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AMD investors positive despite $20M quarterly loss

AMD investors positive despite $20M quarterly loss

AMD’s Q1 2014 financial report shows a drop back into the red with a $20M loss, although investors seem bullish on the company’s future.


AMD’s most recent earnings report has investors impressed, with the company’s stock price rising almost 12 per cent on news of $1.4 billion in sales – despite an overall loss of $20 million for the first quarter of its financial year.

AMD’s quarterly earnings call this week announced $1.4 billion in revenue for Q1 2014, an impressive rise of 28 per cent year-on-year at a time when the global PC market is continuing to shrink – albeit slower than previously. While the quarter-on-quarter shrinkage of 12 per cent might seem like bad news, that’s comparing heavier sales in the run-up to Christmas to the post-Christmas slump; a sequential dip at this time is always to be expected.

A gross profit margin of just 35 per cent, indicative of AMD’s push towards the lower end of the market in CPUs and strong competition from rival Nvidia in GPUs, led to overall operating income of $49 million for the quarter; not enough, sadly, to prevent a loss of $20 million overall. With AMD ending the last quarter on an $89 million profit, that’s a blow – although one significantly less strong than the whopping $146 million loss the company made in the same quarter last year.

AMD continued our momentum by building on the solid foundation we set in the second half of 2013, further transforming the company,‘ claimed AMD president and chief executive Rory Read during the call with press, investors and analysts. ‘Backed by our powerful x86 processor cores and hands-down best graphics experiences, we achieved 28 percent revenue growth from the year-ago quarter. We are well positioned to continue to grow profitably as we diversify our business and enable our customers to drive change and win.

The company’s results show that the PC market slump, while slowing, is continuing to have an impact: AMD’s Computing Solutions business unit’s revenue dropped eight per cent quarter-on-quarter and 12 per cent year-on-year, due to a drop in shipments. Its operating loss, however, was a mere $3 million; down from $7 million last quarter and a painful $39 million in the same quarter last year.

AMD’s Graphics and Visual Solutions business unit is the most interesting story, however: a 15 per cent drop in sequential shipments has been more than offset by an impressive 118 per cent increase year-on-year, attributed to the company’s deals to put semi-custom system-on-chip (SoC) processors in the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 consoles. Overall, the division made a $91 million profit for the year, down from $121 million last quarter when Microsoft and Sony purchased their console chips but up from just $16 million in the same quarter last year.

During the conference call, AMD’s Lisa Su, general manager of global business units, confirmed that the company is still in the design stages of a new semiconductor process node. ‘We are 28 [nanometre] this year, we have 20 nanometre in design, and then FinFET thereafter,‘ she claimed in response to an analyst query – suggesting that 20nm parts won’t be available in quantity until 2015 at the earliest, with the 3D FinFET transistor move – designed to compete with Intel’s Tri-Gate Transistor technology – likely to come the year after.

Su also had positive things to say about AMD’s foray into the low-power server market with Cambridge-based ARM’s IP. ‘There’s been a lot of customer interest around Seattle [chips], so certainly for the server guys, the hyper-scale guys and then even some adjacent markets, there’s good customer interest, claimed Su. ‘I’ll say the interest in the platform is quite high and it’s a major milestone for us to introduce our first 64-bit ARM chip into the market.

What we’re doing here is identifying this opportunity long before it has taken place,‘ added Read, ‘and we’re catching it just as the way it is forming. That’s the kind of innovation leadership that we really want to go after. This is going to be an important market over the next three, five years, and we have an opportunity to truly lead in this ARM server ecosystem, and take advantage of our ambidextrous capability. This is spot-on in the strategy.

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Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards

Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards

Non-reference graphics cards often have capacitors and VRM circuitry in different places to reference PCBs making it tricky to make universal waterblocks. Alphacool will be soon be able to tailor-make blocks for specific non-reference models.


Alphacool has announced that it will soon be able to 3D-scan graphics cards with non-reference PCBs in order to make custom waterblocks far more easily.

It has made use of a cutting-edge 3D scanner to accurately measure the PCB to allow it to quickly manufacture custom cooling plates that are compatible with a new range of waterblocks.

In addition, it’s offering a free waterblock set for your graphics card (see requirements below) in return for you loaning it to the company. This means it can scan your model and add it to its manufacturing database so others can potentially buy it too.

In the past, if you owned a graphics card with a non-reference PCB – that is one that’s maybe had additional power circuitry added to offer better overclocking or even just a few capacitors moved around, you were very often out of luck if you later wanted to water-cool it.

This is due to the simple reason that it wasn’t worth the time of waterblock manufacturers to go through their usual lengthy production process to create a new waterblock that far fewer people would buy compared to reference models.

Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards *Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards
The dimensions will be used to create a custom base plate that cools the memory and VRMs, which attaches to a backplate and universal waterblock that cools the GPU core directly. As the waterblock is universal, you can re-fit it to future GPUs and just buy a new base plate and backplate for the new GPU.

The baseplate is made from aluminium (at no point does it come in contact with the coolant), and Alphacool claims the mosfets on the card will be cooled to the same level as they would be on an air cooled graphics card running its fan at full speed while the core and ram would see a temperature drop in the region of 30-40°C.

The new waterblock range and 3D-scanning service will cater for any Nvidia GeForce 7XX-series model and any AMD Radeon 2XX-series models only at the start, with both reference GeForce GTX 750 Ti and Titan Black waterblock kits available at launch.

Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards *Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards
If you’re interested in sending your non reference GeForce 7XX-series or Radeon 2XX-series card to Alphacool, you can contact them directly at www.alphacool.com or via your local Alphacool etailer.

Alphacool will also be producing a unique ‘multi-bridge’ connection system for customers with more than one GPU. The bridge will effortlessly connect the waterblocks as well as letting the customer illuminate the Alphacool logo with 5mm LED’s.

Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards *Alphacool to 3D-scan GPUs to make waterblocks for non-reference cards
To support the modding community Alphacool will be publishing the dimensions of the ‘multi-bridge’ cover so you have the ability to make your own. Also if there is enough demand for a specific brand or logo Alphacool will be making custom covers available.

This could in theory be one way to create a proper water-cooling solution for AMD’s new R9 295X2 as well. Do you think Alphacool’s idea could be useful? Have you had to opt for reference models in the past as you needed to water-cool them? Let us know your thoughts in the forum.

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Google pledges January launch for Project Ara

Google pledges January launch for Project Ara

Google’s Project Ara, created by one-time subsidiary Motorola and based on Dave Hakkens’ Phonebloks concept, is scheduled to hit the market in January 2015.


Advertising giant Google has confirmed that it is forging ahead with the Project Ara modular smartphone concept, and plans to release the first commercially available parts in January 2015.

Originally developed by Motorola Mobility based on concept work carried out by Dave Hakkens under the name Phonebloks, Project Ara was acquired by Google when it picked up the Mobility division from Motorola. Although the company would go on to sell the bulk of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo it kept hold of Project Ara, announcing in February this year commercialisation plans for the technology.

Project Ara aims to offer the same level of customisation available in the PC world to the smartphone – and, eventually, tablet, markets. The Ara platform uses a central chassis dubbed an Endo, to which component modules are connected via magnets. These modules contain everything from the display to the processor, storage, camera and battery, and can be assembled in almost any combination or pattern. As well as ending the annual phone upgrade cycle – the Endo itself, Google claims, would be good for five to six years – by offeringthe chance of incremental upgrades, the system would also allow for complete customisation: one Endo may have a high-end processor and high-spec camera, while another opts for a slower processor, no camera and a bigger battery for longer runtime.

Google held its first Project Ara developers’ conference this week, and CNET reports that it offered a timeline to commercialisation: the first Project Ara Endo will be on sale, barring any major setbacks along the way, in January next year for just $50. It will be joined by a range of component modules, although the specification and pricing for these has not yet been confirmed.

Google also outlined fabrication hardware for the modules themselves, developed in conjunction with academic and business partners and taking the form of large-scale 3D printers capable of working with conductive materials. More details on these will be provided at the next conference in July.

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Attenborough working on a documentary for the Oculus Rift

Attenborough working on a documentary for the Oculus Rift

Attenborough is reprising his work with production company Atlantic to create a nature documentary for the Oculus Rift.


Beloved nature documentary veteran Sir David Attenborough has announced that he is working on a project for the Oculus Rift.

Conquest of the Skies is currently being filmed for the virtual reality headset in Borneo’s jungles using an eight-camera setup to produce a full 360 degree experience. It is being produced by a joint venture between production company Atlantic and broadcaster Sky.

Attenborough, best known for his documentaries aired through the BBC, has worked with Atlantic before with nature programs that have been filmed in 3D.

Production company Atlantic has already acquired several Oculus Rift development kits and the company’s commercial director John Morris told Realscreen that he considers this new virtual reality technology as being ‘a new platform you can monetize’ and predicts that millions of the headsets will be sold.

Morris also added that the company is excited by the fact that there are no rules of convention around what a non-fiction experience on the Oculus Rift should be like, comparing this phase of virtual reality to the beginning of cinema. This will be one of the first non-gaming productions to be considered for the Rift.

Oculus VR has achieved a significant level of mainstream recognition outside of the gaming industry thanks to Facebook acquiring the company for $2 billion last month. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg explained that he sees the technology as having massive potential for the future of communication beyond its gaming capabilities.

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Ben Heck builds WASD-replacement footpedals

Ben Heck builds WASD-replacement footpedals

Ben Heck’s footpedals, built in response to a viewer request, are designed to replace the traditional WASD control scheme in PC gaming.


Noted hacker and maker Ben ‘Heck’ Heckendorn has published details of his latest creation under Element14′s auspice: footpedals designed to ‘replace’ WASD gaming controls after their 32 year run.

The WASD control system, which uses the aforementioned letter keys in place of the traditional cursor keys, was first seen in the 1982 game Mazogs where it served to make up for the Sinclair ZX81′s lack of sensible keyboard layout. It caught on in the era of first-person shooters when mouse-look became the norm, allowing the left hand to sit at a more comfortable distance from the mouse-controlling right – unless you’re a sinister lefty, of course – while also providing easy reach to other keys that could be mapped to weapon changes, jumping, object usage or leaning.

WASD as a control layout has become so normalised that gaming keyboards typically come with replacement keycaps for those specific letters in eye-catching colours or with a deeply scooped design. Now, though, its days may be numbered – at least, if Ben Heck has his way.

Known for his innovative controller designs and homebrew laptops, including one based on a Commodore 64 and another on an Xbox 360, Heck is now the resident hacker at electronics giant Farnell/Element14 where he has created one possible successor to the WASD layout: footpedals.

A viewer of the Ben Heck Show, dissatisfied with the ‘finger-twister’ training required to excel at modern games, suggested the creation and Heck obliged. A pair of foot pedals provide mapping to four keys by responding to two levels of motion: a partial press activates one mode, while a heavier press activates the second. The result, Heck claims, is a natural-feeling control system that allows for forward, backward and strafing motion without the need to lock the left hand to the WASD cluster.

The entire project has been created from scratch, using a 3D printer for the pedal parts and the popular Teensy microcontroller – chosen for the ease at which it can be turned into a joystick, keyboard or mouse Human Interface Device controller – for interfacing with the PC.

If you’re curious how it was made, or how it works, Heck’s video on the project is reproduced below.

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Warhammer 40K themed mobile RPG in the works

Warhammer 40K themed mobile RPG in the works

Warhammer 40,000 has featured in turn-based and real-time strategy series and also third and first person shooters, but never a 2D side-scroller before.


Games Workshop’s grim science fiction miniatures property Warhammer 40,000 is heading to iOS in the form of a side-scrolling action RPG.

Warhammer 40,000 Carnage will pit players in the role of a space marine churning through a horde of green-skinned orks, giving them the option to unlock further equipment that will be familiar to fans of the series, including chainswords, bolt guns and thunder hammers.

’We’ve taken the best of the Warhammer 40,000 universe and built a game that will appeal to seasoned 40k fans and more casual gamers alike,’ said developer Roadhouse Interactive president Tarrnie Williams. ’The game is full of explosive, adrenaline-fueled action, in stunning environments that will be familiar to many.’

The plot revolves around investigating a planet which has been consumed by collective insanity and violence, a plot device that will also be ‘familiar to many’ who have encountered the Warhammer 40,000 series before.

Best known as a tabletop wargaming franchise, Warhammer 40,000 has found its way into several video games over recent years, including 2011′s Space Marine, developed by Relic Entertainment, which also featured space marines cutting their way through hordes of orks.

Relic Entertainment, under the guidance of publisher THQ, also had a long stewardship over the Warhammer 40,000 intellectual property through its Dawn of War real time strategy series, but following the dissolution of THQ the license was reported to have ended up at Slitherine, a smaller developer and publisher specialising in historical strategy games.

Another smaller studio, Zattikka, was also granted a Warhammer 40,000 license and planned to develop a 3D isometric free-to-play game using the setting, but the company went into administration in August last year before it could release anything.

Will you be checking out Warhammer 40,000 Carnage? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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Wolfenstein’s Doom beta bonus a next-gen exclusive

Wolfenstein's Doom beta bonus a next-gen exclusive

Those buying Wolfenstein: The New Order for access to the secretive Doom beta are advised that it won’t be available on the Xbox 360 or PS3.


Bethesda has warned gamers that the upcoming beta version of wholly-owned subsidiary id Software’s Doom reboot will be exclusively available on next-generation platforms, including PC.

While id Software itself has so far kept a lid on exactly what the reboot of its seminal Doom franchise, considered by many to have truly kicked off the first-person shooter craze as the follow-up to Wolfenstein 3D, Bethesda had previously announced that access to a closed beta would be a benefit of pre-ordering Wolfenstein: The New Order. With the game launching on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows, that was considered to be an open offer to users of all platforms; sadly, Bethesda has now clarified that isn’t the case.

While Wolfenstein: The New Order will be available on previous- and latest-generation consoles as well as Windows, the Doom beta will be exclusively available on latest-generation hardware: Windows PCs, the PS4 and the Xbox One. Those pre-ordering Wolfenstein: The New Order specifically for access to the Doom beta, then, should be aware that while Xbox 360 and PS3 orders will still receive beta codes, these will only be redeemable on their respective replacements: Xbox 360 gamers will need an Xbox One to redeem the code, while PS3 gamers will need a PS4.

For gamers with both consoles and an adequately-specced PC, the news that the beta codes won’t be redeemable cross-platform – you can’t pre-order Wolfenstein: The New Order on PS3 and use the code to gain access to the Windows beta – may be a blow, but could suggest great things in store for the Doom reboot. Following the poor critical reception of 2005′s Doom 3, id Software has concentrated on other projects; if Doom proves, like its beta, to be exclusively available on the very latest console and PC hardware, it could represent a return to form with the potential for impressive visuals and ground-breaking technology.

For now, though, this is all conjecture: neither Bethesda nor its id Software subsidiary have spoken publicly on what form the new Doom will take, nor whether its beta programme will open on the 20th of May when Wolfenstein: The New Order launches.

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‘Bunnie’ Huang is crowd-funding open Novena laptop

'Bunnie' Huang is crowd-funding open Novena laptop

The Novena laptop is nearly a reality, with creator ‘Bunnie’ Huang looking for $250,000 from crowd-funding site Crowd Supply to build the first models.


Novena, the open hardware laptop designed by Andrew ‘Bunnie’ Huang, has entered the final stretch with the launch of a crowd-funding effort to produce the first models for general availability.

Introduced to the world back in December 2012, the Novena laptop was never intended as a commercial product but instead created to address what noted maker Bunnie saw as limitations and restrictions in off-the-shelf hardware. ‘It occurs to me that maybe other people might also be interested in owning a laptop like this, but don’t want to go through the trouble of fabricating their own circuit boards,‘ he mused at the time. ‘If it seems like a few hundred folks are interested, I might be convinced to try a Kickstarter campaign in several months, once the design is stable and tested.

Months stretched into a year, but not without progress: in January this year Huang showed off a late-model prototype which reflected much of what he wanted to device to be, along with its new name Novena. Based around a high-resolution 13″ display and featuring an ARM-based processor and Xilinx field-programmable gate array (FPGA), the device – true to his original promise – offered much for makers, including access to its internals with only two screws and full low-level component documentation for all parts without the need to sign a restrictive non-disclosure agreement (NDA.)

Now, Huang and his team have decided Novena is ready for public access and are launching a crowd-funding campaign where backers will have the chance to own one of the first truly open laptops themselves. The bare board, which includes a 1.2GHz quad-core Freescale ARM processor and 4GB of RAM, is priced at $500; $1,195 install it into a case with a 1920×1080 IPS display – a downgrade from the 2560×1700 resolution Huang was testing back in January; $1,195, meanwhile, gets backers the promise of a laptop variant with built-in battery and 240GB SSD – although, oddly, no keyboard. A final $5,000 pledge level – which nobody has yet exercised – offers an ‘Heirloom’ edition, which boasts a hand-crafted wood and aluminium case. UK pricing for each level, then, is around £300, £718, £1199 and £3,011 respectively, excluding shipping and taxes.

This is not a machine for the faint of heart,‘ Huang warns. ‘It’s an open source project, which means part of the joy – and frustration – of the device is that it is continuously improving. This will be perhaps the only laptop that ships with a screwdriver; you’ll be required to install the battery yourself, screw on the LCD bezel of your choice, and you’ll get the speakers as a kit, so you don’t have to use our speaker box design – if you have access to a 3D printer, you can make and fine tune your own speaker box.

The project aims to raise $250,000 in the next 45 days, with a view to shipping the bare boards in November, the desktops in December and the laptops in January. More details are available on the Crowd Supply page.

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Mod of the Month March 2014

Mod of the Month March 2014

We’re finally getting some decent weather here in the UK after a pretty appalling winter so those of us that have been flooded, frozen in or just plain don’t like tinkering out in the shed when it’s a bit nippy, are gearing up for a spring and summer full of modding. There’s already been plenty of action in our modding forum this month too. Several projects have been completed, as you can see in our monthly Modding Update, and there are some fantastic in-progress projects in the works too.

We’ve picked six of our favourites this month, which we’ve highlighted over the next few pages and you can vote for the ones that catch your eye too. Head over to our modding section and modding and project log forums to see more – there are plenty of amazing projects to see and guides to follow. We’ve also got our Case Mod Index and Scratchbuild Index too – you can see what other people have done modding-wise with particular cases or build materials and we give a prize to one lucky entrant each month.

Mod of the month is proudly sponsored by Mnpctech. The Mnpctech guys are regulars on our forums and, in addition to being avid modders themselves with some awesome projects to their names, the Mnpctech online store is also well worth a visit from every modder.

Mod of the Month March 2014
The winner of Mod of the Month will get one of these awesome prizes from the Mnpctech store itself. There will be some new and exciting products from Mnpctech on the horizon too, but for now feast your eyes on these pieces of true PC bling.


Mod of the Month March 2014

Prize 1 – Pair of 120mm RED Sharkoon Shark Blade Silent Cooling Fans

Sharkoon SHARK Blade fans are equipped with a fluid bearing for long life and ultra-smooth operation. The special 3D curved design with striped air guides steers the airflow straight through the fan blades, thus preventing air turbulence – the main cause of wind noise. Fan speed: 1000 rpm, Start voltage: 7 V (DC), Max. airflow: ~56m³/h (33 CFM), Max air pressure: 2.63 mm-H2O, Noise level: 19 dB (A)


Mod of the Month March 2014

Prize 2 – Mnpctech Screw’d M3 PC Radiator Screws

“M3 Radiator Screw’d” fasteners have anodized rings to dress up radiator grills or match your custom PC accessories or liquid cooling components. They work with the following PC Radiator Manufacturers with M3 threads.
*Winner has choice of 3 sets of same color and size (12 total)

Mod of the Month March 2014

Prize 3 – Pair of Modder’s Work Gloves

These work gloves are made from combination of syntrex leather and spandex for dexterity. Recommended for use with power or hand tools or bending Acrylic or PETG tubing with heat gun.

Thanks to Mnpctech for stumping up such fantastic prizes again this month. We’ve got six very promising projects for you again, so it’s time to vote for your favourites. Don’t forget that you can vote for more than one project if you’re finding it tough to choose one over the others. MOTM is a competition for in-progress projects. You should consider potential, originality, execution and show of skill when voting.

This Month’s Contenders

  • Minecraft Creeper MbKr by kier
  • Minions Mod by Ronnie Hara
  • Project KUBUS by XTSX
  • R.O.G Reactor by Zsolt Guriga
  • The G5-yufi by thegyufi
  • ZdMods – Project 720 by Meelobee

Mod of the Month March 2014 Mod of the Month March 2014
Mod of the Month March 2014 Mod of the Month March 2014 Mod of the Month March 2014 Mod of the Month March 2014

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Crave Ep. 152: App lets you make music with a full symphony

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How fast can you solve a Rubik’s cube? Probably not as fast as the CubeStormer 3 Lego robot, which just set a new world record. We jam with Cadenza, an app out of Harvard that lets you play along with a full orchestra, and we get Superman’s POV using a drone, a green screen, and some really creative video. All that and more on this week’s Crave show.

Crave stories:

- Lego robot sets new Rubik’s Cube world record

- Cubli cube robot demonstrates incredible balance

- Tidy Dog: Smart toy bin trains pups to pick up

- Prepare Barbie for battle with 3D-printed armor

- Instrument reads tattoos as sheet music

- Cadenza: You play, and a full orchestra plays with you

- Superman + drone + GoPro = awesome POV footage

Social networking:

- Stephen on Twitter

- Stephen on Google+

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