Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2013 - 12:01 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tegra 4, SoC, nvidia, cortex a15, ces 2013, CES, arm
Details about NVIDIA’s latest system on a chip (SoC) for mobile devices leaked last month. On Sunday, NVIDIA officially released its Tegra 4 chip, and talked up more details on the new silicon.
Interestingly, the leaked information from the slide held true over the weekend when NVIDIA officially unveiled it during a press conference. The new chip is manufactured on a 28nm, low power, high-k metal gate process. It features four ARM Cortex-A15 CPU cores running at up to 1.9GHz, one (additional) low power Cortex-A15 companion core, a NVIDIA GeForce GPU with 72 cores (not unified shader design unfortunately). In addition, the Tegra 4 SoC includes the company’s i500 programmable soft modem, and a number of fixed function hardware used for audio and image processing.
According to Anandtech, the majority of GPU cores in the Tegra 4 are 20-bit pixel shaders though exact specifications on the GPU are still unknown. Further, the i500 modem currectly supports LTE UE Category 3 on the WCDMA band with an LTE 4 modem expected in the future.
Image Credit: ArsTechnica attended the NVIDIA press conference.
Tegra 4 will support dual channel LP-DDR3 memory, USB 3.0, and a technology that NVIDIA is calling its Computational Photography Architecture that allegedly will allow real-time HDR imagery with still and video shoots.
According to NVIDIA, Tegra 4 will be noticeably faster than its predecessors and the competing SoCs from Apple and Qualcomm et al. When compared to the Nexus 10 (Samsung Exynos 5 SoC) and the stock Android web browser, the Tegra 4 device (Chrome browser) opened pages in 27 seconds versus the Nexus 10’s 50 second benchmark time. Users will have to wait for retail devices with Tegra 4 hardware for independent benchmarks, however. Thanks to the higher top-end clockspeed and beefier GPU, you can expect Tegra 4 to be faster than Tegra 3, but until reviewers get their hands on Tegra 4-powered devices it is difficult to say just how much faster it is.
Speaking of hardware, the Tegra 4 chip will most likely be used in tablets (and not smartphones). Here’s hoping we see some prototype Tegra 4 devices or product announcements later this week at CES.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Processors, Mobile | December 19, 2012 - 12:26 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wayne, tegra 4, SoC, nvidia, cortex a15, arm
Earlier this year, NVIDIA showed off a roadmap for its Tegra line of mobile system on a chip (SoC) processors. Namely, the next generation Tegra 4 mobile chip is codenamed Wayne and will be the successor to the Tegra 3.
Tegra 4 will use a 28nm manufacturing process and feature improvements to the CPU, GPU, and IO components. Thanks to a leaked slide that appeared on Chip Hell, we now have more details on Tegra 4.
The 28nm Tegra 4 SoC will keep the same 4+1 CPU design* as the Tegra 3, but it will use ARM Cortex A15 CPU cores instead of the Cortex A9 cores used in the current generation chips. NVIDIA is also improving the GPU portion, and Tegra 4 will reportedly feature a 72 core GPU based on a new architecture. Unfortunately, we do not have specifics on how that GPU is set up architecturally, but the leaked slide indicates that the GPU will be as much as 6x faster than NVIDIA’s own Tegra 3. It will allegedly be fast enough to power displays with resolutions from 1080p @ 120Hz to 4K (refresh rate unknown). Don’t expect to drive games at native 4K resolution, however it should run a tablet OS fine. Interestingly, NVIDIA has included hardware to hardware accelerate VP8 and H.264 video at up to 2560x1440 resolutions.
Additionally, Tegra 4 will feature support for dual channel DDR3L memory, USB 3.0 and hardware accelerated secuity options including HDCP, Secure Boot, and DRM which may make Tegra 4 an attractive option for Windows RT tablets.
The leaked slide has revealed several interesting details on Tegra 4, but it has also raised some questions on the nitty-gritty details. Also, there is no mention of the dual core variant of Tegra 4 – codenamed Grey – that is said to include an integrated Icera 4G LTE cellular modem. Here’s hoping more details surface at CES next month!
* NVIDIA's name for a CPU that features four ARM CPU cores and one lower power ARM companion core.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 20, 2012 - 10:47 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, Creative, SoC, ziilabs
Ziilabs might not be a name you recognize now, but it is one you were likely familiar with at one time. That is the current name of 3DLabs which was purchased by Creative back in 2002 and is now responsible for SoC development at Creative, especially integrating the StemCell media processor into the ARM chips which make the basis of the mobile processors. Intel paid $30 million for physical resources and assets along with $20 million for patents, giving them the ability to move from their current solution for Atom processors, PowerVR to the StemCell architecture. Could it be possible that with a stronger Atom that Intel might be able to power more cell phones and take a larger share of that market as well? Check out more at The Inquirer.
"CHIPMAKER Intel will license patents from Ziilabs and purchase assets from the UK based chip designer.
Ziilabs is a UK based subsidiary of Creative Technology focusing on system on chip (SoC) designs for smartphones and tablets. While the firm has yet to register on the public conciousness, it clearly has been on Intel's radar for a while and announced a $50m asset sale and patent licensing deal."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel roadmap leak shows quad-core Atoms for 2014 @ The Register
- UPHEAVAL as Otellini retires: Will Intel look inside? @ The Register
- Can't wait for Nvidia? Try these Italian baby ARM clusters with GPU options @ The Register
- Bathroom fan that switches itself on when it gets steamy or smelly @ Hack a Day
- HP posts a $6.9bn loss as PC, printer and server businesses tank @ The Inquirer
- TechSpot Holiday Gift Guide 2012
- Kingston & Techgage Present: Free Kit for Friendship Contest @ Techgage
- Bjorn3D/Diamond Multimedia Holiday Giveaway
Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2012 - 09:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, saltwell, Intel, hyperthreading, cedarview, atom
Intel has launched a new Atom-series processor called the Atom D2560. It is a 32nm processor based on the Saltwell microarchitecture, and it replaces the D2550 as the top chip in the lineup.
The D2560 has two x86 cores clocked at 2.0 GHz with support for Intel’s HyperThreading technology for four total threads. The Atom CPU supports SSE2, SSE3, and SSSE3 instructions. Further, it has 1MB of L2 cache. CPU cores are not the only thing Intel has packed into the Atom chip, however. A GPU clocked at 640 MHz and integrated memory controller are also included. The Atom IMC supports a single channel of DDR3 clocked at 1066MHz – with a maximum of 4GB with a single DIMM.
The D2560 has a 10W TDP rating and is available to OEMs for $47 per 1000 chips (tray pricing).
Learn more about Intel’s Atom-series processors at PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 22, 2012 - 11:00 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, qualcomm, marketshare, SoC, imagination, Vivante, jon peddie, mali
ARM has made some serious impact on the mobile market with their Mali GPU on their SoC, with Jon Peddie Research reporting they have doubled their market share over the past year. That number is even more impressive when you pair it with the 91.3% growth in the mobile GPU market. Another player, Vivante, quadrupled their share of the market and while their products are found primarily in Asia you may recognize them as a member of the HSA. Their success comes at a cost to Imagination and Qualcomm, both of whom have seen their market shares drop. NVIDIA is currently making up 2.5% of the GPU market for tablets and smartphones which is not too bad when you consider that the other four main players all license their processors out while NVIDIA remains the sole provider of its Tegra SoCs. Get more numbers at The Inquirer.
"CHIP DESIGNERS ARM and Vivante have achieved significant market share gains in the system-on-chip (SoC) GPU market while Imagination and Qualcomm have seen their market shares fall."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD Q3 2012 analyst call talks IP strategy @ SemiAccurate
- Skype details Windows 8 app ahead of 26 October release @ The Inquirer
- Nanya Technology, Inotera to receive new financing to move to 30nm process, say sources @ DigiTimes
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 27, 2012 - 09:26 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, PowerVR, iphone, arm, apple, a6
Apple's latest smartphone was unveiled earlier this month, and just about every feature has been analyzed extensively by reviewers and expounded upon by Apple. However, the one aspect that remains a mystery is the ARM System on a Chip that is powering the iPhone 5. There has been a great deal of speculation, but the officially Apple is not talking. The company has stated that the new processor is two times faster than its predecessor, but beyond that it will be up to reviewers to figure out what makes it tick.
After the press conference PC Perspective's Josh Walrath researched what few hints there were on the new A6 processor, and determined that there was a good chance it was an ARM Cortex A15-based design. Since then some tidbits of information have come out that suggest otherwise, however. Developers for iOS disovered that the latest SDK suggest new functionality for the A6 processor, including some new instruction sets. That discovery tended credence to the A6 possibly being Cortex A15, but it did not prove that it wasn't. Following that, Anandtech posted an article that stated it was in a licensed Cortex A15 design. Rather, the A6 was a custom Apple-developed chip that would, ideally, give users the same level of performance without needing significantly more power – and without waiting for a Cortex A15 chip to be manufactured.
Finally, thanks to the work of the enthusiasts over at Chipworks, we have physical proof that, finally, reveals details about Apple's A6 SoC. By stripping away the outer protective layers, and placing the A6 die under a powerful microscope, they managed to get an 'up close and personal' look at the inside of the chip.
Despite the near-Jersey Shore (shudder) levels of drama between Apple and Samsung over the recent trade dress and patent infringement allegations, it seems that the two companies worked together to bring Apple's custom processor to market. The researchers determined that the A6 was based on Samsung's 32nm CMOS manufacturing process. It reads APL0589B01 on the inside, which suggests that it is of Apple's own design. Once the Chipworks team sliced open the processor further, they discovered proof that Apple really did craft a custom ARM processor.
In fact, Apple has created a chip with dual ARM CPU cores and three GPU cores (PowerVR). The CPU cores support the ARMv7s instruction set, and Apple has gone with a hand drawn design. Rather than employ computer libraries to automatically lay out the logic in the processor, Apple and the engineers acquired from its purchase of PA Semi have manually drawn out the processor by hand. This chip has likely been in the works for a couple of years now, and the 96.71mm^2 sized die will offer up some notable performance improvements.
It seems like Apple has opted to go for an expensive custom chip rather than opt for a licensed Cortex A15 design. That combined with the hand drawn layout should give Apple a processor with better performance than its past designs without requiring significantly more power.
At a time when mobile SoC giant Texas Instruments is giving up on ARM chips for tablets and smartphones, and hand drawn designs are becoming increasingly rare (even AMD has given up), I have to give Apple props for going with a custom processor laid out by hand. I'm interested to see what the company is able to do with it and where they will go from here.
Chipworks and iFixIt also took a look at the LTE modem, Wi-Fi chip, audio amplifier, and other aspects of the iPhone 5's internals, and it is definitely worth a read for the impressive imagery alone.
Subject: General Tech | September 21, 2012 - 10:58 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: 14nm, FinFET, 3d transistors, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, SoC
Intel was first out of the gate with their 3D transistors, which they dubbed Tri-gate and which the rest of the world refers to as FinFET as the normal 2D transistor is flipped on its side in a position reminiscent of a fin. This leads to much more efficient power usage, perfect for mobile designs and needed as the transistor density at 14nm is going to be quite high. GLOFO's 14nm eXtreme Mobility will work in conjunction with the current 20nm process used to fabricate SOCs and will be the basis of many lines of chips, such as ARM who have signed a multiyear contract with GLOFO. Check out DigiTimes for more.
"Globalfoundries has announced the launch of a new technology designed for the expanding mobile market. The new 14nm-XM offering will give customers the performance and power benefits of three-dimensional "FinFET" transistors with less risk and a faster time-to-market, helping the fabless ecosystem maintain its leadership in mobility while enabling a new generation of smart mobile devices, according to the foundry."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft releases VMware-EATER @ The Register
- Deep, deep dive inside Intel's next-generation processor @ The Register
- Oh, Sublime Text, how do I love thee @ The Tech Report
- NVIDIA To Publicly Release Some Documentation @ Phoronix
- Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam Review @ NikKTech (As seen on the PCPer Podcast)
- How to repair a ribbon cable connection on consumer electronics @ Hack a Day
- Apple iOS 6 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Win AFOX HD7850 Single Slot Crossfire @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2012 - 01:53 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: z77x-ud7, z77n-wifi, WD, thunderbolt, SoC, podcast, lucid, idf 2012, Hybrid Drive, haswell, gpu, gigabyte, arm, a6
PC Perspective Podcast #218 - 09/13/2012
Join us this week as we talk about the Gigabyte Z77X-UD7, Apple A6 SoC, Thunderbolt GPU Tech from Lucid, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malvantano and Scott Michaud
Program length: 1:01:33
Podcast topics of discussion:
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:28:05 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
News items of interest:
- 0:28:45 IDF 2012: Lucid External GPUs?
- 0:32:05 IDF 2012: Intel Dives in to Oil!
- 0:35:45 IDF 2012: Western Digital Hybrid Hard Drives - 5mm 500GB
- 0:38:00 AMD Steamroller -- Shrunk Die Without a Die Shrink?
- 0:39:50 Firefox OS Interface: Sept 6, 2012.
- 0:42:30 CiiNow Sounds Like Wii... also AMD Investment.
- 0:47:15 Valve Big Picture Mode for Steam
0:50:36 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- Jeremy: SLI\CrossFire PSU for dirt cheap, NewEgg not quite so good
- Josh: Not terrible. Hopefully it actually works for the S3
- Allyn: WD MyBook VelociRaptor Duo
- Scott: Back to school? For the love of God, laser printers.
- 0:50:36 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2012 - 11:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: quad core, arm, SoC, Android, xbmc, htpc, mini-itx
This week has been rife with ARM computers. The latest ARM system comes in the form of a mini-ITX form factor motherboard and quad core ARM processor combination from embedded system manufacturer Kontron. Named the KTT30/mITX, it measures 17 cm x 17 cm, the little motherboard provides a plethora of IO ports and the relatively short (depth-wise) motherboard would be great in a HTPC box, assuming the software is there (an XBMC release ported over from the Raspberry Pi build would be nice to see, for example).
The motherboard is paired with a quad core ARM Cortex A9 processor running at 900 MHz, video hardware acceleration coprocessor, and up to 2GB of DDR3L memory. It is reportedly capable of playing back 1080p H.264 videos. Internal connectors include two SD card clots, a SIM card socket, and two mPCIe connectors. Rear board IO includes three USB 2.0 ports (one micro, two regular-sized type A), an HDMI port, Gigabit Ethernet NIC, S/PDIF audio, two RS232 serial ports, and three analog audio output jacks.
It looks like a neat little board, though only if the price is right. If it is prohibitively expensive, it may be bumping up against AMD’s APU and accompanying motherboards. And because the APUs can utilize x86-64 software, that is a big positive in its favor. With that said, if this board is cheap enough, it could make sense as the base of a cheap HTPC.
Read more about the Mini-ITX ARM-powered system over at Fanless Tech.
Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2012 - 10:43 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Medfield, SoC, atom z2460
Intel will be focusing a lot of attention on the mobile phone market this year, already they have started in Asia but hopefully it won't be too long until we start to see them here in North America. Currently their Medfield SoC is fabbed on the 32nm process but we can expect to see 22nm chips with lower power consumption in the very new feature. Companies unfamiliar to the West, such as Lava, Orange and ZTE are already either selling a phone or are about to release one, but those do not define the limits of the market. DigiTimes describes their plans for the coming year as aggressive but with ARM already deeply entrenched in this market we have yet to see if this is the market where Atom will really find a successful niche.
"Intel's Medfield platform-based smartphones have recently received attention from handset players and telecom carriers such as Orange, Lenovo, Motorola Mobility, ZTE and India-based Lava International.
Lava International already launched its 4.03-inch Xolo X900, featuring Atom Z2460 processor (1.6GHz), 1GB memory, 16GB storage capacity, 8-megapixel camera and a battery that allows users to connect to the Internet through 3G for five hours and talk for eight hours. The smartphone is priced around US$400."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Cheap ARM netbooks have Linux forced upon them @ Hack a Day
- Qualcomm confirms that Snapdragon S4 Plus chips will power Windows Phone 8 @ The Inquirer
- Everything You Need to Know About the Thunderbolt Connection @ Hardware Secrets
- Microsoft Surface: The Good, the Ugly and the Unknown @ Techspot
- AMD Heaven GamExperience @ Madshrimps
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