Manufacturer: AMD

Digging into a specific market

A little while ago, I decided to think about processor design as a game. You are given a budget of complexity, which is determined by your process node, power, heat, die size, and so forth, and the objective is to lay out features in the way that suits your goal and workload best. While not the topic of today's post, GPUs are a great example of what I mean. They make the assumption that in a batch of work, nearby tasks are very similar, such as the math behind two neighboring pixels on the screen. This assumption allows GPU manufacturers to save complexity by chaining dozens of cores together into not-quite-independent work groups. The circuit fits the work better, and thus it lets more get done in the same complexity budget.

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Carrizo is aiming at a 63 million unit per year market segment.

This article is about Carrizo, though. This is AMD's sixth-generation APU, starting with Llano's release in June 2011. For this launch, Carrizo is targeting the 15W and 35W power envelopes for $400-$700 USD notebook devices. AMD needed to increase efficiency on the same, 28nm process that we have seen in their product stack since Kabini and Temash were released in May of 2013. They tasked their engineers to optimize their APU's design for these constraints, which led to dense architectures and clever features on the same budget of complexity, rather than smaller transistors or a bigger die.

15W was their primary target, and they claim to have exceeded their own expectations.

Backing up for a second. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

When I met with AMD last month, I brought up the Bulldozer architecture with many individuals. I suspected that it was a quite clever design that didn't reach its potential because of external factors. As I started this editorial, processor design is a game and, if you can save complexity by knowing your workload, you can do more with less.

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Bulldozer looked like it wanted to take a shortcut by cutting elements that its designers believed would be redundant going forward. First and foremost, two cores share a single floating point (decimal) unit. While you need some floating point capacity, upcoming workloads could use the GPU for a massive increase in performance, which is right there on the same die. As such, the complexity that is dedicated to every second FPU can be cut and used for something else. You can see this trend throughout various elements of the architecture.

Read on for more about what Carrizo is, and what it came from to get here.

Computex 2015: MSI Announces Notebooks with Quad-Core Broadwell CPUs

Subject: Mobile | June 2, 2015 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: notebook, msi, Intel Core i7, gaming notebook, computex 2015, computex, Broadwell

MSI has unveiled a refreshed notebook lineup featuring the new quad-core Intel Broadwell mobile processors.

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Broadwell launched as a dual-core only option, which resulted in some high-performance notebooks opting to stay with Haswell CPUs. With the introduction of quad-core versions of the new Broadwell chips for mobile, MSI has jumped on the bandwagon to offer a few different options. Of the 20 new notebooks offered by MSI, 18 of them are powered by Intel Core i7 chips.

Intel’s 5th Generation Core i7 processor powers 18 MSI laptop models, including the GT80 Titan SLI, GT72 Dominator, GS70 Stealth, GS60 Ghost, GE72 Apache, GE62 Apache, GP72 Leopard, GP62 Leopard, and the newly announced PX60 Prestige.  Available immediately, all gaming notebook models come with an array of superior technologies, including Killer DoubleShot Pro for lag-less gaming, SteelSeries Gaming Keyboard for exceptional customization and feel, and more.

The flagship GT80 Titan SLI has these impressive specs, including an Intel Core i7-5950HQ processor:

GT80 Titan SLI

  • Screen: 18.4” 1920x1080 WideView Non-Reflection
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-5950HQ, 2.9 - 3.7 GHz
  • Chipset: HM87
  • Graphics: Dual GTX 980M SLI, 8GB GDDR5 VRAM each
  • Memory: 24GB (8GB x3) DDR3L 1600MHz (4 SoDIMM slots, max 32GB)
  • Storage: 256GB Super RAID (128GB M.2 SATA x2, RAID 0) + 1TB 7200 RPM HDD
  • Optical: BD Burner
  • LAN: Killer Gaming Network
  • Wireless: Killer N1525 Combo (2x2 ac), BT 4.1
  • Card Reader: SDXC
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.4, mDP v1.2 x2
  • MSRP: $3799.99

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The GT80 Titan SLI gaming notebook

1920x1080 with this model seems low, especially considering the obscene amount of VRAM (8GB per card on a laptop? Really?). Still, this notebook has excellent external monitor support with dual mini-DisplayPort outputs, though HDMI is limited to version 1.4.

MSI has also introduced a refreshed GT72 Dominator with NVIDIA G-Sync (covered here), and this new version also features USB 3.1. And for the more business-minded there is the premium PX60 Prestige, now refreshed with Broadwell Core i7 as well.

These refreshed notebook models will be “available immediately” from MSI’s retail partners.

Source: MSI

Computex 2015: MSI GT72 Gaming Notebook with G-SYNC and Eye Tracking

Subject: Mobile | June 2, 2015 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: Tobii Technology, msi, GTX 980M, gt72, gaming notebook, g-sync, eye-tracking, computex 2015, computex

MSI has announced a new version of the GT72 gaming notebook featuring NVIDIA G-SYNC technology.

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Like the current GT72 Dominator Pro G, this features NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M graphics, though this announced version has 8GB of GDDR5 (vs. the previous 4GB) powering its 17.3” display. The G-SYNC implementation with this notebook will allow for variable refresh between 30 - 75 Hz, and as the existing G72 is a 1920x1080 notebook also featuring a GTX 980M it might seem unnecessary to implement G-SYNC, though this would ensure a smoother experience with the newest games at very high detail settings.

Based on the current GT72 Dominator Pro G we can also expect an Intel Broadwell Core i7 mobile processor (the i7-5700HQ in the current model), and these notebooks support up to 32GB of DDR3L 1600MHz memory, as well as up to 4 M.2 SSDs in RAID 0.

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MSI is also announcing development, in partnership with eye-tracking company Tobii Technology, of a “fully integrated eye-tracking notebook” for gamers, and MSI will have prototype notebooks at Computex to demonstrate the technology.

We’ll post additional details when available. Right now full specs, as well as pricing and availability, have not been revealed.

Source: MSI

Computex 2015: ASUS Announces ZenPad 8-inch Tablets

Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 07:47 AM |
Tagged: ZenPad, tablets, moorefield, computex 2015, computex, intel atom, atom x3, asus, ZenPad S

ASUS has announced their ZenPad 8.0 Series of tablets, and these feature some proprietary visual enhancements to give their screens more contrast and vivid color:

  • ASUS VisualMaster HDR video technology
  • ASUS TruVivid (direct bonded glass)
  • Bluelight filter (reduces blue light by 30%)
  • ASUS Tru2Life (contrast and sharpness enhancement) technology
  • Inteligent contrast (up to 150% wider contrast levels)

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The ASUS ZenPad S 8.0

What about specifications? Here’s a quick rundown of the tablets, both of which run Android 5.0 Lollipop with the ASUS ZenUI:

ZenPad S 8.0 Z580CA

  • Intel Atom 3580 Moorefield
    • Quad-core up to 2.3 GHz
    • PowerVR G6430 Rogue graphics
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 16GB, 32GB or 64GB eMMC storage
  • 8-inch IPS panel
    • 2048x1536 display (4:3)
    • 324ppi
    • TruVivid technology (direct bonded glass)
    • 73.75% screen-to-body ratio
  • Dual front speakers
  • 5MP front camera, 8MP rear camera
  • Micro SDXC (up to 128GB)
  • 15.2Wh battery
  • GPS & GLONASS
  • 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • USB Type-C connector

ZenPad 8.0 Z380C series

  • Intel Atom X3 (SoFIA)  C3200 series
    • Quad-core
    • Mali 450MP4 GPU
  • 8-inch IPS display
    • 76.5% screen-to-body ratio
    • 1280 x 800
    • 16:10 ratio
    • 10-finger multi-touch
  • 1GB/2GB ram
  • 8GB or 16GB eMMC
  • 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • 2MP front camera, 5MP rear camera
  • 1 x micro SDXC
  • Sensors: G-Sensor, E-compass, GPS, Hall sensor, Light sensor
  • 4000 mAh battery (non-removable)

No specifics on pricing or availablitiy just yet.

Source: ASUS

Computex 2015: New ASUS ROG Notebooks include G-Sync, Thin-and-Light Options

Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 02:00 AM |
Tagged: ROG, gl552, g751, g501, computex 2015, computex, asus

Launching with Computex this week, ASUS has a set of three new ROG (Republic of Gamers) notebooks for potential mobile gamers to take a look at. First up is the G751JT and G751JY machines that feature Intel Core i7 processors (likely Haswell) and GeForce GTX 980M discrete graphics. After the recent announcement of G-Sync for notebooks, it should be no surprise that this updated G751 will feature an impressive 75 Hz 1920x1080 screen that supports variable refresh gaming!

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ASUS G751JT/JY Notebook

For those more interested in a thin-and-light gaming machine, ASUS has the ROG G501. This will be available with either 2560x1440 or 3840x2160 resolution displays and will feature Intel Core i7 processors, again without specification on if that is Haswell or Broadwell based. ASUS claims that the G501 "features dual independent fans and copper heat sinks to ensure efficient thermal management for smooth and stable performance even at high loads."

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ASUS G501 Notebook

Finally, the ROG GL552 looks to be a more standard gaming rig with a Haswell-based Intel processor, non-descript "discrete graphics" and an "optional" solid state drive. The GL552 will feature an "easy-access design for additional storage and memory upgrades."

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ASUS GL552 Notebook

Look for more details on these notebooks and hopefully reviews very soon!

Computex 2015: ASUS Announces the Transformer Book T100HA

Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 02:00 AM |
Tagged: Transformer Book T100HA, quad-core, intel atom, computex 2015, computex, Cherry Trail, asus, 2-in-1

ASUS has announced the newest version of their Transformer Book 2-in-1, and the T100HA features a Intel Atom Cherry Trail X5 series quad-core processor and will run Windows 10 when released later this year.

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From ASUS:

"ASUS Transformer Book T100HA is the successor to the best-selling Transformer Book T100TA 2-in-1, and combines the power of a stylish 10.1-inch laptop with the convenience of a super-slim tablet. This new iteration has up to 14 hours of battery life, and has an ultra-thin 8.45mm chassis that weights just 580g. It has a metallic finish and is available in Silk White, Tin Grey, Aqua Blue and Rouge Pink.

The T100HA is powered by a choice of quad-core Intel® Atom™ ‘Cherry Trail’ X5 series processors, and has 4GB RAM and a USB Type-C port. This device comes pre-installed with Windows 10 and will be available in the third quarter of 2015."

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Source: ASUS

Computex 2015: ASUS Announces the Zenfone Selfie

Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2015 - 02:00 AM |
Tagged: Zenbook Selfie, snapdragon 615, computex 2015, computex, asus zenbook

Looking for a way to snap "the best possible selfies quickly and simply"? Then you just might want to check out the new Zenfone Selfie.

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Unlike the current Zenfone this new "Selfie" version of the phone features dual 13 MP cameras (front and back) and is powered by a Qualcomm SoC, specifically the Snapdragon 615.

Here are some of the specs for the new Zenfone:

  • Dual 13MP pixel master
  • 5-prism Largan lens
  • Toshiba 1/3.2-inch sensor
  • Dual LED real tone flash
  • Front camera – F/2.2, 24mm wide angle
  • Rear camera – F/2.0, 28mm
  • Laser autofocus (rear camera)
  • Super HDR, low-light, beautification, selfie panorama, etc… modes
  • Qualcolmm Snapdragon 615
  • Quad-core ARM Cortex A53 (1.7 GHz) + quad-core A53 (1.0 GHz)
  • Adreno 405 GPU
  • 4G/LTE up to 150Mbit/s
  • 5.5-inch IPS 1080p  display
  • TruVivid technology (direct bonded glass)
  • 403ppi pixel density
  • 400 nits brightness
  • 3.3mm bezel
  • 7 available colors
  • Pastel – Pure white, chic pink and aqua blue
  • Metallic hairline finish – Osmium black, sheer gold, glacier gray, glamor red
  • Android 5.0 with ZenUI & ZenMotion
Source: ASUS

NVIDIA G-Sync for Notebooks Announced, No Module Required

Subject: Displays, Mobile | May 31, 2015 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, notebooks, msi, mobile, gsync, g-sync, asus

If you remember back to January of this year, Allyn and posted an article that confirmed the existence of a mobile variant of G-Sync thanks to a leaked driver and an ASUS G751 notebook. Rumors and speculation floated around the Internet ether for a few days but we eventually got official word from NVIDIA that G-Sync for notebooks was a real thing and that it would launch "soon." Well we have that day here finally with the beginning of Computex.

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G-Sync for notebooks has no clever branding, no "G-Sync Mobile" or anything like that, so discussing it will be a bit more difficult since the technologies are different. Going forward NVIDIA claims that any gaming notebook using NVIDIA GeForce GPUs will be a G-Sync notebook and will support all of the goodness that variable refresh rate gaming provides. This is fantastic news as notebook gaming is often at lower frame rates than you would find on a desktop PC because of lower powered hardware yet comparable (1080p, 1440p) resolution displays.

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Of course, as we discovered in our first look at G-Sync for notebooks back in January, the much debated G-Sync module is not required and will not be present on notebooks featuring the variable refresh technology. So what gives? We went over some of this before, but it deserves to be detailed again.

NVIDIA uses the diagram above to demonstrate the complication of the previous headaches presented by the monitor and GPU communication path before G-Sync was released. You had three different components: the GPU, the monitor scalar and the monitor panel that all needed to work together if VRR was going to become a high quality addition to the game ecosystem. 

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NVIDIA's answer was to take over all aspects of the pathway for pixels from the GPU to the eyeball, creating the G-Sync module and helping OEMs to hand pick the best panels that would work with VRR technology. This helped NVIDIA make sure it could do things to improve the user experience such as implementing an algorithmic low-frame-rate, frame-doubling capability to maintain smooth and tear-free gaming at frame rates under the panels physical limitations. It also allows them to tune the G-Sync module to the specific panel to help with ghosting and implemention variable overdrive logic. 

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All of this is required because of the incredible amount of variability in the monitor and panel markets today.

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But with notebooks, NVIDIA argues, there is no variability at all to deal with. The notebook OEM gets to handpick the panel and the GPU directly interfaces with the screen instead of passing through a scalar chip. (Note that some desktop monitors like the ever popular Dell 3007WFP did this as well.)  There is no other piece of logic in the way attempting to enforce a fixed refresh rate. Because of that direct connection, the GPU is able to control the data passing between it and the display without any other logic working in the middle. This makes implementing VRR technology much more simple and helps with quality control because NVIDIA can validate the panels with the OEMs.

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As I mentioned above, going forward, all new notebooks using GTX graphics will be G-Sync notebooks and that should solidify NVIDIA's dominance in the mobile gaming market. NVIDIA will be picking the panels, and tuning the driver for them specifically, to implement anti-ghosting technology (like what exists on the G-Sync module today) and low frame rate doubling. NVIDIA also claims that the world's first 75 Hz notebook panels will ship with GeForce GTX and will be G-Sync enabled this summer - something I am definitely looking forward to trying out myself.

Though it wasn't mentioned, I am hopeful that NVIDIA will continue to allow users the ability to disable V-Sync at frame rates above the maximum refresh of these notebook panels. With most of them limited to 60 Hz (but this applies to 75 Hz as well) the most demanding gamers are going to want that same promise of minimal latency.

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At Computex we'll see a handful of models announced with G-Sync up and running. It should be no surprise of course to see the ASUS G751 with the GeForce GTX 980M GPU on this list as it was the model we used in our leaked driver testing back in January. MSI will also launch the GT72 G with a 1080p G-Sync ready display and GTX 980M/970M GPU option. Gigabyte will have a pair of notebooks: the Aorus X7 Pro-SYNC with GTX 970M SLI and a 1080p screen as well as the Aorus X5 with a pair of GTX 965M in SLI and a 3K resolution (2560x1440) screen. 

This move is great for gamers and I am eager to see what the resulting experience is for users that pick up these machines. I have long been known as a proponent of variable refresh displays and getting access to that technology on your notebook is a victory for NVIDIA's team.

Google I/O 2015: Android OS M Revealed

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | May 29, 2015 - 03:42 PM |
Tagged: Android, google, google io, google io 2015

I'll be honest with you: I did not see a whole lot that interested me out of the Google I/O keynote. The company released a developer preview of their upcoming Android OS “M”, which refers to the thirteenth alphabetical release (although only eleven were formally lettered because they started with “C”upcake). Version nomenclature aside, this release is supposed to tune the experience. While the platform could benefit from a tune-up, it is also synonymous with not introducing major features.

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But some things are being added, including “Google Now on Tap”. The idea is that Google will understand what is happening on screen and allow the user to access more information about it. In a demo on Engadget, the user was looking at scores for the Golden State Warriors. She asked “When are they playing next”, actually using the pronoun “they”, and the phone brought up their next game (it was against the Cavaliers).

Fingerprint reading and Android Pay are also being added to this release.

Other than that, it is mostly performance and usability. One example is “Doze State”, which allows the OS to update less frequently when the device is inactive. It is supposed to play nice with alarms and notifications though, which is good. Normally, I would wait to see if it actually works before commenting on it, but this seems like something that would only be a problem if no-one thought of it. Someone clearly did, because they apparently mentioned it at the event.

Android M, whatever it will actually be called, is expected to ship to consumers in the Fall.

Source: Tech Report
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

SHIELD Specifications

Announced just this past June at last year’s Google I/O event, Android TV is a platform developed by Google, running Android 5.0 and higher, that aims to create an interactive experience for the TV. This platform can be built into a TV directly as well as into set-top style boxes, like the NVIDIA SHIELD we are looking at today. The idea is to bring the breadth of apps and content to the TV through the Android operating system in a way that is both convenient and intuitive.

NVIDIA announced SHIELD back in March at GDC as the first product to use the company’s latest Tegra processor, the X1. This SoC combines an 8-core big.LITTLE ARM processor design with a 256-core implementation of the NVIDIA Maxwell GPU architecture, providing GPU performance previously unseen in an Android device. I have already spent some time with the NVIDIA SHIELD at various events and the promise was clearly there to make it a leading option for Android TV adoption, but obviously there were questions to be answered.

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Today’s article will focus on my early impressions with the NVIDIA SHIELD, having used it both in the office and at home for a handful of days. As you’ll see during the discussion there are still some things to be ironed out, some functionality that needs to be added before SHIELD and Android TV can really be called a must-buy product. But I do think it will get there.

And though this review will focus on the NVIDIA SHIELD, it’s impossible not to marry the success of SHIELD with the success of Google’s Android TV. The dominant use case for SHIELD is as a media playback device, with the gaming functionality as a really cool side project for enthusiasts and gamers looking for another outlet. For SHIELD to succeed, Google needs to prove that Android TV can improve over other integrated smart TV platforms as well as other set-top box platforms like Boxee, Roku and even the upcoming Apple TV refresh.

But first, let’s get an overview of the NVIDIA SHIELD device, pricing and specifications, before diving into my experiences with the platform as a whole.

Continue reading our review of the new NVIDIA SHIELD with Android TV!!