Computex 2013: Acer's Refreshed Aspire S3 Has Solid Internals, Odd Keyboard Layout

Subject: Mobile | June 3, 2013 - 04:09 AM |
Tagged: acer, computex 2013, aspire s3, haswell, gt700m, nvidia, Intel, gt735m

Acer is showing off a refresh of its Aspire S3 notebook at Computex in Taipei this year that will integrate the latest technology from Intel and NVIDIA. The new Acer Aspire S3 (not to be confused with the existing model) is a 13.3” notebook that measures 0.7” thick and weighs in at 3.63 pounds.

The Aspire S3 will come with a Gorilla Glass lid that is available in either red, white, or yellow according to The Verge. External IO options include Thunderbolt, HDMI, two USB 3.0 ports, a LAN port, and an audio jack.

Acer Aspire S3 with Haswell CPU and NVIDIA GT735M GPU.jpg

The red colored lid model in particular looks nice, though I have my doubts about the rather cramped-looking keyboard. Acer has performed some strange key acrobatics in order to fit all the needed keys into five rows. For example, the tilde key has been moved to the right of the caps lock and the delete key is at the bottom of the keyboard to the right of the right-hand Alt button. I'm not entirely sure what Acer was thinking there (that is solely my opinion/first impression though, I have not had any hands-on time with it).

Internal hardware will include as as-yet-unnamed Intel Haswell processor, a NVIDIA GT735M (384 CUDA cores at 889 MHz with an unknown capacity 1GHz memory on a 64-bit bus), and a 1TB laptop hard drive (spindle speed not listed). It should be a decent performer and the Haswell CPU should get good battery life. If this comes in at or around the original Aspire S3's $650 price tag, and as long as the keyboard passes muster with the review sites, it might be a good buy if you don't need something super thin and/or lightweight.

Unfortunately, Acer has not yet talked about pricing or availability for the 13.3" Aspire S3 notebook.

Source: The Verge

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1: Intel inside an Android?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 3, 2013 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: Intel, atom, Clover Trail+, SoC, Samsung, Galaxy Tab 3 10.1

While Reuters is being a bit cagey with their source, if true: Intel may have nabbed just about the highest profile Android tablet design win possible. The, still currently unannounced, Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is expected to embed Intel's Clover Trail+ System on a Chip (SoC). Samsung would not be the largest contract available in the tablet market, their previous tablets ship millions of units each; they are a good OEM vendor to have.

Source: BGR India

Samsung is also known for releasing multiple versions of the same device for various regions and partners. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 did not have a variety of models with differing CPUs like, for instance, the Galaxy S4 phone did; the original "10.1" contained an NVIDIA Tegra 2 and the later "2 10.1" embed a TI OMAP 4430 SoC. It is entirely possible that Intel won every Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 tablet ever, but it is also entirely possible that they did not.

Boy Genius Report India (BGR India, video above) also claims more specific hardware based on a pair of listings at GLBenchmark. The product is registered under the name Santos10: GT-P5200 being the 3G version, and GT-P5210 being the Wi-Fi version.

These specifications are:

  • Intel Atom Z2560 800-933 MHz dual-core SoC (4 threads, 1600 MHz Turbo)
  • PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU (OpenGL ES 2.0)
  • 1280x800 display
  • Android 4.2.2

I am not entirely sure what Intel has to offer with Clover Trail+ besides, I would guess, reliable fabrication. Raw graphics performance is still about half of Apple's A6X GPU although, if the leaked resolution is true, it has substantially less pixels to push without being attached to an external display.

Maybe Intel made it too cheap to refuse?

Source: Reuters
Author:
Subject: Processors, Mobile
Manufacturer: ARM
Tagged: t622, mali, cortex, arm, A9, A15, a12

Cortex-A12 fills a gap

Starting off Computex with an interesting announcement, ARM is talking about a new Cortex-A12 core that will attempt to address a performance gap in the SoC ecosystem between the A9 and A15.  In the battle to compete with Krait and Intel's Silvermont architecture due in late 2013, ARM definitely needed to address the separation in performance and efficiency of the A9 and A15. 

arm1.jpg

Source: ARM.  Top to bottom: Cortex-A15, A12, A9 die size estimate

Targeted at mid-range devices that tend to be more cost (and thus die-size) limited, the Cortex-A12 will ship in late 2014 for product sampling and you should begin seeing hardware for sale in early 2015.

arm3.jpg

Architecturally, the changes for the upcoming A12 core revolve around a move to fully out of order dual-issue design including the integrated floating point units.  The execution units are faster and the memory design has been improved but ARM wasn't ready to talk about specifics with me yet; expect that later in the year. 

arm6.jpg

ARM claims this results in a 40% performance gain for the Cortex-A12 over the Cortex-A9, tested in SPECint.  Because product won't even start sampling until late in 2014 we have no way to verify this data yet or to evaluate efficiency claims.  That time lag between announcement and release will also give competitors like Intel, AMD and even Qualcomm time to answer back with potential earlier availability.

Continue reading our overview of the newly announced ARM Cortex-A12 and Mali-T622!!

Origin PC Integrating Haswell CPUs and GTX 700M Hardware Into New PCs

Subject: Systems, Mobile | June 2, 2013 - 07:18 PM |
Tagged: quadro k1000m, origin pc, nvidia, kepler, Intel, haswell, gtx 700M, gaming, eon17-s, eon15-s

Origin PC has announced that it will be integrating Haswell CPUs and GTX700M GPUs into its line of gaming notebooks and desktops. Specifically, Origin PC will add Haswell CPUs to its Genesis, Millennium, and Chronos desktop PCs. Origin PC is also outfitting its EON gaming laptops with both Haswell CPU and GTX700M GPU upgrades. And to sweeten the pot (if only slightly), Origin is bundling a voucher for Grid 2 with each Haswell-equipped Origin PC order.

Origin PC EON15-S Haswell Notebook with GTX700M GPU_angle photo.jpg

Both the EON15-S and EON17-S gaming laptops feature Intel Haswell processors, NVIDIA GTX700M or Quadro K1000M mobile graphics cards, and up to five storage drives when the optical drive is removed. The laptops are even able to have an independent RAID of two mSATA SSDs and two hard drives or SSDs along with a non-RAID storage drive in the optical bay—that's a lot of storage for a laptop!

Origin PC EON17-S Gaming Laptop with Haswell and GTX 700M hardware.jpg

The laptops come with customizable display lids available in red, black, silver, or a custom air brush as well as back-lit keyboards and touchpads. As the SKU names suggest, the EON15-S has a 15.6” display while the EON17-S has a 13.3” display. Origin PC is further offering factory overclocking for the Haswell processors and GTX700M graphics cards. The company claims up to a 20-times power reduction during idle thanks to the more power-efficient hardware.

Origin PC GENESIS.jpg

Unfortunately, all this new tech comes at a premium, and the EON15-S and EON17-S gaming notebooks start at $1,722 and $1,784 respectively. As far as the desktops go, there is also a slight bump in price depending on the Haswell chip you select during the customization process. Upgrading to an Intel Core i7-4770K on the GENESIS desktop costs an extra $193, for example.

You can find more information on the Origin PC website.

Source: Engadget

Samsung announces Galaxy S4 mini: what's different?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 30, 2013 - 05:40 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, Galaxy S4 mini

Because there is a cellphone SKU for everyone, both in design and in direct quantity.

The latest big release, the Galaxy S4, arrived just about a month ago with its 5-inch 1080p screen and potentially dual quad-core processors depending on where you buy it. You could wait until late June and purchased on from the Google Play store containing the full Google experience. If that does not suit you, how about a 4.3" 960x540 version? That would be the Galaxy S4 mini, or at least one of the localized versions they will invariably make for multiple carriers.

But is the only difference the screen? Of course not.

galaxy-s4-mini-1.jpg

Image, Samsung via Samsung Tomorrow.

Btw, why does Samsung watermark photos on their company blog? Anyone?

One of the constants between the computational hardware of each Galaxy S4 version is the 2GB of RAM; basically everything else differs between specific subversions of the flagship phone. Not the mini! For whatever reason, the S4 mini backs off on the RAM by half a gigabyte leaving it with 1.5 GB.

One of the main selling features of the large S4 is the eight-core (quad-core A15, quad-core A7) SoC developed by Samsung. It was available in the international version, the American version instead having a quad-core processor from Qualcomm. The mini, on the other hand, will contain a slightly lower-clocked dual-core processor.

In the other features: the battery is about 27% smaller albeit with less power-hungry components; the rear camera drops from 13 megapixels to 8 megapixels, whether or not that is worse picture quality is unknown; and the internal storage is 8GB (5 user-accessible), down from the minimum 16GB of the not-mini.

So beyond the name, there does not seem to be many similarities between the regular and the mini S4. It is basically software which links the two devices. The mini has access to services such as S Translator and S Health, although there does not seem to be any discussion of other services like S Travel and OCR software.

Samsung will officially unveil it, with hands-on demos to various press members, on June 20th in London.

Skip the collection of secondary batteries for a multi-purpose charger

Subject: Mobile | May 28, 2013 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: battery charger, Luxa2 P1 7000mAh

At just  112 x 73 x 17.1mm, the LUXA2 charger is relatively compact and is certainly easier to carry around than a collection of batteries, especially if you are an Apple user and don't have the luxury of swappable batteries.  There are some drawbacks to the charger that Overclockers Club found, the 1A maximum leads to long charging times but also likely avoids any possible heat problems.  The two USB charge ports mean that you can charge two devices simultaneously, something lacking in many similar chargers.  If you often find yourself on the road with dead devices, this might be worth adding to your laptop bag.

OCC_Charger.jpg

”The LUXA2 P1 7000mAh High Capacity Battery & Charger is a sleek looking and solidly built piece of hardware. The silver unit I reviewed delivered exactly what it claimed, with the only casualty being the carrying pouch that did not survive normal usage. Equipped with a 7000mAh battery and two USB charging ports, it will provide multiple full charges for smaller portable devices (such as iPhones) and a decent percentage of on-screen time for more power-demanding tablets. The shape and weight of the LUXA2 P1 7000mAh High Capacity Battery & Charger makes it fit easily into any regular laptop bag without much fuss.”

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Subject: Processors, Mobile
Manufacturer: AMD

A Reference Platform - But not a great one

Believe it or not, AMD claims that the Brazos platform, along with the "Brazos 2.0" update the following year, were the company's most successful mobile platforms in terms of sales and design wins.  When it first took the scene in late 2010, it was going head to head against the likes of Intel's Atom processor and the combination of Atom + NVIDIA ION and winning.  It was sold in mini-ITX motherboard form factors as well as small clamshell notebooks (gasp, dare we say...NETBOOKS?) and though it might not have gotten the universal attention it deserved, it was a great part.

With Kabini (and Temash as well), AMD is making another attempt to pull in some marketshare in the low power, low cost mobile markets.  I have already gone over the details of the mobile platforms that AMD is calling Elite Mobility (Temash) and Mainstream (Kabini) in a previous article that launched today.

12_0.jpg

This article will quickly focus on the real-world performance of the Kabini platform as demonstrated by a reference laptop I received while visiting AMD in Toronto a few weeks ago.  While this design isn't going to be available in retail (and I am somewhat thankful based on the build quality) the key is to look at the performance and power efficiency of the platform itself, not the specific implementation. 

Kabini Architecture Overview

The building blocks of Kabini are four Jaguar x86 cores and 128 Radeon cores colleted in a pair of Compute Units - similar in many ways to the CUs found in the Radeon HD 7000 series discrete GPUs.  Josh has written a very good article that focuses on the completely new architecture that is Jaguar and compared it to other processors including AMD's previous core used in Brazos, the Bobcat core. 

Continue reading our performance preview of the new AMD Kabini A4-5000 mainstream mobility APU!

NVIDIA's i500 SDR LTE Modem Achieves 150Mbps Throughput During CITA 2013 Demo

Subject: Mobile | May 22, 2013 - 07:46 PM |
Tagged: Tegra 4i, software defined radio, SoC, nvidia, i500, 4g lte

NVIDIA's Tegra 4i System on a Chip includes a software defined radio that works as a LTE modem. This i500 LTE modem uses general purpose deep execution processors (DXP) and is as much as 40% smaller than a hardware LTE modem according to the company.

At Mobile World Congress earlier this year, the modem was able to reach 100Mbps throughput. After a recent software update, the Tegra 4i SoC in NVIDIA's Pheonix reference platform achieved 150Mbps throughput in a demo at CITA 2013 in Los Angeles this week.

The reference phone was connected to a test network during the demo rather than a live cellular network. The cellular network test equiptment showed the Pheonix platform was connected at the full 150Mbps link speed. In addition to this, NVIDIA showed the Tegra 4i-powered Pheonix phone connected to a live AT&T LTE network streaming video and making voice calls.

The interesting bit about the i500 modem in the Tegra 4i is its software defined nature. NVIDIA was able to upgrade the modem's capabilites through software rather than needing to redesign the hardware. This would be a big plus to consumers as they would be able to take advantage of the faster network speeds as they become available without needing to replace their phones. NVIDIA did note that in addition to the LTE Cat 4 support, the i500 is also backwards compatible with LTE Cat 3, 3G, and 2G networks. I'm interested to see what the power consumption of thei500 is like compared to LTE modems implemented in specialized hardware. The i500 is smaller and more flexible, but SDR can use more power due to its general purpose hardware units.

Read more about NVIDIA's Tegra 4i SoC at PC Perspective!

Source: NVIDIA
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design

P4212143.jpg

While Lenovo hasn’t historically been known for its gaming PCs, it’s poised to make quite a splash with the latest entry in its IdeaPad line. Owing little to the company’s business-oriented roots, the Y500 aims to be all power—moreso than any other laptop from the manufacturer to date—tactfully squeezed into a price tag that would normally be unattainable given the promised performance. But can it succeed?

Our Y500 review unit can be had for $1,249 at Newegg and other retailers, or for as low as $1,180 at Best Buy. Lenovo also sells customizable models, though the price is generally higher. Here’s the full list of specifications:

specs.png

The configurations offered by Lenovo range in price fairly widely, from as low as $849 for a model sporting 8 GB of RAM with a single GT 650M with 2 GB GDDR5. The best value is certainly this configuration that we received, however.

What’s so special about it? Well, apart from the obvious (powerful quad-core CPU and 16 GB RAM), this laptop actually includes two NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M GPUs (both with 2 GB GDDR5) configured in SLI. Seeing as it’s just a 15.6-inch model, how does it manage to do that? By way of a clever compromise: the exchange of the usual optical drive for an Ultrabay, something normally only seen in Lenovo’s ThinkPad line of laptops. So I guess the Y500 does owe a little bit of its success to its business-grade brethren after all.

P4212175.jpg

In our review unit (and in the particular configuration noted above), this Ultrabay comes prepopulated with the second GT 650M, equipped with its own heatsink/fan and all. The addition of this GPU effectively launches the Y500 into high-end gaming laptop territory—at least on the spec sheet. Other options for the Ultrabay also exist (sold separately), including a DVD burner and a second hard drive. The bay is easily removable via a switch on the back of the PC (see below).

P4212148.jpg

Continue Reading our review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500!

HP SlateBook x2: Tegra 4 on Android 4.2.2 in August

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | May 15, 2013 - 09:02 PM |
Tagged: tegra 4, hp, tablets

Sentences containing the words "Hewlett-Packard" and "tablet" can end in a question mark, an exclamation mark, or a period on occasion. The gigantic multinational technology company tried to own a whole mobile operating system with their purchase of Palm and abandoned those plans just as abruptly with such a successful $99 liquidation of $500 tablets, go figure, that they to some extent did it twice. The operating system was open sourced and at some point LG swooped in and bought it, minus patents, for use in Smart TVs.

So how about that Android?

HP-slatex2-01.jpg

The floodgates are open on Tegra 4 with HP announcing their SlateBook x2 hybrid tablet just a single day after NVIDIA's SHIELD move out of the projects. The SlateBook x2 uses the Tegra 4 processor to power Android 4.2.2 Jellybean along with the full Google experience including the Google Play store. Along with Google Play, the SlateBook and its Tegra 4 processor are also allowed in TegraZone and NVIDIA's mobile gaming ecosystem.

As for the device itself, it is a 10.1" Android tablet which can dock into a keyboard for extended battery life, I/O ports, and well, a hardware keyboard. You are able to attach this tablet to a TV via HDMI along with the typical USB 2.0, combo audio jack, and a full-sized SD card slot; which half any given port is available through is anyone's guess, however. Wirelessly, you have WiFi a/b/g/n and some unspecified version of Bluetooth.

HP-slatex2-02.jpg

The raw specifications list follows:

  • NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC
    • ARM Cortex A15 quad core @ 1.8 GHz
    • 72 "Core" GeForce GPU @ ~672MHz, 96 GFLOPS
  • 2GB DDR3L RAM ("Starts at", maybe more upon customization?)
  • 64GB eMMC SSD
  • 1920x1200 10.1" touch-enabled IPS display
  • HDMI output
  • 1080p rear camera, 720p front camera with integrated microphone
  • 802.11a/b/g/n + Bluetooth (4.0??)
  • Combo audio jack, USB 2.0, SD Card reader
  • Android 4.2.2 w/ Full Google and TegraZone experiences.

If this excites you, then you only have to wait until some point in August; you will also, of course, need to wait until you save up about $479.99 plus tax and shipping.

Source: HP