The year shapes up

Posted by Kathleen Maher on July 11th 2016 | Discuss
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If the first quarter is when the tech industry states its highest ambitions and fondest dreams, the second quarter is when many promises come to fruition … or not. New products promised at the end of the previous year, and in the first quarter, will start showing up on store shelves, or at least waved around in the hands of VPs of marketing. 

In the world of entertainment content creation, several trends made themselves manifest during this period. As has been the case for the last 18 months, VR is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but when people start talking they’re often saying quite different things. Several things are evident, standards on just about every front: hardware and software would make the lives of content creators easier. The software leaders all have their own ideas about content creation tools, and they’ve honed in on disparate parts of the problem. It’s early days, but the companies with compos¬iting software have their ideas and the game engine companies have their approach. The real challenge will be to improve the process of passing assets around the tool chain. 

On another front, just last year, we were hearing people at FMX and NAB arguing that virtual workflows would never happen—but meanwhile, the companies hired to get work done were quietly building workstations, servers, and applications in the sky. This year, we’re seeing those capabilities emerge as a competitive advantage for companies. 

The topic of CAD was huge this quarter as industry leaders Autodesk, PTC, Siemens, and Vectorworks all held conferences for their users and developers to show the progress they’ve made tying together the virtual world and the real world. The cloud is figuring in all the companies’ plans, but Autodesk is the most aggressive of the three on that front. All three companies are fascinated with the IoT. We’re seeing huge shifts in the focus of the CAD companies as manufacture and architecture are completely redefined. The CAD model is once again the center of the universe, but this time it bridges digital and real. 

Hard words 

AMD, Intel, and Nvidia have been jockeying for position, and we’re seeing them find their positions in the second quarter of 2016, thanks to the products introduced—some of them at Taiwan’s Computex Conference. Nvidia is happy to take the high end. The Pascal architecture has given it the firepower for big computing, machine learning, and big gaming. Jen Hsun Huang says we’re seeing the dawn of a new era: “Computers are now learning tasks that we don’t know how to teach them.” 

Meanwhile, scrappy AMD is working the cost/performance edge and building on its early work in VR. At Comdex this year, AMD unveiled its latest APU with transitions in its Carrizo architecture to the new Bristol Ridge, giving Intel something to look out for on its flanks. 

Computex did little to calm fears growing around the continuing decline of PCs and instead has turned to face China. To a certain extent, at least, that means chasing sales down the price curve. 

Please enjoy this look back over the quarter. It’s kind of amazing to see how much can happen in three short months. There’s obviously a lot more to come.

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