AMD back in the game

It’s been a long time coming but AMD has finally launched its new high end Radeon graphics cards. And it has done it in style, at Los Angeles to a gathering of global media, with three models — the Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition with 64 compute unitsthe Radeon RX Vega 64 with air cooling, and the Radeon RX Vega 56 which starts at US$399.

These new additions are pitted against the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080Ti and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080, making for an interest battle, especially as NVIDIA is not known for sitting back and letting others take over its mantle.

“The enthusiast gaming experience is defined by high resolutions and a tear-free, buttery smooth 60 frames per second, something that only approximately 600,000 gamers are capable of enjoying today. But there are four million more gamers who aspire to enjoy that same enthusiast gaming experience without breaking the bank, and with Radeon RX Vega graphics cards we’re working to give them that,” said Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group, AMD.

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AI to fuel next wave of cloud growth

The cloud infrastructure services market is continuing to grow strongly, up 47 percent year on year in Q2 to reach US$14 billion, according to Canalys. Growth was driven by demand for primary cloud infrastructure services, such as on-demand computing and storage, across all customer segments and industries.

However, future growth is expected to be fueled by customers using the artificial intelligence (AI) platforms cloud service providers are building to develop new applications, processes, services, and user experiences.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) maintained its leadership position, growing 42 percent on an annual basis and accounting for more than 30 percent of total spend. But its growth rate was lower than those of its main rivals, Microsoft (up 97 percent growth) and Google (up 92 percent), but higher than fourth-placed IBM (up 23 percent). Overall, the top four cloud services providers represented 55 percent of the cloud infrastructure services market, which includes IaaS and PaaS.

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Amazon Prime Now makes first SEA stop in Singapore

The online grocery market in Singapore has just gotten hotter with Amazon’s launch of its Prime Now service. It is the e-commerce giant’s first stop in the region.

Prime Now offers tens of thousands of products, such as groceries, chilled beer, ice-cream, household, and home essentials, baby, beauty, electronics, and toys.

 Those interested can download the Amazon Prime Now app from iTunes and Google Play stores and enjoy free two-hour delivery service for orders above S$40. For orders under S$40, the cost is S$5.99 for the two-hour delivery or S$9.99 for one-hour delivery.

 

Motorola and Neurala to work on intelligent cameras

Motorola Solutions and Neurala will develop intelligent cameras that will enable police officers to more efficiently search for objects or persons of interest, such as missing children and suspects.

The companies will integrate Neurala’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities with Motorola Solutions’ software and cameras, including its Si500 body-worn camera. The integration will create intelligent cameras that can learn “at the edge” and automatically search for persons or objects of interest – significantly reducing the time and effort required to find a missing child or suspicious object in environments that are often crowded or chaotic.

“We see powerful potential for AI to improve safety and efficiency for our customers, which in turn helps create safer communities. But applying AI in a public safety setting presents unique challenges. Neurala’s ‘edge learning’ capabilities will help us explore solutions for a variety of public safety workflows such as finding a missing child or investigating an object of interest, such as a bicycle,” said Paul Steinberg, Chief Technology Officer of Motorola Solutions.

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Flash to be switched off in 2020

Adobe Flash will be phased out by 2020. Improved open standards pushed by the World Wide Web Consortium have prompted Adobe to pull the plug on Flash, which enables video and interactive contents to be delivered on browsers.

It’s starting out to be a difficult week for sentimentalists in the light of Microsoft’s plan to remove Paint from the next Windows 10 update. Microsoft has since clarified that Paint will still be available for free in the Windows Store.

 

NVIDIA Tesla V100 surprise for world’s top AI researchers

Fifteen top AI research institutions of the NVIDIA AI Labs programmes were each presented with the Volta-based NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPU accelerator.

They were participating in Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) conference in Honolulu.

“AI is the most powerful technology force that we have ever known. I’ve seen everything. I’ve seen the coming and going of the client-server revolution. I’ve seen the coming and going of the PC revolution. Absolutely nothing compares,” said Jensen Huang, CEO of NVIDIA.

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There’s hope yet for Paint

After an initial report that Microsoft plans to remove Paint from the next update of Windows 10, there is hope yet for Paint users.

In a blog post on Monday, Microsoft allayed fears of the tool’s demise. “Today, we’ve seen an incredible outpouring of support and nostalgia around MS Paint. If there’s anything we learned, it’s that after 32 years, MS Paint has a lot of fans. It’s been amazing to see so much love for our trusty old app,” said Megan Saunders, General Manager of Microsoft.

“Amidst today’s commentary around MS Paint we wanted to take this opportunity to set the record straight, clear up some confusion and share some good news: MS Paint is here to stay, it will just have a new home soon, in the Windows Store where it will be available for free,” she added.

AI takes centrestage at ICML in Sydney

NVIDIA is bringing its wealth of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions and expertise to the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) in Sydney.

Held at Sydney International Convention Centre from August 6 to 11, the event is expected to attract up to 3,000 participants, primarily faculty, researchers and PhD students in machine learning, data science, data mining, AI, statistics, and related fields.

The NVIDIA booth (Level 2, The Gallery, Booth #4) will feature many firsts in Australia, such as demos on 4K style transfer, a deep neural network to extract a specific artistic style from a source painting, and then synthesises this information with the content of a separate video; self-driving auto using the Drive PX2 AI car computing platform; Deepstream SDK that simplifies development of high performance video analytics applications powered by deep learning; and NVIDIA Isaac, the AI-based software platform lets developers train virtual robots using detailed and highly realistic test scenarios.

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Video services analytics to double in 5 years

The market for analytics within Pay TV services will grow by 105 percent in the next five years, from US$1.8 billion this year to US$3.7 billion in 2022, according to ABI Research.

Comcast, Netflix, Sky, Telstra, and other successful video companies differentiate themselves from their peers by their strong use of analytics to optimise and improve operational metrics. Pay TV companies are starting to transform products to support an analytical focus, moving in the direction of artificial intelligence and machine learning to enable self-optimisation.

Video companies sell today’s products in a host of point-solutions, including content and metadata engagement, customer management, network optimisation, and consumption measurement. Larger network-oriented business support systems and business intelligence vendors also play a significant role within these markets.

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The 8s are coming

This is the year of the 8s. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is expected to be revealed on August 23 in New York City, according to invitations sent to the media. Samsung will be hoping that this new iteration can wipe away the disappointment of the ill-fated Note 7.

Apple is also likely to announce the iPhone 8 in the next couple of months while Nokia is reportedly readying the launch of its new flagship Nokia 8 shortly,

Dell launches 14th gen servers

Dell has announced worldwide availability of the next generation of the Dell PowerEdge server portfolio which forms a scalable, automated and secure compute platform for traditional and cloud-native applications.

With its scalable business architecture, intelligent automation and integrated security, the new Dell PowerEdge 14th generation server portfolio delivers aims to be the bedrock of the modern data centre, enabling customers to push innovation further and faster to achieve their IT transformation goals.

The scalable business architecture of Dell PowerEdge servers helps customers efficiently meet their changing business needs with enhanced performance capabilities for traditional, virtualised and cloud-native workloads in a software-defined data centre.

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Students’ demand drives Aussie IT spending

Australian educational institutions are increasing information technology (IT) spending in response to dramatic changes in student expectations, according to IDC.

Spending by Australian educational institutions is expected to peak at US$1.6 billion by 2020, driven by software and services related investments. Education practices are shifting away from the classroom towards e-learning and virtual instructor-led training approaches as students are demanding anytime-anywhere remote access.

In its recently published Australian education sector report, IDC highlights the need to overhaul existing ICT management models in schools and universities so that a step-change improvement in delivery efficiency can be achieved.

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30 months on the Edge

By Edward Lim

It’s official. The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is my longest lasting phone. After 30 months, I’ve finally moved on to another smartphone — the Google Pixel (I’ll share more about this in another post).

Why have I decided to keep the Edge for so long? Well, there are several reasons:

  1. My daughter bought it for me in December 2014.
  2. My phone was working perfectly fine. Slower yes but fine.
  3. There was no compelling reason to upgrade to any phone throughout this period, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 issue notwithstanding.

Just like I shared “5 reasons why I like the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge” three months after I had it, let me share my 30 months’ experience with what I think is a wonderful device.

  1. It makes a marvellous talking point. Even when newer smartphones with curved edges came out, people were still asking me about the Edge and its unique one-sided curve. Talk about longevity!
  2. It has replaceable battery, something some of the competing top-of-the-line range lack.
  3. Simple adding of storage when needed. Despite been a fairly heavy user, particularly of photos, I never found storage space a problem. When I needed more space, I just swapped to a higher capacity micro SD card.

The downside of prolonged usage is the same as other  devices. The Note Edge did slow down considerably with each software upgrade. The most noticeable was the activation of the camera function. It takes a while to load, resulting in many missed photo opportunities.

Other challenges with owning a Note Edge is the lack of good screen protectors. I paid for a supposedly good one but the protector just couldn’t stick well onto the curved portion. There is also the lack of choices of phone covers/cases.

Overall, I was very pleased with the smartphone. It’s been a great companion throughout the past 30 months. Best of all, it survived numerous trips around the world without a single scratch on the screen — and without a screen protector in place!

 

Vertu no more

Imagine paying more than S$34,000 for a phone? Well, it’s hard to imagine that kind of price tag for mortals who already consider the Google Pixel, iPhone and Samsung S8 expensive.

It’s not surprising then that the luxury phone brand Vertu has breathed its last. Established by then mobile phone giant Nokia in 1998, the British manufacturer was acquired by Turkish businessman Murat Hakan Uzan this March. However, Vertu still struggled financially and is shutting down.

Vertu was renowned for producing hand-made phones made with expensive materials such as gold, leather and diamond.

Beat traffic jam with new Audi A8

At the inaugural Audi Summit in Spain, Audi revealed that its flagship 2018 A8 features a multitude of high-tech wizardry powered by NVIDIA.

“The car of the future will make its occupants’ life easier with the help of artificial intelligence (AI),” declared Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Audi, as he introduced such A8 features as Audi AI Traffic Jam Pilot, Remote Park Pilot, Natural Voice Control and Swarm Intelligence.

The A8 is packed with NVIDIA powered systems, including revolutionary new user interfaces, a new infotainment system, a new virtual cockpit, and new rear seat entertainment options.

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APAC PC market down 5.1% in Q2

PC shipment in the Asia-Pacific region surpassed 21,5 million units, down 5.1 percent in Q2 compared to the same period last year, according to Gartner.

The dip was due to primarily due to market dynamics in India and China. In India, the pent up demand after the demonetisation cooled down after Q1, coupled with the absence of a large tender deal compared to a year ago and higher PC prices, brought about weak market growth. China was hugely impacted by the rise in PC prices due to the component shortage.

Overall, global PC shipment totaled 61.1 million units in Q2, a 4.3 percent decline from the same quarter last year.

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Full PC backup with Google

Google has launched the Backup and Sync tool for users to easily back up practically all files on their computer. This new tool will replace the Google Photos desktop app and the Google Drive client applications for both Mac and PC.

According to a Google blog post, “Backup and Sync is an app for Mac and PC that backs up files and photos safely in Google Drive and Google Photos, so they’re no longer trapped on your computer and other devices”.

Backing up is done by simply clicking on the desired folders. Once done, these folders are automatically backed up and synced across all devices.

NVIDIA invests in Deep Instinct

NVIDIA is investing in Deep Instinct, an Israeli-based startup that uses deep learning to thwart cyber attacks.

Deep Instinct uses a GPU-based neural network and CUDA to achieve 99 percent detection rates, compared with about 80 percent detection from conventional cyber security software. Its software can automatically detect and defeat the most advanced cyber attacks.

“Deep Instinct is an emerging leader in applying GPU-powered AI through deep learning to address cybersecurity, a field ripe for disruption as enterprise customers migrate away from traditional solutions. We’re excited to work together with Deep Instinct to advance this important field,” said Jeff Herbst, Vice President of Business Development of NVIDIA.

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Fujitsu announces new Xeon-based servers

Fujitsu has introduced its fully refreshed range of Xeon-based dual- and quad-socket Primergy servers and octo-socket Primequest business critical server systems.

These new servers are powerful and flexible, enabling enterprises to build secure, agile, multi-cloud data centres.

Featuring the new Intel Xeon scalable processors, the Fujitsu Server Primergy and Primequest business model server systems are designed for exceptional workload-specific performance and hardware-enhanced security. Built for trusted data service delivery, the new models represent significant leaps in I/O, memory, storage and network technologies.

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Facebook to add ads to Messenger

As if we don’t already have enough of ads. Facebook has announced that it will start rolling out ads to Messenger. With 1.2 billion users, the social media giant does have immense appeal for advertisers.

It seems that Facebook has completed test runs in Australia and Thailand and are ready to unleash ads on the rest of the world in the coming weeks.

The thing is that Messenger was literally forced onto mobile users when Facebook unbundled it from its mobile app. Users did not have a choice. Of course, there’s always browser access — it’s a little cumbersome but still an option for those resisting the move.

Singapore seeks feedback on cybersecurity bill

Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) are seeking feedback on the proposed Cybersecurity Bill.

The public consultation exercise will run till August 3.

“Cyber-attacks are getting increasingly frequent, sophisticated and impactful. Globally, we have also seen a surge in the number of cybersecurity incidents, such as ransomware, cyber theft, banking fraud, cyber espionage and disruptions to Internet services. In Singapore, the recent Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) attacks targeting two of our universities, and the occurrence of the global WannaCry and Petya/Petna malware attacks which also reached our shores, serve as stark reminders of Singapore’s vulnerability to cyber threats,” noted the joint press release.

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Device market to dip in 2017

Global demand for devices — PCs, tablets and smartphones — are expected to dip slightly this year, with Gartner projecting shipment exceeding 2.3 billion units, a decline of 0.3 percent from 2016.

However, the market is forecast to return to growth in 2018 with a 1.6 percent increase in shipment.

“Overall, the shipment growth of the device market is steady for the first time in many years. PC shipments are slightly lower while phone shipments are slightly higher — leading to a slight downward revision in shipments from the previous forecast, “said Ranjit Atwal, Research Director of Gartner.

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NVIDIA and Baidu team up on AI

NVIDIA and Baidu have teamed up to bring artificial intelligence (AI) technology to cloud computing, self-driving vehicles and AI home assistants.

Baidu will deploy NVIDIA HGX architecture with Tesla Volta V100 and Tesla P4 GPU accelerators for AI training and inference in its data centres. Combined with Baidu’s PaddlePaddle deep learning framework and NVIDIA’s TensorRT deep learning inference software, researchers and companies can harness state-of-the-art technology to develop products and services with real-time understanding of images, speech, text and video.

To accelerate AI development, the companies will work together to optimise Baidu’s open-source PaddlePaddle deep learning framework on NVIDIA’s Volta GPU architecture.

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Return of Note 7

The embattled Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is making a return — as a limited edition Galaxy Note Fan Edition!

According to a statement, Samsung plans to sell the refurbished device (which comes with new battery) from July 7, starting with a 400,000 limited run in Korea. The smartphone will be priced at 699,000 won.

Problems with the batteries led to a recall which left a mark on an otherwise remarkable run by the highly popular Galaxy Note series.