ASUS Unveils the Prime, the World's First Quad-Core Android Tablet

Subject: Mobile | November 9, 2011 - 01:00 AM |
Tagged: tegra 3, tegra, tablet, quad-core, kal-el, eee pad, asus, Android

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ASUS Eee Pad Prime

Rumors have been swirling around the ASUS Prime tablet and dock, successors to the popular ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, for months. Today, many of those rumors can rest, as ASUS has taken the wraps off the tablet's official specifications. 

The big story for enthusiasts is the tablet’s NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor. Provided that the product makes its anticipated December release (the exact date has yet to be announced), this will be the first tablet to hit the market with Tegra 3 as well as the first Android tablet to sport a quad-core.  You can read some more details that Ryan discussed about Tegra 3 and its five (5?!?) cores, by checking out this post from September.

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NVIDIA Kal-El / Tegra 3 Processor

As the follow-up to the Transformer, the Prime offers many of the same features including the keyboard dock. However, the Prime is improved across the board. The tablet is just 8.3 millimeters thin, making it the thinnest tablet on the market (the next thinnest is the 8.6mm Galaxy Tab 10.1, while the iPad 2 is 8.8mm). Weight has been reduced to 586 grams (1.29 lbs), down from 680. The rear-facing camera now sports an 8MP sensor, the battery in both the tablet and the optional dock is slightly larger, and base storage is now 32GB, with a 64GB model available as an optional upgrade. Even the display has been improved via a new brightness enhancement function that promises to make the tablet easier to use in sunlight.

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Even the design has been upgraded. Unlike the Transformer, which has a plastic back, the Prime has a “spun metallic” finish. It will be available in amethyst gray and champagne gold.  

The battery tests from ASUS put the Prime at 12 hours of life on its own and 18 hours with the keyboard dock while playing back 720p video with all ports enabled and the screen brightness at 60 nits. 

Despite all of these improvements, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer will not be going away. In fact, it will be remaining at its current price. Instead, the Prime is entering the market as a “premium” product built to compete directly with the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1. The base Prime model with 32GBs of storage is $499, while the 64GB model is $599. As with the original, purchasing the optional keyboard dock will set you back another $149.

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ASUS claims that the Prime will in fact ship with Android 3.2 in its initial release with an over-the-air updated to 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) as soon as it has been "optimized, tested and approved".  They weren't willing to put a date or time frame on that release but they are planning on using the 4.0 OS revision at the launch event coming in December; that seems to indicate to us we may have it in time for CES in January 2012. 

When PC Perspective reviewed the Transformer, I called it “the best Android tablet on the market today.” The thinner, lighter, more powerful Prime should be a significant improvement to an already excellent product. My only concerns were with the dock itself, which was sometimes finicky and added a fair amount of bulk. It’ll be interesting to see if the Prime can address those concerns.

PR ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime front Amethyst Gray.jpg

Source: ASUS

Asus Releasing Two Windows 8, Two Android Tablets Next Year

Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2011 - 08:25 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, tablet, software, kal-el, hardware, Android

With Asus’ previous tablets being a success, the company has decided to push forward with four new tablets that are slated to debut next year. The new tablets will join the ranks of the Transformer and soon to be released Transformer Prime tablets under the Asus Eee Pad lineup. Of the four new devices, two tablets will be running Google’s Android OS (Operating System) while the remaining two tablets will run Microsoft’s Windows 8 OS.

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The two tablets running Android are slated for release in the first quarter of 2012. While Asus has not released any specific hardware specifications, they will likely be powered by the quad core Nvidia Kal-El ARM processor like the upcoming Asus Transformer Prime (or the Kal-El’s successor).

On the other hand, quarter 3 of 2012 will see the release of two tablets running Windows 8. Interestingly, Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors are also supposed to launch in 2012, which would make for a nice match of technology.  Whether we'll see Ivy Bridge powered tablets; however, will depend on how soon Ivy Bridge launches and how quickly Asus can turn around and roll out a product designed around it.

The marketing speak in the above slides indicates that at least the marketing department is excited about the prospect of what they have dubbed hero products. They are striving to win mind share and achieve a “perfect” product. Whether they will achieve that or not remains to be seen; however, having more Windows 8 tablets isn’t a bad thing! More information can be had here.

Are you still holding out for your “perfect” tablet, and if so what are you looking/waiting to see from a tablet?

Source: Softpedia

Podcast #171 - X79 Motherboard Show and Tell, a 5th Core in NVIDIA's Kal-El, Weekly News, Viewer Questions and more!

Subject: Editorial | September 22, 2011 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: x79, sandy bridge-e, podcast, nvidia, kal-el, Intel, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #171 - 9/22/2011

Join us this week as we have a X79 Motherboard Show and Tell, a 5th Core in NVIDIA's Kal-El, Weekly News, Viewer Questions 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, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:13:36

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:36 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. Stay Tuned for a contest!!
  6. 0:02:05 X79 Show and Tell!
  7. 0:13:00 NVIDIA Reveals a 5th CPU Core in Upcoming Kal-El Tegra SoC
  8. 0:24:33 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  9. 0:25:47 IDF 2011: Intel Many Integrated Core (MIC) Knights Corner
  10. 0:28:12 IDF 2011: Knights Ferry Shown 8-Deep Running Ray Tracing
  11. 0:31:15 Corsair is a vengeful beast: K90, the (Black)Widow’s maker?
  12. 0:37:58 Corsair Returns With A Vengeance (Line Of Gaming Headsets)
  13. 0:39:00 This newcomer to SSDs holds a new iteration of a familiar controller
  14. 0:45:00 New Intel Core i7 2700K Revealed In MDDS Will Take Top Spot In Company Lineup
  15. 0:47:11 Kepler has arrived ... sort of
  16. 0:51:13 Email from Pete about Windows 8 and SSDs
  17. 0:56:00 Email from Nabokovfan87
  18. 1:02:00 Email from Rahul about Ultrabooks
  19. 1:04:00 Win a Free Drobo Storage Device at PC Perspective!!
  20. 1:04:52 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Gorillapod
    2. Jeremy: Ray Tracing ain't dead  fine, ruin my pick then  Cartel
    3. Josh: Looks very interesting:  http://shopping1.hp.com/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/WFS/WW-USSMBPublicStore-Site/en_US/-/USD/ViewProductDetail-Start?ProductUUID=UUIQ7EN5PMEAAAEyle0CBwpd&CatalogCategoryID=yP4Q7EN5.w0AAAEu6fw.zwd2
    4. Allyn: VMWare 8
  21. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  22. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  23. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  24. Closing

Source:
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA
Tagged: vsmp, tegra, nvidia, kal-el

Kal-El Tegra SoC to use 5 cores

Recent news from NVIDIA has unveiled some interesting new technical details about the upcoming Kal-El ARM-based Tegra SoC.  While we have known for some time that this chip would include a quad-core processor and would likely be the first ARM-based quad-core part on the market, NVIDIA's Matt Wuebbling spilled the beans on a new technology called "Variable SMP" (vSMP) and a fifth core on the die.

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An updated diagram shows the fifth "companion" core - Courtesy NVIDIA

This patented technology allows the upcoming Tegra processor to address a couple of key issues that affect smartphones and tablets: standby power consumption and manufacturing process deviations.  Even though all five of the cores on Kal-El are going to be based on the ARM Cortex A9 design they will have very different power characteristics due to variations in the TSMC 40nm process technology that builds them.  Typical of most foundries and process technologies, TSMC has both a "high performance" and a "low power" derivative of the 40nm technology usually aimed at different projects.  The higher performing variation will run at faster clock speeds but will also have more transistor leakages thus increasing overall power consumption.  The low power option does just the opposite: lowers the frequency ceiling while using less power at idle and usage states.  

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CPU power and performance curves - Courtesy NVIDIA

NVIDIA's answer to this dilemma is to have both - a single A9 core built on the low power transistors and quad A9s built on the higher performing transistors.  The result is the diagram you saw at the top of this story with a quad-core SoC with a single ARM-based "companion."  NVIDIA is calling this strategy Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing and using some integrated hardware tricks it is able to switch between operating on the lower power core OR one to four of the higher power cores.  The low power process will support operating frequencies up to only 500 MHz while the high speed process transistors will be able to hit well above 1-1.2 GHz. 

Keep reading for more on the 5-core quad-core Kal-El SoC from NVIDIA!!

Asus May Launch a Kal-El Powered Transformer Tablet This Year

Subject: General Tech | August 3, 2011 - 08:20 AM |
Tagged: tablet, nvidia, kal-el, asus

As Superman fans well know, Kal-El is faster than a speeding bullet, and NVIDIA’s new Tegra 3 Kal-El chip is no different. We reported on a demonstration of the Kal-El chip running games with dynamic lighting and realistic cloth physics earlier this year, and it is certainly an impressive mobile chip.

Speaking of “impressive,” Asus’ chairman Jonney Shih was quoted by Forbes recently in stating that the upcoming Transformer 2 device would be “impressive.” While Shih was not able to share any details about the device in question, he did mention that Asus will be unveiling new tablets before the end of this year. With the NVIDIA Kal-El chip set to launch this month, the timing is certainly favorable for a quad core Transformer 2.

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The Transformer 1, will the second iteration have even more oomph?

Of all the Android tablets, the Transformer has been one of the most well recieved; therefore, it seems likely that Asus would pursue another iteration of the device.  Whether that device will be powered by the Tegra 3 chip is still uncertain, however.  Do you think the rumor of a quad core Transformer is likely, or is this something that is "too good to be true?"

Source: Forbes

Rumor: More details on Amazon tablets, yes: plural

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 18, 2011 - 05:05 PM |
Tagged: tegra, nvidia, kal-el, amazon

At the beginning of the month we reported that Amazon seems to be moving into the tablet space with an order for hundreds of thousands of touchscreens per month. There is now more evidence that the Kindle manufacturer is looking specifically to do an Android tablet due to the processors rumored to be included. We think you will be smiling very soon.

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Roadrunner Stew: Water, Roadrunner, Diced Apple 

According to a source from Boy Genius Report: Amazon will be releasing two tablets potentially as earlier as second-half 2011. Their entry-level model, “Coyote”, will contain an NVIDIA dual-core Tegra 2 which for those following the tablet space knows that is not an entry-level part. Their higher-up model, "Hollywood", is said to contain NVIDIA’s upcoming Kal-El, the quad-core successor to the Tegra 2 with an integrated GPU reportedly 5-fold faster than those found on the Tegra 2.
 
It should be noted that an entry-level tablet for Amazon does not necessarily suggest what price Amazon would be aiming for. Amazon could still have their Kindle line as their true entry-level product which would allow them to skip straight to the higher performing Tegra 2 and Kal-El parts for their actual tablet line as they could point to the Kindle for those who want less than a Tegra 2. So if you happen to be looking for an Android tablet and can wait a few months you might wish to hold off and see what wily Amazon is cooking up.
Source: PCMag