Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 5, 2014 - 08:28 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, nvidia, microsoft, Intel, gdc 14, GDC, DirectX 12, amd
The announcement of DirectX 12 has been given a date and time via a blog post on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) blogs. On March 20th at 10:00am (I assume PDT), a few days into the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, the upcoming specification should be detailed for attendees. Apparently, four GPU manufacturers will also be involved with the announcement: AMD, Intel, NVIDIA, and Qualcomm.
As we reported last week, DirectX 12 is expected to target increased hardware control and decreased CPU overhead for added performance in "cutting-edge 3D graphics" applications. Really, this is the best time for it. Graphics processors are mostly settled into highly-efficient co-processors of parallel data, with some specialized logic for geometry and video tasks. A new specification can relax the needs of video drivers and thus keep the GPU (or GPUs, in Mantle's case) loaded and utilized.
But, to me, the most interesting part of this announcement is the nod to Qualcomm. Microsoft values DirectX as leverage over other x86 and ARM-based operating systems. With Qualcomm, clearly Microsoft believes that either Windows RT or Windows Phone will benefit from the API's next version. While it will probably make PC gamers nervous, mobile platforms will benefit most from reducing CPU overhead, especially if it can be spread out over multiple cores.
Honestly, that is fine by me. As long as Microsoft returns to treating the PC as a first-class citizen, I do not mind them helping mobile, too. We will definitely keep you up to date as we know more.
Subject: General Tech | February 26, 2014 - 03:45 PM | Tim Verry
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.
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|
|Storage||16GB or 32GB + 128GB SD||16GB or 32GB + 64GB SD|
|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?
Subject: Processors, Mobile | February 24, 2014 - 05:30 PM | Ryan Shrout
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 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.
Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2013 - 03:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- Goodbye, consoles @ The Tech Report
- Intel Releases A Boatload Of Haswell Documentation @ Phoronix
- Apple’s Newest Mac Pro Costs Less than DIY PC Build… Thanks to AMD @ Techgage
- Open-Source AMD Radeon Graphics Had A Wonderful 2013 @ Phoronix
- BlackBerry CEO John Chen: Y'know what, we'll go back to enterprise stuff @ The Register
- Joke no more: Comedy virty currency Dogecoin gets real in big Xmas heist @ The Register
- Rollei S-50 Wi-Fi Nitro Circus Live Limited Edition Action Camera @ NikKTech
- How To Fix Whatsapp Chat History Corruption @ Tech ARP
- KitGuru Annual Hardware Awards 2013
- Pittasoft BlackVue DR550GW-2CH Car Dashcam @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2013 - 12:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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 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:
- Linux backdoor squirts code into SSH to keep its badness buried @ The Register
- Microsoft launches a 3D printing app for Windows 8.1 @ The Inquirer
- 'Planned maintenance' CRIPPLES nearly HALF of all Salesforce instances in Europe, US @ The Register
- 'I'm BIG, I'm BALD and I'm LOUD!' Blubbering Ballmer admits HE was Microsoft's problem @ The Register
- Awesome BlizzCon 2013 CosPlay Pictures By Legit Reviews
- ASUS RT-AC56U Dual Band Wireless-AC1200 Gigabit Router Review @HiTech Legion
Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2013 - 05:47 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
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.
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!
Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2013 - 11:50 PM | Tim Verry
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 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).
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).
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Mobile | August 3, 2013 - 07:21 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech, Networking | August 1, 2013 - 09:43 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: Mobile | July 26, 2013 - 03:29 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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|
|Weight||11.2 oz||12 oz|
|Processor||Quad core Snapdragon S4 Pro @ 1.5GHz||NVIDIA Tegra 3 (4+1)|
|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.