ARM Claims x86 Android Binary Translation on Intel SoC Hurting Efficiency

Subject: Processors, Mobile | April 30, 2014 - 07:06 PM |
Tagged: Intel, clover trail, Bay Trail, arm, Android

While we are still waiting for those mysterious Intel Bay Trail based Android tablets to find their way into our hands, we met with ARM today to discuss quite few varying topics. One of them centered around the cost of binary translation - the requirement to convert application code compiled for one architecture and running it after conversion on a different architecture. In this case, running native ARMv7 Android applications on an x86 platform like Bay Trail from Intel.

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Based on results presented by ARM, so take everything here in that light, more than 50% of the top 250 applications in the Android Play Store require binary translation to run. 23-30% have been compiled to x86 natively, 20-21% run through Dalvik and the rest have more severe compatibility concerns. That paints a picture of the current state of Android apps and the environment in which Intel is working while attempting to release Android tablets this spring.

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Performance of these binary translated applications will be lower than they would be natively, as you would expect, but to what degree? These results, again gathered by ARM, show a 20-40% performance drop in games like Riptide GP2 and Minecraft while also increasing "jank" - a measure of smoothness and stutter found with variances in frame rates. These are applications that exist in a native mode but were tricked into running through binary conversion as well. The insinuation is that we can now forecast what the performance penalty is for applications that don't have a natively compiled version and are forced to run in translation mode.

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The result of this is lower battery life as it requires the CPU to draw more power to keep the experience close to nominal. While gaming on battery, which most people do with items like the Galaxy Tab 3 used for testing, a 20-35% decrease in game time will hurt Intel's ability to stand up to the best ARM designs on the market.

Other downsides to this binary translation include longer load times for applications, lower frame rates and longer execution time. Of course, the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is based on Intel's Atom Z2560 SoC, a somewhat older Clover Trail+ design. That is the most modern currently available Android platform from Intel as we are still awaiting Bay Trail units. This also explains why ARM did not do any direct performance comparisons to any devices from its partners. All of these results were comparing Intel in its two execution modes: native and translated.

Without a platform based on Bay Trail to look at and test, we of course have to use the results that ARM presented as a placeholder at best. It is possible that Intel's performance is high enough with Silvermont that it makes up for these binary translation headaches for as long as necessary to see x86 more ubiquitous. And in fairness, we have seen many demonstrations from Intel directly that show the advantage of performance and power efficiency going in the other direction - in Intel's favor. This kind of debate requires some more in-person analysis with hardware in our hands soon and with a larger collection of popular applications.

More from our visit with ARM soon!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction

With the release of the next generation desktop board line imminent, we wanted to give you a taste of the new ASUS offerings. ASUS offers support for current and next generation Intel Haswell processors as well as support for SATA 3 and next generation SATA storage solutions with their next generation boards.

ASUS sought to perfect their designs with the new board lines, building off the successess from the Intel Z87-based boards and improving them for better performance and usability. All board lines feature an updated UEFI BIOS with more GUI-driven interfaces and wizards, particularly aimed at those users who don't want to muck around in the Advanced mode settings. Additionally, all board lines feature updated heat sink designs and aesthetics to further differentiate them from their Z87 counterparts. ASUS also enhanced their AI Suite software with 5-Way Optimization functionality, instead of the 4-Way Optimization functionality integrated into the last generation of AI Suite. 5-Way Optimization functionality integrates TPU (Turbo Processing Unit), EPU (Energy Processing Unit), DIGI+ Power Control, Fan XPert 3, and Turbo App into a single cohesive entity.

ASUS will continue to market the next generation boards across their standard four board lines:

  • Channel series motherboards
  • Republic of Gamers series motherboards
  • TUF series motherboards
  • Workstation series motherboards

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Channel series banner

The Channel series boards include all board designs aimed at mainstream consumers and system builders.

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ROG series banner

The ROG (Republic of Gamers) series boards are geared more towards enthusiast and gamer users, featuring a black and red color scheme for eye-catching appeal. The boards also feature innovative designs and integrated components that differentiate them from the other lines.

Continue reading our introduction of the ASUS next generation motherboards!

Corsair's H75, you pay for the miniaturization

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 28, 2014 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, SFF, Intel, H75, corsair, amd

Corsair's H75 has a smaller footprint than previous models, the radiator of 120 x 152 x 25mm should fit inside even smaller cases, allowing you to reduce the noise produced in the smaller case.  As well they have dropped support for LGA775, the change in mounting hardware should make it easier to install on both AMD and Intel systems.  While Morry was quite pleased with the performance of this cooler considering it's size; [H]ard|OCP had a slightly different take.  When they looked at the cooler in terms of price for performance they felt that there are better values on the market but do still recommend it for those who need a small, powerful cooler and are willing to shop around to find it on special.

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"Corsair has been in the liquid CPU cooling game for over 10 years now. As sealed system liquid CPU coolers have become the norm among hardware enthusiasts, the competition has gotten stiff to say the least. Another thing that has changed over the years is that many DIYers are going to smaller cases for their systems; the H75 looks to address this."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction

GIGABYTE is doing some interesting things with their next generation line of boards, offering support for current and next generation Intel Haswell processors. Additionally, these next generation boards will offer support for SATA 3 and next generation SATA storage solutions.

The biggest difference between their new board lines and existing Intel Z87 motherboard lines is how they are differentiating the different board series. GIGABYTE will have a total of four board series in their new product line:

  • Normal series motherboards
  • Gaming series motherboards
  • Overclocking series motherboards
  • Black Edition series motherboards

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Normal Series motherboard
Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The Normal Series boards encompass their channel boards for mainstream consumers and system builders.

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Gaming Series motherboard

The Gaming Series boards are geared more towards enthusiast and gamers users, featuring a black and red color scheme for eye-catching appeal.

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Overclocking Series motherboard
Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The Overclocking Series boards are geared towards hard-core enthusiasts and the LN2 record setting crowd with features and designs specifically oriented to eeking out that last bit of speed and performance from the board.

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Black Edition Series motherboard
Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The Black Edition Series boards build on several products from the other board lines, ensuring the utmost stability and performance through a specialized factory-performed testing regimen.

Continue reading our introduction of the GIGABYTE next generation motherboards!

Podcast #296 - NVIDIA's 337.50 Driver Improvements, Corsair H105, Intel Haswell Refresh details and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2014 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, nvidia, 337.50, corsair, H105, amd, Intel, haswell, devil's canyon

PC Perspective Podcast #296 - 04/17/2014

Join us this week as we discuss NVIDIA's 337.50 Driver Improvements, Corsair H105, Intel Haswell Refresh details and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:25:06
 

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

 

The Health of Intel's Many Divisions...

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | April 16, 2014 - 08:40 PM |
Tagged: Intel, silvermont, arm, quarterly earnings, quarterly results

Sean Hollister at The Verge reported on Intel's recent quarterly report. Their chosen headline focuses on the significant losses incurred from the Mobile and Communications Group, the division responsible for tablet SoCs and 3G/4G modems. Its revenue dropped 52%, since last quarter, and its losses increased about 6%. Intel is still making plenty of money, with $12.291 billion USD in profits for 2013, but that is in spite of Mobile and Communications losing $3.148 billion over the same time.

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Intel did have some wins, however. The Internet of Things Group is quite profitable, with $123 million USD of income from $482 million of revenue. They also had a better March quarter than the prior year, up a few hundred million in both revenue and profits. Also, Mobile and Communications should have a positive impact on the rest of the company. The Silvermont architecture, for instance, will eventually form the basis for 2015's Xeon Phi processors and co-processors.

It is concerning that Internet of Things has over twice the sales of Mobile but I hesitate to make any judgments. From my position, it is very difficult to see whether or not this trend follows Intel's projections. We simply do not know whether the division, time and time again, fails to meet expectations or whether Intel is just intentionally being very aggressive to position itself better in the future. I would shrug off the latter but, obviously, the former would be a serious concern.

The best thing for us to do is to keep an eye on their upcoming roadmaps and compare them to early projections.

Source: The Verge

Intel Unveils Ruggedized Education 2-In-1 Convertible Tablet

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2014 - 07:03 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Education, convertible tablet, atom z3740d

Intel has introduced a new convertible tablet aimed at the education market (specifically as a tool for students to use in their studies) conveniently dubbed the Intel Education 2-In-1. This latest product is a portable dockable tablet powered by an Intel Atom processor and running Windows 8.1 along with Intel Education software.

The new Education 2-In-1 tablet is the successor to Intel's previous Education Tablets series which included two Atom powered devices running the Android OS. The latest convertible tablet features a 10.1 touchscreen and capacitive stylus that weighs 683 grams (1.51 pounds). The tablet can also be connected to a keyboard dock for a total weight of 1.173 kilograms (2.58 pounds). It is a ruggedized design that can withstand up to 70cm drops (50cm when docked) and is both water and dust resistant per IP51 specifications.

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The upcoming PC features a 10.1” 5-point multi-touch display with a resolution of 1366x768, a 1.26 MP webcam, and a 5.0 MP rear camera. The keyboard dock offers up a full qwerty keyboard, trackpad, additional IO ports, and a second battery. Intel rates its Atom-powered tablet at 8 hours of battery life for the tablet itself and 11 hours (total) when docked with the keyboard.

External IO includes:

  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Micro SD card slot
  • 1 x Audio out/Mic in combo jack
  • 1 x Micro HDMI
  • 2 x integrated speakers
  • 1 x Integrated microphone

The tablet further offers up a wide array of sensors for obtaining environmental data including an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, electronic compass, gyroscope, and optional GPS. Students can also get temperature readings via a probe and pair the rear camera with a magnification lens. The sensor and image data can be fed into the educational software bundled with the tablet for use in school labs.

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Internally, the convertible tablet is powered by a quad core Intel Atom Z3740D processor clocked at 1.8 GHz, 2GB of DDR3L 1333 MHz memory, and either 32 GB or 64 GB of internal eMMC storage. Networking is handled by an 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radio along with optional NFC, 3G, and LTE cellular radios. The tablet hosts a 7600mAH (28 Wh) battery while the keyboard dock offers up an additional 15 Wh battery.

On the software side of things, the tablet runs the 32-bit version of Windows 8.1 which is bundled with Intel's educational software suite and McAfee AntiVirus Plus. The educational software includes a digital textbook library from Kno Products.

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The ruggedized design leaves something (read: aesthetics) to be desired, but the somewhat-bulky convertible is built to handle the inevitable, well, handling by students during their daily class schedules. Further, the Bay Trail SoC should run Windows 8.1 well enough to run the basic applications needed for coursework.

Intel has not yet released pricing or availability information on its latest educational hardware offering.

As more schools are looking into supporting digital learning material and incorporating devices such as laptops, tablets, and e-readers, Intel does not want to be left out of the game. The Education 2-In-1 is not likely to be a direct-to-consumer product but more of a business-to-educational institution offering much like Google's Chromebook subscription program and is intended to show off the hardware and software 'experience' that the company's Bay Trail Atom SoC platform is capable of enabling.

Source: Intel

Refreshed Intel Haswell Processors Coming Next Month For Desktop and Mobile

Subject: Processors | April 15, 2014 - 12:09 AM |
Tagged: z97, Intel, i7-4790, haswell refresh, haswell, h97

Intel is releasing a refreshed lineup of processors based on its latest generation “Haswell” micro-architecture. The new lineup is comprised of 27 new desktop processors and 17 new mobile CPUs (44 in total). The new chips will displace the existing Haswell processors at their existing price points with small clockspeed increases.

On the desktop side of things, the Haswell Refresh lineup includes four new Core i7, ten Core i5, five Core i3, five Pentium, and three Celeron processors. The new chips come in both standard and (multiple) lower-TDP variants. At the top end, Intel is introducing a new non-K part called the Intel Core i7 4790 which is a quad core (eight thread) processor clocked at 3.6 GHz with 8MB of L3 cache. The new CPU also comes in 65W i7-4790S (3.2 GHz) and 45W i7-4790T (2.7 GHz). The new desktop parts range in tray price from $45 to $303.

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Additionally, Intel is updating its mobile lineup by introducing 17 new chips. The refreshed lineup includes six Core i7s, four Core i5s, five Core i3s, one Pentium, and one Celeron CPU. The mobile parts range in tray price from $75 to $434. Like the desktop range, the mobile chips come in multiple low power TDP SKUs. Five of the new chips are quad cores while the rest are dual cores.

Intel’s new refreshed Haswell processors are reportedly coming early next month as part of the "Haswell Refresh Platform." The chips will fully support motherboards based on Intel’s upcoming LGA 1150 9-series chipsets, and the various motherboard manufactures appear to be hard at work getting their lineups ready. As a result, enthusiasts can expect to see the new chips and motherboards (using the H97 and Z97 chipsets) on store shelves soon.

If you have not already bought into Haswell, the refreshed lineup is worth waiting for.  if you are already running a Haswell-based system, upgrading to a refreshed Haswell CPU and H97 or Z97 motherboard makes much less sense. Instead, you should ride it out until Sky Lake or at least Broadwell (upgrade itch permitting, of course).

Your date with the Haswell refresh has been postponed

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2014 - 01:14 PM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell, i7-4790

If you have been anxiously awaiting the release of the new Core i7-4790 and 9-series of chipsets from Intel, you are going to be waiting a bit longer.  DigiTimes is reporting that the negative feedback from vendors has convinced them to delay releasing the new chip and chipset for another month.  This is likely due to the number of current generation Haswell chips, motherboards and systems stuck in the channel thanks that vendors are hoping will sell thanks to the EoL of WinXP.  The numbers from Gartner support their theory, the long downwards trend of PC sales has leveled off in the last quarter.  We can only hope that there will be discounts and sales towards the end of the month to help clean out the channel for the release of the new generation of Haswell processors.

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"Intel is set to launch its new Haswell Refresh processors and 9-series chipsets for desktops in early May, postponing the CPU giant's original schedule from April, according to sources from motherboard players."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

NAB 2014: Intel Iris Pro Support in Adobe Creative Cloud (CC)

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | April 8, 2014 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: Intel, NAB, NAB 14, iris pro, Adobe, premiere pro, Adobe CC

When Adobe started to GPU-accelerate their applications beyond OpenGL, it started with NVIDIA and its CUDA platform. After some period of time, they started to integrate OpenCL support and bring AMD into the fold. At first, it was limited to a couple of Apple laptops but has since expanded to include several GPUs on both OSX and Windows. Since then, Adobe switched to a subscription-based release system and has published updates on a more rapid schedule. The next update of Adobe Premiere Pro CC will bring OpenCL to Intel Iris Pro iGPUs.

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Of course, they specifically mentioned Adobe Premiere Pro CC which suggests that Photoshop CC users might be coming later. The press release does suggest that the update will affect both Mac and Windows versions of Adobe Premiere Pro CC, however, so at least platforms will not be divided. Well, that is, if you find a Windows machine with Iris Pro graphics. They do exist...

A release date has not been announced for this software upgrade.

Source: Intel