MWC 12: Android 5.0 this fall? Google drops sweet hints.

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 28, 2012 - 07:27 PM |
Tagged: MWC 12, Android 5.0, Android

Android Ice Cream Sandwich is currently getting rolled out to compatible devices at a leisurely pace. The OS itself is for the most part well appreciated by both developers and end-users. As the rollout progresses and minor maintenance patches are created: Google is looking forward to the next major version.

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Just get Ice Cream Sandwich and they already talking about the future. U Jelly? : D

ComputerWorld went out to Barcelona to check out Mobile World Congress and of course could not resist reporting on Android. In an interview with Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google VP of Engineering for Mobile, we are treated to a few indirect statements about the next major version of Android.

The major release timeframe for Android is said to continue to be an annual endeavor. An annual release schedule would slate Android J (5.0) to an autumn timeframe. During the discussion, Lockheimer noted that there is flexibility with when developers wish to roll out updated. While that personally sounds like Google is allowing OEMs and carriers to take as long as they desire to implement the new Android releases it appears as if ComputerWorld has heard rumors of Android 5-power phones appearing as early as summer.

Despite ComputerWorld’s best effort, Google would not confirm the dessert associated with Android 5. Best guesses point to the name Jelly Bean, which are supported by a glass jar of Jelly Beans on the show floor.

MWC 12: NVIDIA Roadmap Outlines Tegra's Future Including 4G and Die Shrink

Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2012 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: wayne, tegra 3, tegra, tablets, nvidia, MWC 12, mobile, grey

This year is a big one for smaller silicon manufacturing processes with Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge, and NVIDIA and AMD moving to 28nm GPU processes. According to a report on VR-Zone, NVIDIA is already planning their next move for Tegra, including a die shrink to 28nm.

They managed to get their hands on a road map (shown below) for NVIDIA's Tegra SoC (system on a chip) lineup that extends into 2013. With Tegra 3, NVIDIA began by sampling the chip to Asus and the Transformer Prime. After that success, other partners and devices are starting to pick up the mobile chip, and they expect the situation to be the same for future Tegra iterations.

They company allegedly taped out a Tegra 4 (T40) SoC at the end of December 2011, and is starting to sample it to OEM partners to find someone to do a Tegra 3 like launch, with one device/platform to debut first and others to follow in later months.

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The Tegra 4 chip is code named "Wayne" and will be comprised of multiple ARM Cortex A15 CPU cores and a new GPU on a 28nm process. The company alos plans to show off a dual core 28nm SoC that uses two Cortex A15 CPU cores, a revamped GPU, and an Icera 4G LTE radio at Mobile World Congress 2013 next year.

Further, the roadmap details a new Tegra 3 chip that is intended to be used with Windows on ARM powered notebooks and tablets. While the new Tegra 3 (T35) SoC will not be a die shrink, it will have higher clock speeds due to less restrictions placed on the maximum TDP (thermal design power) allowed for the devices. VR-Zone estimates that the T35 chips will run somewhere between 1.6 GHz and 1.7 GHz.

Currently there are some incompatibilities with Tegra and 4G LTE radios which has caused some LTE devices to go with Qualcomm SoCs, so it is good to see NVIDIA working on improving compatibility and then integrating the basebands into their future SoCs to rectify the issue.

As far as this year is concerned, we should see the updated Tegra 3 chip and a new version of Tegra 2 that integrates a Icera 4G LTE baseband. The Wayne and Grey chips will likely not be released until 2013 at the earliest. The expanded Tegra portfolio should help them to gain some market share, though exactly how much remains to be seen.

Source: VR-Zone

MWC 12: ASUS Unveils Infinity Tablets, Dockable Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2012 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: MWC, Transformer, tablet, padfone, mobile world congress, eee pad, asus, MWC 12, infinity, transformer prime

While attending CES last month, ASUS showed us a Transformer Prime with a full HD display. It looked great, but it did feel as if the branding would be a bit perplexing, as this new model would also be sold as a Prime.

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Apparently the company had this thought, as well. They’ve now unveiled the Transformer Pad Infinity Series, a new tablet with a 1920x1200 IPS+ display. It will come in two different variants. One is 4G LTE compatible and uses a Qualcomm MSM 8960 Snapdragon S4 Krait (whoa! Take a breath…) dual-core 1.5 GHz processor. The WiFi version, on the other hand, uses the now-familiar Nvidia Tegra 3. Both models have a 2MP front camera and an 8MP rear camera with LED flash. They also share the same 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage options. The Infinity Series will be available in the same Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold finishes already available on the current Transformer Prime.

(Editor's Note) If you are wondering why the LTE version of the new Transformer Infinity is not using the quad-core Tegra 3 SoC, we are hearing that the NVIDIA part is still not compatible with LTE radio controllers and won't be for another few months.  This is also why the new HTC One X smartphone doesn't use the Tegra 3 processor on the AT&T LTE network while other phones in the family do.  So will users of the LTE version of the Infinity miss the quad-core design when moving to the dual-core option from Qualcomm instead?  While we can't be sure, the new Krait design is a "wider" CPU with a better memroy interface yet still runs at similar clock speeds and it should be faster in single or lightly threaded programs.  

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This new flagship will slot above the Transformer Prime. But ASUS hasn’t just focused on the glitter and gold – they’ve also taken the wraps off the Transformer Pad 300, which is a new entry-level model. It features a 1280x800 IPS display and uses Tegra 3 in both the 4G LTE and WiFi models. The front camera is a 1.2MP unit and the rear camera is 8MP with LED flash. 16GB of internal storage is your only option. The 300 will offer new blue, white and red color schemes not yet available on any Transformer table

Both of these new models are Transformers, which means keyboard docks will be available as an option. They also include Android 4.0 and quote the same battery life of 10 hours without the dock.

Source: ASUS

MWC 12: Intel branded, Atom-powered smartphone to be sold by Orange

Subject: Mobile | February 26, 2012 - 08:06 PM |
Tagged: z2460, SoC, smartphone, orange, MWC 12, MWC, Intel, atom z2460

Reuters is reporting that European cell phone carrier Orange will be selling a reference design Medfield smartphone under the Intel brand name.  The Atom Z2460 SoC will find its first major distributor to be one of the world's largest service providers - this could potentially be a big opening for Intel in a market it desperately wants to compete for.

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I find it very interesting that not only has Intel developed a processor that has finally garnered attention for the mobile market but the team at Intel has built a reference design that was fine tuned enough to direct sell to consumers.  Will the company avoid becoming a typical, low margin SoC company by focusing on vertical implementations like this one?  It is an interesting thought and no other vendor has really done it, with possibly the exception of Samsung that owns the entire device process already.

Anandtech has the major specifications of the phone, codenamed "Santa Clara":

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These are basically identical to the reference design we saw at CES with only some minor changes to the form factor.  Ice Cream Sandwich isn't included out the gate but we are hoping the upgrade will get pushed soon since Intel showed ICS on the Atom SoC in January.

I haven't been able to find anything about availability or pricing yet but I'll be sure to report it when I find it.  The mobile market continues to intrigue...

Source: Reuters

MWC 12: NVIDIA Tegra 3 To Power Quad Core HTC One Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | February 26, 2012 - 04:35 PM |
Tagged: tegra 3, smartphone, quad core, nvidia, MWC 12, htc, Android

Earlier rumors suggested that the LG Optimus 4X HD would be the first quad core Tegra 3 powered smartphone; however, HTC and NVIDIA made an announcement today that shows that LG is not the only company showing off a Tegra 3 smartphone at Mobile World Congress 2012!

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NVIDIA announced in a press release today that their Tegra 3 mobile SoC would be powering the new HTC One X smartphone which is to be shown off at MWC 2012. According to HTC, the phone features 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of on-board storage to power the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) mobile OS on a 4.7" display with 1280x720 resolution. It further includes an 8 MP (megapixel) rear camera capable of 1080p video with stereo sound, a VGA resolution front camera for video conferencing and claimed 720p video, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, support for LTE 4G networks, and a 1,800 mAh battery.

Kouji Kodera, Chief Product Officer at HTC stated that "the HTC One X with Tegra 3 provides an experience that consumers will absolutely love." The HTC One X is the first smartphone that HTC and NVIDIA have worked together on.

The mobile market is advancing rather quickly, and Mobile World Congress 2012 is only just getting started!  Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more MWC 2012 announcements!

For the full press release, hit the read more link:

Source: HTC

MWC 12: Samsung to compete with Tegra on quad-core CPU

Subject: Processors, Mobile | February 26, 2012 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: tegra, Samsung, quad-core, MWC 12, MWC, exynos

While details are still sparse as we await the official start of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona tonight/tomorrow, it appears that Samsung plans to announce a new quad-core processor as part of its Exynos line.  It will be the first Samsung SoC based on 32nm technology rather than the 45nm currently in production and will be available in both quad- and dual-core variant.

According to the story over at Unwiredview it will be available in frequencies ranging from 200 MHz all the way up to 1.5 GHz while offering lower power consumption than current options.  I am curious how this actually stacks up though as we have seen that Tegra 3 doesn't REALLY offer lower power consumption and longer battery life even though that was a promise from NVIDIA.  It definitely can offer less power consumption per performance unit, but in the end battery life is king for these mobile devices.  

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What about graphics performance?  The story had this to say:

The new Exynos comes paired with the latest version of Samsung’s own graphics chip, which has 4 pixel processors and 1 geometry engine with 128 KB L2 cache. The graphics support OpenGL ES 2.0 and can generate up to 57 MPolygons/s.

Samsung claims that the new processor will offer 26% more performance compared to Exynos parts based on the 45nm process and I assume they are referring to dual-core vs dual-core results.  Other claims include battery life improvements of "up to 50%" - we'd love to see it but we'll wait for actual devices to ship and showcase it before really getting excited. 

The good news is that quad-core performance will be coming to more devices and NVIDIA won't be the only SoC designer on the block offering them.  The use-cases for quad-core performance on a mobile device, phone or tablet, may still be in question though we never doubt the software side of the equation to utilize as much horsepower as it is provided. 

Source: Unwiredview

MWC 12: TI OMAP5 will beat your A9 with its own two cores

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 25, 2012 - 07:06 PM |
Tagged: texas instruments, MWC 12, arm, A9, A15

Texas Instruments could not wait until Mobile World Congress to start throwing punches. Despite their recent financial problems resulting in the closure of two fabrication plants TI believes that their product should speak for itself. Texas Instruments recently released a video showing their dual-core OMAP5 processor based on the ARM Cortex-A15 besting a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 in rendering websites.

Chuck Norris joke.

Even with being at a two core disadvantage the 800 MHz OMAP5 processor was clocked 40 percent slower than the 1.3 GHz Cortex A9. The OMAP5 is said to be able to reach 2.5 GHz if necessary when released commercially.

Certain portions of the video did look a bit fishy however. Firstly, CNet actually loaded quicker on the A9 processor but it idled a bit before advancing to the second page. The A9 could have been stuck loading an object that the OMAP 5 did not have an issue with, but it does seem a bit weird.

About the fishiest part of the video is that the Quad-Core A9, which we assume to be a Tegra 3, is running on Honeycomb where the OMAP5 is running Ice Cream Sandwich.  Ice Cream Sandwich has been much enhanced for performance over Honeycomb.

We have no doubt that the ARM Cortex-A15 will be much improved over the current A9. The issue here is that TI cannot successfully prove that with this demonstration.

MWC 12: Lots of industry support for NVIDIA DirectTouch

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 24, 2012 - 06:18 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, DirectTouch, MWC 12

As a part of their Tegra 3 product, NVIDIA embedded the ability to control some of the touchscreen processing onto the CPU. The offloading allows for increased power efficiency by reducing the number of powered components as well as increased touch responsivity. Atmel, Cypress, and Synaptics are three leading touch-controller companies who join N-Trig, Raydium, and Focaltech in supporting the DirectTouch architecture.

Touchy subject, I know -- but...

Advancements in touch technology are definitely welcome especially when the words power efficiency or responsiveness are involved. Both NVIDIA and Intel have been looking for ways to reduce the number of electronics behind your phone or tablet. The less required to do the most the better we are. It is great to see NVIDIA taking the lead in innovation when it is needed the most.

While I do not mean to rain upon NVIDIA’s bright blue skies -- I must make a note. Despite the precision brought by high sample rate, there does appear to be quite a bit of latency between where his finger is and where the touch is reported. I would be curious to see where that latency occurs.

Of course this issue probably has nothing to do with NVIDIA. Videogames, particularly on consoles, are known to have latencies floating up to 100ms as the input device does not influence the frames being rendered often enough. The latency could come in from the touch device itself, from the software, the operating system, and/or whatever else.

We do not know where the latency occurs, but I expect that whoever crushes it will have a throne awaiting them somewhere in Silicon Valley.

Source: NVIDIA Blogs

MWC 12: LG gives Mozilla Marketplace a try to boot to Gecko?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 24, 2012 - 04:29 PM |
Tagged: MWC 12, mozilla, B2G, LG

Mozilla will show off their marketplace for web apps at Mobile World Congress 2012. Mozilla Marketplace will support the upcoming Boot to Gecko (B2G) operating system for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It is rumored that they will announce LG as a partner to develop either a tablet or a phone for developers of the B2G platform.

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I ~ <3 Paypal... I guess.

Mozilla Marketplace will be a store where developers can distribute and sell their applications based upon HTML 5, Javascript, and CSS. The marketplace will support both free and paid apps with a variety of terms. Developers can have their users paid for the app up front, within the app for microtransactions, within the app for demo unlock, on a subscription basis (not yet implemented), or by donations.

Paypal has been announced as the payment processor for the Mozilla Marketplace. Paypal is not universally adored although we can understand why Mozilla would need to use an existing package. Prices are locked to one of 30 tiers so pricing is not entirely flexible but does run the gamut from 99-cents to $50 as well as of course free.

Hopefully we will get more details about Boot to Gecko or the Mozilla-powered LG phone at MWC in the coming days.

Source: Extremetech