A closer look at CES 2018, the world’s most famous technovaganza.
The International Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, as it is now known, is one of the most eagerly anticipated technology-centric trade shows in the world. Virtually every big name in the technology business, be it hardware or software, makes it a point to make an appearance at CES to give the world an idea as to what is about to come, and the media goes to great lengths to ensure maximum coverage of this event. Traditionally held every January for over 50 years at the reputed Las Vegas Convention Center, CES has played a seminal role in the history of modern technology by being the perfect platform for heralding the future of consumer electronics.
AMD: Ryzen, Ryzen Everywhere
Straight out of the gate, AMD manages to impress onlookers with a slew of announcements, starting with the Ryzen 2 – the sequel to its Ryzen series microprocessors, which pretty much single-handedly not only saved the company from bankruptcy but went on to give Intel a run for the money. Ryzen 2 promises a 12 nm ‘Zen+’ microarchitecture, which means it would pack more processing power within a smaller space, not to mention higher efficiency and superior performance compared to its predecessors and rivals. It is also interesting to note that the Ryzen 2 CPUs would make use of the same AM4 socket used by the first Ryzen CPUs, which means a motherboard upgrade is not necessary to enjoy their benefits.
AMD has also announced a new range of Ryzen APUs (Accelerated Processing Units, i.e., CPUs with built-in graphics processors) for laptop computers, and are replacing their old Athlon line of CPUs with their new Ryzen APUs, which are more powerful versions of the laptop ones. Some of these APUs will go on to supplant the low-end units from the original Ryzen lineup, such as the Ryzen 3 1200 and the Ryzen 5 1400. AMD promises to deliver greater processing power and efficiency with the new CPUs. These processors have been shown to flatten Intel’s competing offerings in gaming and synthetic benchmarks, and they all sports Radeon RX Vega graphics, albeit in downscaled form.
Traditionally held every January for over 50 years at the reputed Las Vegas Convention Center, CES has played a seminal role in the history of modern technology by being the perfect platform for heralding the future of consumer electronics.
Intel-AMD: Core CPUs with Vega Graphics
This CPU is probably the unique item to make an appearance at this year’s CES, and it features a most unusual partnership between lifelong rivals Intel and AMD. For the first time, Intel’s powerful new Core series of CPUs are coming with integrated Vega M graphics solutions from AMD, instead of using Intel’s laughable HD, UHD or Iris graphics. With the main processor, the graphics chip and the high-bandwidth memory modules of the graphics chip mounted on a single die; the new Intel Core CPUs offer extraordinary ‘desktop-level’ performance in an incredibly small and light form factor. It is safe to assume that these units will be making appearances in laptops and portable PCs later this year. How these beauties hold up against AMD’s line of Ryzen APUs remains to be seen, but given that AMD is targeting the APUs at budget buyers and not enthusiasts, chances are these would fare better in benchmarks.
Intel has even released a new ‘Hades Canyon’ iteration of its NUC (Next Unit of Computing) mini-PC featuring these distinct CPUs, managing to pack a ridiculous amount of processing power in a shockingly small form factor. While these are enthusiast-grade platforms that most people would not have much use for, they look delectably geeky and ostentatiously powerful.
HTC: Vive Pro
Pitted against the mighty Oculus Rift, HTC’s original Vive virtual reality headset was already a worthy contender. But the new Vive Pro unveiled at CES 2018 ups the ante tremendously by raising the display resolution by over 75%, which translates into crisper image quality and superior immersion in virtual environments. The new Vive Pro unit also sports a pair of outward-facing cameras, which brings along interesting possibilities for a truly stereoscopic augmented reality experience. The unit also comes with integrated headphones that boast surprisingly high-quality sound. While the headset is still tethered to the computer by connector cables during use, HTC is in the process of developing a wireless module that can hopefully do away with them. It is safe to say that the Oculus Rift needs to step up its game to top the Vive Pro.
HP: Z 3D Camera
Scanning clay or plastic figures or items using sophisticated sensor arrays and turning the scanned data into virtual models that can be manipulated using 3D modeling and animation software is nothing new. Movie and video game development studios often make use of this technology. However, HP has gone the extra mile to bring this nifty technology to every artist in the form of an affordable spatial scanner called the Z 3D Camera. It comes with a unique mat on which objects can be placed for scanning for 3D conversion. The Z 3D Camera is expected to begin as a massive boon to designers and animators everywhere, saving a great deal of time with its quick and easy operation, not to mention the prohibitive costs typically associated with such scanners.
Nvidia: Big Format Gaming Displays
After years of revolutionizing PC gaming, Nvidia has its sights set on revolutionizing living room entertainment with its upcoming range of Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD) screens – 65-inch 4K behemoths with ridiculously high refresh rates that promise flicker-free and tear-free output. Thanks to its integrated G-Sync technology, which optimizes the display’s refresh rate to be in sync with the frame rate of the media being played. It is a bold move that can cause massive paradigm shifts in home entertainment if received well by audiences, and it may even be the step that ends up helping PCs to oust gaming consoles from living rooms.