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After a 4 Year Leave, AMD Rejoins the Fortune 500 List

The Fortune 500 lists the top 500 companies in the worold in terms of revenue. These are the most significant movers in the markets, be it of real estate, mining, hedge fund, or semiconductor nature (among others). AMD was "kicked" out of the Fortune 500 back in 2015, when the company was struggling with its Buldozzer-based processors and had an increasingly small marketshare - and thus revenue - that Zen came on to save. Now, thanks to the efforts of everyone involved in the company, they've been listed again on the #460 spot.

The company has been winning minds and wallets when it comes to their CPU solutions in both the mainstream and professional segments, with the company making very important forays into the HPC world mostly thanks to the strength of their CPU lineup - which, in some cases, like with the Frontier Supercomupter (expected to be the world's fastest), can bring wins in the GPU computing department as well. For comparison's sake, Intel stands at a commanding #43, while NVIDIA enjoys a comfortable #268 place.

Intel Again Leader in Silicon Supply Race

Intel was the historic leader in silicon manufacturing and sales from 1993 through 2016, the year it lost its lead to Samsung. The issue wasn't so much to do with Intel, but more to do with market demands at the time - if you'll remember, it was the time of booming DRAM pricing alongside the smartphone demand increase that propagated stiff competition and manufacturers trying to outgun one another in the form of specs. The DRAM demand - and its ridiculous prices, at the time - propelled Samsung towards the top spot in terms of revenue, leaving Intel in the dust.

However, with the decrease in DRAM pricing following the reduce in smartphone demand and increased manufacturing capabilities of semiconductor manufacturers, which flooded the market with product that is being more slowly digested, has led to the drop of the previously-inflated Dram pricing, thus hitting Samsung's revenues enough for iNtel to again become "top dog" in the silicon manufacturing world - even as the company struggles with its 10 nm rollout and faced supply issues of their own. As IC Insights puts it, "Intel replaced Samsung as the number one quarterly semiconductor supplier in 4Q18 after losing the lead spot to Samsung in 2Q17. (...) With the collapse of the DRAM and NAND flash markets over the past year, a complete switch has occurred, with Samsung having 23% more total semiconductor sales than Intel in 1Q18 but Intel having 23% more semiconductor sales than Samsung just one year later in 1Q19!".

Trendforce: SSD Price-per-GB Could Drop as Low as $0.1 by Year's End

A report from technology market analyst Trendforce places SSD's pricing in sharp decline, with price per GB being projected to hit as low as $0.1 by year's end. Citing oversupply in the NADN flash market and an impending price war to allow manufacturers to sell out accumulating inventory, this is one of those clear cases of a win for consumers - which, after the shenanigans in the DRAM market, is about time. Trendforce further states that the price reductions should render 128 GB SSDs obsolete, as they mostly are by now, with 512 GB capacities becoming the mainstream choice for system integrators and DIY.

Pricing evolution in the market also places premium NVMe solutions at an only 6% premium over SATA offerings, showcasing the increased cost savings that manufacturers have achieved with the reduction in price for NVMe controllers, and the lower amount of physical materials needed to put an NVMe SSD together compared to a SATA-based alternative. Furthermore, Trendforce says that value PCIe-based solutions have a 0% price difference compared to SATA-based ones, so the option for the older form factor should only fall upon how many NVMe/PCIe sockets users' motherboards have available to populate.

Hard Drive Shipments Expected to Drop Nearly 50 Percent YoY in 2019

With solid-state drives (SSDs) entering value and mainstream price segments, and the transition in consumers' data-storage behavior from local storage to the cloud, there is expected to be a dramatic fall in shipments of hard disk drives (HDDs) in 2019. Japanese company Nidec, which manufactures nearly 85% of all DC motors for use in HDDs across the industry, estimates a nearly 50 percent drop in HDD shipments for 2019. Since these motors are specifically designed for use in HDDs, it is directly proportional to new HDD shipments, thus presenting a reliable outlook of the HDD industry itself. The DC motor inside HDDs is a non user-replaceable component as detaching it involves opening the seal of the disk chamber, thereby contaminating it.

In 2010, Nidec shipped nearly 650 million motors, which dropped significantly down to 375 million motors in 2018, indicating the sharp decline in the HDD industry. While Nidec will ship as few as 290 million motors in 2019, it estimates shipments of HDDs to go down by nearly 50 percent year-over-year (YoY). Data centers are swallowing up large volumes of high-capacity (>10 TB) HDDs for warm- and cold-storage even as SSDs and DRAM are sought for hot-storage. The client-segment, however, is now firmly captivated with SSDs, with even mainstream laptops packing SSDs. Prominent HDD manufacturers Seagate, Western Digital, and Toshiba, have each invested heavily in building up SSD product lines, and specializing their HDD portfolio for enterprise and quasi-enterprise (eg: NAS, NVR, high-uptime client) markets.

Semiconductor Chip Sales Suffer Fourth Largest Decline in 35 Years

According to the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization, the semiconductor manufacturing world has just seen one of the largest contractions in the last 35 years. The downturn on produced revenue for manufacturers for the month of March consolidated into a decline of 1.8% compared to February of this year, and a decline of 13% when compared to March 2018 - but quarter-reviewed revenues were even worse. In greenback terms, the semiconductor industry saw a decline from $114.7 billion in the previous quarter to "just" $96.8 billion.

The decline was across all semiconductor product categories, as John Neuffer, president and CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) trade group, said: "Sales in March decreased on a year-to-year basis across all major regional markets and semiconductor product categories, consistent with the cyclical trend the global market has experienced recently." Market analysis firm IC Insights says that the decline was more severe than the WSTS reports, and that it totaled a 17.1% reduction in revenue for the first quarter of this year, making it the fourth biggest decline since 1984. As IC Insights said in a statement, "The first quarter is usually the weakest quarter of the year for the IC market, averaging a sequential decline of 2.1% over the past 36 years, but the severity of the 1Q19/4Q18 IC market drop has started this year off at a very low level."

AMD Reports First Quarter 2019 Financial Results- Gross margin expands to 41%, up 5 percentage points year-over-year

AMD today announced revenue for the first quarter of 2019 of $1.27 billion, operating income of $38 million, net income of $16 million and diluted
earnings per share of $0.01. On a non-GAAP(*) basis, operating income was $84 million, net income was $62 million and diluted earnings per share was $0.06.

"We delivered solid first quarter results with significant gross margin expansion as Ryzen and EPYC processor and datacenter GPU revenue more than doubled year-over-year," said Dr. Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO. "We look forward to the upcoming launches of our next-generation 7nm PC, gaming
and datacenter products which we expect to drive further market share gains and financial growth."

Intel on Q1 FY 2019: Servers Down, PC Market Up, Revenue Flat

Intel Corporation today reported first-quarter 2019 financial results. In the first quarter, the company generated approximately $5.0 billion in cash from operations, paid dividends of $1.4 billion and used $2.5 billion to repurchase 49 million shares of stock.

"Results for the first quarter were slightly higher than our January expectations. We shipped a strong mix of high-performance products and continued spending discipline while ramping 10nm and managing a challenging NAND pricing environment. Looking ahead, we're taking a more cautious view of the year, although we expect market conditions to improve in the second half," said Bob Swan, Intel CEO. "Our team is focused on expanding our market opportunity, accelerating our innovation and improving execution while evolving our culture. We aim to capitalize on key technology inflections that set us up to play a larger role in our customers' success, while improving returns for our owners."

Jon Peddie Research: 20 Million Shift from PC Gaming to Console Gaming by 2022

Jon Peddie Research has released a new report on the state of gaming and its future, with the research firm estimating a total of 20 million PC gamers will make the shift to console gaming by 2022. It does make sense, as the no-frills architecture of consoles and highly specialized hardware and development - alongside the lower cost of entry) have been calling gamers from all ages and budgets. Add to this the fact that IQ considerations are becoming smaller and smaller between a high-end gaming PC and their console counterparts - at least when it comes to global, base IQ of settings - and it does make sense that makers make the shift.

Adding to this is the expectation of increased doubling-down on exclusives from games consoles, with the exception of Microsoft, which will be bringing all of its exclusives to the PC market as well. The increased attention to game streaming, with Google's Stadia and Microsoft's own xCloud will prompt change in the way gamers consume content - no dedicated hardware may mean no consoles, but it will also mean no need to purchase expensive, high-end PC gaming hardware to run the latest games with the latest graphics technologies - that will all be run in the cloud. Smart TVs, for instance, may be all the investment required for a premium, lag-free gaming experience with maximum details, should worldwide internet access improve as it has been. Of course, the ratio of high-end PC gamers making their way to consoles is lower than that of gamers with basic or entry-level PCs that are capable of gaming - those will make up the vast majority of the quoted 20 million shift.

China Deepens Ban on Certain Content in Gaming: Gambling, Blood, Bodies and Zombies

In a move that's certain to make forays into the Chinese gaming market (worth $30bn) for game developers and publishers, country regulators have launched a new wave requirements for game release approvals. Besides more and more information now being required to be submitted by developers for any game that they want to launch in China (which may include scripts, mechanisms to curb game addiction implemented into the code, and other).

While the Chinese gaming market is an extremely significant one, the previously existing (and now updated) regulations mandate that every single game be single-handedly inspected and curated before its approval into the Chinese domestic market. A freeze in the process of games approval that lasted for 8 months (from February 2018 through to December) has already created a backlog of thousands of games pending approval - not to mention all of those that have undoubtedly been submitted since. It's expected that fewer than 5,000 games will be greenlighted for launch this year, so a lot of companies will likely have to review their revenue forecast - depending on how heavily they banked on the Chinese market.

GameStop Records Worst Losses in Its History, Hinting at a Digital Future

or maybe that headline should read "Digital Present", because in many ways, it certainly seems we are already living in a heavily digital present. GameStop, one of the leading physical retailers for both new and used games, that usually has trade-in programs for games consoles as well, has reported a staggering $673 million loss in its 2018 performance.

All facets of GameStops' business have worsened: new hardware sales, new software sales, and pre-owned (which declined some 13.2% YoY) all lost money for the company, with no bright spot to be seen anywhere in the previously bright sheen of this particular part of the retail games and entertainment market. GameStop spoke of a "new cost savings and profit improvement initiative in place, we will focus our efforts on driving profitability", which justifies the company's positive outlook for 2019. How GameStop is optimistic about its future with these losses and a projected 5-10% lowered sales for the games market throughout 2019 is somewhat of a strange marriage of concepts, but if it works for the company, it works. Especially with the increased effort from a number of companies in bringing cloud gaming to fruition, with Google's Stadia and Microsoft's own expected push, it seems that a hugely important part of the market for the likes of GameStop (and let's mention other, digital storefronts as well) is going to be left dry without any sort of cut in game sales.

NVIDIA: Image Quality for DLSS in Metro Exodus to Be Improved in Further Updates, and the Nature of the Beast

NVIDIA, in a blog post/Q&A on its DLSS technology, promised implementation and image quality improvements on its Metro Exodus rendition of the technology. If you'll remember, AMD recently vouched for other, non-proprietary ways of achieving desired quality of AA technology across resolutions such as TAA and SMAA, saying that DLSS introduces "(...) image artefacts caused by the upscaling and harsh sharpening." NVIDIA in its blog post has dissected DLSS in its implementation, also clarifying some lingering questions on the technology and its resolution limitations that some us here at TPU had already wondered about.

The blog post describes some of the limitations in DLSS technology, and why exactly image quality issues might be popping out here and there in titles. As we knew from NVIDIA's initial RTX press briefing, DLSS basically works on top of an NVIDIA neural network. Titled the NGX, it processes millions of frames from a single game at varying resolutions, with DLSS, and compares it to a given "ground truth image" - the highest quality possible output sans any shenanigans, generated from just pure raw processing power. The objective is to train the network towards generating this image without the performance cost. This DLSS model is then made available for NVIDIA's client to download and to be run at your local RTx graphics card level, which is why DLSS image quality can be improved with time. And it also helps explain why closed implementations of the technology, such as 3D Mark's Port Royal benchmark, show such incredible image quality scenarios compared to, say, Metro Exodus - there is a very, very limited number of frames that the neural network needs to process towards achieving the best image quality.
Forumites: This is an Editorial

Is Denuvo Falling Out of Favor? Another Bandai Namco Release Sheds the DRM Tech

Denuvo's technology has fallen out of efficacy, at least, with recent game releases sporting the technology being, overall, quickly cracked (some exceptions, that confirm the rule, exist, of course). However, the usual sales pitch of "protecting games' launch windows, where most of the revenue is made" hasn't been reflected on some of the high profile game releases as of late. While the market has kept using Denuvo technology as a DRM ftowards curbing piracy efforts, it seems that the technology's cost-to-profit ratio isn't working out so well for some companies to include it - such as Bandai Namco.

the company has recently launched God Eater 3, which shunned the Denuvo DRM solution in favor of more classic solutions (Steam). Ace Combat 7 still included the protection, and stands uncracked as of yet (12 days and counting). God Eater 3, which launched 4 days later, didn't include the protection, and the company's Jump Force videogame, launched just yesterday, didn't pack Denuvo either. This means that these two latest game releases have already been cracked, while Ace Combat 7 is holding out strong. Perhaps this signals an experiment being taken on at Bandai Namco's headquarters regarding the benefits of Denuvo usage, though it seems that a game like Ace Combat 7, which will likely sell particularly well in the western market compared to the other releases, did justify Denuvo more than the other releases - but only Bandai Namco knows whether this signals a shift in direction or not.

Activision Blizzard Doubling Down on Diablo, Warcraft IPs Amidst Changing Market

The times have been rough for the Activision Blizzard juggernaut, as changing market conditions and lack of differentiated IP launches have led the company into a sort of stagnant position in the market - in both launches and revenue sources. The recent split from Destiny developer Bungie took out a bite from one of the company's additional streams of revenue amidst dwindling World of Warcraft subscriptions (after the usual spike post launch for Battle of Azeroth) and the lack of any new sources of income in the close future. This saw the company's stock valuation coming down, and was bookended by the recent layoff of some 8% total of the company's workforce (around 800 out of its 9,600 employees). Reports peg these as being mostly outside of the game development workforce, though, which could give traction to the report that the company is doubling down on IP-related development, instead of shying away from it - a sensible move, if you'll ask me.

Activision Blizzard COO Coddy Johnson reiterated Blizzard's fantastic IP reserves, and wants the company to achieve a higher cadence in content releases that follow the type of high-quality launches they achieve in their World of Warcraft expansions - but on other, more differentiated revenue sources. Johnson also reiterated more resources being put to work on the Diablo franchise, saying that "Diablo's development headcount will grow substantially", with "The teams are working on several projects for the franchise as well as the global launch of Diablo Immortal."

SuperMicro Gearing for Launch of New Gaming-Grade Motherboards With PCIe Gen4 and DDR5 Wave

SuperMicro may not be household name in consumer motherboards right now, but they once were a decent alternative in the market - or so I've been told by people much more knowledgeable than me in that regard, as I never laid my hands on one. The company is now more known for its server products, where it has focused most of its attention in the past decade - an effort that gave it a good, third-place hold in that market. And if the company can command such a market share in a much more requirements-heavy environment such as the server market demands, then it's likely those design decisions and developments will find themselves trickling down to the consumer side in any sort of consumer, gaming-grade product the company decided to tackle.

To that end, SuperMicro is gearing up to re introduce themselves to the consumer market, accompanying the wave of new technologies coming to the market in a few years - namely, PCIe Gen 4 and DDR5 memory. The company seems to think that this will mark a perfect opportunity for a strong comeback to the consumer market - where they now only offer a handful of motherboard solutions for Intel's CPUs. One such example is the C9Z390-PGW motherboard, based on Intel's Z390 chipset - with its 10-phase VRM design, PLC chip for doubling of PCIe lanes, and 10 Gigabit Lan. But not only on said "typical" consumer motherboard techonologies will SuperMicro be delivering - if the company has its way, anything from 5G, IoT, Mission Learning and Artificial Intelligence can be incorporated for some use case or another on consumer-grade motherboards, thus providing an axis of penetration for SuperMicro - and its entire partner eco-system.

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.

EA Stocks Dive 13% With Disappointing Battlefield V Sales, Mobile Revenue

EA stocks today have taken a dive of 12.83% (17% at the worst case scenario, with a slight rebound in the meantime), at the moment of writing, compared to their opening hours. The descent, which represents a dip towards a $80.61 valuation per share compared to the $92.52 at the opening market, followed the release of the company's Q3 FY19 Financial Results, caused by lower than expected sales from Battlefield V and lower than expected revenue from EA's mobile efforts. This is capitalism at its finest - the 7.3 million sales of Battlefield V (an impressive number by any metric) fell close to a cool million short of projected sales by this time, and that is enough for the market to correct their expectations.

EA's mobile business saw a YoY fall of 22%, which did little to assuage investors and provide a positive note for the underperforming Battlefield V. It's interesting to note how interesting the markets can be: on the surprise announcement of the new, Respawn-developed Apex Legends, there was no significant change in EA's stock valuation, despite this launch meaning a new, hopefully rich, revenue source for the publisher. Although considering TechPowerUp's overall sentiment regarding that games' launch (not representative of the entire community), it seems that EA won't be banking much on our users.

DigiTimes: Gigabyte Looking to Cut up to 10% of Its Workforce, Lower Marketing Expenses

DigiTimes, citing sources familiar on the matter, have reported that Gigabyte is looking to improve its financial outlook amidst not-so-rosy projections for the graphics card and motherboard markets 2019 (with the former being expected to shrink, while the latter is to stay weak). The way they're going to do this, according to the report, is twofold: cutting on marketing expenses and the enrolled workforce. According to the report, he motherboard-bound employees are expected to be the ones coming out of the gates, for now.

To give some context to the weak motherboard demand, Gigabyte is reported to have shipped 16 million motherboards back in 2016 - and the objective for 2019 is to sell above 10 million units, a huge decrease in three years. As to grpahics cards, demand is now finding its non-cryptocurrency-driven quota, as shipments for graphics cards in 2019 are expected to reach the levels of 2016, at 3.5 million units sold - a strong decrease from 2017's 4.8 million units. It seems that Gigabyte has also been working on delivering products that offer higher profits than their usual outings, though, with multiple halo products (such as the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Xtreme Waterforce, for example, which is available and retailing for $899 [or €1049 in Europe!]). These top-tier products have higher ASP and profits for the manufacturer than budget solutions, and look like a way for Gigabyte to look for higher earnings on a slimmer market.

NVIDIA Revises Financial Outlook for 2019 by $500 million, Immediately Hit Back by the Stock Market

NVIDIA's stock value has been falling precipitously in the last several months. We reported in December that the company lost some 48.8% in value between October and December, moving from an all-time peak of $289.36 on October 1st, to just under $149 on December 14th. At the time, excess inventories were the cause, alongside a less than glamorous reception to their new RTX series of graphics cards. Now? NVIDIA cites "deteriorating macroeconomic conditions, particularly in China" as harming demand for their gaming GPUs. But this now comes alongside a its datacenter business also falling short of expectations - that's two of NVIDIA's most lucrative markets being put towards the red, or at least, with lower than expected income revenues.

This led the company to revise its financial outlook for the year, lowering revenue estimates by $500 million, down to $2.2 billion from its initial $2.7 billion forecast. Gross margins have been lowered by some 7%, which means lowered earnings for investors. Since the December plunge, NVIDIA's stock had recovered up to around $160 per share, but has now dived 14.52%, down to $136.90 - even lower than before. The company has seen its market valuation shrink by more than 50% inside of four months - while the company is still well in the green side of the limbo, so to speak, these certainly don't serve to improve the company's spirit.
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