CES 2014: Lenovo Convertables, Tablets, and Laptops (Part 2) Y40 & Y50 Touch (with optional 4K), Z40 & Z50

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, GeForce 800M, CES 2014, CES, 4k

For the lover of a more conventional clamshell laptop, Lenovo has four models announced at CES. They do not need a special hinge to avoid the ho-hum. Some of these models have options for GeForce 800-series mobile and Radeon M200-series graphics. Some have options of 802.11ac (and others have it standard). One of the four even includes an option for a 4K panel.

Did I get your attention? Read on.

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The Lenovo Y40 and Y50 are their gaming class notebooks with relatively high-performance components. The aesthetic is sort-of flat edges and bevels which looks pretty crisp. The dimensions and weight "start at" under an inch thick and 5.3lbs. Options will be available up to 16 GB of RAM and a 1TB hybrid hard drive with 8 GB of SSD caching. It also appears as if 802.11ac wireless comes standard. You have a choice between 14-inch and 15.6-inch Full HD screens or, for the Y50, you can bump the resolution up to 3840x2160 for some mobile 4K.

The Y50 can be powered by as much as an Intel Core i7-4702HQ processor and an NVIDIA GTX 860M 2GB GPU. This graphics solution is currently unannounced but rumors (just rumors) claim it will have about 1.4 TeraFLOPs of performance from 960 shading units. This puts it a little bit behind the Xbox One in terms of peak shader performance however it is also laptop graphics. If the rumors hold true it should be just slightly behind a GeForce 650 Ti. Perhaps we will learn more as CES continues.

Prices start at around $500.

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The Lenovo Z40 and Z50, on the other hand, are their more mainstream laptops. Still, they are capable of upgrades up to an Intel Core i7 with GeForce 800-series graphics. They can include up to 16 GB of RAM and up to a 1TB HDD (with extra options for 8GB SSD caching). The laptop comes default with 802.11 b/g/n but can be upgraded to 802.11ac if desired. They come standard with a 1080p touchscreen display.

More interestingly, prices start at just under $400 (although clearly with less RAM, CPU, and GPU than the up to listings). Lenovo claims you can have "up to Windows 8.1" which makes me wonder if Windows 7 options will be available. That could be interesting if true.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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Source: Lenovo

CES 2014: Lenovo Convertables, Tablets, and Laptops (Part 1) MIIX 2 10 & 11, Yoga 2 11 & 13, Flex 14D & 15D

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: Yoga 2, MIIX, Lenovo, Flex, CES 2014, CES

On the third of January, Lenovo unveiled the line-up of smartphones which they will present at CES. The company is best known for PCs, however, and they obviously have plenty of those at the show as well. This post will cover three unconventional laptop announcements which borrow a little bit of design from the tablet universe.

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The Lenovo MIIX 2 10 is a 10.1-inch detachable computer which integrates an Intel Atom quad core processor. This model does not list its RAM options but I expect 2 GB (although 4 GB is possible). Since it uses an Intel Atom processor, it includes Windows 8.1 (and not Windows RT like those based on ARM SoCs). Lenovo claims 8-hour "All-day" battery life. Prices start at $499.

The MIIX 2 11 is a similar detachable computer with an 11.6-inch 1080p screen. More than just the screen size changes, however, as its processor gets a significant boost up to a Core i5 1.6 GHz backed by 8 GB of RAM. SSD capacities will range from 64 GB up to 256 GB. The price for this one starts a few hundred dollars north of the 10-inch model at $799 and up.

lenovo-convertable-yoga2.jpg

The Lenovo Yoga 2 is also available in 11 and 13-inch models. The Yoga is known for its hinge between the screen and the body (and, specifically, its wide range of options). You will be able to use it as a standard clamshell notebook or flip it around and use the keyboard as a stand for the touchscreen. If you want to go all the way, you can also open the hinge so that the back of the monitor touches the back of the keyboard and use it as a standard tablet. The two models vary significantly in specifications above and beyond the size of the screen.

The Yoga 2 11 is built around an 11.6-inch 1366x768 IPS touchscreen and includes an Intel Bay Trail processor. Because it is an x86-based processor, it will run Windows 8.1. Again, Lenovo does not mention the RAM choices available for the Bay Trail version. Storage will be available in either a 500GB hard drive with 16GB of SSD caching or, in some areas, potentially a 256GB SSD. It will have up to 8 hours of battery life. Prices should start in the mid-$500s USD.

The Yoga 2 13 is built around a 13.3-inch 1080p IPS touchscreen. The processor is a Haswell-based Core i5 backed by up to 8 GB of RAM. Storage will be either a 500GB hard drive with 16 GB of SSD caching or, in some areas, a 256GB SSD. Unlike the 11-inch, the 13-inch model will also include a backlit keyboard. It will have up to 8 hours of battery life. Prices for the 13-inch model start at $999.

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The Lenovo Flex is like a Yoga that did not do as much Yoga as the Yoga. They cannot bend entirely backwards to become a tablet but they can flip 300 degrees to become a stand-up tablet. They can also be used as a standard touchscreen laptop in clamshell mode.

The Flex 14D is a 14-inch 1366x768 touchscreen with up to 8GB of RAM and an AMD APU up to an A6-5200. Lenovo also claims that you will be able to choose up to an HD 8570 GPU (which might be discrete). For storage, you will have the choice between a 1 TB HDD or a 500 GB SSHD with 16 GB of SSD caching. You can also opt for a backlit keyboard. Lenovo claims up to 9 hours of battery life and, of course, full Windows 8.1.

The Flex 15D, unlike the trend from the Yoga and MIIX series, is very similar to the 14D. The main difference is the 15.6" touchscreen with the same resolution (1366x768). Prices for this line start at under $500 USD and range up to about $800 USD.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo

CES 2014: LG Launching Updated Mobile PCs

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 3, 2014 - 10:49 PM |
Tagged: tablet, tabbook 2, LG, laptop, hybrid, CES 2014, CES

CES 2014 is not until next week, but that has not stopped several companies from offering a bit of a “sneak peek” of what they will be showing off in Las Vegas on the show floor. One such company is LG Electronics, which is launching at least three new mobile devices of the convertible tablet and laptop flavors. Specifically, LG is introducing a new Ultra PC L3Z940 laptop and two Tab-Book 2 tablets (11T540 and 11T740). The devices in the updated lineup are powered by Intel's latest Haswell CPU, run the full version of Windows 8.1, features LG IPS displays, and are lighter and faster performing than their predecessors.

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The LG Ultra PC L3Z940 is a 13” notebook weighing 980 grams and measuring up to 13.6mm thick. It has a full keyboard and a 13.3” 1080p IPS display and 4.4mm bezels. The display has a reading mode that adjusts the screen to make reading easier on the eyes. Internal specifications include a Haswell Core i5 processor and a 128GB or 256GB SSD.

The new Tab-Book 2 convertible tablets are mobile devices with a slider-style hardware keyboard and laptop-class internals. The PCs have 11.6” 10-point multi-touch displays as well. The LG Tab-Book 2 11T740 is an 11.6” tablet measuring 16.7mm thick and weighing 1.05 kg. It is powered by an Intel Haswell Core i5 processor. It has a 400 nit screen. The Tab-Book 2 11T540 is the smaller brother to the 11T740 with slightly reduced hardware specifications. However, the tradeoff allows LG to offer a convertible tablet that is slightly thinner and lighter at 13.7mm and 930 grams.

LG has not yet released further details on its updated hardware, but expect at least some of those details to be released at CES next week. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more CES 2014 goodness as it hits our (virtual) desks!

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: LG

CES 2014: Lenovo Smartphones - Vibe Z, A859, S930, S650

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 2, 2014 - 08:01 AM |
Tagged: Vibe Z, S930, S650, Lenovo, CES 2014, CES, A859

Lenovo is the leading PC manufacturer worldwide. They have been doing things consistently right in that industry and it shows with year-over-year growth in an otherwise global decline. At the same time, they have been attempting to carve their segment in the smartphone industry. They will bring four models to this year's CES ranging in price from $200 up to $550. Each phone is expected to be available this year.

The Vibe Z is their first LTE phone and the highest performance of all the models the will bring to CES this year. The phone itself weights slightly less than a third of a pound and is also slightly less than a third of an inch thick. The 5.5-inch full HD screen (400 PPI) is, of course, based on IPS technology which is common to phones because of the wide viewing angles they encourage.

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Lenovo Vibe Z

Lenovo calls a 5.5-inch 400 PPI screen, "20/20 Vision Display". Of course that overlooks several assumptions and unknown variables in much the same way as Apple's "Retina" moniker does. 400 PPI is great but does not directly relate to human vision.

The Vibe Z (starting at $549) will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC backed with 2 GB of RAM. Up to 16 GB of persistent storage will be included. It will include two cameras: a wide-angle 5 MP front camera and a 13 MP rear camera with a maximum aperture of f1.8. This is a wide ratio which should significantly assist low light performance when depth of field blur is not a problem (or when it is desired for a soft background effect). The phone will use Android 4.3 and Google Play.

Interestingly, the phone will also integrate 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0. There should be plenty of bandwidth to stream HD videos from media servers around the house.

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Lenovo S930

The S930 (starting at $319) and the S650 (starting at $229) will be based on Android 4.2 and feature a quad core 1.3 GHz SoC from MediaTek (likely MT6582) backed by 1 GB of RAM. Both will contain dual SIM card slots and an 8 MP rear camera. They are less than a millimeter more thick than the Vibe Z. Both contain 8 GB of storage.

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Lenovo S650

The S930 and S650 diverge from there. The S930 has a 6-inch 720p screen and two speakers with Dolby Digital Plus. The S650 has a 4.7-inch screen at a resolution of 960x540 and no mention of speakers (although it probably has one). The S650 also has a microSDHC storage slot allowing for up to 32 GB of expansion.

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Lenovo A859

The last phone is the A859 (starting at $219). This 5-inch 720p phone is a slightly larger than the others. It also contains a 1.3 GHz SoC from MediaTek and 1 GB of RAM. It has 8 GB of internal storage which can be expanded by up to 32 GB with a microSDHC card. It will be powered by Android 4.2.2.

Expect to see more from Lenovo as CES coverage continues.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo

NVIDIA Tegra Note 7 OTA Update - Always On HDR, Video Stabilization, Android 4.3

Subject: Mobile | December 26, 2013 - 10:18 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, tegra 4, note 7, tegra note 7, android 4.3, Android

NVIDIA sent along word this morning that they have improved the Tegra Note 7 with a new software OTA update.  Keys to the update are that it adds the promised always-on HDR photography (AOHDR), live video stabilization and an operating system update to Android 4.3. 

We’ve enhanced the Tegra NOTE stylus experience, adding support for left-handed users and improvements in overall response. We’ve also added a DirectStylus help option under the device setting’s menu, a stylus removal and insert notification on the notification bar, and given users the ability to capture the notification bar with full-screen capture.

In addition to these new features, Tegra NOTE 7′s camera gets always-on high-dynamic range (AOHDR) capability, which provides more lifelike images across a range of lighting conditions. AOHDR utilizes Tegra 4’s processing power and Chimera computational photography architecture. We’ve also added video stabilization for shake-free video, in addition to tuning and optimizations to improve camera performance under certain lighting conditions.

From an OS perspective, Tegra Note 7 now sports the Android 4.3 Operating System.

Finally, in addition to security and bug fixes, we’ve added the ability to transfer app and data files from internal memory to an external microSD card.

If you own a Tegra Note 7 you will be pushed the update soon or you can force an update in your settings menu. 

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Still curious about the device?  You can read my review of the Tegra Note 7 here and find out all about this $199 7-in tablet device.

Source: NVIDIA

Intel Broadwell to Reach 3.5W and Other Details!

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | December 14, 2013 - 04:07 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Broadwell

This leak is from China DIY and, thus, machine-translated into English from Chinese. They claim that Broadwell is coming in the second half of 2014 and will be introduced in three four series:

  • H will be the high performance offerings
  • U and Y have very low power consumption
  • M will fit mainstream performance

The high performance offerings will have up to four CPU cores, 6MB of L3 cache, support for up to 32GB of memory, and thermal rating of 47W. The leak claims that some will be configurable down to 37W which is pretty clearly its "SDP" rating. The problem, of course, is whether 47W is its actual TDP or, rather, another SDP rating. Who knows.

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The H series is said to be available in either one or two chips.  Both a separate PCH and CPU version will exist as well as a single-chip solution that integrates the PCH on-die.

There is basically nothing said about the M series beyond acknowledging its existence.

The U and Y series will be up to dual-core with 4MB L3 cache. The U series will have a thermal rating of 15W to 28W. The Y series will be substantially lower at 4.5W configurable down to 3.5W. No clue about which of these numbers are TDPs and which are SDPs. You can compare this earlier reports that Haswell will reach as low as 4.5W SDP.

Hopefully we will learn more about these soon and, perhaps, get a functional timeline of Intel releases. Seriously, I think I need to sit down and draw a flowchart some day.

Source: China DIY

ASUS PadFone Mini Announcement Next Wednesday

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 6, 2013 - 04:13 AM |
Tagged: asus, padfone, PadFone Mini

I will be entirely honest with you: every time I need to look up the PadFone to make sure I am not getting it confused with the FonePad.

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An older model but it gets the point across.

The upcoming PadFone Mini is expected to be a phone of some size (probably smaller than the 5" Pad Fone Infinity) with a dock of some other unknown size. The phone was briefly mentioned in a China Times article back in September. There it was expected to have a 4-inch display on the handset and a 7-inch display on the tablet dock. According to Engadget's interpretation of the VR-Zone leak (who saw that coming?) that might have changed since then.

The device itself is expected to be based on the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC, run Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean), and have a handset resolution of 960x540. That is about all that we have even the slightest clue about at this point.

No word yet on whether this device will even be available in North America though. For that, we will probably need to wait until the actual announcement (or even later).

Source: Engadget

MSI Announces a 3K Gaming and a 3K Workstation Notebook

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | December 5, 2013 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: WQHD+, msi, 3K

High resolution displays are very nice to have especially when you are looking at text and symbols (or edges of 3D geometry). WQHD+ is one of the resolutions classified under the 3K moniker with dimensions of 2880 x 1620. It has slightly more pixels than 1440p.

MSI - 3K.jpg

MSI has launched two notebooks with a 15.6" display in this resolution: one gaming and one workstation. Both laptops are remarkably similar except for a few key differences.

Both laptops include:

  • Intel Core i7-4700MQ CPU (2.4 GHz w/ 3.4 GHz Turbo)
  • 16 GB RAM
  • 15.6" 2880x1620 (16:9) display
  • 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • Killer E2200 networking (yes, the workstation too)
  • Killer N1202 a/b/g/n wireless (yes, workstation too)
  • SDXC card reader
  • HDMI 1.4, 2x USB 3.0, etc.
  • Backlit Keyboard from SteelSeries

The GT60 2OD-261US (Gaming) also includes:

  • Windows 8
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M GPU (4GB)
  • Blu-ray reader

The GT60 2OKWS-278US (Workstation) instead includes:

  • Windows 7 Professional
  • NVIDIA Quadro K3100M (4GB)
  • Blu-ray recorder

These laptops are currently available at two price points: $2200 for the gaming version and $2800 for the workstation. Press release after the break!

Source: MSI

Lenovo's ARM powered, JellyBean flavoured Yoga tablet

Subject: Mobile | December 3, 2013 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, yoga, arm, jellybean, tablet

Both the 8" and 10" models of the Lenovo Yoga tablet have a 1280x800 IPS display and run on a 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A7 processor, sport 1GB of DDR2 and have 16GB of onboard storage.  The only difference apart from the size of the tablet is the battery 9000mAh on the larger model as compared to 6000mAh on the 8".  Benchmark Reviews liked the rather unique look of the tablet though they would have preferred a newer version of Android and a higher resolution screen to be available.  Check out the OS and included apps in their full review.

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"The Android-based tablet market is exploding, with new entries almost every day. We’re even seeing what once were dedicated e-readers, like the Nook and Kindle, re-marketed as general purpose tablets. Lenovo’s been in this market for a while, and thus it’s no surprise to see them introduce another entry, the Lenovo Yoga tablet computers."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Video Perspective: Anker E150 5V / 5A 5-Port USB Wall Charger

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 3, 2013 - 10:32 AM |
Tagged: video, usb, charger, anker

In my eternal goal to find the perfect USB charging solution for my varied use cases, I came across a 5-port unit from a company called Anker that is as close as I have found thus far.  My needs are pretty concrete: lots of ports, high power to those ports and the ability to sit on a desk or table.  The Anker E150 5V/5A 5-port wall charger is pretty close.

anker1.jpg

Though ideally I would like to see more than 5 ports, this capacity seems to be reasonable for most people with the standard allotment of electronics.  As the name suggests, the Anker unit maxes out at 5A of output TOTAL for all 5 ports, though each port is rated at different amperage.  The two ports labeled iPad will output up to 2.1A, the rest vary a bit.

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Obviously the total amp output of those ports goes PAST the 5A maximum of the unit, so expect charging to slow down if you have all ports populated.  I also wish that Anker would just label the outputs with their respective amperage rather than attempting to get product SEO with the current naming scheme. 

Even better, the Anker E150 5V/5A 5-port wall charger can be picked up at Amazon for an impulse purchase price of $19!

Check out my full video overview below!!

Video Perspective: Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 2 Pro Ultrabook with 3200x1800 Screen

Subject: Mobile | November 26, 2013 - 05:46 PM |
Tagged: video, Lenovo, Ideapad, yoga, yoga 2 pro, haswell

The Yoga has easily been the most successful convertible notebook brand in my book and I think Lenovo would agree.  The 4-option form factor allows for a standard laptop stance, tablet mode, tent mode and stand mode, all of which have unique benefits and trade offs. 

The new Yoga 2 Pro offers the same style chassis as the previous Yoga laptops but offers several dramatic improvements.  First, this notebook is Haswell based, a 4th Generation Intel Core processor, and that will equal better performance and better battery life than the previous Ivy Bridge based design.

yoga21.jpg

Also, this unit has a 13.3-in 3200x1800 resolution display; that's correct a 5.7 MP screen in a 13.3 inch form factor.  That is better than the retina MacBook Air that has a resolution of 2560x1600 and is even higher than the 2880x1800 display on the 15-in retina MacBook.  In use the screen is bright (up to 350 nits now) and crisp. 

The keyboard is backlit, the edge has a rubber ring around it to prevent slipping and damage in tent mode and it is both lighter and slimmer than the previous Yoga.

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Overall, the Yoga 2 Pro looks to be an amazing sequel to the original.  Look for a full review on PC Perspective soon!!

Find the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro on Amazon! 

Synaptics Showcases ClickPad 2.0 and TypeGuard Technology for Touchpads

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 19, 2013 - 11:36 AM |
Tagged: typeguard, synaptics, clickpad 2.0, clickpad

Human interface solutions developer Synaptics, makers of touchpads, touchscreens and touch interpretation software, are showcasing a pair of new technologies today that will be included in upcoming notebooks and Ultrabooks this holiday.  ClickPad 2.0 improves the company's design and mechanical implementation on the first iterations of ClickPad while TypeGuard aims to improve recognition of false input from users to improve performance and experience.  Even better, this combination has been recognized as a CES Innovation 2104 Design and Engineering Award honoree

In 2010 Synaptics released the ClickPad, a solution for hardware vendors that included the design and manufacture of the entire touchpad solution.  This was a shift for the company that had previously done product licensing and custom solutions for specific vendors.  There were some issues with the technology in its 1.0 and 1.5 iterations that prevented users from clicking near the top of the touchpad, for example, as well as the new wrinkle of Windows 8 gestures that weren't implemented perfectly. 

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With ClickPad 2.0, Synaptics claims to have addressed all of these issues including top and corner clicking capability as well making the feel of the click consistent no matter where the user might push down on the pad.  Window 8 gestures can now be support by a separate, but integrated, side-pad integration option.  The sides of the touch pad would be textured differently and only function as gesture controls, leaving the entirety of the touchpad face for primary input functionality. 

TypeGuard is a set of software algorithms that improves false inputs that might occur during use of a laptop.  Palm rejection while typing is one of the biggest annoyances for users that are frequently writing on their notebooks and with TypeGuard Synaptics claims to nearly completely remove false cursor movements, taps and scrolls.

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As touchpads become larger, palm contact is going to be much more likely on notebooks and preventing these kinds of accidental inputs is going to be crucial to providing a good experience for the consumer.  Apple has long been considered the leader in this area (and with touchpads in general) but Synaptics believes it has matched them with this combination of ClickPad 2.0 and TypeGuard.  Doing its own in-house studies has revealed a 73% decrease in false movements but we will obviously need our own hands on time with an integrated product to see how it acts over extended use.

The good news is that might be pretty soon.  The HP Spectre 13 Ultrabook actually implements both of these technologies and is available for preorder in various locations.

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HP will be offering this machine for $999 with a 128GB SSD, 4GB of memory, Intel Haswell processors and Windows 8.1.  I am hoping to get one of these units in for a review and to use it to evaluate the strong claims that Synaptics is making about its new touch technologies.

As a frequent user of Apple portable devices, the touch experience on them has always exceeded that of the Windows environment and I'm hopeful that we can finally level the playing field. 

See the full CES Innovation award press release after the break!

AMD Releases 2014 Mobile APU Details: Beema and Mullins Cut TDPs

Subject: Processors | November 13, 2013 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: Puma, Mullins, mobile, Jaguar, GCN, beema, apu13, APU, amd, 2014

AMD’s APU13 is all about APUs and their programming, but the hardware we have seen so far has been dominated by the upcoming Kaveri products for FM2+.  It seems that AMD has more up their sleeves for release this next year, and it has somewhat caught me off guard.  The Beema and Mullins based products are being announced today, but we do not have exact details on these products.  The codenames have been around for some time now, but interest has been minimal since they are evolutionary products based on Kabini and Temash APUs that have been available this year.  Little did I know that things would be far more interesting than that.

apu13_01.png

The basis for Beema and Mullins is the Puma core.  This is a highly optimized revision of Jaguar, and in some ways can be considered a new design.  All of the basics in terms of execution units, caches, and memory controllers are the same.  What AMD has done is go through the design with a fine toothed comb and make it far more efficient per clock than what we have seen previously.  This is still a 28 nm part, but the extra attention and love lavished upon it by AMD has resulted in a much more efficient system architecture for the CPU and GPU portions.

The parts will be offered in two and four core configurations.  Beema will span from 10W to 25W configurations.  Mullins will go all the way down to “2W SDP”.  SDP essentially means that while the chip can be theoretically rated higher, it will rarely go above that 2W envelope in the vast majority of situations.  These chips are expected to be around 2X more efficient per clock than the previous Jaguar based products.  This means that at similar clock speeds, Beema and Mullins will pull far less power than that previous gen.  It should also allow some higher clockspeeds at the top end 25W area.

apu13_02.png

These will be some of the first fanless quad cores that AMD will introduce for the tablet market.  Previously we have seen tablets utilize the cut down versions of Temash to hit power targets, but with this redesign it is entirely possible to utilize the fully enabled quad core Mullins.  AMD has not given us specific speeds for these products, but we can guess that they will be around what we see currently, but the chip will just have a lower TDP rating.

AMD is introducing their new security platform based on the ARM Trustzone.  Essentially a small ARM Cortex A5 is integrated in the design and handles the security aspects of this feature.  We were not briefed on how this achieves security, but the slide below gives some of the bullet points of the technology.

apu13_03.png

Since the pure-play foundries will not have a workable 20 nm process for AMD to jump to in a timely manner, AMD had no other choice but to really optimize the Jaguar core to make it more competitive with products from Intel and the ARM partners.  At 28 nm the ARM ecosystem has a power advantage over AMD, while at 22 nm Intel offers similar performance to AMD but with greater power efficiency.

This is a necessary update for AMD as the competition has certainly not slowed down.  AMD is more constrained obviously by the lack of a next-generation process node available for 1H 2014, so a redesign of this magnitude was needed.  The performance per watt metric is very important here, as it promises longer battery life without giving up the performance people received from the previous Kabini/Temash family of APUs.  This design work could be carried over to the next generation of APUs using 20 nm and below, which hopefully will keep AMD competitive with the rest of the market.  Beema and Mullins are interesting looking products that will be shown off at CES 2014.

apu13_04.png

Source: AMD

LucidLogix Goes Mobile with GameXtend

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 12, 2013 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: Lucidlogix, GameXtend

I can smell a Post-PC joke waiting to pounce (and that smells like Starbucks).

LucidLogix has, for desktops and laptops, used its research into GPU virtualization to accomplish a large number of interesting tasks. With Hydra, they allowed separate GPUs to load balance in a single game; with Virtu, fast (and high wattage) graphics can be used only when necessary leaving the rest for the integrated or on-processor offering; one unnamed project even allowed external graphics over Thunderbolt. Many more products (like Virtual VSync) were displayed and often packaged with motherboards.

lucid-logo-2-color.png

Now they are dipping their toe into the mobile space. The Samsung GALAXY Note 3 has licensed their technology, GameXtend, to increase battery life. While concrete details are sparse, they claim to add two to three hours of battery life by tweaking power settings according to the actual game workload.

The unsung news is that, now, LucidLogix has a few mobile contacts in their address book (although a lot of that is probably due to the merger with CellGuide). Knowing Lucid, this could be the beginning of many products addressing an array of small problems typically centered around utilizing one or more GPUs.

Press blast after the break.

(WinSupersite) Surface 2 Reviewed

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | November 1, 2013 - 04:49 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, Surface 2

The Surface 2 is what happened to the Surface RT. Microsoft decided that "RT" has no place on this product except, of course, its software ("Windows RT") because they painted themselves into a corner on that one. The message is something like, "It's Windows RT 8.1 but not Windows 8.1; in fact, you cannot run that software on it". I expect, and you probably know I have voiced, that this all is a moot point in the semi-near future (and that sucks).

Microsoft's "Official" Surface 2 overviews.

Paul Thurrott down at his Supersite for Windows reviewed Surface 2 in terms of the original Surface RT. The inclusion of Tegra 4 was a major plus for him yielding "night and day" improvement over the previous Tegra 3. In fact, he thinks that everything is at least as good as the original. There is not a single point on his rubric where the Surface RT beats its successor.

Of course there is a single section where the Surface 2 lacks (it is shared with the Surface RT and I think you can guess what it is). The ecosystem, apps for Windows RT, is the platform's "Achilles Heel". It is better than it once was, with the inclusion of apps like Facebook, but glaring omissions will drive people away. He makes this point almost in passing but I, of course, believe this is a key issue.

It is absolutely lacking in key apps, and you will most likely never see such crucial solutions as full Photoshop, iTunes, or Google Chrome on this platform. But if we're being honest with ourselves here, as we must, these apps are, for better or worse, important. (The addition of Chrome alone would be a huge win for both Windows RT and Surface 2.)

I agree that this is the problem with the Windows RT platform and, in Google Chrome's case, the blame belongs to no-one but Microsoft. They will explicitly deny any web browser unless it is a reskin of Internet Explorer (using the "Trident" rendering system and their Javascript engine). You will not see full Firefox or full Google Chrome because Gecko, Servo, Webkit, and Blink are not allowed to be installed on end-user machines.

You are paying Microsoft to not let you install third party browsers. Literally.

Not only does this limit its usefulness but it also reduces the pressure to continue innovation. Why add developer features to Internet Explorer when you can control their use with Windows Store? Sure, Internet Explorer has been on a great trajectory since IE9. I would say that versions 10 and especially 11 could be considered "top 3" contenders as app platforms.

The other alternative is the web, and this is where Internet Explorer 11 plays such a crucial role. While many tier-one online services—Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Cloud Player and Prime Video, and so on—are lacking native Windows RT aps, the web interfaces (should) work fine, and IE 11 is evolving into a full-featured web app platform that should present a reasonable compromise for those users.

Only if Microsoft continues their effort. No-one else is allowed to.

Now that I expanded that point, be sure to check out the rest of Paul Thurrott's review. He broke his review down into sections, big and small, and stuck his opinion wherever he could. Also check out his preview of the Nokia Lumia 2520 to see whether that (if either device) is worth waiting for.

Transformers finally vanquished the Ultrabook

Subject: Mobile | October 29, 2013 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: asus, transformer t100, transformer book

The ASUS Transformer Book T100 is two devices, a 10.1" 1366 x 768 tablet powered by a quad-core BayTrail based Atom Z3740 @ 1.33GHz base speed and Intel's HD graphics and 2GB of RAM.  Storage is dependent on the model, both 32GB and 64GB models are available and you can expand that with up to another 64GB with an additional SD Card.  The dock adds a keyboard as well as more connectivity options such as USB 3.0.  If you want to see how it performs you can see The Tech Report's full review here.

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"Despite its low $350 starting price, the Transformer Book T100 offers a quad-core Bay Trail SoC, a 10" IPS touchscreen, 10+ hours of battery life, a USB 3.0-equipped keyboard dock, and the full-fat version of Windows 8.1. We take a closer look at the most uniquely compelling notebook/tablet hybrid to date."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

ARM TechCon 2013: Altera To Produce ARMv8 Chips on Intel 14nm Fabs

Subject: Processors, Mobile | October 29, 2013 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: techcon, Intel, arm techcon, arm, Altera, 14nm

In February of this year Intel and Altera announced that they would be partnering to build Altera FPGAs using the upcoming Intel 14nm tri-gate process technology.  The deal was important for the industry as it marked one of the first times Intel has shared its process technology with another processor company.  Seen as the company's most valuable asset, the decision to outsource work in the Intel fabrication facilities could have drastic ramifications for Intel's computing divisions and the industry as a whole.  This seems to back up the speculation that Intel is having a hard time keeping their Fabs at anywhere near 100% utilization with only in-house designs.

Today though, news is coming out that Altera is going to be included ARM-based processing cores, specifically those based on the ARMv8 64-bit architecture.  Starting in 2014 Altera's high-end Stratix 10 FPGA that uses four ARM Cortex-A53 cores will be produced by Intel fabs.

The deal may give Intel pause about its outsourcing strategy. To date the chip giant has experimented with offering its leading-edge fab processes as foundry services to a handful of chip designers, Altera being one of its largest planned customers to date.

Altera believes that by combing the ARMv8 A53 cores and Intel's 14nm tri-gate transistors they will be able to provide FPGA performance that is "two times the core performance" of current high-end 28nm options.

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While this news might upset some people internally at Intel's architecture divisions, the news couldn't be better for ARM.  Intel is universally recognized as being the process technology leader, generally a full process node ahead of the competition from TSMC and GlobalFoundries.  I already learned yesterday that many of ARM's partners are skipping the 20nm technology from non-Intel foundries and instead are looking towards the 14/16nm FinFET transitions coming in late 2014. 

ARM has been working with essentially every major foundry in the business EXCEPT Intel and many viewed Intel's chances of taking over the mobile/tablet/phone space as dependent on its process technology advantage.  But if Intel continues to open up its facilities to the highest bidders, even if those customers are building ARM-based designs, then it could drastically improve the outlook for ARM's many partners.

UPDATE (7:57pm): After further talks with various parties there are a few clarifications that I wanted to make sure were added to our story.  First, Altera's FPGAs are primarly focused on the markets of communication, industrial, military, etc.  They are not really used as application processors and thus are not going to directly compete with Intel's processors in the phone/tablet space.  It remains to be seen if Intel will open its foundries to a directly competing product but for now this announcement regarding the upcoming Stratix 10 FPGA on Intel's 14nm tri-gate is an interesting progression.

Source: EETimes

ARM TechCon 2013 Will Showcase the Internet of Things

Subject: Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | October 26, 2013 - 11:13 AM |
Tagged: techcon, iot, internet of things, arm

This year at the Santa Clara Convention Center ARM will host TechCon, a gathering of partners, customers, and engineers with the goal of collaboration and connection.  While I will attending as an outside observer to see what this collection of innovators is creating, there will be sessions and tracks for chip designers, system implementation engineers and software developers.

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Areas of interest will include consumer products, enterprise products and of course, the Internet of Things, the latest terminology for a completely connected infrastructure of devices.  ARM has designed tracks for interested parties in chip design, data security, mobile, networking, server, software and quite a few more. 

Of direct interest to PC Perspective and our readers will be the continued release of information about the Cortex-A12, the upcoming mainstream processor core from ARM that will address the smartphone and tablet markets.  We will also get some time with ARM engineers to talk about the coming migration of the market to 64-bit.  Because of the release of the Apple A7 SoC that integrated 64-bit and ARMv8 architecture earlier this year, it is definitely going to be the most extensively discussed topic. If you have specific questions you'd like us to bring to the folks at ARM, as well as its partners, please leave me a note in the comments below and I'll be sure it is addressed!

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I am also hearing some rumblings of a new ARM developed Mali graphics product that will increase efficiency and support newer graphics APIs as well. 

Even if you cannot attend the event in Santa Clara, you should definitely pay attention for the news and products that are announced and shown at ARM TechCon as they are going to be a critical part of the mobile ecosystem in the near, and distant, future.  As a first time attendee myself, I am incredibly excited about what we'll find and learn next week!

Imagination Technologies Unleashes Warrior MIPS P5600 CPU Core Aimed at Embedded and Mobile Devices

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Networking, Processors, Mobile | October 19, 2013 - 01:45 AM |
Tagged: SoC, p5600, MIPS, imagination

Imagination Technologies, a company known for its PowerVR graphics IP, has unleashed its first Warrior P-series MIPS CPU core. The new MIPS core is called the P5600 and is a 32-bit core based on the MIPS Release 5 ISA (Instruction Set Architecture).

The P5600 CPU core can perform 128-bit SIMD computations, provide hardware accelerated virtualization, and access up to a 1TB of memory via virtual addressing. While the MIPS 5 ISA provides for 64-bit calculations, the P5600 core is 32-bit only and does not include the extra 64-bit portions of the ISA.

Imagination Technologies Warrior MIPS P5600 CPU Core.png

The MIPS P5600 core can scale up to 2GHz in clockspeed when used in chips built on TSMC's 28nm HPM manufacturing process (according to Imagination Technologies). Further, the Warrior P5600  core can be used in processors and SoCs. As many as six CPU cores can be combined and managed by a coherence manager and given access to up to 8MB of shared L2 cache. Imagination Technologies is aiming processors containing the P5600 cores at mobile devices, networking appliances (routers, hardware firewalls, switches, et al), and micro-servers.

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A configuration of multiple P5600 cores with L2 cache.

I first saw a story on the P5600 over at the Tech Report, and found it interesting that Imagination Technologies was developing a MIPS processor aimed at mobile devices. It does make sense to see a MIPS CPU from the company as it owns the MIPS intellectual property. Also, a CPU core is a logical step for a company with a large graphics IP and GPU portfolio. Developing its own MIPS CPU core would allow it to put together an SoC with its own CPU and GPU components. With that said, I found it interesting that the P5600 CPU core was being aimed at the mobile space, where ARM processors currently dominate. ARM is working to increase performance while Intel is working to bring its powerhouse x86 architecture to the ultra low power mobile space. Needless to say, it is a highly competitive market and Imagination Technologies new CPU core is sure to have a difficult time establishing itself in that space of consumer smartphone and tablet SoCs. Fortunately, mobile chips are not the only processors Imagination Technologies is aiming the P5600 at. It is also offering up the MIPS Series 5 compatible core for use in processors powering networking equipment and very low power servers and business appliances where the MIPS architecture is more commonplace.

In any event, I'm interested to see what else IT has in store for its MIPS IP and where the Warrior series goes from here!

More information on the MIPS 5600 core can be found here.

Lenovo Launches Miix2 Windows 8.1 Tablet Powered By Bay Trail-T SoC

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 16, 2013 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, tablet, miix2, Lenovo, Bay Trail-T

Today, Lenovo launched a new tablet called the Miix2. The successor to the original Miix, the Miix2 is an 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet powered by Intel's new “Bay Trail-T” Atom processor. The tablet measures 8.5” x 5.2” x 0.32” and weighs 350 grams (~12 ounces).

The Lenovo Mix 2 has an 8-inch 1280x800 IPS display that supports 10-point capacitive multi-touch. There is a 2MP front webcam and a 5MP rear camera. A Windows button sits below the display when in portrait mode. A detachable cover can be fitted to the side of the tablet and act as a stand when in landscape mode. The $20 cover also comes with a capacitive stylus.

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Internally, the Miix2 features a quad-core Intel Bay Trail-T processor, 2GB of RAM, up to 128GB eMMC storage, support for up to 32GB of micro SD external storage, Wi-Fi, and 3G in select countries. The eMMC storage options include 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB. The company claims up to 7 hours of battery life for the Miix2.

The new Bay Trail-T powered tablet will come pre-loaded with Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system (the full x86 version) and a full license of Office Home and Student 2013 productivity suite.

The specifications are not amazing, but serviceable. Hopefully Lenovo introduces an alternative SKU with an active digitizer, a higher resolution display, and physical keyboard for business users. For now though, Lenovo has a decent consumer-level Windows 8.1 tablet for $299 that will be available at the end of October.

What do you think about the Miix2? 

Source: Lenovo