Apple has announced a second-generation Apple TV 4K with a new and unambigously designed Siri remote--at last, there's no more holding the remote the wrong way! The new streamer is powered by Apple's A12 Bionic processor, which will enable high frame rate HDR (high dynamic range at 60 frames per second) on streaming services that offer it. The new Siri remote, and an intriguing color-balance feature that is part of tvOS 14.5, will also be available on the first-gen Apple TV 4K as well as the Apple TV HD. One thing that hasn't changed about the new Apple TV 4K is the price: Yes, it's still a whopping $199 for the 64GB model and $179 for the 32GB version, with the updated models slated to ship in May following an April 30 pre-order date. The new Siri remote costs $59, or it can be purchased with an Apple TV HD for $149--that's about $50 higher than the most expensive 4K players from Amazon, Roku, and other competitors.
It's not altogether surprising that a company earning billions of dollars a year making the chips that power today's hyperrealistic video games has a business plan inspired by a science-fiction novel. Jensen Huang, the CEO of Nvidia, the nation's most valuable semiconductor company, with a stock price of $645 a share and a market cap of $400 billion, is out to create the metaverse, what Huang describes "a virtual world that is a digital twin of ours." Huang credits author Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, filled with collectives of shared 3-D spaces and virtually enhanced physical spaces that are extensions of the Internet, for conjuring the metaverse. This is already playing out with the massively popular online games like Fortnite and Minecraft, where users create richly imagined virtual worlds. Now the concept is being put to work by Nvidia and others.
Unity, one of the biggest game engines around, will soon offer support for NVIDIA's Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) tech. It should be available to Unity developers by the end of this year, allowing them to switch on DLSS in their games in just a few clicks. Unreal Engine also has DLSS support via a plugin that Epic Games rolled out this year. DLSS is a type of upscaling that both boosts performance and improves how games look. It uses AI-powered antialiasing to display images that are similar to native resolution quality (and sometimes even better than that), even though systems only actually render a fraction of the pixels.
Nintendo Co. plans to adopt an upgraded Nvidia Corp. chip with better graphics and processing for a new Switch model planned for the year-end shopping season, according to people familiar with the matter. The new Switch iteration will support Nvidia's Deep Learning Super Sampling, or DLSS, a novel rendering technology that uses artificial intelligence to deliver higher-fidelity graphics more efficiently. That will allow the console, which is also set for an OLED display upgrade, to reproduce game visuals at 4K quality when plugged into a TV, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plan is not public. The U.S. company's new chipset will also bring a better CPU and increased memory. DLSS support will require new code to be added to games, so it'll primarily be used to improve graphics on upcoming titles, said the people, including multiple game developers.
Nvidia's second-generation Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS 2.0) technology could be breaking free of its PC confines to power the visuals in a forthcoming Nintendo Switch upgrade, Bloomberg reports. A new version of the Switch with a fresh Nvidia GPU and a luscious OLED display could appear in time for the holidays. If true, a DLSS-powered Switch will open a new front in the war between Nvidia and AMD. DLSS works like black magic when it's tuned correctly. It allows modern GeForce graphics cards to render games at lower resolutions internally, then uses dedicated tensor core hardware and machine learning to upscale the final image to your desired higher resolution.
Nintendo's next Switch may use an NVIDIA GPU that supports Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) that will allow it to output higher-quality graphics, Bloomberg has reported. The new system-on-chip would enable output at up to 4K quality when the Switch is connected to a TV, and will also reportedly include an upgraded CPU and increased memory. The next-gen Switch is set to have a built-in 7-inch 720p OLED display and 4K output, according to a previous Bloomberg report. Since NVIDIA's DLSS allows for good-quality 4K upscaling, it's not clear if an upgraded NVIDIA GPU would support native 4K or for upscale from a lower resolution. The current generation of Switch uses NVIDIA's Tegra graphics to output up to 1080p game quality.
HTC is today launching its third-generation Vive Tracker, which is significantly smaller in size and weight than its immediate predecessor. The Vive Tracker 3.0 is around 33 percent smaller than the 2018 model, and 15 percent lighter, with a footprint roughly 10 centimeters, or four inches, smaller. These quality-of-life size reductions mean that the device is much easier to strap to your body, or an accessory, something very onerous on the bulky older models. Oh, and it now uses USB-C. Despite the smaller body, the company says that the device will last up to 75 percent longer on a single charge, pushing the quoted battery life close to seven hours.
Demand for some of Nvidia's chips has been so hot that it has outpaced the company's ability to increase production, adding to chip-supply shortages riling the semiconductor industry. Nvidia's newest graphics cards were a holiday sensation, Chief Financial Officer Colette Kress said during an earnings call. She added that some inventories are likely to remain low in the first quarter even as Nvidia increases supply. "Throughout our supply chain, stronger demand globally has limited the availability of capacity and components," Ms. Kress said. President Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order directing a broad review of supply chains for semiconductors and other critical materials.
Nvidia reported revenues of $5.0 billion for its fourth fiscal quarter ended January 31, up 61% from a year earlier. The revenues and non-GAAP earnings per share of $3.10 beat expectations as new gaming hardware and AI products generated strong demand. A year ago, Nvidia reported non-GAAP earnings per share of $1.89 on revenues of $3.1 billion. The Santa Clara, California-based company makes graphics processing units (GPUs) that can be used for games, AI, and datacenter computing. While many businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, Nvidia has seen a boost in those areas.
So far, we've been nothing but impressed with NVIDIA's RTX 3000 video cards: The RTX 3080 offers a tremendous amount of performance for anyone willing to shell out $699 for a video card, while the 3070 is more practical at $499 but still offers plenty of power. Earlier this month, it unveiled the $399 RTX 3060 Ti, the cheapest entry in its new lineup. Given just how successful NVIDIA's new Ampere architecture has been, I expected the 3060 Ti to be a solid improvement over its predecessor, the RTX 2060 Super. Despite costing just $399, the RTX 3060 Ti is even faster than the RTX 2080 Super, which launched at $700 last year. For most gamers, it'll be more than enough to play modern titles in 1080p and 1440p, and it should keep them satisfied for years to come.