ASUS Announces ROG GX700 Gaming Notebook that's Water Cooled

Subject: Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: ROG, notebook, ifa, gx700, gaming notebook, gaming laptop, asus

IFA is turning out to be an odd place full of weird announcements focused on PC gaming and enthusiasts rather than just mobile phones and electronics. ASUS has gone in the completely opposite direction today, announcing not just a series of gaming notebooks but a new series that is water cooled. I'm not making that up.


That is the new ASUS ROG (Republic of Gamers) GX700 series of gaming notebooks, coming in the 4th quarter of 2015. Looking for a price? You won't find it here but you will find a lot of interesting technology. This is what ASUS claims about the GX700:

  • All-new flagship gaming laptop
  • 4K 17-inch display
  • Water-cooling system with pump/radiator
  • Mobile K-series CPU with overclocking
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics (TBD)

A 4K screen in a 17-inch form factor is going to...have exceptionally small pixels. Clearly this is going to need quite a bit of Windows-based text and format scaling to make sure the desktop experience is usable. ASUS is using the new K-series Skylake processor that is unlocked and allows for overclocking in the same way you do so in the desktop market.

Oh, and what's this? An unannounced mobile GeForce GTX GPU? I doubt this is anything more than a currently shipping Maxwell GPU with some additional horsepower behind it, possibly more closely matching performance of the desktop GTX 980 Ti.

And of course, let's talk about the water cooling system. I asked for more details but ASUS wasn't budging. Clearly if you market this as a notebook there has to be portability to the device so expect that large portion that is front in center in the above picture to detach with quick connections to the notebook housing. That large external base will likely hold the pump, radiator, reservoir and even some docking functions like display connections, USB, etc. With water cooling and an unlocked Skylake processor you should expect some impressive overclocking capability considering the form factor!

I would assume that if you disconnect the machine to take on the road without the water cooling base the hardware would run at slower speeds with normal in-case fans as we see with other designs on the market today.

This sound amazing, crazy and kind of senseless, but I need to try it right away. Expect to pay top dollar for something like this especially considering the component cost of the screen, CPU, GPU, etc. not to mention the specific engineering for the new housing and design. I'll keep my eyes out for more information on the ASUS ROG GX700!

Source: ASUS

IFA 2015: ASUS Introduces ROG G752 Gaming Notebook with 4K and Skylake

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: Skylake, ROG, Republic of Gamers, notebooks, laptops, IFA 2015, gaming notebook, gaming laptop, G752, asus, 4k

ASUS has announced the newest addition to their Republic of Gamers (ROG) gaming laptop lineup, the G752. What's new? ASUS offers these bullet points:

  • All-new chassis with new design theme
  • New plasma copper, armor titanium and lava red color
  • Intel Skylake platform
  • NVIDIA graphics up to a GTX 980M 8GB
  • Optional 4K display
  • Thunderbolt 3.0 technology
  • Gaming keyboard with anti-ghosting 30-key rollover with 2.5mm long-travel keys


The high-end model is the ROG G752VY, which boasts these specs:

  • 17.3” AG FHD IPS LED backlit display (1920x1080) with G-SYNC / 17.3” AG UHD IPS LED backlit display (3840x2160) with G-SYNC
  • Intel Core i7-6700HQ / i7-6820HK Processor (TBD)
  • Mobile Intel CM236 Chipset
  • DDR4 2133 MHz memory up to 64 GB
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M GPU with 4 GB / 8 GB GDDR5
  • 2.5” SATA 2TB 5400 RPM HDD/1TB 7200 RPM HDD/1TB SSHD, PCIEX4 M.2 NVME 512 GB / 256 GB / 128 GB SSD
  • DVD Super-Multi / Blu-ray combo / Blu-ray writer
  • Built-in HD camera and array mic
  • (WxDxH) 428 mm X 334 mm X 23~53 mm, 4.38 Kg (with 8-cell battery)

With the option of a 4K display and some serious specs the G752VY covers the bases for a desktop-replacement gaming powerhouse, topping the list of new laptops.

Sitting below the G752VY is the G752VT (yes this is a different laptop, though you could easily mistake the “T” for the other model name’s “Y”), and this 17.3” laptop differs in GPU selection with the GTX 970M and is only offered with a FHD 1920x1080 IPS display. Rounding out the lineup is the G752VL which has the GeForce GTX 965M GPU, and is otherwise virtually identical.

These new gaming laptops will be available in Q4, and pricing starts at $1499.

Source: ASUS

IFA 2015: Acer Aspire V Notebook Series Gets Skylake and Advanced Wi-Fi

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 06:00 AM |
Tagged: V Nitro, Skylake, NVMe, nvidia, notebook, mu-mimo, laptop, IFA 2015, geforce, aspire V, acer

Acer’s updated V Nitro notebook series has been announced, and the notebooks have received the newest Intel mobile processors and have been fully updated with the latest connectivity some advanced wireless tech.

Aspire_V3-372_white_acercp_straight on.jpg

The Aspire V 13

"The refreshed Aspire V Nitro Series notebooks and Aspire V 13 support the latest USB 3.1 Type-C port, while 'Black Edition' Aspire V Nitro models support Thunderbolt 3, which brings Thunderbolt to USB Type-C at speeds up to 40Gbps. All models include Qualcomm VIVE 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Qualcomm MU | EFX MU-MIMO technology."

MU-MIMO devices are just starting to hit the market and the tech promises to eliminate bottlenecks when multiple devices are in use on the same network – with compatible adapters/routers, that is.

Aspire V15 Nitro VN7-592_08.jpg

The Aspire V 15 Nitro

What kind of hardware will be offered? Here’s a brief overview:

  • 6th Gen Intel Core processors
  • Up to 32GB DDR4 system memory
  • NVIDIA GeForce graphics
  • (SATA) SSD/SSHD/HDD storage options
  • Touchscreen option added for the 15-inch model

Additionally, the “Black Edition” models offer a 4K 100% Adobe RGB display option, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M up to 4GB, NVMe SSDs, and something called “AeroBlade” thermal exhaust, which Acer said has “the world’s thinnest metallic blades of just 0.1mm thin, which are stronger and quieter”.

Aspire V17 Nitro VN7-792_win10_02.jpg

The Aspire V 17 Nitro

Pricing will start at $599 for the V Nitro 13, $999 for the V Nitro 15, and $1099 for the V Nitro 17. All versions will be available in the U.S. in October.

Source: Acer

IFA 2015: Lenovo Introduces New ideapad Notebook Lineup

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, notebooks, Lenovo, laptops, Intel Skylake, Intel Braswell, IFA 2015, ideapad 500S, ideapad 300S, ideapad 100S, Ideapad, gtx, APU, amd


Lenovo has unveiled their reinvented their ideapad (now all lowercase) lineup at IFA 2015 in Berlin, and the new laptops feature updated processors including Intel Braswell and Skylake, as well as some discrete AMD and NVIDIA GPU options.


At the entry-level price-point we find the ideapad 100S which does not contain one of the new Intel chips, instead running an Intel Atom Z3735F CPU and priced accordingly at just $189 for the 11.6” version and $259 for the 14” model. While low-end specs (2GB RAM, 32GB/64GB eMMC storage, 1366x768 screen) aren’t going to blow anyone away, these at least provide a Windows 10 alternative to a Chromebook at about the same cost, and to add some style Lenovo is offering the laptop in four colors: blue, red, white, and silver.


Moving up to the 300S we find a 14” laptop (offered in red, black, or white) with Intel Pentium Braswell processors up to the quad-core N3700, and the option of a FHD 1920x1080 display. Memory and storage options will range up to 8GB DDR3L and up to either 256GB SSD or 1TB HDD/SSHD. At 0.86" thick the 300S weighs 2.9 lbs, and prices will start at $479.

A lower-cost ideapad 300, without the “S” and with more basic styling, will be available in sizes ranging from 14” to 17” and prices starting between $399 and $549 for their respective models. A major distinction will be the inclusion of both Braswell and Intel 6th Gen Skylake CPUs, as well at the option of a discrete AMD GPU (R5 330M). 


Last we have the ideapad 500S, available in 13.3”, 14”, and 15.6” versions. With Intel 6th Gen processors up to Core i7 like the 300S, these also offer optional NVIDIA GPUs (GTX 920M for the 13.3", 940M for the 14"+) and up to FHD screen resolution. Memory and storage options range up to 8GB DDR3L and up to either 256GB SSD or 1TB HDD/SSHD, and the 500S is a bit thinner and lighter than the 300S, with the 13.3” version 0.76” thick and 3.4 lbs, moving up to 0.81” and 4.6 lbs with the 15.6” version.

A non-S version of the ideapad 500 will also be available, and this will be the sole AMD CPU representative with the option of an all-AMD solution powered by up to the A10-7300 APU, or a combination of R7 350M graphics along with 6th Gen Intel Core processors. 14” and 15” models will be available starting at $399 for the APU model and $499 with an Intel CPU.

All of the new laptops ship with Windows 10 as Microsoft’s newest OS arrived just in time for the back-to-school season.

Source: Lenovo

IFA 2015: Lenovo Announces ThinkPad Yoga 260 and 460 2-in-1 Laptops

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: YOGA 460, YOGA 260, ultrabook, thinkpad yoga, skylake-u, Lenovo, laptop, IFA 2015, 2-in-1

The newest versions of the ThinkPad Yoga are here, and these updated models feature the latest Intel 6th Gen Core (Skylake-U) mobile processors while retaining the trademark 360-degree hinge.


First up we have the ThinkPad Yoga 260, the 12.5-inch variant. This is the original form-factor from the ThinkPad Yoga S1, and while screen size and resolution options haven’t changed virtually everything else about this new laptop has.

The Yoga 260 makes use of the newest Intel CPUs from Core i3 to i7, and unlike that first TP Yoga S1 this uses DIMMs which creates the possibility of upgrading after purchase – but that probably won’t be necessary as the configuration options allow for a very powerful system:

  • 12.5-inch multi-touch display with 1366x768 or 1920x1080 resolution
  • Intel Core i3-6100U, i5-6200U, i5-6300U, i7-6500U, i7-6600U processors
  • Up to 16 GB DDR4 DIMM
  • Up to 512 GB SSD
  • Integrated Intel Graphics
  • 720p HD Webcam
  • WiGig, Bluetooth® 4.1, WiFi Combo Card, SCR, LTE-A
  • 2x USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, OneLink+ and microSD ports
  • Battery life up to 10 hours
  • Windows 10 / Windows 7

The ThinkPad Yoga 260 starts at 2.9 lbs and will be offered in both black and silver finishes. We will update with pricing/availability when available.

Next there is the 14-inch version, the ThinkPad Yoga 460.


The specs for the larger version of the new ThinkPad Yoga are a little more business-oriented than the 260 with an anti-glare screen option, DDR3L memory, and standard HDD storage available, and the 460 also adds a discrete GPU option:

  • 14-inch multi-touch display with 1920x1080 (glossy or anti-glare) or 2560x1440 (glossy) resolution
  • Up to 6th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processors
  • Up to 8 GB DDR3L
  • Up to 1TB HDD, 256 GB SSD
  • Integrated Intel Graphics or NVIDIA GeForce 940M 2GB
  • 720p HD Webcam
  • WiGig, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi Combo Card, 802.11ac WLAN, WWAN Connectors
  • 3x USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, OneLink+, 4-in-1 Media Card Slot
  • Battery life up to 10 hours
  • Windows 10


The Yoga 460 is constructed from a carbon fiber material and starts at 3.9 lbs, and will also be offered with either a black or silver finish. We’ll update with pricing/availability information for this one as well when it's announced.

Source: Lenovo

What, no ethernet?!? ASUS trims the ZenBook UX305

Subject: Mobile | August 27, 2015 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: asus, ZenBook UX305

That is correct, the 12mm thick Zenbook UX305 from ASUS does not have a LAN port, it is wireless or nothing for this ultrabook.  It does have three USB 3.0 ports, a micro HDMI, a 3.5mm jack for audio and an SD card reader so you will be able to use some wired peripherals with this ultramobile device.  At a mere 1.2 kg the machine is very light and with a M-5Y10 which can clock between 800MHz up to 2GHz with Turbo Boost it will run when you need it and be gentle on your battery when you do not.  KitGuru has posted a review of the UX305 here.


"The ZenBook UX305 is the latest Ultrabook offering from Asus. When I last reviewed one of their products – the hybrid T300 Chi – it greatly impressed me. The UX305 is a similar device, with a Core M processor, 8GB RAM and another SanDisk M.2 SSD. This time, however, it is a conventional laptop, and is priced at £649.95."

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Source: KitGuru

Qualcomm Introduces Adreno 5xx Architecture for Snapdragon 820

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | August 12, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: snapdragon 820, snapdragon, siggraph 2015, Siggraph, qualcomm, adreno 530, adreno

Despite the success of the Snapdragon 805 and even the 808, Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 810 SoC had a tumultuous lifespan.  Rumors and stories about the chip and an inability to run in phone form factors without overheating and/or draining battery life were rampant, despite the company’s insistence that the problem was fixed with a very quick second revision of the part. There are very few devices that used the 810 and instead we saw more of the flagship smartphones uses the slightly cut back SD 808 or the SD 805.

Today at Siggraph Qualcomm starts the reveal of a new flagship SoC, Snapdragon 820. As the event coinciding with launch is a graphics-specific show, QC is focusing on a high level overview of the graphics portion of the Snapdragon 820, the updated Adreno 5xx architecture and associated designs and a new camera image signal processor (ISP) aiming to improve quality of photos and recording on our mobile devices.


A modern SoC from Qualcomm features many different processors working in tandem to impact the user experience on the device. While the only details we are getting today focus around the Adreno 530 GPU and Spectra ISP, other segments like connectivity (wireless), DSP, video processing and digital signal processing are important parts of the computing story. And we are well aware that Qualcomm is readying its own 64-bit processor architecture for the Kryo CPU rather than implementing the off-the-shelf cores from ARM used in the 810.

We also know that Qualcomm is targeting a “leading edge” FinFET process technology for SD 820 and though we haven’t been able to confirm anything, it looks very like that this chip will be built on the Samsung 14nm line that also built the Exynos 7420.

But over half of the processing on the upcoming Snapdragon 820 fill focus on visual processing, from graphics to gaming to UI animations to image capture and video output, this chip’s die will be dominated by high performance visuals.

Qualcomm’s lists of target goals for SD 820 visuals reads as you would expect: wanting perfection in every area. Wouldn’t we all love a phone or tablet that takes perfect photos each time, always focusing on the right things (or everything) with exceptional low light performance? Though a lesser known problem for consumers, having accurate color reproduction from capture, through processing and to the display would be a big advantage. And of course, we all want graphics performance that impresses and a user interface that is smooth and reliable while enabling NEW experience that we haven’t even thought of in the mobile form factor. Qualcomm thinks that Snapdragon 820 will be able to deliver on all of that.

Continue reading about the new Adreno 5xx architecture!!

Source: Qualcomm

It's been a busy year for phones so far ... who is coming out on top?

Subject: Mobile | August 11, 2015 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: smartphones, Moto G, galaxy s6, LG G4, iphone 6, HTC One M9, blackphone

The Inquirer has taken a look back at the past years smartphone releases with an eye towards providing a resource to help you compare them.  So far there are 11 phones in their round up, including the somewhat maligned Blackphone which was intended to be completely secure but turned out to be a little less invulnerable than advertised.  An overview of each phone is provided covering basic statistics such as screen size and resolution and often the processor inside.  As you would expect they also include a link to their reviews of the phone and they plan on updating the article as new phones are released.


"THE SMARTPHONE MARKET is becoming increasingly competitive, make it harder and harder for buyers to choose which handset is right for them."

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Source: The Inquirer

Khronos Group at SIGGRAPH 2015

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 10, 2015 - 09:01 AM |
Tagged: vulkan, spir, siggraph 2015, Siggraph, opengl sc, OpenGL ES, opengl, opencl, Khronos

When the Khronos Group announced Vulkan at GDC, they mentioned that the API is coming this year, and that this date is intended to under promise and over deliver. Recently, fans were hoping that it would be published at SIGGRAPH, which officially begun yesterday. Unfortunately, Vulkan has not released. It does hold a significant chunk of the news, however. Also, it's not like DirectX 12 is holding a commanding lead at the moment. The headers were public only for a few months, and the code samples are less than two weeks old.


The organization made announcements for six products today: OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenGL SC, OpenCL, SPIR, and, as mentioned, Vulkan. They wanted to make their commitment clear, to all of their standards. Vulkan is urgent, but some developers will still want the framework of OpenGL. Bind what you need to the context, then issue a draw and, if you do it wrong, the driver will often clean up the mess for you anyway. The briefing was structure to be evident that it is still in their mind, which is likely why they made sure three OpenGL logos greeted me in their slide deck as early as possible. They are also taking and closely examining feedback about who wants to use Vulkan or OpenGL, and why.

As for Vulkan, confirmed platforms have been announced. Vendors have committed to drivers on Windows 7, 8, 10, Linux, including Steam OS, and Tizen (OSX and iOS are absent, though). Beyond all of that, Google will accept Vulkan on Android. This is a big deal, as Google, despite its open nature, has been avoiding several Khronos Group standards. For instance, Nexus phones and tablets do not have OpenCL drivers, although Google isn't stopping third parties from rolling it into their devices, like Samsung and NVIDIA. Direct support of Vulkan should help cross-platform development as well as, and more importantly, target the multi-core, relatively slow threaded processors of those devices. This could even be of significant use for web browsers, especially in sites with a lot of simple 2D effects. Google is also contributing support from their drawElements Quality Program (dEQP), which is a conformance test suite that they bought back in 2014. They are going to expand it to Vulkan, so that developers will have more consistency between devices -- a big win for Android.


While we're not done with Vulkan, one of the biggest announcements is OpenGL ES 3.2 and it fits here nicely. At around the time that OpenGL ES 3.1 brought Compute Shaders to the embedded platform, Google launched the Android Extension Pack (AEP). This absorbed OpenGL ES 3.1 and added Tessellation, Geometry Shaders, and ASTC texture compression to it. It was also more tension between Google and cross-platform developers, feeling like Google was trying to pull its developers away from Khronos Group. Today, OpenGL ES 3.2 was announced and includes each of the AEP features, plus a few more (like “enhanced” blending). Better yet, Google will support it directly.

Next up are the desktop standards, before we finish with a resurrected embedded standard.

OpenGL has a few new extensions added. One interesting one is the ability to assign locations to multi-samples within a pixel. There is a whole list of sub-pixel layouts, such as rotated grid and Poisson disc. Apparently this extension allows developers to choose it, as certain algorithms work better or worse for certain geometries and structures. There were probably vendor-specific extensions for a while, but now it's a ratified one. Another extension allows “streamlined sparse textures”, which helps manage data where the number of unpopulated entries outweighs the number of populated ones.

OpenCL 2.0 was given a refresh, too. It contains a few bug fixes and clarifications that will help it be adopted. C++ headers were also released, although I cannot comment much on it. I do not know the state that OpenCL 2.0 was in before now.

And this is when we make our way back to Vulkan.


SPIR-V, the code that runs on the GPU (or other offloading device, including the other cores of a CPU) in OpenCL and Vulkan is seeing a lot of community support. Projects are under way to allow developers to write GPU code in several interesting languages: Python, .NET (C#), Rust, Haskell, and many more. The slide lists nine that Khronos Group knows about, but those four are pretty interesting. Again, this is saying that you can write code in the aforementioned languages and have it run directly on a GPU. Curiously missing is HLSL, and the President of Khronos Group agreed that it would be a useful language. The ability to cross-compile HLSL into SPIR-V means that shader code written for DirectX 9, 10, 11, and 12 could be compiled for Vulkan. He expects that it won't take long for a project to start, and might already be happening somewhere outside his Google abilities. Regardless, those who are afraid to program in the C-like GLSL and HLSL shading languages might find C# and Python to be a bit more their speed, and they seem to be happening through SPIR-V.

As mentioned, we'll end on something completely different.


For several years, the OpenGL SC has been on hiatus. This group defines standards for graphics (and soon GPU compute) in “safety critical” applications. For the longest time, this meant aircraft. The dozens of planes (which I assume meant dozens of models of planes) that adopted this technology were fine with a fixed-function pipeline. It has been about ten years since OpenGL SC 1.0 launched, which was based on OpenGL ES 1.0. SC 2.0 is planned to launch in 2016, which will be based on the much more modern OpenGL ES 2 and ES 3 APIs that allow pixel and vertex shaders. The Khronos Group is asking for participation to direct SC 2.0, as well as a future graphics and compute API that is potentially based on Vulkan.

The devices that this platform intends to target are: aircraft (again), automobiles, drones, and robots. There are a lot of ways that GPUs can help these devices, but they need a good API to certify against. It needs to withstand more than an Ouya, because crashes could be much more literal.

Fan Creates Pip-Boy and Released 3D Printing Models

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | August 2, 2015 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: maker, fallout 4, DIY

Yvo de Haas, who has a degree in mechanical engineering from Windesheim University of Applied Sciences in Zwolle, Netherlands, creates props, robots, and other objects as a hobby. Previous creations include a joystick-controlled turret from Portal, GLaDOS, and a Fallout 3-style Pip-Boy.

The latest project was a Fallout 4-style Pip-Boy that accepts a smartphone, with an LG Nexus 5 shown in the demo video, above. It also contains a (non-functioning) cassette player at the top, which take Fallout-style tapes... so unfortunately you cannot pretend that your Vault Dweller is obsessed with Thriller. This model is currently available on the website for anyone with time and access to a 3D printer. The work is licensed under Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution ShareAlike, so you can use and modify the model however you like, as long as you share your alterations in a similar fashion (and assuming that you also don't violate Bethesda's trademarks in any way -- even though Haas' license permits commercial usage, Bethesda won't).


A second model (the “Accurate version”) is still in progress. This one is supposedly intended to be used with an embedded computer like a Raspberry Pi. It sounds like you will need to install a bare display and other components to make it work, but that will probably be more clear when it is published.

Source: Ytec3D

Maybe stick with last years Pebble Steel for now?

Subject: Mobile | July 28, 2015 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: pebble, pebble time, smartwatch

The Register tried out the new Pebble Time which features a colour e-paper Gorilla glass screen for better visibility outdoors, a battery which will last a full week, waterproofing to 90' and all for a $200 price tag.  With over 8000 apps for the device it offers most of the functionality of the Apple watch for a fraction of the price.  Certain features it lacks such as a heart rate monitor or GPS can be added by using Smartstraps, which not only allows the watch to stay on your wrist but also adds functionality as well.  The improvements were noticeable but The Register preferred last years Steel but if you are in the market for a smartwatch you might be wise to hold on as the new Pebble Time Steel is due out in the near future.


"I love what Eric Migovsky has done with the Pebble by creating an antidote to modern smartwatches. The two generations of Pebble so far have been useful, durable and practical – qualities which elude the over-specced and costly Apple and Android kit."

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Source: The Register

Cortana for Android Invite-Only Beta Launches

Subject: Mobile | July 19, 2015 - 06:43 PM |
Tagged: Android, microsoft, windows, windows 10, cortana

When it graduated from high school, Microsoft was voted “least likely to have an open relationship with itself”. Well who's laughing now, member of the Yearbook Committee? You thought you were so clever, sitting in the back of the late bus for students in extra-curricular activities, giggling as you doodled in your Five Star binder. Even though they always hogged the Windows seat, maybe they would have opened it up for a little fresh air in the Summer time had you taken the time to ask.


Image Credit: Ars Technica

While Cortana is first and foremost a Windows 10 feature, it will appear on iOS and Android as well. Peter Bright of Ars Technica got in on the pre-release, invite-only beta and walked through the features. He notes that, while many have complained about crashes, his experienced wasn't marred with stability issues. On the other hand, because Cortana is not as deeply integrated into the operating system, despite the laundry list of permissions it requests, he expects that most users looking for a digital assistant will look to Google Now on their Android devices, even if they use Cortana on Windows 10.


Image Credit: Ars Technica

There really wasn't a whole lot of note in the article though, at least in my opinion. There are a few interesting screenshots, but it basically looks like someone grafted the Cortana fly-out menu from Windows 10 onto a fullscreen mobile device. Even though I already saw the similarities in the Windows 10 Technical Previews, it is funny to see it so explicit.

No release date has been set for Cortana on Android or iOS.

Source: Ars Technica

TSMC Plans 10nm, 7nm, and "Very Steep" Ramping of 16nm.

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | July 19, 2015 - 06:59 AM |
Tagged: Zen, TSMC, Skylake, pascal, nvidia, Intel, Cannonlake, amd, 7nm, 16nm, 10nm

Getting smaller features allows a chip designer to create products that are faster, cheaper, and consume less power. Years ago, most of them had their own production facilities but that is getting rare. IBM has just finished selling its manufacturing off to GlobalFoundries, which was spun out of AMD when it divested from fabrication in 2009. Texas Instruments, on the other hand, decided that they would continue manufacturing but get out of the chip design business. Intel and Samsung are arguably the last two players with a strong commitment to both sides of the “let's make a chip” coin.


So where do you these chip designers go? TSMC is the name that comes up most. Any given discrete GPU in the last several years has probably been produced there, along with several CPUs and SoCs from a variety of fabless semiconductor companies.

Several years ago, when the GeForce 600-series launched, TSMC's 28nm line led to shortages, which led to GPUs remaining out of stock for quite some time. Since then, 28nm has been the stable work horse for countless high-performance products. Recent chips have been huge, physically, thanks to how mature the process has become granting fewer defects. The designers are anxious to get on smaller processes, though.

In a conference call at 2 AM (EDT) on Thursday, which is 2 PM in Taiwan, Mark Liu of TSMC announced that “the ramping of our 16 nanometer will be very steep, even steeper than our 20nm”. By that, they mean this year. Hopefully this translates to production that could be used for GPUs and CPUs early, as AMD needs it to launch their Zen CPU architecture in 2016, as early in that year as possible. Graphics cards have also been on that technology for over three years. It's time.

Also interesting is how TSMC believes that they can hit 10nm by the end of 2016. If so, this might put them ahead of Intel. That said, Intel was also confident that they could reach 10nm by the end of 2016, right until they announced Kaby Lake a few days ago. We will need to see if it pans out. If it does, competitors could actually beat Intel to the market at that feature size -- although that could end up being mobile SoCs and other integrated circuits that are uninteresting for the PC market.

Following the announcement from IBM Research, 7nm was also mentioned in TSMC's call. Apparently they expect to start qualifying in Q1 2017. That does not provide an estimate for production but, if their 10nm schedule is both accurate and also representative of 7nm, that would production somewhere in 2018. Note that I just speculated on an if of an if of a speculation, so take that with a mine of salt. There is probably a very good reason that this date wasn't mentioned in the call.

Back to the 16nm discussion, what are you hoping for most? New GPUs from NVIDIA, new GPUs from AMD, a new generation of mobile SoCs, or the launch of AMD's new CPU architecture? This should make for a highly entertaining comments section on a Sunday morning, don't you agree?

What's hot in the mobile segment right now

Subject: Mobile | July 17, 2015 - 04:29 PM |
Tagged: roundup, recommedations, tablet, convertible, laptop, gaming laptop, smartphone

Wondering what is hot in the mobile world right now?  Well, you can see what The Tech Report thinks are the best mobile computing devices in their latest round up right here.  They have four recommended tablets, ranging from the low cost Google Nexus 7 which is still a hit after years on the market to the much more expensive and brand new iPad Air 2.  Of the convertibles they recommend, two happen to be Surface machines from Microsoft and they split up their laptop recommendations between those for general usage and two designed specifically for gaming.  Rounding out the list are four phones and a look at what is coming down the pipeline in the near future; what you won't find are any Chromebooks.


"In this edition of our mobile staff picks, we chose our favorites from the current cream of the crop in tablets, convertibles, laptops, and phones."

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OnePlus 2 Has Been Rolling Out Announcements Slowly

Subject: Mobile | July 7, 2015 - 07:16 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, snapdragon 810, opengl es 3.1, oneplus 2, oneplus

OnePlus is a Chinese smartphone company founded by Pete Lau, formerly the Vice President at Oppo. Their first phone was basically invite-only for most of its lifespan, but that was justified for a flagship-quality phone at $299 USD. The OnePlus One was first available in April 2014. Their follow-up is the OnePlus 2, go figure, which will be formally announced on July 27th.


Several announcements lead up to that date, though. One day, OnePlus stated that the announcement will be done in VR, and they are selling Google Cardboard for “free” outside of the $5 shipping fee. Another day, they announced that the price will be “under $450 USD”. Today, they announced that the OnePlus Two will have 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, matching the capacity of the ASUS ZenPhone 2. It will also contain the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, which should be able to support OpenGL ES 3.1 and Vulkan (whenever that arrives).

It makes you wonder what's left for July 27th, besides the release date. My guess is that day.

Checking out the new Kindle Paperwhite

Subject: Mobile | July 2, 2015 - 04:54 PM |
Tagged: amazon, kindle paperwhite

The insides of the third generation Kindle Paperwhite match the Voyage, a Freescale i.MX6 SoloLite 1GHz chip, as do the outsides with a new 300ppi screen.  Connectivity has been expanded to Wi-Fi as well as an available 3G model and there is also a brand new font called Bookerly.  If you are in need of an eReader and are not in Canada so that you can get the Tegra 4 powered Kobo Arc 7, you should head over to Techgage and see if the new improve Paperwhite is the solution you should chose.


"Amazon has just revealed its third-gen Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, and while it doesn’t offer a substantial upgrade over the previous model, it does iterate on what was already a fantastic device. With a 300 ppi screen and brand-new Bookerly font at-the-ready, there’s not much to dislike with this e-reader."

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Source: Techgage

Samsung Publishes Battery Enhancement Tech with Silicon

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 26, 2015 - 04:53 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, battery

When I was in my Physics program, there was a running joke that the word “Nano” should be a red flag when reading research papers. This one has graphene and nanoparticles, but it lacks quantum dots and it looks privately funded by a company, so we might be good. Kidding aside, while I have little experience with battery technology, they claim to have surrounded silicon anodes for lithium batteries with a layer of graphene.


Image Credit: Samsung via Nature

This addition of graphene is said to counteract an issue where silicon expands as it is used and recharged. The paper, which again is the first source that I have seen discuss this issue, says that other attempts at using silicon adds vacant space around the anode for future growth. If you can keep the material at the same volume over its lifespan, you will be able to store more electricity in smaller devices. I wonder why Samsung would want something like that...

Source: Nature

Rumor: 2015 Moto G to Feature Snapdragon 410 with LTE

Subject: Mobile | June 22, 2015 - 11:43 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 410, smartphone, rumor, Moto G, LTE, lollipop, Android

9to5google is reporting specs of the upcoming Moto G refresh, and it looks like the phone will carry over the internals of the current Moto E with a Snapdragon 410 SoC, and add an improved 13MP camera.


The current Moto G has been a favorite for many as a low-cost unlocked option (and one that runs mostly stock Android), and the adoption of the faster SoC with integrated (Cat 4) LTE baseband is a necessary move to update a device that in its current iteration is limited to 3G data speeds. It is interesting that the SoC would only match that of the $149 2015 Moto E (reviewed here), but it makes sense from a financial standpoint if the rumored Moto G is to be sold at or below its current $179 price point.

There is certainly stiff competition in the midrange smartphone market, bolstered considerably by the recently released ASUS Zenfone 2 (reviewed here as well) which starts at $199 unlocked; and with devices like the new Zenfone offering full 1080p screens the rumored choice of the Moto G’s existing 5-inch 720p screen returning in 2015 might be another indication that this new phone will feature a very aggressive price.


The alleged 2015 Moto G photo (image credit: 9to5google)

The phone is also rumored to ship with Android 5.1.1, which would carry on the recent tradition of Motorola phones running the latest versions of Android. All of this is unconfirmed information based on leaks or course, but regardless of its final form more options are always welcome in the $200-and-under unlocked phone space - and this year is shaping up to be a good one for consumers.

Source: 9to5google

Experience the Sony Xperia Z3+

Subject: Mobile | June 12, 2015 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, sony, xperia z3+, snapdragon 810

The new Sony Xperia Z3+ is a tiny bit thinner than the non-plus model at 146x72x6.9mm and 144g compared to 146x72x7.3mm and 152g.  The display is unchanged, a 5.2" IPS screen with a 1080x1920 resolution but the processor received a significant upgrade, it is now a 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810.  The phone ships with Android 5.0 and The Inquirer got a chance to try it out.  The new processor handles 4K video perfectly and the phone feels snappier overall compared to the previous model, check out their full experience here.


"SONY UNVEILED its latest top-end smartphone, the Sony Xperia Z3+ this week, with an updated, slimmer design, which has a lighter and sleeker frame compared with its predecessor, the Xperia Z3."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:


Source: The Inquirer

NVIDIA VR Headset Patent Found

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | June 6, 2015 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: VR, nvidia, gameworks vr

So I'm not quite sure what this hypothetical patent device is. According to its application, it is a head-mounted display that contains six cameras (??) and two displays, one for each eye. The usage of these cameras is not define but two will point forward, two will point down, and the last two will point left and right. The only clue that we have is in the second patent application photo, where unlabeled hands are gesturing in front of a node labeled “input cameras”.


Image Credit: Declassified

The block diagram declares that the VR headset will have its own CPU, memory, network adapter, and “parallel processing subsystem” (GPU). VRFocus believes that this will be based on the Tegra X1, and that it was supposed to be revealed three months ago at GDC 2015. In its place, NVIDIA announced the Titan X at the Unreal Engine 4 keynote, hosted by Epic Games. GameWorks VR was also announced with the GeForce GTX 980 Ti launch, which was mostly described as a way to reduce rendering cost by dropping resolution in areas that will be warped into a lower final, displayed resolution anyway.


Image Credit: Declassified

VRFocus suggests that the reveal could happen at E3 this year. The problem with that theory is that NVIDIA has neither a keynote at E3 this year nor even a place at someone else's keynote as far as we know, just a booth and meeting rooms. Of course, they could still announce it through other channels, but that seems less likely. Maybe they will avoid the E3 hype and announce it later (unless something changes behind the scenes of course)?

Source: VRFocus