most cases. With the introduction of 8K and VR support the game will continue to drive computer upgrades in the years to come.

Obelisk Bug Found in Microsoft Flight Simulator Due to a Student's Typo

In the list of typos with extreme relevance to the world, this one doesn't register unless it's at the "comical" side of the scale, but it's interesting, nevertheless, to look into. Recent reports on the recently-released Microsoft Flight Simulator mentioned the existence of an eldritch-esque obelisk in the in-game representation of Australia. This obelisk was nothing more than a 212-story building, which became a visual skyscraper, the top of which where particularly gifted flight simulator pilots managed to land on.

While one could think of this as a tribute to Arthur C. Clarke or as a manifest of Robert Silverberg's Tower of Glass, the truth, as always, follows Occam's Razor. Microsoft Simulator makes use of OpenStreetMap data for its Bing Maps service, which runs on Microsoft's Azure servers. The integration of OpenStreetMap featured a bug on that particular building that was introduced, as has been discovered, by Nathan Wright, a university student who, as part of his degree work last year, made an edit to that particular building's specifications. A 2 became 212, and thus the tower was born and manifested in-game. Other bugs have been found in-game, but some of them defy skepticism: turning Buckingham Palace into an office building seems like a particularly snobbish way of criticizing Britain's royalty. As a particular Disney and Pixar character would say, "Coincidence? I Think not!".

China is Working on Its Own GitHub Equivalent: Gitee

GitHub serves as a repository for collaborative work in software development, with numerous open-source projects available and worked on by numerous coders, would-be coders, and others. It has been a paragon for a more open internet, with more open standards, and allowing for actual community-based troubleshoot and development. And it does so for anyone around the world.

However, China's efforts to decouple from its dependencies on the Western world for anything technologically-related has been a reason for the country to invest not only on infrastructure and silicon manufacturing, but also in programming and all of the related branches of the technology tree. Recent events initiated by Microsoft (which now owns GitHub) via severing connections to its GitHub repositories for various US-sanctioned countries such as Iran, Syria and Crimea clearly showed what dependencies on foreign-guaranteed resources can do to technological development. China wants to have an answer to that.

Steam Users Want Two Hour Microsoft Flight Simulator Refund Time Extended

Microsoft Flight Simulator has recently launched to mixed initial reactions with many users on Steam frustrated with the current install system. When downloaded through Steam Microsoft Flight Simulator initially installs just a small launcher which then proceeds to download the 150 GB game. The problem is Steam's playtime counter starts when this launcher is opened and with install times taking upwards of 3 hours on a 500 Mbps connection the two hour refund window expires before you can get into the actual game. Players have suggested an extension to the refund time window with many expressing their frustration with negative reviews for the game causing the average to drop to just 6/10.

Microsoft Announces End-Of-Life Plans for Internet Explorer & Microsoft Edge Legacy

Microsoft has recently announced it's timeline for the end of Internet Explorer 11 & Microsoft Edge Legacy support across its Microsoft 365 apps and services. Starting November 30th the Microsoft Teams web app will no longer support IE 11, and beginning August 17, 2021, the remaining Microsoft 365 apps and services will no longer support IE 11. Microsoft Edge Legacy will also stop receiving new security updates after March 9, 2021. Microsoft recommends users migrate to the New Microsoft Edge which is based on Chromium and has been progressively rolling out to users.

Microsoft Details Xbox Series X SoC, Drops More Details on RDNA2 Architecture and Zen 2 CPU Enhancements

Microsoft in its Hot Chips 32 presentation detailed the SoC at the heart of the upcoming Xbox Series X entertainment system. The chip mostly uses AMD IP blocks, and is built on TSMC N7e (enhanced 7 nm) process. It is a 360.4 mm² die with a transistor count of 15.3 billion. Microsoft spoke about the nuts and bolts of the SoC, including its largest component - the GPU based on AMD's new RDNA2 graphics architecture. The GPU takes up much of the chip's die area, and has a raw SIMD throughput of 12 TFLOP/s. It meets DirectX 12 Ultimate logo requirements, supporting hardware-accelerated ray-tracing.

The RDNA2 GPU powering the Xbox Series X SoC features 52 compute units spread across 26 RDNA2 dual compute units. The silicon itself physically features two additional dual CUs (taking the total physical CU count to 56), but are disabled (possibly harvesting headroom). We've detailed first-generation RDNA architecture in the "architecture" pages of our first AMD Radeon RX 5000-series "Navi" graphics card reviews, which explains much of the SIMD-level innovations from AMD that help it drive a massive SIMD IPC gain over the previous-generation GCN architecture. This hierarchy is largely carried over to RDNA2, but with the addition of a few SIMD-level components.

Xbox Series X Launches this November with Thousands of Games Spanning Four Generations

Today, we announced updates to Halo Infinite's launch timing. Our vision at Xbox and 343 Industries has always been to deliver the most ambitious Halo game ever for our fans, while also balancing the team's well-being. To do that, we will need some more time to finish the critical work necessary to launch Halo Infinite, which will come in 2021.

We have plenty to keep you busy until Chief arrives: there will be thousands of games to play, spanning four generations, when Xbox Series X launches globally this November and over 100 optimized for Xbox Series X titles, built to take full advantage of our most powerful console, are planned for this year. And with brand new console features like hardware-accelerated Direct X raytracing, framerates up to 120 frames per second, faster loading times, and Quick Resume for multiple games, playing will look and feel better, no matter which games you choose to play on day one.
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