Microsoft Brainwave aims to accelerate deep learning with FPGAs

 This afternoon Microsoft announced Brainwave, an FPGA-based system for ultra-low latency deep learning in the cloud. Early benchmarking indicates that when using Intel Stratix 10 FPGAs, Brainwave can sustain 39.5 Teraflops on a large gated recurrent unit without any batching. Read More

Sony blocks yet another game from cross-console play with Xbox One

Back in June, Sony told Eurogamer that the company did not have “a profound philosophical stance” against letting PS4 users play games with those on other platforms. That said, the company’s continued refusal to allow for cross-console play between PS4 and Xbox One players has become an absolute and unmistakable trend in recent months.

The latest data point in that trend line is Ark: Survival Evolved, which comes out of a two-year early access period next week on Windows, Mac, PS4, and Xbox One. In a Twitter response posted over the weekend, Ark lead designer and programmer Jeremy Stieglitz said that cross-platform play between PS4 and Xbox One is “working internally, but currently Sony won’t allow it.”

This isn’t a huge surprise, considering that the developers of Rocket League, Minecraft, and Gwent have made similar statements in recent months. Since Microsoft very publicly opened Xbox Live to easy cross-platform play back in March, Sony has said that it’s “happy to have a conversation” about the issue, but it has failed to follow through by allowing any linkage between the two competing consoles (cross-platform play between the PS4 and PC has been available in certain games since the PS4’s launch, though).

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Intel shows off a mysterious and attractive black Surface Book

Intel’s 8th generation Core processors starring, oddly, a black Surface Book.

To coincide with yesterday’s launch of the new 8th-generation processors, which pack four cores and eight threads into the 15W chips found in Ultrabooks, Intel released a sizzle video to give people an idea of what to expect from the new processors.

The star of the video is a little surprising, however. At first glance it looks like a laptop, but MSPoweruser looked a little closer and noticed that it has some very distinctive properties: a vent around the lid and an unusual segmented hinge. The laptop in the video is a Microsoft Surface Book. Only instead of being silver-gray like the current Skylake-based Surface Books, it’s black.

While Microsoft updated the Surface Pro earlier this year to include a dual-core Kaby Lake processor, the Surface Book—launched simultaneously with the previous generation Surface Pro 4—didn’t receive an update. As such, it’s now rather long in the tooth. A new version with a quad-core processor and a smart black finish would certainly be a welcome update to the premium system.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Parallels Desktop 13 for Mac Comes With High Sierra Support and Touch Bar Integration

Parallels Desktop 13 for Mac got its official release on Tuesday. The thirteenth version of the Windows virtualization software comes with numerous new features including support for macOS High Sierra and the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.



Top of the features list is Touch Bar support, enabling owners of compatible MacBook Pros to use the OLED strip with Microsoft Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as additional integration for the Windows Start Menu and Desktop, including Cortana, Task View, and Taskbar pinned elements. A Touch Bar Wizard also allows users to customize the Touch Bar and add their favorite Windows applications.

New dynamic resolution support mean users can change the window size of their Windows session, with booting and rebooting speed said to be faster and smoother as a result. Meanwhile, enhanced support for Retina displays should see better scaling of Windows applications on Mac screens.



A new Picture-in-Picture mode aims to let users monitor their virtual machine with ease, while support for the upcoming Windows 10 People Bar promises to allow users to view recent contacts in the Windows Taskbar or Mac Dock.

More generally, Parallels claims over 47 percent faster access to Windows files and documents compared to the previous version, faster file transfers over USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt SSD devices, and up to 32 vCPU and 128GB vRAM per virtual machine with Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro Edition, with code for all new versions optimized for macOS High Sierra (10.13) and Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.



Elsewhere, Parallels claims over 30 new additional tools can be found in version 13 that simplify everyday tasks on Mac and Windows. They include a drive cleaner, video conversion, a file archiver, a GIF creator, a video downloader, Do Not Sleep and Do Not Disturb modes, a Lock Screen, and the ability to temporarily hide files on the desktop, amongst many others.

Parallels Desktop 13 for Mac costs $79.99 for a new license. Existing users of Parallels Desktop for Home and Student can upgrade to V13 for $49.99, with a time-limited offer enabling users of the Desktop Pro Edition to upgrade for the same price (usually $99.99). For more pricing details, see the Parallels website.

(Thanks, Ulric!)

Discuss this article in our forums

Microsoft to remove full ReFS support from Windows 10 Pro, push Workstation SKU

In the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is removing the ability to create volumes using its new ReFS file system from Windows 10 Pro. Existing volumes will continue to work, but Pro will no longer be able to create new ones.

After rumors in June, Microsoft confirmed last week that it was producing yet another variant of Windows 10: Pro for Workstations. The main features of this build are that it lifts certain limits found in regular Pro: up to four processors (compared to two in Pro) and 6TB of RAM (compared to 2TB). It also has support for certain exotic server-grade hardware, including non-volatile main memory and high-speed network adaptors.

Microsoft is promoting one final feature in Pro for Workstations: its new, modern file system, ReFS (“resilient file system”). ReFS—like modern file systems on other platforms such as Oracle’s ZFS and Linux’s btrfs—includes integrated checksums to detect data corruption. Combined with Storage Spaces, it can automatically reconstruct damaged data from software-defined arrays.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Microsoft outlines the upgrade procedures for Xbox One X

Last night’s pre-Gamescom Microsoft press presentation was light on major announcements. But the event did include some details about how current Xbox One owners will be able to move their games and settings over to the new, 4K-capable Xbox One X when it launches on November 7.

The easiest way to get all your games to the new system, as outlined by Microsoft Vice President Mike Ybarra, will be to just put them on an external USB hard drive and then plug that drive into the new console. “All your games are ready to play” immediately after this external hard drive move, he said, and user-specific settings can also be copied via external hard drive in the same way.

If you don’t have an external drive handy, “we’re going to let you copy games and apps off your home network instead of having to manually move them or redownload them off the Internet,” Ybarra said. It’s unclear right now if Microsoft will mirror the PS4 Pro and allow this kind of system-to-system transfer directly using an Ethernet cable plugged directly in to both consoles.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Microsoft’s speech recognition system hits a new accuracy milestone

 Microsoft announced today that its conversational speech recognition system has reached a 5.1% error rate, its lowest so far. This surpasses the 5.9% error rate reached last year by a group of researchers from Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research and puts its accuracy on par with professional human transcribers who have advantages like the ability to listen to text several times. Read More

Watch Microsoft’s Xbox One X Gamescom conference live right here

 Microsoft is about to share the last details on the Xbox One X with a press conference ahead of the Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. You can watch it live right here at 12 PM on the West Coast, 3 PM on the East Coast, 8 PM in the U.K., 9 PM in Germany.
The company already said on Twitter that we can expect to hear more details about pre-orders for the Xbox One X:

#XboxOneX pre-order info is… Read More