Sprint Shows Off Its First 4G Dual Core Tegra 2 Super Phone

Subject: Mobile | June 9, 2011 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: Tegra 2, super phone, Sprint, Photon, nvidia, arm, 4g

If desktop processors are advancing at the speed of sound, then mobile processors are advancing at somewhere near the speed of light. Just a year ago, a 600MHz Ti processor was very fast; however, in the age of dual core 1GHz+ processors that seems to be rather slow by comparison. Speaking of the speed of photons, Sprint has recently unveiled a new Motorola smart phone called the Photon 4G that is packed with lots of hardware and powered by Android 2.3.

What makes the Photon 4G special; however, is that it is the first NVIDIA Tegra powered "super phone" on Sprint's 4G cellular network. The 2.6 inch x 5 inch device has a depth of .5 inches and weighs in at 5.6 ounces. This rather hefty chassis holds a large 4.3" "qHD" display with a resolution of 540x960.  Further, the phone has two cameras with the rear camera being capable of capturing 720p HD video and the front facing camera sporting a VGA (480x640) resolution.  An HDMI output port, a microSD card slot supporting up to 32GB cards, and a metal kick stand also have a place on the device.

Internally, the phone features a 1GHz dual core Tegra 2 processor, 16GB of on-board storage, and 1GB of RAM.  A 3G/4G radio supporting International GSM frequencies as well as a Bluetooth and Wifi 802.11 b/g/n radio are also present.  This hardware is in turn backed by a 1700 mAh Lithium Ion battery.

According to the NVIDIA blog, the device is made further desirable due to it's ability to play "multi-platform, console-class Android OS games with the kind of experience you expect from a game console."  The Photon 4G also supports Bluetooth controller input, enabling it to act as a sort of portable gaming console by hooking it up to a large display via HDMI and playing games using a Bluetooth controller.  NVIDIA demonstrated playing Riptide GP on the phone using a Wii controller.  It will likely support the dual shock controller down the road as well.

NVIDIA shows off the Wii controlled super phone's gaming abilities

Sprint claims a nine to ten hour talk-time for the phone, depending on the network the phone is using (3G/4G); therefore, it will be interesting to see if this phone will have the battery life in real world tests to be a good portable gaming machine.  It may even steal some market share from the Playstation Vita if Android can keep new games flowing.  What do you think about the Photon 4G?

Source: Sprint

Intel won't design ARM chips but they might be eyeing the manufacturing side

Subject: General Tech | May 30, 2011 - 09:09 AM |
Tagged: Intel, arm

Paul Otellini, the current CEO of Intel, has gone on record stating that Intel has little interest in fabbing non-Intel based chips on its manufacturing line.  That makes a lot of sense for those who watch the back end of the CPU business but it doesn't seem logical to those who don't.  The reasoning is based on licensing and the habit of the technology industry to use Intellectual Property licensing agreements and lawyers the same way Jason uses his machete.  If Intel starts fabbing their own ARM chips with none of their own IP inside, then it leaves an opening later on for ARM to go after Intel if any of their new products seem derivative of ARM's IP.  It also makes an entire production line at Intel dependant on ARM sales.

So, why did Intel's CFO Stacey Smith not repeat that same emphatic denial when asked a similar question?  In her case she was asked if they would fab Apple-designed ARM-based A5 CPUs with Intel's 22nm IP inside.  Suddenly Intel only has to design the core of the chip and does not have to license any of ARM's IP as they are only providing the production line.  As well, Intel would be licensing their own IP to Apple which brings them money and can the IP license can function as a hostage down the road; think the court case involving NVIDIA's ability to design chipsets for Intel chips with integrated memory controllers.  Get more at The Register.

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"Parsing the statements of both Intel execs, however, reveals that their statements are not, in fact, as contradictory as they may at first seem. Otellini stated that "We have no intention to use our license again to build ARM," while Smith spoke only of fabbing someone else's custom design – and if that design included an ARM core, the third party would pay the licensing fee."

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Source: The Register

Rumors point to Apple moving to ARM processors for future notebooks

Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 6, 2011 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: project denver, nvidia, macbook, Intel, arm, apple

A very interesting story over at AppleInsider has put the rumor out there that Apple may choose to ditch the Intel/x86 architecture all together with some future upcoming notebooks.  Instead, Apple may choose to go the route of the ARM-based processor, likely similar to the A4 that Apple built for the iPhone and iPad.

What is holding back the move right now?  Well for one, the 64-bit versions of these processors aren't available yet and Apple's software infrastructure is definitely dependent on that.  By the end of 2012 or early in 2013 those ARM-based designs should be ready for the market and very little would stop Apple from making the move.  Again, this is if the rumors are correct.

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Another obstacle is performance - even the best ARM CPUs on the market fall woefully behind the performance of Intel's current crop of Sandy Bridge processors or even their Core 2 Duo options.  

In addition to laptops, the report said that Apple would "presumably" be looking to move its desktop Macs to ARM architecture as well. It characterized the transition to Apple-made chips for its line of computers as a "done deal."

"Now you realize why Apple is desperately searching for fab capacity from Samsung, Global Foundries, and TSMC," the report said. "Intel doesn't know about this particular change of heart yet, which is why they are dropping all the hints about wanting Apple as a foundry customer. Once they realize Apple will be fabbing ARM chips at the expense of x86 parts, they may not be so eager to provide them wafers on advanced processes."

Even though Apple is already specing its own processors like the A4 there is the possibility that they could go with another ARM partner for higher performance designs.  NVIDIA's push into the ARM market with Project Denver could be a potential option as they are working very closely with ARM on those design and performance improvements.  Apple might just "borrow" those changes however at NVIDIA's expense and build its own option that would satisify its needs exactly without the dependence on third-parties.  

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Migrating the notebook (and maybe desktop markets) to ARM processors would allow the company to unify their operating system across the classic "computer" designs and the newer computer models like iPads and iPhones.  The idea of all of our computers turning into oversized iPhones doesn't sound appealing to me (nor I imagine, many of you) but with some changes in the interface it could become a workable option for many consumers. 

With even Microsoft planning for an ARM-based version of Windows, it seems that x86 dominance in the processor market is being threatened without a doubt.  

Source: AppleInsider

Windows 7 is so mainstream, 8 is so much cooler

Subject: General Tech | April 29, 2011 - 08:27 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, win8, OS, arm

Successfully selling an OS seems to have spurred Microsoft into a frenzy of action, far from the massive denial and self abuse they indulged in after the launch of that flounder known as ME Vista. We are already seeing leaded builds of Windows 8, which are festooned with more ARMs and Ribbons than that Royal Wedding last night.  Thanks to these leaks, and a list compiled by Maximum PC, you can see the 7 things we know about 8.

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"Pre-release versions of Windows 8 have leaked to the web. Here’s what they tell us about the upcoming OS

Recently leaked builds show that Windows 8 will be a very different OS from its forebears, from the kernel to the cloud. ARM processor support, mobile-device optimization, and system-wide menu tweaks abound. There are still a lot of things we don't know about the next OS from Microsoft, but the number of things we can say for sure is growing. Read on for our list of 7 things we know about Windows 8!"

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Source: Maximum PC

AMD hints at possible ARM processors

Subject: Processors | April 28, 2011 - 08:41 AM |
Tagged: arm, amd

 

"AMD (NYSE: AMD) today announced a distinguished line-up of keynote speakers as well as technical session topics for the inaugural AMD Fusion Developer Summit (AFDS), which will be held June 13-16, 2011 at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Washington.
 
Industry keynote presentations will be delivered by esteemed industry experts from AMD, ARM and Microsoft. In his keynote “Heterogeneous Parallelism at Microsoft” Herb Sutter, Microsoft principal architect of Native Languages, will showcase upcoming innovations to bring access to increasingly heterogeneous compute resources directly into the world’s most popular native languages.
 
Jem Davies, ARM fellow and vice president of Technology, Media Processing Division, will deliver a keynote about ARM’s long history of heterogeneous computing, its future strategy, and ARM’s support of standards, including OpenCL™."

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Could AMD be developing ARM based products for tablets, netbooks, servers and smartphones? There will be a version of Windows 8 that is ARM compatible. AMD may be working on a version of Fusion that uses ARM instead of x86.

It would make sense for AMD to license the ARM architecture if they could compete with Nvidia’s Tegra and Qualcomm’s snapdragon processors.  AMD has a proven track record in creating graphics cards and so does NVidia. Will that give AMD an advantage from the start?  Can AMD produce a better product or a product that is used in different types of applications that Tegra or future Tegra products were not designed for?

 For several years now AMD has always been playing catch-up with Intel’s x86 processors and there in no end in sight. Will Bulldozer give AMD the performance catch-up needed to be faster the Intel? I doubt it or at least not when Sandy Bridge-EX comes out in Q4 of 2011.

We will have more information after the AMD Fusion Developer Summit.

 

Source: AMD

16 core Cortex A15s coming soon?

Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2011 - 09:16 AM |
Tagged: servers, cortex, arm

We have been hearing of a little something called Project Denver that ARM has been working on, which they claim will have them selling chips to the server market.  The new Cortex A15 will be a 32bit chip with 40bit physical addressing, and multiple cores capable of reaching 2.5GHz, all while using the same amount of power as the previous Cortex A9 generation.  Maybe Intel and AMD do have something to worry about.  Drop by The Register for more.

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"ARM Holdings' high-performance, low-power Cortex-A15 processor design will appear in products in late 2012 or early 2013, when it will begin to muscle in on territory long dominated by Intel's x86 architecture."

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Source: The Register