Samsung Launches Galaxy S5 Flagship Smartphone With Improved Hardware Running Android 4.4.2 KitKat

Subject: General Tech | February 26, 2014 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 801, Samsung, qualcomm, galaxy s5, adreno 330

Samsung officially unveiled the Galaxy S5 smartphone at Mobile World Congress earlier this week. Packing evolutionary updates over the S4, the new flagship handset will be available in 150 countries on April 11th for an undisclosed price (expect it to cost around $800 unlocked with unsubsidized versions available from the major carriers).

The Galaxy S5 is slightly bulkier than its predecessor at 142 x 72.5 x 8.1mm and 145 grams. Despite this, the general look and feel of the smartphone remains unchanged, with rounded edges, a front dominated by a massive 5.1” 1080p Super AMOLED display (along with a 2MP webccam and a fingerprint reader) and a leather-esque texturized backplate hosting a 16MP rear camera. The device uses a covered micro USB 3.0 port and a gasket between the back cover and internals to achieve dustproof and water resistant ratings. The physical size upgrade is accompanyied by new color options (blue, white, gold, or black), updated internals, improved cameras, software tweaks, and a new fingerprint reader.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Charcoal Black.jpg

Connectivity includes a headphone jack, micro USB 3.0 port, and a slew of wireless radios including NFC, Category 4 LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and a IR transmitter.

Internally, the Samsung Galaxy S5 packs a respectable bit of hardware. Notably, Samsung decided to use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor over its own Exynos 5 Octa chip in the US (an upcoming variant of which may be used in some markets, but not the US version). This SoC is a quad core clocked at 2.5GHz with Adreno 330 graphics clocked at 578MHz. For comparison, the US Galaxy S4 used a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 SoC clocked at 1.89GHz with Adreno 320 graphics. Note that international versions will use an upcoming variant of the Exynos 5 Octa 5422 versus the Exynos 5 5410 in the Galaxy S4.

That boils down to a clockspeed bump in CPU and graphics for the North American Galaxy S5 and a clockspeed (GPU and CPU) bump and the ability to utilize all eight big.LITTLE cores simultaneously instead of only the four Cortex-A15 or four Cortex-A7 cores at a time as in the S4. Nothing mind blowing, but the new phone will see at least a slight performance boost as a result of the incremental upgrade.

Beyond the core SoC, the Galaxy S5 features 2GB of RAM, either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, and support for up to 128GB of expandable microSD card storage. A slightly more capacious 2,800 mAh battery powers the smartphone.

  Galaxy S5 Galaxy S4
Display 5.1" 1080p Super AMOLED 5" 1080p Super AMOLED
Processor (SoC) - US version Snapdragon 801 @ 2.5GHz Snapdragon 600 @ 1.9GHz or Snapdragon 800 @ 2.3GHz in later models
Processor (SoC) - International version Exynos 5 Octa 5422 Exynos 5 Octa 5410
Graphics (SoC integrated) - US version Adreno 330 Adreno 320
RAM 2GB 2GB
Storage 16GB or 32GB + 128GB SD 16GB or 32GB + 64GB SD
Battery Capacity 2800mAh 2600mAh
Dimensions 142 x 72.5 x 8.1mm 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm
Weight 145 grams 130 grams

The Galaxy S5 will come with the Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system and a toned-down TouchWiz user interface. Samsung has scaled back the TouchWiz UI and pre-installed applications with the S5 which is a welcome change in the right direction. Further, the camera application now allows selective focus that can be adjusted after the shot has been taken as well as other photo modes that have been made more obvious and easier to access than on the S4. Speaking of cameras, the front-facing camera is a mere 2MP, but the rear camera (with LED flash) is an impressive 16MP model capable of recording UHD video and HDR video and stills.

The Galaxy S5 is now official, and I have been letting the specifications sink in. It is true that the smartphone is at best an evolutionary upgrade over the S4 rather than the revolutionary flagship some might have been expecting. However, I argue that the S5 is a fine device that features just enough useful tweaks over its predecessor to make it a worthwhile purchase. If you were unable to wait out the S5 and recently picked up an S4 for a good price, it will be difficult to justify an upgrade to the new flagship, but if you are coming in fresh from an even older smartphone now that your contract is up for renewal or looking to add a new line it looks to be a solid high performance Android phone.

What do you think, will you be picking up the Galaxy S5 or going with something else?

Source: Samsung

MWC 2014: Qualcomm Snapdragon 610 and 615 are 64-bit, 8-core with LTE

Subject: Processors, Mobile | February 24, 2014 - 05:30 PM |
Tagged: snapdrdagon 615, snapdragon 610, snapdragon 410, snapdragon, qualcomm, MWC 14, MWC, adreno 405, adreno

Intel, Mediatek and Allwinner have all come out with new SoC announcements at Mobile World Congress and Qualcomm is no different.  By far the most interesting release is what it calls the "first commercial" 64-bit Octa-Core chipset with integrated global LTE support.  The list of features and technologies included on the chipset is impressive.  

The Snapdragon 615 integrates 8 x ARM Cortex-A53 cores that opterate on the newer 64-bit ARMv8 architecture while supporting 32-bit for backwards compatibility.  Qualcomm is not using a custom designed CPU core for this chipset but the company has stated it will have its own custom 64-bit core sometime in 2015.  This 8-core model is divided into a pair of quad-core clusters that will be tuned to different clock speed and power levels, offering the ability to run slightly more efficiently than would be possible with all cores tuned to the highest performance.

snapdragon.jpg

Snapdragon 610 is essentially the same design but is limited to a quad-core, single cluster setup.  

Both of these parts will integrate the Qualcomm custom built Adreno 405 GPU that brings a DX11 class feature set, along with OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenCL 1.2.  The Adreno 405 performance is still unknown but it should be able to compete with the likes of PowerVR's Series6 used in the Apple A7 and Intel Merrifield parts.  Quad HD resolutions are supported up to 2560x1600 and Miracast integration enables wireless display.  H.265 hardware decode acceleration also found its way into the 615/610.

Connectivity features of the Snapdragon 615/610 include 802.11ac wireless as well as the company's 3rd generation LTE modem.  Category 4 and carrier aggregation are optional.

Qualcomm has publicly stated that the move to 8-core processors with software lacking the capability to manage them properly was a poor decision.  But it would appear that the "core race" has infected just about everyone.

Check out the full details in the press release after the break!!

It really has been a busy year for CPU reviews

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2013 - 03:00 PM |
Tagged: 2013, amd, nvidia, Intel, arm, qualcomm

2013 has been an incredible year and when looking at The Inquirer's look back on the releases of this year it is hard to believe that all of these releases took place in 12 short months.  Haswell and Richland were the only two traditional CPU architecture updates for high powered desktop applications which stymied the enthusiasm of some gamers but the real star of 2013 was low powered silicon.  ARM has always held strong in this market and celebrated several major releases such as 28nm dual core Cortex A15s and Qualcomm's raising of the bar on mobile graphics with the dual-core and quad-core Snapdragon 400 chips but they lost market share to three newcomers to the low powered market.  NVIDIA's quad-core Tegra 4 SoC arrived with decent performance and graphics improvements compared to their previous generation and allowed the release of the Shield which has helped them become more than a GPU company that is also dipping its toes into the HPC market.   AMD announced the G series of SoCs for industrial applications with a TDP in the neighbourhood of 6W as well as Temash which will power next generation tablets and hybrid mobile devices but it was really Intel that shone brightest at the low end.  Bay Trail has completely reversed the perception of Atom from a product that is not really good at anything to an impressive low powered chip that provides impressive performance for small mobile devices and might find its self a role in the server room as well.  That only scratches the top layer of silicon, click over for more of the year in review.

SiliconCroda.jpg

"While Intel and AMD battled out their ongoing war, Nvidia took the stage to announce its latest Tegra 4 system on a chip (SoC), a quad-core chip with a significant graphics boost. The firm did its best to play down the fact that its Tegra 4 has the same CPU core count as its previous-generation Tegra 3, and instead it focused on GPU performance, an area where the Tegra 3 was starting to look dated against newer chips from rivals such as Samsung."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Qualcomm tries to play matchmaker between Samsung Electronics and Globalfoundries

Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2013 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Samsung, TSMC

Qualcomm is looking to diversify their supply chain and move away from dependence on TSMC and their 28nm node.  They have some qualifications for their suitor to meet and being one of the larger customers means that they just might get it.  Their requirement is for the rumoured Samsung and GLOBALFOUNDRIES partnership to become stable and for Samsung to use GF as a sub-contractor to make chips for Apple.  If you believe all the hints we are getting the partnership could grow and it would give Qualcomm a supplier who is financially stable and still has enough free resources to fab Qualcomm's chips in the desired volume.  This is the news out of DigiTimes this morning.

qualcomm.jpg

"Qualcomm reportedly hopes Samsung Electronics and Globalfoundries can form an alliance, as the fabless IC vendor seeks to reduce its reliance on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) for its advanced chips, according to industry sources."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Nokia Lumia 1520 With Windows Phone 8 GDR3 Launching September 26th

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2013 - 05:47 AM |
Tagged: windows phone 8, snapdragon 800, qualcomm, pureview, nokia, lumia 1520

There have been rumors floating around the Internet concerning a new Nokia Lumia-series smartphone running the latest version of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 GDR3 operating system. Called the Nokia Lumia 1520, the 6-inch smartphone will reportedly be announced at an event in New York on September 26.

The Lumia 1520 features a similar aesthetic to the existing Lumia phones, including beveled edges and a polycarbonate body. The 6-inch smartphone is dominated by a large 1080p display on the front and a PureView camera on the rear capable of taking simultaneous 5MP (supersampled) and 16MP photos.

Nokia Lumia 1520 Windows Phone 8 GDR3 Smartphone Snapdragon 800.png

Twitter user @evleaks suggests that the smartphone is coming on September 26th.

Internally, the Lumia 1520 is powered by a 28nm HPm Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC with four Krait 400 CPU cores clocked at up to 2.3 GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU, and 4G LTE modem. Other specifications include 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and a microSD card slot for adding additional storage space.

Nokia Lumia 1520 Windows Phone 8 GDR3 Smartphone Snapdragon 800 Compared to Sony Xperia.png

The rumored Lumia 1520 compared to a Sony Xperia handset. Via The Verge.

On the software side of things, Nokia is using Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 GDR3 operating system and adding their own Bittersweet shimmer firmware on top. The new firmware adds improved multitasking, custom ringtones, a driving mode that silences calls and text messages when connected to a car via Bluetooth, and an additional column of live tiles on the Start screen among other features.

In all, the Lumia 1520 looks to be an impressive bit of kit, especially for a Windows Phone smartphone. Considering Windows Phone at least seems to be more efficient than the other mobile operating systems (it is able to do more with less hardware in terms of user interface and OS performance), the new Nokia smartphone – with beefy hardware similar to high end Android phones – should be quite speedy!

The device is rumored to be announced on September 26, 2013 where the specifications and pricing should be officially revealed. Hopefully the phone is as powerful as the rumors suggest!

Source: CNet

D-Link DGL-5500 Dual Band 802.11ac Gaming Router Available Now For $200

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2013 - 11:50 PM |
Tagged: wireless router, qualcomm, gigabit router, dual band, dgl-5500, D-Link, 802.11ac

Earlier this year, D-Link launched a new 802.11ac wireless router called the DGL-5500 that featured specialized Quality of Service (QoS) designed for gamers. The DGL-5500 is a black cylindrical piece of networking kit measuring 9.8” x 6.5” x 2.8”.

The D-Link DGL-5500 is comprised of a four port Gigabit Ethernet switch, dual band wireless access point supporting 802.11a/b/g/n/ac on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, Gigabit WAN port, a single USB 2.0 port for drive sharing, and D-Link’s custom firmware that provides routing, firewall, and QoS functionality. The QoS engine is powered by a Qualcomm developed technology called StreamBoost which optimizes traffic on both an application and device basis. The wireless router is further able to download application profiles from the Internet that are used to automatically configure the QoS' traffic shaping priorities for those apps.

D-Link DGL-5500.png

D-Link is rating the wireless throughput of the DGL-5500 router at 450 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 867 Mbps on the 5GHz band. Please note that D-Link brands the router as AC1300 but in practice users will not see 1300mbps throughput (to a single device) as you cannot combine both bands. You can use both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands for various devices on your network and get a sort-of total network throughput (between router and multiple devices on both bands), however, which is where the “AC1300” and various Gigabit wireless marketing terms come from (D-Link is not alone in using terms that add up the two bands, even though a single device can’t hit that throughput figure).

D-Link DGL-5500 Rear IO Gigabit Switch.png

The D-Link DGL-5500 is available now in the United States from D-Link and various retailers for a MSRP of $200. For example, Amazon, Newegg, and Tiger Direct all have the 802.11ac router listed for $199.99 (although it is currently out of stock on Amazon).

Source: D-Link

Qualcomm works out their ARMs and not their core?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Mobile | August 3, 2013 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, Intel, mediatek, arm

MediaTek, do you even lift?

According to a Taiwan Media Roundtable transcript, discovered by IT World, Qualcomm has no interest, at least at the moment, in developing an octo-core processor. MediaTek, their competitor, recently unveiled an eight core ARM System on a Chip (SoC) which can be fully utilized. Most other mobile SoCs with eight cores function as a fast quad-core and a slower, but more efficient, quad-core processor with the most appropriate chosen for the task.

qualcomm.png

Anand Chandrasekher of Qualcomm believes it is desperation.

So, I go back to what I said: it's not about cores. When you can't engineer a product that meets the consumers' expectations, maybe that’s when you resort to simply throwing cores together. That is the equivalent of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks. That's a dumb way to do it and I think our engineers aren't dumb.

The moderator, clearly amused by the reaction, requested a firm clarification that Qualcomm will not launch an octo-core product. A firm, but not clear, response was given, "We don't do dumb things". Of course they would not commit to swearing off eight cores for all eternity, at some point they may find core count to be their bottleneck, but that is not the case for the moment. They will also not discuss whether bumping the clock rate is the best option or whether they should focus on graphics performance. He is just assured that they are focused on the best experience for whatever scenario each product is designed to solve.

And he is assured that Intel, his former employer, still cannot catch them. As we have discussed in the past: Intel is a company that will spend tens of billions of dollars, year over year, to out-research you if they genuinely want to play in your market. Even with his experience at Intel, he continues to take them lightly.

We don't see any impact from any of Intel's claims on current or future products. I think the results from empirical testers on our products that are currently shipping in the marketplace is very clear, and across a range of reviewers from Anandtech to Engadget, Qualcomm Snapdragon devices are winning both on experience as well as battery life. What our competitors are claiming are empty promises and is not having an impact on us.

Qualcomm has a definite lead, at the moment, and may very well keep ahead through Bay Trail. AMD, too, kept a lead throughout the entire Athlon 64 generation and believed they could beat anything Intel could develop. They were complacent, much as Qualcomm sounds currently, and when Intel caught up AMD could not float above the sheer volume of money trying to drown them.

Then again, even if you are complacent, you may still be the best. Maybe Intel will never get a Conroe moment against ARM.

Your thoughts?

Source: IT World

Epic Intel vs Qualcomm Battle to the Death... WiFi Adapters...

Subject: General Tech, Networking | August 1, 2013 - 09:43 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, killer, Intel, 802.11n

Another BigFoot sighting...

PCWorld compared an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 to a Qualcomm Killer Wireless-N 1202 using two distinct benchmarks. The first of the tests, a ping and jitter assessment written by Qualcomm, claimed a significant win (2ms vs Intel's 4-8ms) for Killer between laptop and router. The second test measured bandwidth where Qualcomm matched or sometimes doubled Intel's performance except in close range 5GHz scenarios; Intel won, in those cases, by about a factor of two.

killer-logo.png

Of course, a difference of 2-to-6ms is low for online games. I would imagine those who are genuinely concerned about latency, especially during a LAN Party, would not settle for any form of wireless solution much less plan ahead for it. That could be just my perspective, however; I almost never consider Wi-Fi adapters because I will immediately hunt for an Ethernet jack.

That said, Qualcomm is apparently selling these adapters for prices very comparable to Intel. According to these benchmarks, grains of salt added to taste, Killer would not be a downgrade for a gaming device and should be considered if presented to you. The only time it clearly lost is high speed data transfers at 5GHz less than 10 feet away.

Seriously, Ethernet, keep one in your laptop bag. Magic.

If curious about a purchase, check out the benchmarks (or just skip 802.11n and look for 802.11ac or .11ad equipment); if curious for entertainment, check out Ryan's review of the original, wired, Killer NIC.

Source: PCWorld

Google Rolls Out Updated Nexus 7 With Android 4.3 And Better Hardware

Subject: Mobile | July 26, 2013 - 03:29 AM |
Tagged: Snapdragon S4 Pro, qualcomm, nexus 7, google, asus, android 4.3

Google recently launched an updated version of its Android-powered Nexus 7 tablet. The existing Nexus 7 will be discontinued and replaced by three new Nexus 7 SKUs. The updated tablets are slightly thinner and lighter, come with improved hardware specifications, and will come with Google’s latest Android 4.3 “Jelly Bean” operating system.

The updated Nexus 7 features a 7” touchscreen display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 which works out to 323 pixels per inch (PPI) and front-facing HD webcam on the front of the device. The back of the tablet hosts a 5MP camera and a smooth soft touch cover. A micro USB port is located on the bottom edge. Google has added stereo speakers located on the top and bottom of the tablet.

Updated Google Nexus 7 Android Jelly Bean Tablet.jpg

Internal specifications include a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor clocked at 1.5GHz, 2GB of RAM, and either 16GB or 32GB of storage depending on the specific SKU. There is no SD card slot on the Nexus 7, unfortunately. Additionally, the Nexus 7 will support 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, Bluetooth 4.0, and Qi wireless charging. Google will have both Wi-Fi only and LTE models, with the latter coming with 32GB of internal storage and a 4G LTE cellular radio compatible with all the major US carriers.

The chart below compares the specifications of the original Nexus 7 to the updated Nexus 7 tablet.

  New Nexus 7 Original Nexus 7
Display 1920 x 1200 1280 x 800
Height 7.9" 7.81"
Depth/thickness 0.3" 0.41"
Weight 11.2 oz 12 oz
Processor Quad core Snapdragon S4 Pro @ 1.5GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (4+1)
RAM 2GB 1GB
Internal Storage Options 16GB or 32GB 16GB or 32GB
Wireless Radio Options Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz), BT, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi (2.4GHz), BT, and 3G/HSPA+21
OS Android 4.3 Android 4.1
Starting MSRP $229 (16GB) $249 (16GB)

Google has continued its partnership with Asus and worked with the hardware company to develop the updated Nexus 7 tablets.

The Nexus 7 will be available in the US starting on July 30. It will be rolled out to other countries over the next few weeks including Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Germany, UK, South Korea, and Spain among others.

The 16GB Wi-Fi only model has an MSRP of $229 while the 32GB Wi-Fi only model has an MSRP of $269. Finally, the Nexus 7 with 32GB of storage and 4G LTE modem will cost $349.

In all, I think Google has another winner on its hands with the updated Nexus 7.
 

Source: Google
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

NVIDIA Finally Gets Serious with Tegra

Tegra has had an interesting run of things.  The original Tegra 1 was utilized only by Microsoft with Zune.  Tegra 2 had a better adoption, but did not produce the design wins to propel NVIDIA to a leadership position in cell phones and tablets.  Tegra 3 found a spot in Microsoft’s Surface, but that has turned out to be a far more bitter experience than expected.  Tegra 4 so far has been integrated into a handful of products and is being featured in NVIDIA’s upcoming Shield product.  It also hit some production snags that made it later to market than expected.

I think the primary issue with the first three generations of products is pretty simple.  There was a distinct lack of differentiation from the other ARM based products around.  Yes, NVIDIA brought their graphics prowess to the market, but never in a form that distanced itself adequately from the competition.  Tegra 2 boasted GeForce based graphics, but we did not find out until later that it was comprised of basically four pixel shaders and four vertex shaders that had more in common with the GeForce 7800/7900 series than it did with any of the modern unified architectures of the time.  Tegra 3 boasted a big graphical boost, but it was in the form of doubling the pixel shader units and leaving the vertex units alone.

kepler_smx.jpg

While NVIDIA had very strong developer relations and a leg up on the competition in terms of software support, it was never enough to propel Tegra beyond a handful of devices.  NVIDIA is trying to rectify that with Tegra 4 and the 72 shader units that it contains (still divided between pixel and vertex units).  Tegra 4 is not perfect in that it is late to market and the GPU is not OpenGL ES 3.0 compliant.  ARM, Imagination Technologies, and Qualcomm are offering new graphics processing units that are not only OpenGL ES 3.0 compliant, but also offer OpenCL 1.1 support.  Tegra 4 does not support OpenCL.  In fact, it does not support NVIDIA’s in-house CUDA.  Ouch.

Jumping into a new market is not an easy thing, and invariably mistakes will be made.  NVIDIA worked hard to make a solid foundation with their products, and certainly they had to learn to walk before they could run.  Unfortunately, running effectively entails having design wins due to outstanding features, performance, and power consumption.  NVIDIA was really only average in all of those areas.  NVIDIA is hoping to change that.  Their first salvo into offering a product that offers features and support that is a step above the competition is what we are talking about today.

Continue reading our article on the NVIDIA Kepler architecture making its way to mobile markets and Tegra!