Highlights new chip called Xavier, and a

Highlights of CES
2018

CES — the official name and former
acronym for the Consumer Electronics Show — is an annual trade show organized
by the Consumer Technology Association. Held in January at the Las Vegas
Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States, the event typically
hosts presentations of new products and technologies in the consumer
electronics industry.

Each year, electronics companies big and
small use the CES to introduce their upcoming slate of products. The
majority of products are niche products for a specific audience or tweaks to
previous models. But a select few are exciting & innovative. Let’s have a
look.

Alexa is coming to
Windows 10

Alexa is an
artificial intelligence powered voice controlled personal assistant developed
by Amazon & first used in the Amazon Echo. As Alexa popped up in more
speakers, fridges, microwaves, and lamps, it was only a matter of time before
it showed up on the desktop operating system that a vast majority of the world
uses. At CES 2018, HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer announced that they will release
Alexa-compatible laptops. Similar to Cortana, Alexa can be voice controlled in
a very similar way, “Hey Alexa, send that spreadsheet I’ve been working on to
Andy.” It’s not reality yet, but it could very well happen this year.

Nvidia and VW,
sitting in a tree

CES 2018 brought no
shortage of companies boldly declaring that they would usher in our
self-driving pod car future but Nvidia brought less talk and more silicon. The
company that already powers Tesla’s bar-setting Model S this year announced
both an insane new chip called Xavier, and a new partnership with Volkswagen
that will bring it to the masses.

Xavier basically
compresses the computing power of a “trunk full of PCs” to a package of the
size of a license plate, which should be enough power to unlock true “level
five” autonomous driving. That means, the steering wheel is optional – sit back
and Instagram your way to work. It’s the next big thing.

Intel’s new
AMD-powered chips

AMD has been in a
competition with Intel for making the best CPU. It’s been 45 years; AMD has
driven innovation in high-performance computing, graphics, and visualization
technologies. AMD’s latest GPU named “VEGA” has touched a milestone in mobile
computing & power efficiency.

Seeing this as a huge opportunity, Intel and
AMD have teamed up. This partnership brings us one step closer to ultra-thin
laptops that can do everything. For years, computer buyers had a choice to
make: buy portable laptops that could run basic applications, or buy chunky
heavy laptops that were hardly portable but could run everything, including
games, virtual reality (VR), and video-editing software.

With Intel’s announcement on Jan 7, 2018
at the CES, all of that is about to change. Intel announced new details about
its 8th-generation chips, which include central processors (CPU) from Intel and
graphics processors (GPU) from rival AMD.

For the uninitiated, every computer has a
CPU that runs programs we use every day, like web browsers and simple apps like
Microsoft Office. GPUs are only necessary for power-hungry applications, like
video editing, gaming, and VR.

Intel’s and AMD’s hybrid chips include a
separate CPU and GPU on the same platform. In performance laptops, CPUs and
GPUs are typically installed on their own separate platforms.

By combining the CPU and GPU onto a
single platform, the new chips made by the Intel and AMD partnership will have
a smaller footprint inside laptops. A smaller CPU and GPU footprint will allow
for incredibly thin and portable laptops with enough power to comfortably run
power-hungry applications, including games and VR.

Google’s new
point-and-shoot VR cameras

This year’s CES is
jam-packed with various virtual reality announcements but expect 360° imagery to make way for much simpler and more accessible VR180
technology.

Since the launch of
Cardboard in 2014, Google has been attempting to make immersive video and VR
gaming cheaper and more available to the layman, but now it wants to take the
hassle out of the filming process. Google and its new Daydream team have been
working with several tech giants to launch ‘point-and-shoot’ VR180 cameras that
will arrive in the coming months.

Perhaps the most
interesting thing about these new cameras is that they aren’t 360-degree
cameras. Yes, they each possess two lenses, but they’re aligned on the front of
the thin, rectangular-shaped units instead of being situated on the front and
back. The reason for this design choice is to capture the depth required to
bring your memories to life while retaining a classic form factor.

Sandisk squeezes
1TB storage into a prototype thumb drive

SanDisk is a
company well known for its storage devices. At CES 2018, it showed that it was
aiming to push the envelope further by presenting a USB thumb stick with 1TB of
storage – the largest capacity yet for such a small drive.

It also includes a
USB-C connection, which will mean incredibly fast data transfer rates when you
plug it in to a compatible port on your laptop or PC, and it may even be
compatible with smartphones. However, it’s just a prototype at the moment.