The new Android Beta makes with de Fancie new features

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2019 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: android Q beta 2, mobile, bubbles

Android Q Beta 2 is now available for those brave souls who want to try out the new features and bugs.  For those that would rather someone else experience the joys and terrors you can pop over to Ars Technica for a look at the new features, of which Bubbles seems to be the biggest.  On one level it is just another messaging app, but it goes a bit further than that by theoretically allowing you to minimize just about any app into a bubble with some contextual commands available by tapping on it.  As there is only one app which supports this beta feature at the moment, a demo app from Google, it is hard to say how effective this will be but for those who like to crowd their UI with multiple maps, chats, videos and web pages it might work out better then the other Bubbles

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"Android Q Beta 2 is out! Despite the plethora of bug warnings from Google, I flashed it on my daily driver and am back to report on some things. Beta 2 gives us a whole new feature to play with called "Bubbles," lots of little changes, and frustratingly slow development on Android's gesture navigation system."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

AMD Announces 2nd Gen Ryzen PRO and Athlon PRO Mobile Processors

Subject: Processors | April 8, 2019 - 10:28 AM |
Tagged: Vega, ryzen, processors, mobile, laptop, integrated graphics, iGPU, cpu, amd

AMD has announced new 2nd-gen Ryzen PRO 3000-series mobile processors and a new Athlon PRO model, all of which feature RX Vega graphics and range up to a 4 core/8-thread offering with the Ryzen 7 PRO 3700U. These new mobile parts are based on the existing 12nm Zen+ architecture, not the upcoming 7nm Zen 2, and each part carries a 15W TDP.

AMD Ryzen PRO Mobile Chip Shot.jpg

Product Model Cores/Threads TDP Base/Boost Frequency Radeon Graphics GPU Cores Max GPU Frequency L2+L3 Cache
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 3700U 4C/8T 15W 2.3/4.0 GHz Vega 10 1400 MHz 6MB
AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 3500U 4C/8T 15W 2.1/3.7 GHz Vega 8 1200 MHz 6MB
AMD Ryzen 3 PRO 3300U 4C/4T 15W 2.1/3.5 GHz Vega 6 1200 MHz 6MB
AMD Athlon PRO 300U 2C/4T 15W 2.4/3.3 GHz Vega 3 1000 MHz 5MB

"Built on 12nm manufacturing technology, the new AMD Ryzen PRO 3000 Series mobile processors deliver best-in-class performance and increase productivity by offering up to 16% more multi-threading processor performance than competition.

Specifically, the new AMD Ryzen PRO mobile processors deliver:

  • up to 12 hours of general office use or up to 10 hours of video playback,
  • up to 14% faster content creation and accelerated everyday office applications with integrated Radeon Vega graphics, from 3D modeling to video editing,
  • powerful security features on all Ryzen PRO processors with AMD’s security co-processor built into the silicon,
  • and 18-month of image stability, 24-month of processor availability, commercial grade quality, enterprise-class manageability, and 36-month limited warranty to system manufacturers.

AMD is also offering “Zen”-based Athlon PRO mobile processors, bringing a greater choice of mobile computing experiences across the full budget spectrum."

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Performance - particularly when GPU acceleration from the integrated Vega graphics is factored in - can be very impressive compared to Intel mobile offerings, with AMD providing these slides to show also the gains over their previous mobile parts:

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ryzen_pro_2_perf_1.png

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AMD also lets us know that "premium designs" are coming soon from HP and Lenovo featuring these new CPUs, and considering the dominance of Intel in the high-end notebook market that will be welcome news to AMD fans. No specifics on the upcoming premium laptop models beyond the tease of "coming soon" were provided.

Source: AMD

ASUS TUF Gaming FX505 and FX705DY Laptops Powered by AMD Ryzen 3000 Series

Subject: Systems | January 9, 2019 - 02:51 AM |
Tagged: ryzen, RX 560X, radeon, notebook, mobile, laptop, gaming, asus, amd

ASUS had a pair of AMD-powered gaming laptops to announce at CES 2019, with the TUF Gaming FX505 and FX705DY, both of which feature the latest Ryzen 3000-series mobile CPUs as well as discrete Radeon RX 560X graphics.

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“Experience smoother, more immersive gameplay with the new ASUS TUF Gaming FX505 AMD Edition. Featuring a cutting-edge IPS-level NanoEdge display with AMD® FreeSync™ technology and a refresh rate up to 120Hz, and armed with the latest AMD Ryzen™ processor and discrete Radeon™ graphics, it delivers high-performance gaming at an affordable price. It’s also tested and certified to military-grade MIL-STD-810G standards, so you’re guaranteed toughness and durability that’s second to none.”

The CPU powering these systems is the AMD Ryzen 5 3550H, a 4-core/8-thread CPU with clock speeds ranging from 2.1 GHz up to 3.7 GHz and a 35W TDP.

"AMD’s Ryzen processors have taken desktops by storm, and TUF Gaming laptops lead the deployment of the newest version. Otherwise known as Picasso, this 2nd Gen Ryzen Mobile APU is built with industry-leading 12nm technology. The Ryzen 5 3550H chip powering FX505DY and FX705DY boasts four cores and eight threads that deliver capable performance for popular games and everyday work. Multithreaded performance is particularly strong, yet the processor fits into a 35W power envelope that doesn’t compromise battery life.

Vega-based integrated graphics allow the APU to power the laptop all on its own, which helps conserve power and extend battery life to over seven hours of 1080p video playback on FX705DY and nearly six hours on FX505DY. Discrete GPUs are where it’s at for proper gaming so when it’s time to play, AMD Switchable Graphics tech automatically activates the laptop’s discrete Radeon RX 560X. The GPU pumps out smooth frame rates in mainstays like Fortnite and Overwatch, as well as esports classics like League of Legends and Dota 2."

Both models have NanoEdge displays with thin bezels and wide viewing angles and variable refresh rates, and while the larger FX705DY provides a FreeSync range of 40-60Hz, the FX505DY offers 48-120Hz capability.

FX705DY_Red Matter.png

Specifications from ASUS for the TUF Gaming FX505DY and FX705DY include:

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 3550H
  • Display:
    • 15.6" FHD NanoEdge wide-view display up to 120Hz
    • 17.3" FHD NanoEdge wide-view display
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 560X
  • Memory: Up to 32GB DDR4 2400MHz
  • Storage: Up to 512GB PCIe SSD
  • Up to 1TB FireCuda SSHD
  • Wireless: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WLAN, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Connectivity:
    • 2x USB 3.1 Gen1
    • 1x USB 2.0
    • 1x HDMI 2.0
    • 1x RJ-45 jack
    • 1x 3.5mm headphone and mic combo jack
    • 1x Kensington lock
  • Keyboard and touchpad  : 1.8mm key travel
  • Customizable RGB or red backlighting
  • Audio: DTS Headphone: X
  • Battery: 48Wh Lithium-polymer battery (FX505DY), 64Wh Lithium-polymer battery (FX705DY)
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Weight: 4.85 lbs (FX505DY), 5.73 lbs (FX705DY)

Official pricing was not revealed in the press release, but we should be able to expect some fairly agressive sub-$1000 pricing with these at the base configuration level.

Source: ASUS

Apple Announces iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR Smartphones with 7nm A12 Bionic Processor

Subject: Mobile | September 12, 2018 - 04:24 PM |
Tagged: SoC, smartphone, mobile, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iphone, ios, apple, A12 Bionic, 7nm

Apple’s event today included expected (and previously leaked) iPhone announcements for the faster “S” variant of the iPhone X, as well as a new, larger iPhone XS Max, and finally the new, lower-cost iPhone XR. All three phones include Apple’s latest mobile processor, the A12 Bionic, as well as new cameras and other improvements.

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The design is unchanged, but the 6.5-inch form-factor is new (image via Apple)

Beginning with the primary announcement, the new 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch iPhone XS and XS Max phones both feature Super Retina OLED displays which Apple says now offer wider dynamic range, and the glass protecting them is “the most durable glass ever” in a smartphone. The new XS Max offers the same 458 ppi density as the iPhone XS with its 2688x1242 resolution (the iPhone XS has the same 2436x1125 resolution as the iPhone X), and both phones are now IP68 water and dust resistant and dual-SIM capable (using eSIM).

XS_Screen.png

Apple says the A12 Bionic chip will be the first to market at 7nm (Hauwei's 7nm Kirin 980 was previously announced but not shipping until mid-October), and the move to this smaller process should allow for lower power consumption and increased performance.

A12_Screen.png

The A12 Bionic has a 6-core CPU design as we saw with the A11, and uses the same Apple-designed Fusion architecture. Apple says its two performance cores are “up to 15% faster and 40% lower power”, and the four efficiency cores offer “up to 50% lower power” with no stated increase in performance.  Other than stating that it is a proprietary design little was revealed about the GPU other than it is now a 4-core design, which Apple says is “50% faster” than before.

XS_Bokeh.png

The camera system on the new phones offers a new “advanced bokeh” feature which allows for f-stop adjustment after the photo has been taken, and during the presentation this feature appears to work in a very realistic way comparable to dedicated lenses with a DSLR. Other features include improved speakers, stereo audio recording with video, and "Gigabit-class" LTE.

iPhone_XR.PNG

The iPhone XR is an LCD variant with lower cost (image via Apple)

The “one more thing” at the even was a new lower-cost iPhone based on the iPhone X design, but with an LCD display that Apple is calling “Liquid Retina”. This 6.1-inch device has a display resolution of 1792x828 (326 ppi), uses the new A12 chip, and while it is a single-camera phone like the iPhone 8 it uses the latest wide-angle camera from its “S” model siblings.

XR_Screen.png

The display also features “120 Hz touch-sensing” - which may be independent of display refresh, but that is unknown at this point - a wide color gamut, and is a True Tone display like the iPhone X. The phone drops 3D Touch, using instead what appears to be a long-press detection with haptic feedback. The phone does not offer the "Gigabit-class LTE" of the XS/XS Max, is IP67 rather than IP68 water and dust resistant, but does retain the new “most durable glass” from the "S" models.

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Pricing for the new lineup is as follows:

  • iPhone XS 64GB - $999
  • iPhone XS 256GB - $1149
  • iPhone XS 512GB - $1349
  • iPhone XS Max 64GB - $1099
  • iPhone XS Max 256GB - $1249
  • iPhone XS Max 512GB - $1449
  • iPhone XR 64GB - $749
  • iPhone XR 128GB - $799
  • iPhone XR 256GB - $899

The new iPhones XS and XS Max will be available next week, with a September 21 launch day (pre-ordering begins on Friday, September 14). The iPhone XR launches on October 26 (pre-order October 19).

Source: Apple

Huawei Announces Kirin 980: Is the World's First 7nm SoC Passing Snapdragon?

Subject: Processors, Mobile | September 2, 2018 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: SoC, octa-core, mobile, Mali-G76, Kirin, Huawei, HiSilicon, gpu, cpu, Cortex-A76, arm, 8-core

Huawei has introduced their subsidiary HiSilicon’s newest mobile processor in the Kirin 980, which, along with Huawei's claim of the world's first commercial 7nm SoC, is the first SoC to use Arm Cortex A76 CPU cores and Arm’s Mali G76 GPU.

KIRIN_980.PNG

Image credit: The Verge

Huawei is aiming squarely at Qualcomm with this announcement, claiming better performance than a Snapdragon 845 during the presentation. One of its primary differences to the current Snapdragon is the composition of the Kirin 980’s eight CPU cores, notable as the usual 'big.LITTLE' Arm CPU core configuration for an octa-core design gives way to a revised organization with three groups, as illustrated by AnandTech here:

K980.png

Image credit: AnandTech

Of the four Cortex A76 cores just two are clocked up to maximize performance with certain applications such as gaming (and, likely, benchmarks) at 2.60 GHz, and the other two are used more generally as more efficient performance cores at 1.92 GHz. The remaining four A55 cores operate at 1.80 GHz, and are used for lower-performance tasks. A full breakdown of the CPU core configuration as well as slides from the event are available at AnandTech.

Huawei claims that the improved CPU in the Kirin 980 results in "75 percent more powerful and 58 percent more efficient compared to their previous generation" (the Kirin 970). This claim translates into what Huawei claims to be 37% better performance and 32% greater efficiency than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845.

980_SD.jpg

Image credit: AnandTech

The GPU also gets a much-needed lift this year from Arm's latest GPU, the Mali-G76, which features "new, wider execution engines with double the number of lanes" and "provides dramatic uplifts in both performance and efficiency for complex graphics and Machine Learning (ML) workloads", according to Arm.

mali_g76.jpg

Image credit: AnandTech

Real-world testing with shipping handsets is needed to verify Huawei's performance claims, of course. In fact, the results shown by Huawei at the presentation carry a this disclaimer, sourced from today’s press release:

"The specifications of Kirin 980 does not represent the specifications of the phone using this chip. All data and benchmark results are based on internal testing. Results may vary in different environments."

The upcoming Mate 20 from Huawei will be powered by this new Kirin 980 - and could very well provide results consistent with the full potential of the new chip - and that is set for an official launch on October 16.

The full press release is available after the break.

Source: AnandTech

IFA 2018: Intel Announces New 8th Generation Mobile Processors

Subject: Processors, Mobile | August 28, 2018 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: whiskey lake, mobile, Intel, ifa 2018, amber lake, 8th generation

Tonight at the consumer electronics trade show IFA in Berlin, Intel announced their latest processors aimed at thin-and-light notebooks and 2-in-1 devices. Continuing the ever elongated 8th generation processor family from Intel, these new mobile CPUs are comprised of both 5W (Amber Lake-Y) and 15W (Whiskey Lake-U) parts.

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Whiskey Lake-U

  Core i7-8565U Core i7-8550U Core i5-8265U Core i5-8250U Core i3-8145U
Architecture Whiskey Lake Kaby Lake Refresh Whiskey Lake Kaby Lake Refresh Whiskey Lake
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+
Cores/Threads 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 2/4
Base Clock 1.8 GHz 1.8 GHz 1.6 GHz 1.6 GHz 2.1 GHz
Max Turbo Clock 4.6 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.9 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.9 GHz
Memory Support DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3
Memory Speeds 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400/2133
Cache 8MB 8MB 6MB 6MB 4MB
TDP 15W 15W 15W 15W 15W

Just as we saw with the Kaby Lake Refresh CPUs last year, these 15W parts maintain the same quad-core, eight-thread configurations. 

On the highest end part, the i7-8565U, we see an increase of 600MHz on the max turbo clock, while the base clock remains the same. The i5-8265U sees a smaller uptick of 300MHz boost while also keeping the same base clock of 1.6GHz as the previous generation.

Amber Lake-Y

  Core i7-8500Y Core i7-7Y75 Core i5-8200Y Core i5-7Y75 Core m3-8100Y Core m3-7Y32
Architecture Amber Lake Kaby Lake  Amber Lake Kaby Lake Amber Lake Kaby Lake
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+
Cores/Threads 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4 2/4
Base Clock 1.5 GHz 1.3 GHz 1.4 GHz 1.2 GHz 2.1 GHz 1.1 GHz
Max Turbo Clock 4.2 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.9 GHz 3.3 GHz 3.9 GHz 3.0GHz
Memory Support LPDDR3 LPDDR3 LPDDR3 LPDDR3 LPDDR3 LPDDR3
Memory Speeds 1866 1866 1866 1866 1866 1866
Cache 4MB 4MB 4MB 4MB 4MB 4MB
TDP 5W 4.5W 5W 4.5W 5W 4.5W

As we can see, the Amber Lake CPUs provide a significant frequency advantage over the previous Kaby Lake-Y processors, especially with the turbo frequencies ranging from 600-900MHz improvements.

These higher frequencies give these low power processors a substantial performance uptick from the previous generation, as long as the thermal solutions in the end product notebooks are up to the task of actually achieving these high turbo boost frequencies.

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Across the board, Intel is marketing these CPU platforms as having increased connectivity options, with built-in 802.11AC 160MHz dual-band Wi-Fi support (which Intel is referring to as Gigabit WiFi). Additionally, both the Amber Lake and Whiskey Lake families have options to be paired with Intel LTE modems for cellular connectivity.

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Also on the connectivity side, we see support for native USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) ports through the chipset on Whiskey Lake-U.

Intel is also touting battery life improvements with "16 hours on a single charge with power-optimized systems targeted to achieve about 19 hours" on the Whiskey Lake-U platform. However, as always, take these specifications with a grain of salt until we see real products with these processors integrated into them and benchmarked.

Source: Intel

Tobii and Qualcomm Announce Collaboration on Mobile VR Headsets with Eye-Tracking

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2018 - 09:45 AM |
Tagged: xr, VR, Tobii, snapdragon 845, qualcomm, mobile, HMD, head mounted display, eye tracking, AR, Adreno 630

Tobii and Qualcomm's collaboration in the VR HMD (head-mounted display) space is a convergence of two recent stories, with Tobii's impressing showing of a prototype HMD device at CES featuring their eye-tracking technology, and Qualcomm's unvieling last month of their updated mobile VR platform, featuring the new Snapdragon 845.

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The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Reference Platform

What does this new collaboration mean for the VR industry? For now it means a new reference design and dev kit with the latest tech from Tobii and Qualcomm:

"As a result of their collaboration, Tobii and Qualcomm are creating a full reference design and development kit for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform, which includes Tobii's EyeCore eye tracking algorithms and hardware design. Tobii will license its eye tracking technologies and system and collaborate with HMD manufacturers on the optical solution for the reference design."

The press release announcing this collaboration recaps the benefits of Tobii eye tracking in a mobile VR/AR device, which include:

  • Foveated Rendering: VR/AR devices become aware of where you are looking and can direct high-definition graphics processing power to that exact spot in real time. This enables higher definition displays, more efficient devices, longer battery life and increased mobility.
  • Interpupillary Distance: Devices automatically orient images to align with your pupils. This enables devices to adapt to the individual user, helping to increase the visual quality of virtual and augmented reality experiences.
  • Hand-Eye Coordination: By using your eyes in harmony with your hands and associated controllers, truly natural interaction and immersion, not possible without the use of gaze, is realized.
  • Interactive Eye Contact: Devices can accurately track your gaze in real time, enabling content creators to express one of the most fundamental dimensions of human interaction – eye contact. VR technologies hold the promise of enabling a new and immersive medium for social interaction. The addition of true eye contact to virtual reality helps deliver that promise.

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Tobii's prototype eye-tracking HMD

For its part, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845-powered VR mobile platform promises greater portability of a better VR experience, with expanded freedom on top of the improved graphics horsepower from the new Adreno 630 GPU in the Snapdragon 845. This portability includes 6DoF (6 degrees of freedom) using external cameras to identify location within a room, eliminating the need for external room sensors.

"Together, 6DoF and SLAM deliver Roomscale - the ability to track the body and location within a room so you can freely walk around your XR environment without cables or separate room sensors – the first on a mobile standalone device. Much of this is processed on the new dedicated Qualcomm Hexagon Digital Signal Processor (DSP) and Adreno Graphics Processing Unit within the Snapdragon 845. Qualcomm Technologies’ reference designs have supported some of the first wave of standalone VR devices from VR ecosystem leaders like Google Daydream, Oculus and Vive."

It is up to developers, and consumer interest in VR moving forward, to see what this collaboration will produce. To editorialize briefly, from first-hand experience I can vouch for the positive impact of eye-tracking with an HMD, and if future products live up to the promise of a portable, high-performance VR experience (with a more natural feel from less rapid head movement) a new generation of VR enthusiasts could be born.

Source: PR Newswire

MWC 2018: Samsung Unpacks Galaxy S9 and S9+ Phones

Subject: Mobile | February 25, 2018 - 03:24 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 845, smartphone, Samsung, MWC 2018, MWC, mobile, Galaxy S9+, galaxy s9, exynos

Samsung unveiled their not-so-secret Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones at their 'unpacked' event at MWC today, coming after months of leaks and an accidental post of the launch video yesterday. So, while the existence of these new Galaxy phones was a foregone conclusion, does the final product meet expectations?

Galaxy_S9.jpg

As previously leaked, the design of the Galaxy S9/S9+ is carried over from last year, as Samsung is updating their lineup in the manner of Apple's second-year iPhone "S" refresh. What we have are devices with faster internals courtesy of the Snapdragon 845 in the U.S. and China (read our performance preview of the 845 here), Samsung's Exynos 9810 Octa in the rest of the world, and improved cameras - the latter of which was the focus of the event (sorry).

Camera.jpg

The newest term in the smartphone space is "dual iris" thanks to Samsung's adoption of an adjustable iris on one of the dual 12MP rear cameras, which moves from f1.5 to f2.4 based on light level (the second camera is fixed at f2.4). This should result in much better exposures in low light without sacrificing daylight performance. But as vital as still camera quality is on mobile phones, as for so many is has replaced the need for a dedicated point-and-shoot, there is also video to consider. And not just any video.

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Water bottle antics from Samsung's slo-mo demonstration video

Much was made during the event of the Galaxy S9/S9+ exclusive "Super Slow-mo", which takes just 0.2 seconds of video and produces 6 seconds of the sort of slow motion you never knew you couldn't live without before seeing it...in slow motion. (Some impressively slow cat videos were also shown during the event, as well as popcorn being thrown... AND MORE.) Regardless of the usefulness of capturing 0.2 seconds of action at 960 FPS (in HD, no less) - which you can do up to 20 times per video - these slo-mo treasures can be exported right from the phone in GIF format! (Expect uploads of such videos to fill your social feeds later this spring.)

S9_Landscape.jpg

From a design standpoint we are not seeing a new device, but that is not a bad thing in this case. Fans would always like to see the next big thing, of course, but the S8 was already an advanced design when it launched a year ago, marking the start of the all-display trend that Apple joined later on with the iPhone X. Speaking of displays, we know that Samsung has a killer screen already with the Galaxy S8/S8+, and on paper the S9/S9+ have identical 5.8-inch, 1440x2960 18.5:9 aspect AMOLED with the S9 and slightly larger 6.2 inches of the same on the S9+, both still covered in Gorilla Glass 5.

S9_Iris.jpg

Samsung's cluster of camera and iris scanning tech is hidden from view

Two obvious nods to Apple's confusingly-named "X" handset were also introduced by Samsung, with both face/iris unlocking and animated emojis. First, it will be possible to unlock your Galaxy S9/S9+ by looking at it, but have no fear as the fingerprint reader remains - and is no longer next to the camera sensor on the back!

Fingerprint.jpg

The fingerprint scanner is now below the camera sensors

Far more important, as everyone knows: animated emoji. Animoji is not the only facial-recognition-powered animated emoji game in town anymore, though Samsung's implementation of this is a little different since it is creating an avatar based on your own face, which you can then customize. The result is something possibly a little more realistic than an early 2000s sports game create-a-player, but with considerably less work. Progress!

March 16 is the release date for both the Galaxy S9 and S9+, with retail prices starting at $719.99 for the S9 and $839.99 for the S9+. Pre-orders are up now on Samsung's official web store.

Source: Samsung

Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Reference Platform

Subject: General Tech | February 21, 2018 - 07:50 PM |
Tagged: VR, snapdragon 845, reference platform, qualcomm, mobile, headset, development

Qualcomm has another mobile-related announcement ahead of MWC, introducing a new VR reference platform based on the Snapdragon 845 in collaboration with HTC. As the new Snapdragon 845 boasts much more powerful graphics from its Adreno 630 GPU compared to the Snapdragon 835 - which was behind the previous mobile VR platform - this represents an important step forward in the mobile VR space.

SVR845.jpg

The increased graphics horsepower isn't the only aspect of the Adreno 630 that should translate into a better mobile VR/AR (now rolled together into the term "XR" for extended reality) experience, as the gains in graphics performance we saw from the SDM845 reference platform are said to come with 30% power savings as well as Adreno Foveation, which allows eye-tracking to direct resources only to the area where the user is looking. Thus Foveation allows for, literally, focused GPU resource allocation, which should translate into better performance with less hardware overhead.

Right view.jpg

The Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform also boasts 6DoF, or "6 degrees of freedom", which incorporates external cameras to improve free movement compared to the previous 3DoF limitations:

"Together, 6DoF and SLAM deliver Roomscale - the ability to track the body and location within a room so you can freely walk around your XR environment without cables or separate room sensors – the first on a mobile standalone device. Much of this is processed on the new dedicated Qualcomm Hexagon Digital Signal Processor (DSP) and Adreno Graphics Processing Unit within the Snapdragon 845. Qualcomm Technologies’ reference designs have supported some of the first wave of standalone VR devices from VR ecosystem leaders like Google Daydream, Oculus and Vive."

Left view.jpg

Qualcomm's goal with the new Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform is to support "the next wave of smartphone and standalone VR headsets", and it seems that mobile hardware is starting to catch up to the ambitions of what is now being called XR.

Source: Qualcomm

The SDM845 Reference Platform and CPU Results

The Snapdragon 845 is Qualcomm’s latest flagship mobile platform, officially announced on December 6 and known officially as the SDM845 (moving from the MSMxxxx nomenclature of previous iterations). At a recent media event we had a chance to go hands-on with a development platform device for a preview of this new Snapdragon's performance, the results of which we can now share. Will the Snapdragon 845 be Qualcomm's Android antidote to Apple's A11? Read on to find out!

SDM845_Platform.jpg

The SDM845 QRD (Qualcomm Reference Design) Device

While this article will focus on CPU and GPU performance with a few known benchmarks, the Snapdragon 845 is of course a full mobile platform which combines 8-core Kryo 385 CPU, Adreno 630 graphics, Hexagon 685 DSP (which includes the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine), Spectra 280 image processor, X20 LTE modem, etc. The reference device was packaged like a typical 5.5-inch Android smartphone, which can only help to provide a real-world application of thermal management during benchmarking.


Qualcomm Reference Design Specifications:

  • Baseband Chipset: SDM845
  • Memory: 6 GB LPDDR4X (PoP)
  • Display: 5.5-inch 1440x2560
  • Camera:
    • Front: IMX320 12 MP Sensor
    • Rear: IMX386 12 MP Sensor
  • Audio:
    • No 3.5 mm headset jack (Analog over USB-C)
    • 4 Digital Microphones
  • Connector: USB 3.1 Type-C
    • DisplayPort over USB-C

At the heart of the Snapdragon 845 is the octa-core Kryo 385 CPU, configured with 4x performance cores and 4x efficiency cores, and offering clock speeds of up to 2.8 GHz. In comparison the Snapdragon 835 had a similar 8x CPU configuration (Kryo 280) clocked up to 2.45 GHz. The SDM845 is produced on 10 nm LPP process technology, while the SD835 (MSM8998) was the first to be manufactured at 10 nm (LPE). It is not surprising that Qualcomm is getting higher clock speeds from this new chip at the same process node, and increases in efficiency (the new 10nm LPP FinFET process) should theoretically result in similar - or possibly even lower - power draw from these higher clocks.

Continue reading our performance preview of the new Snapdragon 845 mobile platform!!