Western Digital (WD) yesterday announced that they will acquire SanDisk, the third-largest manufacturer of flash memory in the world. WD is a major hard drive manufacturer with a lesser-known presence in SSDs. The company previously acquired Hitachi GST (HGST) and absorbed its hard drive division. WD is next significantly expanding its SSD presence by acquiring SanDisk for approximately $19 billion.
WD’s goal in this is to widen their market potential by getting into not only consumer SSDs, but other flash-based products. This acquisition will grant WD access to lower-cost SSD technology. WD said the deal will “double its addressable market and expand its participation in higher-growth segments.”
Microprocessor manufacturer AMD posted its third-quarter financials yesterday, reporting a ~40% revenue fall to $1.06 billion from $1.43 billion in 3Q14. AMD posted a $158 million operating loss for the quarter.
The company continues its endless restructure, the Radeon Technologies Group (RTG) now largely independent, with new shifts including a separation of the ATMP group.
NVidia recently filed a complaint against Qualcomm and Samsung with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). NVidia has also filed a suit against Samsung and Qualcomm. The GPU giant claims that Samsung and Qualcomm are infringing upon nVidia’s patents, specifically ones pertaining to GPU architecture and technologies. Despite the fact that nVidia is often better known for their desktop and high-performance GPUs, they have a significant presence in the supercomputing and mobile sectors. This makes the lawsuit very relevant as all three are significant players in the mobile sector.
This complaint and suit are due to alleged patent infringements in Samsung and Qualcomm’s graphics processors: the Exynos (Samsung) and Snapdragon (Qualcomm).
Liquid cooler manufacturer Asetek, the company that supplies many of the industry's best-known coolers by Corsair, EVGA, and NZXT, saw victory in a patent infringement case against Cooler Master (CMI) in 2014. In that trial, the jury awarded Asetek a 14.5% royalty on all Cooler Master liquid coolers sold in the US.
The SSD market has grown exponentially over the past few years, the product of reduced NAND cost and increased capacity at affordable prices. TLC and VNAND saw rapid gains in drive capacity at the cost of some endurance, though controller advancements have offset this downside considerably; TLC and VNAND also both offer the endurance required for the majority of consumer use case scenarios. As SSD cost has plummeted to below $0.50 per gigabyte, we've seen inclusion of SSDs in most system builds within the mid-range or better categories.
Kickstarter and crowdfunding offer a sense of great freedom, but we've all seen crowd-funded campaigns fall short or fail in the past few years. There's been little legal recourse as backers effectively giving money on good will; there is no partial ownership of the product or company.
Altius Entertainment successfully concluded its Kickstarter campaign a full three years ago (4Q12). In the years following, the card game never saw completion and Kickstarter backers were left wondering when their promised, tiered pledges would show up. The Washington Attorney General's office began investigation in 2014.
AMD is indisputably the most threatened silicon manufacturer in the gaming space. It is also critical to the stability of competitive advancement. The company exhibited a year-over-year revenue decline of 22% in 4Q14, with its PC segment – not differentiated between CPUs and GPUs – falling an additional 15% over its previous quarter. The PC segment lost approximately $56mm in 4Q14, following a $17mm loss in 3Q14. More recently, JPR showed a 26% quarterly decline in GPU sales for AMD, a bigger hit than the usual mid-year 6.86% decline. A lack of specificity between GPUs, CPUs, and APUs ensures limited visibility to the company's anchors, making it difficult to determine which segments are the worst-performing.
In spite of this – or perhaps spurred-on by it – AMD has rebranded itself several times over, promising “transformation” of the company and defining a set of “five pillars.” That promised transformation came in the form of layoffs and the departure of newly-hired executives who were billed to enact game-changing improvements for the company. Regarding AMD's five pillars, as defined by now-defunct CEO Rory Read, none included a direct mention of “gaming” at the top level; instead, the five pillars consisted of ultra-low power devices, embedded devices, semi-custom solutions, professional graphics, and dense servers. None of these explicitly and directly pertain to PC gaming, though semi-custom solutions can be deployed in what ultimately become gaming devices (see: consoles).
The Witcher 3 has been, alongside GTA V, one of the biggest releases of the year. The game has seen one million PC activations via the company's GOG Galaxy service, netting a profit of $62.5 million USD in 1H15. First-half net profit of the Witcher 3 grew 768% over 2011 + 2012 figures.
Epic Games has posted a showdown for the all the major virtual reality headsets currently competing. Those who own or have access to an Oculus DK2 (and up), Sony Morpheus (a device that seems aptly named for Showdown), or HTC Vive can download and run Epic’s Matrix-inspired VR experience.
Activision’s (ATVI) World of Warcraft is one of the largest, longest-lived MMORPGs on the PC market. For a game originally released in 2004, currently having 5.6 million players – for a monthly subscription fee – is an impressive feat. For Activision-Blizzard, World of Warcraft has been a major source of revenue for more than a decade.
In late 2010, the game reached a total of ~12 million subscribers around the arrival of the Cataclysm expansion. Despite this impressively large player base, WoW’s size has recently seen a period of decline. This is not to suggest that WoW’s player base has shrunken steadily -- last November’s Warlords of Draenor expansion caused subscriber count to exceed 10 million -- but there’s been a loss of late.
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