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By Abhay V
Microsoft says Xbox Series X and S will leverage "full" RDNA 2 capabilities
by Abhay Venkatesh
AMD took to the virtual stage today to unveil its next-generation GPU offerings based on RDNA 2 architecture that is built on the 7nm process. The firm announced a trio of Radeon RX 6000 series GPUs that aim to go against Nvidia’s latest RTX 30 series offerings, promising higher performance per watt. During the presentation, the company also mentioned that it worked with Microsoft to optimize the architecture with technologies like DirectStorage API and more.
Now, Microsoft has explained through a blog post how its next-generation gaming consoles, the Xbox Series X and Series S, will integrate with the RDNA 2 architecture to leverage all the capabilities announced by AMD today, to deliver a “level of power, performance and compatibility never before seen in console gaming, powered by AMD’s latest “Zen 2” and RDNA 2 architectures”. These benefits include hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing, Mesh Shaders, Sampler Feedback from the Xbox Velocity Architecture, and Variable Rate Shading.
The Redmond firm says that it has been working with AMD from the initial development phases of the Xbox Series X|S, and that it “chose to wait for the most advanced technology” from AMD before finalizing its architecture. It has worked to improved NPC intelligence and visuals through machine learning.
The firm is also working to bring ML-powered super resolution to the consoles as well, a possible rival to Nvidia’s DLSS 2.0 supersampling method, to the Xbox consoles. All these technologies, the company says, allows the consoles to achieve high quality, high fidelity visuals with realistic shadows and reflections.
Along with bringing these technologies and capabilities to the console, Microsoft says that it is also working with AMD to bring these benefits to the PC, which will provide developers a “common set of features” when developing games across the PC and console platforms. Other improvements from AMD such as Smart Access Memory - that allows full GPU memory access to Ryzen 5000 series CPUs - will further improve performance on the PC.
Microsoft’s post is interesting because the PlayStation 5 also features a custom RDNA 2 architecture-based GPU running alongside a Zen 2-based CPU. It will be fascinating to see what benefits the Xbox consoles can bring to overall performance thanks to the “full” hardware-level integration with the RDNA 2 architecture.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft earnings: $37.2B revenue with big Surface and gaming growth
by Rich Woods
Today, Microsoft announced its earnings for the first quarter of its 2021 fiscal year. Overall revenue grew by 12% (12% in constant currency) over the same quarter last year for a total of $37.2 billion. That's broken up into Productivity and Business Processes with $12.3B revenue and 11% (11% CC) growth), Intelligent Cloud with $13B revenue and 20% (19% CC) growth, and More Personal Computing with $11.8B revenue and 6% (6% CC) growth.
In the Productivity and Business Processes department, it was led by 9% increase in Office Commercial products and cloud services, including 21% (20% CC) growth in Office 365 Commercial. The other piece of products and cloud services, the products, declined 30% as more businesses move to the cloud.
For consumers, Office products and cloud services revenue grew by 13%, and Microsoft 365 Consumer subscribers are now at 45.3 million, a 27% increase. LinkedIn revenue grew by 16%, and sessions grew by 31%. For Dynamics, products and cloud services revenue grew by 19% (18% CC), driven by Dynamics 365 revenue, which grew by 38% (37% CC).
As usual, Azure drove the growth in the Intelligent Cloud section. All Server products and cloud services grew by 22% (21% CC), and that includes a 48% (47% CC) growth in Azure. Server products actually declined 1%.
For More Personal Computing, Windows OEM revenue actually declined by 5%, but that actually includes 31% growth in non-Pro revenue, so there was also a 22% decline in Pro revenue. Windows Commercial products and cloud services grew 13% (12% CC).
Surface revenue saw a big boost, with a 37% (36% CC) increase. For this and the increase in Windows non-Pro revenue, Microsoft attributes increased PC demand. Gaming revenue increased by 22% (21% CC), including a 30% increase in Xbox content and services. Finally, search advertising revenue, excluding traffic acquisition costs, was down 10% (11% CC).
By Abhay V
Xbox Live issue preventing Xbox One and Windows 10 users from launching their games [Update]
by Abhay Venkatesh
If you were looking to play some games today, heading into the weekend, and fired up a game on your Xbox One or Windows 10 PC only to find that you are unable to access it, you’re not alone. Xbox Support just acknowledged on Twitter that it is aware of an issue with users being unable to access games due to some issues with Xbox Live. The company is actively investigating the issue.
Depending on some users’ reports on Twitter, it looks like trying to launch games returns a "The person who bought this needs to sign in" message, which likely is due to some authentication issues with Xbox Live. The status page for the service notes that there are issues with ‘Purchase and Content Usage’ that affects launching games or apps. The problem is affecting Xbox One and Windows 10 devices. There is no word on a possible ETA for the restoration of the service.
Those interested can keep an eye on Twitter or the Xbox Live Status page for updates for more information. Additionally, you can also choose to request for a notification by signing in on the status page and having the site send an Xbox Live notification or text message.
Update 1: The support account has posted an update on Twitter noting that users should now be able to access their games. However, the status page still notes problems with buying "downloadable" items and launching games.
Update 2: The Xbox Live Status page has also been updated to reflect that all the issues have been fixed.
Microsoft's Xbox app gets updated with support for remote play on Android and iOS
by Anmol Mehrotra
Microsoft has released a new update for its Xbox app for Android and iOS users. The latest update brings support for remote play as well as the new UI that made a debut on Xbox consoles with the October 2020 update last week.
In case you don't know, remote play allows users to stream gameplay from their Xbox console to smartphones via WiFi. The feature is a bit different from Microsoft xCloud as it requires the user to physically own a console and stream the gameplay. In contrast, Microsoft xCloud allows users to play games without owning an Xbox game console.
Here is the full changelog for the update:
The changelog for the update is the same for both Android and iOS. On Android, the app has been updated to version 2009.1016.2010 and is available for download from the Google Play Store. Meanwhile, on iOS, the app has been updated to version 2009.1009.1918 and is available for download from the App Store.
By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft: We can recoup $7.5bn Bethesda purchase without putting games on PlayStation
by Usama Jawad
Microsoft made quite some waves in the gaming industry last month when it announced that it is acquiring ZeniMax Media for a staggering $7.5 billion. ZeniMax Media owns several high profile game development studios Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. The purchase meant that all these studios are coming under the Redmond tech giant's first-party umbrella, which led to questions about whether future games from them would also be launching on PlayStation platforms.
While Microsoft's Phil Spencer stated that existing commitments such as Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo's timed PlayStation 5 exclusivity will be honored, he stated that for other games, the company will decide "on a case by case basis". Now, the executive has shed some more light on this matter.
In an interview with Kotaku, Spencer clearly stated that Microsoft does not need to release Bethesda's upcoming The Elder Scrolls VI on PlayStation platforms to recoup its $7.5 billion purchase. The executive then went on to say that:
While Spencer's wording is vague enough to not be considered as a flat-out refusal of bringing upcoming ZeniMax games to PlayStation, it does indicate that Microsoft is under no such pressure. Clearly, with its success with Game Pass and xCloud, the company has a huge market of players to tap into.
All in all, it won't be surprising if Microsoft decides not to release future ZeniMax Media games on PlayStation platforms. It might even be able to attract more gamers to its cloud streaming solutions if buying an Xbox console is out of the question for hardcore Sony fans. You can check out Spencer's interview in its entirety by hitting the source link below.