Ahead of the release of Windows 8 and the onslaught of Windows 8-based tablets that will hit the market next month, Intel is taking the cover off the processor that many of these new devices will be powered by, the Intel Atom Z2760 previously known by the codename of Clover Trail. Intel is claiming that the Atom Z2760 is the beginning of a completely new Atom direction, now a complete SoC (system-on-a-chip) design that lowers power requirements, extends battery life and allows Intel's x86 architecture to find its way into smaller and more portable devices.
At it's heart, Clover Trail is based on the same Saltwell CPU core design that was found in the Medfield processor powering a handful of smartphones over in Europe. That means the Atom lineup remains an in-order architecture with a dual-issue command structure - nothing incredibly revolutionary there.
Unlike Medfield though, the Atom Z2760 is a dual-core design that still enables HyperThreading for four-threaded operating system integration. The cores will run at 1.8 GHz and it includes 1MB of L2 cache divided between the two cores evenly. Memory is connected through a dual-channel 32-bit bus to low power DDR2 memory running at 800 MHz and capacities up to 2GB.
Subject: Mobile | September 27, 2012 - 02:46 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, stylus, smartphone, Qualcomm MSM8960, optimus vuii, LG
LG recently confirmed the specifications for its upcoming smartphone, and the company has gone in a different direction that the other big players this time around. The Optimus Vu II is a rather large phone that is approaching the size of a tablet, and it will cost almost $900. The smartphone is model LG-F200 and measures 132.2 x 85.6 x 9.4 mm. At 159g, it is no lightweight, but is lighter than I would have guessed. It will be available in pick, white, or black colors, with a 5.0" IPS display prominently centered on the front of the device. The display can recognize finger or stylus input, and has a resolution of 1024 x 768. Interestingly, the Optimus Vu II has a 4:3 aspect ratio where most phones opt for the thinner 16:9 displays. This results in a phone that looks almost square, and makes it look more like a tablet than a smartphone.
Other features include an 8 MP rear camera, 1.3 MP front facing camera for web conferencing, and the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. Connectivity includes 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, APT-X Codec, MHL (video output to HDMI), NFC, LTE, and USB 2.0. Of course, the Wi-Fi network connection supports DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, and Miracast.
Internal specifications include a Qualcomm MSM 8960 dual core processor running at 1.5GHz, 2GB of RAM, and a 2,150 mAh battery that can be charged via magnetic induction. There is an external SD card slot, but no word yet on how much internal storage the Vu II will come with. The smartphone (tablet?) will come with an IR blaster and QRemote software so that you can control your home theater PC setup with it, and a One Key keychain that will make the phone beep loudly to assist you in finding it (unless you have misplaced your keys as well... though that might just be my bad luck heh). The VoLTE support is also notable, and should result in improved audio quality during voice calls.
The LG Optimus Vu II is a rather odd device with its large 5" screen size, aspect ratio, and boxy design. While we will have to wait for the US launch to confirm the approximate $864 (966,900 won) price, it is an expensive smartphone that looks and operates more like a tablet (and still costs more than a 7" Nexus 7!). As much as I love stylus support, I just don't see the Vu II catching on in the US.
You can find the full press release in the LG Korea newsroom website.
What do you think? Will you be picking up the Vu II, and if so why?
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 27, 2012 - 12:26 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, PowerVR, iphone, arm, apple, a6
Apple's latest smartphone was unveiled earlier this month, and just about every feature has been analyzed extensively by reviewers and expounded upon by Apple. However, the one aspect that remains a mystery is the ARM System on a Chip that is powering the iPhone 5. There has been a great deal of speculation, but the officially Apple is not talking. The company has stated that the new processor is two times faster than its predecessor, but beyond that it will be up to reviewers to figure out what makes it tick.
After the press conference PC Perspective's Josh Walrath researched what few hints there were on the new A6 processor, and determined that there was a good chance it was an ARM Cortex A15-based design. Since then some tidbits of information have come out that suggest otherwise, however. Developers for iOS disovered that the latest SDK suggest new functionality for the A6 processor, including some new instruction sets. That discovery tended credence to the A6 possibly being Cortex A15, but it did not prove that it wasn't. Following that, Anandtech posted an article that stated it was in a licensed Cortex A15 design. Rather, the A6 was a custom Apple-developed chip that would, ideally, give users the same level of performance without needing significantly more power – and without waiting for a Cortex A15 chip to be manufactured.
Finally, thanks to the work of the enthusiasts over at Chipworks, we have physical proof that, finally, reveals details about Apple's A6 SoC. By stripping away the outer protective layers, and placing the A6 die under a powerful microscope, they managed to get an 'up close and personal' look at the inside of the chip.
Despite the near-Jersey Shore (shudder) levels of drama between Apple and Samsung over the recent trade dress and patent infringement allegations, it seems that the two companies worked together to bring Apple's custom processor to market. The researchers determined that the A6 was based on Samsung's 32nm CMOS manufacturing process. It reads APL0589B01 on the inside, which suggests that it is of Apple's own design. Once the Chipworks team sliced open the processor further, they discovered proof that Apple really did craft a custom ARM processor.
In fact, Apple has created a chip with dual ARM CPU cores and three GPU cores (PowerVR). The CPU cores support the ARMv7s instruction set, and Apple has gone with a hand drawn design. Rather than employ computer libraries to automatically lay out the logic in the processor, Apple and the engineers acquired from its purchase of PA Semi have manually drawn out the processor by hand. This chip has likely been in the works for a couple of years now, and the 96.71mm^2 sized die will offer up some notable performance improvements.
It seems like Apple has opted to go for an expensive custom chip rather than opt for a licensed Cortex A15 design. That combined with the hand drawn layout should give Apple a processor with better performance than its past designs without requiring significantly more power.
At a time when mobile SoC giant Texas Instruments is giving up on ARM chips for tablets and smartphones, and hand drawn designs are becoming increasingly rare (even AMD has given up), I have to give Apple props for going with a custom processor laid out by hand. I'm interested to see what the company is able to do with it and where they will go from here.
Chipworks and iFixIt also took a look at the LTE modem, Wi-Fi chip, audio amplifier, and other aspects of the iPhone 5's internals, and it is definitely worth a read for the impressive imagery alone.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 26, 2012 - 01:21 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Power consumption on Linux has always been harder to track than on Windows, especially at a granular level to determine which components are the most power hungry in your system. Considering the huge outcry some users made at the release of kernel 3.5 and the high power draw they witnessed, monitoring power has become a hot topic for many. Phoronix just posted a review of PowerTOP, which shows the discharge rate of your laptops battery, as well as how much power your hardware is using including the number of interrupts it is sending to your CPU. For developers there is even a way to create hardware profiles for yourself and your users which will help you extend battery life for all your mobile Linux machines.
"Getting the longest battery life on portable Linux machines is yet another moving target as kernels and standards change and vendors continue to snuggle up to Microsoft at the expense of non-Windows users. There was a bit of controversy at the release of the 3.x kernel because it contained a power regression (or not a power regression but something else that behaved like a power regression depending on who was talking) and the result was that Linux got considerably less battery life than Windows on the same machines. This was especially obvious to dual-boot users. This is a long complex story, so if you're interested in the details see the links at the end."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- JEDEC publishes DDR4 standard @ DigiTimes
- Design Principles Behind Firefox OS Explained @ Slashdot
- Roll your own parabolic microphone @ Hack a Day
- TSMC, chipset players receiving follow-up orders for iPhone 5, say sources @ DigiTimes
- HTC Windows Phone 8X will be released on 8 November @ The Inquirer
- Asus Transformer Pad Prime and Infinity will get Android 4.1 Jelly Bean ‘soon’ @ The Inquirer
- Arctic Breeze USB Desktop Fan Review @ eTeknix
- Motorola's Razr design daddy legs it, gets inside Intel @ The Register
- Four A3 printers round-up: Living large @ Hardware.info
- SHA-3 hash finalist Schneier calls for halt in crypto contest @ The Register
Subject: Mobile | September 24, 2012 - 04:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: patriot, Gauntlet Node
Patriot's Gauntlet Node will fit any 2.5" drive of 2TB or less in its 3.39" x 5.47" x 0.96" shell and allow you to connect to it wireless via an 802.11 b/g/n WiFi connection. This device is for more than just your normal laptop, as it has support for iOS and Android devices as well. That could give your phone or tablet a lot more storage than it originally shipped with. For those of you who prefer an SSD, the USB 3.0 connection will give you good speed but it will be limited by USB 3.0's bandwidth. [H]ard|OCP really liked this device, even if they did have to wrestle with it a bit when initially setting it up.
"The Gauntlet Node from Patriot is designed to provide extra storage to mobile users. The ability for any 2.5" HDD or SSD to operate wirelessly as a hot-spot for up to 8 users and to provide a shared data pool is compelling. It does feature support for Android and iOS devices natively. We test the Gauntlet Node to see if it delivers."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Asus' Zenbook Prime UX31A ultrabook @ The Tech Report
- HP Envy Spectre XT Review @ TechReviewSource
- Alienware M17x R4 Notebook Review: Ivy Bridge and the GeForce GTX 680M @ AnandTech
- Eurocom Monster 11.6" Gaming Laptop Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Samsung Series 5 Ultrabook Review @ TechwareLabs
- HP Pavilion g6t-2000 Review @ TechReviewSource
- iBUYPOWER Valkyrie CZ-17 Gaming Laptop @ Tweaktown
- Dell Inspiron 13z Review @ TechReviewSource
- Round-up of 74 laptop power adapters: original or universal @ Hardware.info
- ASUS Nexus 7 Tablet @ Tweaktown
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 @ The Inquirer
- Incipio DualPro iPhone 5 Case Review @ Legit Reviews
- Esoterism Moat-2 and Wand Stylus Review @ TechwareLabs
- HTC Windows Phone 8S hands-on @ The Inquirer
- Apple iPhone 5 Review @ TechReviewSource
- iPhone 5 Review @ HardwareHeaven
Subject: Mobile | September 20, 2012 - 08:23 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wp8, windows phone 8x, windows phone 8s, windows phone 8, snapdragon s4, microsoft, htc
Not content to let Samsung and Nokia have all the fun with Windows Phone 8, smartphone company HTC has announced two new WP8 devices. The results of a partnership with Microsoft, HTC will be releasing the Windows Phone 8X and Windows Phone 8S shortly following the official unveiling of the Windows Phone 8 operating system in October.
The HTC Windows Phone 8X will be the company’s flagship WP8 smartphone. On the outside, the HTC phone features a 4.2” Super LCD 2 display with a resolution of 1280x720 pixels (341 PPI). The smartphones will come in yellow, red, black, and blue colors. The front of the device is flat with a ring of color (of your choice) while the back and edges are rounded. No specific dimensions were given, but the smartphone weighs 130 grams. Cameras include a 2.1 MP front-facing camera for video calling that is capable of recording 1080p video as well as an 8 MP rear camera.
Internal specifications include a 1.5GHz dual core SnapDragon S4 SoC, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and an 1800 mAh battery. Wi-Fi and NFC radios are also present, but the Windows Phone 8X does not appear to support US LTE networks similar to the Samsung ATIV S. On the audio side of things, HTC is touting Beats Audio functionality and an internal amplifier that will allow users to attach larger headphones to the HTC 8X.
The 8X is not the only Windows Phone 8 smartphone that HTC is releasing. Positioned as a budget WP8 option is the HTC Windows Phone 8S. This device goes for a two-tone approach by placing a strip of color along the bottom of the front that extends to fill the entire back. The area around the display is black, and the available colors include white, yellow, red, and blue. It weighs in at 113 grams, which makes it the lightest WP8 smartphone announced so far.
The front of the device features a 4” Super LCD with resolution of 800x480 (233 PPI), and a row of capacitive buttons. There is no front-facing camera on this smartphone, but it does have a mircoSD card slot (unlike the 8X).
Internal specifications include a dual core SnapDragon S4 SoC running at 1GHz, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, and a 1700 mAh battery. The HTC 8S does feature a 5MP rear camera that is capable of recording 720p video. Radios include Wi-Fi and at least 3G. It does not appear to support LTE networks. There is also no NFC support.
WPCentral got hands-on time with the 8S.
The HTC 8S also has support for Beats audio, and HTC is including a Beats Audio application that will allow users to adjust audio output settings.
HTC has not announced any specific pricing, but both models should be available for purchase in November. The HTC 8X smartphone will be supported on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the US. In Canada, Bell and Rogers will support the 8X, and in Europe it will be carried by Orange, O2, Telefonica, MTS, Three UK, T-Mobile, and Vodafone. Unfortunately, there is no word on which cellular networks will carry the HTC 8S. At least in the US, AT&T and T-Mobile seem like good bets.
Comparison of Upcoming Windows Phone 8 Devices
Some details are not official yet (LTE support), or unknown.
The 8X and 8S are smaller than the Windows Phone 8 devices from Nokia and Samsung, and it will be interesting to see which design direction customers prefer. I would expect both of the HTC smartphones to be priced comptetively under the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 based on the specifications to try and lure potential customers in with a lower price tag and similar feature set. As far as raw specs go, the Lumia series seems to have the upper hand, but if HTC prices these right it could be a popular and 'good enough' alternative.
You can find more photos of the 8X over at WPCentral. The video below shows off both the HTC 8X and 8S and the design concepts behind them.
Before Intel released the ultrabook standard there were already laptops that we’re close to what Intel would envision, and while some had already gained attention on their own, most were not given any special attention. One of these laptops was the IdeaPad U series, a part of Lenovo’s consumer line-up which had long focused on thin and light design.
I reviewed one of those laptops, the Lenovo U260, in 2010. That 12.5 laptop weighed in at just 3.04 pounds and is - to this very day - among the thinnest and lightest laptops we’ve reviewed at PC Perspective.
Alas, the U260 was not long for this world, but its largest siblings live on. Now we’re taking a look at the U410, Lenovo’s 14-inch ultrabook and the largest product in the U-Series. Let’s see what kind of hardware it brings to this suddenly crowded category.
Well, there are no surprises here, but you shouldn’t have expected any. Intel’s moves to make cool, thin laptops more widespread has ironically robbed them of their excitement. They’re all roughly the same in size and weight and they can all be equipped with identical Intel processors.
This makes it hard for any particular ultrabook - even those with a bloodline that starts prior to Intel’s ultrabook push - to stand out. Let’s see if the Lenovo IdeaPad U410 can conjure some magic.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 19, 2012 - 07:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows rt, vivo tab rt, vivo tab, taichi, tablet, pricing, asus
Earlier this month we detailed two ASUS tablets that were on display at IFA 2012. The important specification that was unknown at the time was pricing, however. Specifically, pricing information has been leaked on not only the two ASUS Vivo tablets, but a third tablet that we reported on in June: the ASUS Taichi convertible tablet.
ZDNet claims to have gotten a hold of the final pricing for the three tablets, by means of a leaked slide(s) that represent the company's holiday roadmap. The leaked slide can be seen below.
The two upcoming Vivo-series tablets are the Vivo Tab and Vivo Tab RT, which will run the x86 and ARM versions of Windows 8 respectively.
The Vivo Tab will run an Atom CPU, 2GB RAM, 64GB internal storage, front/rear cameras (8MP/2MP), and sport a 10.1" Super IPS+ display (1366x768 resolution). It is rated at 8.7mm thick and weighing 675 grams. According to the leaked slide, the Vivo Tab will be priced at $799 for the base model, and the accompanying keyboard dock will cost an additional $199.
On the other hand, specifications for the Vivo Tab RT include a NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 32GB internal storage, 11.6" Super IPS+ display (1366x768), 8MP/2MP front and rear camera. It weighs 520 grams and is 8.3mm thick. This tablet has a starting price of $599 for the tablet itself, and the keyboard dock costs $199 extra.
Note that this ARM-powered tablet will come with the preview/RTM version of Microsoft Office 2013 at launch (which I have been using since the Customer Preview came out, and generally like it). Once office goes gold, Windows RT tablets will receive a free update to the final version. However, with the Windows RT version, you do not have access to features like macro support in excel (which kind of defeats the purpose of using this a business machine, but at least it's 'free').
|ASUS Vivo Tab||ASUS Vivo Tab RT||ASUS Transformer Prime||ASUS Transformer Infinity|
|Processor/SoC||Intel Atom||NVIDIA Tegra 3||NVIDIA Tegra 3||NVIDIA Tegra 3|
|Display||10.1" Super IPS+ @ 1366x768||11.6" Super IPS+ @ 1366x768||10.1" IPS @ 1280x800||10.1" Super IPS+ @ 1920x1200|
|Camera(s)||8MP rear, 2MP front||8MP rear, 2MP front||8MP rear, 1.2MP front||8MP rear, 2MP front|
|Size||8.7mm thick||8.3mm thick||10.4" x 7.1" x .3"||10.4" x 7.1" x .3" (8.5mm thick)|
A comparison of the Vivo Tab and Vivo RT compared to ASUS' Android-powered alternatives.
Further, the ASUS Taichi is not only a tablet, but one with dual screens that is actually billed as an ultrabook -- and with a (rumored) price to match! For $1299, you get an ultrabook with two 1920x1080 multi-touch displays on the front and bad "lid" of the laptop. Specifications include an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, 4GB of RAM, SSD, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, dual cameras, and USB 3.0 support. Even better, both displays on the Taichi can be used at the same time to share the computer with a friend sitting across from you (unclear how the software handles this though I don't think both users get individual desktops).
What that means is that if you want a Windows 8 tablet from ASUS with a keyboard dock, you are looking at a minimum of $798 for the ARM-powered Vivo Tab RT, $998 for the Vivo Tab, and $1299 for the ASUS Taichi. Now, the Taichi's pricing I can forgive, because it is marketed and positioned as an ultrabook. The two Vivo Tabs do seem overpriced for what you are getting once you factor in the additional cost fo the keyboard dock. If the dock was included in the $599 and $799 (base tablet) prices, I think those prices would be fair – but they do not. Even comparing to the company's Android tablets, it is difficult for me to justify the 'x86 and Microsoft taxes' that are likely responsible for the increased cost. As an example, you can find the 32GB Transformer Prime and keyboard dock for a total of $616.94 on Amazon right now. Is the (approx.) additional $180 really worth it just to run Windows 8 – and the ARM version at that (so no traditional desktop apps). For many people, I think not and I think Microsoft and the many tablet OEMs that are going to try to push Windows 8 tablets/notebooks this holiday season are going to need to re-evaluate the market if they want these devices to sell well.
After using Windows 8 RTM on my main desktop, I'm not sold on metro but it's not terrible and it's actually a decent UI when navigating around with a touchscreen (I've also tried it on a convertible tablet). I do think that Windows 8 tablets are a good thing, and if positioned at the right price, Microsoft and the OEMs could sell a lot of these just on the merits of being able to say that this computer/tablet/notebook/et al is running 'Microsoft' and/or 'Windows' on the box and displays (at retail) which consumers are familiar with and comfortable paying for (the brand name).
The crux of it is pricing though, because if there is a 10" tablet for $800 next to a 10" for $600, and the only discernable difference is what is on the screen (the OS, and especially since Win 8 isn't all that reminiscent of Windows' desktop), I have to believe that the majority of consumers are going to go for the cheaper model (likely running Android).
[And that's not really touching on the $1000 Vivo Tab+dock that is running an Atom processor of all things... that is most definitely ultrabook territory and for that price you should be getting at least a Sandy Bridge CPU, and better chassis. If I was in that situation of choosing just between ASUS' devices (with a touchscreen), I would probably just save up the extra cash for the Taichi and get a 'real' ultrabook (internal specs-wise), or go for something like the Transformer Pad Infinity which wouldn't run Windows but would at least have a much better display and be a bit more portable.]
But what do you think? Are the rumored prices reasonable? Would you buy a Windows 8 tablet over an Android tablet even if the Microsoft-powered device is significantly more expensive?
Subject: Mobile | September 13, 2012 - 07:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tablet, Snapdragon S4 Pro, Samsung, qualcomm, ice cream sandwich, Exynos 4412
You are likely already somewhat familiar with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, running Ice Cream Sandwich on a 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos 4412. Externally it looks almost identical to the 10.1" engineering sample that Qualcomm pulled out in front of The Inquirer today but internally they are very different. Inside the Qualcomm tablet is the new 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, running a hair faster than the Exynos and with a different architecture. That customized architecture showed up in the testing, the Qualcomm tablet benchmarked higher the Samsung, much higher than the 100MHz speed difference would imply. However not all was perfect with the usability of the tablet, though The Inquirer does point out this is a tablet still in development and the software is not quite ready for prime time.
"The INQUIRER took the chance to test Qualcomm's developer tablet Snapdragon processor against the Exynos quad-core chip used in Samsung's popular Galaxy Note 10.1.
On paper, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and the Qualcomm development tablet are quite similar. Both devices run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and have 10.1in touchscreens."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Traveling with an iPad: Impressions & Accessory Survival Guide @ Techspot
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 4G @ Tweaktown
- Amazon Kindle Fire HD (7", Wi-Fi) Review @ TechReviewSource
- Amazon Kindle Preview: Paperwhite, Fire (2012), and Fire HD 7" & 8.9" @ AnandTech
- Cooler Master NotePal ERGO 360 Laptop Cooler @ Pro-Clockers
- Sony VAIO S13 (SVS13112FXW) Review @ TechReviewSource
- Dell Inspiron 15R SE Review @ TechReviewSource
- MySN XMG P502 (Clevo P150EM) @ Kitguru
- HP EliteBook 8470p Review @ TechReviewSource
- HP Folio 13 Ultrabook Laptop @ Tweaktown
- Zalman ZM-NC3500 Plus Notebook Cooler Review @ eTeknix
- Cooler Master Wave Stand Review @ Ninjalane
- LG Optimus L7 and Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus review: different looks, same hardware @ Hardware.info
- Motorola Atrix HD Review: Fast, Sharp, Bargain @ AnandTech
- Alcatel One Touch 995: big smartphone, small price @ Hardware.info
- Samsung Galaxy Note @ Tweaktown
Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | September 13, 2012 - 06:42 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: lucid, dynamix, ultrabook
Lucid has a history of fast product development as a software company. It wasn't too long ago that Lucidlogix was a fabless semiconductor company that made chips for motherboards to enabled multi-GPU solutions across card models and GPU vendors. Since then we have seen them move to GPU virtualization tasks like enabling discrete and integrated GPUs to work seamlessly without user interaction on the same notebook.
The Lucid MVP software is the most recent version of that track and it has been very well received, find its way onto most motherboard brands and recently the Origin gaming notebook line.
While huddling in San Francisco during IDF, we stopped by Lucid's suite to see what new stuff they were cooking up. One of the products was called Dynamix and it has the goal of adjusting the image quality of games in real time to help users hit minimal gaming experience levels. Lucid isn't adjusting the settings on your games but rather is intercepting calls from the game to the graphics solution (integrated or discrete) and altering them slightly to adjust performance.
Above you'll see the beta user interface for Dynamix that allows the user to configure it and assign which titles it should operate on. Two sliders, one for a frame rate and one for a somewhat subjective "quality" level can be moved in order to alter the algorithms Lucid has set in the place.
When you set the minimum frame rate, that is the "threshold" with which you would like to make sure all of your games run at. The default was 30 FPS when I played with it and left the quality slider where it started as well. If you start a game that does NOT run at 30 FPS with the settings you have (or maybe it won't with any settings) Lucid's software will attempt to change some quality and rendering settings completely transparently to bring the frame rate up.
In our demo we saw Crysis 2 running on a Dell Ultrabook at 1366x768 and a reported frame rate of 9 from FRAPS. Obviously a game at that frame rate is pretty much unplayable, so when you enable the Dynamix software via a hotkey it attempts to bring up the frame rate; not by adjusting settings in the game engine but rather by changing DX calls to the GPU itself.
Examples given were that Dynamix might change the color depth requested by the game, or it might lower the texture resolutions and anti-aliasing passes. It gradually degrades image quality until it is close to reaching your desired minimum frame rate. When I enabled it on Crysis 2, my frame rate went from 9 to 28 or so - a sizeable difference that made the game mostly playable.
It's not magic though - there are degradations in quality that are visible.
Here you can see a close up of the game running without Dynamix at work. The quality is good but the frame rate was again at 9 FPS or so.
This image shows the game after enabling Dynamix, with a frame rate of 28 or so. You can definitely see blurrier textures, less sharpness around the gun and the foliage quality has gone done some as well.
So why is this even interesting? There are several reasons. First there are some games that may not have quality settings low enough to run on an Ultrabook with HD 2500 graphics; kind of like Crysis 2. Lucid is able to change things that the developer might not have thought of (or might not have wanted) with its access to the graphics pipeline.
Secondly, as the name implies, the software is dynamic. If you already running a game OVER your minimum threshold then the software will not change anything. But if you are running in an indoor area at 40 FPS and then drop to 20 FPS when you go outdoors, the software will kick in and attempt to adjust quality to get you back up to the 30 FPS mark.
Finally, the UI remains untouched - the informational points that were part of the game's interface were untouched so you don't have to worry about blury text or anything like that. Lucid's capability to know about the back end of the 3D engines allows them to tweak things like this pretty easily.
Lucid says the goal is to make games that would otherwise be unplayable on a system, playable for consumers. Without a doubt the target is Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge notebooks and the somewhat limited performance of the HD 2500 graphics system. While this could also be applied to discrete graphics system from AMD and NVIDIA, I don't see that being necessary.
Currently the software works with DX9 and DX10 games though they are still working to get DX11 covered completely. And while the software worked find our demo, we only tried out one game on one notebook - there is still a lot of proving that Lucid needs to do for us to buy in completely. If Lucid's bragging was anything to judge by though you should see Dynamix in quite a few major notebook brands later this year.
What do YOU think? Is this a technology you are interested in and do you see a place for it?