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Red Dead Redemption 2 Has Sold 23 Million Copies In Three Months... Without Help from PC

Stories about single-player gaming's death have been greatly exaggerated, over and over again. Every once in a while, a good, single-player focused game that only looks to tell a great story, in a great setting, comes along to set company's perceptions straight. This has happened over and over again in the market, but the most notable, recent examples must be The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Red Dead Redemption 2.

News has just surfaced, courtesy of Take Two, that the game has shipped in excess of 23 million copies since its launch back in October, when it set the entertainment's biggest opening weekend of all time. That means more than 7 million copies have been sold on a monthly basis since then. And this was all done without the help of our own platform of choice: PC. When the game finally does release for our rigs (and there's no sensible reason it wouldn't), we'll see how starved the market actually was for a good, single-player, story-focused game, in the day and age of always-on content.

Chinese State News Agency Debuts AI-powered Anchor for 24/7 Automated News Coverage

So, this doesn't really concern hardware, but alas, all advances - and particularly AI-related ones - are powered by the little silicon chips that could. This time, and in a move that really does bode towards the future of news coverage, Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, unveiled the "world's first AI news anchor," which was created in collaboration with local search engine company Sogou. There are actually two independent versions of the same anchor - one for news coverage in English, and another for Mandarin.

The AI-infused anchors fuse the image and voice profiles of actual human anchors with artificial intelligence (AI) technology, which powers their speech, lip movements, and facial expressions, alongside reading, absorbing, and curating content that's then posted as video snippets generated by the AI. There is some work to be done until the result is actually indistinguishable from that of actual humans - but do we ever want AI renditions that are indistinguishable from humans? There are a number of problems that could arise from such an achievement, after all. But maybe that's a conversation for another day.

Intel Stocks Jump 5% With First Piece of Good News on 10 nm

The tides at Intel have been blacker than they have been blue due to woes in silicon production - and the slow, sure steps of their rival AMD. It's been a rough, domino-powered ride: Intel has faced delay after delay of their 10 nm fabrication process technology. This, in turn, has constrained their production capacity, leading top shortages and increasing prices of Intel processors, and expensive chipset redesigns, moving them up from Intel's top-of-the-line 14 nm process back to 22 nm. So, yeah, after such a stream of lows, the first high note to be struck leaves a much lasting impact - and this has happened on Intel's stock pricing.

A research report from Steve Mullane, analyst at BlueFin Research Partners, says that Intel could be looking on sooner-than-expected ramp-up of their 10 nm process - slated for a June 2019 timeframe. "Intel's second-half production levels suggest upside to analyst revenue estimates for the fourth quarter and first quarter of 2019," further stating that suppliers believe production of new 10 nm silicon could be pulled forward from the June 2019 timeline by four to six weeks. This news brought about a jump in Intel share price up by 5%, while simultaneously reducing AMD's stock price by some 3.6%. At the end of trade day, these highs and lows converted to a 3.55% increase for Intel and a 7.65% drop for AMD.

Twitter Reportedly Looking Into Banning Cryptocurrency-Related Ads as Well

After Google has actually announced a change to their financial services-related ad policies that will ban all cryptocurrency-related ads that run through its advertising platform, reports now place Twitter as the next major service to follow suit. According to Sky News, the banning will affect the majority of ads relating to cryptocurrency products, services, and advice, cutting it diagonally and indiscriminately if services are actually legit or fakes. The publication says the decision comes "amid looming regulatory intervention in the sector."

Sky's sources say this ban will enter into effect within the next two weeks. If so, this is now the third major servie (after Facebook and Google) to ban all crypto-related content form its advertisements. That regulatory intervention is looming on the sector is putting it mildly; and it's high time that happened. The cryptocurrency market really is "being chilled", to quote Mike Lempres, chief legal and risk officer at Coinbase. And it's coming from all sides: regulatory bodies, general services, John Oliver shows, mainstream media, and even investors' own risk-assessment. It was bound to happen - the frenzy was getting quite old, really - and is an expected development. Let's hope this is just the beginning of a renewal of sorts for the cryptocurrency and blockchain world.

Corsair Share to be Sold to Private Investor (Again)

News agency Reuters recently reported that hardware giant Corsair was in talks with middle market private equity firm EagleTree Capital for acquisition of the company in its entirety. The deal was reported by Reuters as being valued at close to $500 million. Part of the Corsair brand is, and continues to be, owned by Corsair founder and Chief Executive Andy Paul, who founded the company in 1994. Another part of it, however, is currently owned by Francisco Partners, an American private equity firm focused exclusively on investments in technology and technology-enabled services. In 2013, Francisco Partners made a $75 million investment in the company, after Corsair scrapped its IPO plans.

However, an industry source has shed some more light on the matter. The source (singular, since we couldn't verify this through multiple channels) told TPU that it isn't the entirety of Corsair that's for sale; only the share previously acquired by Francisco Partners. It's this particular stake that's being eyed by EagleTree Capital - probably at a much higher valuation than the initial $75 million investment. As always, you should take this current information with a grain of salt.

TechPowerUp News: WD Buys SanDisk, a Mighty Gaming AIO, and SilverStone RVX01

In this week's TechPowerUp News - WD's whopping $19 billion acquisition of NAND flash major SanDisk and what it could mean for both brands, MSI's insanely powerful all-in-one gaming desktop; and a fully-integrated NUC desktop by Intel following three generations of the revolutionary platform. Also, an exclusive sneak peek at SilverStone's Raven RVX01 mid-tower case!

Judge Recommends US Xbox 360 Ban in Motorola Dispute

Microsoft's legal battle with Motorola has taken another large step towards a console ban, but the company could still narrowly avoid that fate. Judge David Shaw recommended to the International Trade Commission (ITC) that Microsoft be given a cease-and-desist order on sales of the Xbox 360 slim model in the US. He also recommended ceasing Chinese imports of the systems, and a payment of 7% of the value of unsold systems in stores. Courthouse News Service (via Develop) reports that the ITC can now choose to let that determination stand, in which case it becomes the official stance of the ITC. Alternately, the commission could amend some terms, or send it back for a rewrite. If it does adopt Shaw's recommendation, President Barack Obama will have 60 days to review the decision, after which it would have to be appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This follows a one-two punch against Microsoft in this case, after Motorola won its patent ruling, and was subsequently hit with a German sales injunction -- which won't go into effect until the US case is settled. Motorola claims a technology used across several Microsoft devices, but Microsoft alleges that Motorola demanded an unreasonable licensing fee for the patents.

Microsoft has argued that banning consoles would not serve the public interest, but Shaw claimed that enforcing property rights takes precedence. Though Microsoft could still potentially appeal, the threat of a ban is more real now. Either way, this likely isn't something Microsoft wants hanging over its head as we approach E3.

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

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

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

Borderlands 2 Developer Already Detailing DLC

According to Kotaku and Shack News, Borderlands 2 developer Gearbox Software is already working on DLC before the game is even released. What can you expect? A new character class. At a PAX East panel this past weekend, the developer showed conceptual images for a new Mechromancer class. The class will be available to everyone when the DLC hits 60-90 days after the game hits shelves, but it will be free to those that pre-order the game, according to Kotaku. Gearbox also detailed two special editions for the game. The first will be the "Deluxe Vault Hunters Edition" for $99, completed with a bobble-head doll of game narrator and weapons dealer Marcus Kincaid. The second will be the "Ultimate Loot Chest Edition," which offers a Borderlands 2-style loot chest, sans hydraulics. Finally, the Gearbox gang tossed out Easter eggs with codes inside, redeemable at a special website, that allowed attendees to compete to potentially insert their names into Borderlands 2 or Aliens: Colonial Marines as an Easter egg.

Panasonic Unveils LetsNote NX and SX Series 12.1-inch Notebooks

Panasonic unveiled new 12.1-inch notebooks under the LetsNote NX and LetsNote SX families. Both feature 16:10 aspect ratio screens with 1280x800 pixel resolution, but buyers can opt for a wider 16:9 aspect ratio screen with 1600x900 pixels. A 720p web-cam and fingerprint reader can also be opted for. Where the NX and SX differ is with the SX featuring a top-loading optical drive, while NX lacks it.

Both models are driven by Intel Core i5-2450M processor. HDD comes standard, while faster SSDs can be opted for, which boot the system in under 9 seconds thanks to Panasonic's QuickBoot Manager software. Connectivity features for both include USB 3.0, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR, and display outputs that include HDMI.

In Wake Of SOPA Defeat and Rising Profits, IFPI Calls For 'SOPA Plus' Migraine Tablet

Yes, that's right, SOPA might have been set back for now, but the vested interests from the big media corporations (music/movies/news etc) that want it implemented unsurprisingly aren't sitting idle and are pushing for ever more draconian measures aka 'SOPA Plus'. A digital music report (PDF) asks for everything that was in the original SOPA and then some, with a wishlist of seven 'fixes':

Skyrim PC beta patch 1.4 now on Steam

Today Shacknews is reporting a new beta patch available on Steam. This is what they had to say, "Covering its back and yours, Bethesda recommends that you only install the patch if you're affected by issues fixed in the patch, and that you backed up your saved games before installing the beta. If you're still ploughing ahead with it, here's what to do:

1. Log into Steam
2. Click on Steam in the upper menu
3. Select Settings
4. Under the Account tab, go to the Beta Participation section and select Change.
5. A drop down menu will appear. Select Skyrim Beta.
6. Select OK.

Steam will now restart. After Steam restarts, Skyrim will be updated to the Beta version currently available.

The beta patch adds an option for Skyrim's Steam Workshop, a portal which will allow mod makers to upload their creations directly to Steam, but the Workshop won't work it and the mod Creation Kit actually launch later this month."

A list of changes can be found here.

That Dodgy Intel Ivy Bridge DX11 'demo' at CES 2012

That Dodgy Intel Ivy Bridge DX11 'demo' at CES 2012 (UPDATED)

Word has been flying round the internet about Intel's dodgy Ivy Bridge DX11 'demo'. Intel's Mooly Eden, VP, PC Client Group was attempting to demonstrate a racing game on a prototype laptop - 'ultrabook' - fitted with an upcoming 22 nm Ivy Bridge processor with a racing wheel attached and allegedly rendering DX11 graphics. However, as is very apparent at the start, it's actually a video, because the control panel for the free VLC video player pops up for a few seconds. Eden then 'drives' a car and after a few seconds puts up one hand and then the other, because as he says "they are driving it from backstage". However, there was no one driving the game "backstage", as it was just a video and Eden doesn't say anything about this at any point in the presentation.

This gives conspiracy theorists lots of ammunition, as perhaps the game was actually played on a high powered desktop PC with NVIDIA or AMD discrete graphics cards? What game was it? Eden doesn't say. "IB can't really do these graphics!" they cry and so on. Sure, man 'didn't' go to the moon, either... However, we believe that while yes, there was a bit of deception going on, it was nothing more than a white(ish) lie. Why? Because Ivy Bridge comes out in April and people aren't going to forget this demo. They will immediately put IBs DX11 graphics to the test with similar games and if it doesn't deliver, Intel will have a lot of egg on its face. Here's what Intel had to say about this demo in an official statement:

World's Smallest Silicon Wire Leads To Atomic-Scale Computing, Moore's Law Continues

News of quantum breakthroughs seem to be coming every few months now, edging ever closer towards the hallowed goal of building a quantum computer using quantum qubits rather than classical bits and bringing colossal improvements in computational power. This will eventually lead to applications that we can't even imagine now and possibly a true artificial intelligence of the kind one sees in the movies. Also, it would allow calculations that would normally take longer than the lifetime of the universe on a classical computer to be made in just a few seconds or minutes on a quantum one. A goal well worth striving for.

The latest breakthrough comes from the University of New South Wales, Melbourne University and Purdue University who have developed the smallest wire yet. It's a silicon nanowire, having the tiny dimensions of just one atom high and four atoms wide. This is a feat in itself, but the crucial part is that the wire is able to maintain its resistivity even at this atomic level, making it far easier for current to flow, thereby preventing the tiny wire from becoming useless. This will help with the continuation of Moore's Law, giving us ever more powerful computers at the present rate and opens the door to quantum computing within the next decade.

TechEYE has a more detailed article about this development. This is based on an ABC Radio interview with Michelle Simmons from the University of New South Wales and makes for fascinating listening.

Big Dollars Not Enough? SOPA Support Continues To Wither Away

The draconian internet censorship bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) being lobbied for by wealthy big media corporations (mostly fronted by the RIAA/MPAA, News Corporation and the like) and currently being debated in Congress is still losing support wherever one turns. A week ago, we reported that GoDaddy initially supported it, but soon changed its mind as it immediately began to haemorrhage customers. Now, it turns out that many video games companies are also coming out against it and with no pressure against them required.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is the game industry's trade association and stands firmly behind the much-despised bill, which means that the gaming industry as a whole is deemed to support SOPA. However, while some members openly support it, others just won't say so publically and some of its members actively do not support it, having made official statements to this effect. Here are just three of them:

Raspberry Pi: the Upcoming $25 1080p-Capable ARM-Based Hobby Computer

Yes, you heard that right, when completed, the Raspberry Pi foundation will be selling a credit card sized computer running Linux that can plug into your television and play H.264 1080p30 videos. Raspberry Pi is the somewhat cheekily-named UK registered charity which has been set up to design and build a very low cost computer that is targeted for use in computer science lessons in schools, to "put the fun back into learning computing." Why, was it ever not fun?! However, such a simple and cheap general purpose gadget has the potential for many other uses than the classroom, as the world is full of inventive tech-minded people that can tinker with something like this and build innovative projects with them, perhaps by using several of these together.

The product will come in two configurations, a $25 Model A with 128 MB SDRAM & $35 Model B with 256 MB SDRAM and both will come with the same 700 MHz Broadcom BCM2835 media processor featuring an ARM11 (ARM1176JZF-S) core, Broadcom GPU core, DSP core and support for Package-on-Package (PoP) RAM. We expect that in this day and age, most people will go for the 256 MB model, which is still a very small amount of RAM. For those that want to get the most out if this device, the website - www.raspberrypi.org - has a forum and a wiki with tons of technical details on the device, including benchmarks and links to many other news stories & blogs about the product. There's even a shop, although at the moment, it's only selling keyboard stickers of the foundation's logo.

Customer Agony over Netflix's Price Rises & New Split Personality

Netflix's CEO, Reed Hastings, has apologized for mishandling a recent price increase that caused customers to fly away in droves. However, that was immediately drowned out by the decision to split the Netflix service into two, one with the odd name of Qwikster. The new streaming service will still be called Netflix and continue to have the same dedicated website as the old physical media one, netflix.com. However, the DVD rental service is now branded Qwikster, which will also have it's own site. Crucially, both sites will operate completely independently, which means separate logins and user profiles for each one, causing significant inconvenience to customers.

The Pirate Bay in Legal Soup, Owners Fined and Jailed

The Pirate Bay, one of the largest BitTorrent tracker websites, that allows peer-to-peer file sharing and is infamous to host torrent links to copyrighted content on users' computers, is in legal soup vide a verdict from a Swedish Court of law. The Court has convicted four men responsible for running the website after its founding anti-copyright group, Piratebyran gave up control. The four men, Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Carl Lundstrom and Peter Sunde were found guilty of multiple counts of copyright infringement, and sentenced to one year's imprisonment. A fine of around US $3.5 million was further issued, with each of the four having to pay around $905,000.

The verdict comes as a victory for record companies, that welcome it, despite the fine imposed not being anywhere close to the $17.5 million + damages, several groups of record companies were pushing for. Speaking in a video address hosted on the website, Peter Sunde described the verdict as "bizarre". "It's so bizarre that we were convicted at all and it's even more bizarre that we were [convicted] as a team. The court said we were organized. I can't get Gottfrid out of bed in the morning. If you're going to convict us, convict us of disorganized crime" he said. Speaking about the fine, he said "We can't pay and we wouldn't pay. Even if I had the money I would rather burn everything I owned, and I wouldn't even give them the ashes."

Pirate Bay Administrator Speaks Out on Television Spot

As the Pirate Bay administrators get closer and closer to their court appearance for conspiracy to break copyright law, one of them decides to speak out for his views. Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, otherwise known as Anakata, has plenty of choice words regarding piracy and The Pirate Bay. The full clip can be found at the source link in a handy YouTube video. Since most news outlets only post what the RIAA/MPAA and their equivalents tell them to, the views of a man who calls himself the brains of The Pirate Bay are quite refreshing. Anakata claims that The Pirate Bay is really "the battle against greedy corporate America." In his spot, he assures viewers that under Swedish law, the Pirate Bay administrators have committed no crime. Anakata also proclaims that his site is "the scourge of the film and music industries", and claims that the actions he facilitates through The Pirate Bay are "not stealing, morally or legally".
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