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Updated: 15 min 12 sec ago

Facebook Teams Up With Unity To Create a Gaming Platform To Rival Steam

Thu, 18/08/2016 - 4:01pm
Facebook is now shifting its attention back to capturing the gaming market. The company said Thursday that it's working with game engine Unity to build a dedicated, downloadable desktop gaming platform. The social juggernaut added that it is also broadening the Facebook.com experience for gamers. BetaNews reports: Facebook is starting to take gaming far more seriously. Not content with funneling the likes of Candy Crush through its servers, the social network is now joining forces with the company behind the Unity game engine to create its own desktop gaming platform. The aim is to tap into not only the millions of gamers that are already on Facebook, but also to gather more from the PC-gaming community. It's a new venture that very clearly treads on the toes of Steam, and is likely to cause ripples in the gaming world. The scope of the work between Facebook and Unity Technologies is quite wide. It will bring together Unity's 2D, 3D, VR and AR development platform with Facebook's own game development tools. While Facebook is currently associated with very casual gaming, hooking up with an established serious player in the field means we're likely to see the social network appealing more to hardcore gamers.

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T-Mobile Brings Back Unlimited Data For All

Thu, 18/08/2016 - 3:21pm
An anonymous reader shares a CNET report: T-Mobile is eliminating data plans for new customers -- and for current ones who opt in. The company is getting rid of all its wireless data plans and instead offering new customers one unlimited plan, T-Mobile said Thursday. Under the new plan, everyone will get unlimited talk, text and high-speed 4G LTE data. The company has also changed prices for unlimited. The first line will be $70 a month, the second line will cost $50 a month and additional lines will be $20 a month for up to eight lines with auto-pay turned on. The price is $5 more a month without auto-pay. For a family of four, the new plans will cost $40 a month per person. While this plan will benefit those looking for unlimited, it will cost more for people who have been subscribed to the lowest data plans. The current plan starts at $50 for 2GB of data per month. This means individual customers on its new plans will pay $20 more a month. But the new price is lower than the cost of unlimited right now. Today, T-Mobile customers who want unlimited pay $95 a month for an individual line.

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AMD Says Upcoming Zen CPU Will Outperform Intel Broadwell-E

Thu, 18/08/2016 - 2:43pm
Reader MojoKid writes: AMD has been talking about the claimed 40% IPC (Instructions Per Clock) improvement of its forthcoming Zen processor versus the company's existing Excavator core for ages. Zen's initial availability is slated for late this year, with lager-scale roll-out planned for early 2017. However, last night, at a private press event in San Francisco, AMD unveiled a lot more details on their Zen processor architecture. AMD claims to have achieved that 40 percent IPC uplift with a newly-designed, higher-performance branch prediction and a micro-op cache for more efficient issuing of operations. The instruction schedule windows have been increased by 75% and issue-width and execution resources have been increased by 50%. The end result of these changes is higher single-threaded performance, through better instruction level parallelism. Zen's pre-fetcher is also vastly improved. There is 8MB of shared L3 cache on board now, a unified L2 cache for both instruction and data, and separate, low-latency L1 instruction and data caches. The new archicture offers up to 5x the cache bandwidth to the cores versus previous-gen offerings. However, after all the specsmanship was out of the way, AMD actually showcased a benchmark run of an 8-core Zen Summit Ridge procesor versus Intel's Broadwell-E 8-core chip, both running at 3GHz and processing a Blender rending workload. In the demo, the 8-core Zen CPU actually outpaced Intel's chip by a hair. Blender may have been chosen for a reason but this early benchmark demo looks impressive for AMD and its forthcoming Zen architecture.

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Uber's First Self-Driving Fleet Arrives in Pittsburgh This Month

Thu, 18/08/2016 - 2:00pm
Ride-hailing app Uber will introduce self-driving cars in Pittsburgh as soon as this month, Bloomberg reports citing many officials and engineers at the company. The move is the first part of a pilot program to explore the future of the technology, the report added. The company plans to test 100 Volvo XC90s outfitted to drive themselves. Still, the cars will be accompanied by two humans: an engineer who can take control of the vehicle when needed and a co-pilot who takes note. Bloomberg reports: The Volvo deal isn't exclusive; Uber plans to partner with other automakers as it races to recruit more engineers. In July the company reached an agreement to buy Otto, a 91-employee driverless truck startup that was founded earlier this year and includes engineers from a number of high-profile tech companies attempting to bring driverless cars to market, including Google, Apple, and Tesla. Uber declined to disclose the terms of the arrangement, but a person familiar with the deal says that if targets are met, it would be worth 1percent of Uber's most recent valuation.

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WSJ: Facebook's Point System Fails To Close Diversity Gap

Thu, 18/08/2016 - 1:00pm
theodp writes: Gizmodo and others are picking up on a Wall Street Journal story (Warning: may be paywalled) which reported that Facebook's failure to move the needle on diversity is all the more surprising because the social network awarded Facebook recruiters double points for a "diversity hire" -- a female, Black, or Hispanic engineer -- compared to the hire of a White or Asian male. Facebook declined to comment on whether this points-based system is still in effect. The WSJ also notes that Intel has paid its employees double referral bonuses for women, minorities, and veterans. The reward schemes evoke memories of gender-based (and later race-based) incentives offered for K-12 coding and STEM programs run by tech-backed Code.org (to which Facebook just pledged $15 million) and Google, which offered lower funding or no funding at all to teachers if participation by female students was deemed unacceptable to the sponsoring organizations. Facebook's efforts also seem consistent with the tech-backed Every Student Succeeds Act, which calls for increasing CS and STEM access to address a tech-declared national crisis, but only "for students through grade 12 who are members of groups underrepresented in such subject fields, such as female students, minority students, English learners, children with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students." Hey, sometimes "every" doesn't mean "every!"

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World's Largest Aircraft Completes Its First Flight

Thu, 18/08/2016 - 10:00am
The world's largest aircraft has finally completed its first flight after months of preparation and years of searching for funding. The Airlander 10 as it's called spent 20 minutes in the air on Wednesday, landing safely at Cardington Airfield north of London. CNNMoney reports: "Part airship, part helicopter, part plane, the 300-foot long aircraft is about 50 feet longer than the world's biggest passenger planes. The Airlander, made by British company Hybrid Air Vehicles, has four engines and no internal structure. It maintains its shape thanks to the pressure of the 38,000 cubic meters of helium inside its hull, which is made from ultralight carbon fiber. The aircraft was originally designed for U.S. military surveillance. But the project was grounded in 2013 because of defense spending cuts. [The team behind the giant blimp-like aircraft] said the aircraft could carry communications equipment or other cargo, undertake search and rescue operations, or do military and commercial survey work. The Airlander can stay airborne for up to five days at a time if manned, and for more than two weeks if unmanned. It can carry up to 10 tons of cargo at a maximum speed of 91 miles per hour. The aircraft doesn't need a runway to take off, meaning it can operate from land, snow, ice, desert and even open water." You can view the historic flight for yourself here (Warning: headphone users beware of loud sound).

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