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Emulation (Games)

Ask slashdot: How Will Abandonware Work With Today's DRM Locked Games? (youtube.com) 126

dryriver writes: Thousands of charmingly old-fashioned computer and console games from the 8-bit, 16-bit, MS-DOS era are easily re-playable today in a web browser -- many Abandonware websites now feature play-in-browser emulated games. Here is a video of 101 charming old MS-DOS games, most of which can be re-played on Abandonware websites across the internet in seconds.

But what about today's cloud-linked, DRM crippled games, which won't even work without Steam/Origin/UPlay, and many of which don't even allow you to host your own multiplayer servers anymore? How will we play them 20 years from now -- on what may be Android, Linux or other OSs -- when they are tethered into the cloud? And is writing a fully-working emulator for today's complex Windows/DirectX games even feasible?

How will Abandonware work 20 years from now?

Amiga

A-EON Talks About The Future of The Amiga Platform (www.exec.pl) 156

Mike Bouma (slashdot reader #85,252) tipped us off to "Amiga present and future," an interview with Trevor Dickinson of A-EON Technology, a group funding ongoing hardware and software development for the Amiga community. "Amongst the topics are the still in betatest Mini-ITX and quad-core PPC Amiga motherboards. Trevor regularly writes editorials for the Amiga Future print magazine [English-translated version here] and his company will be attending and is sponsoring the Amiga34 event in Neuss Germany on the 12th and 13th of October 2019."

A-EON now has about 50 part-time developers and beta-testers working on software projects for Classic and Next-Generation AmigaOS, Dickinson reveals: I've been a Commodore and Amiga enthusiast since the late 1970s but only really got involved in the business side of Amiga in 2007 when I provided funding to Michael Battilana of Cloanto to help fast track the development of 'Amiga Forever'. [An Amiga preservation, emulation and support package] The funding allowed Michael to hire Nicola Morocutti, the 'Bitplane' magazine Editor, to embark on a major project to catalogue the tens of thousands of Amiga games and software titles which lead to the development of the one-click 'Retro-Platform' player which made its debut in 'Amiga Forever 2008' and the subsequent development 'C64 Forever' in May 2009. But, if you discount my Hardware donation scheme, it was the 'AmigaOne X1000' project [a PowerPC-based personal computer from A-Eon Technology CVBA intended as a high-end platform for AmigaOS 4] that was my first Amiga next-generation funding...

I've always said as long as Amigans keep supporting A-EON by buying the hardware and software we develop, we will keep developing both for AmigaOS. The motherboards names, 'Nemo', 'Cyrus' and 'Tabor' are characters and place names from the Jules Verne novel, "The Mysterious Islands". There are plenty more names available in that book.

Dickinson also discusses various projects that are attempting to build a portable Amiga laptop -- and his own early efforts to fund hardware donations to encourage Amiga developers to write productivity software, games and applications for AmigaOS 4.0. ("I resorted to buying second hand AmigaOne machines from eBay and other online sources...")

He also describes ongoing efforts to bring Libre Office and better web browsers to the Amiga. "Anyone who has the coding skills and is interested in helping out on such projects should contact me."
Python

Mozilla To Bring Python To Browsers (venturebeat.com) 111

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: In a step toward its goal of building out a data science development stack for web browsers, Mozilla today detailed Pyodide, an experimental Python project that's designed to perform computation without the need for a remote kernel (i.e., a program that runs and inspects code). As staff data engineer Mike Droettboom explained in a blog post, it's a standard Python interpreter that runs entirely in the browser. And while Pyodide isn't exactly novel -- projects like Transcrypt, Brython, Skulpt, and PyPyJs are among several efforts to bring Python to browsers -- it doesn't require a rewrite of popular scientific computing tools (like NumPy, Pandas, Scipy, and Matplotlib) to achieve adequate performance, and its ability to convert built-in data types enables interactions among browser APIs and other JavaScript libraries.

Pyodide is built on WebAssembly, a low-level programming language that runs with near-native performance, and emscripten (specifically a build of Python for emscripten dubbed "cpython-emscripten"), which comprises a compiler from C and C++ to WebAssembly and a compatibility layer. Emscripten additionally provides a virtual file system (written in JavaScript) that the Python interpreter can use, in which files disappear when the browser tab is closed. To use Pyodide, you'll need the compiled Python interpreter as WebAssembly, JavaScript from emscripten (which provides the system emulation), and a packaged file system containing the files required by the Python interpreter. Once all three components are downloaded, they'll be stored in your browser's cache, obviating the need to download them again.
The report notes that "the Python interpreter inside the JavaScript virtual machine runs between one to 12 times slower in Firefox and up to 16 times slower on Chrome."
Emulation (Games)

HD Emulation Mod Makes 'Mode 7' SNES Games Look Like New (arstechnica.com) 44

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Gamers of a certain age probably remember being wowed by the quick, smooth scaling and rotation effects of the Super Nintendo's much-ballyhooed "Mode 7" graphics. Looking back, though, those gamers might also notice how chunky and pixelated those background transformations could end up looking, especially when viewed on today's high-end screens. Emulation to the rescue. A modder going by the handle DerKoun has released an "HD Mode 7" patch for the accuracy-focused SNES emulator bsnes. In their own words, the patch "performs Mode 7 transformations... at up to 4 times the horizontal and vertical resolution" of the original hardware.

The results, as you can see in the above gallery and the below YouTube video, are practically miraculous. Pieces of Mode 7 maps that used to be boxy smears of color far in the distance are now sharp, straight lines with distinct borders and distinguishable features. It's like looking at a brand-new game. Perhaps the most impressive thing about these effects is that they take place on original SNES ROM and graphics files; DerKoun has said that "no artwork has been modified" in the games since the project was just a proof of concept a month ago. That makes this project different from upscaling emulation efforts for the N64 and other retro consoles, which often require hand-drawn HD texture packs to make old art look good at higher resolutions.

Windows

Windows 10 Ported To OnePlus 6T Smartphone (androidpolice.com) 62

An anonymous reader shares a report: Qualcomm has been building laptop processors for a while now, designed for always-on Windows 10 ultraportables. Now that an ARM version of Windows 10 is widely available and works with Snapdragon processors, the gates have opened for porting the operating system to smartphones. @NTAuthority on Twitter already demoed Windows 10 on a Pixel 3 XL, but now they have ported it to the OnePlus 6T. In a series of tweets and replies, NTAuthority showed off the touchscreen working, with many applications (including Google Chrome) fully functional. The most impressive demo was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 running on the phone, using Windows' built-in x86 emulation compatibility layer.
Emulation (Games)

Emulator Project Aims To Resurrect Classic Mac Apps, Games Without the OS (arstechnica.com) 74

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica, written by Sean Gallagher: Want to be able to run classic Mac OS applications compiled for the Motorola 68000 series of processors on your ever-so-modern Mac OS X machine? Or maybe you'd rather run them on a Raspberry Pi, or an Android device for that matter? There's an emulation project that's trying to achieve just that: Advanced Mac Substitute (AMS). Advanced Mac Substitute is an effort by long-time Mac hacker Josh Juran to make it possible to run old Mac OS software (up to Mac OS 6) without a need for an Apple ROM or system software. Other emulators out there for 64000 Mac applications such as Basilisk II require a copy of MacOS installation media -- such as install CDs from Mac OS 7.5 or Mac OS 8. But AMS uses a set of software libraries that allow old Mac applications to launch right within the operating environment of the host device, without needing to have a full virtual hardware and operating system instance behind them. And it's all open source.

I got a demo of AMS from Juran at Shmoocon in Washington, DC, this past weekend. He showed me an early attempt at getting the game LoadRunner to work with the emulator -- it's not yet interactive. A version of the project, downloadable from Github, includes a "Welcome" screen application (a sort of Mac OS "hello world"), Mac Tic-Tac-Toe, and an animation of NyanCat. Applications are launched from the command line for now and are executed by the emulation software, which interprets the system and firmware calls. Unfortunately, there's still a lot of work to be done. While AMS works on Mac OS X up to version 10.12 -- both on Intel and PowerPC versions of the operating system -- the code currently won't compile on MacOS Mojave. And the Linux implementation of AMS does not yet support keyboard input. I was unable to get the front end to execute at all on Debian 9 on Intel.

Databases

AWS Launches Fully-Managed Document Database Service (zdnet.com) 59

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced a fully-managed document database service, building the Amazon DocumentDB (with MongoDB compatibility) to support existing MongoDB workloads. The cloud giant said developers can use the same MongoDB application code, drivers, and tools as they currently do to run, manage, and scale workloads on Amazon DocumentDB. Amazon DocumentDB uses an SSD-based storage layer, with 6x replication across three separate Availability Zones. This means that Amazon DocumentDB can failover from a primary to a replica within 30 seconds, and supports MongoDB replica set emulation so applications can handle failover quickly. Each MongoDB database contains a set of collections -- similar to a relational database table -- with each collection containing a set of documents in BSON format. Amazon DocumentDB is compatible with version 3.6 of MongoDB and storage can be scaled from 10 GB up to 64 TB in increments of 10 GB. The new offering implements the MongoDB 3.6 API that allows customers to use their existing MongoDB drivers and tools with Amazon DocumentDB. In a separate report, TechCrunch's Frederic Lardinois says AWS is "giving open source the middle finger" by "taking the best open-source projects and re-using and re-branding them without always giving back to those communities."

"The wrinkle here is that MongoDB was one of the first companies that aimed to put a stop to this by re-licensing its open-source tools under a new license that explicitly stated that companies that wanted to do this had to buy a commercial license," Frederic writes. "Since then, others have followed."

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so it's not surprising that Amazon would try to capitalize on the popularity and momentum of MongoDB's document model," MongoDB CEO and president Dev Ittycheria told us. "However, developers are technically savvy enough to distinguish between the real thing and a poor imitation. MongoDB will continue to outperform any impersonations in the market."
Oracle

Oracle Releases Major Version 6.0 of VirtualBox With Many New Features 77

What's new with Oracle's free and open-source hosted hypervisor? Long-time slashdot reader Freshly Exhumed writes: Oracle has released major version 6.0 of VirtualBox with a variety of new features, including support for exporting a virtual machine to the Oracle Cloud; improved HiDPI and scaling (with better detection and per-machine configuration); a UI rework with simpler application and virtual machine set-up; a new file manager that allows control of the guest file system; a 3D graphics support update for Windows guests; VMSVGA 3D graphics device emulation on Linux and Solaris guests; surround speaker setups used by Windows 10 Build 1809; a new 'vboximg-mount' utility on Apple hosts to access the content of guest disks on the host; Hyper-V as the fallback execution core on Windows hosts to avoid inability to run VMs at reduced performance; and support for Linux Kernel 4.20 .
Unix

FreeBSD 12 Released (freebsd.org) 132

New submitter vivekgite writes: The 12th version of the FreeBSD has been released, bringing support for updated hardware. Some of the highlights include: OpenSSL has been updated to version 1.1.1a (LTS). Unbound has been updated to version 1.8.1, and DANE-TA has been enabled by default. OpenSSH has been updated to version 7.8p1. Additonal capsicum(4) support has been added to sshd(8). Clang, LLVM, LLD, LLDB, compiler-rt and libc++ has been updated to version 6.0.1. The vt(4) Terminus BSD Console font has been updated to version 4.46. The bsdinstall(8) utility now supports UEFI+GELI as an installation option. The VIMAGE kernel configuration option has been enabled by default. The NUMA option has been enabled by default in the amd64 GENERIC and MINIMAL kernel configurations. The netdump(4) driver has been added, providing a facility through which kernel crash dumps can be transmitted to a remote host after a system panic. The vt(4) driver has been updated with performance improvements, drawing text at rates ranging from 2- to 6-times faster.

Various improvements to graphics support for current generation hardware. Support for capsicum(4) has been enabled on armv6 and armv7 by default. The UFS/FFS filesystem has been updated to consolidate TRIM/BIO_DELETE commands, reducing read/write requests due to fewer TRIM messages being sent simultaneously. The NFS version 4.1 server has been updated to include pNFS server support. The pf(4) packet filter is now usable within a jail(8) using vnet(9). The bhyve(8) utility has been updated to add NVMe device emulation. The bhyve(8) utility is now able to be run within a jail(8). Various Lua loader(8) improvements. KDE has been updated to version 5.12.

Emulation (Games)

Internet Archive Launches a Commodore 64 Emulator (hardocp.com) 77

The Internet Archive has launched a free, browser-based Commodore 64 Emulator with over 10,500 programs that are "working and tested for at least booting properly." Interestingly, the emulator comes just before the launch of Commodore's own C64 Mini. "It's based off the VICE emulator version 3.2, which is a triumph of engineering," adds HardOCP.
Intel

ARM Makes Its CPU Roadmap Public, Challenges Intel in PCs With Deimos and Hercules Chips (pcworld.com) 158

With PC makers like Asus and HP beginning to design laptops and tablets around ARM chips, ARM itself has decided to emerge from the shadows and unroll its roadmap to challenge Intel through at least 2020, PCWorld writes. From a report, which details ARM's announcement Thursday: ARM's now-public roadmap represents its first processors that are designed for the PC space. ARM, taking aim at the dominant player, claims its chips will equal and potentially even surpass Intel's in single-threaded performance. ARM is unveiling two new chip architectures: Deimos, a 7nm architecture to debut in 2019, and Hercules, a 5nm design for 2020. There's a catch, of course: Many Windows apps aren't natively written for the ARM instruction set, forcing them to pay a performance penalty via emulation. Comparing itself to Intel is a brightly-colored signpost that ARM remains committed to the PC market, however.

ARM-powered PCs like the Asus NovaGo offer game-changing battery life -- but the performance suffers, for two reasons: One, because the computing power of ARM's cores has lagged behind those of the Intel Core family; and two, because any apps that the ARM chip can't process natively have to be emulated. ARM can't do much about Microsoft's development path, but it can increase its own performance. Finally, if you were concerned that ARM PCs will be a flash in the pan, the answer is no, apparently not.
Further reading: ARM Reveals First Public CPU Roadmap - Targeting Intel Performance (PC Perspective); and ARM Unveils Client CPU Performance Roadmap Through 2020 - Taking Intel Head On (AnandTech).
Nintendo

Nintendo's Offensive, Tragic, and Totally Legal Erasure of ROM Sites (vice.com) 334

"The damage that removing ROMs from the internet could do to video games as a whole is catastrophic." From a report: In July, Nintendo sued two popular ROM sites, LoveROMS and LoveRetro.co, for what it called "brazen and mass-scale infringement of Nintendo's intellectual property rights." Both sites have since shut down. On Wednesday, another big, 18-year-old ROM site, EmuParadise, said it would no longer be able to allow people to download old games due to "potentially disastrous consequences." Nintendo owns the intellectual property for its games, and when people pirate them instead of buying a Nintendo Super NES Classic Edition or a downloading a copy from one of its digital storefronts, it can argue it's losing money. According to Nintendo's official site, ROMs and video game emulation also represent "the greatest threat to date to the intellectual property rights of video game developers," and "have the potential to significantly damage" tens of thousands of jobs. Even when a Nintendo game isn't for sale, it's still the company's intellectual property, and it can enforce its copyright if it wants.

But the damage that removing ROMs from the internet could do to video games as a whole is catastrophic. Many game developers and people who have otherwise made video games a major part of their lives, especially those who grew up in low-income households or outside a Western country, wouldn't have been inspired to take that path if it wasn't for ROMs. Entire chapters of video game history would be lost if ROMs and emulation didn't preserve games where publishers failed to. And perhaps most importantly, denying people access to ROMs makes the process of educating them in game development much more difficult, potentially hobbling future generations of video game makers.

Emulation (Games)

Lawsuit Threat Shuts Down ROM Downloads On Major Emulation Site 'EmuParadise' (arstechnica.com) 79

Following Nintendo's recent lawsuits against ROM sites LoveROMs and LoveRetro, a major ROM repository called EmuParadise announced it will preemptively cease providing downloadable versions of copyrighted classic games. While no lawsuits have been filed yet, the site's founder, MasJ, writes in an announcement post: "It's not worth it for us to risk potentially disastrous consequences. I cannot in good conscience risk the futures of our team members who have contributed to the site through the years. We run EmuParadise for the love of retro games and for you to be able to revisit those good times. Unfortunately, it's not possible right now to do so in a way that makes everyone happy and keeps us out of trouble." Ars Technica reports: EmuParadise will continue to operate as a repository for legal downloads of classic console emulators, as well as a database of information on thousands of classic games. "But you won't be able to get your games from here for now," as MasJ writes. Since founding EmuParadise in 2000, MasJ says EmuParadise has faced threatening letters, server shutdowns, and numerous DMCA takedown requests for individual games. Through it all, he says he was encouraged by "thousands of emails from people telling us how happy they've been to rediscover and even share their childhood with the next generations in their families."
AI

Tesla Is Building Its Own AI Chips For Self-Driving Cars (techcrunch.com) 157

Yesterday, during his quarterly earnings call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed a new piece of hardware that the company is working on to perform all the calculations required to advance the self-driving capabilities of its vehicles. The specialized chip, known as "Hardware 3," will be "swapped into the Model S, X, and 3," reports TechCrunch. From the report: Tesla has thus far relied on Nvidia's Drive platform. So why switch now? By building things in-house, Tesla say it's able to focus on its own needs for the sake of efficiency. "We had the benefit [...] of knowing what our neural networks look like, and what they'll look like in the future," said Pete Bannon, director of the Hardware 3 project. Bannon also noted that the hardware upgrade should start rolling out next year. "The key," adds Elon "is to be able to run the neural network at a fundamental, bare metal level. You have to do these calculations in the circuit itself, not in some sort of emulation mode, which is how a GPU or CPU would operate. You want to do a massive amount of [calculations] with the memory right there." The final outcome, according to Elon, is pretty dramatic: He says that whereas Tesla's computer vision software running on Nvidia's hardware was handling about 200 frames per second, its specialized chip is able to crunch out 2,000 frames per second "with full redundancy and failover." Plus, as AI analyst James Wang points out, it gives Tesla more control over its own future.
NES (Games)

Hacker Gets Super NES Games Running On Unmodified NES (arstechnica.com) 43

The latest project from Tom "Tom7" Murphy is an unmodified NES running Super NES games. "Murphy breaks down this wizardry in a pair of detailed videos laying out his tinkering process," reports Ars Technica. "Though the NES hardware itself is untouched, the cartridge running this reverse emulation is a heavily customized circuit board (ordered from China for about $10), with a compact, multi-core Raspberry Pi 3 attached to handle the actual Super NES emulation." From the report: The Pi essentially replaces the PPU portion of the cartridge, connecting to the NES via a custom-coded EEPROM chip that tells the system how to process and display what would normally be an overwhelming stream of graphical data coming from the miniature computer. Only the CIC "copyright" chip from the original cartridge remains unmodified to get around the hardware's lockout chip. Murphy -- you may remember him from previous efforts to teach an AI how to play NES games -- says that the Raspberry Pi actually has too much latency to effectively "stream" tile-by-tile graphical instructions to the NES' cartridge CPU. By the time the Pi manages to "discharge" a set of instruction bits (only 180ns after they were generated), the NES itself has already moved on to the next part of its read-write cycle.

Murphy used a one-cycle delay to compensate for this latency, essentially guessing where the fairly predictable PPU would be writing to next and just sending data to that location ahead of time. That process works pretty well but results in the persistent flickering and graphical noise you see throughout his video demonstrations.

Emulation (Games)

How Hardware Artisans Are Keeping Classic Video Gaming Alive (fastcompany.com) 75

slashdot reader harrymcc writes, "If you want to play classic Nintendo games, you could buy a vintage Super NES. Or you could use an emulator. Or -- if you're really serious -- you could use floating point gate arrays to design a new console that makes them look great on modern TVs." He shares Fast Company's article about "some of the other folks using new hardware to preserve the masterworks of the past." Analogue created its system with HDTVs in mind, so every game looks as good or maybe even better than I remember from childhood. Playing the same cartridges on my actual Super Nintendo is more like looking through a dirty window... Another company called RetroUSB has also used Field Programmable Gate Arrays to create its own version of the original Nintendo. And if you already own any classic systems like I do, there's a miniature industry of aftermarket hardware that will make those consoles look better on modern televisions.
The article also notes "throwback consoles" from AtGames and Hyperkin, as well as the Open Source Scan Converter, "a crude-looking device that converts SCART input to HDMI output with no distinguishable lag from the game controller." Analogue's CEO Christopher Taber "argues that software emulation is inherently less accurate than re-creating systems at the hardware level," and describes Analogue engineer Kevin Horton as "someone who's obscenely talented at what he's doing... He's applying it to making perfect, faithful, aftermarket video game systems to preserve playing these systems in an unadulterated way."

And in the end the article's author feels that Analogue's Super NT -- a reverse-engineered Super Nintendo -- "just feels more like the real thing. Unlike an emulator, the Super Nt doesn't let you save games from any point or switch to slow motion, and the only modern gameplay concession it offers is the ability to reset the game through a controller shortcut. Switching to a different game still requires you to get off the couch, retrieve another cartridge, and put it into the system, which feels kind of like listening to a vinyl album instead of a Spotify playlist."
Software

Ask slashdot: Could Linux Ever Become Fully Compatible With Windows and Mac Software? 359

dryriver writes: Linux has been around for a long time now. A lot of work has gone into it; it has evolved nicely and it dominates in the server space. Computer literate people with some tech skills also like to use it as their desktop OS. It's free and open source. It's not vendor-locked, full of crapware or tied to any walled garden. It's fast and efficient. But most "everyday computer users" or "casual computer buyers" still feel they have to choose either a Windows PC or an Apple device as the platform they will do their computing on. This binary choice exists largely because of very specific commercial list of programs and games available for these OSs that is not available for Linux.

Here is the question: Could Linux ever be made to become fully compatible with all Windows and Mac software? What I mean is a Linux distro that lets you successfully install/run/play just about anything significant that says "for Windows 10" or "for OSX" under Linux, without any sort of configuring or crazy emulation orgies being needed? Macs and PCs run on the exact same Intel/AMD/Nvidia hardware as Linux. Same mobos, same CPUs and GPUs, same RAM and storage devices. Could Linux ever be made to behave sufficiently like those two OSs so that a computer buyer could "go Linux" without any negative consequences like not being able to run essential Windows/Mac software at all? Or is Linux being able to behave like Windows and OSX simply not technically doable because Windows and OSX are just too damn complex to mimic successfully?
Classic Games (Games)

'King of Kong' Billy Mitchell Stripped Of Donkey Kong Record For Emulator Cheating (hothardware.com) 58

MojoKid writes: More drama is unfolding in the ultra-competitive retro arcade gaming scene... Billy Mitchell, the arcade legend who appeared as a central character opposite Steve Wiebe in the documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, has been accused of cheating his way into the record books for high scores in Donkey Kong. As a result, he's now been stripped of his 1.062 million score on the Donkey Kong Forums...

The legitimacy of his score was called into question by Donkey Kong high score judge Jeremy "Xelnia" Young laid out a body of evidence that seems to prove Mitchell recorded several of his high scores on the open source arcade emulator MAME, though he claimed his scores were obtained on an original arcade cabinet, and therefore were not subject to same strict authentication requirements. "It's possible they were recorded in one shot," Young says, but "Given the play style in Billy's videos, it's more likely that vanilla MAME's INP recording feature was abused."

Twin Galaxies recently threw out the 35-year-old record for the Atari 2600 game Dragster, and has now said they're "in the process of fully reviewing the compelling evidence provided by Jeremy Young."
Software

Why Xbox One Backward Compatibility Took So Long (ign.com) 62

A new report from IGN this morning explains why it took so long for backwards compatibility to be supported on the Xbox One. Microsoft veteran Kevin La Chapelle says the answer to the question can be found in 2015 -- the year that Phil Spencer announced backwards compatibility at Microsoft's Xbox E3 media briefing. From the report: The fan-first feature has evolved from an experiment conducted by two separate Microsoft Research teams into a service planned for Xbox One's launch -- complete with hardware hooks baked into the Durango silicon -- until the well-publicized changes to the Xbox One policies (namely, stripping out the always-online requirement for the console) forced it to be pushed to the back burner. It's obviously back for good now, and expanding into original Xbox compatibility of select titles on Xbox One (the first batch of which we announced today). Even the Xbox One X is getting involved, with a handful of Xbox 360 games getting Scorpio-powered enhancements like 10-bit color depth, anisotropic filtering, and up to 9x additional pixel counts displayed on screen. [...]

It was 2007. One of [the research] teams was working on PowerPC CPU emulation -- getting 32-bit code, which the 360 uses, to run on the 64-bit architecture that the third-generation Xbox would be using. The other team, out of Beijing, started writing a virtual GPU emulator based on the Xbox 360 GPU architecture. "These were like peanut butter and chocolate," Microsoft VP of Xbox software engineering Kareem Choudhry recalled. "[So we thought,] 'Why don't we put them both together?'" Choudhry did just that, and so the first steps to Xbox One backwards compatibility were taken, long before the console had a name or anything remotely resembling final specifications. As Durango crystallized, so too did plans for Xbox 360 compatibility on the new machine. "This was primarily a software exercise, but we enabled that by thinking ahead with hardware," Gammill explained. "We had to bake some of the backwards compatibility support into the [Xbox One] silicon." This was done back in 2011. Preliminary tests showed that support for key Xbox middleware XMA audio and texture formats was extremely taxing to do in software alone, with the former, Gammill noted, taking up two to three of the Xbox One's six CPU cores. But a SOC (system on chip) -- basically an Xbox 360 chip inside every Xbox One, similar to how Sony put PS2 hardware inside the launch-era PS3s -- would've not only been expensive, but it would've put a ceiling on what the compatibility team could do. "If we'd have gone with the 360 SOC, we likely would've landed at just parity," he said. "The goal was never just parity." So they built the XMA and texture formats into the Xbox One chipset...

Power

Microsoft Teases Multi-Day Battery Life For Upcoming ARM-Powered Windows Devices (techspot.com) 72

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechSpot: Microsoft late last year announced a partnership with Qualcomm to bring the full Windows 10 experience to ARM-powered devices. Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group, promised at the time that Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 devices would be efficient in the power consumption department. We're still waiting for the partnership to bear fruit but in the interim, new details regarding efficiency (and a few other subjects) have emerged. With regard to battery life, Pete Bernard, Principal Group Program Manager for Connectivity Partners at Microsoft, said that to be frank, battery life at this point is beyond their expectations: ""We set a high bar for [our developers], and we're now beyond that. It's the kind of battery life where I use it on a daily basis. I don't take my charger with me. I may charge it every couple of days or so. It's that kind of battery life."

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