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Next-gen mobile AMD Ryzen processors spotted in laptop benchmarks

On top of a full range of Ryzen 3rd Generation desktop processors, it looks like AMD already has a few mobile CPUs inside upcoming laptops.

Hexus spotted Geekbench results for three different AMD Ryzen 3000 Series Picasso APUs fitted inside two classified HP laptops. First up is the HP Laptop 17-ca1xxx equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U, which is listed as a 2.1GHz quad-core processor featuring eight threads and Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx integrated graphics.

A second HP Laptop 17-ca1xxx showed up in GeekBench’s records twice, but equipped with a different AMD Ryzen 3 3300U CPU. It seems to be a small step behind the chip listed above as it only has 4-cores, 4-threads running at 2.1GHz with Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx integrated graphics.

Lastly, the HP Laptop 14-cm1xxx showed up with a 2.6GHz MD Ryzen 3 3200U that appears to be a dual-core processor featuring 4 threads and Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx integrated graphics.

Geekbench results are always a little shaky, but TUM_APISAK also corroborated the report by tweeting out the same processor names along with a two additional chips. 

Interestingly, the serial leaker noted there will be a high-end Ryzen 7 3700U CPU equipped with 4-cores, 8-threads running between 2.2GHz and 3.8GHz base and boost frequencies, respectively. The 300U was also listed as an extremely low-end 300U chip that might be destined for the first AMD-powered Chromebooks.

Digging into the details listed on the GeekBench results seem to reveal that upcoming Picasso APUs will pair 12nm FinFET Raven Ridge CPUs with Vega GPUs. So these chips may technically be part of an extended Ryzen 2nd Generation family due to its use of the 12nm Zen+ architecture. 

At CES 2019, we fully expect AMD will announce its hotly anticipated 7nm Zen 2 architecture that should be the foundation of the company’s next Ryzen 3rd Generation and Ryzen Threadripper 3rd Generation processors.

Via HotHardware

Best Christmas gifts under $50

Christmas is just around the corner, and that means it's time for some last-minute shopping. If tech gadgets are on your Christmas list, we can help relieve the stress of finding the perfect gift. We've put together a list of the 20 top gadgets from Amazon that cost under $50. From smart home appliances to sound machines, we've rounded up a wide variety of gifts that will meet the needs of anyone on your list.

Shop using our list of the top 20 tech gifts under $50, located below, and remember that Tuesday the 18 is the last day for free standard shipping to ensure your items get there before Christmas day.

20 tech gifts under $50:

The best gaming headsets for Fortnite

These days, you can’t really look anywhere without seeing Fortnite – it’s a genuine phenomenon, with seemingly everyone getting in on the action. But, because it’s an online game, having one of the best gaming headsets is absolutely necessary.

Having a great headset isn’t just about being able to hear the game – though that’s definitely a benefit – but, having directional audio can give you a heads up on the competition in Fortnite. Plus, being able to communicate with your friends is definitely helpful.

Whether you’re looking for an affordable headset, to get someone started on a budget, or you’re looking for an amazing, high-end headset that will make those intense showdowns even more visceral, we’ve found the best headsets for Fortnite fans.

And, we’re aware the Fortnite is one of the best free games out there, so we made sure to take budget in mind — we’ve got you covered from different price points.

Often, when you go for a budget gaming headset, especially one that’s costs less than your standard videogame, you have to brace yourself for a less-than-stellar experience. Either it’s going to sound bad, it’s going to fall apart after a week, or the mic is going to make you sound like you play your games inside a washing machine. But, the Corsair HS50 is a budget headset with none of the downsides.

Now, don’t get us wrong, you’re not going to get a world-class surround sound experience with vibrating earcups (that one is a couple entries down), but you are getting a solid stereo gaming headset that works across several platforms. It sounds as good as it needs to sound, and it’s comfortable to boot. What more could you ask for?

Read the full review: Corsair HS50 Stereo Gaming Headset

When you’re trying to be the last person standing in a match of Fortnite, you need to be aware of what’s happening around you – that means you'll want surround sound. Luckily, the Corsair Void Pro RGB Wireless headset offers just that and looks good to boot. 

With 50mm drivers and Dolby Headphone 7.1 audio, every match is going to come alive, and you’ll be able to track where your opponents are coming from just by listening. And, with RGB lighting and its beautiful finish, the Corsair Void Pro RGB looks stunning. Sure, it’s a hundred bucks, but we think it’s worth the price of admission.

Read the full review: Corsair Void Pro RGB Wireless

Here at TechRadar, we’ve used dozens – maybe even hundreds – of gaming headsets in our time, and none have held our attention quite like the Razer Nari Ultimate. Rather than just being a gaming headset with awesome sound and 8 hours of battery life, this headset features HyperSense haptic feedback technology – it’s a headset that freaking vibrates.

We can tell you that there isn't a more immersive way to play Fortnite than to have your ears buzzing with every single gunshot. Explosions will set off a cacophony of vibrations that will make you feel like you’re smack in the middle of the action. 

The best part? The Razer Nari Ultimate is compatible with a wide range of different platforms. So, no matter whether you’re playing Fortnite on PC, PS4, Xbox One or even your smartphone, you can get a visceral, immersive experience with the Razer Nari Ultimate.

Read the full review: Razer Nari Ultimate

Best gaming chair 2018: the best PC gaming chairs

When you’re trying to build one of the best gaming PCs, to take advantage of the best PC games, you shouldn’t forget about the best PC gaming chairs. You don’t want to walk away from your gaming session crouching over like Igor from Young Frankenstein. With the best PC gaming chairs, you can bring your gaming and sitting experience to a new level. Because, at the end of the day, if you’re immersed in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, saving the world from some cult, you should be comfortable while you do it.

That’s why, now that the year is coming to a close, we decided to make a list of the best gaming chairs of 2018. Some might end up looking like your dad’s office chair, with all-black ‘real leather’ designs – others fully embrace the gamer aesthetic with RGB lighting and loud, clashing colors, making you look like futuristic race car driver.

We will help you find the best PC gaming chairs on the market, so you can spend more time sitting down and less time shopping around. Because – let’s be honest – we do our own fair share of sitting, and we’re very familiar with the best PC gaming chairs. 

It’s no exaggeration to call the Noblechairs Epic Real Leather the best gaming chair. From the cross-thatched embroidery to the real leather of its namesake, if you’re looking for a no-compromises gaming throne, this is it. Plus, it’s surprisingly quick and easy to set up. And, once the set-up is complete, the Epic Real Leather is a dream to sit on – and you can customise your position however you want. Just do us a favor, and read the instructions while you’re setting it up.

If you want to play games all day in comfort, but you don’t want a chair that looks like you’re playing games all day, the Autonomous ErgoChair 2 is for you. Marketed as an office chair, the ErgoChair 2 has a very modern and stylish aesthetic to it that will appeal to anyone that doesn’t use RGB as a personality trait. It’s not all style either, as the ErgoChair lets you adjust basically every part of the chair, so that no matter how your body is built, you’re guaranteed to be comfortable while gaming.  

  • This product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Respawn 115 

Leather and fabric have their advantages, namely to comfort and texture, but sometimes a mesh office chair is best – especially if you live in a warmer climate, where breathability is of utmost importance. The Respawn-300 combines the racing-seat design and lumbar support and mesh material from some high-end office chairs. It really does take comfort to another level and is one of the best PC gaming chairs you can buy today. 

  • This product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Noblechairs Epic Real Leather. 

Corsair is known for making popular and high-end PC components and gaming peripherals. It’s only fitting, then, that they dip their toes into the gaming chair game – and they may have made one of the best gaming chairs yet. Covered top to bottom in breathable PU leather with neck and lumbar pillows wrapped in microfiber, you’ll be able to game both in comfort and style. And with its rollerblade-style wheels, you’ll be able to move it around on any surface without having to worry about scratching up your floor. 

Noblechairs is well known for crafting some of the best gaming chairs out there – and the Noblechairs Icon makes it clear why. While it’s more affordable than the flagship Epic Real Leather, it’s still extremely comfortable and one of the best PC gaming chairs out there. This is thanks to its nice lumbar pillow, which you can easily remove if you don’t like it.  

The Edge GX1 is a gaming chair that actively avoids the popular racing style that is increasingly popular with modern gaming chairs. The company behind the Edge GX1 goes as far as to say that racing-style bucket chairs actually negatively affect gamer’s performance, with their designs limiting movement and comfort. It sort of makes sense, as those styles of chairs are based off designs for racing cars, where limiting movement for the driver is a priority. Instead, the Edge GX1 aims to give an ergonomic experience where comfort is key, while also offering a premium gaming chair. And when we say premium, we mean it, with the Edge GX1 costing £800, a huge amount for a gaming chair. It’s hand-crafted in the UK, and there’s some great touches, such as inflatable lumbar support. It’s a huge asking price, but we’ve been using it for a while now, and it is very comfortable. You need to adjust it a bit to suit your needs, but once you have it set up just how you like it, the ergonomic benefits of the chair really help justify the price. This ships worldwide from the UK, but be warned that shipping costs will add to the price if you’re in the US or Australia.

You can only buy this chair direct from Edge

There’s a certain subset of the PC gaming community that needs to have the absolute best of everything, at whatever the cost. These people are going to be absolutely enamored with the Vertagear Triigger 350 SE. It features over 350 individual components with a mix metal, mesh, leather and high-end plastics to create the ultimate PC gaming chair. If you have the money to spare, and you can’t stand to have anything less than the best, you might want to give this chair a look. 

Another day, another Noblechairs gaming seat – and the Noblechairs Epic is the best gaming chair for the classier gamer. It features a faux-leather covering inspired by car seats, combining both comfort and a high-end design to make it one of the best gaming chairs you can buy today. And, if you’re the type that shies away from the ‘gamer aesthetic,’ the Epic’s subtle black design is far more elegant than some of the more brightly-colored seats on this list.

For the gamer looking for some extra room in their seat, the Vertagear Racing Series PL6000 is a must-have. Specially designed to provide both added width and height, this is the best gaming chair for anyone with a larger frame – no matter how tall you are, the adjustable headrest means you’ll never experience discomfort. However, this is a complicated chair to assemble, so use the buddy system to build this masterpiece.

The Nitro Concepts C80 is a gorgeous, comfortable gaming chair that could easily blend in in an office environment – it looks more expensive than it is. Nitro Concepts made one of the best gaming chairs by keeping the price down, while keeping compromises to a minimum – like using polyurethane instead of leather. And, no compromises were made in the build quality, either – this is an impressively sturdy gaming chair. Just make sure you get a friend to help you put it together – constructing this thing had us tearing our hair out.

  • This product is only available in the UK at the time of this writing. US and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the noblechairs Icon 

Give your loved ones the gift of great sound these holidays with Sennheiser’s most compact Bluetooth headphones

Whether you’re a music-lover that’s often on the go, a student who needs headphones that will fit in your bag with your books, or you just know someone who fits those descriptions, Sennheiser has a great pair of headphones on sale this holiday season that could be the perfect gift. So, you can save money while giving the gift of high-quality sound in a highly portable form factor. It’s up to you whether that gift is to a loved one or to yourself.

Sennheiser’s HD1 Free are a compact pair of wireless, in-ear headphones that seal out the outside world for a clear listening experience. Better still, the earbuds are connected to each other with a simple cable. There’s no bulky plastic base that needs to sit on your neck all the time while also making packing difficult. There’s just the earphones, the cable, in-line controls and battery, making for Sennheiser’s most compact Bluetooth headphones. 

And, with the company’s current holiday promotion, the HD1 Free headphones are also some of Sennheiser’s more affordable products. Normally, they cost $199, but the holiday discount slashes the price by $70, bringing them down to a delightful $129. 

The size of the headphones and the price don’t mean you’re not getting a quality audio product, though. Sennheiser has made a great name for itself in the audio space, and it’s done that by releasing products that meet a high bar of quality. Sound is important there, and the HD1 Free headphones meet the criteria.

You may have heard that Bluetooth isn’t always the best for audio, but the quality of the experience often comes down to the codec used. It’s true that the standard Bluetooth codec isn’t great for busy music with diverse instrumentation. But, Sennheiser knows this and has built in support for multiple codecs that offer substantially higher quality audio.

The AAC codec will offer the best Bluetooth audio experience on iPhones and other iOS devices. Meanwhile, Android users on many devices will be able to enjoy the high-fidelity apt-X codec developed by Qualcomm (many phones with modern Snapdragon chipsets support this), as well as apt-X Low Latency for tidy syncing between audio and video. That’ll come in handy whether you’re streaming your favorite shows or playing high-pressure video game. Using Sennheiser’s CapTune app, you can even customize the EQ settings to get the sound just how you want it.

Controlling the HD1 Free earbuds is simple. The in-line controls offer quick volume adjustments, while a third button lets you control your music or activate your phone’s personal assistant for easy, hands-free control. A built-in microphone will also let you take hands-free phone calls. And, with multiple size ear adaptors and support for Bluetooth pairing with up to eight devices, you can easily share. 

So, with the HD1 Free earbuds fit snugly into your ears, sealing out outside noises, you’ll be able to pipe in clean audio and have easy control of it all. And, with a 6-hour battery life, you can enjoy the tunes for loads of time.

When you’re not using the HD1 Free earbuds, you’ll have plenty of ways to stow them away. Sennheiser has put a lot of care into the design of the product. The cord is hard to tangle, and the backs of the earbuds can snap together magnetically to securely hang around your neck. And, for when you need to store the HD1 Free earbuds for longer stretches, Sennheiser has included a premium leather carrying case. 

So, if you know someone who’d like the gift of quality sound on the go but doesn’t want a bulky pair of headphones, Sennheiser’s HD1 Free headphones make the perfect choice. Even if that someone is yourself, Sennheiser’s discount won’t judge.

The best iPad deal is back on for $250

If you’re looking to pick up the latest iPad – and why wouldn’t you, they’re great for browsing and binging media – now is the best time to pick one up. Amazon has its $80 off deal in stock, meaning you can buy a 32GB iPad for just $249.

This year's iPad upgraded to the A10 Fusion chip, a modified version of the processor that debuted in the iPhone 7. While that's not as blazingly fast as the new A12 Fusion in the latest iPad Pro, it's plenty fast enough for daily needs, and costs a fraction of its souped-up sibling.

The best PS4 Pro prices, deals and bundles for Christmas 2018

So you're thinking about PS4 Pro deals or maybe a bundle? Well we can help you out there especially as you've come to say hello around the Christmas sales. This is a fine time of year to grab the best prices as you can get at least one free game with the console compared to last week and save some money on the console itself too. Maybe you're upgrading from your older PS4 so you can dive into 4K gaming. Or maybe you've never had a PS4 and are thinking you may as well start with the best. All solid choices, especially if you're already set with a 4K TV, even better if it has HDR too.

There are some fantastic-looking games out now to really make a PS4 Pro shine, with this year alone rocking with Spider-Man, God of War and Detroit: Become Human and things are looking bright later on too with Red Dead Redemption 2, The Last of Us Part 2 and more set to drop jaws around the world once again.

You'll find all of the latest and best PS4 Pro prices from the big name stores in our comparison chart below. There's not too much difference in price between retailers at this time of year, but we're constantly on the lookout for the latest deals and bundles. Looking to buy in Australia? You'll want to take a look at our AU page.

If you'd prefer a standard PS4, then check out our PS4 bundles page. Don't forget to top up your subscription with one of our discounted PlayStation Plus deals too.

So keep this page bookmarked to stay informed of the latest PS4 Pro bundles when they arrive. If you're looking for more information on the PS4 Pro, take a look at our handy Q&A below the bundles.

PS4 Pro bundle deals (USA)

Worthwhile PS4 Pro bundles have been pretty much non-existent in the US for the last few months. The PS4 Pro on its own has seemingly sold out at the regular $399 price, meaning we've only seen units for sale via third-party sellers on sites like Amazon/Walmart for prices often at least $40 more than usual. This long after release, we're not cool with that you shouldn't be either. As a bare minimum, you want at least one game with the console for $399, ideally less in the next few months. The only decent PS4 Pro bundle today is the Read Dead Redemption 2 one we've just added below, don't expect stock to last long on this one though.  

PS4 Pro bundle deals (UK)

Need an extra controller on the cheap? Take a look at the best DualShock 4 deals. We also have a guide to the best PlayStation VR deals too.

Cheap PlayStation Plus deals

If you're buying a PS4 Pro, you'll probably need a cheap PlayStation Plus deal too. PlayStation Plus (aka PS Plus or PS+) allows you to play PS4 games online, along with access to the Instant Game Collection, a bunch of free games for PS4, PS3 and Vita each month. The default price for a year is £40. We've shopped around for you though and found a range of prices. So check out our guide of you want the best PlayStation Plus deals.

What is the PS4 Pro?

Essentially, the PS4 Pro is an upgrade of the PS4, rather than a 'next-gen' console. The keywords to take in from the PS4 Pro are 4K and HDR. The new machine will allow game developers to include 4K options in their games, so expect the like of Uncharted 4, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Days Gone, Horizon: Zero Dawn and more to look even better on a 4K TV.

HDR, or High Dynamic Range is the other buzzword to be excited about as the PS4 Pro will allow for extra detail to be seen on a range of games and also a wider range of colors not usually displayed by traditional HD TVs.

Will my old PS4 games work on PS4 Pro?

Absolutely. If you're planning on upgrading to a PS4 Pro from an older PS4, all of your games will still work. Not every title will be patched to take advantage of the new 4K/HDR capabilities, but the default upscaling (if you have a 4K TV) will more than likely see some improvement to the visuals and the improved console power may give the frame-rate a boost on some titles.

What else can I watch in 4K/HDR on PS4 Pro?

The PS4 Pro is compatible with 4K and HDR, and the content options for both are increasing all the time on services like YouTube and Netflix.

Does the PS4 Pro support 4K Blu-rays?

No. This was a surprise if we're honest, especially as the new Xbox One S console does. It's a bit of a gamble for Sony, but at the same time, 4K Blu-rays are very expensive for now and many consumers look to digital services to provide their 4K movies and TV content.

Do I need a 4K TV to run a PS4 Pro?

No, the PS4 Pro will still work on a regular 1080p TV, you won't get the benefits of upscaling or HDR though. You may see a slim amount of extra detail, or frame-rate boost, but we wouldn't expect a massive leap.

If you are thinking of buying a 4K TV soon, then it's probably a good idea to splash out on the PS4 Pro instead of the regular or new PS4 Slim as it'll future proof you for a while. Be sure to look out for a TV that supports HDR too, in order to take full advantage of the PS4 Pro's capabilities.

Will PlayStation VR be better on the PS4 Pro?

Early reports say yes. The PlayStation VR frame-rate is better on PS4 Pro and the resolution gets a bit of a bump too. PlayStation VR will certainly work on the older PS4s, you don't need a PS4 Pro to get involved there.

Does the PS4 Pro have optical audio support?

Yes! The optical audio output has been removed from the PS4 Slim though, which is a massive shame. PS4 Pro owners though will still be able to use optical connections for their soundbars and sound systems.

What are the best games on PS4 Pro?

We've dived through our back catalog of PS4 games that have received a PS4 Pro update patch to see which ones look the best and have a noticeable difference. Take a look at our extensive feature - The best PS4 Pro games.

5G could add billions to world GDP

A new report from GSMA has revealed that unlocking spectrum for the mobile industry to deliver 5G services could add $565bn to the global GDP and $152 in tax revenue from 2020 to 2034.

However, government support is needed for the identification of sufficient millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum for the mobile industry at the next ITU World Radiocommunication Conference in 2019 (WRC-19).

The report titled, “Socio-Economic Benefits of 5G Services Provided in mmWave Bands”, is the first of its kind to examine and quantify the impact of mmWave spectrum on the 5G networks overall contribution to society.

mmWave spectrum will carry the highest capacity 5G services which have the ideal characteristics to support very high data transfer rates and ultra-reliable, low latency capabilities. This will support new use cases and deliver the benefits of 5G to both businesses and consumers around the world.

Planning spectrum

GSMA's Head of Spectrum, Brett Tarnutzer explained why planning spectrum is essential to the success of 5G, saying:

“Planning spectrum is essential to enable the highest 5G performance and government backing for mmWave mobile spectrum at WRC-19 will unlock the greatest value from 5G deployments for their citizens. More than 5 billion people already rely on the mobile ecosystem to deliver services that are integral to their daily lives and fundamental to the economic sustainability of the communities they live in. 5G can offer more benefits and a whole new range of services to even more people, but this will not be possible without access to this vital spectrum.”

The Asia Pacific and Americas regions are expected to generate the greatest share of GDP attributed to mmWave 5G thanks to their early start at $212bn and $190bn respectively. Europe on the other hand is forecast to have the highest percentage of GDP growth attributable to mmWave of any region at 2.9 per cent.

At WRC-19, new mmWave bands for mobile will be discussed and the GSMA recommends supporting the 26 GHz, 40 GHz and 66-71 GHz bands for mobile.

The best Xbox One prices, deals and bundles for Christmas 2018

Freshly discounted Xbox One prices have appeared for this year's Christmas sales and we're already seeing some of the lowest prices of the year. We've added plenty of brand new Xbox bundles today too as new deals are arriving all the time now. Better still, Microsoft is really pushing discounts on the 1TB consoles, which are much more accommodating for your library of games and their large install sizes than the regular 500GB models. Red Dead Redemption 2, FIFA 19, Forza Horizon 4 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider are all getting in on the Xbox One deals train today for some of the best deals of the year so far.

Microsoft still needs to pull its socks up as the Xbox One sales are way behind those of the PS4 and owners of Sony's console may by eyeing up a Nintendo Switch purchase soon instead.

Retailers are stocking some cheap Xbox One deals as standalone purchases, but the best value is to be found with the bundles with extra games. Xbox One bundles nowadays often cost less than the standalone consoles prices too, so be sure to check out our hand-picked list of the best Xbox One offers below the comparison charts. Or maybe you're looking for a 4K upgrade? Then you'll want to take a look at the latest Xbox One X bundles.

Looking to buy in the US or Australia? You'll want to head on over to our US page or AU page.

Xbox One deals

The slimmed-down design of the Xbox One S looks much better than the original chunky box and the power brick is now a thing of the past. The main draw though is 4K visual support meaning you'll be able to watch specialised Blu-Ray and Netflix content in 4K on your new 4K TV

The Xbox One S is now the standard console and has replaced the older model that's been phased out at retailers. The Xbox One S is cheaper too, so in all honesty we've generally stopped covering deals on the older model as you're getting better value with the newer version and we've not spotted any decent stock for months now.

Xbox One Deal of the Week The best Xbox One bundle deals More Xbox One prices

Still not found your ideal Xbox One deal in our highlights of the best offers out there? Why not check out more Xbox One bundles directly from the retailers from our list below?

The best Xbox One X deals

The new Xbox One X is capable of displaying games in glorious HDR 4K and is the most powerful console ever made. Sadly, it has the price-tag to match too as it's way more expensive than the Xbox One S. The comparison chart below is mainly full of prices for the new console on its own. However, we're starting to see better offers appear online where you can get discounted (or sometimes free) games included too. For more details, head on over to our extensive Xbox One X bundles page for the best value deals.

Xbox Live Gold deals

If you're looking to play your Xbox games online or take advantage of the free Games with Gold initiative, you'll want to check out our cheap Xbox Live Gold deals page where's we've found prices considerably cheaper than the default RRP.

Best cloud storage of 2019: free, paid and business options

Consumers and businesses continue the trend of reducing their need to rely on local storage hardware and infrastructure by placing files and applications in the cloud.

Given the multitude of cloud storage providers out there, one has to wisely choose a provider who will offer the maximum amount of low-cost storage and bandwidth, while still keeping your data safe.

This list represents our top picks for cloud storage: most offer a free tier allowing you to see if they're right for you before handing over any hard-earned cash. Business users will need to consider carefully what their needs are as terms and conditions as well as quality of service is likely to differ significantly.

Go straight to your desired option through the jump links below

The Granddaddy of cloud storage, Dropbox offers a rather measly 2GB of free storage, but this can be increased up to 16GB free of charge by linking your Dropbox to social media and referring friends to join the service. 

Dropbox Business subscriptions allow users to collaborate on work as well as giving each person unlimited space in a personal Dropbox account. There are also enhanced features for file recovery and versioning, and an add-on for Gmail. Business pricing starts from around $12.50 per user per month (£10, around AU$16.50), or you can give it a go for free with a 30-day trial.

Price: 2GB free. 1TB for $10 a month (£6.58, around AU$11) with Dropbox Plus or 2TB for $19.99 a month (£15, around AU$27) with Dropbox Professional, which has some added extras.

Google Drive is a natural choice for owners of Android devices as it's already integrated, but users of other platforms may appreciate the generous free storage too. You can also store high definition photos on your mobile phone with companion app Google Photos, and make use of Google's own office suite (now known as G Suite). Also, upgrading to paid Google Drive plans is now called Google One (although it might not yet be available, depending on the region).

Downsides include the fact that the web interface isn't very easy-to-use, although Windows and Mac users can download a desktop app to drag-and-drop files easily. 

Price: 15GB free. 100GB for $1.99 a month (£1.59, around AU$2.50). 200GB for $2.99 a month (£2.35, around AU$4.10). 2TB for $9.99 a month (£8, around AU$13). 10TB for $99.99 a month (£74, around AU$130). 

With an insanely generous free tier and a simple drag-and-drop interface, New Zealand-based Mega is one of the cloud storage heavyweights. There's a handy mobile app to allow you to upload files and photos, as well as sync clients with desktop machines. 

Mega claims that all data stored in its cloud is encrypted on your device before it reaches the firm’s servers. As the company has released the source code to its sync client, experts can check that there are no vulnerabilities. 

Price: 50GB free. 200GB for $6 a month (£4.50, €4.99, around AU$7.50). 1TB for $12 a month (£9, €9.99, around AU$16). 4TB for $23 a month (£17, €19.99, around AU$30). 8TB for $35 a month (£26, €29.99, around AU$46).

OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) is integrated into Windows 10's file explorer. You don't have to download an additional app – it's there to use out of the box, which is obviously very convenient for those who have made the jump to Microsoft’s newest operating system.

Microsoft's Photos app can also use OneDrive to sync pictures across all your devices. There's an app for Android and iOS devices, and there's even one in the App Store for Mac users (although it has received mixed reviews).

Price: 5GB free. 50GB for $3 a month (£1.99, around AU$4). 1TB for $8 a month (£5.99, around AU$11). 5TB for $11 a month (£7.99, around AU$14)

If you want to back up your iPhone to iCloud, you'll need more than the free 5GB allowance Apple gives you, but compared to rivals iCloud prices are very reasonable. 

The Mac Finder app integrates iCloud Drive, where you can store any files you wish. Documents created in the iWork office suite are also saved to iCloud and can sync across your devices. Windows users can also sync their files with iCloud Drive using the official client, and access the iWork apps on the iCloud website. 

Price: 5GB free. 50GB for $0.99 a month (£0.79, AU$1.49). 200GB for $2.99 (£2.24, AU$4). 2TB for $9.99 (£8, AU$13)

Box's website currently seems to be pushing its Business plans as clicking ‘sign up’ takes you to the pricing page where for $15 per user (£11, around AU$19) you can benefit from advanced collaboration options and unlimited storage. But there is a 10GB free option, too.

As Box has been around for a while, it is supported by a number of mainstream apps such as Google Docs and Office 365. The Box Sync client is available from the Downloads page for Mac and Windows, plus there's also an official Android client.

Price: 10GB free. 100GB for around $10 a month (£7.50, around AU$13)

NextCloud isn’t an online cloud storage provider itself, but offers free software to download and install a cloud storage service on your own server. Using a server on your home network for cloud storage is much faster. You can also enable encryption and make sure the information never leaves your home network, which is far safer. 

If you've no server or IT experience, you can even purchase a preconfigured NextCloud Box (if you can find one) which comes with a 1TB hard drive and will work with an inexpensive Raspberry Pi board to keep your data synced. Unfortunately, NextCloud Box is sold out but you can check out the alternatives on their website

Price: Free to install and use. Self-hosting so storage costs vary.

SpiderOak is part of a new trend of zero knowledge cloud storage providers. The website claims that after installing the client your data is encrypted before syncing. Unfortunately since SpiderOak hasn’t made the client source code public, there's no way to confirm this. 

The SpiderOakOne client is available for Windows, Mac and Linux as well as Android and iOS (although, both Android and iOS are read-only apps, meaning you can only view files, and can't upload or sync anything). You can also log in via the web interface but privacy lovers may prefer not to as it exposes your password to SpiderOak employees. 

Price: 21-day free trial. 150GB for $5 a month (around £3.75, AU$7). 400GB for $9 a month (around £7, AU$11.50). 2TB for $12 a month (around £9, AU$15). 5TB for $25 a month (around £19, AU$33)

IDrive offers continuous syncing of your files, even those on network drives. The web interface supports sharing files by email, Facebook and Twitter. Cautious or click-happy users will be pleased to hear that files deleted from your computer are not automatically deleted from the server, so there's less danger of removing something important accidentally. For photos, you have a neat facial recognition feature that helps you to automatically organize them.

IDrive also offers IDrive Express – a service whereby if you lose all your data they will ship a physical hard drive out to you, allowing for the swift restoration of all your backed up files. 

Price: 5GB free. Personal: 2TB for $52 a year (around £40, AU$66). Business: 250GB for $74.62 a year (around £56, AU$98)

While some bandwidth limits apply, there seems to be no limit to the size of files you can upload, so feel free to sync large media files with pCloud.

The service is available for all desktop and mobile platforms – users can also log in via the website. The company itself is registered in Switzerland which has strong privacy laws, and you can also pay a premium of $4.99 a month (around £3.75, AU$7) for pCloud Crypto to lock (and unlock) individual files with passwords.

Price: Up to 20GB free (You start with 10GB and can increase that by referring people). 500GB for $3.99 (around £3, AU$5) a month paid annually. 2TB for $7.99 (around £6, AU$10) a month paid annually. Lifetime plans are also available: 500GB for 175$ (around £131, AU$230). 2TB for 350$ (around £262, AU$460). 

Best free cloud storage

Google Drive

Free storage allowance: 15GB (expandable)

If you're a Google user, you already benefit from Google Drive integration, such as the ability to save email attachments from Gmail. However, anyone can sign up for the free cloud storage, even if they don't have a Gmail address, by creating a new Google account. Google is also in a process of releasing Google One as a sort of substitution for Google Drive, although depending on your region it might not be available yet.

With 15GB of space for new users, Google Drive is one of the more generous cloud offerings, and there are occasional ways to boost this capacity free of charge. The catch is that this Google storage space is also shared with a user’s other Google services including Gmail and Google Photos.

Mobile apps are available to allow easy access for iOS and Android users, and Google’s Backup and Sync desktop app lets you synchronize files from your PC to the cloud. Google Drive also includes online office tools for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations which can makes sharing files with others effortless.

pCloud

Free storage allowance: 10GB (expandable)

You might not recognize the name, but if you're looking for a decent chunk of cloud storage free of charge, pCloud could be just the ticket. To kick things off, you're given a fairly generous 10GB to play with, and there's a bandwidth allowance of 50GB of downlink traffic per month.

While we're primarily interested in the free version of pCloud, note that you can upgrade to 500GB of space for a monthly plan of $4.99 (£3.70), or 2TB for $9.99 (£7.50) a month – both of which are great deals for storage. You also have annual and lifetime plans, which are a cheaper option in the long run.

The initial 10GB free offering can also be expanded up to 20GB via an additional 4GB for completion of offers, as well as referrals that add 1GB each. It’s also worth noting that pCloud offers well-designed desktop and mobile apps that supplement the website for seamless integration into a user’s workflow.

With no limit on file sizes, and simple sharing options, pCloud is a great way to send large files to friends and colleagues – it's even possible to share with people who aren't using the service themselves. Add in decent streaming options and a neat online interface, and pCloud is well worth a look.

Microsoft OneDrive

Free storage allowance: 5GB

Coming from Microsoft – a company with plenty of money to throw at the cloud – it's a little disappointing to find that OneDrive doesn’t include more space free of charge. Free users get a mere 5GB of storage, although it's relatively inexpensive to increase this to 50GB.

If you have Office 365, you'll automatically get boosted to 1TB of space, but not everyone wants an Office subscription.

Like Google Drive's appeal to Google users, OneDrive will be a good fit for anyone who is committed to using Microsoft's services. There's neat integration with Outlook.com, for instance. OneDrive also ties in nicely with Windows 10, and there is a selection of reasonable mobile apps to facilitate access on the move.

It's possible to share files with other people even if they aren't OneDrive users (complete with customizable permissions), and the ability to edit files online without downloading them is a welcome touch.

Dropbox

Free storage allowance: 2GB (expandable)

Dropbox is a stalwart of the free cloud storage world, with a web interface that remains streamlined and easy-to-use.

Despite its popularity, Dropbox actually has one of the least generous free packages for new users (just 2GB), but there are various ways to boost this space without paying, including inviting friends to join (you get 500MB per referral up to 16GB), completing the Getting Started guide (250MB) and contributing to the Dropbox forum (which elicits 1GB per 'Mighty Answer' provided).

DropBox really comes into its own when you start delving into the service’s extra features. There's a great collaborative working tool called Dropbox Paper that acts as a group workspace, and – if you install the desktop app – you can back up photos automatically. The File Requests feature also allows you to request another user to upload a file to your Dropbox account.

There are desktop apps for Windows, Mac and Linux, and mobile apps including Android, iOS and even Kindle. This gives Dropbox broad appeal, as does the support for third-party apps and services.

The web version of Dropbox lets you edit files without needing to download them, and really the only thing that counts against the cloud storage service is that most alternatives offer more space to free users.

MediaFire

Free storage allowance: 10GB (expandable)

MediaFire has been around for over a decade, and those years of experience really show. You're given 10GB of free space initially, but you can boost this by an extra 40GB through activities like referring friends and following MediaFire's social media accounts. Few people would disagree that 50GB of free cloud storage is impressive. Free accounts carry ads, but this is a small sacrifice to make.

There's support for large files up to 4GB, and the sharing options are very impressive, even allowing sharing with non-users.

The web-based interface is excellent too, and MediaFire offers mobile apps for convenient uploading and downloading on iOS and Android. These make it easy to access files you're storing in the cloud, and include convenient features such as automatic photo syncing.

Best business cloud storage

SpiderOak

SpiderOak is a collaboration tool, online backup and file hosting service founded in 2007. The platform allows users to access, synchronize and share data using a cloud-based server.

The company places a strong emphasis on data security and privacy. They offer a cloud storage, online backup and sharing service which they claim uses a ‘zero knowledge’ privacy environment. This means the client is the only one who can view all stored data. Not even SpiderOak themselves have access to your data.

SpiderOak’s main focus is on privacy and security. As a result, the tool itself has a very basic design. This makes the admin console and all central device management very straightforward to use. They also include a handy drag and drop feature for organising files.

From the centralized device management dashboard, users can access settings for all applications such as backup selection and sharing. The dashboard also allows users to manage their accounts, set group permissions and gain insight into usage.

Prospective business clients will need to contact SpiderOak’s Sales Team directly to obtain a quote. 500 users minimum is required.

Online commentators have observed that SpiderOak lacks many of the collaboration tools available from other cloud storage providers.

Tresorit

Tresorit is a cloud storage provider based in Hungary and Switzerland. It was founded in 2011. The provider emphasizes enhanced security and data encryption for businesses and personal users alike.

If you are concerned with ensuring that your stored data is kept safe online then Tresorit is the service for you. This provider allows you to keep control of your files through ‘zero-knowledge encryption’ meaning that only you and the chosen few you decide to share with can ever see your data. Your Tresorit account can also be secured by two-factor authentication login.

Tresorit’s ‘Small Business’ Packages starts at $25 (£19.60) per month (or $20 monthly for the annual plan) for teams with 2-9 users. This includes 1000GB encrypted storage, secure access on up to 10 devices and synching of existing folder structure. 

Tresorit’s ‘Business’ plan begins at $30 (£23.30) per month (or $24 monthly for the annual plan) for businesses with over 10 users. This comes with extras such as digital rights management, remote wipe and phone support. At the time of writing there is a 50% discount on "Business plan", so you can pay as low as $12 (£9.4) per month

The ‘Enterprise’ tier weighs in at $34 (£26.65) per month (or $27 monthly for the annual plan) for businesses with more than 100 users. Extras included in this are personalized staff training, admin API and on-premises deployment. In order to sign up for this plan, users need to contact Tresorit directly.

All tiers come with a 14-day free trial.

The extra security offered by Tresorit makes it relatively expensive compared to other cloud backup solutions. However most users will probably appreciate the greater piece of mind and extra features offered by Tresorit.

Egnyte

Egnyte was founded in 2007. The company provides software for enterprise file synchronization and sharing. 

Egnyte allows businesses to store their data locally and online. All types of data can be stored in the cloud, whilst data of a more sensitive nature can be stored on servers on-premise. This makes for better security.

Business teams can work how and where they want with an easy to use collaboration system through Egnyte’s content services platform.

Egnyte integrates with popular industry applications such as Office 365 or Gmail. This allows both remote and internal employees to access all files with ease.

Egnyte’s ‘Office’ plan starts at $8 (£6.21) per employee per month. This covers 5-25 employees, 5TB of storage and 10GB max file size.

The ‘Business’ packages starts at $15 (£11.65) per employee per month. This includes 25-100 employees, 10TB online storage and 10GB max file size.

In order to take advantage of their ‘Enterprise tier’, which includes over 100 employees, 25GB max file size and unlimited storage, you will need to contact Egnyte directly.

Egnyte offer a 15-day free trial for all packages.

Users have observed that some files, such as photos, can take a long time to load.

Dropbox Business

Dropbox is one of the oldest cloud storage providers. It was founded in 2007.

To date it is one of the simplest storage providers to use. Dropbox can be installed on most computers or devices and syncs easily between apps. The app can store almost any kind of file while never having any issues with compatibility. You can drag and drop files into the desktop app with ease.

You can also share files with other users easily through links. These can be shared with users who don’t have a Dropbox account. 

As Dropbox has been around for a long time it integrates with most other apps such as MS Office and Slack.

All files and folders can be shared with other users even if they are not part of your account. These users will be limited to their own plan's storage limits.

Dropbox Business can be connected to your personal account so you can access all your files in once place. Personal account feature "automatic camera upload" is now also available to Business accounts, as of November 2018.

The dashboard is simple and easy to use. From here, admins can see how many team members they have as well as any pending invites. You can restrict sharing, and allow/block commenting as you see fit. The dashboard allows you to access settings and to monitor usage.

Dropbox offers a 30-day free trial which asks for your payment details. Your plan will automatically upgrade after the trial at which point your card is charged.

The ‘Standard’ plan starts at $12.50 (£9.71) per user per month starting at 3 users and includes 3TB storage.

The ‘Advanced’ package begins at $20 (£15.70) per user per month with unlimited storage.

In order to subscribe to the ‘Enterprise’ tier, users will need to contact Dropbox directly.

Some users have commented on the lack of online editing tools. 

Box for Business

Box is a cloud content management and file sharing service for businesses. It was founded in 2005.

Box offers strong management capabilities and security features. The interface is made for ease of use and is simple to navigate. 

The dashboard allows access to settings, files and folders. Admins can manage all users, monitors activity and control sharing.

As Box has been around for a while, it is supported by a number of mainstream apps such as Google Docs and Office 365. The Box Sync client is available from the Downloads page for Mac and Windows. There's also an official Android client.

Box offers a 14-day free trial for all packages. Their ‘Starter’ plan is priced at $5 (£3.88) per user per month. This includes 100GB secure storage, 2GB file upload with a maximum of 10 users.

The ‘Business’ plan starts at $15 (£11.80) per user per month which includes unlimited storage, 5GB file upload and no maximum number of users.

The ‘Business Plus’ package is $25 (£19.60) per user per month and comes with unlimited storage, 5GB file upload and unlimited external collaborators.

In order to subscribe to Box’s ‘Enterprise’ plan, users will have to contact them directly for a quote.

If you choose to share files external users are limited to read-only access.

Intel graphics cards release date, news and rumors

For the longest time, the best graphics cards have been an all-out war between Nvidia vs AMD. However, there have been rumors floating around for a while now that Intel is building a team of GPU talent to jump in on the action. In a marketplace where Nvidia is charging exorbitant prices for the RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 and AMD is focusing on the budget market with the RX 590, we’re ready for a third party to jump into this war and spice up the market again.

If Intel approaches the GPU space targeting the same audience it does with its processors — trying to dominate the high-end, it could finally give Nvidia some real competition and force them to drive prices down. Still, we don’t know what these new graphics cards are going to look like, or when we’re going to see them. We don’t even know if they’ll ever actually exist.

But, that doesn’t mean we can’t do a bit of speculation. There has been enough movement out there on the Intel GPU front to pull all the information together and try to create a kind of wish list for what we’d like to see out of Intel’s GPUs. So, keep this page bookmarked, as we’ll keep it updated with any and all information that comes our way.

Cut to the chase
  • What is it? Intel’s rumored line of graphics cards
  • When is it out? Sometime in 2020
  • What will it cost? No one knows yet
Intel graphics cards release date

Intel graphics cards seem set for release sometime in 2020 and that’s the only thing we can be sure about. The chipmaker itself has stated that it’s on track to release graphics cards in 2020 at least twice. We’re not sure of a much more accurate date beyond that, unfortunately. We’re hoping it’ll come sooner at the start of 2020. 

The way we see it playing out is Intel will announce its graphics architecture at CES 2019, with enterprise cards hitting the market. Then, we could see the company holding a separate launch event for consumer graphics cards when they’re ready to hit the market, similar to what we saw with Coffee Lake Refresh. Of course, it could work the other way around — but if Intel’s own teaser video is to be believed, it’s not going to play out like that.

Either way, we don’t know the exact release date for Intel’s graphics card until the company wants us to (or until the release date gets leaked, as is likely to happen).


Intel graphics cards price

Intel’s pricing for its graphics cards is ultimately going to boil down to what segment of the consumer market it plans to capitalize on it. We’re sure that there will be professional and datacenter GPUs that cost thousands of dollars, but we’re more interested in consumer or gaming graphics cards. 

If Intel decides to compete with AMD, we could see it start out with mid-range cards priced around $300 (about £230, AU$420) that give the Radeon RX 5xx series a run for its money. This could be compelling because Nvidia doesn’t have any current-generation cards in this range, and who knows what the GTX 2060 is going to cost.

What we think is more likely, though, is that Intel will target the high-end and enthusiast market first — similar to what it’s doing with Coffee Lake Refresh. We could see Intel go all-in, trying to compete with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti or the RTX 2080, undercutting them by a couple hundred bucks and succeeding. Especially if it’s able to pack in enough traditional GPU power — we doubt that Intel will be able to compete with Nvidia Turing’s more unique ray tracing and Tensor Core-powered AI features. 

At the end of the day, we don’t know what Intel is doing here, but we’re excited nonetheless. We’ll be keeping our ears to the ground on this one, waiting until more information starts surfacing — so stay tuned.

Intel graphics cards specs

Usually, this is the part of the story where we dive into past releases and try to suss out what the future products are going to look like. But, we can’t really do that this time around — it’s been almost two decades since Intel has released a discrete GPU, and that didn’t end so well for team blue.

So, instead, we’re going to dive into some speculation based on Intel’s teaser video and a bit of what’s going on in the scene these GPUs will be entering.

In Intel’s teaser, wherein it claims to ‘set your graphics free’ – whatever that means – Intel reminds us that it not only created the first GPU capable of handling 4K Netflix, but also the first fully DirectX 12 compliant GPU and a gaming PC that’s ‘as thin as a phone’. And, with these claims, and considering the talent it’s poached, like ex-AMD graphics guru Raja Koduri, it looks like Intel is going to try and push the envelope a bit. 

Whether that means it’ll support fancy rendering techniques like Nvidia is with the RTX cards, we don’t know, but Nvidia could certainly use some competition at the high-end, and we might see Intel make a run for it. 

At the end of the day, there are only a couple things we need to see in these new GPUs, they need to be capable of 4K gaming, and they need to be priced competitively. If Intel is able to hit these two marks, we could see Intel competing in the bloodthirsty GPU marketplace. But, we won’t know until Intel is ready to share – we can’t wait for CES 2019.

The best gaming mouse for Fortnite

In the mad dash to win a Fortnite Victory Royale, you're going to do a lot of looking around. Whether you're keeping your character's head on a swivel to make sure no one is trying to snipe you from a distance, quickly selecting loot, or perfecting flick shots on your enemies, you need to be able to rely on your mouse. That's why you'll want to have the best mouse for Fortnite. 

At the heart of any great gaming mouse is a good sensor that keeps up with your quick hand movements for perfectly tracked aim. Ever seen a pro land a great shot just an instant after spotting an enemy? That's muscle memory, knowing just how far they need to move their hand to get the crosshairs on the target, and they're relying on their mouse's sensor to be as consistent as they are.

Of course, after the sensor, you'll also need to have a mouse that performs reliably in other respects, sending your inputs as quick as possible. A few extra buttons can also help your create shortcuts for your favorite gear slots of building needs. With all that in mind, we've picked out the best mice you can get for Fortnite, whether you need wired, wireless, or just a good deal.

It should come as no surprise that the best mouse in gaming also helps you play play Fortnite at the highest level. The key aspect of the SteelSeries Rival 600 is the TrueMove 3+ sensor. There's little more important to aim than your own skill and the mouse sensor you've got. You want your hand's motion to be translated perfectly into the game, and the TrueMove 3+ sensor can do that while also ensuring that it doesn't track motion when you pick the mouse up.

As if that best-in-class sensor wasn't enough, the Rival 600 has a great design, with dazzling lights in eight separate zones. Silicone grips make it easy to hold, and the split-trigger buttons offer a reliable clicking experience. The three side buttons are just a nice little extra, giving you an easy option for mapping the keybinds for your construction or key weapon slots.

Read the full review: SteelSeries Rival 600 

If you have a busy desk space, more wires may be the last thing you want. And, with the possibility of mouse wire snagging and messing up your aim, it's reasonable to consider a wireless gaming mouse. It's especially reasonable when they can come as good as the Corsair Dark Core RGB SE. It offers a sensor with sensitivities up to 16,000 DPI, along with a 1,000Hz polling rate and 1ms response times for performance on par with a wired mouse. And, with Qi wireless charging, you never have to plug this mouse in.

The design combines plastics and texted soft touch materials for a comfortable and sure grip. You'll also get plenty in the way of buttons for custom mapping. Beyond the primary mouse buttons and scroll wheel, there's a profile switch button, two DPI buttons, front and back buttons, and a sniper button that can lower the sensitivity instantly for fine-tuned aiming. Although Corsair's customization software isn't the easiest to use, it will let you map the Dark Core RGB SE's buttons to perform different functions, and then you can map them to key controls in Fortnite.

Read the full review: Corsair Dark Core RGB SE 

If you don't want to spend a lot of money but still want a mouse that will perfectly track your mouse movements, this is it. The SteelSeries Sensei 310 features the same TrueMove 3 optical sensor that makes the Rival 600 such an excellent performer. It just lacks the second sensor that gives the more expensive Rival its lift-off detection. If you can live without the second sensor, then you can get a great value on the Sensei 310 with 1-to-1 tracking on settings up to 3,500 DPI.

The look of the Sensei 310 is fairly simple, with an ambidextrous design that sees two thumb buttons included on both sides of the mouse. The primary mouse buttons are split from the body for a reliable and consistent click. And, the scroll wheel has a textured silicone for a sure grip. Similarly, the sides feature soft, textured silicone, so you'll be able to pick the mouse up in the most frantic moments at the end of a Fortnite match without fumbling and missing that game-winning shot. If you don't need the ambidextrous design, the Rival 310 performs the same but with a right-handed design.

Read the full review: SteelSeries Sensei 310 

The 15 best White Elephant tech gifts

Let’s review the situation: you’ve got a holiday parting up at your workplace or among friends, and everyone’s tasked with bringing one baffling, jokey item. You, brave holiday shopper, must find a perfect White Elephant gift.

What is White Elephant? Just keep in mind that these are not ideas for Secret Santa, which is a much more thoughtful tradition about getting just the right gift for someone. No, White Elephant (or Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa, as the kids apparently call it) is about wrapping bizarre gifts and gleefully waiting to see the dumbstruck look on whoever opens your oddball item.

Here are 15 things that fit the bill – and because we’re TechRadar, they’ve all got a techie spin. We’ll stick to things between $20-$30, which is the usual limit for White Elephant swaps.

But for all you overachievers, we’ve included a few ridiculous items at the end that exceed that price threshold if you spare no expense on gag gifts.

The top White elephant gifts Pricey, but still perfect

The best VR movies: experience the next era of storytelling

Virtual reality (VR) is on the rise, and while apps and games get a ton of press, there are plenty of VR movies to enjoy, too.

VR movies are amazing for a number of reasons.

For starters, they’re much more immersive than their non-VR counterparts – thanks, of course, to the fact that you can watch many of them in 360 degrees.

That can make them much more interesting – plus, you’re likely to see something new every time you watch, thanks to the fact that you can look all around you while watching.

But, not all VR movies are really worth watching.

After all, many of them are underdeveloped, and even those with backing may suffer from poor storytelling or other issues. 

There’s also the fact that there really aren’t any full-length feature films in VR – so you’ll be limited to watching short films. 

Regardless, here are the best VR movies today.

Invasion

Looking for a fun experience that kids can enjoy just as much as adults? Invasion is an Emmy award-winning short film filled with color. It’s about two aliens with dreams of taking over the world, but, when they get here, they’re greeted by two adorable little bunnies. Narrated by Ethan Hawke and featuring beautiful visuals and well-designed animation, Invasion is a short film any VR-lover can enjoy. 

Ashes to Ashes

Ashes to Ashes may be a little more adult than Invasion, but it’s still definitely worth checking out. The film tells the story of a dysfunctional family as they struggle through the loss of a grandfather, whose last wish was to have his ashes blown up. In the film, you’ll take the perspective of the urn, which allows you to passively observe the story as it takes place around you. The film also exposes the behind-the-scenes process, by showing the crew filming the movie, and even showing the actors out of character at times.

It: Float

This one is for the horror fans out there. The modern retelling of Stephen King’s It was one of the biggest horror movies ever made and, in celebration of the film, a VR experience was also released. The VR film brings the viewer to the clown Pennywise’s abode, with newly horrifying details around every turn. Safe to say, this one isn’t for the faint of heart or young kids – but if you were a big fan of It, then it’s definitely one to check out.

The Conjuring 2 – Enfield 360 Experience

Here’s another one for the horror fans. This VR experience was made to promote the release of The Conjuring 2, and in it you’ll enter the Hodgson’s house and experience the terror of the Enfield Haunting for yourself. At the start of the film, you’ll be briefly greeted by director James Wan, after which you’ll head into the home. Short after, the lights begin to flicker on and off, objects on the wall spin around and more. You’ll quickly find that you’re an unwelcome guest in the home. As with the previous movie, it’s safe to say this isn’t a film for those who get scared easily. 

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man follows more of a story than many of the other VR films on this list. In the film, you’ll observe low-level drug traffickers Nick and Kid, who secretly have a stash of high-value drugs hidden in a barn. Unfortunately for them, they also owe a debt to Frank, who suddenly shows up to their hideout – and insists that they settle the score with a game of Russian Roulette. It’s a slightly scary film, but all of the questions you have should be answered by the end – so it’s worth watching the whole thing.

Supported content on TechRadar means the article has been created in partnership with a developer, publisher, manufacturer or other relevant party. When you see this disclosure note in an article, it means that the article idea has been approved by another company – a developer, hardware maker, or publisher – but that otherwise the content is planned, written, and published by TechRadar without any further approval. This is distinct from sponsored content on TechRadar, which is created entirely by a third party, and not the TechRadar editorial team.

Yes, the Xbox Adaptive Controller is innovative - if you can afford the added expenses

Back in September Microsoft released the Xbox Adaptive Controller, an innovative new controller for Xbox One and Windows PC designed specifically to make gaming more accessible for those with disabilities. But is it truly usable by individuals or simple for their carers to set up without assistance from a charity? 

The Xbox Adaptive Controller was designed for those with disabilities, therefore it wouldn’t be suitable for me to test its capabilities. After putting out a call on Twitter asking if any gamers with disabilities would like to try out the controller, I was put in contact with Mark Fox: an avid gamer and software developer. 

Mark has Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC) – a musculoskeletal disease which results in decreased flexibility of joints due to multiple joint contractures throughout the body. In Mark’s case, AMC affects all his tendons and joints – making them all either slightly or very short. 

This means that he experiences cramps and pain from playing games too long (due to the shape of the controller) and tires from exertion. On occasions when he plays for too long, Mark’s joints will lock up causing his hands to get stuck in the shape of the controller. 

Despite this, Mark has always been a big gamer - though he finds it “impossible” play PlayStation titles as the PlayStation 4's DualShock 4 controllers are too small, causing him intense pain. 

Mark was eager to try out the Xbox Adaptive Controller in hopes it would make gaming more accessible for him, possibly leading him to purchase the device for himself in the future. We invited him over to TechRadar HQ, and we put the controller through its paces.

What does the Xbox Adaptive Controller look like?

Microsoft kindly supplied us with an Xbox Adaptive Controller to test, along with some input devices: a foot pedal, one-handed joystick and a pressure-sensitive contact point. When you buy the controller, it doesn’t come with these input devices – you only get the main controller itself which costs $99.99 (£74.99/AU$129.99 ). 

You have to pay extra for the input devices, but we’ll come back to that. Straight out of the box, you get the controller and a USB cable so it’s simple to connect to the Xbox One. You can either have it wired by the USB or use the controller wirelessly much like the general Xbox One controller (just hold the Xbox button on the controller to connect it).

So what does the Xbox Adaptive Controller actually look like? It comes in white and is roughly the size of a small keyboard, measuring 92mm (L) x 130mm (W) x 23mm (H). There are two large black buttons (about the size of coasters) in the middle - one being the A button and the other being B. There are then some smaller buttons to the left of these: the Xbox button, view button, menu button and a shift button, alongside a D-pad. 

There are 19 3.5mm ports and two USB 2.0 ports for external inputs, alongside one 3.5mm stereo headset jack for audio.

Remap management

Mark tells me he prefers playing AAA titles, so we decide to put the controller through its paces with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to start. But our immediate issue is trying to work out how to map the inputs to particular buttons, after some confusion between us, and fumbling with the Xbox menu, we find the mapping settings and Mark chooses which buttons he wants to map to the input devices: the one-handed joystick for movement, the pressure control for Y and the foot pedal for right trigger.

"This is something that should be in the top tier menus,” Mark points out. “So that when you're playing a game, if you just hit the game button, you should be able to get to the mapping menu."

Lucky Mark is a seasoned gamer and knows about mapping, but that isn’t necessarily the case for everyone who may use the controller or their carers. We had to consult the Xbox Adaptive Controller FAQs to work out how exactly to do it.

Mark soon gets to grips with movement and using the various buttons, praising the one-handed joystick for providing him with an easier way of movement. However, it isn’t long before he notices an issue. “I don’t have X,” he states. Back into the menu and Mark changes his right foot pedal to X, meaning he now lacks trigger buttons - accessing one button means forfeiting another. It becomes apparent that, for a game such as this, an input device would be needed for every button (and we had already been provided with three).

Excluding the D-pad, Xbox button, menu button and view button, the original Xbox controller has 10 buttons (including the two analogue sticks). The Xbox Adaptive Controller - straight out of the box - comes with only A and B. This an input device is required for the other devices - and you need to buy each own separately. So if you ideally wanted use of all the same buttons at the same time, without swapping out buttons mid play, you would need to buy eight inputs. 

"You would need at least two toggle controllers or the equivalent and a button for Y and X,” Mark explains. "It should come with enough inputs to at least provide four buttons, whether that is external or built-in. They don't have to be the most expensive, high-quality, just as long as the basic functionality is there. Then people could pay extra for higher quality versions of things they specifically need."

Saying that, there is the option to create individual mapping profiles and to shift between button settings - simply pressing the shift button on the main controller to switch profiles. However doing so (and working out how to do so efficiently) proves a struggle. 

After remapping the control to allow himself to use X (the combat button in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey), Mark encounters a new issue. The one-handed joystick is used to move but the buttons on it LB and left trigger aren’t being picked up. We go back into the mapping menu. The input device only picks up one button per input, so he holsters his plans to try out the bow - his usual choice of weapon. 

"It seems to be aware of the stick, but it's not aware that it has any buttons,” he vents. "It should come with the bare-bones basics you need to actually use it. Out of the box, it's not a usable product - except for really basic Xbox arcade stuff."

Racing ready?

Acknowledging that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was perhaps to complex a game to begin our test with, we move onto another - Forza Horizon 2. Mark remaps the controller again for the game, making use of the right pedal as an accelerator. This time, Mark finds the controls easier to handle - using just the pedal and toggle to navigate the coastal roads. "It feels as easy and natural as any other racing game I've ever played,” he beams. 

Mark’s only issue is the camera panning, pointing out that a game would need to have automatic camera panning otherwise another input would be required - the same issue arose with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

As he races along, I ask Mark his overall feeling on the Xbox Adaptive Controller and whether he, personally, would purchase it.

"People with disabilities often tend to have lower income,” Mark explains. “I know it's not always the case - and I wouldn't want to generalize. I'm lucky that I can work from home so I can afford a hobby, bear in mind a regular Xbox controller is anywhere from £50 up. I can afford it but it would still give me pause. It risks being prohibitively expensive." 

"The other risk is that the inaccessibility of it puts more strain on the charities because more people turn to the charities because there's no way they can reasonably afford it themselves,” Mark continues. 

So if it came with some external inputs, would that change his mind? “There should be enough inputs [on the Xbox Adaptive Controller] that you can play the average Xbox game,” Mark tells me. “There's going to be some games which have a million controls and a lot going on where it's not practical to cater straight out of the box. But it should cater to your basic big headline games like your Fallouts and your Halos.”

Gamers' charity

SpecialEffect is a British based charity which aims to “put fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them to play videogames.” How do they do this? By assessing the needs of those with disabilities and using technology ranging from eye-control to joypads to help them access games. 

After testing the controller with Mark, I spoke to SpecialEffect’s communications support Mark Saville and project manager Bill Donegan about the Xbox Adaptive Controller - which SpecialEffect helped design and test.

“It’s so dependent on people’s abilities whether they’ll find it useful or not,” Saville explains when I tell him of my test with Mark. “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” 

During development, SpecialEffect tested the Xbox Adaptive Controller with a range of disabilities including spine injuries, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. “We tried to get a range of the types of people that we might work with,” Donegan explains. “But within that everyone is so different, it's hard to get as wide a range as possible.”

According to SpecialEffect, Microsoft did not create the Xbox Adaptive Controller with just one disability or specific adaptation in mind; instead aiming to cater to as many different needs as possible.

“Even from the first prototype, we saw how much they were trying to fit in one product,” Donegan tells me. “There didn't seem to be much compromise when it came to leaving things out. From that point of view, they're completely on the right track from our perspective.

“The feedback for us has been really great. It's part of our kit, so we use it alongside lots of other equipment. There's lots of equipment which is compatible with it and other equipment is completely separate to this. But we're finding we're using it very frequently. I think part of that would be the fact it was made first-party for their console and for windows, so it's going to be supported. It's almost plug-and -play in terms of actually connecting things up, which is a big change for us because a lot of the hard stuff is getting the equipment to work for a specific person but there's another challenge in getting that equipment just to work with the console for instance - because it's not official.”

"We have had other equipment which connects to Xbox before,” Saville interjects. “But none have done it in quite such a clear way and that's what this controller offers.”

But the problem is, it wasn’t that clear - not for me and Mark anyway - and I wanted to know if SpecialEffect had received similar feedback.

“Interestingly when it first came out their was a wave of positive news saying 'this makes gaming so much more accessible to so many more people' and yes, it is a tool for doing that but there's still the physical gap between the controller and the body,” Saville laughs. “Since it's come out, we have had those questions come in about how to use it.”

That’s why SpecialEffect has created a range of YouTube videos (released after our test) to show people how to create profiles, use the controller efficiently and map inputs. However, the controller is potentially still overly complicated for individuals not aided by the charity. In addition, it is hard to overlook the mounting price of buying various input devices.

“It's certainly not a magic bullet,” Saville agrees. 

“I think it's a slow burner and as the community comes up with solutions themselves, and start sharing those, that'll feed peoples' ideas of what they might be able to try for themselves,” Donegan explains. “Hopefully more peripherals will be made for it and there will be more options. The controller has a lot of flexibility which means in turn that there's lots of options and knowing which option is for you is the difficult part.

“What we're sharing is how we're using it from our perspective and hopefully we'll pick up on how other people are using it and it'll give us some ideas.”

CatBoost Enables Fast Gradient Boosting on Decision Trees Using GPUs

Machine Learning techniques are widely used today for many different tasks. Different types of data require different methods. Yandex relies on Gradient Boosting to power many of our market-leading products and services including search, music streaming, ride-hailing, self-driving cars, weather prediction, machine translation, and our intelligent assistant among others.

Gradient boosting on decision trees is a form of machine learning that works by progressively training more complex models to maximize the accuracy of predictions. Gradient boosting is particularly useful for predictive models that analyze ordered (continuous) data and categorical data. Credit score prediction which contains numerical features (age and salary) and categorical features (occupation) is one such example.

Gradient boosting benefits from training on huge datasets. In addition, the technique is efficiently accelerated using GPUs. A large part of the production models at Yandex are trained on GPUs so we wanted to share more insights on our expertise in this area.

Let’s look more closely at our GPU implementation for a gradient boosting library, using CatBoost as the example. CatBoost is our own open-source gradient boosting library that we introduced last year under the Apache 2 license. CatBoost yields state-of-the-art results on a wide range of datasets, including but not limited to datasets with categorical features.

Gradient Boosting on Decision Trees

We’ll begin with a short introduction to Gradient Boosting on Decision Trees (GBDT). Gradient boosting is one of the most efficient ways to build ensemble models. The combination of gradient boosting with decision trees provides state-of-the-art results in many applications with structured data.

Let’s first discuss the boosting approach to learning.

Developers use these techniques to build ensemble models in an iterative way. On the first iteration, the algorithm learns the first tree to reduce the training error, shown on left-hand image in figure 1. This model usually has a significant error; it’s not a good idea to build very big trees in boosting since they overfit the data.

Figure 1. First and second trees usually include significant error

The right-hand image in figure 1 shows the second iteration, in which the algorithm learns one more tree to reduce the error made by the first tree. The algorithm repeats this procedure until it builds a decent quality mode, as we see in figure 2:

Figure 2. N-th tree

Gradient Boosting is a way to implement this idea for any continuous objective function. The common approach for classification uses Logloss while regression optimizes using root mean square error. Ranking tasks commonly implements some variation of LambdaRank.

Each step of Gradient Boosting combines two steps:

  1. Computing gradients of the loss function we want to optimize for each input object
  2. Learning the decision tree which predicts gradients of the loss function

The first step is usually a simple operation which can be easily implemented on CPU or GPU. However, the search for the best decision tree is a computationally taxing operation since it takes almost all the time of the GBDT algorithm.

Decision tree learning

Dealing with ordered inputs in GBDT requires fitting decision trees in an iterative manner. Let’s discuss how it is done. For simplicity, we’ll talk about classification trees, which can be  easily described.

Classification and regression decision trees are learned in a greedy way. Finding the next tree requires you to calculate all possible feature splits (feature value less than some predefined value) of all the features in the data, then select the one that improves the loss function by the largest value. After the first split is selected, the next split in the tree will be selected in a greedy fashion: the first split is fixed, and the next one is selected given the first one. This operation is repeated until the whole tree is built.

For example, assume we have two input features, user age and music track length, graphed in figure 3, and want to predict whether the user will like the song or not.

Figure 3. Like / dislike distribution and possible splits

The algorithm evaluates all possible splits of track length and chooses the best one. This is a brute-force approach—we just iterate through all conditions to find the best result. For the problem from the picture we should split the points by music track length, approximately equal to 8 minutes.

Now we have two partitions and the next step is to select one of them to split once again, this time by age. The algorithm repeats, selecting a partition and splitting it by some feature until we reach the stopping condition, shown in figure 4.

Figure 4. Splitting process

Different stopping conditions and methods of selecting the next partition lead to different learning schemes. The most well-known of these are the leaf-wise and depth-wise approaches.

In the leaf-wise approach, the algorithm splits the partition to achieve the best improvement of the loss function and the procedure continues until we obtain a fixed number of leaves. The algorithm in the depth-wise approach builds the tree level by level until a tree of a fixed depth is built.

CatBoost uses symmetric or oblivious trees. The trees from the music example above are symmetric. In fact, they can be represented as decision tables, as figure 5 shows.

Figure 5. Decision tree for music example

CatBoost uses the same features to split learning instances into the left and the right partitions for each level of the tree. In this case a tree of depth k has exactly 2k leaves, and the index of a leaf can be calculated with simple bitwise operations.

Thus, the CatBoost learning scheme is essentially depth-wise with some simplification, obtained from our decision tree type.

The choice of oblivious trees has several advantages compared to the classic ones:

  • Simple fitting scheme
  • Efficient to implement on CPU
  • Ability to make very fast model appliers
  • This tree structure works as a regularization, so it can provide quality benefits for many tasks

Classical decision tree learning algorithm is computation-intensive. To find the next split, we need to evaluate feature count times observation count for different splitting conditions. This leads to a vast number of possible splits for large datasets using continuous inputs and, in many cases, also leads to overfitting.

Fortunately, boosting allows us to significantly reduce the number of splits that we need to consider. We can make a rough approximation for input features. For example, if we have music track length in seconds, then we can round it off to minutes. Such conversions could be done for any ordered features in an automatic way. The simplest way is to use quantiles of input feature distribution to quantize it. This approach is similar in spirit to using 4 or 8 bit floats for neural networks and other compression techniques applied in deep learning.

Thus, boosting each input could be considered as an integer with several distinct values. By default, CatBoost approximates ordered inputs with 7-bit integers (128 different values).

In the next section we’ll discuss how to compute decision trees with 5-bit integers as inputs. These inputs are easier to explain, and we will use them to show the basic idea of computation scheme.

Histograms

If our inputs contain only 5-bit integers, we need to evaluate feature count times 32 different splitting conditions. This quantity does not depend on the number of rows in the input dataset. It also allows us to make an efficient distributed learning algorithm suitable for running on multiple GPUs.

The search for the best split now is just a computation of histograms, shown in figure 6.

Figure 6. Split now is just a computation of histograms

For each input integer feature, we need to compute the number of likes and dislikes for each feature value for classification or two similar statistics for regression. For decision tree learning we compute two statistics simultaneously, sum of gradients and sum of weights.

We use fast shared memory to make aggregation. Since the size of the shared memory is restricted, we group several features in one to achieve maximum performance gain. If every computation block works with 4 features and 2 statistics simultaneously, we can make an efficient histogram layout and computation pipeline.

The basic idea is simple: allocate an independent histogram per warp. The layout of the histogram should be done in such a way that any operation in shared memory would cause no bank conflicts. So the threads in a warp should work with distinct modulo 32 addresses. The algorithm splits the warp shared memory histogram into four groups. The first eight threads will work with the first histogram group, the second eight threads  will do the second group, and so on.

Memory access is done with the following indexing:

32 * bin + 2 * featureId +statisticId + 8 * groupId, where groupId = (threadIdx.x&31)/8

This layout is shown on the figure 7 below.

Figure 7. The layout of the histogram

The layout has a nice property: bank conflicts for memory access do not depend on the input data. The data-dependent part of shared memory addresses always gives 0 modulo 32, 32 * bin.

Thus, if 2 * featureId +statisticId + 8 * groupId provide different addresses modulo 32, then we would have shared memory operation without bank conflicts.

This could be achieved if updates in shared memory are done in several passes. On the first pass, the first thread works with the first feature and the first statistic, the second thread works with the first feature and the second statistic, the third thread works with the second feature and the third statistic and so on.

On the second pass each thread works with the other statistic: the first thread works with the first feature and the second statistic, the second thread works with the first feature and the first statistic.

On the third pass the first thread works with the second feature, the third thread works with the third feature and so on. Below you can see the pseudo-code for updating statistics for one point:

void AddPoint(const ui32 featuresGroup, const float t, const float w) { //target or weight to use first const bool flag = threadIdx.x & 1; //Warp Layout: // feature: 0 0 1 1 2 2 3 3 1 1... // stat: t w t w t w t w t w... histGroupId = (threadIdx.x & 31) / 8; hist = WarpHist + 8 * histGroupId; for (int i = 0; i < 4; i++) { int f = (threadIdx.x / 2 + i) % 4; const int shift = 28 - 4 * f; int bin = featuresGroup >> shift; bin &= 31; int offset0 = 32 * bin + 2 * f + flag; int offset1 = 32 * bin + 2 * f + !flag; hist[offset0] += (flag ? t : w); hist[offset1] += (flag ? w : t); } }

As you can see, the operations hist[offset0] += (flag ? t : w); and hist[offset1] += (flag ? w : t); use distinct modulo 32 addresses, so there is no bank conflicts during aggregation.

This histogram computation scheme makes an important trade-off—no atomic operations in exchange for less occupancy.

Thus, for 32-bin histograms, 2 statistics and 4 features per thread block, we could run at most 384 threads, needing 48KB of shared memory to store shared memory histograms. As a result, our kernel achieves at most 38% of occupancy of Maxwell and later hardware. On Kepler we have just 19% occupancy.

A simple benchmark proves these numbers. First, double the number of working threads in kernel. Now the first 384 threads and second 384 threads are writing to the same addresses with atomic operations, so we have at most two-way atomic conflicts. As you can see from the charts in figure 8 below, the atomic version is slower despite bigger occupancy.

Figure 8. Atomic vs non-atomics 32-bin histograms for different GPU generations

This benchmark measured histogram computation time for the first tree level, the most computationally intensive operation. For deeper levels, fewer gains result from avoiding atomics on Maxwell and newer devices lower because we need to make random access to memory and atomic operations will be hidden by memory latency. However, on deeper levels less computation is required.

We’ve also implemented histograms specializations for 15-bin histograms, 64-bin histograms, 128-bin histograms and 255-bin histograms. Different problems need different numbers of bits to approximate input floats in an optimal way. In some cases 5-bits is enough while others need 8-bits to achieve the best result. CatBoost approximates floats with 7-bit integers by default. Our experiments show this default offers good enough quality. At the same time, this default might be changed for some datasets. If one cares about learning speed, using 5-bits as inputs could give huge benefits in terms of speed while being still generating good quality results.

Categorical features

CatBoost is a special version of GBDT: it perfectly solves problems with ordered features while also supporting categorical features. Categorical feature is a variable that can take one of a limited, and usually fixed number of possible values (categories). For instance, ‘animal’ feature could be set to ‘cat’, ‘dog’, ‘rat’, etc.

Dealing with categorical features efficiently is one of the biggest challenges in machine learning.

The most widely used technique to deal with categorical predictors is one-hot-encoding. The original feature is removed and a new binary variable is added for each category. For example, if the categorical feature was animal, then new binary variables will be added – if this object is a ‘cat’, if this object is a ‘dog’ and so on.

This technique has disadvantages:

  1. It needs to build deep decision trees to recover dependencies in data in case of features with high cardinality. This can be solved with hashing trick: categorical features are hashed into several different bins (often 32-255 bins are used). However, this approach still significantly affects the resulting quality.
  2. Doesn’t work for unknown category values, i.e., the values that don’t exist in the learn dataset.

Another way of dealing with categorical features which often provides superior quality compared to hashing and/or one-hot-encoding is to use the so-called label-encoding technique that converts discrete categories to numerical features. Label-encoding can also be used in online-learning systems. We will explain this technique for classification problem below, but it can also be generalized to other tasks.

Since a decision tree works well with numeric inputs we should convert categorical factors to numerical. Let’s replace a categorical feature with several statistics, computed from labels. Assume we have datasets of user/song pairs  and labels (did the user like the song or not?). For each pair there is a set of features with one feature being a music genre.

We can use categorical feature music genre to estimate probability of the user liking a song:

We can use this estimate as a new numerical feature probOfLikeForGenre.

Such probability can be estimated using the learning data in the following way:

Here [proposition] is represented by an Iverson bracket: value is equal to 1 if the proposition is satisfied, and it is equal to 0 otherwise.

This is a decent approach but could lead to overfitting. For example, if we have a genre that is seen only once in the whole training dataset, then the value of the new numerical feature will be equal to the label value.

In CatBoost we use combination of two following techniques to avoid overfitting:

  1. Use bayesian estimators with predefined prior
  2. Estimate probabilities using a scheme, inspired by online-learning

As a result, our estimators have the following form:

The math behind these formulas is fully explained in two of our papers https://arxiv.org/abs/1706.09516 and http://learningsys.org/nips17/assets/papers/paper_11.pdf.

GPU calculation of the desired statistics is simple. You need to group samples by values of genre using RadixSort. Next, run SegmentedScan primitive to compute numerator and denominator statistics. Finally use Scatter operation to obtain a new feature.

One problem with the proposed solution is that the new features do not account well for feature interactions. For example, user tastes could be very different, and their likes for different genres can be different. One person could like rock and hate jazz, the second could love jazz and hate rock. Sometimes combinations of the features can provide new insights about the data. It is not possible to build all features combinations because there are too many.

We have implemented a greedy algorithm to search for feature combinations to solve this problem and still use combinations. We need to compute success rate estimators on the fly for generated combinations. This can’t be done in the preprocessing stage and need to be accelerated on the GPU.

Now that we have described above the way to compute the numeric statistics, the next step is to efficiently group samples by several features instead of a single feature. We built perfect hashes for feature combinations from source ones to accomplish this. This is done efficiently with standard GPU techniques: RadixSort + Scan + Scatter/Gather.

Performance

The next part of this post contains different comparisons that show performance of the library.

Below we will describe in details when it is efficient to use GPUs instead of CPUs for training. Need to say that comparing different ML frameworks on GPUs is a challenge that is beyond the scope of this post; we refer an interested reader to a recent paper «Why every GBDT speed benchmark is wrong» that goes into related issues in detail.

CPU vs GPU

The first benchmark shows the speed comparison of CPU versus GPU. For this benchmark we have used a dual-socket Intel Xeon E5-2660v4 machine with 56 logical cores and 512GB of RAM as a baseline and several modern GPUs (Kepler K40, Maxwell M40, Pascal GTX 1080Ti and Volta V100) as competitors.

The CPU used in this comparison is very powerful; more mainstream CPUs would show larger differences relative to GPUs.

We couldn’t find a big enough openly available dataset to measure performance gains on GPUs, because we wanted to have a dataset with huge numbers of objects to show how the speedup changes when the dataset grows. So, we’ve used an internal Yandex dataset with approximately 800 ordered features and different sample counts. You can see the results of this benchmark in figure 9.

Figure 9. Relative speed-ups of GPUs compared to dual-socket Intel Xeon E5-2660v4 server.

Even a powerful CPU can’t beat a Kepler K40 on large datasets. Volta demonstrates an even more impressive gain, almost 40 times faster than the CPU, without any Volta-specific optimizations.

For multi-classification mode, we see even greater  performance gains. Some of our internal datasets which include 200 features, 4659476 objects and 80 classes train on a Titan V 90 to 100 times faster than the CPU.

The main takeaway from this chart: the more data you have, the bigger the speedup. It makes sense to use GPU starting from some tens of thousands of objects. The best results from GPU are observed with big datasets containing several million examples.

Distributed learning

CatBoost can be efficiently trained on several GPUs in one machine. However, some of our datasets at Yandex are too big to fit into 8 GPUs, which is the maximum number of GPUs per server.

NVIDIA announced servers with 16 GPUs with 32GB of memory on each GPU at the 2018 GTC, but dataset sizes become bigger each year, so even 16 GPUs may not be enough. This prompted us to implement the first open source boosting library with computation on distributed GPUs,  enabling CatBoost to use multiple hosts for accelerated learning.

Computations scale well over multiple nodes. The chart below shows the training time for the first 200 iteration of some Yandex production formulas in different setups: one machine with onboard GPUs, connected with PCIe, two machines, with 2,4 or 8 GPUs per machine, connected via 1GbE, and  two systems with 2,4, or 8 GPUs, connected with Mellanox InfiniBand 56Gb.

CatBoost achieves good scalability as shown in the chart in figure 10. On 16 GPUs with InfiniBand, CatBoost runs approximately 3.75 faster than on 4 GPUs. The scalability should be even better with larger datasets. If there is enough data, we can train models on slow 1GbE networks, as two machines with two cards per machine are not significantly slower than 4 GPUs on one PCIe root complex.

Figure 10. CatBoost scalability for multi-GPU learning with different GPU interconnections (PCI, 1GbE, Mellanox InfiniBand) Conclusion

In this post we have described the CatBoost algorithm and basic ideas we’ve used to build its GPU version. Our GPU library is highly efficient and we hope that it will provide great benefits for our users. It is very easy to start using GPU training with CatBoost and you can train models using Python, R or, command line binary, which you can review in our documentation. Give it a try!

The post CatBoost Enables Fast Gradient Boosting on Decision Trees Using GPUs appeared first on NVIDIA Developer Blog.

Opera builds cryptocurrency wallet into browser

During the recent Hard Fork Decentralized blockchain event in London, Opera announced that its mobile browser for Android will now include cryptocurrency wallet integration and Web 3 support.

With the latest version of the company's mobile browser, users will be able to send and receive Ethereum

By adding cryptocurrency support, Opera believes its browser has the potential to renew and extend its role as a tool to access information, make transactions online and manage users' online identity in a way which gives them more control.

Opera for Android will use the infrastructure platform Infura to access the Ethereum blockchain since its provides secure, reliable and scalable access to Ethereum.

Web 3 support

Web 3 is an umbrella term used to describe a set of emerging technologies intersecting cryptocurrencies, blockchains and distributed systems that, when used together, extend the capabilities of the web.

Opera believes that the web we know today will be the interface to the decentralised web of tomorrow in the form of Web 3 which is why the company chose to include it in the latest release of its browser.

Web 3 itself faces a number of challenges before reaching wider adoption such as users' understanding of new terminology, difficulties acquiring cryptocurrency and complicated installation procedures.

Users are more likely to adopt new solutions when they are user-friendly and seamless which is why Opera decided to integrate Web 3 alongside the current web in the latest update for its Android browser.

EVP of Browsers at Opera Krystian Kolondra explained why the company chose to include Web 3 support in its latest release, saying:

“We are empowering Android smartphone users with an innovative browser that gives them the opportunity to experience Web 3 in a seamless way. I would like to invite all tech enthusiasts who may have heard of blockchain but haven't yet experienced it to simply give our new browser and Web 3 a try. We have made it extremely easy. Our hope is that this step will accelerate the transition to cryptocurrencies from speculation and invetment to being used for actual payments and transactions in our users' daily lives.”

Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2060 leak reveals photos and robust specs

It’s starting to look like Nvidia will have more than mobile versions of its GeForce RTX graphics at CES 2019 as there’s a fresh leak about the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060.

Videocardz’s spies at Gigabyte released a photo of their version of the upcoming GeForce RTX 2060 alongside some specs. The card purportedly features the TU106 GPU we expected alongside 1920 CUDA cores, 6GB of GDDR6 memory and a maximum frequency of 1,200MHz.

Comparatively, the Nvidia GTX 1060 featured 1280 CUDA cores, 6GB of GDDR5 memory (GDDR5X after a recent refresh) and a boost clock of 1,708MHz. 

The RTX 2060 lower rumored maximum frequency has us a little worried. However, every GPU in the Nvidia Turing series so far has also featured lower overall clockspeeds but still far greater performance over their predecessors. 

There are still a lot of specifics that we don’t know about the GeForce RTX 2060 including how many RTX and Tensor cores it will feature, when it will release and for how much. There’s also the question of how legitimate Videocardz sources are. These images are just renderings, which could just as easily portray any of Gigabyte’s current graphics cards, and the specs could be entirely made up as well.

Good news is we may soon know what’s what as Nvidia will hold its usual CES press conference early next month. While the majority of the keynote will be about deep learning and autonomous cars, we fully expect to get in some updates on the company’s new graphics cards as well.

Via Fudzilla

Lead image credit: Videocardz

Sharp boosts printer security with new launches

In an effort to help accelerate the growth of the technology-driven workplace, Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (SIICA) has introduced a new line of its Advanced and Essential Series multifunction printers.

The eleven new models include seven that are available now with four models that will be available in early summer 2019. All of the new models come with an easy-to-use touchscreen display and now Sharp has added new features for conversational AI cloud integration and security enhancements.

The new MFP Voice feature, powered by Amazon Alexa, allows users to interact with their printer by using simple voice commands. Support for clouds services has also been expanded with the addition of Box and Dropbox.

Users will also now be able to directly print PDF files from a variety of sources thanks to Adobe's Embedded Print Engine. Administrators will even be able to add new applications and update existing ones through Sharp's new Application Portal which will be available in spring 2019.

Enhanced security

Both the new colour Advanced and Essentials Series deliver leading edge security features including firmware attack prevention and a self-recovery capability which can detect any malicious intrusions and restore the machines firmware back to its original state.

A whitelisting feature has also been added to protect the machines' file systems from unauthorised access.

Vice President of Product Management at SIICA Shane Coffey explained the company's motivation for launching its latest line of multifunction printers, saying:

“This is an exciting time at Sharp, as we roll out a new line of color workgroup MFPs that offer greater integration, enhanced workflow capability, and voice integration to meet the demands of today’s technology-driven workplace. Our focus continues to be to provide quality MFPs that deliver superior productivity, performance and ease-of-use. We’re proud to continue that tradition with this new lineup of color Advanced and Essentials series models.” 

The MX-3071, MX-3571 and MX-4071 from the Advanced Series and the MX-2651, MX-3051, MX-3551, and the MX-4051 from the Essentials Series are available now with four additional models joining the lineup in early summer 2019.

You can play classic Sega Genesis games with Amazon Fire TV

Just in time for the holidays, Amazon has announced that it's bringing childhood nostalgia to Fire TV with the brand new Sega Classics games bundle. 

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Sega Genesis, Fire TV customers will get access to 25 Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive if you're in the UK) games that have stood the test of time, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Golden Axe, and Streets of Rage.

If you already have Amazon's Fire TV, you'll be able to play using your Fire TV remote, meaning there's no need to pay for a pricey console or special controller – although you can pair a compatible Bluetooth controller with your Fire TV if you prefer. 

Here's the full list of classic games included in the bundle:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Sonic CD
  • The Revenge of Shinobi
  • Ristar
  • Golden Axe
  • Beyond Oasis
  • Decap Attack
  • ESWAT: City Under Siege
  • Street of Rage
  • Street of Rage II
  • Street of Rage III
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
  • Columns
  • Bio-Hazard Battle
  • Comix Zone
  • Alien Storm
  • Bonanza Bros
  • Golden Axe II
  • Golden Axe III
  • Gain Ground
  • Altered Beast
  • Sonic Spinball
Fun for the family

Sega Classics is available now on Fire TV for £11.99, and the bundle includes 15 multiplayer games, making it a great purchase ahead of Christmas when you'll need to find ways to entertain friends and family. 

The launch of the new app follows the news that Sega's highly anticipated Mega Drive Mini console will be delayed until 2019  – but with Fire TV you needn't wait that long to conquer Green Hill Zone all over again. 

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