Gaming news summary for August 27, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the thrice-weekly look at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN. In today's edition, CD Projekt managed to achieve over 6 million The Witcher 3 sales in six weeks, Rovio announces more job cuts, AMD reveals details of the Radeon R9 Nano GPU, and the creator of Gears of War unveils his latest project.
Holiday buildup for Microsoft, Sony will help -- but not enough
At the end of last week, chip manufacturer AMD announced revenue for the second quarter of 2015 of $942 million, an operating loss of $137 million, and a net loss of $181 million, or $0.23 per share. Despite claiming that the company is on track, AMD CEO and President Dr. Lisa Su pointed responsibility for the worsening financial condition of the company on "near-term challenges in our PC processor business due to lower-than-expected consumer demand."
Mantle no longer being actively improved by AMD
AMD is no longer going to be working on Mantle, its API launched in 2013 that allows developers to work with its Graphics Core Next GPUs at a low level, according to a report. The chip manufacturer isn't directly ending support for the API, but has apparently confirmed that it will no longer be producing any new optimizations for Mantle, with AMD instead seemingly concentrating on making their future cards and drivers work better with DirectX 12 and Vulkan.
Radeon R9 Fury X uses Fiji GPU, measures 7.5 inches long
AMD's highest-specification graphics cards have been replaced by a new frontrunner, with the chip producer also revealing a collection of more moderate graphics cards. The new R9 Fury series is headed up by the Fury X, a card that is claimed to not only have the highest GPU memory bandwidth ever, but also manages to scale the card's length down to an extremely small 7.5 inches.
New APUs for notebooks claim reduced power usage, HEVC hardware decoding support
AMD has unveiled a new roster of A-Series processor, the sixth-generation "Carrizo" system-on-chip (SoC). The A-Series consists of processors that AMD claims are the "most versatile notebook processor ever produced," said to provide improved streaming and gaming performance, with the range also using such a low amount of power that notebooks using them could potentially last for an entire day on a single battery charge.
Simultaneous multithreading in AMD Zen to improve throughput by 40 percent
AMD will concentrate on making more lucrative high-specification processors instead of low-cost chips, the CEO has advised during the company's recent Financial Analyst Day. Alongside a new roadmap showing what to expect from the chip producer in future releases, it has also admitted it needs to make changes in order to rescue itself financially.
LiquidVR API designed to reduce 'motion to photon' lag time
Today, at the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, AMD announced an initiative to deliver what it calls the best possible VR experience for developers and users. The first output of AMD's initiative is LiquidVR, a set of technologies focused on enabling exceptional VR content development for AMD hardware, improved comfort in VR applications by simplifying performance-boosting techniques, and plug-and-play compatibility with VR headsets.
Upcoming 28nm AMD APU will adapt to voltage fluctuations
AMD has issued more details about its Carrizo accelerated processing unit (APU). Revealed at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference and building on the announcement from last year, the chip manufacturer claims the new chip will have 3.1 billion transistors, 29 percent more than current Kaveri APUs in the same die area, with a 3.5x improvement on transcode performance and a 40-percent power saving also promised.
Company encouraged by results, expecting lower revenue for FY2015
After eking out a profit in two consecutive quarters, chip manufacturer AMD erased those gains with a massive loss. Despite its GPU processors being used in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and what the company calls a "solid" holiday quarter, AMD announced revenue for the fourth quarter of 2014 of $1.24 billion, with an operating loss of $330 million and net loss of $364 million, or $0.47 per share. This compares to the year-ago quarter, where the company made $1.59 billion in revenue, with a net income of $89 million.
Windows 7 TLS, SSL implementation fix breaks driver installations
This week's Microsoft "Patch Tuesday," the regular scheduled day for updates and bug fixes from the Redmond giant, hit a few snags. While one problematic patch to Exchange 2013 has already been retracted and re-issued, a second patch -- this one addressing SSL and TLS authentication -- has rendered many Windows Update drivers, including video card drivers from Nvidia and AMD, uninstallable on Windows 7.
Excavator, Puma+ cores, Radeon-class GPU featured in Carrizo APUs, succeeds Kaveri units
Confirming previous leaks, AMD announced that the next generation of of chips in its APU lineup are coming in the first half of 2015. During the Future of Compute event in Singapore, the graphics card and processor manufacturer detailed the new Carrizo system-on-chips (SOC), adding that the two models share a single, scalable infrastructure in a FP4 BGA packaging.
Technology based on open standard coming to in 4K monitors up to 31.5 inches
During the Future of Compute event in Singapore, AMD announced that it's working with Samsung to put the first monitors on the market that support its FreeSync technology in ultra high-definition (UHD) 4K monitors. To go along with the gaming-focused monitor technology, it was also announced that AMD is working with well-known game developer Capcom to implement Mantle support in the future.
High-end card memory increase coming, bonus game in top of 'Never Settle' offer
Those mulling over a purchase of an AMD video card might want to consider picking up one of the high-end models either soon or in the near future, as the company made some announcements that could sweeten the deal. AMD confirmed today that 8GB versions of Radeon 290X video cards are on the way, along with an offer that gives buyers of select cards a free copy of Civilization: Beyond Earth.
Developer resume gives clues to the APU shrink from 28nm to 20nm
Gamers hoping for a slim version of the Xbox One with a reduced cost could be see something hit the market in the near future. According to a resume from a senior manager at AMD, the company has successfully shrunk the die size of the system-on-chip (SOC) that is included in Microsoft's next-gen gaming console. Based on AMD's roadmap and die shrinks for GPUs and APUs, it could mean a new Xbox One is on its way in 2015.
Net revenues positive for the first time in 2014, reduced workforce will save $9M
AMD missed analyst estimates for the third quarter of 2014 according to the results released by the company on Thursday. Thomson Reuters had estimated that the computer processor and graphics card manufacturer would see $0.04 earnings per share on $1.47 billion in revenue for the quarter. Posted financial results show that AMD saw only $1.43 billion in revenue and $0.02 earnings per share.
Move may herald another dismal earnings report for AMD
Chip designer and manufacturer AMD has appointed a new chief executive officer amidst concerns of continuing profit decline. Ex-Chief Operating Officer Lisa Su is immediately supplanting three-year office holder Rory Read, one week before the company's quarterly earning report, generating concern for what the company will be reporting after losses continue to be suffered.
Online retailer pricing for high-end AMD cards drops up to $150 in some cases
Online retailers like Amazon and Newegg are showing new pricing levels for the top tier of Radeon video cards from AMD. Pricing for the high-end video cards has dropped as much as $150 in some cases, a move that could be interpreted as a reaction to the release of cheaper cards last month from its main competitor, Nvidia.
TSMC's role unknown
Samsung should start producing 14nm chips for Apple, Qualcomm, and AMD by the end of 2014, a report says. Apple's inclusion is particularly significant, as it implies that the company will be starting on production of a next-generation A-series processor, presumably the A9. The A8 only began appearing in Apple devices last month, with the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
New chips have no GPU, boast low price and light thermal load
Chip manufacturer AMD has launched a trio of new eight-core FX processors, based on the older Piledriver architecture. Released today are the FX-8370 and FX-8370E which peak at 4.3GHz, as well as the 4GHz FX-8320E. All three chips buck industry trends and don't have an onboard graphical processing unit.
Card sports the Tonga Pro GPU, set as a replacement for R9 280 at $249
During the AMD "30 Years of Gaming and Graphics" event that was streamed on Twitch yesterday, the company announced a new graphics card coming this fall. AMD announced that it would be releasing a replacement for the R9 280 with the Tonga Pro-based R9 285. The company positions the new card as a mid-level offering for $249.
New SSD line starts AMD's 'one stop shop' for enthusiasts
AMD today announced its previously-rumored technology partnership with Toshiba-owned OCZ Storage Solutions for AMD Radeon-branded Solid State Drives (SSDs). Launching the range is the AMD Radeon R7 Series SSDs in 120GB, 240GB and 480GB capacities.
New FirePro cards support 4K displays, use Graphics Core Next architecture
AMD has taken to Siggraph 2014 to launch new cards in its FirePro graphics card collection for professional use. A total of four graphics cards have joined the range, going from more basic offerings to high-performance variants, with the FirePro W2100, W4100, W5100, and W7100 all supporting 4K displays, with the group also using AMD's Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture.
Specifications, technical details released for 'Seattle' ARM Cortex-A57 SoC
Today at Hot Chips in Cupertino, California, AMD announced some new details about its Opteron A1100 "Seattle" system on chip (SoC) for servers. The "Seattle" SoC, which is to be AMD's first ARM entry over the next three years, packs a lot of processing power into a 28nm chip with a total of up to eight ARM Cortex-A57 64-bit cores.
Line ranges from 12-core A10-7800 to six-core A6-7400K
AMD today introduced the new "Kaveri" A10-7800 processor to the market for system builders. This fourth-generation A-Series APU, with four CPU cores and eight GPU processors, implements AMD's Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) features, and includes AMD Radeon R7 Series graphics to enhance performance across applications. Also released today are the six-core (two CPU and four GPU) A6-7400K, and the A8-7600 with 10 cores (four CPU and six GPU).
Company expects recovery by the end of the fiscal year
Chip manufacturer AMD today announced revenue for the second quarter of 2014. The company posted revenue of $1.44 billion, with operating income of $63 million. However, as expected, the company still posted a net loss of $36 million, or $0.05 per share. The company remains affected by the soft computing market, but is expected to have profitability by the end of the fiscal year.
Future processors to give laptops days-long battery life
Ahead of a speech in China, AMD executives have laid out a decades-long plan to increase mainstream processors' power efficiency 25-fold, making laptops have several days of battery life. Simultaneously, the company is aiming to catch up with Intel, and boost performance, while delivering the energy efficiency that the company sees as possible.
Second-highest European court sides with EC over Intel anti-competitive behavior fine
Intel must pay a 1.06 billion euro ($1.44 billion) fine handed to it by the European Union five years ago, the second-highest court in Europe has ordered. Judges based at the General Court in Luxembourg stood by the fine, issued by the European Commission in 2009 over anti-competitive behavior designed to squeeze AMD out of the processor market.
Our imagined future is getting closer everyday with VR and 3D audio
Electronista has had the opportunity to go hands-on with the Oculus Rift VR headset, courtesy of AMD in order to the capabilities of AMD's new TrueAudio digital signal processing that comes built-in on some of its newest GPU and APU cores. What is particularly special about the demo we experienced with AMD at Computex Taipei is they way it has worked with partner GenAudio AstoundSound, using its 3D sound localization cue technology, to make the Oculus Rift experience even more incredible and immersive. We have also embedded a video below to give you a sense of this amazing technology works.
New processors ready to drive wide range of devices with low power requirements
At the second day of Taipei's Computex, AMD introduced its new 2014 Performance Mobile APUs designed for ultrathin and high-performance mobile PCs. The new "Kaveri" release uses the features of the AMD A-Series APU to power notebooks for both personal and professional use. The new APUs mark the debut of Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) features and Graphics Core Next (GCN) Architecture for mobile devices. Also released is the AMD Pro line, designed with business-class performance in mind.
Use of Gameworks tools said to put AMD at a disadvantage, Nvidia refutes claim
With the release of Watch Dogs on PC this week, a number of complaints have arisen over the state of the game when played on AMD hardware. In a pair of articles from Jason Evangelho of Forbes, AMD brings to light some of the underlining problems caused by companies like Ubisoft using Nvidia's Gameworks tools during development. Nvidia dismissed the claims, trying to poke holes in AMD's statements of blocking them out of driver optimization.
Cryptocurrency inflation prices for Radeon cards die down, slight price drop in March model
AMD announced this week that supply of the R9 series Radeon cards has finally caught up to demand. The catch-up means that inflated prices will lower to match the original list prices, set by the company after cards were gobbled up to aid in cryptocurrency mining. One model of card, however -- the R9 280 -- will see a slight decrease in price, even though it was only released in March.
Small format gaming computers offer desktop performance for under $900
Cyberpower, the gaming-focused PC manufacturer, has announced the release of two small format PCs based on Intel and AMD cores. The Fang Mini systems offer full desktop gaming performance at a fraction of the size, with prices starting at $800.
AMD details Project Skybridge ambidextrous architecture in processor roadmap
AMD will begin developing its own custom ARM cores, alongside upcoming ARM-based chips such as the Opteron A-Series "Seattle," the company has announced in an investor webcast. The processor maker has signed a licensing agreement with ARM to create its own custom 64-bit ARMv8 CPU core, codenamed K12, as part of the company's move into an "ambidextrous architecture" strategy, which it calls Project Skybridge.
AMD starts private beta of Mantle SDK, launches resources portal
AMD has opened up a software development kit for its Mantle graphics API in a private beta. Mantle, which allows programs to call directly to AMD GPUs and APUs without passing instructions through the CPU beforehand, lowering the need for a powerful processor and bringing PC gaming in line with consoles and their reliance on AMD graphics. AMD has also set up a protected development portal for the API, providing restricted access to various Mantle resources.
$200 million payment to Global Foundries blocked quarterly profit
Beating analysts projections, AMD today announced revenue for the first quarter of 2014 of $1.40 billion, operating income of $49 million and net loss of $20 million, or $0.03 per share. Had the company not made its last $200 million cash payment to Global Foundries, it would have greatly exceeded its projections for the quarter. For the second quarter of 2014, the graphics and chip maker expects revenue to increase three percent, plus or minus three percent, sequentially.
AMD FirePro D-Series power the Mac Pro to new performance highs
One of the many exciting new features of the Mac Pro (late 2013) is Apple's choice to opt for dual AMD FirePro workstation GPUs as standard fitment, which certainly caught the eye of many observers. The previous generation Mac Pros included the option to fit dual CPUs, but as you can tell from the radical external redesign of the Mac Pro that Apple has fundamentally rethought its approach to the Mac workstation. Apple has chosen to adopt a dual-GPU configuration as standard fitment to leverage the massive processing power in GPU architecture. The biggest performance gains in certain professional applications come through harnessing the processing power in GPUs, rather than the CPU. To this extent, Apple has worked closely with AMD to develop three custom GPU solutions for the Mac Pro, to help Mac users tap into the power of AMD's Graphics Core Next (GCN) microarchitecture for parallel processing using the OpenCL framework.
AT&T cuts wireless data charges for individual customers without contact
AT&T has announced wireless data price cuts to individual customers that do not have annual service contracts. Done in an attempt to rival its competitor, T-Mobile, customers having one smartphone with no annual service contract will now pay $65 per month instead of $80 for a plan that features 2GB LTE wireless data, unlimited talk and text messaging, unlimited international messaging and 50GB of cloud storage. Those who have two smartphones will now pay $90 per month.
Mantle API to put developers in closer communication with GPU
After a short delay due to packing issues with the installer, the newest 14.1 beta version of the Catalyst drivers for AMD video cards has gone live this weekend. While most driver releases come and go without much fanfare, this specific driver release is important, as it features the first time consumers can get their hands on the highly-anticipated Mantle API.
AMD-powered gaming in a small box
Gigabyte launched its latest in the Brix series of ultra-compact PCs this week, the Brix Gaming. Taking the small-form PC to gaming, the Brix Gaming packs AMD technology to power its small box. With a footprint of only 59.6mm x 128mm x 115.4mm (2.35in x 5.04in x 4.54in), the small form factor is jumping to the market when the idea of the Steam machine is still fresh on the mind from this year's Consumer Electronics Show.
New processors designed for virtualization, heavy processor loads
AMD today announced the immediate availability of its new 12- and 16-core AMD Opteron 6300 Series server processors, code named "Warsaw." Designed for enterprise workloads with a heavy emphasis on virtualization, the new AMD Opteron 6300 Series processors feature the "Piledriver" core and are fully socket- and software-compatible with the existing AMD Opteron 6300 Series.
Company expects FY2014 to be profitable despite flat revenue
AMD today announced revenue for the fourth quarter of 2013 of $1.59 billion, operating income of $135 million and net income of $89 million, or $0.12 per share. For the year ended December 28, 2013, AMD reported revenue of $5.3 billion, operating income of $103 million and a net loss of $83 million, or $0.11 per share.
HSA architecture combines CPU, GPU, allows task switching between core types
AMD has launched its 2014 A-Series Accelerated Processing Units (APU) range, one which combines the CPU and GPU cores into a single Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA). The A-Series desktop and notebook chip, codenamed Kaveri, pairs up to four CPU cores and up to eight GPU cores, with HSA helping the chip gain a considerable speed boost.
AMD gains market share on back of PS4, Xbox One product ramps
AMD has seen its market share of the x86 chip market rise at the expense Intel largely thanks to the product ramps of the forthcoming Sony PS4 and the Xbox One. Highlighting that its strategy of shifting into non-PC x86 is reaping dividends, AMDs market share in Q3 rose from 16.1 percent to 19.3 percent. By comparison, Intel's x86 market share slipped from 83.3 percent in the same quarter last year to 80.2 percent, while the overall x86 market also declined.
Developer improvements use advances in Heterogeneous System Architecture
AMD today announced it is enabling its accelerated processing units (APU) for next-generation servers through advancements in software tools developed by AMD and in collaboration with technology partners and the open source community. In his keynote address at APU13, AMD Corporate Fellow Phil Rogers highlighted the progress AMD has made in both developing software internally and assisting other developers to take advantage of the capabilities of AMD APU technology, which combines the AMD Radeon graphics processing engines with x86 computational processing on a single chip.
Dual-width AMD graphics card offers speed, affordability
AMD has officially detailed the high-end cards in its new GPU lineup, as it continues to compete against offerings from Nvidia. Following on from its launches at the start of last month, the R9 290 and 290x are said to be heading to retail soon, with both greatly exceeding the performance of the previous leader, the R9 280x.
Boost comes from GPU sector, includes some next gen console payments
AMD today announced revenue for the third quarter of 2013 of $1.46 billion, operating income of $95 million and net income of $48 million, or $0.06 per share. The income greatly exceeded Wall Street's estimates for the company, which generally came in at $0.02 per share. The quarter marks the company's return to profitability after a series of unexpectedly bad results.
Forum threads indicate unaddressed flaw in some AMD cards or Apple graphics software
Detective work and anecdotal evidence by users in an Apple Support Communities thread about problems with discrete graphics cards in some MacBook Pros has narrowed down a range of possible flawed cards (or flawed switching software controlling the cards' use) in machines from early 2011 that use Apple's automatic switching between an integrated graphics chipset and a built-in discrete AMD card. Owners with the AMD Radeon 6750M GPU seem to be the most affected, but other Radeon cards are involved as well.
New line of cards range from entry level to enthusiast lines
Two weeks after the line's initial introduction, AMD has further detailed its upcoming GPU line. Five cards will be available at launch, ranging from the entry-level single-width R7 240 card, the double-wide R7 250 and R7 260X to the more gaming-oriented R9 270X and R9 280X. The latter two cards have also been given concrete specifications by the GPU manufacturer, and will sell for up to $300.
New line of cards features some models with audio processing on-card
AMD today unveiled the AMD Radeon R9 290X, R9 290, R9 280X, R9 270X, R7 260X and R7 250 graphics cards. AMD also introduced Mantle and AMD TrueAudio technology, the latest innovations that provide both gamers and game developers with audio and performance enhancements for compatible games, as well as a more streamlined cross-platform development path.
AMD Radeon HD 6970M video cards said to run exceptionally hot, fail early
Users who have a 27-inch "Mid 2011" iMac, which was sold between May of 2011 and October of 2012, may have a failure-prone video card that might need replacing, Apple has revealed. The company has started an official program to replace cards that have failed or are failing on iMacs up to three years after the initial purchase, even if the customer's original warranty has expired. Only select models of the 27-inch iMac with the AMD Radeon HD 6970M cards are affected, and customers who have already paid for repairs can be compensated.