Amazon and Microsoft are two major companies that are yet to enter the arena of autonomous car development yet, but this could be set to change soon. Reuters have reported that according to sources, Here, a mapping company owned by a number of German automobile makers could soon be provided with cloud computing capabilities by the two IT giants. The companies that currently own Here, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes’ parent company Daimler all have their own self-driving developments in the works.
Amazon are also reported to be interested in becoming a major shareholder in Here, which would position them to be the prime provider of cloud computing solutions to them. When you consider that Here collects a huge amount of data via sensors mounted atop thousands of self-driving cars belonging to the company’s owner firms, this would be a great boon for making the most of it.
Here was previously owned by Nokia, but was acquired by the German firms in December last year for €2.8 billion. Since this acquisition, Here have continued to state that “have stressed since the acquisition in early December that they are open to additional investors from all industries.” As a result, a number of companies aside from Amazon and Microsoft want to be involved with Here, including Renault and Continental, which both have a stake in the automotive industry. Continental in particular told the wire service that a decision as to whether they would purchase a stake in Here would come imminently.
With high-resolution mapping being so crucial to proper operation of autonomous vehicles, it is no wonder that so many companies are clamouring for a part in one so open to partnerships. As Amazon and Microsoft show, it’s not just those developing the cars that want to be a part of this sector either, with the IT and data requirements to run such cars meaning that even other service providers have a role to play in this developing technology.
The value of cloud computing for video games is an interesting thing. Given the latency of sending and receiving tasks to a cloud server it cannot be used for time sensitive tasks, especially given the varying quality of internet connections. However, with tasks that do not have to be calculated in an instant the power of cloud computing can be significant, as Microsoft have demonstrated before (see below video).
Crytek’s Technical Animation Director, Mark Jackson, explained how game developers can utilise these cloud computing functions to improve the gameplay experience. When asked about the practicality of running animation-related calculations in the cloud he stated that:
“The stuff the animators do is the very tip of the systems running to make the character, So any animation, whatever the player is currently doing, that’s probably 30 animations blended together, and subsystems on top of that, and [inverse kinematics] systems trying to calculate foot planting and hand planting and weapon attachments. All of this stuff you maybe think is animation, but which is actually lots of clever code running in the background to try and bolt things together.”
What does that mean for gaming performance? Well he claims that it enables developers to offload CPU cycles which can then be used to calculate additional things for the game: meaning higher framerates and a smoother gameplay experience.
“So that’s something we’re heavily looking at, in terms of the tech – how much of what we do we can smooth out and make easier and faster, so we’re not making more animation data out of it – we’re doing it slightly more intelligently, which gains us [CPU] cycles back that we can use to calculate extra stuff on the top. So yeah there is a lot of research going on.”
Do you think cloud-computing enabled games are a good idea?
Vice President of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes, has made some dire predictions for the American cloud storage industry according to Russia Today. Neelie Kroes believes that U.S cloud storage providers are now going to suffer steep losses of revenue thanks to revelations about the NSA’s extensive spying programs.
“If businesses or governments think they might be spied on, they will have less reason to trust cloud, and it will be cloud providers who ultimately miss out…Why would you pay someone else to hold your commercial or other secrets if you suspect or know they are being shared against your wishes?”
He then went on to say he believes the scandal could cost the U.S cloud storage industry dearly with “multi-billion euro” consequences.
“It is often American providers that will miss out, because they are often the leaders in cloud services. If European cloud customers cannot trust the United States government, then maybe they won’t trust US cloud providers either. If I am right, there are multibillion-euro consequences for American companies. If I were an American cloud provider, I would be quite frustrated with my government right now.”
With the NSA’s PRISM program giving them unprecedented access to internet data and their spying activities covering emails, phone calls and numerous other things companies do not feel safe operating in the USA. This is hardly surprising and we may even see an exodus of U.S cloud storage companies from the USA to other countries in an attempt to prevent loss of earnings.
The NSA spying scandal has heightened concerns across the world about data integrity. Businesses and private individuals are queuing up in abundance to move their files and servers to Swiss Data Centers. Companies like Artmotion, Switzerland’s biggest offshore hosting company, has reported that it is seeing a rapid increase in revenues this year as people look to take advantage of data anonymity in Switzerland.
Artmotion’s secure data services are only subject to Swiss law which states that only a warrant proving criminal intent or liability is enough to allow anyone access to the data except the owners. In the USA and the EU the governments can gain access to any data, sometimes without any paperwork, and in most cases warrants issued do not have to prove any intent or liability just that the data is needed for an ongoing investigation by government authorities.
It is expected that cloud-based European and North American data hosting services will suffer at the hands of the recent NSA scandal that has left businesses and individuals worrying about who can access their data. While the dubious nature of the data Switzerland’s cloud storage hosts may be called into question, at least people know their data will be safe. Switzerland has a long history of protecting people’s privacy, money and data. The “Swiss Bank Account” is probably the most commonly held association with Switzerland.
Cloud gaming is a trend that has been quite slow to take-off as it has been fraught with technical difficulties, a lack of affordability and a huge dependence on the advancement of network infrastructure due to internet dependence. AMD is looking to ease some of these difficulties by developing a range of affordable (to business) and simple to use graphics cards dubbed the “sky series”.
AMD’s Sky Series graphics cards have been optimised for usage in cloud gaming servers and systems. Being server-orientated cards they feature passive cooling and have a wide range of performance with the Sky 500, Sky 700 and Sky 900 models all targeting different segments. High amounts of VRAM and PCI Express 3.0 give these cards more flexibility in being able to support cloud HD gaming.
AMD didn’t release much information about the cards other than what you can see in the included picture.
The Sky 900 is a dual GPU card featuring 3GB of RAM per GPU and 3584 stream processors and a memory bandwidth of 480 GB/s. The Sky 700 is a single GPU card featuring 6GB RAM for the GPU and 264 GB/s memory bandwidth with 1792 stream processors. The Sky 500 is the entry model with 1280 stream processors, 4GB of RAM and 154 GB/s of memory bandwidth. As far as I can tell the Sky 700 is based off the HD 7950 design, the Sky 900 is two HD 7950 designs in CrossFire and the Sky 500 is based off the normal HD 7870 GHz edition card design.
AMD’s David Cummings had this to say about the new Sky Series of GPUs:
“AMD intends to support the whole cloud: The home cloud and the public cloud, Cloud gaming requires HD gaming at 30 fps, outstanding compression, optimal density—meaning the best performance per watt and the most users per GPU—minimal latency, and enterprise-grade hardware.”
What do you think about AMD’s entrance into the cloud gaming market? Is it a good idea? Would you consider cloud gaming?
Michael Irving is a freelance writer and blogger, who’s investigating colocation options for his small home business.
Cloud computing is a fascinating area of IT that’s quickly emerging to streamline many processes we take for granted. Whether you’re running a business or looking to improve your personal computer use, the cloud can help.
Wondering how this piece of technology can best benefit you? Here are five ways that cloud computing can help streamline your PC use.
Perhaps the simplest and most useful benefit that cloud services offer is portability. No more carrying things between work and home on USB drives or CDs, or emailing files to yourself. Cloud storage means files are accessible from potentially any device with an internet connection. You won’t accidentally leave important files at home anymore: save it to the cloud, and it will be in the office before you are.
Maybe you already have a reliable system for transporting your own files. That’s good. But we all know that collaborating with others can throw the most carefully laid plans out the window. Sure, you might never forget to update your USB stick with the latest versions of your work, but co-workers may not be so organised.
Easy access to the cloud from anywhere means that anyone contributing to a project can simply save the work as normal, and have it automatically update the online version. They can’t forget to save the work, surely. In this way, the cloud streamlines that most painful of practices: version control.
Less hardware is required
While programs like Microsoft Office aren’t too intensive on your computer’s memory, others, like the Adobe Creative Suite, can be. And once it’s on your hard drive, the license system makes it difficult to work anywhere else, without purchasing another license and installing the software on another device.
Running these programs through the cloud has several advantages. For one, your PC only really needs enough processing power to access the internet and run the operating system. The heavy lifting is handled by the servers. Pairing back the hardware requirements will save you money both immediately and in the long run, as you won’t need to update as often to keep up with advancing technology. And, of course, it keeps your PC clear of the clutter of rarely-used programs.
Secure data storage
If digital data storage is a key element of your business, the cloud can provide safer and more cost-effective alternatives to setting up and managing your own storage.
Third-party colocation data centres, such as Macquarie Telecom, are designed with security and stability in mind. The infrastructure will let you access your information from anywhere with an internet connection, keep it secure to ensure only you and those you authorise can access it, and protect against data loss with backups and advanced safety measures within the facility.
You may believe it’s best to only trust yourself with your vital data, but data centres can take the stress and expense out of the equation for you, without sacrificing availability or security.
Expandable – multiple servers as required
Online businesses can suffer if their servers can’t support the traffic they receive. Traditional single-server hosting may not be able to handle a sudden increase in visitors to your site, meaning some customers may be left waiting, and will likely take their business elsewhere.
In the past, the only way to prevent this was to purchase additional servers to support the traffic flow – a risky strategy in itself, if the traffic levels fluctuate.
Cloud computing streamlines this, in terms of cost and effort. From the cloud, your business can automatically connect to as many servers as the traffic requires, without the need for you to estimate a specific amount. When your visitors increase, the host will assign as many additional servers as required. When it wanes, the servers hosting your content will decrease, to prevent unnecessary expenses.