Issue: Volume 39 Issue 2: (Mar/Apr 2016)


Workstations Outperform PCs

The workstation proved once again it is not slave to the same market forces dragging down the broader PC markets. Where industry reports indicate double-digit percentage decline in PC shipments in 2015, Jon Peddie Research (JPR) reports that the workstation market fell only 0.8% in the fourth quarter of 2015 (year-over-year), and about the same for 2015 overall. All told, the industry shipped around 1.04 million units in Q4 2015.

Why would two sister platforms experience such different market dynamics? Senior Analyst and “JPR Workstation Report” Author Alex Herrera explains: “PC and workstation products are built off much of the same core technologies, but the workstation is designed and built with different priorities in mind – maximum reliability and application-optimized performance for high-demand, visual applications.”

Herrera continues: “Many mainstream PC users have found that their primary applications still run fine on machines three or more years old – or even run acceptably on phones or tablets – so there’s little motivation to pay for a new one. But the same is not at all true for users in areas like CAD, digital media and entertainment, geoscience, and finance. These buyers need and value the return that a new, higher-performance machine can provide in increased productivity.”

Market shares for the big-three workstation OEMs – HP, Dell, and Lenovo – don’t tend to fluctuate much quarter-to-quarter. But there had been notable stories the past few years: Lenovo climbing slowly but steadily, and Dell stabilizing after a long decline at the hands of HP. Dell’s workstation business had not only successfully stopped the decline, it had been managing to pull back a bit of share over time, from a low of 30.7% up to 35.9% in Q3 2015.

The Foundry Pounds Out Modo 10

The Foundry has launched the Modo 10 Series, built on a next-generation 3D modeling, texturing, and rendering platform that delivers new feature sets in a series of three installments for a single price. The Modo 10 Series tool set streamlines and automates complex tasks. The launch begins with the Modo 10.0 V.1 installment (available in the second quarter of this year and followed by 10.1 and 10.2), which allows artists to create content and be confident that their assets will look virtually the same in Unity or Unreal Engine. 

IKinema LiveAction 2 Simplifies Virtual Reality, Mocap

IKinemais rolling out the second generation of its LiveAction retargeting and solving software for VR and virtual production, featuring an integrated full-body rig editor that allows developers to create content and experiences directly in Unreal Engine 4 without the use of third-party tools. 

Designed for live performance capture in the virtual space, IKinema LiveAction allows content creators to accurately retarget actors’ movements to animated avatars, regardless of their relative proportion, and to view their interaction in highly rendered virtual environments in real time. It features the same core technology as Action, IKinema’s solution for postproduction. The technology also benefits consumers of VR content, allowing them to animate characters in real time as well as interact with their virtual environments.

In addition to the rig editor, LiveAction v2’s
real-time features include: automatic correction of sliding feet, locking them to the ground; automatic correction to floors and obstacles to eliminate feet and hand penetration; and noise reduction and correction filters that automatically clean defects in mocap during live streaming.

Chaos Patents Scanning Technology

Chaos Group has introduced a new scanning technology that can produce an exact digital repli- ca of a physical material with sub-millimeter precision, available through VRscans, Chaos Group’s new full-service material scanning business.

While using digital graphics to prototype projects has been the standard for years, the ability to present products with 100 percent accuracy has not. In the past, approximations were used, forcing artists to spend countless hours getting 90 percent of the way there. With VRscans, companies can now send in their material samples, and what comes back is the most accurate representation of a digital material yet. Once processed, the materials are returned with a .vrscan file that arrives ready to render in V-Ray.

Game Hardware to Soar

Jon Peddie Research (JPR) is forecasting that the global game hardware market will surpass $140 billion by 2019, significantly up from the $29 billion figure in 2015.

The global PC gaming hardware market receded slightly in 2015, but less than the overall PC market, and will resume growth in 2016. All recession and growth within the market is not equal, though. JPR says notebooks bought for gaming have entered a challenging sales environment as PC gamers gear up for mass-market 4k/UHD development.

Ted Pollak, senior gaming analyst at JPR, notes that the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Wii-U will be the dominant platforms for hard-core console gamers. However, Android console offerings from Amazon, Google, and others are projected to grow at a much faster rate and offer the casual to mid-core gamer an affordable way to play from the couch. Nvidia’s Shield is also breaking new ground and can run Android games as a console or handheld. The device may also appeal to the hard-core segment by streaming PC games.

Faceware Updates Its Product Line

3D facial motion-capture provider Faceware Technologies has instituted a series of upgrades across its entire product line that improve accessibility and usability of both its software and hardware. Highlights include a free Personal Learning Edition (PLE), new software and hardware rental pricing, localization, new workflow features, and new hardware. 

Global Gaming Market Expected to Reach $100B

The Open Gaming Alliance (OGA), a non-profit trade association focused on the games industry, presented new research during this year’s Game Developers Conference that forecast the global game software market to pass $100 billion in 2019. 

DFC Intelligence is forecasting that in 2019, PC games will be the single largest platform at $36 billion. This is up 35% from the $28 billion generated in 2015.

“A major driver of industry growth is not just software, but hardware,” said DFC Analyst David Cole. “The emergence of e-sports and virtual reality is driving consumers to buy high-end PC systems to not only play games, but watch others playing games.”

OGA Board of Director Member Matt Ployhar (Intel) is also remaining bullish on PC gaming. “I’m optimistic that 2016 will be the year PC gaming finally breaks the $30 billion milestone in software revenues,” he said. “Not only was there a bumper crop of new PC game releases such as Fallout 4, Grand Theft Auto V, and Metal Gear Solid V performing really well on PC for 2015, but this year another incredible lineup of games is on deck, with World of Warcraft Legion, Civilization VI, Doom 4, and Dishonored 2. Strong release schedules like this also tend to bode well for vendors on the hardware side of the business, too.”