A third primary processor
As the Hot Chips conference begins in Cupertino this week, Qualcomm is set to divulge another set of information about the upcoming Snapdragon 820 processor. Earlier this month the company revealed details about the Adreno 5xx GPU architecture, showcasing improved performance and power efficiency while also adding a new Spectra 14-bit image processor. Today we shift to what Qualcomm calls the “third pillar in the triumvirate of programmable processors” that make up the Snapdragon SoC. The Hexagon DSP (digital signal processor), introduced initially by Qualcomm in 2004, has gone through a massive architecture shift and even programmability shift over the last 10 years.
Qualcomm believes that building a balanced SoC for mobile applications is all about heterogeneous computing with no one processor carrying the entire load. The majority of the work that any modern Snapdragon processor must handle goes through the primary CPU cores, the GPU or the DSP. We learned about upgrades to the Adreno 5xx series for the Snapdragon 820 and we are promised information about Kryo CPU architecture soon as well. But the Hexagon 600-series of DSPs actually deals with some of the most important functionality for smartphones and tablets: audio, voice, imaging and video.
Interestingly, Qualcomm opened up the DSP to programmability just four years ago, giving developers the ability to write custom code and software to take advantages of the specific performance capabilities that the DSP offers. Custom photography, videography and sound applications could benefit greatly in terms of performance and power efficiency if utilizing the QC DSP rather than the primary system CPU or GPU. As of this writing, Qualcomm claims there are “hundreds” of developers actively writing code targeting its family of Hexagon processors.
The Hexagon DSP in Snapdragon 820 consists of three primary partitions. The main compute DSP works in conjunction with the GPU and CPU cores and will do much of the heavy lifting for encompassed workloads. The modem DSP aids the cellular modem in communication throughput. The new guy here is the lower power DSP in the Low Power Island (LPI) that shifts how always-on sensors can communicate with the operating system.
Subject: Processors | August 26, 2015 - 02:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Skylake, Intel, linux, Godavari
Using the GPU embedded in the vast majority of modern processors is a good way to reduce the price of and entry level system, as indeed is choosing Linux for your OS. Your performance is not going to match that of a system with a discrete GPU but with the newer GPU cores available you will be doing much better than the old days of the IGP. The first portion of Phoronix's review of the Skylake GPU covers the various versions of driver you can choose from while the rest compares Kaveri, Godavari, Haswell and Broadwell to the new HD530 on SkyLake CPUs. Currently the Iris Pro 6200 present on Broadwell is still the best for gaming, though the A10-7870K Godavari performance is also decent. Consider one of those two chips now, or await Iris Pro's possible arrival on a newer socketed processor if you are in no hurry.
"Intel's Core i5 6600K and i7 6700K processors released earlier this month feature HD Graphics 530 as the first Skylake graphics processor. Given that Intel's Open-Source Technology Center has been working on open-source Linux graphics driver support for over a year for Skylake, I've been quite excited to see how the Linux performance compares for Haswell and Broadwell as well as AMD's APUs on Linux."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel Core i5 6600K Skylake Linux CPU Benchmarks @ Phoronix
- Intel Core i7-5775C Review @ Modders-Inc
- Intel Core i7-6700K Review: Inching Toward Extreme @ Modders-Inc
- Intel’s ‘Skylake’ Core i7-6700K: A Performance Look @ Techgage
- Intel Core i7 6700K "Skylake" Processor Review @HiTech Legion
- Intel Core i7-6700K Review @ Neoseeker
Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2015 - 12:59 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, Nixeus, vue24, freesync, gsync, amd, r9 nano, Fiji, asus, PB258Q, qualcomm, snapdragon 820, nvidia
PC Perspective Podcast #364 - 08/27/2015
Join us this week as we discuss the Nixeus Vue 24 FreeSync Monitor, AMD R9 Nano leaks, GPU Marketshare and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak
Program length: 1:22:36
Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2015 - 02:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nifty, Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi and its various flavours have been out for a while now and we have heard of a variety of projects developers and hobbyists have come up with but this story from The Register has them all beat. With a little Googling and a lot of creativity and inspiration there are kids out there creating all sorts of new uses for the little device. One 11 year old was a little worried about her Grampa and used a Pi along with PHP and HTML to pair a device with a webpage which can bring up a web browser for him, allow simple texting capabilities and to photos to make sure he is still OK. Others have created a scanner to keep track of scores in netball or to make sure that the sushi they grab from a restaurant's conveyor belt isn't getting too old. Give kids a chance to create and what they come up with will blow you away.
"Completely at home with Raspberry Pis, these kids Google around for the things they don’t know how to do - because when you’re 11, you don’t know what you can’t do. They are inventing the future, and for them it’s just child’s play."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Best Lightweight Linux Distros @ Linux.com
- Your smartphone can be a 3D scanner, say boffins @ The Register
- Amazon Underground offers paid apps for free - but with a sting in the tail @ The Inquirer
- Password 'XXXXairocon' pops Wi-Fi routers from ASUS, ZTE and others @ The Register
- Ins0mnia: iOS flaw lets applications run for ever in a bad way @ The Inquirer
- It's official: Apple's next iPhone will be unveiled on 9 September @ The Inquirer
- Tech ARP 2015 Mega Giveaway #5 : Mi 10400 mAh Power Banks
Subject: Mobile | August 27, 2015 - 03:31 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, ZenBook UX305
That is correct, the 12mm thick Zenbook UX305 from ASUS does not have a LAN port, it is wireless or nothing for this ultrabook. It does have three USB 3.0 ports, a micro HDMI, a 3.5mm jack for audio and an SD card reader so you will be able to use some wired peripherals with this ultramobile device. At a mere 1.2 kg the machine is very light and with a M-5Y10 which can clock between 800MHz up to 2GHz with Turbo Boost it will run when you need it and be gentle on your battery when you do not. KitGuru has posted a review of the UX305 here.
"The ZenBook UX305 is the latest Ultrabook offering from Asus. When I last reviewed one of their products – the hybrid T300 Chi – it greatly impressed me. The UX305 is a similar device, with a Core M processor, 8GB RAM and another SanDisk M.2 SSD. This time, however, it is a conventional laptop, and is priced at £649.95."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Asus ZenBook UX305 @ The Inquirer
- Vodafone Smart Prime 6 Smartphone @ Kitguru
- Galaxy Note 5 vs S6 @ The Inquirer
- Wileyfox Swift hands-on @ The Inquirer
- SISWOO C55 Longbow Smartphone Review @ Madshrimps
Subject: Motherboards | August 27, 2015 - 03:41 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Z170i Gaming Pro AC, Z170, msi, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel Skylake
MSI has announced a new mini-ITX motherboard for Intel's latest chipset, the Z170I Gaming Pro AC.
Mini-ITX boards have been hard to come by for Skylake thus far, with very few models and limited availability in the first month (though not quite as elusive as the i7-6700K). With this new gaming-oriented board MSI offers another option, and it looks pretty impressive with 5-phase power delivery, 802.11ac wireless, an Intel onboard NIC, and M.2 support from a slot on the back of the PCB.
Pricing isn't immediately available, but the existing Mini-ITX Z170 motherboards (EVGA and ASRock each have one) have been selling for $199 so I'd expect something in that vicinity.
Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2015 - 04:00 AM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: logitech, headphones, gaming, G933, G633, DTS Headphone:X, 7.1
Today Logitech is announcing that they have added to their headset lineup with two new products. This is a fairly big announcement as it has been around five years since Logitech did anything with their gaming headset. Units like the recently reviewed G35 and G230 have been around since 2010. Users have been complaining as of late about a lack of fresh products on the scene, even though those previous products have adequately filled their niche.
The two new products coming out are the wireless G933 and the wired G633. These are under the new brand Artemis Spectrum Gaming Headsets. The G633 has a MSRP of $149.99 putting it at the higher end of gaming headsets. Compare this to the G35 which originally shared that MSRP, but is now around $79 at retail. The top end G933 is a pricier option at $199.99 US.
Logitech has done a lot of work in terms of physical characteristics and the software they are using to drive these units. Neither comes as a pure analog solution, but instead utilizes a USB connection to power the wired and wireless units. Logitech continually refines its gaming software and this provides a great amount of flexibility when it comes to usage scenarios and audio features for these headphones.
Powering these cans is a newly designed 40 mm driver that is created from a stiffened fabric rather than paper or plastic. Logitech is branding these as the patent pending Pro-G audio drivers. The engineers worked with materials people to develop the technology that is said to provide audiophile quality sound across a variety of applications. I had asked why Logitech stayed with a 40 mm driver when other companies were utilizing larger 50 mm units which can deliver potentially deeper bass. The answer was that they discovered that 40 mm was the sweet spot for this material to provide a flat curve without diminishing the high end. The 50 mm prototypes just did not have the high end performance of the 40 mm units, so it was decided to sacrifice a bit of the low end to keep things more balanced and brighter.
Previously the Logitech Gaming headphones used Dolby Headphone support to simulate 3D/positional sound. This is changing up with these latest headphones. The new ones do support a virtual 7.1 audio solution as well as the new DTS Headphone: X support. This is an area where Logitech has again done quite a bit of work to improve their HRTF support. Ryan was shown around 30 different ear “models” that were used to measure how sound was reflected, refracted, and tone shifted when audio was played around these models in multiple positions. HRTF stands for Head Related Transfer Function. Humans can recognize sound positioning through a lot of processing in the brain. The brain can recognize when a sound’s tone is shifted due to the individual curves and shape of a person’s ear. Logitech has taken this data and created a software solution that more accurately provides this effect than their previous G35 and higher headphones which features the 7.1 functionality. This functionality will also seem more realistic when combined with a higher end driver, such as what is included with the Pro-G audio drivers.
The boom microphone is very similar to the previous models. It can swing down and provide some decent audio for outgoing. It will not match more professional units, but we can only hope that it is superior to the previous generation of headphones that Logitech has put out.
One area that could potentially be controversial is that of the LED lighting on the headphones. The headsets light up around the cups and can be changed to the tune of 16.8 million colors. The side plates can also be swapped, so potentially custom made plates can be swapped in to show whatever logos or pictures as one desires. One positive of this design is that the LED lights are facing to the rear of the listener’s head, so potential reflections off of a screen (or glasses) will just not happen. The headphones also feature three programmable G-Keys, a feature that was on the previous G35 units. It also features the mute button and the scroll wheel to control volume. These are handy, handy things for those that have already created a dozen macros on their keyboard and could potentially start mashing buttons. Not like I have ever done that before trying to mute some headphones…
These headphones also have a unique feature in that they can dynamically mix multiple inputs. The G633 can mix audio from two different inputs while the G933 can handle three inputs. There are multiple use scenarios for this such as playing on a console while having the headphones attached to a cellphone. Users can mix and match this functionality in a variety of scenarios that will fit their lifestyle. This is slightly more interesting for the wireless G933 as more devices can be connected, and the user can be free of a plethora of cables attached to the base unit.
The G933 also have an option of being a wired unit through analog cables. This does provide some nice flexibility for users, as well as playing for hours more when the batteries of the wireless headphones are recharging. This flexibility was not featured in previous wired headsets and is a nice change of pace.
Certain products have a long lifespan when it comes to product cycles. Headphones are one of these areas (just ask Grado and how many generations they have gone through in the past 25 years). Logitech has done some serious groundwork to make sure that these are competitive and high quality units. The final proof will of course be listening to these cans under multiple scenarios to see if the new drivers are in fact as good as they claim to be. With the laser like focus that Logitech has been aiming at gaming as of late, I am pretty comfortable in the idea that these headsets are the real deal when it comes to quality audio under gaming, movies, and music situations. Individual tastes will of course vary, but Logitech has spent a great deal of time and effort to make these competitive with the industry at large. It is a good step forward and I look forward to hearing the results.
The G633 will be available starting in September while the G933 will come to market in an October timeframe. The DTS Headphone:X support will be a software upgrade with the Logitech Gaming software in October.
- 2 of 2