Last week primarily featured initial Vulkan benchmarks – a stepping stone toward full integration of the new API within games – and major silicon manufacturer news. Intel declared plans to ship 10nm chips by 2H17, nVidia boasted record revenue of $1.4B for its fiscal quarter, and AMD pushed improved Linux drivers to the public. The Intel push is the most interesting, with the company definitively indicating that it will not delay 10nm chip manufacturing past 2017. As the silicon manufacturers near the lower limit of current technology and processes, each of these iterative jaunts toward (what we'd expect to be) something like 1nm carbon nanotubes gets increasingly difficult. Seeing single-digit percentage point increases in overall performance (gaming, production) isn't quite as impressive as the reduction in power and significantly increased transistor count.
Learn about each of these items in more depth here:
The past week of hardware news is mostly industry-driven, with few noteworthy product announcements outside of a few small items. A few critical news items emerged regarding industry, though, like further Samsung vs. nVidia proceedings, Micron's GDDR5X memory (replacing GDDR5, theoretically), Unity's Steam VR support, AMD/HP FreeSync laptops, and AMD Zen details revealed through CERN – the particle and nuclear research group.
We've rounded up this week's news in the below video. You can find quick, bulleted recaps of each item below the video, if you'd prefer that format.
Learn more below!
The Vulkan API has completely taken over AMD's low-level Mantle application program interface, somewhat of a peer to Microsoft's DirectX 12.
It's a competitive space. Mantle tried to push the industry toward more console-like programming – and we mean that in positive ways – by getting developers “close to the metal.” Low-level APIs that bypass the insurmountable overhead of DirectX 11 are the key to unlocking the full potential of modern hardware; DirectX 12 and Vulkan both get us closer to this, primarily by shifting draw calls off the CPU and reducing bottlenecking. GPUs have grown so powerful in their parallel processing that they can assume significant workload that was once placed upon processors – this benefits gamers in particular, since the majority of our workloads are more easily pushed through the GPU.
Seagate's year started off with a declaration of significant downturn in its revenue and profits, and the company now faces additional challenges from a Class Action consumer complaint. The complaint has been levied against the company for “breach of consumer protection, unfair competition and false advertising […] and unjust enrichment,” something which law firm Hagens Berman contests should yield rewards for affected consumers.
Today, Western Digital announced its earnings for the second quarter of its fiscal year. According to WDC (NASDAQ: WDC), the company had a quarterly revenue of $3.3 billion, down almost 17% from the $3.9 billion revenue they had this quarter last year. The company’s net income went down 54% over the same period -- falling from $438 million to $251 million.
Meanwhile, Western Digital’s main rival in the thinning hard drive field -- Seagate Technology (NASDAQ: STX) -- also released earnings reports for the second fiscal quarter. Seagate’s revenue was down from this quarter last year: 21% down from $3.7 billion, landing at $2.9 billion. Seagate’s non-GAAP net income for the quarter was 46% lower than last years -- $311 million this year versus $495mm last year.
Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA) recently filed to receive a trademark for the term “Let's Play,” best-known for its tenure and long history in the YouTuber gameplay video space. SCEA's filing for the “Let's Play” trademark was blocked by the US Patent and Trademark Office on the grounds of being “confusingly similar” – a legal control for excessive trademarking in a similar vertical – to the “Let'z Play of America” organization's trademark.
The world of liquid cooling has recently been set ablaze with ceaseless legal conflict between major CLC providers, a battle for which we've become Ground Zero of statements and reports. These C&Ds and lawsuits all trace back to a shared root: Patent infringement allegations. This concept, of course, isn't relegated to liquid cooling and radiators.
Gaming eyewear manufacturer Gunnar Optiks recently suffered a venue loss against newcomer NoScope Glasses, who've become the target of Gunnar Optiks' ongoing patent infringement lawsuits against competing glasses manufacturers. In the lawsuit, Gunnar Optiks alleges that upstart competitor NoScope Glasses infringes upon its patent #8,342,681 ('681), awarded on January 1, 2013. This patent '681 has been cited in previous lawsuits and actions levied by Gunnar Optiks against gaming glasses manufacturers, including the now-defunct Gamer's Edge line, Allure Eyewear, and Marchon Eyewear. At a top-level, it appears the patent infringement allegations stem from the application of yellow lenses as a means to filter blue light from the wearer's vision, something which theoretically decreases eye strain from prolonged monitor use.
Oculus Rift CEO Palmer Luckey took fire all throughout last week's CES, a show we covered extensively, thanks to his company's near-doubled Oculus Rift pricing over the initial $350 estimate. The company claims it's selling the Rift at “almost cost” with its $600 price-point, and has definitely tempered its financial hit with the inclusion of a free Xbox controller.
For Australians, the pricing is significantly worse. Residents of Australia are currently paying $130 just to ship the $600 Rift, which sees what appears to be a US tax add that raises price to $685; after this, Australians are paying an additional GST (Goods & Services Tax) of ~10%. The price exceeds 1000AUD thanks to the massive shipping charge, which is triggering additional consumer taxes for the import.
The Steam store was shut down on Christmas day following a series of DDOS attacks. Valve released a statement and apology following the event, clarifying that 34,000 people have been affected and that the released information “did not include full credit card numbers, user passwords, or enough data to allow logging in as or completing a transaction as another user.” Further, those who did not input any personal information to Steam on Christmas will not have been affected by the caching error.
On December 5, we broke news on Asetek's Cease & Desist order sent to AMD, pursuant to the sale of its liquid-cooled R9 Fury X video card. Asetek previously won a suit against Cooler Master USA for its closed-loop liquid cooler products (CLCs), to include the Seidon, Nepton, and Glacer (Swiftech-supplied) lines. The patents primarily discussed are 8,240,362 and 8,245,764.
By judge and jury, CMI USA (Cooler Master USA) was found guilty of patent infringement of the pump-on-coldplate design and ordered to pay 14.5% royalties. Inability to pay-out on its ruled dues ultimately saw a royalties percentage increase to 25.375%, followed by banishment of all affected Cooler Master CLCs from US markets.
This article fully details the relevant legal history of liquid cooling companies, including the rise of Asetek & CoolIT, their patent lawsuits against one another, the recent lawsuit against Cooler Master, and the C&D against AMD's R9 Fury X.
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