Snapdragon 8cx is Qualcomm’s answer to higher-performance for Windows PCs

Subject: Mobile | December 6, 2018 - 08:38 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon x24, snapdragon, qualcomm, NVMe, kryo 495, adreno 680, 8cx

While yesterday was all about Snapdragon 855, and the enhancements it will bring to mobile devices, Qualcomm’s focus today at their Snapdragon Tech Summit was all about the “Always on, Always connected” (AOAC) PC.

Announced almost exactly a year ago, AOAC is the term that Qualcomm uses to brand Snapdragon devices featuring the Windows operating system.

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In the past year, Qualcomm has shipped PCs based on both the Snapdragon 835 and well as the PC-only Snapdragon 850 SoCs.

Today, Qualcomm is taking the wraps off of their higher-performance Snapdragon option for PCs, Snapdragon 8cx.

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From the start, Qualcomm assures us that Snapdragon 8cx won’t be completely replacing Snapdragon 850 in the marketplace, pointing to it being a more upmarket solution.

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Kryo 495

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Unlike the Prime Core design on the Snapdragon 855, the 8cx platform is sticking with a more traditional BIG.little design with four performance and four efficiency cores. However, we do see larger cache sizes than previous Snapdragons, with a total of 10MB system cache.

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Qualcomm did make a few performance claims against Intel's notebook parts, but they are a bit confusing.

While they did compare the Snapdragon 8cx to Intel's mainstream 15W U-series quad-core mobile CPUs, the performance numbers Qualcomm showed were for both CPUs running at 7W. 

Qualcomm says this is because of the thermal constraints of a fanless design, of which all the Snapdragon PCs are, but looking at the thermal performance of real-world fanless PCs with Intel U-series processors like the Surface Pro 6 with a Core-i5, 7W seems to be a lower power level than that PC ever actually sees.

As always, only time and independent performance analysis will tell the true competitive nature of these CPUs.

Adreno 680

Also all-new for Snapdragon 8cx is the Adreno 680 GPU, what Qualcomm is touting as their fastest GPU ever with a 2x performance improvement and 60% greater power efficiency over Snapdragon 850.

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On the connectivity side, Adreno 680 will provide desktop-level outputs, including support for up to two simultaneous 4K HDR displays.

Despite the significant performance increases on the GPU side, Qualcomm is claiming that the Adreno 680 GPU in Snapdragon 8cx is 60% more efficient than the Adreno GPU in their current lead PC platform, Snapdragon 850.

Snapdragon X24

Snapdragon 8cx will sport the same X24 modem we saw announced alongside the Snapdragon 855 yesterday.

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This new modem will enable both LTE connections up to 2Gbps as we saw with Snapdragon 855, but judging from the specification sheet that was provided, 8cx seems to lack the ability for Wifi-6 (802.11ax) and 802.11ay.

In addition, Qualcomm also teased that 5G-enabled 8cx devices (likely with the Snapdragon x50 modem) will also be coming in 2019.

Connectivity

One of the most significant downsides for the current generation of Snapdragon-powered PCs has been the carryover of UFS storage from the mobile phone side. While UFS can provide a sufficient experience on Android devices, it became a significant bottleneck on Windows-based devices.

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Thanks to an available four lanes of PCI Express 3.0 connectivity, the Snapdragon 8cx will provide support for NVMe SSDs. While Qualcomm still hasn’t implemented a native NVMe controller into their SSD like Apple, this will at least enable the option for faster storage coming from OEMs.

However, it remains to be seen how many OEMs adopt NVMe SSDs in their Snapdragon 8cx products, due to the added cost, and potential thermal issues with higher performance, PCIe SSD in a fan-less form factor.

Software

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Another pain point for Snapdragon PCs has been software support. While the initial Windows on Snapdragon releases were able to run native ARM 32bit applications as well as emulate 32bit x86 applications, software support has come a long way for this platform in the past year.

One of the biggest areas of concern has been native browser support. Currently, the only native ARM browser on Windows is Edge. With Microsoft's announced move of Edge to the Chromium rendering system, we will now gain an implementation of the open source engine that power Google Chrome, but not the Chrome browser itself yet.

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Mozilla however, is set to ship a native ARM64 version of Firefox in the coming months, which will be the first high-performance answer to Edge for the Windows on Snapdragon platform.

Microsoft was also on stage today discussing how they are bringing Windows 10 Enterprise to Snapdragon devices, allowing for more wide deployments of these machines in large corporations.

Pricing and Availability

Despite bringing Lenovo on stage at the event to talk about their partnership with Qualcomm, no actual devices or even manufactures of 8cx devices were officially announced today.

Due to that, we have no real information on pricing or availability on Snapdragon 8cx-powered systems besides that they are coming in 2019, at some point.

That being said since Snapdragon 850 is still sticking around as an option in the marketplace, expect Snapdragon 8cx devices to be more expensive than the current crop of Snapdragon-enabled PCs.

Snapdragon 8cx Chip Comparison, US Coin.jpg

We expect more information to come on Snapdragon 8cx in the coming months at CES and MWC, so stay tuned for more information as it becomes available!

Source: Qualcomm

Podcast #524 - NVIDIA RTX Titan, Snapdragon 855, and Logitech Racing Wheels!

Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2018 - 06:02 AM |
Tagged: thermaltake, snapdragon 855, Silverstone, qualcomm, podcast, pixel, nvidia, logitech g29, chromium

PC Perspective Podcast #524 - 12/5/2018

Our podcast this week features discusion of the new RTX Titan, Snapdragon 855, NVIDIA AI technologies, the new Google Pixel Slate, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Today's Podcast Hosts

Jim Tanous: https://twitter.com/JimTanous
Allyn Malventano: https://twitter.com/malventano
Sebastian Peak: https://twitter.com/sebastianpeak
Josh Walrath: https://twitter.com/JoshDWalrath
Jeremy Hellstrom: https://twitter.com/jeremyhellstrom
Alex Lustenberg

Show Topics

00:04:27 - Logitech G29 Racing Wheel Review
00:14:38 - NVIDIA Titan RTX
00:20:33 - Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
00:39:48 - Intel MESO
00:46:35 - Mineral Oil-Cooled Raspberry Pi
00:50:54 - Google Pixel Slate
00:55:51 - NVIDIA AI Real-World Video
01:00:59 - NVIDIA PhysX Open Source
01:03:43 - New PowerVR Chips
01:08:54 - Microsoft's Chromium Browser?
01:15:36 - SilverStone PTS Compact ATX Power Supplies
01:18:28 - Thermaltake RGB Power Supply
01:21:29 - MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

Picks of the Week

Jim - Beneath a Surface
Jeremy - MSI GV62 15-inch Gaming Laptop
Josh - Logitech G29 Racing Wheel
Allyn - NovelLife Electric Screwdriver
Sebastian - MUNT Roland MT-32 Emulator for Classic Games

Source: PCPer

Qualcomm talks more Snapdragon 855 - Performance, Features, and more!

Subject: Mobile | December 5, 2018 - 09:20 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 855, qualcomm, kryo 485, Hexagon 690, adreno 640

After yesterday's initial announcement of the Snapdragon 855 name and teasing a few key features, today Qualcomm has gone into more detail about what makes this new SoC tick.

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Starting from the top, we have the new Kryo 485 CPU cores.

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The CPU cores found in Kryo 485 are based on arm's A75 design with some customizations by Qualcomm in regards to data prefetch, and the out-of-order execution window size. Overall, Qualcomm is claiming a 45% performance boost for the Kryo 485 compared to the Kryo cores found in the Snapdragon 845 due to IPC increase generation-to-generation.

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Moving away from the BIG.little design seen in previous Snapdragon implementations, Snapdragon 855 is now utilizing what Qualcomm is referring to as a "Prime Core." Like BIG.little, the Prime Core setup consists of a set of four performance cores and four efficiency cores. The difference comes in the Prime Core itself, which is a part of the performance cores but can achieve an even higher clock speed than the rest of the performance cores (2.84 GHz vs. 2.42GHz).

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Moving onto the GPU, we have some sizable improvements on in the Adreno 640. Qualcomm is claiming a 20% performance increase in graphics rendering when compared to the Adreno 630 GPU found in Snapdragon 835. 

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Another area of focus is sustained performance. Qualcomm claims that the Snapdragon 855 with Adreno 640 graphics provides a much more consistent performance outlook than other competitor's SoCs built on 7nm (likely Apple and Huawei).

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On the AI front, Qualcomm has made some major changes with what they are referring to as their “4th generation AI engine.” The AI engine consists of the Kryo CPU cores, Adreno GPU cores, and the all-new Hexagon 690 DSP.

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The Hexagon 690 DSP has gone through an overhaul, introducing Tensor processing units for the first time as well as performance increases for the scalar and vector cores.

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Developers will be able to target all of the AI engine through the use of integration with Google’s NN API on Android to help simplify picking the right hardware for a given AI task.

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In addition to the AI capabilities found in the AI engine, there have been some major changes to the Spectra Image Signal Processor (ISP) to enable AI workloads on photos and videos with major power savings.

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Touted as the world’s first “Computer Vision” ISP, the Spectra 380 provides some exciting capabilities without having to use the AI engine. For example, Snapdragon 855 thanks to the new Spectra 380 will not only be capable of “Portrait mode” photos as we’ve seen in many smartphones but now will be able to process the same portrait effect real-time for video, up to 4K HDR 60FPS.

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Some other capabilities of the CV-enabled Spectra ISP include object detection, which can be used for things such as real-time background replacement, in which you’ll be able to see the effect rendered in the preview window of your camera app, before even taking the photo.

Also on the Spectra side of things, Qualcomm is looking to make some changes on the image capture front, namely in the file format. While most Android phones currently use JEPG to capture images, Qualcomm with Snapdragon 855 is touting the advantages of the newer High-Efficiency Image File (HEIF) format.

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HEIF not only improves file sizes by using an encoding pattern based on H265, but also enables some exciting new metadata for things like HDR color data, Depth data, and multiple focal points. This new common metadata format should help software adoption of some of these new camera features.

While Apple has been using HEIF for a few years now in iOS, Qualcomm says they are merely using it for the file size savings, and not taking advantage of these new extensions.

Ultimately, this change will still lie in the software and phone vendors, so it remains to be seen if we’ll see large-scale adoption of HEIF as phones start to ship with Snapdragon 855 next year.

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As Qualcomm focused on yesterday, Snapdragon 855 will also be the platform that enables the first 5G capable phones, set to hit the market in the first half of 2019 from vendors such as Samsung. While the Snapdragon 855 will have to be paired with an additional modem in the form of Snapdragon X50 to achieve 5G, the integrated X24 modem still has some new connectivity features up its sleeve.

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The primary upgrade in the Snapdragon X24 modem is the ability to go beyond Gigabyte LTE, with speeds of up to 2Gbps on LTE networks through the use of technologies like 7 Carrier Aggregation and 20 LTE layers. Techniques like these should help bridge the gap between 4G and 5G while 5G networks are being built out and coverage is sparse.

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On the Wi-Fi front, the Snapgradon X24 modem in Snapdragon 855 will be capable of both Wifi-6 (802.11ax) as well as 60GHz 802.11ay (the successor to 802.11ad). However, it will depend on the handset manufacturers as to whether or not these technologies are implemented in the RF and antenna design stages.

Overall, Snapdragon 855 looks to be a promising upgrade over the previous Snapdragon 845 in many areas. Stay tuned for more news from the Snapdragon Tech Summit, including tomorrow's focus of always on always connected PCs featuring Snapdragon SoCs.

Source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm announces Snapdragon 855, enabling 5G connectivity

Subject: Mobile | December 4, 2018 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: sub-6, snapdragon 855, qualcomm 3d sonic sensor, qualcomm, mmWave, 5g nr

Today during their Day 1 keynote at the Snapdragon Tech Summit, Qualcomm has revealed some initial details of their next-generation Snapdragon 855 mobile platform.

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The biggest focus of Snapdragon 855 lies in the connectivity. Paired with the Snapdragon x50 5G modem, Snapdragon 855 will be the first available product to support even faster LTE networks, but also will enable true 5G NR mmWave and Sub-6 GHz radio technology.

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Combined, sub-6 connectivity for wide area coverage, mmWave technology for very high bandwidth applications, as well as high-speed LTE, represent the full breadth of the 3GPP 5G NR standard for mobile connectivity.

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In addition to the hardware support in Snapdragon 855, Qualcomm also discussed today worldwide carrier rollout plans for 5G technology in 2019, including commitments from all four major US carriers for both Sub-6 and mmWave networks.

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In addition, Samsung has announced they will be shipping their first 5G-enabled smartphone, powered by Snapdragon 855, in the first half of 2019.

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Other exciting aspects of Snapdragon 855 include the new 4th generation AI engine, consisting of the CPU, GPU, and Hexagon DSP, with claims of up to 3x the performance of Snapdragon 845 in certain AI workloads.

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The Image Signal Processing part of the Snapdragon 855 also sees an update. Qualcomm is touting the ISP as able to do advanced Computer Vision techniques directly on the ISP, without having to use traditional CPU or GPU resources. This will bring massive power savings to operations such as object detection and background replacement.

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Also announced today is the Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor, what Qualcomm is billing as the world’s first ultrasonic fingerprint sensor for under display applications. As opposed to the optical solutions we see in shipping phones today, this new ultrasonic sensor should bring more speed and accuracy to under display fingerprint sensors.

Things are just getting started here at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit, so stay tuned this week for more information on topics such as 5G, Snapdragon 855, and Qualcomm-powered always on always connected PCs!

Source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm Launches Next-Gen Snapdragon Wear W3100 Smartwatch Platform

Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2018 - 12:10 PM |
Tagged: wearables, W3100, W2100, snapdragon wear, snapdragon, smartwatch, qualcomm, QCC1110, PWM3100, platform

Qualcomm has launched their latest smartwatch platform today, announcing the new ultra-low power Snapdragon Wear 3100 at a Google-supported event which also included the announcement of the first customers of this new platform.

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The Snapdragon Wear 3100 uses what the company calls “a new ultra-low power hierarchical system architecture approach”, with high-performance A7 processor cores supported by a high-efficiency integrated DSP and the new ultra-low power QCC1110 co-processor.

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“The new co-processor, the Qualcomm QCC1110, has been designed from the ground up and is at the heart of the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform. It is incredibly small at ~21mm2, is optimized for ultra-low power operation, and acts as a powerful companion to the main processor, re-defining audio, display, and sensor experiences for next generation smartwatches. The co-processor also integrates a deep learning engine for custom workloads, such as keyword detection, and is extensible over time.”

A new PMW3100 power management sub-system also supports “lower power and higher integration”, as the goal is naturally to improve battery life as well as performance. The W3100 will offer 4 - 12 hours longer life than the previous W2100 platform, according to Qualcomm.

W3100_Battery.PNG

Smartwatches are in many ways a lifestyle product, and Qualcomm announced a trio of designer customers of the new Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform:

“With the Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform, we envisioned a new ultra-low power system architecture and in collaboration with the latest from the Wear OS by Google team, to help deliver a rich interactive mode, bring in new personalized experiences and support extended battery life for tomorrow’s smartwatches. We are delighted to announce Fossil Group, Louis Vuitton, and Montblanc as our first Snapdragon Wear 3100 customers.”

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Qualcomm states that this new Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform will be offered “in three variants targeting Bluetooth and Wi-Fi tethered smartwatches, GPS-based tethered smartwatches, and 4G LTE connected smartwatches”, and that the W3100 “is in mass production and shipping today”.

Source: Qualcomm
Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: ARM

Aggressively Pursuing New Markets

ARM has had a pretty fascinating history, but for most of its time on this Earth it has not been a very public facing company. After the release of the iPhone and ARM’s dominance in the mobile market, they decided to push their PR efforts up a few notches. Now we finally were able to see some of the inner workings of a company that was once a little known low power CPU designer that licensed cores out to third parties.

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The company was not always as aggressive as what we are seeing now. The mobile space for a long time was dominated by multiple architectures that all have eventually faded away. ARM held steady with design improvements and good customer relations that ensured that they would continue into the future. After the release of the original iPhone, the world changed. Happily for us, ARM changed as well. In previous years ARM would announce products, but they would be at least three years away and few people took notice of what they were up to. I originally started paying attention to ARM as I thought that their cores might have the ability to power mobile gaming and perhaps be integrated into future consoles so that there would be a unified architecture that these providers could lean upon. This was back when the 3DS and PSP were still selling millions of units.

This of course never came to pass as I had expected it to, but at least ARM did make it into the Nintendo Switch. ARM worked hard to quickly put faster, more efficient parts out the door. They also went on a buying spree and acquired several graphics startups that would eventually contribute to the now quite formidable Mali GPU family of products. Today we have an extensive lineup of parts that can be bundled into a tremendous amount of configurations. ARM has a virtual monopoly in the cellphone market because they have been willing to work with anyone who wants to license their designs, technologies, and architectures. This is actually a relatively healthy “monopoly” because the partners do the work to mix and match features to provide unique products to the marketplace. Architectural licensees like Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung all differentiate their products as well and provide direct competition to the ARM designed cores that are licensed to other players.

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Today we are seeing a new direction from ARM that has never been officially explored. We have been given a roadmap of the next two generations of products from the company that are intended to compete in not only the cellphone market, but also in the laptop market. ARM has thrown down the gauntlet and their sights are set on Intel and AMD. Not only is ARM showing us the codenames for these products, but also the relative performance.

Click here to read the entire ARM Roadmap Editorial!

Qualcomm Adds 10nm LPP Snapdragon 670 Mobile Platform to Mid-Range Lineup

Subject: Mobile | August 10, 2018 - 09:08 AM |
Tagged: X12 Modem, snapdragon 670, snapdragon, qualcomm 600, qualcomm, LTE

Qualcomm recently introduced the Snapdragon 670 mobile platform that brings upgraded processing and power efficiencies to the 600-series lineup while being very close to the specifications of the new Snapdragon 710 SoC. Based on the 10nm LPP design, the Snapdragon 670 uses up to 30% less power (that number is while recording 4K video and relates to the Spectra ISP, overall power efficiency gains are likely less but still notable) while offering up to 15% more CPU and 25% more GPU processing power versus its predecessor. The new mobile processor is also better optimized for AI with up to 1.8X AI Engine performance mostly thanks to upgraded Hexagon DSP co-processors and ARM CPU cores.

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The Snapdragon 670 features a Kryo 360 CPU with two ARM Cortex A75 cores at 2.0 GHz and six Cortex A53 cores at 1.7 GHz along with bringing 200-series DSPs and ISPs to the Snapdragon 600-series in the form of the Hexagon 685 DSP and Spectra 250 ISP. As far as graphics, the Snapdragon 670 will use a new Adreno 615 GPU which should be very close to the GPU in the SD710 (Adreno 616. The new processor supports a single 24MP camera or dual 16MP cameras and can record up to 4k30Hz video. According to Anandtech, Qualcomm has stripped out the 10-bit HDR pipelines as well as lowering the maximum supported display resolution. Another differentiator between the new Snapdragon 710 and the older Snapdragon 660 is that the SD670 uses the same Snapdragon X12 LTE modem as the SD660 rather than the X15 LTE modem of the 710 processor meaning that maximum cellular download speeds are capped at 600 Mbps downloads versus 800 Mbps.

While the Snapdragon 670 and Snapdragon 710 are reportedly pin and software compatible which will allow smartphone manufacturers the ability to use either chip in the same mobile platform the chips are allegedly different designs and the SD670 is not merely a lower binned SD710 which is interesting if true.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 670 appears to be a decent midrange offering that is very close to the specifications of the SD710 while being cheaper and much more power efficient than the older SD660. This should enable some midrange smartphone designs that can offer similar performance with much better battery life.

Of course, depending on the workload, the newer SD670 may or may not live up to the alleged 15% CPU performance boost versus 2017’s SD660 as the SD670 loses two of the big ARM cores in the big.LITTLE setup vs the SD660 while having two more smaller cores. The two A75 (2GHz) and six A55 (1.7GHz) are faster per core than the four A73 (2.2GHz) and four A53 (1.8GHz), but if a single app is heavily multithreaded the older chip may still hold its own. The bright side is that worst case the new chip should at least not be that much slower at most tasks and at best it delivers better battery life especially with lots of background tasks running. More efficient cores and the move from 14nm LPP to 10nm LPP definitely helps with that, and you do have to keep in mind that this is a midrange part for midrange smartphones.

The real deciding factor though in terms of the value proposition of this chip is certainly going to be pricing and the mobile platforms that manufacturers offer it in.

Also read:

Source: Qualcomm

Intelligent fruit flies slower than Snapdragons

Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2018 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: Intel, LTE, qualcomm, snapdragon 845, Android

The Inquirer posted some findings from Ookla which is bound to be somewhat depressing for Apple users with Intel modems in them.  This will not be a surprise for anyone who recalls a certain court case from last year in which Qualcomm accused Apple of slowing down their modems to ensure they did not outperform models with an Intel modem in it.  That case has since snowballed into a much larger one.

Tossing the lawyers aside, the data from Ookla shows a large performance different between "Intel-based non-Android smartphones" LTE speeds and any phone utilizing a Snapdragon 845 modem.  The Snapdragon phones show "double-digit gains" in latency and "triple-digit gains" in download and upload speeds, which is going to be fairly noticeable.  Perhaps the rumours that Intel will no longer be inside the upcoming generations of Apple phones are true.

Apple Turtles-bolthouse farms.jpg

"Consumers seeking faster everyday 4G LTE connectivity can buy Android smartphones powered by the Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform, knowing that real-world data supports Qualcomm Technologies' claims of superior wireless performance."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #505 - ASUS G-SYNC HDR, Logitech G305, and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2018 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: video, thermaltake, qualcomm, podcast, PG27UQ, nvidia, micron, K70, Intel, gddr6, g-sync, Elgato, corsair, asus

PC Perspective Podcast #505 - 06/28/18

Join us this week for discussion on ASUS G-SYNC HDR, Logitech G305, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:26:36

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Picks of the Week:
    1. Ryan:
  4. Closing/outro
 
Source:

Podcast #502 - Computex coverage and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2018 - 11:50 AM |
Tagged: xTend, xps, video, Vega, Threadripper, Snapdragon 850, seasonic, scmd, ROG, qualcomm, podcast, Optane, nvidia, microsoft, logitech, Killer Wireless, Isaac, InWin, Intel, i7-8086k, git, fortnite, EPYC, dell, crystal, corsair, CaseKing, asus, aorus, amd, 7nm

PC Perspective Podcast #502 - 06/07/18

Join us this week for discussion on Computex and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:45:27

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 1:00:40 ASUS all the things
  3. Picks of the Week:
  4. Closing/outro
 
Source: