Tag: 3D

4K restoration challenges 3D as Blu-Ray money spinner

Sony continues to team up with cinemas across the world to screen films remastered with or shot with its 4K technology, which the company boasts offers over 8.8 million pixels on the screen.

Six years on from 4K’s launch, Sony is keen to highlight its initiative in remastering and restoring films for sale on Blu-Ray.

Speaking at a press event this week at the Everyman Screen on the Green cinema, Islington, a panel told journalists that we probably won’t need to progress beyond 4K, ever. Because the human eye just can’t see resolutions that high.

Watching the re-mastered classic, Dr Strangelove, touched-up with 4K technology there was a very visible difference in quality. Scratches on the original film were no longer there, and the deep contrast in black and white was, the panel promised us, exactly how Dr Strangelove was intended to be seen in the first place. A younger hackette admitted the improved quality helped keep her engaged, though film purists may spit blood at such claims.

It’s not about completely digitally remastering old cinema, though. The Sony spokesperson said the team’s intentions were never to take the character out of films – we all know in our hearts that Han shot first – but to clean up and restore them so that they have the character they were originally shot with.

A spokesperson for Everyman Cinema said watching films is an inherently social experience, and because it is, there will always be a demand for remastered or classic films to be shown on the big screen.

4K offers other possibilities which can be valuable culturally. A journalist asked the panel about its uses in restoring near-destroyed, unwatchable relics of film that are culturally significant. It is possible.

TechEye asked whether 4K Blu-Ray retouches or 3D Blu-Ray would be a bigger money spinner. The answer was as ambiguous as we expected. Consumers will vote with their Sterling and there will always be terrible films, in 3D or otherwise. However, looking at 4K restoration, it’s easy to see where the bigger catalogue lies – Sony has restored other films, like Taxi Driver, and is continuing to do so.   

LG 3D TV boast irks Sony down under

Sony and rival LG are arguing Down Under because of a study, sponsored by LG, which claimed its TVs were better than the competition.

Sony is demanding LG ceases its advertising based on the study. However, it is being tight lipped about whether it will seek legal action, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.  LG, formerly the naff-sounding LuckyGoldstar, is already in a bit of trouble with other mega-rival Samsung because it claimed its TVs were brighter. 

In a test reminiscent of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, LG set up some unbranded 3D tellies at shopping centres across Oz. It found that of the 4,000 consumers who had a play, 82 percent allegedly plumped for LG’s Cinema 3D TV. The other TVs were from Samsung and Sony. 

Sony was up in arms about the campaign, particularly when it found out LG’s marketing manager announced that it’d be the main focus of a new marketing push. The ‘Herald managed to get a copy of a letter sent from Sony’s legal team to LG. In it, it says LG’s big idea contains “a number of misleading representations.” Sony hasn’t had a formal reply from LG yet.

LG insists that the survey was independent and carried out through TNS Global. A spokesperson told the Herald that LuckyGoldstar “has confidence” in the results and that the claims stand up. 

Meanwhile, Samsung said its 3D tellies hold the majority of the market, so it’s not really worrying. 

All are determined to win the 3D battle despite the technology, which requires clunky glasses no matter which way you look at it, sits in its infancy – and the response from consumers is a collective long sigh. 

3D panel shipments remain healthy

3D LCD panel shipments are still growing, according to the latest figures from NPD Displaysearch, managing 27 percent quarterly growth from the second quarter into the third quarter this year.

Panel makers, according to the analyst outfit, are looking at 30 percent growth for shipments in the fourth quarter this year. Both downstream manufacturers and telly brands are still heavily promoting 3D options, and it’s doing the trick – consumer interest is still piling up. 

For the third quarter of 2011, total 3D TV panel penetration for all LCD TV panel shipments was 12 percent.

David Hsieh, VP for the greater China market atDisplaysearch, said that the TFT LCD industry has been in oversupply territory for six quarters in a row, influencing 3D panel prices. Despite consumers shouting that there’s not really enough 3D content around to warrant the buy, panel makers have been hoping to seduce manufacturers by working on more cost effective technologies.

The panel manufacturers are also strongly pushing for 3D monitor panels, aimed at the consumer entertainment and game markets. 

Displaysearch believes there will be 21.5 million 3D LCD TV panel shipments in 2011, with penetration levels at 10 percent. The targets are at 1.5 million per quarter from Q2 2012, compared to 250,000 in Q3 2011. 

Nvidia does better than expected

Graphics chip maker Nvidia has done a lot better than analysts were expecting and announced third quarter results which are not that bad.

Although its revenue forecast was a bit lower than expected it would appear that Nvidia had not not suffered as much from the slowly dying PC graphics market.

For the last year or so Nvidia has had a policy of getting away from its traditional business of designing graphics chips for personal computers. It jumped into mobile devices with its Tegra chips.

Earlier this year Nvidia had some successes with its processors appearing in tablets made by Samsung and LG. Its newest mobile processor, Tegra 3, also faces growing competition from chip heavyweights Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.

However, Nvidia said sales in its Professional Solutions group, which includes graphics chips used in workstations, grew 9.5 percent sequentially in the third quarter. This is a bit of a surprise from a division that many had written off.

It looks like emerging markets like China, where many families are buying their first personal computers, have supported sales of Nvidia and other PC chipmakers in recent quarters and helped offset slow demand in the United States and Europe.

Nvidia’s Consumer Products group, which includes Tegra rose 14 percent sequentially to $191 million in the quarter. Chief Executive Jen-Hsun Huang in September said Tegra revenues would reach $1 billion next year.

Nvidia’s main GPU business rose one percent from the second quarter and Huang said that revenue in the current quarter would be up or down two percent from the past quarter.

Analysts predicted an average forecast of $1.069 billion which is more or less the $1.045 billion to $1.087 billion Huang is predicting.

Nvidia’s revenue for this quarter was $1.066 billion, up 26 percent and a bit above analysts’ average estimate of $1.062 billion.

This morning Reuters said that shares in Nvidia had risen as Wall Street was impressed with the results.


TSMC denies having problems with 28-nm

TSMC’s European president, Maria Marced, has denied claims by analyst outfit Gartner that her outfit is having yield problems on 28-nm process technologies.

Speaking to EE Times, Marced claimed that the roll out of the 28-nm chip manufacturing node is “on plan.”

She also rubbished claims that foundries were seeing a reduction in demand for the technology and said that, if it was a trend, it had not been spotted at TSMC. Marced reiterated the claim made in May 2011, that the 28 nm node is ramping three times faster than the 40 nm node that preceded it.

The outfit is in volume production at 28 nm with Altera, AMD, Nvidia, Qualcomm and Xilinx. It is also trying to test wafers to lure Apple’s A6 processor business away from Samsung.

Marced said that 28 nm will represent two percent of revenue in Q4 and in the second half of 2012 it will be greater than 10 percent.

She said that the run rate of tape outs continues was three times 40 nm. The number of tapeouts “completed or very close to completed” is 40 while TSMC knows of a total of 89 28 nm chip design projects, she said.

But much of the questions about TSMC have focused on yield rates and this was exactly what Marced avoided answering. She admitted that 28 nm was a lot harder than 40 nm. Meanwhile TSMC is pushing through to 20 nm to gain a competitive advantage over rival foundries. 

Sony takes control of Sony Ericsson

The glorious empire of  Sony has decided to take full control of the Sony Ericsson mobile phone venture it started with its Swedish chum Ericsson.

We have been saying that such a deal makes sense. Sony Ericsson has not been doing very well lately and needed to ratchet up its consumer products if it wants to catch up in the mobile market, particularly with Nokia expected to make gains next year.

According to Reuters, the $1.45 billion deal will give Sony ownership of certain handset patents held by Ericsson and mean that it can merge the joint venture’s output with its own range of products and online content.

It will end any duplication of products between Sony and Sony Ericsson. Sony’s tablets, games and other consumer electronics devices have been kept separate from the phones sold by Sony Ericsson.

Sony’s chairman and CEO Sir Howard Stringer said that the move will mean his outfit can rapidly offer consumer smartphones, laptops, tablets and televisions that seamlessly connect with one another. Because seams are the enemy of any smartphone maker.

A high-end Playstation phone could make sense for the company.

The deal has been talked about for a year but it looked fairly certain to happen for a month.

Analysts claim Sony now has all the bits to compete with Samsung and Apple, although many are sceptical that the outfit will not cock it up.

This is mostly because integrating everything might be tricker than it expects. However, Sony was facing bigger problems due to its lack of mobile assets.

As far as Ericsson is concerned, the deal provides Sony with a broad intellectual property cross-licensing agreement covering all the Japanese company’s products and services as well as ownership of “five essential patent families relating to wireless handset technology.”

This will be useful when the patent trolls from Apple and Microsoft start to call and try and get products taken off the shelves. 

YouGov delivers damning 3D verdict

It is almost too easy to kick 3D technology after it has been thrust on consumers which have largely greeted it with a shrug of shoulders, but YouGov has given it a go anyway.

Having spent money on the myriad of crap films that have been released, be it Smurf or shark themed b-movies, the cinema going public has indicated that it doesn’t give two hoots about the technology.

As film critic Mark Kermode pointed out recently, even in the fifties it was the film studios who pushed 3D, not the audiences.  And it seems that this is happening all over again.  Even Sony has been realising this, and this week decided to stop supplying freebie glasses to cinema goers.

Apparently just one in five reckon that it is actually any cop at all.  Makes you wonder if any industry insiders actually thought about asking the public before throwing so much money into 3D promotion.

47 percent of cinema goers thought that 3D at best makes no difference to the film being watched, or even think it made the experience worse.  No matter what the film and TV industry say, watching a film with dark glasses makes the experience less enjoyable, and is only really merited if the 3D is jaw- dropping, which clearly is not the case most of the time.

52 percent of those polled said that they would in fact be more likely to wear them if they didn’t have to wear the annoying glasses.

Overall 41 percent feel that 3D is just a gimmick, which even the head of DreamWorks will readily agree.

One of the most important figures from the survey is that given the choice of seeing a film in 2D or 3D, under half would say that would rather three dimensions are better.  Around the same amount said that they would be willing to shell out any cash for 3D privileges.

And even more damningly around half of those asked believe that the hype around 3D is likely to pass, indeed just as it did in the fifties and eighties.  At this rate we should be due another revival in the future. 

However there is no expectation that 3D will slope quietly off just yet.  Only 16 percent reckon that they will see the end of 3D films in the next five years.

With plans to refit classic films such as Star Wars and Titanic with 3D, it looks like the industry hasn’t given up on floggin this dead horse just yet.

Samsung reveals Exynos chip details

Samsung took some time off from being bashed round the head with lawsuits to announce a raft of smartphone and tablet hardware.

The main attraction is the new Exynos 4212 chip, which will provide high performance for smartphones with a view towards 3D gaming.  The chip is a dual core ARM Cortex A9 application processor, built using Samsung’s 32 nanometre High K Metal Gate process.

Samsung is wary of power efficiency trends, so the chip will be 30 percent less power intensive than the previous generation chip.

The chip will also support video playing and recording at 1080p resolutions, and an on-chip HDMI 1.4 interface.

Samsung says that the chip will be sampling to “select customers” during the final quarter of this year.

The Korean firm also announced two memory products.

One is the 64 gigabyte NAND embedded multimedia card for smartphones and other mobile devices, using the 20 nanometre process. 

This will allow for a very thin eight stack, measuring only 1.4 millimetres thick, while processing at quadruple the speeds of many 30nm NAND flash chips.  It weighs 0.6 grams.

As for its DRAM offering, Samsung has developed low power 4GB DDR3  memory using its 30nm process, aiming at again supporting 3D graphics in new smartphones.

The green chip will offer a 20 percent reduction in power draw over previous technology.

The chips are expected to  see the light of day early next year, so it would not be a big surprise to see some 3D enabled handsets on their way around that time too.

The new 4Gb LPDDR3 DRAM can transfer data at up to 1,600 Mbps, which is approximately 1.5 times faster than the industry’s current highest performance LPDDR2, which operates at 1,066Mbps, says Samsung. The component also consumes 20 percent less electrical power than its predecessor.

Samsung also announced that it will be mass producing components during 2012 to get as much LPDDR3 DRAM into the ailing market it can.

There was also a couple of CMOS image sensor releases.  A high resolution 1.2 megapixel SoC sensor has been announced that can be used in camera module shorter than 3mm.

The S5K8AA HD sensor is aimed at offering top quality HD video and video calling for front facing cameras on smartphones and tablets.  The sensor will support 30 frames per second at 720p resolution, and 60 fps at VGA resolution.

A 16Mp CMOS image sensor was also announced for high performance main camera on smartphone, tablets and sigital cameras.

Nvidia talks up future

Never one to be backward about coming forward, the chief executive of Nvidia, Jen-Hsun Huang is predicting growth in his outfit’s graphics and mobile processor operations.

Speaking during an investor conference, Huang said he expects the company’s mobile chip business to grow in the current quarter.

This is the opposite to what he said last month where he was more cautious saying that mobile growth would be flat during the third quarter.

But Huang told Dow Jones Newswires that the reason he had been so cautious was because Nvidia is still too new to the mobile chip market to be able to provide very detailed forecasts.

He said that analysts made the mistake of interpreting his genuine conservatism as an absence of growth. He thought Nvidia was going to grow, and it wanted to take a more conservative posture in the marketplace. He pointed out some actions that companies, their various competitors and customers are taking against each other are impossible to predict.

Huang said the company should report revenue of $4.7 billion to $5 billion in fiscal 2013, better than the $4.45 billion expected by analysts.

According to Reuters, he expects gross margins to be about flat at 51 percent to 53 percent, with growth across Nvidia’s entire graphics and mobile processor businesses.

Nvidia shares, which have been going up lately, went up another 5.5 percent yesterday. The outfit seems to be doing better than its rivals in share growth.

First devices using Nvidia’s quad-core mobile chip should be available in the third or fourth quarter, just in time for the holiday season, but slightly later than the company originally forecast. 

Nvidia is Comeback Kid says Wells Fargo

For a while know we have been wondering what will happen to the GPU maker Nvidia.

Earlier it looked in danger of being killed off as Chipzilla and AMD made the discrete GPU largely an irrelevance in the budget market by releasing chips that really did not need one. There were rumours that Nvidia was about to be bought because its share price was cheap and life should not be that bad for the outfit really.

This week however Nvidia’s stock price rose by nearly 11 percent, as analysts at the Wells Fargo uprated the outfit.  Wells Fargo is better known in the UK as the outfit behind the Pony Express. 

Wells Fargo seemed to think that there was an improving PC chip market about to happen. Frankly we think this is about as likely as a second season of the new American Torchwood, or the networks suddenly working out that cancelling Firefly was stupid.

Wells Fargo thinks that there will be a seasonal improvement in PC demand and recovery in the consumer PC end market. This will help both Intel and Nvidia.

But even if there is an unlikely increase in consumer PC sales, that will help Chipzilla, but Nvidia still has the problem that most consumers are likely to buy chips with GPU functions installed. They are not going to want to buy cheap and cheerful discrete GPUs.

Many analysts seem to think that Nvidia will be able to do well in the mobile market. They point to its Tegra chip already under the bonnets in Android.

But it is starting to look like the tablet is either going to be a long term thing or just another Apple fad. Tablet makers are starting to wish that they had not tried to follow Jobs down this route as sales are light. This means that Nvidia is not going to make much cash out of the so-called mobile boom.

Where Nvidia is hoping to do well is getting its GPUs into notebooks. There is something about the maths of getting notebooks into the shops which makes discrete GPUs still viable in this market. Multimedia notebooks still need decent GPUs and discrete cards are still the cheapest way forward. At the moment Intel has not worked out a way of getting more notebooks using Sandy Bridge.

But, AMD is onto that and could be killing off this market for Nvidia. Nvidia’s only hope is that such punters will want better graphics than Sandy Bridge and Bulldozer can provide, but since it has a similar hope for the standard PC market, it will be doomed if it keeps its fingers crossed.

One of Nvidia’s best bets is the developing markets such as China and India. In this scenario, Nvidia makes dosh from those who need PCs as the IT infrastructure modernises.

Nvidia’s problem here is that the world and its dog is hoping for a slice of the developing market’s pie. While there might be a market for budget discrete chips here, AMD will also be in there too with much cheaper products. Developing markets have been on the table now for a couple of years as a source of potential revenue for a lot of different companies. Everyone has a plan. It is unlikely that Nvidia will do better or worse than any of them.

Earlier this year Nvidia’s stock jumped on the somewhat strange news that it was getting into the CPU business. At the time it announced this the stock was about $15 and it jumped to about $20.

What Nvidia seems to be doing with Project Denver is to stick an ARM chip and attach it to its GPU. In short, do what Intel and AMD are doing. With Microsoft making sure Windows 8 runs on ARM chips, Nvidia can play in the same league as Intel and AMD with surprising less effort.

This, more than any any dreams of a PC boom, is more likely to be Nvidia’s long term salvation. If it can get its gear to go, it could be creating low power hybrid chips suitable for the mobile market just as the world wants them.

It is still a risky strategy. Firstly Nvidia will be following AMD’s Fusion strategy on gear which may or may not be so successful. Secondly it will have to start from scratch selling itself as an unknown against two competitors who know what they are doing.

Although Microsoft seems to think that ARM chips will be the new black, at the moment Steve Ballmer’s predictions are not proving reliable either.

Either way, Nvidia will have its work cut out for it, if it is hoping to really be the Comeback Kid.