Facebook Inc is building a team to design its own semiconductors, adding to a trend among technology companies to supply themselves and lower their dependence on chipmakers such as Intel Corp and Qualcomm Inc, according to job listings and people familiar with the matter.
The social media company is seeking to hire a manager to build an “end-to-end SoC/ASIC, firmware and driver development organization,” according to a job listing on its corporate website, indicating the effort is still in its early stages. The Menlo Park, California-based company would join other technology giants tackling the massive effort to develop chips. In 2010, Apple Inc started shipping its own chips and now uses them across many of its major product lines. Alphabet Inc’s Google has developed its own artificial intelligence chip as well.
Facebook could use such chips to power hardware devices, artificial intelligence software and servers in its data centers. Next month, the company will launch the Oculus Go, a $200 standalone virtual-reality headset that runs on a Qualcomm processor. Facebook is also working on a slew of smart speakers. Future generations of those devices could be improved by custom chipsets. By using its own processors, the company would have finer control over product development and would be able to better tune its software and hardware together. Facebook declined to comment on the job postings.
A system on chip, or SoC, is a type of semiconductor that contains several discrete components built into one piece of silicon. They’re typically used in mobile devices where their space and power-saving properties are more valuable.
The main functions of most smartphones are provided by SoCs. An ASIC, or applications specific integrated circuit, is a chip designed for a narrow purpose. Such components are often the fastest or most-efficient at running a particular piece of software. Their weakness is that they’re locked down and may become redundant over time if software and workloads evolve.
The postings didn’t make it clear what kind of use Facebook wants to put the chips to other than the broad umbrella of artificial intelligence. A job listing references “expertise to build custom solutions targeted at multiple verticals including AI/ML,” indicating that the chip work could focus on a processor for artificial intelligence tasks. Facebook AI researcher Yann LeCun tweeted about some of the job postings on Wednesday, asking for candidates interested in designing chips for AI.
Oculus Rift S VR Headset With Higher-Resolution Display and Built-In Tracking Announced
Oculus VR has launched its next-generation Rift virtual reality headset. The new Oculus Rift S features an inside-out tracking which eliminates the need for any external sensors. The Rift S also offers a higher-resolution screen compared to its predecessor. Oculus has announced that the Rift S head-mounted display will ship this Spring at a price of $399 (roughly Rs. 27,300). The company hasn’t revealed an exact launch date yet.
Oculus says it has collaborated with electronics giant Lenovo to develop the Oculus Rift S. The Rift S isn’t quite a major upgrade over the previous headset but aims to offer a higher quality VR experience and better ergonomics.
The Oculus Rift S and its predecessor still share the same core platform, which means users can access VR content created for either of the headsets. Oculus has also maintained the same PC requirements for the new Rift S as the original Rift.
Oculus will also enable cross-buy and cross-play features, enabling users to upgrade their hardware and still have their library accessible as it is.
Oculus Rift S virtual reality headset features a new high-resolution display with improved Fresnel lenses. The display panel offers a resolution of 2560×1440 (1280×1440 per eye) with a refresh rate of 80Hz. For audio, the Rift S includes a headphone jack and near-ear speakers.
The Rift S comes with an inside-out tracking system called Oculus Insight, confirming previous reports. This removes the need to have external cameras for a full-body movement. Oculus Insight will also be included in the company’s upcoming Quest virtual reality headset.
Oculus is also bringing a new feature called Passthrough Plus to the Rift S platform. The feature will enable users to view real-world surroundings as they set up their virtual reality space using the Oculus Guardian tool. Users will be able to switch between the Home Launcher and a real-world feed of their surroundings quickly, thanks to the new inside-out tracking system.
Due to the collaboration, the Oculus Rift S will feature both Oculus and Lenovo branding. It will also ship with a new halo strap. While the company hasn’t specified an exact release date yet, Oculus could launch the Rift S along with the Quest during Facebook’s F8 developer conference which is scheduled for April 30 this year.
Google Stadia Game Streaming Platform, Stadia Controller Announced
At GDC 2019, Google announced Stadia, its game streaming platform. Stadia will work across devices from smartphones, tablets, TVs, laptops, and PCs via Chrome. It integrates YouTube as well, allowing developers to add a Play button to game video on YouTube and lets users immediately play the game on Chrome. Stadia will leverage Google’s data centres that are present in 200 plus countries and territories. Google’s Phil Harrison took to stage to show off Assassin’s Creed Odyssey working across a Chromebook, Pixel 3, and TV via Chromecast in a seamless fashion. Furthermore, you can use your own controllers or keyboard and mouse on Stadia on your PC or laptop.
In addition to this, Google revealed the Stadia controller. It links to data centres directly via WiFi. It features two new buttons — a Capture button that allows players to share to friends, themselves or the world via YouTube. There’s also a Google Assistant button to assist players in-game.
Stadia’s architecture has been built on Google’s data centre tech which also powers its search results. It’s been infused with gaming-focussed hardware to keep up with the task of streaming heavy games. Powering the data centres is the Stadia GPU from AMD which is at 10.7 teraflops. This is nearly double of what the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro has, making it possible to play games like Doom Eternal running at 4K 60fps in HDR on Stadia.
The company claims that it has been testing Stadia’s tech internally for years and plans to allow for 4K 60fps gameplay with HDR in surround sound when it’s available for all. Eventually Stadia will also scale up to 8K too. Users will also be given the option to share Stadia gameplay footage to YouTube at 4K 60fps as well. Developers can create multiple points of purchase and play for games on Stadia through Gmail, YouTube, and search, going as far as to let players click a link on a game trailer and get right into a game. YouTubers could use it to send custom challenges to their fans and players can even create and share their own links to let others get in a game at the exact location they’re in.
However Stadia won’t be restricted to single-player games. Google confirmed that multiplayer games will be supported as well. These would include battle royale and couch-based co-op experiences.
And in a refreshing move, Harrison confirmed that Stadia will support cross-platform play as well. A concrete release date and price point hasn’t been confirmed yet and we don’t know what Internet connection would be needed for it, though Harrison said Stadia will launch in the US, UK, Canada, and Europe later this year.
Nubia Red Magic 3 will be powered by Snapdragon 855 processor, confirms company
Nubia has apparently started working on its third iteration of its gaming smartphone, dubbed Nubia Red Magic 3. Nubia’s general manager, Ni Fei, has made a post on Weibo confirming six key features of the upcoming Nubia Red Magic 3.
To recall, Nubia recently launched its Red Magic in India at Rs 29,999 and is yet to launch its successor, the Nubia Red Magic Mars in India. Currently, only a handful of smartphone manufacturers like Asus, Black Shark and Razer offer consumers dedicated gaming smartphones.
In the Weibo post, Ni Fei confirmed that the device will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor paired with an Adreno 640 GPU. It will come with 12GB of RAM and will have a comparatively higher display refresh rate than most gaming PCs.
The device will come packing a 3,800mAh non-removable battery with support for fast charging. It will also come with a liquid and air dual cooling system paired with a new 4D shock vibration motor and DTS 7.1 3D Surround Sound for a better gaming experience.
According to a recent report, the company will soon be launching its Red Magic Mars in India to compete with brands like OnePlus and Asus ROG, followed by its recently announced Nubia Alpha foldable smartphone. The report also mentioned that both the devices will be priced between Rs 40,000 to Rs 30,000.
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