MWC 2016: MediaTek Announces Helio P20 True Octa-Core SoC

Subject: Processors, Mobile | February 22, 2016 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, SoC, octa-core, MWC 2016, MWC, mediatek, Mali-T880, LPDDR4X, Cortex-A53, big.little, arm

MediaTek might not be well-known in the United States, but the company has been working to expand from China, where it had a 40% market share as of June 2015, into the global market. While 2015 saw the introduction of the 8-core Helio P10 and the 10-core helio X20 SoCs, the company continues to expand their lineup, today announcing the Helio P20 SoC.

Helio_P20.jpg

There are a number of differences between the recent SoCs from MediaTek, beginning with the CPU core configuration. This new Helio P20 is a “True Octa-Core” design, but rather than a big.LITTLE configuration it’s using 8 identically-clocked ARM Cortex-A53 cores at 2.3 GHz. The previous Helio P10 used a similar CPU configuration, though clocks were limited to 2.0 GHz with that SoC. Conversely, the 10-core Helio X20 uses a tri-cluster configuration, with 2x ARM Cortex-A72 cores running at 2.5 GHz, along with a typical big.LITTLE arrangement (4x Cortex-A53 cores at 2.0 Ghz and 4x Cortex-A53 cores at 1.4 GHz).

Another change affecting MediaTek’s new SoC and he industry at large is the move to smaller process nodes. The Helio P10 was built on 28 nm HPM, and this new P20 moves to 16 nm FinFET. Just as with the Helio P10 and Helio X20 (a 20 nm part) this SoC is produced at TSMC using their 16FF+ (FinFET Plus) technology. This should provide up to “40% higher speed and 60% power saving” compared to the company’s previous 20 nm process found in the Helio X20, though of course real-world results will have to wait until handsets are available to test.

The Helio P20 also takes advantage of LPDDR4X, and is “the world’s first SoC to support low power double data rate random access memory” according to MediaTek. The company says this new memory provides “70 percent more bandwidth than the LPDDR3 and 50 percent power savings by lowering supply voltage to 0.6v”. Graphics are powered by ARM’s high-end Mali T880 GPU, clocked at an impressive 900 MHz. And all-important modem connectivity includes CAT6 LTE with 2x carrier aggregation for speeds of up to 300 Mbps down, 50 Mbps up. The Helio P20 also supports up to 4k/30 video decode with H.264/265 support, and the 12-bit dual camera ISP supports up to 24 MP sensors.

Specs from MediaTek:

  • Process: 16nm
  • Apps CPU: 8x Cortex-A53, up to 2.3GHz
  • Memory: Up to 2 x LPDDR4X 1600MHz (up to 6GB) + 1x LPDDR3 933Mhz (up to 4GB) + eMMC 5.1
  • Camera: Up to 24MP at 24FPS w/ZSD, 12bit Dual ISP, 3A HW engine, Bayer & Mono sensor support
  • Video Decode: Up to 4Kx2K 30fps H.264/265
  • Video Encode: Up to 4Kx2K 30fps H.264
  • Graphics: Mali T-880 MP2 900MHz
  • Display: FHD 1920x1080 60fps. 2x DSI for dual display
  • Modem: LTE FDD TDD R.11 Cat.6 with 2x20 CA. C2K SRLTE. L+W DSDS support
  • Connectivity: WiFiac/abgn (with MT6630). GPS/Glonass/Beidou/BT/FM.
  • Audio: 110db SNR & -95db THD

It’s interesting to see SoC makers experiment with less complex CPU designs after a generation of multi-cluster (big.LITTLE) SoCs, as even the current flagship Qualcomm SoC, the Snapdragon 820, has reverted to a straight quad-core design. The P20 is expected to be in shipping devices by the second half of 2016, and we will see how this configuration performs once some devices using this new P20 SoC are in the wild.

Full press release after the break:

Source: MediaTek

MWC 16: LG G5 Hands-on. Performance and Modularity

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 22, 2016 - 10:09 AM |
Tagged: video, snapdragon 820, snapdragon, qualcomm, MWC 2016, MWC, LG, G5

The new LG G5 flagship smartphone offers a unique combination of form factor, performance and modularity that no previous smartphone design has had. But will you want to buy in?

2016-02-22 09.15.37.jpg

I had a feeling that the Snapdragon 820 SoC from Qualcomm would make an impression at Mobile World Congress this year and it appears the company has improved on the previous flagship processor quite a bit. Both Samsung and LG have implemented it into the 2016 models, including the new G5, offering up a combination of performance and power efficiency that is dramatically better than the 810 that was hindered by heat and process technology concerns.

Along with the new processor, the G5 includes 4GB of RAM, 32GB of on-board storage with micro SD expansion, a 2,800 mAh battery and Android 6.0 out of the box. The display is 5.3-in and uses LG IPS technology with a 2560x1440 resolution, resulting in an impressive 554 PPI. LG has updated the USB connection to Type-C, a move that Samsung brushed off as unnecessary at this time.

The phones design is pretty standard and will look very familiar to anyone that has handled a G4 or similar flagship smartphone in recent months. It was bigger in the hand than the iPhone 6s but considering the panel size differences, it was more compact than expected.

2016-02-22 09.15.40.jpg

Modularity is the truly unique addition to the G5 though. The battery is replaceable by sliding out a bottom portion of the phone, released with a tab on the left side. This allows LG to maintain the metal body construction but still offer flexibility for power users that are used to having extra batteries in their bag. This mechanism also means LG can offer add-on modules for the phone.

2016-02-22 09.05.04.jpg

The first two available will be the LG Cam Plus and the LG Hi-Fi Plus. The Cam Plus gives the phone a camera grip as well as dedicated buttons for the shutter, video recording and zoom. Including an extra 1,200 mAh of battery is a nice touch too. The Hi-Fi Plus module has a DAC and headphone amplifier enbeded in it and can also be used connected to a PC through the USB Type-C connection; a nice touch.

2016-02-22 09.13.48.jpg

I was overall pretty impressed with what LG had to offer with the G5. Whether or not the modular design gains any traction will have to be seen; I have concerns over the public's desire to carry around modules or affect the form factor of their phones so dramatically.

MWC 16: HTC Vive Launches in April for $799 USD

Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | February 22, 2016 - 01:27 AM |
Tagged: MWC, mwc 16, valve, htc, vive, Oculus

Valve and HTC announced that the Vive consumer edition will be available in April for $799 USD, with pre-orders beginning on February 29th. Leave it to Valve to launch a product on a date that doesn't always exist. The system comes with the headset, two VR controllers, and two sensors. The unit will have “full commercial availability” when it launches in April, but that means little if it sells out instantly. There's no way to predict that.

The announcement blog post drops a subtle jab at Oculus. “Vive will be delivered as a complete kit” seems to refer to the Oculus Touch controllers being delayed (and thus not in the hands of every user). This also makes me think about the price. The HTC Vive costs $200 more than the Oculus Rift. That said, it also has the touch controllers, which could shrink that gap. It also does not come with a standard gamepad, like Oculus does, although that's just wasted money if you already have one.

htc-valve-2016-viveset.png

Unlike the Oculus, which has its own SDK, the Vive is powered by SteamVR. Most engines and middleware that support one seem to support both, so I'm not sure if this will matter. It could end up blocking content in an HD-DVD vs BluRay fashion. Hopefully Valve/HTC and Oculus/Facebook, or every software vendor on an individual basis, works through these interoperability concerns and create an open platform. Settling on a standard tends to commoditize industries, but that will eventually happen to VR at some point anyway. Hopefully, if it doesn't happen sooner, cross-compatibility at least happens then.

MWC 16: Epic Games Unveils ProtoStar Demo on Galaxy S7

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 21, 2016 - 10:14 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, epic games, unreal engine 4, vulkan, galaxy s7, MWC, mwc 16

Mobile World Congress starts with a big bang... ... ... :3

Okay, not really; it starts with the formation of a star, which happens on a continual basis across the universe. I won't let facts get in the way of a pun, though.

As for the demo, it is powered by Unreal Engine 4 and runs on a Samsung Galaxy S7 with the Vulkan API. The setting seems to be some sort of futuristic laboratory that combines objects until it builds up into a star. It is bright and vibrant, with many particles, full-scene anti-aliasing, reflections, and other visual effects. The exact resolution when running on the phone was never stated, but the YouTube video was running at 1080p30, and the on-stage demo looked fairly high resolution, too.

epicgames-2016-mwc-vulkan-protostar.jpg

Epic Games lists the features they added to mobile builds of Unreal Engine 4 for this demo:

  • Dynamic planar reflections
  • “Full” GPU particle support, which includes vector fields.
  • Temporal Anti-Alising, which blends neighboring frames to smooth jaggies in motion.
  • ASTC texture compression (created by ARM and AMD for OpenGL and OpenGL ES)
  • Full scene dynamic cascaded shadows
  • Chromatic aberration
  • Dynamic light refraction
  • Filmic tonemapping curve, which scales frames rendered in HDR to a presentable light range
  • Improved static reflections
  • High-quality depth of field
  • Vulkan API for thousands of onscreen, independent objects.

The company has not stated which version of Unreal Engine 4 will receive these updates. I doubt that it will land in 4.11, which is planned for March, but they tend to release a full dot-version every one to three months. They also have early previews for those who wish to try it early, some compiled leading up to launch, and others that need to be built from GitHub.

Source: Epic Games

MWC 2016: LG Announces the G5 Smartphone

Subject: Mobile | February 21, 2016 - 07:52 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 820, smartphone, qualcomm, MWC 2016, MWC, modular phone, LG G5, LG, ips, G5, Android

LG has officially unveiled their newest flagship Android handset, and in addition to high-end specs the G5 features a unique modular construction.

lg_g5.jpg

The LG G5

The G5 is powered by the new Snapdragon 820 SoC, and offers a 5.3-inch, 2560x1440 IPS display (making slightly smaller than the earlier G4, which was a 5.5-inch device with the same resolution). And while the G5 looks every bit a sleek Android flagship, there’s more going on here than the typical sealed handset. LG has implemented a modular design, where optional components can be added from a port on the bottom of the phone.

modules.jpg

The LG Cam Plus (left) and Hi-Fi Plus (right)

The first of two announced modules is the LG Cam Plus, which is a camera grip that also adds 1200 mAh to the battery capacity (for a total of 4000 mAh). The second is the LG Hi-Fi Plus, which adds a high-resolution DAC and headphone amp to the phone. The headphone amp is “tuned by B&O”, and the DAC supports up to 32-bit / 384 kHz. The Hi-Fi Plus can also be used as a standalone USB device.

lg-g5-infographic.png

(Image via Android Police)

One of the features that had leaked ahead of the announcement was an always-on display, leading to speculation about the use of an OLED panel. But this is LG we are talking about, and they have implemented a high-DPI (554) IPS display instead. So how does this always-on display feature avoid aggressively draining your battery? The post from ComputerBase offers this analysis:

“Instead, the company opted for an optimization of display drivers and power management in order to realize the permanent display of notifications, time, date and other information on the large main screen. The adjustments for example it is possible to limit the backlight to a part of the screen. According to LG, the activated always-on function consumes thanks to the optimizations per hour 0.8 percent of the battery charge.”

Specs via Android Central:

  • Display: 5.3-inch IPS quad-HD quantum display (2560x1440, 554 dpi)
  • Processor: Snapdragon 820
  • Storage: 32GB UFS ROM, microSD up to 2TB
  • RAM: 4GB LPDDR4
  • Rear camera: 16MP main, 8MP wide-angle (135 degrees)
  • Front camera: 8MP
  • Battery: 2800 mAh removable
  • Modules: LG Cam Plus (camera grip with 1100 mAh), LG Hi-Fi Plus with B&O Play
  • Dimensions: 149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7mm
  • Weight: 159 grams
  • Networks: LTE/3G/2G
  • Connectivity: Wifi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, USB Type C, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Colors: Silver/Titan/Gold/Pink
  • Operating system: Android 6.0.1

There were three additional accessories announced with the phone: The 360 VR (a VR headset) 360 CAM (for creating 360-degree movies and photos) and something called the Rolling Bot (a Wi-Fi connected sphere equipped with a camera, mic, and speaker).

Ryan had hands-on time with the G5 from LG's booth at MWC 2016:

No specific pricing or release date have been announced yet, but we should know more next month when LG is expected to provide more release details.

MWC 2016: Lenovo Announces VIBE K5 and K5 Plus Smartphones

Subject: Mobile | February 21, 2016 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: VIBE K5 Plus, VIBE K5, Snapdragon 616, Snapdragon 415, smartphone, qualcomm, MWC 2016, MWC, Lenovo, Android

Lenovo has announced a new pair of smartphones in their VIBE series, and these offer very impressive specs considering the asking price.

K5 Family.jpg

The VIBE K5 will retail for $129, with the K5 Plus slightly higher at $149. What does this get you? Both are 5-inch devices, with a modest 1280x720 resolution on the standard K5, or FHD 1920x1080 on the K5 Plus. The phones are both powered by Qualcomm SoCs, with a Snapdragon 415 in the K5 (quad-core 1.4 GHz), and the faster Snapdragon 616 (8-core 1.7 GHz) in the K5 Plus.

Here’s a look at the specifications for these phones:

  • Screen: 5.0” HD (1280x720) display (K5) or IPS Full HD (1920x1080) (K5 Plus)
  • Processor: Qualcomm snapdragon 415 octa-core (K5) or 616 octa-core processor (K5 Plus)
  • Storage: 2GB LP DDR3 RAM | 16GB eMCP built-in storage | up to 32GB microSD expandable storage support
  • Graphics: Adreno 405: up to 550MHz 3D graphics accelerator 

  • Camera: Rear: 13MP with 5-piece lens and FHD video recording, Front: 5MP fixed-focus with 4-piece lens
  • 
Connectivity: Dual SIM slots with 4G LTE connectivity + BT 4.1; WLAN: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot 

  • Battery: 2750mAh interchangeable battery 

  • Audio: 2 x speakers, 2 x mics, 3.5 mm audio jack, Dolby Atmos
  • Thickness: 8.2 mm (.32 in)
  • Weight: 142 g (5 oz)
  • OS: Android 5.1, Lollipop

K5_Silver.jpg

On paper these smartphones present a compelling value reminiscent of the ASUS Zenfone 2, with the K5 Plus easily the better bargain with a 1920x1080 IPS display and octa-core processor for $149. We’ll have to wait to pass judgment until the UI performance and camera have been tested, but these new VIBE K5 phones certainly looks like a promising option.

The VIBE K5 and K5 Plus will be available in March.

Source: Lenovo

MWC 2016: Lenovo MIIX 310 2-in-1 Convertible Tablet

Subject: Systems, Mobile | February 21, 2016 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: x5 Z8300, windows 10, tablet, MWC 2016, MWC, MIIX 310, Lenovo, ips, intel atom, convertible tablet, 2-in-1

The Lenovo ideapad MIIX 310 is a 2-in-1 that combines a 10.1-inch tablet with a detachable keyboard, and when you consider the specs Lenovo is pricing this very aggressively at $229 - including the keyboard.

MIIX 310_05_.jpg

“This 10-inch tablet is one of the most affordable devices that not only combines both tablet and PC in one, but unlike many of its rivals, comes with a detachable keyboard as standard. The ideapad MIIX 310 boasts an optional FHD display, making movie marathons that much more immersive.”

The $229 retail is a starting price, and the 1920x1080 IPS screen option will cost you more (just how much is not yet known). Beyond the display the MIIX 310 is powered by an Intel Atom x5-Z8300, a quad-core processor that operates at up to 1.84 GHz. Memory is limited to 2 GB, with up to 128 GB of eMMC storage available.

MIIX 310_07_.jpg

Here’s a look at the specifications:

  • CPU: Intel Atom x5 Z8300 CPU
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel
  • Screen: 10.1” up to FHD (1920x1080) IPS, 300 nits
  • Cameras: 2MP front & 5MP rear camera
  • Battery: Up to 10 hours local video playback
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Storage: Up to 128GB eMMC
  • Audio: Stereo Speakers
  • Connectivity: 802.11 B/G/N + BT 4.0 4G
  • LTE Support: Optional
  • OS: Windows 10 Home

MIIX 310_08.jpg

As mentioned above, the ideapad MIIX 310 will start at $229, with availability set for June.

Source: Lenovo

MWC 2016: Lenovo Announces YOGA 710 and 510 Laptops

Subject: Systems, Mobile | February 21, 2016 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: YOGA 710, YOGA 510, yoga, windows 10, notebook, MWC 2016, MWC, Lenovo, laptop, ips, convertible tablet, 2-in-1

Lenovo has announced a pair of new convertible laptop options with the YOGA 710 and YOGA 510, and each of these new models are available in two sizes.

YOGA 710 11.jpg

First we have the YOGA 710, which is available in both an 11-inch and a 14-inch version. The smaller 11-inch model is limited to an Intel Core m5 processor, while the 14-inch version offers a 6th-gen (Skylake) Intel Core i7 CPU. Here's a look at the available specs:

YOGA 710, 11-inch:

  • Screen: 11.6” FHD 1920x1080 IPS Touch; 300
  • CPU: Up to Intel 6th Gen Core M5 CPU
  • Memory: Up to 8GB LP-DDR3 
  • Storage: Up to 256GB SSD
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel
  • Audio: Stereo speakers with Dolby Audio certification
  • Battery: 40Whr; up to 8 hours
  • Webcam: 1MP Fixed Focus CMOS camera (720p)
  • Connectivity: 1x1 or 2x2 A/C WiFi + Bluetooth 4.1
  • Ports: 1x always-on USB 3.0, Micro-HDMI, audio combo jack
  • OS: Windows 10 Home

YOGA 710, 14-inch:

  • Screen: 14” FHD 1920x1080 IPS Touch; 300 nits
  • CPU: Up to Intel 6th Gen Core i7 CPU
  • Memory: Up to 8GB DDR4
  • Storage: Up to 256GB SSD
  • Graphics: Optional NVIDIA GFX GeForce 940MX
  • Audio: JBL Speakers with Dolby Audio certification
  • Battery: Up to 52.5Whr; up to 8.5 hours local HD video playback @200nits 
  • Webcam: 1MP Fixed Focus CMOS camera (720p)
  • Connectivity: 2x2 A/C WiFi + Bluetooth 4.1
  • Ports: 1x always-on USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.0, Micro-HDMI, SDXC Reader, Display Port (combo with HDMI), audio combo jack
  • OS: Windows 10 Home

Next we have the YOGA 510, which is available in both 14-inch and 15-inch versions, and promises up to 8.5 hours of battery life.

YOGA 510 14.jpg

Specs on these models include:

  • Screen: 14” & 15” FHD 1920x1080 IPS Touch; 250 nits
  • CPU: Up to Intel 6th Gen Core i7 CPU or Pentium
  • Memory: Up to 8GB DDR4
  • Storage: Up to 1TB HDD or up to 256GB SSD
  • Graphics: 14: Up to AMD Radeon R5 M430; 15: Up to AMD Radeon R7 M460 2GB
  • Audio: Stereo Speakers with Audio by Harmon Kardon
  • Keyboard: Optional Backlit keyboard
  • Battery: Up to 52.5 Whr; up to 8.5 hours local HD video playback @200nits
  • Webcam: 1MP Fixed Focus CMOS camera (720p)
  • Connectivity: 1x1 A/C WiFi + Bluetooth 4.1, GIGA LAN
  • Ports: 1x always-on USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, HDMI, SDXC Card Reader, audio combo jack
  • OS: Windows 10 Home

These new YOGA models will be available in July, and pricing was announced as follows:

  • Yoga 710 11-inch $499; 14-inch $799
  • Yoga 510 14-inch $599; 15-inch $699
Source: Lenovo

MWC 2016: Qualcomm adds new partners to the Snapdragon Wear 2100 Platform

Subject: Mobile | February 21, 2016 - 05:56 PM |
Tagged: MWC, MWC 2016, qualcomm, snapdragon, snapdragon wear

Earlier this month, Qualcomm announced the creation of the Snapdragon Wear platform and the Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC, the very first in a new family of products built to address consumer wearables market. Even though the Snapdragon 400 series of processors had already found its way into a large majority (65% according to Qualcomm) of all of the currently shipping Android Wear watches, Qualcomm hopes that the improvements in the Snapdragon Wear 2100 will further the company's market share and improve on the experiences that users have with wearable products.

Snapdragon Wear 2100 offers several advantages over the Snapdragon 400 series of SoCs:

Utilizing Qualcomm Technologies’ expertise in connectivity and compute, the Snapdragon Wear platform consists of a full suite of silicon, software, support tools, and reference designs to allow mobile, fashion, and sports customers to bring a diverse range of full-featured wearables to customers quickly. Available in both tethered (Bluetooth® and Wi-Fi®) and connected (4G/LTE and 3G) versions, Snapdragon Wear 2100 innovates along four wearables core vectors:

  • Smaller Size – 30 percent smaller than the popular Snapdragon 400, Snapdragon Wear 2100 can help enable new, thinner, sleeker designs
     
  • Lower Power – 25 percent lower power than the Snapdragon 400 across both tethered and connected use cases, allowing for longer day of use battery life
     
  • Smarter Sensors – With an integrated, ultra-low power sensor hub, Snapdragon Wear 2100 enables richer algorithms with greater accuracy than the Snapdragon 400
     
  • Always Connected – Next-generation LTE modem with integrated GNSS, along with low power Wi-Fi and Bluetooth delivers an always connected experience

There is no direct mention of comparative performance though, something I am looking to get answered this week.

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This week's announcement from Qualcomm is the addition of three new partners for the Snapdragon Wear platform, on top of the launch partner LG. The new names might not be household brands but they will offer a strong growth segment for Qualcomm as more vendors enter the wearables markets through ODMs.

  • Borqs – A global leader in software and products for IoT providing customizable, differentiated and scalable Android-based smart connected devices and cloud service solutions, Borqs is offering connected (3G/4G) and tethered (Wi-Fi®/Bluetooth®) smartwatch and kid watch reference designs based on Snapdragon Wear 2100.
     
  • Compal – A global manufacturer of notebook PCs, smartphone, tablet and display products and smart wearable devices, Compal is delivering reference designs and device production based on Snapdragon Wear 2100 supporting both Android Wear and Android operating systems and targeting connected (3G/4G) and tethered (Wi-Fi/Bluetooth) use cases.
     
  • Infomark – An early innovator in the emerging kid watch segment, where the company has previously launched two generations of products (JooN1, JooN2) based on Qualcomm Technologies, Infomark is offering a reference design based on Snapdragon Wear 2100 targeting kid and elderly watch segments.

I should be getting hands-on with hardware built on the Snapdragon Wear 2100 SoC from LG and these three new partners this week while at Mobile World Congress 2016, so stayed tuned for more coverage!

Source: Qualcomm

MWC 2016: Qualcomm Announces Vulkan API Support for Snapdragon 820, other SoCs

Subject: Mobile | February 21, 2016 - 05:18 PM |
Tagged: MWC, MWC 2016, qualcomm, vulkan, snapdragon, snapdragon 820, adreno 530

As we prepare for the onslaught of new mobile devices and technologies being announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the low-level Vulkan API begins its campaign to take hold in the PC and mobile spaces, superceding the OpenGL standard that exists today in hopes of providing a more efficient use of compute resources across the industry.

Vulkan_500px_Mar15.jpg

Qualcomm announced official support for the Vulkan API on its Adreno 530 GPU and the Snapdragon 820 processor. Vulkan API support will be coming for upcoming other unannounced Adreno 5xx series GPUs and currently shipping Adreno 4xx GPUs, allowing us to wonder if Vulkan support will find its way into currently shipping handsets.

As Qualcomm points out in its press release on the news, the Vulkan API will bring some important and groundbreaking changes to the mobile space.

  • Explicit control over GPU operation, with minimized driver overhead for improved performance;
     
  • Multi-threading-friendly architecture to increase overall system performance;
     
  • Optimal API design that can be used in a wide variety of devices including mobile, desktop, consoles, and embedded platforms;
     
  • Use of Khronos’ new SPIR-V intermediate representation for shading language flexibility and more predictable implementation behavior;
     
  • Extensible layered architecture that enables innovative tools without impacting production performance while validating, debugging, and profiling;
     
  • Simple drivers for low-overhead efficiency and cross vendor portability.

Vulkan API support is being added to Qualcomm's development tools suite this week as well.

“We are pleased to have contributed to the definition of Khronos’ new Vulkan API. Qualcomm Technologies will be among the first to ship conformant Vulkan drivers, starting with Snapdragon 820’s embedded Adreno 530 GPU, and subsequently with our Adreno 4xx series GPUs. Vulkan enables the next generation of graphics performance by adding multi-threaded command buffer generation and explicit control of advanced graphics capabilities within Adreno GPUs,” said Micah Knapp, director of product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “In the coming days, we anticipate supporting Vulkan in the Snapdragon developer tools including Snapdragon Profiler and the Adreno SDK, to help application developers take advantage of this outstanding new API when creating graphics and compute applications for smartphones, tablets, VR HMDs and a variety of other types of devices that use Snapdragon processors.”

sd820_img_3.jpg

A quick look at the Khronos page listing companies with Vulkan conformant drivers shows Qualcomm on the short list, meaning it has provided the standards body with a driver that has passed its first level of certification. With its emphasis on efficiency, the Vulkan API and Qualcomm's early integration could be the most important place that the API ends up. In a technology field where battery life and performance must balance unlike anywhere else, getting this new implementation of graphics and compute could push mobile devices forward quickly.

Source: Qualcomm

LinuxGameCast Benchmarks Vulkan on Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 20, 2016 - 12:11 AM |
Tagged: vulkan, linux

Update: Venn continued to benchmark and came across a few extra discoveries. For example, he disabled VDPAU and jumped to 89.6 FPS in OpenGL and 80.6 FPS in Vulkan. Basically, be sure to read the whole thread. It might be updated further even. Original post below (unless otherwise stated).

On Windows, the Vulkan patch of The Talos Principle leads to a net loss in performance, relative to DirectX 11. This is to be expected when a developer like Croteam optimizes their game for existing APIs, and tries to port all that work to a new, very different standard, with a single developer and three months of work. They explicitly state, multiple times, not to expect good performance.

croteam-2016-talos-benchmark-vulkan.png

Image Credit: Venn Stone of LinuxGameCast

On Linux, Venn Stone of LinuxGameCast found different results. With everything maxed out at 1080p, his OpenGL benchmark reports 38.2 FPS, while his Vulkan raises this to an average of 66.5 FPS. Granted, this was with an eight-core AMD FX-8150, which launched with the Bulldozer architecture back in 2011. It did not have the fastest single-threaded performance, falling behind even AMD's own Phenom II parts before it in that regard.

Still, this is a scenario that allowed the game to scale to Bulldozer's multiple cores and circumvent a lot of the driver overhead in OpenGL. It resulted in a 75% increase in performance, at least for people who pair a GeForce 980 Ti ((Update: The Ti was a typo. Venn uses a standard GeForce GTX 980.)) with an eight-core, Bulldozer CPU from 2011.

If you like a spartan interior then check out Corsair's Carbide 600C

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 19, 2016 - 07:11 PM |
Tagged: inverted motherboard, enclosure, corsair, Carbide 600C

A few weeks ago Sebastian published a review of Corsair's Carbide Series 600Q and today you can take a peek at its brother, the Carbide 600C.  The 600C differs in that it lacks the full noise shielding foam and has a hinged, latching side-panel, with a large window to show off your components.  It is 454x260x535mm (17.9x10.2x21") and so can handle even an eATX motherboard.  The inclusion of two 5.25" bays will please some but the sparse number of 3.5" bays is not likely to impress anyone who uses multiple drives.  There are many pluses for those who like a clean interior and the three fans and fan controller which come with the case is a nice touch.  Read more over at techPowerUp.

casenew2.jpg

"The Corsair Carbide 600C comes with an inverted motherboard layout and aims to offer a perfect mix for those looking to take advantage of such an interior with a wide body, plenty of liquid-cooling compatibility, a 3-stage fan controller, and great cable management."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: techPowerUp

Intel insists their clock is still running

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2016 - 06:34 PM |
Tagged: Intel, delay, 10nm

Today Intel has insisted that the rumours of a further delay in their scheduled move to a 10nm process are greatly exaggerated.  They had originally hoped to make this move in the latter half of this year but difficulties in the design process moved that target into 2017.  They have assured The Inquirer and others that the speculation, based on information in a job vacancy posting, is inaccurate and that the they still plan on releasing processors built on a 10nm node by the end of next year.  You can still expect Kaby Lake before the end of the year and Intel also claims to have found promising techniques to shrink their processors below 10nm in the future,

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"INTEL HAS moved to quash speculation that its first 10nm chips could be pushed back even further than the second half of 2017, after already delaying them from this year."

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Source: The Inquirer

Linksys Releases EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900 MU-MIMO Router

Subject: Networking | February 19, 2016 - 05:37 PM |
Tagged: wireless router, wi-fi, router, mu-mimo, MAX-STREAM AC1900, linksys, EA8500, EA7500, 802.11ac, 4x4, 3x3

Linksys has announced availability of a new MU-MIMO wireless router, and the EA7500 features 3x3 802.11ac Wi-Fi along with 4x Gigabit LAN ports.

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“The Linksys MAX-STREAM AC1900 features MU-MIMO, the latest advance toward uninterrupted, simultaneous Wi-Fi connections. Devices such as HD streaming media players, 4K TVs, tablets, and game consoles use a lot of bandwidth. But with MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output) technology, the MAX-STREAM AC1900 sends advanced Wi-Fi to multiple devices at the same time and same speed. Your whole family can play, stream, and work at once, without experiencing lag or buffering - at up to 2x the speed of a non-MU-MIMO router.”

The specs include:

  • Wi-Fi Technology: AC1900 MU-MIMO Dual-band Gigabit, 600+1300 Mbps 
  • Wi-Fi Speed: AC1900 (N600 + AC1300) 
  • Wi-Fi Bands: 2.4 and 5 GHz (simultaneous dual band)
  • Power Antennas: 3x external, dual-band, detachable antennas
  • Operation Modes: Wireless Router, Access Point, Wired Bridge, Wireless Bridge
  • Processor: 1.4 GHz dual-core 
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 4x Gigabit LAN ports, 1x Gigabit WAN port
  • Other Ports: 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 port 
  • Storage File System Support: FAT, NTFS, HFS+

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Retail pricing is $199.99, placing it $50 below the larger 4x4 MU-MIMO EA8500 router ($249.99). If you’re looking to upgrade your router to take advantage of MU-MIMO technology (the benefits of which we covered in our review of the Killer Wireless-AC 1535), this EA7500 provides a new, more affordable option.

Full press release after the break.

Source: Linksys

A new Trion appears, is it still a good choice for an entry level SSD?

Subject: Storage | February 18, 2016 - 08:14 PM |
Tagged: Trion 150, toshiba, tlc, ssd, slc, sata, ocz, A15nm

As you may remember from Al's post, the OCZ Trion 150 is essentially the same as the previous Trion 100, except for the use of 15nm TLC flash from Toshiba and a lower initial price.  Hardware Canucks got their paws on two of the drives from this series to benchmark, the 480GB and 960GB models.  The 480GB model retains the 256MB DDR3 cache, the 960 doubles that to 512MB but there is one thing missing from this new series; instead of relying on capacitors to prevent lost data from a power failure they rely on OCZ's firmware based Power Failure Management Plus.  Read Hardware Canucks full review to see if the new Trion can match the price to performance of the original.

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"With the budget-focused SSD market exploding, OCZ is launching the Trion 150, a refresh of their original Trion 100 series which should offer better performance and an even lower price."

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Podcast #387 - ASUS PB328Q, Samsung 750 EVO SSD, the release of Vulkan and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 07:16 PM |
Tagged: x16 LTE, vulkan, video, ssd, Samsung, qualcomm, podcast, pb328q, opengl, nvidia, micron, Khronos, gtx 950, asus, apple, 840 evo, 750ti, 750 evo, 3d nand

PC Perspective Podcast #387 - 02/18/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS PB328Q, Samsung 750 EVO SSD, the release of Vulkan and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:34:18

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:35:00 This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Audible, the world's leading provider of audiobooks with more than 180,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature including fiction, nonfiction, and periodicals. For your free audiobook, go to audible.com/pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. 1:07:00 This episode of PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Braintree. Even the best mobile app won’t work without the right payments API. That’s where the Braintree v.0 SDK comes in. One amazingly simple integration gives you every way to pay. Try out the sandbox and see for yourself at braintree­payments.com/pcper
  5. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  6. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Warren Spector Returns to Game Development

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: system shock, pc gaming, otherside entertainment, night dive studios

Warren Spector helped create several classic video games, including Wing Commander, Ultima, System Shock, Crusader, Thief, and Deus Ex. His most recent titles were Epic Mickey 1 and 2, which took the classic, mischievous Mickey Mouse and gave it fairly adult game mechanics. Following the release of Epic Mickey 2 in 2012, he departed from the games industry to teach at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Image Credit: His Twitter Avatar

Meanwhile, Otherside Entertainment was created from several Looking Glass Studios alumni. The company launched a crowd-funding campaign for a “spiritual successor” to Ultima Underworld, which they called Underworld Ascension. A year later, they announced that they purchased the rights to System Shock 3. It turns out that Warren Spector was interesting in joining this studio, because he just did yesterday (after being an adviser to them for years).

Yay!

According to his quote, via GamesIndustry.biz, he was lured by the opportunity to directly work on both titles. Warren Spector makes complex games, and adding his name to these revival projects should be exciting for those who miss the way PC gaming used to be. There really isn't much to say about this news; it's just promising to have one of the pioneers of PC gaming back in the industry.

A storage medium which will long outlast the readers and filesystem

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 06:38 PM |
Tagged: laser, polarization vortex converter, voxel

Ever worry about long term storage of your valuable data but worry that tapes will rot, disks crash, flash die and optical media be cannibalized by the ink printed on them?  How about a process which should hold 360TB of data for 13.8 billion years at 190C and far longer at room temperatures?  Researchers in the UK have come up with a rather impressive technique for storing data for the long haul using lasers and optical media.  They are writing to fuzed quartz glass with femtosecond pulses of light to create three layers of voxels or an optical vortex if you prefer, which are created by the polarization of a vortex by firing that laser through nano-gratings.  Check out more at The Register.

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"Boffins in the UK’s Southampton University have devised a five-dimensional storage scheme using glass, femtolasers and a lifespan of billions of years, so they say."

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Source: The Register

Quantum Break Will Require Windows 10 (and DirectX 12)

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 11:47 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, pc gaming, DirectX 12

Last week, Microsoft announced that Quantum Break would arrive on the PC. At the same time, they listed the system requirements, which included the requirement of Windows 10. It will only be available on Windows 10 (outside of Xbox One). They also mentioned that the game would require DirectX 12, which made the issue more interesting. It wasn't that Microsoft was pushing their OS with first-party software, they were using an API that is only available in Windows 10, and it had the potential to make a better video game.

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Then they announced that it would only be available on Windows Store, which swings the pendulum back in the other direction. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

In all seriousness, we'll probably see games begin to deprecate DirectX 11 once DirectX 12 (or Vulkan) becomes ubiquitous. These new APIs significantly change how content is designed and submit to GPU(s), and do so in ways that seem difficult to scale back. Granted, I've talked to game developers and I've yet to have my suspicions validated, but it seems like the real benefit of the APIs will be when art and content can be created differently -- more objects, simpler objects, potentially splitting materials that are modified into separate instances, and so forth.

Quantum Break will come out on April 5th, along with a few other DX12-based titles.

Source: PC Gamer

All of your manuscripts will be illuminated with the SteelSeries Apex M800 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: input, steelseries, Apex M800, mechanical keyboard

The Steelseries Apex M800 uses their own QS1 mechnical switches, designed by Kailh and similar in feel to a Cherry MX Red switch.  It uses seperate processors for input and lighting, which allows you to get very creative when using the SteelSeries Engine 3 to program effects. It is also capable of recording macros on the fly, which you can then edit from within the software if you so desire.  Some users will also like the two USB 2.0 ports present on the keyboard, perhaps not for data transfer but handy for charging your phone or if you have USB powered toys on your desk.  Check out the full review including a video of the lighting effects over at Techgage.

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"SteelSeries has always been a heavy hitter in the world of peripherals. With a slew of highly touted mice, keyboards, and headsets, it looks to take things to the next level with the Apex M800 illuminated gaming keyboard. Does it have another winner on its hands, or are thousands of gamer nerds wrong? Read on to find out."

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Source: Techgage