So That's Where Jim Keller Went To... Tesla Motors...

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | January 29, 2016 - 05:28 PM |
Tagged: tesla, tesla motors, amd, Jim Keller, apple

Jim Keller, a huge name in the semiconductor industry for his work at AMD and Apple, recently left AMD before the launch of the Zen architecture. This made us nervous, because when a big name leaves a company before a product launch, it could either be that their work is complete... or they're evacuating before a stink-bomb detonates and the whole room smells like rotten eggs.

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It turns out a third option is possible: Elon Musk offers you a job making autonomous vehicles. Jim Keller's job title at Tesla will be Vice President of Autopilot Hardware Engineering. I could see this position being enticing, to say the least, even if you are confident in your previous employer's upcoming product stack. It doesn't mean that AMD's Zen architecture will be either good or bad, but it nullifies the earlier predictions, when Jim Keller left AMD, at least until further notice.

We don't know who approached who, or when.

Another point of note: Tesla Motors currently uses NVIDIA Tegra SoCs in their cars, who are (obviously) competitors of Jim Keller's former employer, AMD. It sounds like Jim Keller is moving into a somewhat different role than he had at AMD and Apple, but it could be interesting if Tesla starts taking chip design in-house, to customize the chip to their specific needs, and take away responsibilities from NVIDIA.

The first time he was at AMD, he was the lead architecture of the Athlon 64 processor, and he co-authored x86-64. When he worked at Apple, he helped design the Apple A4 and A5 processors, which were the first two that Apple created in-house; the first three iPhone processors were Samsung SoCs.

Author:
Manufacturer: Dell

Overview

Dell has never exactly been a brand that gamers gravitate towards. While we have seen some very high quality products out of Dell in the past few years, including the new XPS 13, and people have loved their Ultrasharp monitor line, neither of these target gamers directly. Dell acquired Alienware in 2006 in order to enter the gaming market and continues to make some great products, but they retain the Alienware branding. It seems to me a gaming-centric notebook with just the Dell brand could be a hard sell.

However, that's exactly what we have today with the Dell Inspiron 15 7000. Equipped with an Intel Core i5-6300HQ and NVIDIA GTX 960M for $799, has Dell created a contender in the entry-level gaming notebook race?

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For years, the Inspiron line has been Dell's entry level option for notebooks and subsequently has a questionable reputation as far as quality and lifespan. With the Inspiron 15 7000 being the most expensive product offering in the Inspiron line though, I was excited to see if it could sway my opinion of the brand.

Click here to continue reading about the Dell Inspiron 15 7000!

Not the Toshiba Satellite of yore, the Satellite Radius 12 has new tricks

Subject: Mobile | January 21, 2016 - 06:14 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, Satellite Radius 12

Ah, the old Toshiba Satellite; like a Volvo it was never the best nor the prettiest but short of a major collision nothing could kill it.  Since those times Toshiba has had a rough go of it, The Inquirer states they have predicted a $4.5bn loss, just after being caught cooking the books.  That has not stopped them from improving their Satellite lineup and the Satellite Radius 12 ultraportable is a great example of that.

The screen on this 300x209x15.4mm (11.8x8.2x0.6") and 1.32kg (2.9lb), 12.1" convertible laptop is an impressive 3840x2160 IPS display which can be fully flipped open to a tablet like form factor.  An i7-6500U, 8GB RAM and an unspecified 256GB SSD offer great performance, although battery life does suffer somewhat due to the screen and components.  Toshiba also included a dedicated Cortana button, cellphone like volume rocker, 0.9MP webcam and an infrared camera which works with Windows Hello but is not a RealSense camera.  The Inquirer found a lot to like about this laptop as well as some fairly serious shortcomings, read about them all in their review.

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"This is the latest in Toshiba's rotating display convertible line, and the first of its kind to include a so-called 4K screen, making it an interesting proposition regardless of its creator's misfortunes."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

 

Source: The Inquirer

Dell takes a different direction with the Latitude 13 7370

Subject: Mobile | January 11, 2016 - 07:23 PM |
Tagged: dell, latitude 13 7370

The new Dell Latitude 13 7370 seems to share some DNA with old Lenovo designs while still incorporating new features, such as a display that is happy functional when completely flat.  The basic model ships with a 1080p screen, though a touch-enabled 2560x1440 model will also be available soon.  I has only a single USB 3.0 connector, which is made up for by the inclusion of two Type-C 3.1 ports with Thunderbolt 3 compatibility; once peripherals compatible with the new connection arrive you will be quite happy.  Dell has also chosen to use Core M Skylake parts as opposed to the i3's through i7's of previous models so you might not want this to run statistical analysis on but the standard SSD will ensure decent load times.  You can see more about the new Dell over at The Inquirer.

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"PC MAKER Dell updated its Latitude 13 7000 Series at last CES last week, and the Latitude 13 7370 leads the charge in the company's plan to shed the image of business laptops as stuffy, clunky work machines."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

Source: The Inquirer

CES 2016: HP Refreshes Spectre x360 Convertible Tablet Series

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 9, 2016 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: CES 2016, hp, spectre x360, convertible tablet, ultrathin

During CES HP announced a refresh of its Spectre x360 series of convertible tablet PCs. The 13” Spectre x360 will shortly be joined by a new 15” version and both notebooks will be powered by Skylake processors.

There are not many details on the Spectre x360 13 available, but HP did reveal a new display option in the form of a 2560 x 1440 OLED panel. Thanks to the OLED not requiring a separate backlight, HP was able to make the notebook slightly thinner and 50 grams lighter than the current 13” Spectre x360. It will also feature Bang & Olufsen audio. This OLED-equipped refresh will be available in spring for an as-yet-unannounced price.

HP was more forthcoming with information on the Spectre x360 15. Featuring the same 360° hinge and general design as its smaller sibling, it weighs just over 4 pounds (1.83kg) and measures 15.9mm (0.63”) thick. A silver colored body made of machined aluminum surrounds silver keys (1.5mm key travel) and while there is no number pad, there is a rather wide trackpad sitting below the keyboard. Bang & Olufsen audio, a webcam, USB 3.0, USB-C, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, audio jack, and SD card round out the I/O options. The display options top out at a resolution of 3840 x 2160 here though this is an LED backlit panel not OLED.

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HP is using Intel Core i5 or i7 (depending on configuration) “Skylake” processors with Intel Iris graphics to drive the 4K display. There are no discrete GPU options so gaming at native resolution is out, but the Iris graphics will be plenty for everything else. It can be further configured with up to 16GB of memory and 1TB of solid state storage. A 64.5Wh battery offers up to 9.5 hours of productivity.

We’ll have to wait a few months for pricing on the 13” refresh, but the Spectre x360 15 will start at $1,149 in February. It is a bit pricey, but not out of line with the competition. There are even reviews popping up around the Internet if you are interested in this thin-and-light convertible.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Ars Technica

CES 2016: Windows 10 PC-Exclusive Data Plans

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2016 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2016, microsoft, windows 10

Microsoft is partnering with Transatel to provide cellular data services for Windows 10 PCs and tablets, but not phones. It will launch in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, but could be rolled out to other regions over time. This will not be a contract service. Everything will be pre-paid, with short-term plans (think “XGB for the next 30 days for Y upfront”) available for a discount before a trip or something.

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One downside is that compatible PCs will require a SIM card slot, which a Microsoft-branded SIM card will be inserted into. The write-up at Thurrott.com doesn't discuss external adapters, like the USB cellular modems that carriers offer and were popular until tethering became mainstream. A few unlocked LTE, USB modems can be found online, which you'd think would be compatible, but I'm not up on many of the details. I'm not a mobile enthusiast.

Despite the source being a Microsoft corporate VP, speaking on the record, it has not been officially announced by the company yet. Details, like when it will be available, have not been released.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Thurrott.com

CES 2016: Polaroid Phones Actually Sound Interesting

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2016 - 10:15 PM |
Tagged: southern telecom, polaroid, CES 2016, CES

Of course, the Polaroid name is a trademark used under license for these phones. According to FoneArena, Southern Telecom is the underlying manufacturer, who I don't know much about. These sorts of arrangements happen frequently, such as when Funai licenses RCA and Magnavox to sell consumer electronics in department stores. It's basically an endorsement, with maybe some cross-promotion.

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Image Credit: GSMArena

There were two types of phones at CES. I wasn't there personally, and I don't think anyone at PC Perspective saw these, so I'm not sure how they were announced at the show. Each image were product renders, so I'm guessing they weren't at a booth. Regardless, the specs are listed and they seem really good for the price.

The low-end version is called the “Polaroid Snap,” which is also the name of a previously released digital camera with an instant printer. The phone is based on a 720p, IPS panel in one of three sizes: 5-inch, 5.5-inch, or 6-inch. It has a quad-core processor of some sort with either 1GB or 2GB of RAM. They ship with Android 5.1.1, but some (not all) sources claim it will be upgraded to Android 6.0. Both front (5MP) and rear (13MP) cameras have LED flashes. The 1GB version has 8GB onboard storage (eugh!) but the 2GB one has 16GB of storage. Small, but that's all for $130 - $180 USD.

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Image Credit: GSMArena

Then we get to the Polaroid Power.

As you can guess, this is the more powerful version. It has a 6-inch, 1080p, IPS panel, which is backed by an eight-core, 64-bit processor. It has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, which makes it much more interesting. The front (now 8MP) camera seems to have lost its flash, but the rear (13MP) one still has one. Again, it ships with Android 5.1.1 but definitely can be upgraded to Android 6.0. All of that hits a $250 price point.

All phones have a 3000 mAh battery, but they come with an 8000 mAh external booster.

As someone who rarely uses smartphones, this could be a decent offering for the price. In general, the mid-range smartphone ecosystem is getting quite competitive, as we've said on our year-end podcast. There is room for high-end devices to keep their mark, but at least there's a better gradient between cheap, “feature” phones and impressive, high-end devices.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: FoneArena

CES 2016: Hello Moto

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2016 - 09:01 PM |
Tagged: motorola, Lenovo, CES 2016, CES

A little over a year ago, Lenovo purchased Motorola from Google for $2.91 billion USD. They did not acquire the vast majority of the patents, and they did not purchase Motorola Research. It was assumed that Lenovo wanted the Motorola brand and their connections with global cell carriers. Your hardware means very little without a network provider to sell, support, and connect it with their infrastructure.

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Today, Motorola / Lenovo announced that the Motorola brand will be deprecated. They will still operate within Lenovo as their own division, but the consumer-facing brand will be Lenovo, and it will run their entire mobile effort. The company will continue to make nods to Motorola, however. The stylized “M” logo will remain an identifiable trademark, and their line of high-end devices will be given the “Moto” name.

This doesn't feel like an admission of failure on Lenovo's part. I have the impression that they are trying to assimilate Motorola into their organization, but that makes me wonder what they wanted in the first place. They can use the connections and the workforce that they acquired, which is highly valuable, and they can use the brand in subtle ways (as they are). Really, I'm just confused whether Lenovo changed their mind about the Motorola brand, or if this was expected from the start.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: CNet

CES 2016: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820A SoCs To Drive Future Car PCs

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 7, 2016 - 06:55 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 820A, snapdragon 820, qualcomm, LTE, Kryo, adreno

Qualcomm is branching out with its SoCs to the auto industry with its upcoming line of Snapdragon 820 Automotive processors. The planned Snapdragon 820A and 820Am will begin sampling to auto makers and ODMs within the next few months and are aimed at in-car navigation, entertainment, dash displays, HUDs, and safety/driver assist systems.

Sharing a similar pedigree to the mobile-oriented Snapdragon 820, the new automotive series features Qualcomm's custom 64-bit "Kryo" CPU cores, an Adreno 530 GPU, Hexagon 680 DSP capable of processing up to eight car camera sensors, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless. The 802Am adds a Snapdragon X12 LTE modem  which supports a maximum of 600 Mbps down and 150 Mbps upload speeds. Both chips are built on a 14nm manufacturing process and reportedly utilize a modular package and chip design that would allow auto manufacturers to save money on development costs of new vehicles by allowing upgraded hardware to be used with minimal software changes being necessary. End users aren't going to benefit from the modular nature, but the companies making the "infotainment" systems and those integrating them into new vehicles will.

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Qualcomm envisions the 820 Automotive processors driving navigation and entertainment systems as well as being used for digital information displays such as dashboard readouts and windshield HUDs. The chips are also capable of limited driver assist functionality, though they won't be powering a self driving car all on their own yet. They can utilize always on sensors to provide collision alerts and 3D navigation that is aware of relative positioning (it can look for stop signs to assist a GPS which might not be accurate enough to tell you to turn at the correct time). Using between four and eight cameras, the 820Am is able to provide lane departure warnings, front collision warnings, traffic sign recognition, and object detection while backing up using machine learning / computer vision. That last bit is apparently powered by a Qualcomm technology called the Zeroth Machine Intelligency Platform.

There are rumors that Qualcomm will not be pursuing it's custom Kryo CPU cores beyond the Snapdragon 820, though I have my doubts that will happen. The higher margins of the auto industry and opportunity to sell even more chips that can be higher clocked may help to justify the higher R&D in the competitive mobile market. I'm interested to see if these once-mobile SoCs can live up to Qualcomm's promises for future vehicle tech.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Ars Technica

Rumor: Intel and Xiaomi "Special Deal"

Subject: Processors, Mobile | January 6, 2016 - 10:56 PM |
Tagged: xiaomi, Intel, atom

So this rumor cites anonymous source(s) that leaked info to Digitimes. That said, it aligns with things that I've suspected in a few other situations. We'll discuss this throughout the article.

Xiaomi, a popular manufacturer of mobile devices, are breaking into the laptop space. One model was spotted on pre-order in China with an Intel Core i7 processor. According to the aforementioned leak, Intel has agreed to bundle an additional Intel Atom processor with every Core i7 that they order. Use Intel in a laptop, and they can use Intel in an x86-based tablet for no additional cost.

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A single grain of salt... ...
Image Source: Wikipedia

While it's not an explicit practice, we've been seeing hints of similar initiatives for years now. A little over a year ago, Intel's mobile group reported revenues that are ~$1 million, which are offset by ~$1 billion in losses. We would also see phones like the ASUS ZenFone 2, which has amazing performance at a seemingly impossible $199 / $299 price point. I'm not going to speculate on what the actual relationships are, but it sounds more complicated than a listed price per tray.

And that's fine, of course. I know comments will claim the opposite, either that x86 is unsuitable for mobile devices or alleging that Intel is doing shady things. In my view, it seems like Intel has products that they believe can change established mindsets if given a chance. Personally, I would be hesitant to get an x86-based developer phone, but that's because I would only want to purchase one and I'd prefer to target the platform that the majority has. It's that type of inertia that probably frustrates Intel, but they can afford to compete against it.

It does make you wonder how long Intel plans to make deals like this -- again, if they exist.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Digitimes