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    Microsoft is planning to acquire the London-based AI powered predictive keyboard manufacturer for around $250M. The UK start-up company founded in 2008 by Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock, is installed on hundreds of millions of smartphones across the globe and has more than 150 employees in London, San Francisco and Seoul.

    Swiftkey, which is considered by its founders as a language technology company, is offering the app free for download in both Android and iOS devices since 2014.  It supports more than 100 languages and uses artificial intelligence in order to learn the writing style of its user and be able to predict the next word to be typed.

    This is not the only company Microsoft is trying to acquire in an effort to regain a foothold in mobile but neither it is for Google with DeepMind or for Apple with VocalIQ whose AI software helps computer and people converse more naturally.  

    Despite being installed on more than 300M devices and being on top of app chart as one of the most popular app, SwiftKey's selling price was lower than what investors might have hoped for a couple of years ago. 
     
     
     
     
    Source: Financial Times
    If you're subscribed to receive NVIDIA's newsletter and are a fan of Ubisoft's upcoming game The Division, then you'll be pleased to find an e-mail in your inbox from NVIDIA handing out closed beta access keys to the game. The closed beta starts on January 28th for Xbox One players and January 29th for PC and PS4 owners and the only way to get guaranteed access to this closed beta is by pre-ordering the game or receiving a code from NVIDIA. According to the game's FAQ, the purpose of this beta is to test out the servers and to make sure the game is balanced. 
     

     
    The Division is an upcoming RPG game with a military theme that takes place in New York City after a pandemic has swept across the US creating chaos throughout society. In the game, you play as a Division agent that roams through an open world persistent New York where you will explore, take part in combat against other players and AI  and have character progression. Amazon has a 30 minute video called Tom Clancy's The Division: Agent Origins which gives a nice background on the story. 
     
    You can find more information on the closed beta here: http://tomclancy-thedivision.ubi.com/game/en-us/beta/
    According to KitGuru, AMD is preparing to cut the price of the air-cooled AMD R9 Radeon Fury in the coming weeks much like it did with the R9 Nano earlier this month. There's no word on how much the price cut will be but KitGuru claims that it should be more price competitive with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980. If you're wondering about the Fury X, it doesn't seem like there is any information on that but it is possible.
     

     
    If you're in the market for a top end 28nm graphics card, it would probably be worth holding off to see how much of a price drop the Fury gets as it is already faster than a stock 980 in most cases and a price cut will make it an even more attractive option. With AMD's next generation Polaris GPUs due out in the middle of 2016, there is still plenty of life left in 28nm GPUs. 
     
      R9 FURY X R9 FURY GPU ARCHITECTURE 28nm 28nm API SUPPORT DirectX® 12, Mantle, OpenGL® 4.5, Vulkan™, OpenCL™ 2.0 DirectX® 12, Mantle, OpenGL® 4.5, Vulkan™, OpenCL™ 2.0 HIGH-BANDWIDTH MEMORY (HBM) Yes Yes PCI EXPRESS® VERSION 3.0 3.0 VIRTUAL SUPER RESOLUTION (VSR) Yes Yes AMD FREESYNC™ TECHNOLOGY Yes Yes AMD LIQUIDVR™ TECHNOLOGY Yes Yes 4K RESOLUTION SUPPORT Yes Yes FRAME RATE TARGET CONTROL (FRTC) Yes Yes DDMA AUDIO Yes Yes HDMI (WITH 4K, STEREO 3D, DEEP COLOR & X.V.COLOR™) Yes Yes AMD POWERTUNE TECHNOLOGY Yes Yes AMD ZEROCORE POWER TECHNOLOGY Yes Yes AMD TRUEAUDIO TECHNOLOGY Yes Yes AMD EYEFINITY TECHNOLOGY (MAXIMUM DISPLAYS) Up to 6 displays with DisplayPort MST hub Up to 6 displays with DisplayPort MST hub AMD HD3D TECHNOLOGY Yes Yes VIDEO CODEC ENGINE (VCE) (WITH H.264, MPEG-4 ASP, MPEG-2, VC-1 & BLU-RAY 3D) Yes Yes GPU CLOCK SPEED Up to 1050 MHz Up to 1000 MHz MEMORY BANDWIDTH 512 GB/s 512 GB/s MEMORY INTERFACE 4096-bit HBM 4096-bit HBM MEMORY AMOUNT 4GB HBM 4GB HBM STREAM PROCESSING UNITS 4096 (64 Compute Units) 3584 (56 Compute Units) REQUIRED POWER SUPPLY CONNECTORS 2x 8-pin 2x 8-pin AMD CROSSFIRE™ SUPPORT (MAXIMUM NUMBER OF GPUS AND CROSSFIRE BRIDGE INTERCONNECT REQUIRED) 4, no 4, no FORM FACTOR Full height, dual slot, liquid-cooled Full height, dual slot
    It seems NVIDIA is getting to ready to release two new mobile Maxwell GPUs in Q2 2016, the GTX 970MX and GTX 980MX. With the company already dominating the high end notebook market and 14nm/16nm next generation GPUs on their way like Polaris, the timing of this release seems a little odd. 
     
    Both GPUs will be positioned as slightly more powerful than their existing GTX 970M and GTX 980M counterparts with increased CUDA cores, texture units, and clock speed while retaining the same TDP. In addition to the aforementioned, the 970MX has 56 ROPs vs 48 in the 970M while the 980M and 980MX have the same 64 ROPs. 
     
    WCCFTech created a table which shows the differences between the new GPUs and existing ones:
     
      Model GeForce GTX 980 Laptop Version GeForce GTX 980MX GeForce GTX 980M GeForce GTX 970MX GeForce GTX 970M GeForce GTX 965M GeForce GTX 960M Architecture Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell GPU GM204 GM204 GM204 GM204 GM204 GM204 GM107 CUDA cores 2048 1664 1536 1408 1280 1024 640 Texture Units 128 104 96 88 80 64 40 Raster Devices 64 64 64 56 48 32 16 Clock Speed 1218 MHz 1048 MHz 1038 MHz 941 MHz 924 MHz 950 MHz 1097 MHz Memory Bus 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 192-bit 192-bit 128-bit 128-bit Amount of memory 8 GB GDDR5 8/4 GB GDDR5 8/4 GB GDDR5 3/6 GB GDDR5 3/6 GB GDDR5 4 GB GDDR5 4 GB GDDR5 Memory Frequency 7008 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz Memory Bandwidth 224 GB/s 160 GB / s 160 GB / s 120 GB / s 120 GB / s 80 GB/s 80 GB/s TDP ~150W 125W 125W 100W 100W 90W 75W Table Source: WCCFTech
     
    There's no word on what the price will be for these new cards or what notebooks will feature them but if I had to guess, I'd say the usual suspects like Alienware, Clevo, MSI and Asus will be among the first to have these ready. 
    We all love drama between technology companies and the latest deliciousness comes courtesy of AMD. They have a 4 minute video on YouTube that questions whether or not SYSmark is a reliable, objective benchmark to use when evaluating performance between different systems. 
     
    AMD's video opens with John Hampton, Director Computer Client Products, talking about how it is very important in choosing the right benchmark when evaluating a purchase because if you choose the wrong one , you can end up overpaying for technology or getting a lesser performing PC. To emphasize his point, he indirectly mentions Volkswagen's diesel debacle and uses the latter case as an example of how even established organizations can be misleading. 
     
    We are then introduced to Tony Salinas, an AMD Engineering Manager, who runs through a couple tests in SYSmark using two notebooks, one that has an Intel i5 CPU and the other with an AMD FX CPU. SYSmark returns a score of 987 for the Intel system and 659 for the AMD one which is a delta of 50%. AMD notes that this is misleading and not reflective of real life performance. To prove this, they run a different benchmark called PCMark 8 on both systems and the results show the Intel i5 system scoring 4199 and the AMD equipped one 3908 which is a delta of 7%. AMD says this is a far more realistic indicator of true performance as PCMark 8 tests the CPU, GPU and video subcomponents rather than emphasizing the CPU like SYSmark does.
     
    And just to drive the point home some more, AMD created their own in-house test using Microsoft Office Suite where they run a custom script on both notebooks and then measure the start and end of a task with a time stamp to gauge performance. Their in-house test shows the Intel system completing the task in approximately 61 seconds while the AMD based one finished it in roughly 64 seconds which is a delta of 6-7%.
     
    As AMD's results line up with those found with PCMark 8, they contend that PCMark 8 is a more fair and balanced indicator of overall performance while SYSmark is not and therefore should be discarded by any potential customers as a tool for evaluating a purchase. 
     

    Intel system using AMD in-house test: Test completed in ~61 seconds.

    AMD system using AMD in-house test: Test completed in ~64 seconds.
     
    They also take the time to remind us that the FTC has required SYSmark published benchmarks to contain fine print that notes their benchmark may only be optimized for Intel. Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that AMD resigned from BAPco consortium. Finally, AMD notes that a transparent benchmark should meet very specific criteria which includes being realistic, unbiased, objective and transparent, all of which SYSmark is not apparently. 
     

     
    While it's fun to see these types of videos from AMD, they also highlight the fact that the company is facing an uphill battle on all fronts, whether it's CPU or GPU, and 2016 may be the year that makes or breaks them.
     
    Digital Foundry re-tested Ark: Survival Evolved on an Xbox One after the developer made some performance improvements and unfortunately the results are still less than spectacular. This isn't really much of a surprise as the game has always performed pretty poorly even on powerful PCs such as my own Titan X setup. If you've never heard of Ark: Survival Evolved before, it is an open world sandbox game that takes place on an island full of dinosaurs where you are free to gather resources, build bases, tame dinosaurs and attack other player built bases. In concept it is similar to other open world games like Rust but this game just runs a lot worse. 
     
     
    You can watch Digital Foundry's video review below:
     
     
    A few days back the VLC team announced the first port of VLC on the Apple TV.

    VLC on the Apple TV allows you to get access to all your files and video streams in their native formats without conversions, directly on the new Apple device and your TV.

    VLC has every feature and format support you are used to in VLC, and a few Apple TV specific features while being fully free and open source, and available right now on the App Store.
     
    Features summary
    VLC on the Apple TV allows normal playback of all file formats, including chapters navigation, multiple audio and subtitles tracks.
    It is also able to play files from UPnP, Windows shares (SMB), FTP and Plex servers; and is able to download automatically subtitles and artwork!
    Finally, VLC on the Apple TV allows you a kind of 'casting', where you can send directly your video files for any browser or app to the Apple TV.
     

     
    Playback
    In addition to normal playback features, VLC for the Apple TV allows navigation by chapters and multiple audio and subtitles tracks selection.
    Unlike any other player on Apple TV so far, VLC supports custom playback speed.

     VLC on the Apple TV displays any kind of text (srt, SSA, WebVTT, ...) or bitmap subtitles including full support for Right-to-Left languages like Arabic and Hebrew, complex text layout for Malayalam or other Asian languages.

    For web radio and music playback, the community service hatchet.is was integrated to show artist imagery and biographies in addition to album artwork.
    For the first time, VLC directly integrates with OpenSubtitles.org, so missing subtitles can be downloaded by the user during playback.
    Content Discovery & Remote Playback
    VLC for Apple TV integrates discovery of services on the local network, for Windows Shares (SMB), DLNA/UPnP media servers, FTP and PLEX servers. 
    Login credentials for devices and services can be securely stored on the Apple TV and will be synchronized to the user's iPad or iPhone (and the other way around) to ease access.

    Finally, VLC for Apple TV includes an innovative feature called Remote Playback a custom way of casting media stored on other computers to the TV using a web browser.

    A user can drop one or multiple files on the browser to play those instantly, and the copies will remain available in the device cache locally.
    Additionally, this works for pasting directly streams from compatible URLs and multiple actions can be sent to create the current playlist.
    And of course, this web interface can be used to control playback.


    Links
    VLC: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
    VLC on the App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/app/vlc-ios/id65037796
     
    Source: VideoLAN
    Netflix recently became available in 130 more countries, but unfortunately not every area is able to access all of its content. While Netflix works on licensing agreements, it will begin preventing customers from using proxies and unblockers to access more content. This move may not be a popular one from the company, as people obviously will want access to as much content as possible, but it is something Netflix says is necessary for its business.
     
    David Fullagar, Vice President of Content Delivery Architecture at Netflix wrote the following:
     
     
    While it's unfortunate that not all of Netflix's content can be accessed everywhere, we hope for Netflix to be able to offer all of its content to all of its customers, regardless of location.
     
    Source: Netflix
    In the not so distant future, we will be tackling many diseases and cancers using the newest revolution in biotechnology that involves targeting very specific parts of DNA and then snipping it.
     
    One such technique that has taken the biotechnology world by storm is CRISPR which involves the use of a cas9 endonuclease and guide RNA. This complex is recruited to a target sequence and cas9 cuts the desired region that results in a double strand break. With this double stranded DNA break, it can be ligated back together with a method called Non-Homologous End-Joining (NHEJ) to introduce random mutations via insertions/deletions to knock out a specific gene.
     
    Another method of repair called Homology Directed Repair (HDR) involves using a repair template that has homology to the flanking region of the double stranded break which results in controlled gene editing allowing researchers to use it for gene knock-out, knock-in, tagging etc. 
     
     

     
     
     
    There are other competing methods such as TALENs (Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases) which a French biotechnology company called Cellectis is using to experiment for possible cancer treatment. As mentioned above, CRISPR uses guide RNA to direct DNA breaks where as TALENs employs the use of 18 repeats of 34 amino acids that vary at amino acids 12 and 13 which is the "Repeat Variable Diresidue" or RVD; RVD mediates the DNA binding specificity. 
     

    (image credit: genecopeia)
     
    A pair of TALEN are targeted to opposite sides of a desired break site. Each TALEN is a chimeric protein with Fok I nuclease domain that results in a specific double stranded break. 
     

    (image credit: genecopoeia)
     
    The use of this technology is detailed in article by Business Insider where an infant in the UK named Layla was born with leukemia that had failed to be treated using common cancer treatment modalities such as chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant. Doctors there knew about Cellectis's work with TALENs and reached out as a last ditch effort to save her. 
     
    Cellectis accepted their request and began her therapy by targeting her T-cells using TALENs to stimulate her immune system to attack the cancer and the result was complete remission.
     
    While many people will be weary of the possible abuse of such technologies, they should set those fears aside because it is this type of technology that will one day lead to the precise targeting and elimination of many diseases including cancer. 
    Eurogamer has an article looking at the upcoming VR tidal wave that is going to land sometime later this year that promises to change the way we game forever. With VR requiring up to 7x increase in performance needed compared to a traditional gaming PC, will anyone besides the top 1% even be able to enjoy it? 
     
     
    Source: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2016-is-your-pc-really-vr-ready