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AMD Taking Pre-Orders for Ryzen Processor, Says It Beats Intel

AMD announced today that its new Ryzen 7 lineup of processors will launch March 2 with pre-orders starting today, Feb. 22 at 1 p.m. ET. The big deal about this launch, according to AMD, is that benchmark figures show AMD's new eight-core processors seem to either match or outperform the best chips competitor Intel has to offer, and, for a fraction of the price.

For example, AMD cited results showing the Ryzen 7 1700X outperformed a similarly configured eight-core, 16-thread Intel Core i7-6900K in the respected Maxon Cinebench benchmark. The benchmark measured R15 multi-threaded and Handbrake-based video transcoding, as well as 4K gaming performance. Impressively, the 1700X costs only $399, while the Intel i7-6900K will run you $1,089.

That means, for the first time in more than a decade, AMD might be able to give Intel a real run for its money.

Back in the Saddle

If so, it will be about time. AMD was once a viable competitor to Intel's CPU business, with a reputation for providing comparable performance at a much lower price point. But the company has struggled since the late nineties, as Intel's manufacturing techniques have allowed it to produce ever higher-quality chips.

AMD launched an aggressive effort to change all that about four years ago with its Zen line of processors.

"Four years ago we began development of our 'Zen' processor core with the goal to deliver unprecedented generational performance gains and return choice and innovation to the high-performance computing market," said Dr. Lisa Su, president and CEO of AMD. "On March 2, enthusiasts and gamers around the world will experience 'Zen' in action, as we launch our Ryzen 7 family of processors and reinvigorate the desktop computing market."

While AMD's prices will be well below what Intel charges, the company says it is not looking to... Read More »

Verizon To Bring 5G Tests to 11 Cities this Year

Between now and mid-year, Verizon expects to begin pilot tests of next-generation, 5G wireless services in 11 metropolitan regions across the U.S. Aimed at select customers in those regions, the tests will explore a variety of deployment scenarios.

Compared to today's 4G technology, the next generation of wireless communication promises far faster speeds with lower latency and many times more network capacity. Those working to advance 5G say it will enable a wide range of new broadband services for entertainment, education, mobility and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Launched in collaboration with its 5G Technical Forum (5GTF) partners, Verizon's pre-commercial tests are set to take place in Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bernardsville, NJ, Brockton, MA, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

'Industry Groundswell of Support'

Since launching the 5GTF in late 2015, Verizon has seen "an industry groundswell of support for 5G," said Sanyogita Shamsunder, the company's director of network infrastructure planning. Together with its forum partners, Verizon began early-stage testing of the technology last year.

Verizon's 5GTF partners include Apple, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, LG, Nokia, Samsung and Qualcomm.

"In this phase of the trial, we are going beyond the prototype equipment in exactly the configuration that we will be eventually building out our commercial network," Shamsunder said. "We wanted to be able to test and understand the challenges as well as the opportunities in various geographies, various topographies, various building materials."

Based on the specification developed by the 5GTF, Verizon said, forum partners are "well on their way to commercializing chipsets, infrastructure products and consumer devices" for the next generation of wireless broadband.

FCC Spectrum Rules Promoted 5G

Verizon is not the only wireless company testing 5G services in the U.S. AT&T last December claimed to have launched the nation's first 5G business customer trial in Austin, TX, and it... Read More »

People Love GIFs, But Can They Be Monetized?

About 15 months ago, Tenor was trying to get its GIF search engine onto as many phones as possible. So it did the logical thing -- it partnered with businesses that were already on a lot of phones.

The startup, which offers a universal GIF keyboard that you can download to your phone, also signed deals with Messenger, iMessage and Kik to put its technology inside their messaging apps so users could easily search through Tenor's library of GIFs (which are short looping video clips), and send them off to friends inside of private conversations.

The deals appear to have worked: Tenor, which rebranded in October from Riffsy, says people are using its GIF search engine 200 million times per day, up from 50 million daily searches 15 months ago. It has 200 million monthly active users, a number that has also quadrupled in the same amount of time.

As people are sending more and more messages, they're sending more and more GIFs.

But despite user growth, Tenor is still dealing with the same question Recode was asking 15 months ago: Are GIFs a real business?

Tenor CEO David McIntosh remains adamant that they are, though his company still isn't making any revenue despite all the messaging deals. As of October, Giphy, a competitor recently valued at $600 million, wasn't bringing in any revenue, either.

McIntosh's plan to change that sounds simple: He sees Tenor as a Google-like search engine, but for emotions. People search for GIFs based on how they're feeling, he explained, which means Tenor knows when users are sad or happy or scared or laughing out loud.

He hopes to turn those search queries into a business, similar to how Google shows ads based on search keywords.

"[We want to] give brands this emotional dimension of targeting," McIntosh explained. "How do you reach people at... Read More »

Did You #DeleteUber? Your Account Lives On

As social media erupted with outrage over a sexism scandal at the app-based ride service Uber over the weekend, consumers in Seattle and around the country vowed to "delete the app" in protest.

But unless people followed that up with a tweet or Facebook post -- or entirely deleted their account with the company -- the message might not have been received.

"A developer is not notified when an application is deleted,'' said Morgan Reed, executive director of The App Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association that represents more than 5,000 app and information-technology companies.

"They may notice a decrease in information flowing from an app or reconnecting to their services,'' he said. "All it knows is that your application is dormant."

That's due to privacy concerns, and practical considerations that take into account multiple devices, new devices and user error, Reed said.

The company might also see a decline in use over time, he noted.

"We would not want anyone to delete an app, ever,'' he said, but doing so would not, on its face, send a message of protest.

What a company can see, however, are deleted accounts, and social-media posts. A spokesman for Uber could not say how many accounts were deleted as a result of the scandal. But there was no question about the backlash on social media.

The hashtag #deleteUber trended over the weekend after an engineer wrote a blog post describing a year's worth of sexual harassment she says she endured at the San Francisco-based company.

The engineer, Susan Fowler Rigetti, alleged that she and other women reported harassment to Uber's human-resources department, but their allegations went nowhere because her boss was a "high performer."

Uber's CEO, Travis Kalanick, on Monday hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and a partner at Holder's law firm to review the workplace issues raised by the blog,... Read More »

More YouTube Ad Metrics To Be Audited

Google is expanding auditing of YouTube metrics, with three partners that collect data on the viewability of ads -- that is, whether people actually see them -- slated to have an independent audit.

The company announced today that Moat, Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify "will undergo a stringent, independent audit" for accreditation by the Media Rating Council, an influential nonprofit organization that sets rules for the tracking of media consumption.

Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it, too, would have some of its ad metrics audited by the MRC. This followed Facebook's revelations earlier this year it had miscalculated several metrics used to measure content's performance on the platform.

The revelations included Facebook's announcement in September that it had overestimated viewing time on video ads.

"Due to the miscalculated data, marketers may have misjudged the performance of video advertising they have purchased from Facebook over the past two years," and could have impacted where the marketers chose to purchase video advertising, reported the Wall Street Journal in September.

The Journal, which first reported Google's agreement to have the partners audited, says Google's planned audits come as marketers in the digital ad industry push for greater transparency around ad data from Google and Facebook.

Google told Recode that this recent move is not in reaction to Facebook's reported miscalculation or to outside pressure. The purpose of the audits is to improve advertisers' confidence in metrics reported by the three partners, according to a company blog post.

It's also not the first time Google has worked to gain accreditation from MRC. The company's ad technology platform DoubleClick is already accredited, according to Google, among more than 30 accreditations "across display and video, desktop and mobile web, mobile apps, and clicks, plays, impressions and viewability."

Read More »

UPS Tests Launching Delivery Drones from Its Trucks

UPS, the world's largest package delivery company, delivered a parcel via drone yesterday in a small town outside of Tampa, Fla.

The drone was mounted on the top of a delivery truck. The driver loaded a package into a cage from inside the truck, which is suspended under the drone through a hatch. The roof slid back to expose the drone, the driver pressed a button on a tablet and the drone was off to fly autonomously to its destination.

The truck driver and the drone, an octocopter, shared the work. After launching the aircraft, the driver drove to deliver another package. The drone then docked back on the truck down the road to recharge. Since it's still illegal to fly a drone beyond the line of sight of the operator without special permission from the FAA, UPS probably had an observer making sure the drone performed correctly. We've reached out to UPS to confirm.

UPS says that shaving off just one mile for each of its 66,000 drivers a day could save the company up to $50 million a year.

Delivery in rural areas can be particularly expensive, where drivers often travel many miles between destinations to drop a single package. And delivery companies around the world are trying to reduce the cost of last-mile trips with drones.

In China, the online retailer JD has been using drones for the past year to ferry packages to remote parts of the country and plans to expand with dozens more routes this year. In France, the postal service ran a test last year using drones on a rural mail route in the Provence region. UPS tested another drone delivery scenario in September of last year, flying to an island off the coast of Boston to simulate the delivery of time-sensitive medical supplies.

The drone and drone-launching truck... Read More »

EU Data-Privacy Regulator Raises Concerns About Windows 10

The European Union's data-protection watchdog says it still has concerns about the information Microsoft is collecting from users of its Windows 10 operating system.

The EU regulator sent Microsoft a letter a year ago raising concerns that the operating system didn't give users enough information or control over what data was being scooped up and sent to the Redmond company's servers.

Microsoft subsequently introduced an expanded settings menu that gives people installing the software more information on data privacy, but the EU's Article 29 Working Party said last week that the changes don't include enough disclosures to customers.

The group "remains concerned about the level of protection of users' personal data," Isabel Falque-Pierrotin, chair of the working party, said in a letter sent to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and company privacy czar Brendon Lynch. The regulator disclosed the letter Tuesday.

It is not clear, Falque-Pierrotin said, to what extent users will be informed about specific data Windows 10 collects. And the new settings leave much to be desired in their specificity, she said.

A Microsoft setting gives users the option to toggle from "full" telemetry data collection to a "basic" level, Falque-Pierrotin wrote. Microsoft's explanation to users says that means the company will collect "less data," without further explanation.

"Microsoft should clearly explain what kinds of personal data are processed for what purposes," the letter said. "Without such information, consent cannot be informed, and therefore, not valid."

In a statement Tuesday, Microsoft said it was listening carefully to comments from the EU and "will continue to cooperate with the Working Party and national data-protection agencies."

The statement said Microsoft's views on protection of user data in Windows 10 were contained in a blog post published in January by Microsoft Windows and Devices chief Terry Myerson. Myerson, outlining coming changes to the operating system's data-notification settings, said the company... Read More »

What To Expect at Mobile World Congress 2017

Although there is still almost a week to go before Mobile World Congress (MWC) opens in Barcelona, analysts say some of the themes of the 2017 show are already apparent. The event, which runs from February 27 to March 2, is one of the biggest mobile device events held annually.

Among the major trends expected at this year's conference are an increased focus on Internet of Things (IoT) technology, chatbot apps and digital payment and retail banking technology.

"As both enterprise and consumer IoT technologies and use cases continue to develop, the real promise of deriving value from IoT data will be a key theme at MWC," analysts with digital research and consulting firm Ovum wrote in a white paper previewing the event.

The Rise of IoT

Of all the themes expected at MWC, IoT might be the biggest this year. In particular, IoT devices that leverage Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technologies are expected to be front and center in Barcelona, with several announcements, demos and deployments. The use of IoT in smart city initiatives is also expected to be a major theme for 2017.

Meanwhile, the question of the value of all the new data expected to be gathered by the rollout of IoT technologies will be another major issue. "MWC will provide the opportunity for many discussions around innovative approaches to data usage, data storage, data ownership, data sharing, data lakes, and open data -- all of which will have a direct impact on the evolution of IoT," Ovum said in the white paper. Ensuring enterprises and applications are collecting enough data of the right type from IoT devices and analyzing them at the right point in the network is another question analysts expect will be discussed this year.

Chatbots and Digital Payments

The rise of chatbots in services will... Read More »

HTC U Ultra, HTC U Play launced in India: Price, specifications, features, release date and more

NEW DELHI: Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corporation on Tuesday launched HTC U Ultra and HTC U Play devices which are priced at Rs 59,990 and Rs 39,990, respectively. Both the smartphones come with 3D-contoured, liquid-adaptive HTC U sonic technology for personalised hearing experience and a unique combination of MegaPixel and UltraPixel camera technology on the […] Read More »

Verizon Shaves Price of Yahoo Deal by $350M in Wake of Breaches

While Verizon is moving ahead with its plan to take over core parts of Yahoo's business, the company has cut a new deal that lowers the price and has Yahoo shouldering more responsibility for any fallout from several large security breaches.

Expected to close in the second quarter of this year, the Verizon acquisition of Yahoo is now priced at $4.48 billion -- $350 million less than when the purchase was first announced in July. The new terms also assign Yahoo with half the cash liabilities that might result from any investigations or lawsuits connected to the security breaches at Yahoo.

Two major hacks of Yahoo that took place in 2013 and 2014 came to light after Verizon announced its acquisition plans. A more recent cookie forging attack also appears to have affected more Yahoo users than initially believed.

Acquisition 'Makes Strategic Sense'

"We have always believed this acquisition makes strategic sense," Marni Walden, Verizon's executive vice president and president of product innovation and new businesses, said in a statement today. "The amended terms of the agreement provide a fair and favorable outcome for shareholders. It provides protections for both sides and delivers a clear path to close the transaction in the second quarter."

In addition to lowering Yahoo's selling price, the new terms will also hold that company responsible for half of any cash liabilities that might arise after closing from any third-party lawsuits or government investigations outside of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Yahoo is already on the hook for any fallout from shareholder lawsuits or SEC investigations.

Under the new terms announced today, Verizon will not consider the recently disclosed Yahoo breaches -- or any potential losses stemming from those -- as a "business material adverse effect."

More Accounts Hit by Forged Cookies?

Following Verizon's acquisition announcement last... Read More »