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Razer shows off Sila, the first 5G router built for gaming – TechCrunch

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Gaming — with its huge demands on bandwidth, graphics and overall processing power — is likely to be one of the big use cases for 5G networking in the future, and today one of the big players in consumer gaming hardware showed off a 5G router that underscores that trend. Razer, the consumer electronics upstart that has long billed itself as “for gamers, by gamers,” today at CES showed off a new product called the Razer Sila 5G Home Router — a high-speed networking device that both automatically prioritizes bandwidth for gaming and streaming, and also lets users choose which devices on the network get more or less juice.

Alongside that, it also unveiled a new universal mobile gaming controller — Razer Kishi; a new gaming desktop Razer Tomahawk Gaming Desktop, and a new Razer e-racing simulator created in collaboration with game publishers and vendors (we’ve put this as the main picture because — let’s face it — routers are not nearly as cool-looking even if they are more likely to have legs).

The Sila and e-racing simulator are both concept pieces at this point, while the Android- and iOS-compatible controller will be on the market in early 2020. (No date given for the Tomahawk.)

Razer — which went public in 2017 (market cap currently around $1.5 billion) — has faced recent controversy from a number of former employees coming out to criticize its figurehead and CEO, Min-Liang Tan, and how he runs the company, alleging a culture of fear with violent threats and more.

Tan at the time of the reports brushed off the remarks claiming they were in jest, but it’s notable that he doesn’t seem to be making himself particularly visible or available this year at the show — a contrast from years before.

Instead, we are presented with the fruits of the company’s labor over the past year, a time where it has continued to produce hardware — computers, peripherals like controllers, mainly — but has made a number of moves to figure out the best way ahead with software and services, where it says it is increasing its share of revenue, but has also shut down its digital game store, as well as its Ouya and Forge TV services.

Although it’s only still a concept, the Sila 5G Home Router is perhaps the most exciting of the pack of announcements this year, as it is tapping into a bigger wave of interest in 5G by giving it a more relevant feel to the consumer market; and represents a notable new area for Razer itself (in routers).

The Sila is described as a “high-speed networking device tailored for gamers” and notable features include ultra-low latency during both stationary and mobile gameplay, built on Razer’s FasTrack engine — which allows a user to play a game with no pings or interruptions from other services or network glitches. The router has a built-in rechargeable battery so you can travel with it and use it outside the home.

It is built using a Qualcomm SDX55 + Hawkeye IPQ8072A chipset, and is also usable with 4G LTE over a 802.11ax 4×4 WiFi connection, with one 2.5Gbps WAN, 4 x 1Gbps LAN and 1 x USB 3.0 ports, along with a SIM slot to link up to the cellular network. All of it can be controlled through Android or iOS apps.

Razer’s presence at CES where it shows off its latest ideas has become a regular fixture at the annual event for good reason.

As gaming has expanded beyond traditional consoles and into the cloud and across the web to PCs and phones, it has become one of the most demanding uses of computer processing power, putting machines through their paces not just in graphics, but audio and overall responsiveness when it comes to gameplay.

At CES, if you go to any of the big product launches for the computing giants (Nvidia, AMD, Intel, Qualcomm), or visit any number of stands showing off the latest in computing tech, gaming is the most common demo you will see as a “proof point” — not just because it’s eye-catching, but because it genuinely is a test of how well something works.

So it’s no surprise that Razer, a company building hardware specifically for the gaming market, has a regular, big presence at CES, where it shows off both products that it plans to launch as well as those that are still in concept, in order to test market interest and have some fun with what could be in the future.

(It’s also a very obvious reason why Intel became an investor in the company many years ago when it was still in startup mode. It was a strategic move that helped ensure both that Intel could collaborate with Razer to have a closer idea of what is needed and should be built, but also to make sure that its chipsets are at the core of those new gaming-focused machines).
CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch



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Arcade1Up pinball cabinet review: Fine for families, interesting for modders

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Enlarge / Say hello to the Arcade1Up Attack From Mars physical pinball cabinet. The chassis is physical; its games are all virtual. Read below to understand what the heck that means.

Sam Machkovech

If you’re of a certain generation, chances are you have imagined (or, at this point in your adulthood, built) your own home arcade that resembles something out of the golden ’80s era. One useful path to making this a reality, especially in tighter quarters, is the “multicade,” an invention that squishes multiple games into a single cabinet.

But what if your old-school gaming dreams revolve around something bigger and bulkier, particularly pinball? Until recently, your options were either buying a bunch of original pinball cabinets or building your own ground-up emulation solution. And the latter is complicated by the realities of how pinball plays and feels.

I’ve wondered how long it would take for that to change in the gaming-nostalgia market, especially as companies like Arcade1Up produce and sell more multicade cabinets for home use. The time for change is now, evidently, thanks to a handful of manufacturers producing pinball multicades. Arcade1Up in particular launched three distinct pinball emulation cabinets this year, each revolving around a different license.

Thanks to Arcade1Up, I’ve gone hands-on with arguably the most interesting product in its 2021 pinball line: a collection of 10 classic tables, all created by Williams during its arcade heyday but emulated for more convenient home play. What exactly does $600 get you in terms of emulation and build quality?

Time to get Mad and Medieval

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Game Boy Advance game gets split-screen multiplayer through new FPGA core

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Developer Robert Peip shows off some split-screen Game Boy Advance multiplayer gaming through his new FPGA core.

Here at Ars, we’re big fans of situations where emulation creates a classic gaming experience that’s actually better than what you could get with original hardware in some way or another. In the past, that has meant upsampling rotated sprites in SNES’ “Mode 7” games or adding “widescreen” support to NES games or mitigating the controller lag that was built into certain older consoles or overclocking an emulated SNES to remove slowdown without ruining gameplay timing.

The latest emulation-powered retro-gaming upgrade to cross our paths greatly simplifies an oft-overlooked capability built in to many Game Boy Advance titles. Namely, it adds the ability to play multiplayer titles in split screen on a single display.

This upgrade is the work of Robert Peip, a developer who’s spent years working on field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). These days, Peip works primarily on the MiSTer FPGA an open source project that recreates classic gaming hardware extremely accurately through emulation “cores” that replicate every single logic gate involved in the schematics of the original system (most of Analogue’s high-end retro hardware is similarly powered by FPGA cores). Such cores are currently available for consoles ranging from the Odyssey 2 through the Neo Geo era and more.

Peip’s new “special version” of the Game Boy Advance FPGA core works relatively simply, running two GBA cores in a single MiSTer. As Peip explains, “you get 2 raw GBA cores, one connected to SDRAM, one connected to DDR3, communicating directly inside the FPGA. Sound is used from Core 1 only.”

Thus, games originally designed to be played on two consoles connected via link cable can now be played in split screen on a single MiSTer with a single connected display, as shown in this demonstration video. Peip says that “most multiplayer games should be supported,” a statement that presumably includes original Game Boy games (which work on a GBA link-cable through a supported secondary mode).

Playing these multiplayer GBA games on original hardware required two separate consoles, two copies of the game, and a GBA link cable, ensuring most casual players probably never even bothered (some GBA games offered limited multiplayer with just one cartridge). And while previous GBA emulators have offered link-cable support, even that required a LAN or Internet connection between two separate machines with two separate displays. While some RetroPie users have done a bit of finagling to get multiplayer games for the original Game Boy working via split screen, we’ve never seen a similar one-machine, one-display solution for Game Boy Advance multiplayer games before this.

Peip’s turnkey test core for multiplayer GBA emulation is currently only available by supporting his Patreon, and it is currently missing features like savestates, fast forward, and visual filters available on other GBA cores. Still, we’re excited to have a new, easier-to-use method to try the oft-ignored multiplayer modes in some classic portable titles. Now if we could only get split-screen support for those four-player GBA titles…

Listing image by Nintendo

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Peter Jackson’s 6-hour Beatles documentary confirmed for Disney+ this November

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Peter Jackson’s next six-hour epic is finally coming out this year—and in a first for the acclaimed director, the film will launch directly to a streaming service. It will also be broken up into episodes.

The Beatles: Get Back, an expansive documentary originally announced for a theatrical run this August, has had its release strategy tweaked. On Thursday, Jackson and Disney confirmed that the entire project will launch exclusively on Disney+ during this year’s American Thanksgiving holiday. Each third of the documentary will launch on the streaming service on November 25, 26, and 27. As of press time, Disney hasn’t said how the film will reach audiences outside of Disney+’s supported territories. Neither Jackson nor Disney clarified how the original theatrical run might have worked or whether the global pandemic forced anyone’s hand.

Today’s news confirms that Jackson had an abundance of footage to work with. Roughly three years ago, the remaining Beatles handed him access to a musical holy grail: over 60 hours of previously unseen video recordings, mostly capturing the Beatles working on the album Let It Be and rehearsing for, and then performing, the band’s legendary 1969 rooftop concert in London.

Jackson stitched the footage together with access to what Disney calls “over 150 hours of unheard, restored audio”—meaning yes, somehow Apple Corps. still has some tapes in hiding after this many Beatles special edition albums, anthologies, video games, and Cirque du Soleil collaborations. For further context on the Let It Be recording sessions, the film will be paired with a physical book full of photos and original interviews, now delayed to an October launch.

Jackson’s comments in today’s news, as provided by Disney to members of the press, imply that he indeed sought to release a long documentary: “I’m very grateful to the Beatles, Apple Corps., and Disney for allowing me to present this story in exactly the way it should be told.” He also commented on the original documentary footage, filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, as something that is “not nostalgia—it’s raw, honest, and human.”

The Beatles: Get Back will launch on a Thursday, thus breaking Disney+’s latest initiative of launching new series episodes on Wednesdays instead of Fridays. If anyone can break a newly sacrosanct Disney+ rule, it has to be the Beatles.

Listing image by The Walt Disney Company / Apple Corps / Wingnut Films

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