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Acer makes Predator even cooler

Acer has introduced the Predator Orion 9000 and the Predator X35 to its range of high-end gaming machines.

Acer unveiled the Predator Orion 9000 series of gaming desktops with Windows 10, its most powerful to date; and the Predator X35 monitor leveraging NVIDIA G-SYNC and Acer HDR Ultra technologies for smooth performance. Acer is also offering a new Predator headset and mouse to enhance gaming enjoyment and control.

Acer supplied the following information:

Designed to intimidate enemies and inspire game play, the commanding aesthetics of the Predator Orion 9000 series feature a black-and-silver spacecraft-like exterior with customizable RGB lighting along the sides of the front bezel. A massive side window panel showcases the remarkably striking and powerful interior with a design that keeps electromagnetic interference (EMI) levels in check despite the size of the opening.

Optional fans with customizable RGB lighting create a virtual light show for an even more arresting appearance. Outfitted with two handles and wheels covered with a carbon fibre pattern, the new rigs can be easily moved from one location to another. Tool-less side panels make component upgrades easy and the push-open top gives users a quick way to switch fans. A front-access headset cradle and cable management help keep the game area tidy.

“The Predator Orion 9000 is the most powerful PC we’ve ever made,” said Jeff Lee, General Manager, Stationary Computing, IT Products Business, Acer. “With 4-way graphics and 18-core processors, it is a platform that takes gamers and intense graphic users beyond their dreams.”

The Predator Orion 9000 series feature liquid cooling and Acer’s IceTunnel 2.0 to keep the temperature down while the game heats up. IceTunnel 2.0 is an advanced airflow management solution that cleverly separates the system into several thermal zones, each with an individual airflow tunnel to expel heat. Huge metal mesh panels on the front and top allow more cold air in and the rising hot air of the liquid-cooled CPU out, while up to five 120 mm fans in the front, top, and back channel cool air through the chassis.

Part of the airflow is redirected towards the back of the motherboard tray to cool the storage devices. The graphic cards feature blower-style fans to drive the heat out from the back, while the PSU is self-contained to avoid thermal interference.

An Extreme Platform for Gaming and Content Creation

As one of the initial major OEMs to bring AMD’s latest Radeon RX Vega graphics to a gaming desktop, Acer raises the bar with the capability to support up to 4 Radeon RX Vega cards to deliver near-photorealistic imagery – in real-time at high resolutions in stereo and at high refresh rates. Gamers also have the option of two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080Ti cards in SLI, which support virtual reality with ease.

“We are thrilled that Acer has chosen the AMD Radeon RX Vega graphics card for their highest performing PC ever made. RX Vega is a perfect complement to the Predator Orion in terms of both beauty and power. A single RX Vega enables ultra high resolutions and a tear-free, buttery smooth 60 frames per second. And with groundbreaking new features such as the High Bandwidth Cache Controller and Rapid Packed Math, gamers can only expect their system to perform better and better as new titles continue to emerge to take full advantage of them,” said Scott Herkelman, VP and General Manager, Gaming, Radeon Technologies Group, AMD.

The Predator Orion 9000 will offer up to a cutting-edge Intel Core i9 Extreme Edition 18-core processor and up to 128 GB quad-channel DDR4 memory, allowing it to handle compute-intensive tasks with ease while providing exceptional performance.

“The new Intel Core X-series processor family raises the bar for what’s possible with desktop computing, delivering up to 18 cores and 36 threads for incredible performance and extreme megatasking raw power,” said Anand Srivatsa, General Manager of the Desktop Platform Group, Intel. “This unprecedented level of power is on full display thanks to our strong partnership with Acer on the Predator Orion 900 featuring the Intel Core i9 Extreme Edition processor.”

One-punch overclocking enables battlers to select turbo performance with a single press of a button.

Excellent connectivity includes two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (one Type-C and one Type-A), eight USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (one Type-C and seven Type-A) and two USB 2.0 ports (Type-A). The Predator Orion 9000 series support a total of three M.2 slots to extend the ability to increase the speed, power and capabilities of the PC, and four PCIe x16 slots provide ample expansion for video cards.

Acer Predator X35: Awe-Inspiring Visuals

This large 35-inch, 21:9 monitor sports an immersive 1800 curve and a brilliant (3440 x 1440) WQHD resolution. Featuring NVIDIA G-SYNC, Acer HDR Ultra and quantum dot technologies, it also provides the best possible contrast quality with high dynamic range. Advanced LED local dimming in 512 individually-controlled zones shine light only when and where it is required. The Predator X35 delivers a broader, more deeply saturated color gamut covering 90 percent of the DCI-P3 color standard, and a luminance range several times greater than that of traditional dynamic range monitors. The fast 4 ms response time and high 200 Hz refresh rate combined with NVIDIA G-SYNC, makes gameplay smooth and life-like with no tearing or visual artifacts.

Outfitted with Predator GameView, there are eight pre-set display modes to optimize visuals for different types of action. In addition to Standard, ECO, Graphic and Movie, there are three special game modes, including Action, Racing and Sports, which can be easily accessed through a hotkey or the On-Screen Display (OSD) menu. Gamers can also define their own custom profile and program each mode according to their preferences.

Acer BlueLightShield technology lets customers reduce blue light emissions by selecting from four different filter settings via the OSD menu. The premium VA panel enables wide viewing angles up to 178-degrees horizontally and vertically. In addition, Dark Boost technology allows fine details to be seen in dimly lit environments.

Predator Gadgets Enhance Gameplay

The Predator Galea 500 gaming headset puts you right inside the game, giving you the ability to hear and not just see the exact location of elements within the game. Acer TrueHarmony 3D Soundscape technology recreates the acoustic space based on the orientation of the player’s head, convincing the brain that sound is coming from a fixed direction. Featuring a driver diaphragm made from bio-cellulose with rubber surround, the Predator Galea 500 headset delivers clear highs with resounding lows, and responds quickly to precisely reproduce vocals and mid-high range notes, while a unique acoustic cavity helps deliver punchy rhythmic bass. The Predator Galea 500 is also customizable, letting customers select from three modes including EQ Music, Movie and Sport.

The new Predator Cestus 500 gaming mouse features a unique dual switch design, which allows gamers to adjust the click resistance according to the game type they are playing, such as a lighter resistance for FPS games that demand a more nimble reaction, or a heavier resistance for fine maneuvers in RTS games. It features 16.8 million RGB color lights, 8 lighting patterns, 5 on-board profile settings, 8 programmable buttons, and a gold-plated USB connector.

Pricing and Availability

The Acer Predator Orion 9000 series, The Acer Predator X35, The Predator Galea gaming headset and Predator Cestus will not be available in South Africa.

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Now IBM’s Watson joins IoT revolution in agriculture

Global expansion of the Watson Decision Platform taps into AI, weather and IoT data to boost production

IBM has announced the global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture, with AI technology tailored for new crops and specific regions to help feed a growing population. For the first time, IBM is providing a global agriculture solution that combines predictive technology with data from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, and IoT data to help give farmers around the world greater insights about planning, ploughing, planting, spraying and harvesting.

By 2050, the world will need to feed two billion more people without an increase in arable land [1]. IBM is combining power weather data – including historical, current and forecast data and weather prediction models from The Weather Company – with crop models to help improve yield forecast accuracy, generate value, and increase both farm production and profitability.

Roric Paulman, owner/operator of Paulman Farms in Southwest Nebraska, said: “As a farmer, the wild card is always weather. IBM overlays weather details with my own data and historical information to help me apply, verify, and make decisions. For example, our farm is in a highly restricted water basin, so the ability to better anticipate rain not only saves me money but also helps me save precious natural resources.”

New crop models include corn, wheat, soy, cotton, sorghum, barley, sugar cane and potato, with more coming soon. These models will now be available in the Africa, U.S. Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, as well as new markets across Europe and Australia.

Kristen Lauria, general manager of Watson Media and Weather Solutions at IBM, said: “These days farmers don’t just farm food, they also cultivate data – from drones flying over fields to smart irrigation systems, and IoT sensors affixed to combines, seeders, sprayers and other equipment. Most of the time, this data is left on the vine — never analysed or used to derive insights. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture aims to change that by offering tools and solutions to help growers make more informed decisions about their crops.” 

The average farm generates an estimated 500,000 data points per day, which will grow to 4 million data points by 2036 [2]. Applying AI and analysis to aggregated field, machine and environmental data can help improve shared insights between growers and enterprises across the agriculture ecosystem. With a better view of the fields, growers can see what’s working on certain farms and share best practices with other farmers. The platform assesses data in an electronic field record to identify and communicate crop management patterns and insights. Enterprise businesses such as food companies, grain processors, or produce distributors can then work with farmers to leverage those insights. It helps track crop yield as well as the environmental, weather and plant biologic conditions that go into a good or bad yield, such as irrigation management, pest and disease risk analysis and cohort analysis for comparing similar subsets of fields.

The result isn’t just more productive farmers. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture could help a livestock company eliminate a certain mold or fungus from feed supply grains or help identify the best crop irrigation practices for farmers to use in drought-stricken areas like California. It could help deliver the perfect French fry for a fast food chain that needs longer – not fatter – potatoes from its network of growers. Or it could help a beer distributor produce a more affordable premium beer by growing higher quality barley that meets the standard required to become malting barley.

Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is built on IBM PAIRS Geoscope from IBM Research, which quickly processes massive, complex geospatial and time-based datasets collected by satellites, drones, aerial flights, millions of IoT sensors and weather models. It crunches large, complex data and creates insights quickly and easily so farmers and food companies can focus on growing crops for global communities.

IBM and The Weather Company help the agriculture industry find value in weather insights. IBM Research collaborates with start up Hello Tractor to integrate The Weather Company data, remote sensing data (e.g., satellite), and IoT data from tractors. IBM also works with crop nutrition leader Yara to include hyperlocal weather forecasts in its digital platform for real-time recommendations, tailored to specific fields or crops. IBM acquired The Weather Company in 2016 and has since been helping clients better understand and mitigate the cost of weather on their businesses. The global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is the latest innovation in IBM’s efforts to make weather a more predictable business consideration. Also just announced, Weather Signals is a new AI-based tool that merges The Weather Company data with a company’s own operations data to reveal how minor fluctuations in weather affects business.

The combination of rich weather forecast data from The Weather Company and IBM’s AI and Cloud technologies is designed to provide a unique capability, which is being leveraged by agriculture, energy and utility companies, airlines, retailers and many others to make informed business decisions.

[1] The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision”

[2] Business Insider Intelligence, 2016 report: https://www.businessinsider.com/internet-of-things-smart-agriculture-2016-10


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What if Amazon used AI to take on factories?

By ANTONY BOURNE, IFS Global Industry Director for Manufacturing

Amazon recently announced record profits of $3.03bn, breaking its own record for the third consecutive time. However, Amazon appears to be at a crossroads as to where it heads next. Beyond pouring additional energy into Amazon Prime, many have wondered whether the company may decide to enter an entirely new sector such as manufacturing to drive future growth, after all, it seems a logical step for the company with its finger in so many pies.

At this point, it is unclear whether Amazon would truly ‘get its hands dirty’ by manufacturing its own products on a grand scale. But what if it did? It’s worth exploring this reality. What if Amazon did decide to move into manufacturing, a sector dominated by traditional firms and one that is yet to see an explosive tech rival enter? After all, many similarly positioned tech giants have stuck to providing data analytics services or consulting to these firms rather than genuinely engaging with and analysing manufacturing techniques directly.

If Amazon did factories

If Amazon decided to take a step into manufacturing, it is likely that they could use the Echo range as a template of what AI can achieve. In recent years,Amazon gained expertise on the way to designing its Echo home speaker range that features Alexa, an artificial intelligence and IoT-based digital assistant.Amazon could replicate a similar form with the deployment of AI and Industrial IoT (IIoT) to create an autonomously-run smart manufacturing plant. Such a plant could feature IIoT sensors to enable the machinery to be run remotely and self-aware; managing external inputs and outputs such as supply deliveries and the shipping of finished goods. Just-in-time logistics would remove the need for warehousing while other machines could be placed in charge of maintenance using AI and remote access. Through this, Amazon could radically reduce the need for human labour and interaction in manufacturing as the use of AI, IIoT and data analytics will leave only the human role for monitoring and strategic evaluation. Amazon has been using autonomous robots in their logistics and distribution centres since 2017. As demonstrated with the Echo range, this technology is available now, with the full capabilities of Blockchain and 5G soon to be realised and allowing an exponentially-increased amount of data to be received, processed and communicated.

Manufacturing with knowledge

Theorising what Amazon’s manufacturing debut would look like provides a stark learning opportunity for traditional manufacturers. After all, wheneverAmazon has entered the fray in other traditional industries such as retail and logistics, the sector has never remained the same again. The key takeaway for manufacturers is that now is the time to start leveraging the sort of technologies and approaches to data management that Amazon is already doing in its current operations. When thinking about how to implement AI and new technologies in existing environments, specific end-business goals and targets must be considered, or else the end result will fail to live up to the most optimistic of expectations. As with any target and goal, the more targeted your objectives, the more competitive and transformative your results. Once specific targets and deliverables have been considered, the resources and methods of implementation must also be considered. As Amazon did with early automation of their distribution and logistics centres, manufacturers need to implement change gradually and be focused on achieving small and incremental results that will generate wider momentum and the appetite to lead more expansive changes.

In implementing newer technologies, manufacturers need to bear in mind two fundamental aspects of implementation: software and hardware solutions. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, which is increasingly bolstered by AI, will enable manufacturers to leverage the data from connected IoT devices, sensors, and automated systems from the factory floor and the wider business. ERP software will be the key to making strategic decisions and executing routine operational tasks more efficiently. This will allow manufacturers to keep on top of trends and deliver real-time forecasting and spot any potential problems before they impact the wider business.

As for the hardware, stock management drones and sensor-embedded hardware will be the eyes through which manufacturers view the impact emerging technologies bring to their operations. Unlike manual stock audits and counting, drones with AI capabilities can monitor stock intelligently around production so that operations are not disrupted or halted. Manufacturers will be able to see what is working, what is going wrong, and where there is potential for further improvement and change.

Knowledge for manufacturing

For many traditional manufacturers, they may see Amazon as a looming threat, and smart-factory technologies such as AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as a far off utopia. However, 2019 presents a perfect opportunity for manufacturers themselves to really determine how the tech giants and emerging technologies will affect the industry. Technologies such as AI and IoT are available today; and the full benefits of these technologies will only deepen as they are implemented alongside the maturing of other emerging technologies such as 5G and Blockchain in the next 3-5 years. Manufacturers need to analyse the needs which these technologies can address and produce a proper plan on how to gradually implement these technologies to address specific targets and deliverables. AI-based software and hardware solutions will fundamentally revolutionise manufacturing, yet for 2019, manufacturers just have to be willing to make the first steps in modernisation.

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