Intel and Microsoft Show DirectX 12 Demo and Benchmark

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 13, 2014 - 06:55 PM |
Tagged: siggraph 2014, Siggraph, microsoft, Intel, DirectX 12, directx 11, DirectX

Along with GDC Europe and Gamescom, Siggraph 2014 is going on in Vancouver, BC. At it, Intel had a DirectX 12 demo at their booth. This scene, containing 50,000 asteroids, each in its own draw call, was developed on both Direct3D 11 and Direct3D 12 code paths and could apparently be switched while the demo is running. Intel claims to have measured both power as well as frame rate.

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Variable power to hit a desired frame rate, DX11 and DX12.

The test system is a Surface Pro 3 with an Intel HD 4400 GPU. Doing a bit of digging, this would make it the i5-based Surface Pro 3. Removing another shovel-load of mystery, this would be the Intel Core i5-4300U with two cores, four threads, 1.9 GHz base clock, up-to 2.9 GHz turbo clock, 3MB of cache, and (of course) based on the Haswell architecture.

While not top-of-the-line, it is also not bottom-of-the-barrel. It is a respectable CPU.

Intel's demo on this processor shows a significant power reduction in the CPU, and even a slight decrease in GPU power, for the same target frame rate. If power was not throttled, Intel's demo goes from 19 FPS all the way up to a playable 33 FPS.

Intel will discuss more during a video interview, tomorrow (Thursday) at 5pm EDT.

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Maximum power in DirectX 11 mode.

For my contribution to the story, I would like to address the first comment on the MSDN article. It claims that this is just an "ideal scenario" of a scene that is bottlenecked by draw calls. The thing is: that is the point. Sure, a game developer could optimize the scene to (maybe) instance objects together, and so forth, but that is unnecessary work. Why should programmers, or worse, artists, need to spend so much of their time developing art so that it could be batch together into fewer, bigger commands? Would it not be much easier, and all-around better, if the content could be developed as it most naturally comes together?

That, of course, depends on how much performance improvement we will see from DirectX 12, compared to theoretical max efficiency. If pushing two workloads through a DX12 GPU takes about the same time as pushing one, double-sized workload, then it allows developers to, literally, perform whatever solution is most direct.

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Maximum power when switching to DirectX 12 mode.

If, on the other hand, pushing two workloads is 1000x slower than pushing a single, double-sized one, but DirectX 11 was 10,000x slower, then it could be less relevant because developers will still need to do their tricks in those situations. The closer it gets, the fewer occasions that strict optimization is necessary.

If there are any DirectX 11 game developers, artists, and producers out there, we would like to hear from you. How much would a (let's say) 90% reduction in draw call latency (which is around what Mantle claims) give you, in terms of fewer required optimizations? Can you afford to solve problems "the naive way" now? Some of the time? Most of the time? Would it still be worth it to do things like object instancing and fewer, larger materials and shaders? How often?

Acer Unveils Chromebook 13 Powered By NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 11, 2014 - 05:00 AM |
Tagged: webgl, tegra k1, nvidia, geforce, Chromebook, Bay Trail, acer

Today Acer unveiled a new Chromebook powered by an NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor. The aptly-named Chromebook 13 is 13-inch thin and light notebook running Google’s Chrome OS with up to 13 hours of battery life and three times the graphical performance of existing Chromebooks using Intel Bay Trail and Samsung Exynos processors.

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The Chromebook 13 is 18mm thick and comes in a white plastic fanless chassis that hosts a 13.3” display, full size keyboard, trackpad, and HD webcam. The Chromebook 13 will be available with a 1366x768 or 1920x1080 resolution panel depending on the particular model (more on that below).

Beyond the usual laptop fixtures, external I/O includes two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI video output, a SD card reader, and a combo headphone/mic jack. Acer has placed one USB port on the left side along with the card reader and one USB port next to the HDMI port on the rear of the laptop. Personally, I welcome the HDMI port placement as it means connecting a second display will not result in a cable invading the mousing area should i wish to use a mouse (and it’s even south paw friendly Scott!).

The Chromebook 13 looks decent from the outside, but it is the internals where the device gets really interesting. Instead of going with an Intel Bay Trail (or even Celeron/Core i3), Acer has opted to team up with NVIDIA to deliver the world’s first NVIDIA-powered Chromebook.

Specifically, the Chromebook 13 uses a NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC, up to 4GB RAM, and up to 32GB of flash storage. The K1 offers up four A15 CPU cores clocked at 2.1GHz, and a graphics unit with 192 Kepler-based CUDA cores. Acer rates the Chromebook 13 at 11 hours with the 1080p panel or 13 hours when equipped with the 1366x768 resolution display. Even being conservative, the Chromebook 13 looks to be the new leader in Chromebook battery life (with the previous leader claiming 11 hours).

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A graph comparing WebGL performance between the NVIDIA Tegra K1, Intel (Bay Trail) Celeron N2830, Samsung Exynos 5800, and Samsung Exynos 5250. Results courtesy NVIDIA.

The Tegra K1 is a powerful little chip, and it is nice to see NVIDIA get a design win here. NVIDIA claims that the Tegra K1, which is rated at 326 GFLOPS of compute performance, offers up to three times the graphics performance of the Bay Trail N2830 and Exynos 5800 SoCs. Additionally, the K1 reportedly uses slightly less power and delivers higher multi-tasking performance. I’m looking forward to seeing independent reviews in this laptop formfactor and hoping that the chip lives up to its promises.

The Chromebook 13 is currently up for pre-order and will be available in September starting at $279. The Tegra K1-powered laptop will hit the United States and Europe first, with other countries to follow. Initially, the Europe roll-out will include “UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Spain, South Africa and Switzerland.”

Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311_closed 2.jpg

Acer is offering three consumer SKUs and one education SKU that will be exclusively offering through a re-seller. Please see the chart below for the specifications and pricing.

Acer Chromebook 13 Models System Memory (RAM) Storage (flash) Display Price MSRP
CB5-311-T9B0 2GB 16GB 1920 x 1080 $299.99
CB5-311-T1UU 4GB 32GB 1920 x 1080 $379.99
CB5-311-T7NN - Base Model 2GB 16GB 1366 x 768 $279.99
Educational SKU (Reseller Only) 4GB 16GB 1366 x 768 $329.99

Intel made some waves in the Chromebook market earlier this year with the announcement of several new Intel-powered Chrome devices and the addition of conflict-free Haswell Core i3 options. It seems that it is now time for the ARM(ed) response. I’m interested to see how NVIDIA’s newest model chip stacks up to the current and upcoming Intel x86 competition in terms of graphics power and battery usage.

As far as Chromebooks go, if the performance is at the point Acer and NVIDIA claim, this one definitely looks like a decent option considering the price. I think a head-to-head between the ASUS C200 (Bay Trail N2830, 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, and 1366x768 display at $249.99 MSRP) and Acer Chromebook 13 would be interesting as the real differentiator (beyond aesthetics) is the underlying SoC. I do wish there was a 4GB/16GB/1080p option in the Chromebook 13 lineup though considering the big price jump to get 4GB RAM (mostly as a result of the doubling of flash) in the $379.99 model at, say, $320 MSRP.

Read more about Chromebooks at PC Perspective!

Source: Acer

MSI Unveils WS60, the Thinnest and Lightest Workstation Ever

Subject: Mobile | August 5, 2014 - 11:24 AM |
Tagged: msi, WS60, mobile workstation, Quadro K2100M

Weighing in under 5lbs and thinner than 1" the MSI WS60 is very small but yet houses a Quadro K2100M which is powerful enough for professional design work.  With Thunderbolt 2 connectivity it is capable of outputting 4k video and the Super RAID will give you very impressive performance even when working with large files.

 

City of Industry, Calif. – August 5, 2014 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, unveils the world’s thinnest and lightest mobile workstation, the WS60. Powered by state-of-the-art technologies, including NVIDIA Quadro K2100M 3D graphics, Intel Core i7 processor and MSI’s Super RAID technology, MSI’s newest workstation weighs only 4.36 lbs., measures less than 0.8-inches thick, and delivers superior performance in an unprecedented sexy design.

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“The WS60 is the perfect workstation for mobile designers and CAD CAM Engineers,” says Andy Tung, president of MSI Pan America. “It combines the versatility of an ultrabook with the performance of a workstation and takes it to another level with Thunderbolt connectivity, MSI’s Shortcut Manager, and an array of gaming components.”

Superior Performance
MSI’s WS60 offers the fastest processing speed available in an ultra-slim workstation. Featuring the latest 4th generation CPU from Intel and NVIDIA Quadro K2100 professional graphics, the WS60 can blaze through even the most demanding tasks. MSI enhances its prowess by adding Super RAID to seamlessly integrate 2x SSDs and 1x HDD storage for over 1000 MB/s of read speed, dual fan technology for maximum heat dissipation while remaining whisper quiet, and Thunderbolt 2 connectivity. Thunderbolt 2 comes with 4K and 3D video output and dramatically increases transfer speeds up to 20 GB/s, 4 times faster than a USB 3.0 port.

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Outstanding Design
The WS60 sheds the bulky and boxy design of traditional workstations. Inspired by the acclaimed look of MSI’s gaming notebooks, the WS60 has a full metallic body with MG-Li alloy parts that guarantee utmost durability, visual appeal and feather-like weight. Measuring less than 0.8-inches thick and weighing only 4.36 lbs., the WS60 is a featherweight notebook with ultra-heavyweight performance.

Stunning Display
Creating digital art requires a screen that accurately displays true-to-life colors and captures every minute detail. MSI has outfitted the WS60 with a vibrant WQHD+ 3K display for those who demand a high level of detail in their work.

Certified for Professionals
All MSI workstation laptops, including the WS60, guarantee optimal performance with professional 3D programs like SolidWorks and more with certification from these software giants.

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MSI’s WS60 is packed with professional-grade parts, including a SteelSeries full-color backlight keyboard with Anti-Ghost keys to guarantee superior tactile feedback, Killer Game Networking chip to optimize internet bandwidth, and MSI’s Shortcut Manager. MSI’s Shortcut Manager allows designers and engineers to program keys and combines multiple keys into a single command key, increasing efficiency and speed.

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The WS60 is currently available in two different configurations starting at $2,299.99.

Source: MSI

Take a Memo, this $150 tablet is rather good

Subject: Mobile | July 29, 2014 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: asus, memo pad ME176C, android 4.2.2, Bay Trail

Powered by a Bay Trail Atom Z3745, 1GB LP DDR3-1066, 16GB eMMC, with support for up to a 64GB SD card and a 7" 1280x800 IPS display the ASUS Memo Pad ME176C is rather impressive for under $150.  Shipping with Android 4.2.2 or 4.4 the Memo Pad is not quite as powerful as NVIDIA's new tablet but is nowhere near as expensive either.  The Tech Report rather liked this device, as did Ryan; for those on a tight budget the new Memo does just about everything you need for basic usage at an acceptable level of performance.

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"Despite its $149 asking price, Asus' Memo Pad ME176C tablet has a quad-core Bay Trail SoC, a 7" IPS display, and little extras like a Micro SD slot and GPS functionality. We take a quick look at this budget slate to see how well Android runs on x86 hardware--and whether a $149 tablet can deliver a good experience."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Available for Pre-order on Amazon

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 24, 2014 - 07:04 PM |
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, nvidia

Just a small note to continue with our SHIELD Tablet coverage. It turns out that the $299 (16GB) SHIELD Tablet, its cover, and its wireless controller are all available for pre-order on Amazon. The unit will actually be available on July 29th, but we were not aware that pre-orders would be possible until now.

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While Ryan wrote a preview for the SHIELD Tablet, he is not giving a final word until he gets it into his lab and is capable of giving a full review. Also, we do not know how many units will be available. Whether you should pre-order, or wait for Ryan's final word, is up to you.

Thanks to our fans for alerting us of this availabilty in the IRC during TWiCH.

Source: Amazon

The new netbook?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 24, 2014 - 11:32 AM |
Tagged: Intel, microsoft, netbook, Bay Trail

According to DigiTimes we may see a resurgence of netbooks, this time powered by Bay Trail which will make them far more usable than the original generation.  There are three postulated tiers, the $200-250 range of 10.1-15.6" models and $250-400 or $400-600 in 11.6-17.3" which will make them larger in size than the original generation which failed to attract many consumers.  They are currently scheduled to ship with Bay Trail-M with future models likely to have Braswell inside in a mix of transformer style 2 in 1's with touchscreens and more traditional laptop designs.  You can expect to see a maximum thickness of 25mm and a mix of HDD and SSD storage on these and we can only hope that the estimated pricing is more accurate than the pricing on Ultrabooks turned out to be.

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"For the US$199-249 notebooks, Intel and Microsoft's specification preferences are 10.1- to 15.6-inch clamshell non-touchscreen models using Intel's Bay Trail-M series processors or upcoming Braswell-based processors, which are set to release in the second quarter of 2015."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Xiaomi Launches Mi4 Smartphone In China

Subject: General Tech | July 23, 2014 - 10:40 AM |
Tagged: xiaomi, snapdragon 801, smartphone, mobile, LTE, Android 4.4.2

Yesterday, Xiaomi revealed a powerful smartphone called the Mi4 that looks to give the unlocked OnePlus One a run for its money. The new smartphone is launching first in China with an international version coming in the future. 

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The Xiaomi Mi4 features a 5" 1080p IPS LCD display, 13MP rear camera, and 8MP webcam. A metal band surrounds the outside edges of the phone while a stainless steel frame adds rigidity and protection for the internal hardware. The other bits of the case are plastic, however likely due to weight and signal reception concerns. There is a removable back cover that is available in several different designs and colors. The Mi4 is slightly bulkier than its predecessor at 0.35-inches thick and 149 grams.

Xiaomi Mi4 Android Smartphone Breakout.png

Internally, the Mi4 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC with four Krait 400 CPU cores clocked at 2.5GHz and an Adreno 330 GPU. Further, the smartphone features 3GB of RAM and either 16GB or 64GB of internal storage. It is powered by a 3,080 mAh battery which should provide ample battery life. Wireless connectivity includes dual band 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, 3G, and LTE. The WCDMA version of the smartphone will be available first with a CDMA version coming next month, and a 4G LTE capable device coming in September.

The smartphone runs Android 4.4.2 with a highly customized MIUI5 user interface. An updated version of the UI, called MIUI6 is reportedly coming in August, but it is unclear how soon Mi4 users can expect an upgrade.

Xiaomi Mi4 Smartphone.jpg

The Xiaomi Mi4 will be available on July 29 for 1,999 Yuan ($322 USD) for the 16GB version and 2,499 Yuan ($403) for the 64GB version. Initially, it will be 3G only, but a 4G LTE capable version of the smartphone is coming in September (presumably for the same price). Even further out, an unlocked international version is said to be available for purchase in the future.

In all, the Mi4 looks to be a decent phone with enough design tweaks and hardware oomph to give existing high end smartphones a run for their money. You do sacrifice micro SD card support and stock Android, but if you can live with that and are in the target market (or can wait for an international version) it is worth keeping an eye on!

Also read: Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9 Android Tablet Review - Utilizing NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC

Source: Xiaomi

NVIDIA Counts Down to... Something "Ultimate".

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 20, 2014 - 12:41 AM |
Tagged: shield tablet, shield 2, shield, nvidia

In Europe, NVIDIA set up a simple, official page. Its title is "THE ULTIMATE IS COMING | NVIDIA". On it are the words, "The Ultimate Is Coming" as well as a countdown to 9 AM EDT on Tuesday, July 22nd. At the same time, North Americans get "Ultimate Quest", a text adventure game which ends on -- surprise -- Tuesday with a giveaway of "something big" for the first players who finish.

Allegedly leaked slide - Not Official!

NVIDIA-SHIELD-Tablet-2.jpg

All images credit: Videocardz (and they have more).

What is it? It is very likely the rumored SHIELD tablet, especially considering Videocardz has convincing slides which are definitely made in NVIDIA's style. What made SHIELD so unique was its controller form factor (and NVIDIA's software support). According to the slides, the controller will now be a wireless accessory to the base tablet. What will come standard is a stylus, the "DirectStylus 2 with 3D Paint". This seems like an odd addition, unless they have already planned use cases.

Allegedly leaked slide - Not Official!

NVIDIA-SHIELD-Tablet-5.jpg

As for the tablet? The slides claim Tegra K1, 2GB of RAM, 1920x1200 display, 5MP (HDR) front and rear cameras, and a MicroSD card slot. Previously, leaks suggested a 640x480 front-facing camera, which did not make sense to me. With the original SHIELD lacking a camera, it seemed very odd to relaunch with a bad one. 5MP, especially if it is a good sensor, is much more reasonable (especially for the front-facing one).

Allegedly leaked slide - Not Official!

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The leaks also suggest interesting price points, especially for such a powerful tablet. These details can change at a moment's notice, though, so I won't really acknowledge it (apart from embedding the slide below). They do seem to be targeting the end of the month for North America, or middle August for Europe, which is a very quick launch. Then again, it is ready enough to be a prize for a contest which ends on Tuesday.

Allegedly leaked slide - Not Official!

NVIDIA-SHIELD-Tablet-9.jpg

I except we will see how much of this, if anything, holds up on Tuesday.

Source: NVIDIA

NVIDIA Preparing GeForce 800M (Laptop) Maxwell GPUs?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | July 19, 2014 - 12:29 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, maxwell, mobile gpu, mobile graphics

Apparently, some hardware sites got their hands on an NVIDIA driver listing with several new product codes. They claim thirteen N16(P/E) chips are listed (although I count twelve (??)). While I do not have much knowledge of NVIDIA's internal product structure, the GeForce GTX 880M, based on Kepler, is apparently listed as N15E.

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Things have changed a lot since this presentation.

These new parts will allegedly be based on the second-generation Maxwell architecture. Also, the source believes that these new GPUs will in the GeForce GTX 800-series, possibly with the MX suffix that was last seen in October 2012 with the GeForce GTX 680MX. Of course, being a long-time PC gamer, the MX suffix does not exactly ring positive with my memory. It used to be the Ti-line that you wanted, and the MX-line that you could afford. But who am I kidding? None of that is relevant these days. Get off my lawn.

Source: Videocardz

An interesting day to be a mobile Windows 8 user

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 16, 2014 - 10:30 AM |
Tagged: win8 mobile, win 8.1, nokia, lumia, skype, microsoft, cyan

If you own a Nokia Lumia phone which runs Win 8.1 then there is an update with quite a few interesting features available. US customers will see a Cortana update while all users will gain the ability to search their phone with Bing, an IE11 update, encrypted S/MIME and improved VPN support.  There are quite a few app updates and users of the 1520 and Icon get Nokia Rich Recording and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 which improves both audio and video options.  Check out Cyan at The Register but don't stop there because according to The Inquirer you will no longer need to be a Premium Skype member to make group calls from your mobile device as it is now a free feature for all.

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"Nokia is rolling out Windows Phone 8.1 as an over-the-air update that comes bundled with "Cyan," a special feature package that's exclusive to Lumia devices."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Google Play Store Could Be Redesigned (Maybe Even Soon)

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 16, 2014 - 01:11 AM |
Tagged: google, google play, Android, android l

If you have looked at Google's recent design ideologies, first announced at Google I/O 2014, you will see them revolve around skeuomorphism in its most basic sense. By that, I do not mean that they want to make it look like a folder, a metal slab, or a radio button. Their concept is that objects should look like physical objects which behave with physical accuracy, even though they are just simulations of light.

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Image Credit: Android Police (and their source)

Basically, rather than having a panel with a toolbar, buttons, and columns, have a background with a page on it. Interface elements which are affected by that panel are on it, while more global actions are off of it. According to Android Police, who make clear that they do not have leaked builds and readers should not believe anything until/unless it ships, the Google Play Store will be redesigned with this consistent, albeit broad, design metric.

Basically, if you are navigation bar, pack your desk and get out.

If true, when will these land? Anyone's guess. One speculation is that it will be timed with the release of Android "L" in Autumn. Their expectation, however, is that it will be one of many updates Google will make across their products in a rolling pattern. Either way, I think it looks good... albeit similar to many modern websites.

Intel Earnings Report (Q2 2014)

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 16, 2014 - 12:37 AM |
Tagged: quarterly results, quarterly earnings, quarterly, Intel, earnings

Another fiscal quarter brings another Intel earnings report. Once again, they are doing well for themselves as a whole but are struggling to gain a foothold in mobile. In three months, they sold 8.7 billion dollars in PC hardware, of which 3.7 billion was profit. Its mobile division, on the other hand, brought in 51 million USD in revenue, losing 1.1 billion dollars for their efforts. In all, the company is profitable -- by about 3.84 billion USD.

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One interesting metric which Intel adds to their chart, and I have yet to notice another company listing this information so prominently, is their number of employees, compared between quarters. Last year, Intel employed about 106,000 people, which increased to 106,300 two quarters ago. Between two quarters ago and this last quarter, that number dropped by 1400, to 104,900 employees, which was about 1.3% of their total workforce. There does not seem to be a reason for this decline (except for Richard Huddy, we know that he went to AMD).

Intel Process nodes_575px.png

Image Credit: Anandtech

As a final note, Anandtech, when reporting on this story, added a few historical trends near the end. One which caught my attention was the process technology vs. quarter graph, demonstrating their smallest transistor size over the last thirteen-and-a-bit years. We are still slowly approaching 0nm, following an exponential curve as it approaches its asymptote. The width, however, is still fairly regular. It looks like it is getting slightly longer, but not drastically (minus the optical illusion caused by the smaller drops).

Source: Intel

Club 3D launches Worlds First USB 3.0 to 4K Graphics Adapter

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Mobile | July 15, 2014 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: displaylink, club 3d, 4k

Why would you want a USB 3.0 4K display adapter you might ask?  Perhaps you have an ultrabook with limited display outputs that do not output in 4K resolution but somehow you managed to get your hands on a 4K display for work or leisure and have a need for the full resolution.  Club 3D now has a family of USB adapters for you, the CSV-2302 USB 3.0 to DisplayPort 4K, CSV-2301 USB 3.0 to DisplayPort 1600p and the CSV-2300D USB 3.0 to DVI-I graphics adapters.  This is the first implementation of the DisplayLink DL-5500 chipset and it does indeed support 10bit colour if your display can handle it.

The MSRP for this device when it starts to ship in about 2 weeks will be ~$142.

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Club 3D officially launches the next generation of USB 3.0 Graphics adapters capable of outputting high resolutions to DVI-I (2048x 1152p), DisplayPort (2560x 1600p) and the world’s first USB 3.0 to DisplayPort Graphics (CSV-2302) adapter which supports 4K or Ultra High Definition resolution at 3840x 2160p.

The Universal Serial Bus (USB) Port of a desktop computer or notebook is multifunctional and can be used to connect a large variety of (storage) devices, keyboards, mice and and other peripherals like monitors. Back in 2011, Club 3D introduced its first SenseVision USB Graphics adapters. These small external graphics adapters can be used to connect a DVI or HDMI monitor to the USB 2.0 output of a Desktop Computer or Notebook and create a multi screen setup.

The SenseVision USB adapters proved to be very successful across the globe! Not only with travelers but also in (semi) professional environments where more monitors mean more productivity.

The new Club 3D USB 3.0 Graphics adapters are fully ‘Plug and Display’ certified and the USB 3.0 to 4K Graphics Adapter (CSV-2302) is the very first to use the brand new DisplayLink DL-5500 chipset enabling 4K Ultra High Definition output to DisplayPort enabled 4K monitors at 30Hz. The Club 3D USB 3.0 to 4K Graphics Adapter (CSV-2302) is the first device available worldwide with the revolutionary new DisplayLink SoC implemented.

This Graphics adapter uses little resources of your system so it won’t affect performance ensuring at the same time a great image quality. It’s the ideal solution for anyone wanting to expand desktop space in order to use multiple programs simultaneously.

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Features:

  • 3840x2160 output at 30Hz
  • Backwards compatible with QHD and HD monitors
  • DP 1.2 interface (DisplayPort)
  • HDCP 2.0 for protected video playback
  • Integrated DisplayPort Audio

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Source: Club 3D

Trying to repair the reputation of low cost tablets; the ASUS MeMO Pad 7

Subject: Mobile | July 14, 2014 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: memo pad 7, memopad, asus, Android 4.4.2

The ASUS MeMO Pad 7 has a 7" 1280x800 IPS display, a BayTrail Atom Z3745 Quad-Core that can run up to 1.86GHz, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage with support for SD cards up to 32GB.  All in all this seems like the stats you would expect from a $150 tablet, but the challenge is to be usable enough to not be returned.  Legit Reviews tested out this tablet and were impressed by the graphics performance of the new Atom but were disappointed by the WiFi speeds which were significantly slower than their preferred tablet, the ~$200 Nexus 7.

You can also check out Ryan's review from June.

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"Budget friendly Android tablets are a dime a dozen these days, but they all aren’t created equally and there are some very bad tablets out there. When you get into the sub $150 tablet market you need to be very careful with what tablet you go with as companies start cutting costs by reducing the hardware specifications and that can lead to subpar performance and an overall bad user experience. If you’ve ever purchased an inexpensive tablet thinking that they were all the same, you usually find out in under three minutes that you screwed up and will be running to return it."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

The Third x86-based SoC Player: VIA & Centaur's Isaiah II

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 11, 2014 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: x86, VIA, isaiah II, Intel, centaur, arm, amd

There might be a third, x86-compatible processor manufacturer who is looking at the mobile market. Intel has been trying to make headway, including the direct development of Android for the x86 architecture. The company also has a few design wins, mostly with Windows 8.1-based tablets but also the occasional Android-based models. Google is rumored to be preparing the "Nexus 8" tablet with one of Intel's Moorefield SoCs. AMD, the second-largest x86 processor manufacturer, is aiming their Mullins platform at tablets and two-in-ones, but cannot afford to play snowplow, at least not like Intel.

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VIA, through their Centaur Technology division, is expected to announce their own x86-based SoC, too. Called Isaiah II, it is rumored to be a quad core, 64-bit processor with a maximum clock rate of 2.0 GHz. Its GPU is currently unknown. VIA sold their stake S3 Graphics to HTC back in 2011, who then became majority shareholder over the GPU company. That said, HTC and VIA are very close companies. The chairwoman of HTC is the founder of VIA Technologies. The current President and CEO of VIA, who has been in that position since 1992, is her husband. I expect that the GPU architecture will be provided by S3, or will somehow be based on their technology. I could be wrong. Both companies will obviously do what they think is best.

It would make sense, though, especially if it benefits HTC with cheap but effective SoCs for Android and "full" Windows (not Windows RT) devices.

Or this announcement could be larger than it would appear. Three years ago, VIA filed for a patent which described a processor that can read both x86 and ARM machine language and translate it into its own, internal microinstructions. The Centaur Isaiah II could reasonably be based on that technology. If so, this processor would be able to support either version of Android. Or, after Intel built up the Android x86 code base, maybe they shelved that initiative (or just got that patent for legal reasons).

Android-x86.png

But what about Intel? Honestly, I see this being a benefit for the behemoth. Extra x86-based vendors will probably grow the overall market share, compared to ARM, by helping with software support. Even if it is compatible with both ARM and x86, what Intel needs right now is software. They can only write so much of it themselves. It is possible that VIA, being the original netbook processor, could disrupt the PC market with both x86 and ARM compatibility, but I doubt it.

Centaur Technology, the relevant division of VIA, will make their announcement in less than 51 days.

Source: 3d Center

Google I/O 2014: Android Extension Pack Announced

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | July 7, 2014 - 01:06 AM |
Tagged: tegra k1, OpenGL ES, opengl, Khronos, google io, google, android extension pack, Android

Sure, this is a little late. Honestly, when I first heard the announcement, I did not see much news in it. The slide from the keynote (below) showed four points: Tesselation, Geometry Shaders, Computer [sic] Shaders, and ASTC Texture Compression. Honestly, I thought tesselation and geometry shaders were part of the OpenGL ES 3.1 spec, like compute shaders. This led to my immediate reaction: "Oh cool. They implemented OpenGL ES 3.1. Nice. Not worth a news post."

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Image Credit: Blogogist

Apparently, they were not part of the ES 3.1 spec (although compute shaders are). My mistake. It turns out that Google is cooking their their own vendor-specific extensions. This is quite interesting, as it adds functionality to the API without the developer needing to target a specific GPU vendor (INTEL, NV, ATI, AMD), waiting for approval from the Architecture Review Board (ARB), or using multi-vendor extensions (EXT). In other words, it sounds like developers can target Google's vendor without knowing the actual hardware.

Hiding the GPU vendor from the developer is not the only reason for Google to host their own vendor extension. The added features are mostly from full OpenGL. This makes sense, because it was announced with NVIDIA and their Tegra K1, Kepler-based SoC. Full OpenGL compatibility was NVIDIA's selling point for the K1, due to its heritage as a desktop GPU. But, instead of requiring apps to be programmed with full OpenGL in mind, Google's extension pushes it to OpenGL ES 3.1. If the developer wants to dip their toe into OpenGL, then they could add a few Android Extension Pack features to their existing ES engine.

Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4 "Rivalry" Demo from Google I/O 2014.

The last feature, ASTC Texture Compression, was an interesting one. Apparently the Khronos Group, owners of OpenGL, were looking for a new generation of texture compression technologies. NVIDIA suggested their ZIL technology. ARM and AMD also proposed "Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression". ARM and AMD won, although the Khronos Group stated that the collaboration between ARM and NVIDIA made both proposals better than either in isolation.

Android Extension Pack is set to launch with "Android L". The next release of Android is not currently associated with a snack food. If I was their marketer, I would block out the next three versions as 5.x, and name them (L)emon, then (M)eringue, and finally (P)ie.

Would I do anything with the two skipped letters before pie? (N)(O).

Kingston's multi-talented MobileLite Wireless G2

Subject: Mobile | July 3, 2014 - 11:54 AM |
Tagged: kingston, MobileLite Wireless G2

The Kingston MobileLite Wireless G2 is hard to describe quickly, you can plug memory cards or USB flash drives into it and access them with a wireless device, you can plug in an ethernet cord and use it as a wireless router and you can plug USB devices into it to recharge them.  Often these all in one devices tend towards being able to do several things poorly as opposed to one thing very well but in this case it seems Kingston has pulled it off.  Techgage was not terribly impressed with the features of the software but the utilitarian nature of the interface does keep things simple.

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"There are mobile media readers, and then there’s Kingston’s MobileLite Wireless G2. When not serving files over Wi-Fi, it can accept a wired LAN connection to become a travel router, and it can also use its huge battery to help charge your mobile phone while you’re on-the-go. Who doesn’t love a device that can act as a jack-of-all-trades?"

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: Techgage

ARM Ships Juno Development Platform for ARMv8-A Integration

Subject: Mobile | July 2, 2014 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: linux, linaro, juno, google, armv8-a, ARMv8, arm, android l

Even though Apple has been shipping a 64-bit capable SoC since the release of the A7 part in September of 2013, the Android market has yet to see its first consumer 64-bit SoC release. That is about to change as we progress through the rest of 2014 and ARM is making sure that major software developers have the tools they need to be ready for the architecture shift. That help is will come in the form of the Juno ARM Development Platform (ADP) and 64-bit ready software stack.

Apple's A7 is the first core to implement ARMv8 but companies like Qualcomm, NVIDIA and course ARM have their own cores based on the 64-bit architecture. Much like we saw the with the 64-bit transition in the x86 ecosystem, ARMv8 will improve access to large datasets, will result in gains in performance thanks to increased register sizes, larger virtual address spaces above 4GB and more. ARM also improved performance of NEON (SIMD) and cryptography support while they were in there fixing up the house.

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The Juno platform is the first 64-bit development platform to come directly from ARM and combines a host of components to create a reference hardware design for integrators and developers to target moving forward. Featuring a test chip built around Cortex-A57 (dual core), Cortex-A53 (quad core) and Mali-T624 (quad core), Juno allows software to target 64-bit development immediately without waiting for other SoC vendors to have product silicon ready. The hardware configuration implements big.LITTLE, OpenGL ES3.0 support, thermal and power management, Secure OS capability and more. In theory, ARM has built a platform that will be very similar to SoCs built by its partners in the coming months.

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ARM isn't quite talking about the specific availability of the Juno platform, but for the target audience ARM should be able to provide the amount of development platforms necessary. Juno enables software development for 64-bit kernels, drivers, and tools and virtual machine hypervisors but it's not necessarily going to help developers writing generic applications. Think of Juno as the development platform for the low level designers and coders, not those that are migrating Facebook or Flappy Bird to your next smartphone.

The Juno platform helps ARM in a couple of specific ways. From a software perspective, it creates common foundation for the ARMv8 ecosystem and allows developer access to silicon before ARM's partners have prepared their own platforms. ARM claims that Juno is a fairly "neutral" platform so software developers won't feel like they are being funneled in one direction. I'd be curious what ARM's partners actually think about that though with the inclusion of Mali graphics, a product that ARM is definitely trying to promote in a competitive market.

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Though the primary focus might be software, hardware partners will be able to benefit from Juno. On this board they will find the entire ARMv8 IP portfolio tested up to modern silicon. This should enable hardware vendors to see A57 and A53 working, in action and with the added benefit of a full big.LITTLE implementation. The hope is that this will dramatically accelerate the time to market for future 64-bit ARM designs.

The diagram above shows the full break down of the Juno SoC as well as some of the external connectivity on the board itself. The memory system is built around 8GB of DDR3 running at 12.8 GB/s and the is extensible through the PCI Express slots and the FPGA options. 

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Of course hardware is only half the story - today Linaro is releasing a 64-bit port of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) that will run on Juno. That, along with the Linux kernel v3.14 with ARMv8-A support should give developers the tools needed to write the applications, middleware and kernels for future hardware. Also worth noting on June 25th at Google I/O was the announcement of developer access coming for Android L. This build will support ARMv8-A as well.

The switch to 64-bit technology on ARM devices isn't going to happen overnight but ARM and its partners have put together a collective ecosystem that will allow the software and hardware developers to make transition as quick and, most importantly, as painless as possible. With outside pressure pushing on ARM and its low power processor designs, it is taking more of its fate in its own hands, pushing the 64-bit transition forward at an accelerated pace. This helps ARM in the mobile space, the consumer space as well as the enterprise markets, a key market for SoC growth.

ASUS Republic of Gamers Announces Stunning G550JK Gaming Notebook

Subject: Mobile | June 29, 2014 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: Republic of Gamers, ips display, i7-4710HQ, gtx 850m, G550JK, asus, 15.6 inch

Fremont, CA (June 26, 2014) - ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today announces the G550JK gaming notebook, a compact powerhouse with acrisp 15.6-inch display that offers all the benefits associated with the award-winning ROG notebook range in an even more portable form factor. Powered by the latest 4th-generation Intel Core i7 processors, and featuring an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M GPU that can be overclocked thanks to ASUS TurboMaster technology, the G550JK provides the ultimate gaming-on-the-go experience. In a collaborative effort, the G550JK was used to scale Mt. Elbert, the highest peak of the Rocky Mountains, in an attempt to set the world record for highest elevation LAN party.

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Powerful, stylish, and feature-heavy
The G550JK may be compact, slim and portable, but it packs a big punch. ASUS TurboMaster technology, along with dual fans and copper heatsinks, allow the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M GPU to be safely overclocked by up to 5%. Meanwhile, Optimus support maximizes battery life when not running GPU-demanding applications. .

The sleek low-profile aluminum lines of G550JK are enhanced by the signature ROG color scheme of black with fine red diamond-cut detailing. The red backlight of the seamless one-piece hiclet keyboard makes it easy on the eyes when gaming in darkened environments while the subtly illuminated ROG logo on the lid adds a touch of exclusivity and makes sure opponents know exactly what they’re up against. Measuring just 1.1-inch at the thickest point, G550JK can go anywhere, and win everywhere.

The G550JK’s packs a 15.6-inch Full HD IPS LED-backlit display provides a stunning visual experience with its wide 178-degree viewing angles and anti-glare coating for comfort during long gaming sessions. The included 802.11ac WiFi ensures ultra-fast ping times and transfer rates to deliver the best wireless gaming when paired with an 802.11ac router. ASUS SonicMaster Premium, incorporating ICEpower, Bang & Olufsen technology and an external SonicMaster subwoofer, gives the G550JK powerful high-fidelity audio and added bass for a more immersive gaming experience.

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The G550JK on a quest for a world record
HighLANder, an event hosted by Linus Media Group and Tek Syndicate on June 23rd, 2014 in Leadville Colorado, used the ROG G550JK gaming notebook to scale Mt. Elbert, the highest peak of the Rocky Mountains at 14,440 ft., followed by wirelessly connecting via an ASUS RT-AC68U router at the summit in order to set a world record for highest elevation LAN party. The elevation was certified by expert witness Elizabeth Thompson, a PHD student in Atmospheric Meteorology, and has been submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records for review and certification. Ten G550JK notebooks were used to accomplish the feat and along with 13 participants from LinusTechTips, Tek Syndicate, Newegg TV, and ASUS.

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Source: ASUS

Qualcomm Focuses on Android Gaming, Snapdragon Benefits to Gamers, Developers

Subject: Processors, Mobile | June 23, 2014 - 10:08 AM |
Tagged: snapdragon, qualcomm, gaming, Android, adreno

Today Qualcomm has published a 22-page white paper that keys in on the company's focus around Android gaming and the benefits that Qualcomm SoCs offer. As the dominant SoC vendor in the Android ecosystem of smartphones, tablets and handhelds (shipping more than 32% in Q2 of 2013) QC is able to offer a unique combination of solutions to both developers and gamers that push Android gaming into higher fidelity with more robust game play.

According to the white paper, Android gaming is the fastest growing segment of the gaming market with a 30% compound annual growth rate from 2013 to 2015, as projected by Gartner. Experiences for mobile games have drastically improved since Android was released in 2008 with developers like Epic Games and the Unreal Engine pushing visuals to near-console and near-PC qualities. 

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Qualcomm is taking a heterogeneous approach to address the requirements of gaming that include AI execution, physics simulation, animation, low latency input and high speed network connectivity in addition to high quality graphics and 3D rendering. Though not directly a part of the HSA standards still in development, the many specialized engines that Qualcomm has developed for its Snapdragon SoC processors including traditional CPUs, GPUs, DSPs, security and connectivity allow the company to create a solution that is built for Android gaming dominance.

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In the white paper Qualcomm dives into the advantages that the Krait CPU architecture offers for CPU-based tasks as well as the power of the Adreno 4x series of GPUs that offer both raw performance and the flexibility to support current and future gaming APIs. All of this is done with single-digit wattage draw and a passive, fanless design and points to the huge undertaking that mobile gaming requires from an engineering and implementation perspective.

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For developers, the ability to target Snapdragon architectures with a single code path that can address a scalable product stack allows for the least amount of development time and the most return on investment possible. Qualcomm continues to support the development community with tools and assistance to bring out the peak performance of Krait and Adreno to get games running on lower power parts as well as the latest and upcoming generations of SoCs in flagship devices.

It is great to see Qualcomm focus on this aspect of the mobile market and the challenges presented by it require strong dedication from these engineering teams. Being able to create compelling gaming experiences with high quality imagery while maintaining the required power envelope is a task that many other company's have struggled with. 

Check out the new landing page over at Qualcomm if you are interested in more technical information as well as direct access to the white paper detailing the work Qualcomm is putting into its Snapdragon line of SoC for gamers.

Source: Qualcomm