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Immerse Yourself in the Future of Gaming Audio with the Xbox Wireless Headset

When we were designing Xbox Series X|S, we wanted to ensure that games feel true-to-life, load incredibly fast, and sound as if you were dropped in the middle of the action. We embraced spatial sound processing by including custom audio hardware to offload audio processing from the CPU, dramatically improving the accessibility, quality, and performance of these experiences. Having a high-quality set of headphones at an affordable price for your new console or existing Xbox One will help you feel immersed, react faster to the action, and connect further with your gaming worlds.

With each new generation of our Xbox accessories, we've raised the bar for innovation by focusing on performance, stand-out features, quality, and accessibility to deliver immersive experiences across console, PC, and mobile devices. We are excited to build on this legacy with the latest accessory to join the family: the new Xbox Wireless Headset.

NVIDIA Faces Challenges: Qualcomm, Google, and Microsoft Protest Arm Acquisition

In September of last year, NVIDIA has officially announced that the current industry rumor about its big acquisition was true. The company has announced that it is acquiring Arm Limited from the Softbank Group. Paying as much as $40 billion for the purchase, NVIDIA is gaining access to the complete company, along with its extensive portfolio of IP and knowledge. That means that NVIDIA is not essentially a holder of the Arm ISA, which is the most dominant ISA within mobile processors. Such a deal, however, is a bit hard to process without some troubles popping up along the way. As Arm held a neutral position as IP provider, NVIDIA is expected to remain as such, and the company even promised to stay true to that.

However, not everything is going as planned. Before completing the acquisition process, NVIDIA must first comply with regulators from all around the world, including the US, UK, EU, and China. If any objections raise within those regions, they are to be interrogated. Today, Google, Microsoft, and Qualcomm have objected that NVIDIA's Arm acquisition is hurting the market and are urging antitrust officials to intervene. Mentioned companies believe that NVIDIA's move is hurting the market and the company could limit its competitors from accessing the IP, thus breaking Arm's neutral position as an IP provider. NVIDIA has made statements that Arm will remain in such a position, however, the skepticism of the mentioned companies is slowing the merger. Now all that remains is to see how the conflicted companies solve their worries.

HPE Develops New Spaceborne Computer-2 Computing System for the International Space Station

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today announced it is accelerating space exploration and increasing self-sufficiency for astronauts by enabling real-time data processing with advanced commercial edge computing in space for the first time. Astronauts and space explorers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) will speed time-to-insight from months to minutes on various experiments in space, from processing medical imaging and DNA sequencing to unlocking key insights from volumes of remote sensors and satellites, using HPE's Spaceborne Computer-2 (SBC-2), an edge computing system.

Spaceborne Computer-2 is scheduled to launch into orbit on the 15th Northrop Grumman Resupply Mission to Space Station (NG-15) on February 20 and will be available for use on the International Space Station for the next 2-3 years. The NG-15 spacecraft has been named "SS. Katherine Johnson" in honor of Katherine Johnson, a famed Black, female NASA mathematician who was critical to the early success of the space program.

UK Parliament Members Aim to Introduce Bill to Fight Scalping... But the Problem is a Complex One

Members form the UK Parliament are apparently preparing to introduce a bill that would regulate the scalping phenomenon that's being witnessed worldwide. According to Scottish politician Douglas Chapman, in an interview to IGN, "The issue of scalping first came up with constituents contacting me to explain their frustration about being unable to get hold of certain games consoles or computer components pre-Christmas." He then expanded on that by adding that "On investigation, we uncovered more details of the unscrupulous practice of 'scalping' by automated bots to bulk buy these goods and sell them on at inflated prices." Oh, and this bill is unlikely to pass, by the way.

Scalping, however, isn't done only in the UK; it's a pervasive international issue that crosses borders. And scalping, as it is known, is nothing but a form of speculation, which some might say is part of the backbone that keeps the world's capitalist blood pumping through the economy - some might even argue that scalping occurs directly due to mechanisms of supply and demand, and thus, isn't an unlawful activity in and of itself. Companies, corporations, and all other legal entities, however, have to adhere to strict anti-monopoly/anti-cartelization laws, which deal with the same base issue, although in another facet of it. The problem is that it appears that in some countries, speculation is regulated at the enterprise level, but not at the citizen level. And herein lies the crux of it.

Ex-Intel Employee Reportedly Stole Confidential Xeon Files, Company Files a Lawsuit

Intel has reportedly caught an ex-employee stealing confidential company files for the Xeon processor lineup. Dr. Varun Gupta, who left Intel last year to join Microsoft as Principal for Strategic Planning in Cloud and AI, has reportedly walked away with over 3900 files of confidential information. The stolen files, contain information about Intel's Xeon processors, pricing data, corporate strategies, and Intel's manufacturing capabilities of the chips. Dr. Gupta is being sued by Intel for 75,000 USD and liability to not use confidential Intel information again. The security forensics team at Intel has discovered that Dr. Gupta downloaded almost 4000 files on multiple USB drives, however, Dr. Gupta is denying these claims. We are waiting to hear more information about the situation as it evolves.

Dell Technologies Reimagines Work with New PCs, Monitors and Software Experiences

Dell Technologies (NYSE:DELL) unveiled new products and software that reimagine work so anyone can perform at their best. With a new portfolio of intelligent, collaborative and sustainable devices, Dell is transforming work experiences to give people greater flexibility to work from anywhere.

"People's expectations of their technology continue to evolve. It's why we push beyond barriers to create devices that offer better experiences and are more integrated into our lives," said Ed Ward, senior vice president, Client Product Group, Dell Technologies. "Our new intelligent PCs make it possible for us to work smarter and collaborate easier, so we can give our best selves in all that we do. Secure, sustainable and smart: that's the way forward for PCs."

HP at CES 2021: The Future of PC Innovation is Now

The PC has never been more essential, so this year at CES 2021, HP Inc. is launching computing innovations essential to how and where people experience work and life. HP today unveiled new devices and solutions designed to power hybrid work environments and growing personal creative studios.

With half of the global workforce still working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new use cases for the PC are emerging for both consumers and employees remaining at home. Since COVID, there has been a seven hour increase in time spent on personal PCs. In some cases, this has resulted in an increase in everyday creativity - with photography, writing stories or articles, and live streaming being the top three activities among consumers. But working and staying at home isn't always simple, with only 30% of people having a space where they can shut the door. Yet 72% of knowledge workers want a hybrid remote-office model moving forward and 48% of Gen Z are considering an expansion of their freelance business in the future, requiring solutions with enhanced collaboration and micro-mobility features.

Microsoft is Engineering Custom Processors for Servers and Surface PCs

Designing a custom processor can be a rewarding thing. You can control your ecosystem surrounding it and get massive rewards in terms of application-specific performance uplift, or lower total cost of ownership. It seems like cloud providers have figured out that at their scale, designing a custom processor can get all of the above with the right amount of effort put into it. If you remember, in 2018, Amazon has announced its Graviton processor based on Arm instruction set architecture. Today, the company has almost 10% of its AWS instances based on the Graviton 1 or 2 processors, which is a massive win for a custom design.

Following Amazon's example, the next company to join the custom server processor race is going to be Microsoft. The Redmond based giant is looking to build a custom lineup of processors that are meant to satisfy Microsoft's most demanding sector - server space. The company's Azure arm is an important part where it has big and increasing revenue. By building a custom processor, it could satisfy the market needs better while delivering higher value. The sources of Bloomberg say that Microsoft is planning to use Arm ISA, and start building independence from the x86 vendors like Intel and AMD. Just like we saw with AWS, the industry cloud giants are starting to get silicon-independent and with their scale, they can drive the ecosystem surrounding the new processors forward rapidly. The sources are also speculating that the company is building custom processors for Surface PCs, and with Windows-on-Arm (WoA) project, Microsoft has laid the groundwork in that field as well.

EA Play on Xbox Game Pass for PC Delayed to 2021

Microsoft has recently announced that the introduction of EA Play on PC to Xbox Game Pass for PC and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate has been delayed until 2021. EA Play is the subscription service that gives you access to a large catalog of EA's games along with other benefits such as early access to new games and discounts on other EA games and DLC. Microsoft has stated that this delay is required so that they can fully integrate EA Play into Xbox Game Pass and deliver a more complete experience for their users. Microsoft will update us on the exact timeline for EA Play on PC early next year.
Microsoft
We established this partnership with Electronic Arts because they are as passionate as we are about helping people and communities discover great games, and we knew we could provide a great experience for members by working together. In order to deliver on that, we need more time to provide the Xbox Game Pass experience.

Surprising Absolutely No One, AMD RX 6800 Series Pretty Much Out of Stock, And Scalping Becomes a Pervasive Industry Problem

The title says it all, really. We've only just been able to add AMD's latest RX 6800 and 6800 XT graphics cards to our shopping carts in multiple etailers, but the cat is already out of the bag and into scalpers' pockets. This has been a recurring event for all gaming-related tech, from DIY PC parts to the latest-gen games consoles from both Microsoft and Sony. At this point, it becomes moot to talk about availability issues, or demand issues, or reaching a conclusion between the two - the stock just isn't there for anything gaming-related, period.

Some etailers are only selling their graphics cards in-person, as a way to both control flow of stock and protect themselves from scalpers buying up the entire inventory with recourse to some digital sidekicks that automate the purchase process, and then allow them to resell anything from graphics cards from NVIDIA to AMD, passing through AMD's latest Ryzen 5000 series and the Xbox Series X and PS5 gaming consoles.

Microsoft Announces Pluton Security Processor in Collaboration with AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm

The security of PCs has been an issue in the past few years as cyber-attack methods have been undergoing a transformation to hardware-specific malware that exploits different vulnerabilities of CPUs. That is why Microsoft, the developer of the most popular operating system, Windows 10, decided to engineer a hardware processor that will protect the OS and its user by having a specific job of maintaining the platform security. In collaboration with AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm, Microsoft is today introducing the Pluton security processor. The collaborator companies are going to integrate the new Pluton processor inside their CPUs and thus embed a new level of security in their PCs.
Microsoft
Our vision for the future of Windows PCs is security at the very core, built into the CPU, where hardware and software are tightly integrated in a unified approach designed to eliminate entire vectors of attack. This revolutionary security processor design will make it significantly more difficult for attackers to hide beneath the operating system, and improve our ability to guard against physical attacks, prevent the theft of credential and encryption keys, and provide the ability to recover from software bugs.
Microsoft Pluton Security Processor

XBOX Series X, Series S Shortages to Continue Well Into 2021

XBOX boss Phil Spencer recently warned interested parties on the new Microsoft Xbox family of devices that supply shortages may not be so short-lived as we would've hoped. More recently, XBOX chief Financial Officer Tim Stuart said he believes that demand will continue to outstrip supply well after the holiday season and at least until April 2021 - a point at which Microsoft might just be able to match demand with its supply.

"I think we'll continue to see supply shortages as we head into the post-holiday quarter, so Microsoft's Q3, calendar Q1," said Xbox chief financial officer Tim Stuart, Speaking at the Jefferies Interactive Entertainment Virtual Conference (transcribed by Seeking Alpha). "And then when we get to Q4, all of our supply chain continuing to go full speed heading into kind of the pre-summer months. And that's where I start to - I expect to see a little bit of the demand - the supply profile, meeting the demand profile." Microsoft's fiscal Q4 runs from April through June. Whether or not that's true, one thing we can now for sure: while supply isn't enough to satisfy demand, we'll see scalpers continuing to sell what consoles and graphics cards they managed to snag for outrageous prices. Don't cede: vote with your wallet and don't give them a pat on the back with your hard-earned money.

NVIDIA Announces Mellanox InfiniBand for Exascale AI Supercomputing

NVIDIA today introduced the next generation of NVIDIA Mellanox 400G InfiniBand, giving AI developers and scientific researchers the fastest networking performance available to take on the world's most challenging problems.

As computing requirements continue to grow exponentially in areas such as drug discovery, climate research and genomics, NVIDIA Mellanox 400G InfiniBand is accelerating this work through a dramatic leap in performance offered on the world's only fully offloadable, in-network computing platform. The seventh generation of Mellanox InfiniBand provides ultra-low latency and doubles data throughput with NDR 400 Gb/s and adds new NVIDIA In-Network Computing engines to provide additional acceleration.

Microsoft: Only Consoles Supporting Full RDNA 2 Capabilities Are Xbox Series X and Series S, Excludes PlayStation 5

Microsoft has today published another article on its Xbox Wire blog, dedicated to all the news regarding the Xbox consoles and its ecosystem. In the light of yesterday's launch of AMD Radeon RDNA 2 graphics cards, Microsoft has congratulated its partner and provider of processors SoCs for their next-generation consoles. Besides the celebrations and congratulations, Microsoft has proceeded to show off what the Xbox Series X and Series S consoles are capable of, and how they integrate the RDNA 2 architecture. The company notes that there are hardware accelerated DirectX Raytracing, Mesh Shaders, Sampler Feedback, and Variable Rate Shading units built-in, so game developers can take advantage of it.

Another interesting point Microsoft made was that "Xbox Series X|S are the only next-generation consoles with full hardware support for all the RDNA 2 capabilities AMD showcased today." What this translates into is that Microsoft is the only console maker that uses the full RDNA 2 potential. This could leave Sony out in the dark with its PlayStation 5 console, meaning that it does not support all the features of AMD's new GPU architecture. There are not any specific points, however, we have to wait and see what Sony has left out, if anything.

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.
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