Subject: Mobile | December 5, 2017 - 02:30 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: snapdragon x16, snapdragon tech summit, snapdragon 835, snapdragon, qualcomm, NovaGo, LTE, hp, envy x2, asus
Today at its Snapdragon Tech Summit, Qualcomm has announced the first round of Snapdragon-enabled devices running Windows from partners HP and ASUS.
The HP ENVY x2 is a detachable 2-in-1 device reminiscent of the Microsoft Surface products or the Huawei Matebook-E that we recently took a look at. The 12.3-in screen is the same size as the current Surface Pro, but the HP option will have a more traditional 16:9 screen aspect ratio.
Built upon the Snapdragon 835 SoC, the Envy x2 will be available in configurations featuring up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. The Envy x2 will also support an active stylus that is Windows Ink certified for activities such as note-taking and illustration.
For connectivity, the Envy x2 has a single USB-C port which will serve for both charging the tablet as well as connecting external devices.
The ASUS NovaGo, however, features a more traditional thin-and-light notebook design with a 360-degree hinge. This means that users can take full advantage of the 13.3-in 1920x1080 screen in all sorts of different scenarios from traditional notebook mode to tablet mode.
Similar to the HP offering, the ASUS NovaGo will be available in configurations ranging up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of Storage. However, connectivity on the NovaGo includes 2x USB 3.1 Type-A ports, as well as an HDMI Port and Micro-SD card slot for memory expansion allowing for more options than the HP Envy x2.
Utilizing the Snapdragon 835 SoC, both of these devices will also feature cellular connectivity from the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem. This is a huge advantage for mobile users, who can simply add these devices to their cellular accounts and receive internet connectivity anywhere in the world, allowing them to simply turn on their device and start working instead of hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots.
Both of these devices will come preinstalled with Windows 10 S but will allow for a one-time upgrade to a full Windows 10 license which will allow users to install non-Windows store applications.
(For those asking in the comments, yes, this is the emaulation layer we have mentioned previously at work. Snapdragon-based Windows machines will be able to run MOST x86 (not x64) Windows applications, with some exceptions. Exceptions tend to stem from things like kernel-mode drivers that some software wants to install that won't work. Dropbox is an unfortunately example of this.)
Availability of both systems is expected just before the end of the year and pricing for both will range from $600-800 depending on the specific configuration.
It's just the beginning here at the Snapdragon Tech Summit, so stay tuned for more announcements from Qualcomm as the week progresses!
Qualcomm Showcasing Windows on Snapdragon and Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform on Tech Summit Live Stream
Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | December 4, 2017 - 01:50 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: windows on snapdragon, snapdragon 845, snapdragon, qualcomm, live stream
Qualcomm is preparing for its second annual Technology Summit, this time from the sunny shores of Maui, where it will unveil the roadmap and technologies that it will be driving into the ecosystem for 2018. Hosted by EVP of Qualcomm Technologies Cristiano Amon, this event will play host to not just Qualcomm personnel but several other key leaders in the hardware and software industry, backing Qualcomm’s play into flagship mobile, Windows, and more.
The PC Perspective team is on-site to cover the announcements, interview executives, and attempt to gauge the potential for this technology being presented. If you want to follow along at home, Qualcomm is hosting a live stream of the event on its website and of course will be tweeting all of the key details from its primary account. It starts bright and early at 8:30am HST in Hawaii but that translates into 10:30am PST and 1:30pm EST for those of you on the mainland.
There are definite announcements coming that you should expect during the live stream. First, Qualcomm will be updating its flagship mobile platform to the Snapdragon 845, a potentially significant bump over the 835 shipping today. We have already seen rumors of several next-gen Android smartphones using the SD 845 including Samsung’s Galaxy S9. The company announced the SD 835 and corresponding technology in November of 2016 at the first Tech Summit, so expect Qualcomm to follow suit for the SD 845 this year.
More exciting to many might be the pending release of the much-hyped Windows on Snapdragon hardware. We have been talking about it for more than a year now, but we have it on high authority that we are past theory and will be seeing real hardware from real vendors with real prices and real time tables. These Windows 10-based notebooks and convertibles should include Gigabit-class LTE, extended battery life, and a true Windows 10 experience. But details up to this point have been sparse – hopefully this week we’ll have much more definitive information in our hands.
That’s all I can say for sure we’ll see at the Qualcomm Tech Summit, but who knows, the company may have some more surprises in store for us. The company has a lot of technology in development in areas like self-driving cars, mobile connectivity, IoT, VR; any of which could make for an interesting addition to our pre-CES flurry.
Subject: Mobile | October 17, 2017 - 03:50 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SoC, Snapdragon 636, snapdragon, qualcomm, octa-core, mobile platform, Kryo 260, Kryo, cpu, adreno, 8-core
Qualcomm's latest mobile platform is the Snapdragon 636, positioned (at least numerically) between the Snapdragon 630 and 660 introduced earlier this year, and offering a very impressive set of features for mid-range devices - even reaching parity with the Snapdragon 800-series in some respects.
Qualcomm claims CPU performance gains of up to 40% from the Kryo 260 cores in the Snapdragon 636 compared to the ARM Cortex-A53 cores found in the Snapdragon 630, and the switch to Kryo brings the new Snapdragon 636 closer to the specs of the Snapdragon 660 - also an 8-core Kryo 260 design (though the higher-numbered platform does boast slightly higher clocks from its eight CPU cores at 2.2 GHz vs. 1.8 GHz from the 636).
The Snapdragon 636 also features the same X12 LTE modem found in the existing Snapdragon 630/660, which is capable of up to 600 Mbps download speeds (3 x 20 Hz carrier aggregation, 256-QAM) and 150 Mbps peak upload (2 x 20 Hz aggregation, 64-QAM).
Graphics duties are performed by the Adreno 509, and 18:9 FHD+ displays are supported. The Snapdragon 636 also includes the Hexagon 680 DSP (which we first saw in the Snapdragon 820) with Spectra 160 ISP for supported image capture "of up to 24 megapixels with zero shutter lag while supporting smooth zoom, fast autofocus and true-to-life colors for outstanding image quality", according to Qualcomm.
This new Snapdragon 636 also offers Qualcomm's Aqstic codec (another feature inherited from the 800-series) for high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/192 kHz PCM, along with dual-oscillator support (separate clock generators for 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz based sample rates!) and a 130dB dynamic range with a very low THD+N of -109dB.
To expand on what the Aqstic codec in the SD636 provides, the separate clock generators are a fascinating addition in a world where many codecs resample the common 44.1 kHz - pretty much all digital music at or below CD quality - to 48 kHz during playback. Having a proper 44.1 kHz clock means native playback without the interpolation and subsequent filtering required when altering the original signal to an incompatible sample rate.
The Snapdragon 636 - which is both "pin and software-compatible" with existing Snapdragon 660 and 630 mobile platforms, according to Qualcomm - is expected to ship to customers beginning in November.
Subject: Mobile | July 27, 2017 - 01:12 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: htc, vive, VR, virtual reality, qualcomm, snapdragon, snapdragon 835
During the ChinaJoy 2017 event in Shanghai, VR pioneer HTC announced its standalone VR headset aimed at the China market. This marks the first major player in the virtual reality space to officially reveal a standalone product intended for the broad consumer market that requires a more affordable, portable VR solution.
Standalone VR headsets differ from the current options on the market in two distinct ways. First, they are disconnected from a PC and don’t require attachment to a desktop for processing or display output. The current HTC Vive product that ships in the market, as well as Facebook’s Oculus Rift, require a high-end PC to play VR games and use HDMI and USB connections to power the headsets. This new standalone design also moves away from the slot-in design of the Samsung Gear VR and doesn’t require the user to monopolize their smartphone for VR purposes.
Though mobile-first VR solutions like Gear VR have existed for several years, selling on the market before the PC-based solutions were released, the move of HTC from tethered virtual reality to a wireless standalone unit signals a shift in the market. Consumers see the value and quality experiences that VR can provide but the expense and hassle of in-place configurations have stagnated adoption.
HTC is using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform to power the Vive Standalone VR Headset, the same chipset used in many high-end smartphones on the market today. Qualcomm and HTC can modify traits of the processor to improve performance without worrying about the sensitive battery life of a consumer’s phone. Though we don’t know the specifics of what HTC might have modified for the configuration of this standalone unit, it likely is a mirror of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 VR hardware development kit that was announced in February. That design includes the capability for six degrees of freedom tracking (moving around a space accurately without external sensors), high resolution displays for each eye, and a full suite of graphics and digital signal processors to handle the complex workloads of VR experiences.
Though HTC is the first to announce and a complete standalone VR product, HTC and others announced their intent to release standalone units in the US later this year through Google’s Daydream program. Lenovo plans to build a VR headset using the same Qualcomm reference design for the Daydream platform.
Facebook-owned Oculus has not officially announced its intent but rumors in July point us to another Qualcomm-powered headset that will sell for around $200. Facebook plans to reveal the hardware in October.
HTC’s decision to target the China market first is driven by its ability to promote its custom Viveport software store in a region that does not offer Google services like the Android Play Store or Daydream. HTC will leverage a customer base that is larger than North America and Western Europe combined, and one that is expected to grow rapidly. IDC statistics show VR headset shipments reaching 10.1 million units this year and target 61 million units by 2020 worldwide. iResearch Consulting estimates Chinese VR market revenues to reach $8.1B in that same time frame.
Growth in VR and AR (augmented reality) is driven by the consumer markets but it is the enterprise implementations that provide the push for expanded usage models. Medical professionals already utilize VR technology to analyze data and mechanical engineers can dissect and evaluate models of products in a virtual space to improve and speed up workflows. Target fields also include factory workers, emergency personnel, the military, delivery drivers, and nearly all facets of business. As VR technology improve usability, comfort, and general societal acceptance, the merger of virtual and augmented reality hardware will create a new age of connected consumers.
Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2017 - 01:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: oculus rift, VR, Pacific, xiaomi, snapdragon
Coming right after the announced reduction in the price of the Oculus Rift is a rumour about a new VR headset from the company which will cost significantly less than the current model. The Oculus 'Pacific' will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon of some description and will be manufactured by Xiaomi. The smaller headset will sell for around $200, and be announced in October, likely during the Oculus Connect 4 event. From what The Inquirer has learned, the headset will not require additional hardware to run which will make this VR headset much more accessible to the average consumer.
"FACEBOOK-OWNED Oculus is reportedly working on a standalone virtual reality (VR) headset that'll cost just $200 (around £155)."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- PC sales still slumping, but more slowly than feared @ The Register
- Viking Technology launches 'world's highest-capacity' 50TB SSD @ The Inquirer
- Kerberos bypass, login theft bug slain by Microsoft, Linux slingers @ The Register
- World’s Worst Bitcoin Mining Rig @ Hack a Day
- iPhone 8 release date, specs and price: 3D laser system tipped to enable 'better AR' @ The Inquirer
Introduction and Design
In case you have not heard by now, Pixel is the re-imagining of the Nexus phone concept by Google; a fully stock version of the Android experience on custom, Google-authorized hardware - and with the promise of the latest OS updates as they are released. So how does the hardware stack up? We are late into the life of the Pixel by now, and this is more of a long-term review as I have had the smaller version of the phone on hand for some weeks now. As a result I can offer my candid view of the less-covered of the two Pixel handsets (most reviews center around the Pixel XL), and its performance.
There was always a certain cachet to owning a Nexus phone, and you could rest assured that you would be running the latest version of Android before anyone on operator-controlled hardware. The Nexus phones were sold primarily by Google, unlocked, with operator/retail availability at times during their run. Things took a turn when Google opted to offer a carrier-branded version of the Nexus 6 back in November of 2014, along with their usual unlocked Google Play store offering. But this departure was not just an issue of branding, as the price jumped to a full $649; the off-contract cost of premium handsets such as Apple’s iPhone. How could Google hope to compete in a space dominated by Apple and Samsung phones purchased by and large with operator subsidies and installment plans? They did not compete, of course, and the Nexus 6 flopped.
Pixel, coming after the Huawei-manufactured Nexus 6p and LG-manufactured Nexus 5X, drops the “Nexus” branding while continuing the tradition of a reference Android experience - and the more recent tradition of premium pricing. As we have seen in the months since its release, the Pixel did not put much of a dent into the Apple/Samsung dominated handset market. But even during the budget-friendly Nexus era, which offered a compelling mix of day-one Android OS update availability and inexpensive, unlocked hardware (think Nexus 4 at $299 and Nexus 5 at $349), Google's own phones were never mainstream. Still, in keeping with iPhone and Galaxy flagships $649 nets you a Pixel, which also launched through Verizon in an exclusive operator deal. Of course a larger version of the Pixel exists, and I would be remiss if I did not mention the Pixel XL. Unfortunately I would also be remiss if I didn't mention that stock for the XL has been quite low with availability constantly in question.
The Pixel is hard to distinguish from an iPhone 7 from a distance (other than the home button)
|Google Pixel Specifications|
|Display||5.0-inch 1080x1920 AMOLED|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 (MSM8996)|
|CPU Cores||2x 2.15 GHz Kryo
2x 1.60 GHz Kryo
|GPU Cores||Adreno 530|
|Storage||32 / 128 GB|
|Network||Snapdragon X12 LTE|
|Dimensions||143.8 x 69.5 x 8.5 mm, 143 g|
Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 31, 2017 - 03:30 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: snapdragon 835, snapdragon, qualcomm, Lenovo, hp, Gigabit LTE, asus
Back in December of 2016, Qualcomm and Microsoft announced a partnership to bring Windows to platforms based on the Snapdragon platform. Not Windows RT redux, not Windows mobile, not Windows Mini, full blown Windows with 100% application support and compatibility. It was a surprising and gutsy move after the tepid response (at best) to the ARM-based Windows RT launch several years ago. Qualcomm and Microsoft assure us that this time things are different, thanks to a lot of learning and additional features that make the transition seamless for consumers.
The big reveal for this week is the initial list of partners that Qualcomm has brought on board to build Windows 10 system around the Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform. ASUS, HP, and Lenovo will offer machines based around that SoC, though details on form factors, time frames, pricing and anything else you WANT to know about it, is under wraps. These are big time names though, leaders in the PC notebook space, and I think their input to the platform is going to be just as valuable as them selling and marketing it. HP is known for enterprise solutions, Lenovo for mass market share, and ASUS for innovative design and integration.
(If you want to see an Android-based representation of performance on a mobile-based Snapdragon 835 processor, check out our launch preview from March.)
Also on the show floor, Qualcomm begins its marketing campaign aimed to show the value that Snapdragon offers to the Windows ecosystem. Today that is exemplified in a form factor difference comparing the circuit board layout of a Snapdragon 835-based notebook and a “typical” competitor machine.
Up top, Qualcomm is showing us the prototype for the Windows 10 Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform. It has a total area of 50.4 cm2 and just by eyeballing the two images, there is a clear difference in scope. The second image shows only what Qualcomm will call a “competing commercial circuit board” with an area of 98.1 cm2. That is a decrease in PCB space of 48% (advantage Qualcomm) and gives OEMs a lot of flexibility in design that they might not have had otherwise. They can use that space to make machines thinner, lighter, include a larger battery, or simply to innovate outside the scope of what we can imagine today.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | May 17, 2017 - 02:30 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: snapdragon 835, snapdragon, qualcomm, google io 2017, google, daydream
During the Google I/O keynote, Google and Qualcomm announced a partnership to create a reference design for a standalone Daydream VR headset using Snapdragon 835 to enable the ecosystem of partners to have deliverable hardware in consumers’ hands by the end of 2017. The time line is aggressive, impressively so, thanks in large part to the previous work Qualcomm had done with the Snapdragon-based VR reference design we first saw in September 2016. At the time the Qualcomm platform was powered by the Snapdragon 820. Since then, Qualcomm has updated the design to integrate the Snapdragon 835 processor and platform, improving performance and efficiency along the way.
Google has now taken the reference platform and made some modifications to integrate Daydream support and will offer it to partners to show case what a standalone, untethered VR solution can do. Even though Google Daydream has been shipping in the form of slot-in phones with a “dummy” headset, integrating the whole package into a dedicate device offers several advantages.
First, I expected the free standalone units to have better performance than the phones used as a slot-in solution. With the ability to tune the device to higher thermal limits, Qualcomm and Google will be able to ramp up the clocks on the GPU and SoC to get optimal performance. And, because there is more room for a larger battery on the headset design, there should be an advantage in battery life along with the increase in performance.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 VR Reference Device
It is also likely that the device will have better thermal properties than those using high smartphones today. In other words, with more space, there should be more area for cooling and thus the unit shouldn’t be as warm on the consumers face.
I would assume as well that the standalone units will have improved hardware over the smartphone iterations. That means better gyros, cameras, sensors, etc. that could lead to improved capability for the hardware in this form. Better hardware, tighter and more focused integration and better software support should mean lower latency and better VR gaming across the board. Assuming everything is implemented as it should.
The only major change that Google has made to this reference platform is the move away from Qualcomm’s 6DOF technology (6 degrees of freedom, allowing you to move in real space and have all necessary tracking done on the headset itself) and to Google calls WorldSense. Based on the Google Project Tango technology, this is the one area I have questions about going forward. I have used three different Tango enabled devices thus far with long-term personal testing and can say that while the possibilities for it were astounding, the implementations had been…slow. For VR that 100% cannot be the case. I don’t yet know how different its integration is from what Qualcomm had done previously, but hopefully Google will leverage the work Qualcomm has already done with its platform.
Google is claiming that consumers will have hardware based on this reference design in 2017 but no pricing has been shared with me yet. I wouldn’t expect it to be inexpensive though – we are talking about all the hardware that goes into a flagship smartphone plus a little extra for the VR goodness. We’ll see how aggressive Google wants its partners to be and if it is willing to absorb any of the upfront costs with subsidy.
Let me know if this is the direction you hope to see VR move – away from tethered PC-based solutions and into the world of standalone units.
Subject: Editorial | May 11, 2017 - 12:15 PM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: video, zalman, Z270-A, snapdragon, ryzen, qualcomm, NVIDIA Tesla, fractal design, corsair, asus, aptX, Alphacool, podcast
PC Perspective Podcast #449 - 05/11/17
Join us for NVIDIA Announcements, Dell Predictions, Reviews on watercooling components and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Morry Teitelman, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison
Week in Review:
0:44:51 NVIDIA Announces Q1 2018 Results
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Allyn: Statuscore CPU load / test (also works on Ryzen)
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.