Twelve months is not that big of a timespan, but in the world of computing technology, it’s often all it takes to see revolutionary products make their way to the market. The year 2017 saw a race to various hardware and software improvements, new releases, and price changes.
And 2018 promises to be just as exciting.
What do the next twelve months look like? What the future holds, and what’s going to make 2018 a great year for technology? We sift through the hype and look at what’s on the near horizon for technology enthusiasts this year, what fans of technology they have to look forward.
Here’s everything worth keeping an eye out for in 2018.
It’s a rare occurrence that the world is more excited about what AMD has in store this year than Intel. The recently released Ryzen lineup was a masterpiece, still is. It was what the chip giant desperately needed to assure its future — these chips have had a cosmic effect on consumer computing.
And while Ryzen indeed isn’t perfect, Ryzen 2 looks to correct the few issues with these processors. Being designed under the codename of Pinnacle Ridge, these new CPUs are rumoured to be released sometime in the first quarter of 2018.
They will drop to a 12nm production node, down from the 14nm of Ryzen. Additionally, we can expect higher base clock frequencies and lower power draw on these chips. Enough, some say, to bring single-core performance to Skylake and Kaby Lake levels, while further enhancing multicore figures.
All that said, that’s not to say Intel is out for the count. The chip giant still holds a substantial chunk of the processor market share. It plans to focus 10nm Cannon Lake processors this year, the first chips making their way out early in 2018, followed by a ramp up to full capacity within the first half of 2018.
Saying that this past year was anything but a show of force for NVIDIA would be an understatement. The Pascal architecture has been out for well over 18 months now and continues to reign dominant over the newer GPUs from AMD.
But there is an evolution in the air, and NVIDIA is preparing solutions based on its Volta, its latest and most significant architecture. Long in the news, we finally have an idea of what to expect. For starters, TSMC is manufacturing the core, and it will be operating off the 12nm FinFET production node.
Enterprise-grade accelerator cards are already in existence, and the might of the GV100 core consumer will feel soon. It’s unlikely that we will see these cards before the first quarter of 2018, though. In fact, a much better bet is seeing these launches before or at Computex 2018.
AMD, meanwhile, is coming off of a rough year. Having played underdog for a while now, the company is shifting focus to its Navi architecture. A drop to 7nm and the new Infinity Fabric interconnect are reasons enough to believe that we could see substantial performance increases from these GPUs.
Storage wars are not a new phenomenon, with Intel and Samsung, in particular, are in a fight for the future. Which got even more eventful in 2017, with the launch of the new Samsung 960 series PCIe SSDs that have sat top and centre of the hill for the past twelve months now.
Even Intel and Micron have struggled to put up any resistance to the dominance Samsung has displayed in the SSD market. But luckily, there are some new developments. The design teams over at Intel and Micron have finally brought the right might of their Optane 3D XPoint memory to market.
It has allowed Intel to take the advantage as the focus has shifted away from sequential performances towards drives that offer lower latency. Intel first showcased this with the Optane cache M.2 sticks, and then the phenomenally powerful 900P series SSDs.
Smaller manufacturers like Adata, Crucial, SanDisk, Silicon Power, Transcend, Western Digital meanwhile are sticking to their philosophy of offering budget SSDs at affordable price points. No significant shakeups expected at this lower end of the market, which continues to provide immense value.
Sad to report that screen technology has stagnated over the last twelve months. Some reasons for this, first being HDR on PCs not living up to its billing of the next big thing, high prices of good screens, and panel technologies like the quantum dot, OLED and RGBW all vying for buyer attention.
It has meant that the desire to invest in new technology has been slim, even with 2017 seeing 4K go mainstream for televisions. On the flipside, at least we are starting to see an abundance of screens that push the 30-inch barrier.
So, even though this last year has been relatively quiet as far as displays are concerned, 2018 is when high-refresh rate 4K panels are destined to hit the market finally. Companies like Acer, AOC, and ASUS have all announced intentions to produce 4K screens with HDR and refresh rates 120Hz or higher.
Apparently, while these screens will retail at eye-watering prices, this does give us hope that the current generation 4K displays will come down in price. This, combined with more powerful and less pricey GPUs will finally make the dream of affordable 4K gaming come true.
There are some that say this current wave of virtual reality is at its end. And judging by the sales figures, and deep discounts that VR hardware manufacturers rolled out in 2017, prove the point. Then again, some other recent developments that have the potential to chart the future of this nascent field.
Maybe even enough to convince people who believe that VR was just another gimmick. Whether you feel VR was ahead of its time or misrepresented, the fact is that both HTC and Oculus profited from the experience, even as 2017 brought little regarding content.
There are currently 266 games and experiences listed over at Steam. But it’s the headsets that are the problem. The locking of the refresh rate at 90Hz and a maximum screen resolution of 1200 pixels means that screen door or grid effects are still visible, taking users away from the immersion.
With Oculus announcing that it will not be releasing Rift 2 anytime soon, and HTC Vive Focus meant for mobile, it has put the emphasis back on the new Windows Mixed Reality Headsets from the likes of Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung to carry the momentum forward.
One can be forgiven for thinking Microsoft now takes it easy when it comes to operating systems. With a set schedule of two new dominant Windows 10 versions a year, Redmond now does things at its own pace, leisurely leaving aside or delaying features that it feels are not ready for launch.
We have seen it with the past two updates for the operating system. Now, though, the spotlight is on the next upcoming version of the OS. Codenamed Redstone 4, there is talk that this version of Windows 10 may be called the Spring Creators Update.
What’s interesting is that Microsoft is no longer in the mood to hold an event to show off everything that is coming in this next update, it has stopped doing that. Instead, the software giant released the new features in Windows Insider Preview builds for users to take a test run.