Subject: Mobile | May 10, 2017 - 05:11 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: windows, sony, qualcomm, mdr1000x, CSR Harmony, bluetooth, aptX, a2dp
Recently, to prepare for a long plane flight I bought a pair of Sony MDR-1000X Bluetooth noise canceling headphones. While I won't get into the specifics of these headphones other than that I have been really satisfied with them, when I returned from my trip I wanted to start using them at the office.
Seemingly that would be easy, as these headphones feature a 3.5mm input, but I am frequently walking around the office and I wanted to fully utilize the wireless features. While I could have just used any Bluetooth adapter compatible with Windows, I wanted to test out one of the features of these headphones — AptX technology.
AptX is an alternate Bluetooth audio codec from Qualcomm which aims to feature higher audio quality. Sebastian took a look at a pair of AptX-enabled headphones earlier this year, and I have wanted to check out the technology ever since.
After receiving the USB adapter, I first installed the CSR Harmony software from the Azio website. This is a piece of software that sits on top of the Windows Bluetooth Stack and enabled advanced Bluetooth features, including AptX, on certain Bluetooth chipsets.
Once the software was installed, I plugged in the device and found a new Bluetooth icon sitting in my Windows tray.
From here, you can simply right click the icon and search for a new Bluetooth device.
Once I put the headphones into pairing mode I was able to pair to them successfully.
And, that's it! Once you are successfully paired to an AptX device, you should see this popup from the Windows tray confirming that AptX is working. From here, you can use the headphones just like you would with any Windows audio playback device.
This certainly isn't a review of AptX audio quality, I will defer to Sebastian's analysis for that in which he calls the headphones he tested "audiophile-approved Bluetooth."
For a $12 investment, it seems like a no-brainer for users who already have an AptX-enabled device that they use on their smartphone.
Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 9, 2017 - 01:55 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: spectra, snapdragon mobile platform, snapdragon, qualcomm, Kryo, isp, hexagon, dsp, adreno, 660, 630
Today Qualcomm took the covers off of an update to the Snapdragon 600 family of processors, now known as mobile platforms. The Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms are important products in the company’s portfolio as they address a larger segment of the consumer market than the premium-tier Snapdragon 800 while still offering performance and feature sets above the budget segments of the 400s. The Snapdragon 820 and 835 traditionally get all of the attention from media, the 600-series is at the heart of popular devices like the Sony Xperia X, Asus Zenfone 3 Ultra, HTC 10 Lifestyle and over 1000 more designs.
The biggest changes to both new platforms come in the form of LTE connectivity and GPU performance. In a bid to bring previously unseen capabilities to the 600-series of solutions, Qualcomm has taken the Snapdragon X12 LTE modem that shipped with the Snapdragon 820/821 SoC and integrated it on both the 660 and 630. This creates mainstream mobile platforms that can run Cat 12/13 modems and speeds as high as 600 Mbps downstream (3x carrier aggregation) and 150 Mbps upstream (2x carrier aggregation).
That is a significant move and should result in a massive amount of high speed devices saturating the market (and carriers’ networks) starting later this year. Along with that higher performance comes the same X12 feature set that we saw with Snapdragon 820/821 including adaptive antenna tuning capability (TruSignal) and dynamic signal quality adjustments for power efficiency optimizations.
The GPU performance of both the Snapdragon 660 and 630 get a boost over the previous competitors (653 and 626 respectively) though they do so with different Adreno implementations. The SD 660 uses the Adreno 512 GPU that offers up to 30% better performance compared to the Adreno 510 used on the SD 650 series. While we don’t have details yet on where that advantage comes from (clocks or core improvements), I have a feeling that much of it comes from improved frequencies. The Snapdragon 630 uses the Adreno 508 GPU, compared to the 506 from the SD 626 processor, and also claims to have a 30% performance advantage over the previous generation.
Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2017 - 12:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: qualcomm, apple, sueball
Qualcomm and Apple are already at loggerheads over the possible dirty trick played in the iPhone7 to ensure that Intel powered iPhone models performed the same as the ones with Qualcomm inside. Slashdot and other sources have reported on a somewhat related feud taking place, which has lead Qualcomm to reach out to the US based ITC to block the import of iPhones into the US. It seems that last month Apple decided not to pay Qualcomm royalties on their phone sales, which is owed due to core patents Qualcomm holds on mobile communications chips. Apple's defence is the fact that Qualcomm gets a cut even in devices without a single Qualcomm component while Qualcomm points out the it is their patents which generate the fee, not their hardware.
It will be interesting in this current environment to see how the US based Qualcomm fares against Apple and their products, which are made in Asia.
"Qualcomm is preparing to ask the International Trade Commission to stop the iPhone, which is built in Asia, from entering the country, threatening to block Apple's iconic product from the American market in advance of its anticipated new model this fall, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Samsung could be about to dethrone Intel as world's largest chipmaker
- You only need 60 bytes to hose Linux's rpcbind @ The Register
- Windows 10 S: Good, bad, and how this could get ugly for PC makers @ The Register
- Star Wars Day: 10 of the best Jedi gadgets @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2017 - 01:15 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows 10, snapdragon 835, qualcomm
Qualcomm have provided an updated estimate for when we might expect to see Windows 10 running on Snapdragon 835 devices, moving it very close to the end of the second half of 2017. Having a product launch in December is risky if Qualcomm had hoped to see sales for the holiday season, especially for a type of product we have not seen since Microsoft released ARM powered Surface devices. It is possible that the price may be attractive enough to entice some users into purchasing the devices but we likely won't see much action until the beginning of 2018. The Register could not glean any more information beyond the updated release date from the call, we are still somewhat in the dark as to what Snapdragon powered Win 10 devices we will see.
"But in last week's Q2 2017 earnings call, CEO Steve Mollenkopf said “Our Snapdragon 835 is expanding into Mobile PC designs running Windows 10, which are scheduled to launch in the fourth calendar quarter this year.”
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Linux 4.11 delayed for a week by NVMe glitches and 'oops fixes' @ The Register
- Unroll.me 'Heartbroken' After Being Caught Selling User Data To Uber @ Slashdot
- Microsoft to shutter some services in Office in move to subscription-based model @ The Inquirer
- Flaws found in Linksys routers that could be used to create a botnet @ The Register
- IoT Security is Hard: Here’s What You Need to Know @ Hack a Day
- Farewell Unity, you challenged desktop Linux. Oh well, here's Ubuntu 17.04 @ The Register
- You Think You Can’t Be Phished? @ Hack a Day
- SPY-tunes scandal: Bloke sues Bose after headphones app squeals on his playlist @ The Register
Subject: Mobile | April 13, 2017 - 04:48 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: X20, t-mobile, spectrum, qualcomm, LTE, Gigabit LTE, FCC, Carrier Aggregation, 600mhz, 5G
This afternoon, T-Mobile's ardent CEO John Legere announced the results of the FCC's recent spectrum auction concerning the low-band 600MHz range. In a $7.99 Billion deal, T-Mobile is set to gain 45% of all of the low-band spectrum being auctioned.
T-Mobile is quick to point out that the spectrum they purchased covers 100% of the United States and Puerto Rico, with a nationwide average of 31 MHz of spectrum acquired. Having this wide of a range of spectrum available nationwide will help T-Mobile with their rollout of Carrier Aggregation, on the road to Gigabit-Class LTE and 5G.
This acquisition wasn't without help from the FCC however. In 2014, when the FCC decided to auction off the spectrum that was previously used for broadcast TV, they decided to set aside 30MHz of the available 70MHz specifically for carriers that did not currently have large holdings in low-band spectrum. This means that ATT and Verizon, who both operate large LTE networks in the 700MHz range were excluded from part of the spectrum being auctioned off.
Low-band spectrum in strategically important for LTE rollouts in particular as it can travel further and works better indoors than high-band offerings like Sprint's large available spectrum in the 2.5GHz
While it usually takes a significant amount of time to see the results of newly acquired spectrum, T-Mobile promises significant network expansion by the end of 2017. Legere claims that over 1,000,000 square miles of the newly acquires spectrum will be cleared for use by the FCC by the end of this year, and put into production by T-Mobile. T-Mobile plans to use this spectrum to both expand LTE coverage into new markets as well as strengthening their coverage in existing markets to provide more speed and greater density of coverage.
However, there is one side of the 600MHz equation that is out of the hands of T-Mobile, the user equipment. Currently, there are no shipping LTE radios capable of operating in the 600MHz range. Qualcomm has announced that their in-development X20 LTE modem will work with 600MHz, but we have no timeline as to a possible release of devices with the X20.
Hopefully, we don't have to wait too long for user devices capable of 600MHz LTE operation, it would be a real shame to have a newly expanded T-Mobile network that no one can connect to!
The road to Gigabit-class LTE and subsequently 5G seems to be a fierce one, and we look forward to seeing developments from competing carriers.
Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2017 - 12:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sueball, qualcomm, Intel, blackberry, apple
Ah, the old days of Microsoft versus governments, Apple and Samsung, Intel and AMD, SCO and ... well just about everyone; lately there has not been much legal vitriol in the headlines. This may change as Qualcomm is now involved in several suits which are likely to become high profile. First up is what may be the driving force behind their need to seek restitution from Apple; they were just ordered to pay Blackberry $815 million after that company was successful in their legal battle to dispute certain royalty payments. Even a company as large as Qualcomm is going to feel the pain from that.
On to the real upcoming battle royal, featuring Apple and Qualcomm over the iPhone 7. It seems that Apple has taken offence to Qualcomm's claims that Apple handicapped their chip to ensure it did not out perform the models which contained an Intel chipset. Qualcomm released a large rebuttal to the lawsuit which Apple launched this January which you can read about at Ars Technica, or follow the link to read the entire document. This may prove to be the next interesting technological legal battle, stay tuned for more.
"For example, Qualcomm’s technological contributions enable popular smartphone apps such as Uber, Snapchat, Spotify, Apple Music, Skype, Google Maps, and Pokémon GO, among others."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft’s Windows 10 Creators Update: Small Tweaks For a Big Difference @ Techgage
- Microsoft reduces Patch Tuesday to an incomprehensible mess @ The Inquirer
- Windows 10 Creators Update general rollout begins with a privacy dialogue @ The Register
- Scientists Prove Your Phone's PIN Can Be Stolen Using Its Gyroscope Data @ Slashdot
- PC sales slump might be over, unless it isn't @ The Inquirer
- Systems-on-a-chip are a huge, unaudited attack surface, says Project Zero's Wi‑Fi attack man @ The Register
- Still no flash in a flash as chip supplies remain fried @ The Register
- Canada Hid the Konami Code In Its Commemorative $10 Bill Launch @ Slashdot
Subject: Editorial | March 23, 2017 - 12:26 PM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: Yoga Book, vulkan, topre, snapdragon 835, SC17, qualcomm, podcast, Optane, LG 32UD99, Lenovo, Gigabit LTE, evga, DynamIQ, arm
PC Perspective Podcast #442 - 03/23/17
Join us for Topre and CORSAIR Keyboards, ARM DynamIQ, Optane Launch, EVGA 4K gaming laptop, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store (audio only)
- Google Play - Subscribe to our audio podcast directly through Google Play!
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader (audio only)
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison
Program length: 1:35:25
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
A new start
Qualcomm is finally ready to show the world how the Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform performs. After months of teases and previews, including a the reveal that it was the first processor built on Samsung’s 10nm process technology and a mostly in-depth look at the architectural changes to the CPU and GPU portions of the SoC, the company let a handful of media get some hands-on time with development reference platform and run some numbers.
To frame the discussion as best I can, I am going to include some sections from my technology overview. This should give some idea of what to expect from Snapdragon 835 and what areas Qualcomm sees providing the widest variation from previous SD 820/821 product.
Qualcomm frames the story around the Snapdragon 835 processor with what they call the “five pillars” – five different aspects of mobile processor design that they have addressed with updates and technologies. Qualcomm lists them as battery life (efficiency), immersion (performance), capture, connectivity, and security.
Starting where they start, on battery life and efficiency, the SD 835 has a unique focus that might surprise many. Rather than talking up the improvements in performance of the new processor cores, or the power of the new Adreno GPU, Qualcomm is firmly planted on looking at Snapdragon through the lens of battery life. Snapdragon 835 uses half of the power of Snapdragon 801.
Since we already knew that the Snapdragon 835 was going to be built on the 10nm process from Samsung, the first such high performance part to do so, I was surprised to learn that Qualcomm doesn’t attribute much of the power efficiency improvements to the move from 14nm to 10nm. It makes sense – most in the industry see this transition as modest in comparison to what we’ll see at 7nm. Unlike the move from 28nm to 14/16nm for discrete GPUs, where the process technology was a huge reason for the dramatic power drop we saw, the Snapdragon 835 changes come from a combination of advancements in the power management system and offloading of work from the primary CPU cores to other processors like the GPU and DSP. The more a workload takes advantage of heterogeneous computing systems, the more it benefits from Qualcomm technology as opposed to process technology.
Subject: Mobile | March 16, 2017 - 11:15 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: x16, Sprint, snapdragon 835, qualcomm, new orleans, motorola, LTE Plus, LTE Advanced, LTE, gigabit-class
Demoing improvements to mobile phone networks is difficult. Where an individual vendor such as Intel or AMD can show off an improved CPU architecture mostly by themselves, it takes a lot of cooperation between companies to show off advanced mobile data initiatives.
This is just what Sprint, Qualcomm, and Motorola teamed up to do last week at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The first part of the story revolves around Sprint’s unique placement in the US mobile network market. While network operators such as Verizon, ATT, and T-Mobile in the US currently operate their LTE networks on low and mid-band LTE frequencies, the vast majority of Sprint's allocated frequency into the high-band range of 2.5GHz. The reason that Sprint has this spectrum is from their short-lived rollout of WiMax technology with Clear.
High-band frequencies can provide several advantages when deploying technologies enabling Gigabit-class LTE and on the road to 5G.
First, the antenna size needed in the 2.5GHz range is substantially smaller than the antenna size for a more common LTE frequency like 1900MHz. This means that when looking to deploy cellular sites utilizing technologies like 4X4 MIMO antenna arrays, Sprint can make smaller cell sites and be more nimble by placing them in areas where they are seeing substantial network load.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 8, 2017 - 12:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: qualcomm, OCP, microsoft, falkor, centriq 2400, azure, arm, 10nm
Last December Qualcomm announced plans to launch their Centriq 2400 series of platforms for data centres, demonstrating Apache Spark and Hadoop on Linux as well as a Java demo. They announced a 48 Core design based on ARM v8 and fabbed with on Samsung's 10nm process, which will compete against Intel's current offerings for the server room.
Today marks the official release of the Qualcomm Falkor CPU and Centriq 2400 series of products, as well as the existence of a partnership with Microsoft which may see these products offered to Azure customers. Microsoft has successfully configured a version of Windows Server to run on these new chips, which is rather big news for customers looking for low powered hosting solutions running a familiar OS. The Centriq 2400 family is compliant with Microsoft's Project Olympus architecture, used by the Open Compute Project Foundation to offer standardized building blocks upon which you can design a data centre from scratch or use as an expansion plan.
Enough of the background, we are here for the specifications of the new platform and what can be loaded onto a Centriq 2400. The reference motherboard supports SOCs of up to 48 cores, with both single and dual socket designs announced. Each SOC can support up to six channels of DDR4 in either single or dual channel configurations with a maximum of 768GB installed. Falkor will offer 32 lanes of PCIe 3.0, eight SATA ports and a GbE ethernet port as well as USB and a standard 50Gb/s NIC. NVMe is supported, one design offers 20 NVMe drives with a PCIe 16x slot but you can design the platform to match your requirements. Unfortunately they did not discuss performance during their call, nor any suggested usage scenarios. We expect to hear more about that during the 2017 Open Compute Platform US Summit, which starts today.
The submission of the design to Open Compute Project ensures a focus on compatibility and modularity and allows a wide variety of designs to be requested and networked together. If you have a need for HPC performance you can request a board with an HPC GPU such as a FirePro or Tesla, or even drop in your own optimized FPGA. Instead of opting for an impressive but expensive NVME storage solution, you can modify the design to accommodate 16 SATA HDDs for affordable storage.
Qualcomm have already announced Windows 10 support on their Snapdragon, but the fact that Microsoft are internally running Windows Server on an ARM v8 based processor is much more impressive. Intel and AMD have long held reign in the server room and have rightfully shrugged of the many times in which companies have announced ARM based servers which will offer more power efficient alternatives. Intel have made huge advances at creating low power chips for the server room; AMD's recently announced Naples shows their intentions to hold their market share as well.
If the submission to the OPC succeeds then we may see the first mainstream ARM based servers appear on the market. Even if the Windows Server instances remain internal to Microsoft, the Centriq series will support Red Hat, CentOS, Canonical and Ubuntu as well as both GCC and LLVM compilers.
(click to seriously embiggen)
ARM may finally have reached the server market after all these years and it will be interesting to see how they fare. AMD and Intel have both had to vastly reduce the power consumption of their chips and embrace a diametrically opposite design philosophy; instead of a small number of powerful chips, servers of the future will consist of arrays of less powerful chips working in tandem. ARM has had to do the opposite, they are the uncontested rulers of low powered chips but have had to change their designs to increase the processing capabilities of their chips in order to produce an effective product for the server room.
Could Qualcomm successful enter the server room; or will their ARMs not have the necessary reach?