Subject: Mobile | April 9, 2019 - 12:30 PM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: snapdragon 730G, snapdragon 730, snapdragon 655, snapdragon, qualcomm, mobile cpu
Alongside its new dedicated AI initiatives, Qualcomm today has announced an update to its mid-range mobile platforms. Representing a step down from its flagship 800-series parts, the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 665, 730, and 730G platforms aim to offer improved gaming, AI processing, photo and video imaging, and networking.
Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2018 - 05:31 AM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: Zen 2, Sunny Cove, snapdragon, ryzen 3, ray tracing, radeon pro, podcast, Optane, Intel, edge, chromium, amd, 3dmark
PC Perspective Podcast #525 - 12/12/2018
Our podcast this week features discusion of the new Intel Sunny Cove architecture, Ryzen 3 rumors, the high-end Snapdragon 8cx, an affordable Radeon Pro GPU, and more!
Subscribe to the PC Perspective Podcast
Check out previous podcast episodes: http://pcper.com/podcast
00:03:21 - AMD Radeon Pro WX8200 Review
00:14:50 - Intel Architecture Day: Sunny Cove, Gen11 iGPU, Foveros
00:27:16 - Ryzen 3 Rumors
00:38:57 - Using a 4K TV as a Monitor
00:43:21 - Snapdragon 8cx
00:57:29 - Microsoft Edge Switching to Chromium
01:03:38 - MSI GTX 1060 with GDDR5X
01:05:40 - 3DMark Port Royal Ray Tracing Benchmark
01:09:03 - Hunting Speculative Execution Vulnerabilities
01:11:38 - 7nm Vega Logo
01:13:49 - Intel Optane DIMM Latency
01:30:45 - The Outer Worlds
Subject: Mobile | December 6, 2018 - 08:38 PM | Ken Addison
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 8cx will sport the same X24 modem we saw announced alongside the Snapdragon 855 yesterday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2018 - 12:10 PM | Sebastian Peak
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.
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.
“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.
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.”
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”.
Subject: Mobile | August 10, 2018 - 09:08 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
Always On, Always Connected
At Computex this week, Qualcomm unveiled its second generation of processor platform for Windows PCs, the Snapdragon 850 Mobile Compute Platform. Along with the new branding that attempts to separate the solutions provided for mobile phones from PCs, the chip gets some interesting and necessary upgrades from the currently shipping Snapdragon 835.
Qualcomm has been building and defining the segment and role of the Always On, Always Connected PC since it first started talking up its move into Windows 10 territory in 2017. The company still believes that longer battery life, an always connected device that is instant on, and a fast and constant wireless LTE connection are ingredients for a solution that consumers want and that is not being addressed by Intel or AMD today. I tend to agree with them, though it is a fair belief that the first generation devices still lack in the performance department; enough to warrant some negative reviews from media.
In favor of Qualcomm’s direction, the PC users demand for cellular data connections and extremely high battery life appear to be growing. As Intel struggles with its processor and process technology development, Qualcomm is able to iterate and improve on its performance and efficiency with its partners Arm and TSMC helping along the way. Qualcomm’s own research shows that awareness and “willingness to pay” for these features has increased year-on-year.
Technically, the Snapdragon 850 uses the same core IP as SD 845 SoC for smartphones. That includes the Kryo 385 CPU, Adreno 630 GPU, Spectra 280 ISP, Hexagon 685 DSP/vector processor (a new naming shift), and the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem. The difference in naming is mostly to separate the chip options for mobile PCs from mobile phones and tablets, though there are modest performance changes because of higher clock speeds on the Kryo CPU. (2.8 GHz on the SD 845, 2.95 GHz on the SD 850.)
Compared to the currently shipping Snapdragon 835, the new 850 will offer 30% better performance, 20% better battery life, and even 20% faster peak Gigabit LTE speeds, up to 1.2 Gbps. Both the CPU and GPU integrations definitely faster with the SD 850 compared to the older 835, each seeing architectural changes as well as clock speed increases. That 30% performance increase estimate is evenly weighted across the two primary processing blocks, 30% each.
Efficiency is also improved on each sub-core, giving Qualcomm the ability to lower idle and active power draw, increasing the battery life estimates of the total platform. Considering this is one of the areas where Qualcomm already had a lead over the best Intel options on the market, this is noteworthy, and something that likely concerns Intel.
Subject: Mobile | May 9, 2018 - 02:21 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: snapdragon, sd636, sd 845, sd 660, qualcomm, android p
It's no secret that one of the easiest to point out critiques of Android is the lack of major software updates for the majority of handsets. While this has gotten slightly better over the years, new Android releases still take a substantial amount of time to roll out to existing phones, if they do at all.
However, with Android 8.0 (Oreo), Google began to address some of the core technical issues preventing phone manufacturers from quickly releasing software updates through an initiative they call Project Treble.
Essentially, Project Treble decouples the Android Operating System from the proprietary software bits such as drivers needed to provide support for a given SoC. Instead, Android 8.0 and up moves the SoC support to a separate software layer, which a vendor like Qualcomm can universally implement for their SoCs and pass to a handset maker, instead of needing to be implemented into software updates for each specific model of phone.
Qualcomm announced earlier this week that they have been working with Google ahead of the Android P developer preview release to "pre-integrate" support for the next version of the operating system with Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered devices, specifically devices with Snapdragon 845, 660 and 636.
We are already starting to see some of this work pay off, with an expanded list of devices that are already compatible with the Android P developer preview, as compared to previous Android betas.
In addition to the standard Google development devices, the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL, other various other phone makers are rolling out options to enroll in the Android P developer preview program, including:
- Essential Phone (Snapdragon 835)
- Nokia 7 Plus (Snapdragon 660)
- Oppo R15 Pro (Snapdragon 660)
- Sony Xperia XZ2 (Snapdragon 845)
- Vivo X21 & X21UD (Snapdragon 660)
- Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S (Snapdragon 845)
Despite Qualcomm's work with Google on Android P "pre-integration", the ball remains in the court of OEMs like Samsung, and carriers to push these updates through to consumers.
Not Just a Better Camera
Samsung’s updated Galaxy phones are available now, and while the external designs - while beautiful - look the same as last year, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ feature faster internals and an improved camera system. Is it worth an upgrade over the Galaxy S8? How does this new flagship from Samsung compare to Apple’s more expensive iPhone X? Read on to find out!
During the Galaxy S9 at Samsung’s “Unpacked” event unveiling the new phones, much was made about the GS9’s camera - and particularly its video recording capability, which features an ultra slow-motion mode. While camera is a vital part of the experience, and can make or break a handset for many people, it is the application processor that constitutes a bigger upgrade from last year’s Galaxy S8 phones.
In the USA, Samsung is using Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845, while many of the international versions of the phone use Samsung’s own Exynos SoC. We took an early look at performance with the Snapdragon 845 during Qualcomm’s recent media day, and now with shipping hardware and far more time for benchmarking we can really put this new mobile platform to the test. You can take or leave synthetic benchmark results, of course; I can offer my own subjective impressions of overall responsiveness, which is as much a test of software optimization as hardware.
|Samsung Galaxy S9+ Specifications (US Version)|
|Display||6.2-inch 1440x2960 AMOLED|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (SDM845)|
|CPU Cores||8x Kryo 385 up to 2.8 GHz|
|GPU Cores||Adreno 630|
|RAM||6 GB LPDDR4X|
|Storage||64 / 128 / 256 GB|
|Network||Snapdragon X20 LTE|
Bluetooth 5.0; A2DP, aptX
USB 3.1 (Type-C)
|Battery||3500 mAh Li-Ion|
|Dimensions||158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm, 189 g|
Samsung has opted to bring back the same industrial design introduced with last year’s Galaxy S8/S8+, but this was already a class-leading design so that is not a bad thing.
Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2018 - 04:46 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: snapdragon 700, snapdragon, qualcomm
During the Qualcomm keynote at Mobile World Congress today, company President Cristiano Amon announced the Snapdragon 700 family of mobile processors targeted at a tier, expectedly, between the flagship 800-series and the mid-range 600-series.
Qualcomm was more than a little light on specifics of this new chipset, what technology it is going to differentiate with as it squeezes in the middle of the two opposing chip families, and what performance levels we should expect. What we do know is that Qualcomm wants to bridge the gap between the 600 and 800 SoC with additional “features and performance” for the 700-series. Qualcomm tells us that we should expect advances over the 600-series to include “on-device AI supported by the Qualcomm Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engine, and improvements to camera, device performance and power, supported by the heterogeneous compute power of premium features including the Qualcomm Spectra ISP, Qualcomm Kryo CPU, Qualcomm Hexagon Vector Processor and Qualcomm Adreno Visual Processing subsystem.”
Well, that…kind of covers most everything that makes up the feature set of the Snapdragon 845. What we are going to be looking for now as more information is revealed is what degree the advancements in those areas reach when compared to the already announced Snapdragon 600 parts.
Qualcomm does confirm in its press release that the 700-series of mobile platforms will utilize a Kryo CPU design, as opposed to a completely off-the-shelf Arm Cortex processor. In fact, Qualcomm states that it “will debut new architectures across the mobile platform, including Qualcomm Spectra ISP, Kryo CPU and Adreno Visual Processing subsystem,” leading me to believe we will see some slightly cut back, slightly slower version of what already exists in the Snapdragon 845 today.
This division makes sense if we assume Qualcomm is going to move this direction rather than having a significant gap in Snapdragon 600-series parts, as it it has done previously. The current lineup in the 600-family has a model that uses Kryo and another that uses standard Arm cores. Rebranding that higher end 600-series part as the 700-family makes it more relatable to the technology changes inside.
No specifics on the LTE modem that is integrated were given.
The primary target for this new chipset family is the Chinese smartphone market, where they demand flagship-level features but have less of an appetite to absorb flagship-level pricing. Qualcomm is probably going to use the 700-series to nearly match the performance and capabilities of the 800-series in those regions, choosing to earn additional market share (and revenue) over pushing for raw profits with customers that might choose to ignore the 800-series due to pricing.
Sampling of the Snapdragon 700 Series Mobile Platform will start sometime in the first half of this year, and hopefully we will learn more on the specifications of these products before summer.
Subject: Mobile | February 21, 2018 - 11:10 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: snapdragon, qualcomm, microsoft, always connected pc
With availability scheduled to begin next month, Qualcomm is prepping for its final push to prepare the market for what it believes is a revolutionary product category for the PC market. Just before the mobile media and analysts focus attention on Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week, Qualcomm hopes it has completed the final step in the launch of its “Windows 10 on Snapdragon” line. Partners like Amazon, the Microsoft Stores, Verizon, and AT&T will provide the cellular LTE connections to maintain an always-connected state and the retail and online locations to purchase them.
By combining Windows 10 and the company’s Snapdragon mobile platform with efficiency and connectivity advantages other PC chip vendors can’t match, Qualcomm is hoping that its creation of this new sub-category of PC that focuses on being always connected through a smartphone-like cellular connection will pay dividends. Compared to Intel processors that target similar form factors of notebook PCs including 2-in-1s and detachable tablets, the Qualcomm chips differentiate by including the capability for LTE connectivity on every design, without having to pay an upgrade cost.
The ability for a Qualcomm-powered Windows 10 PC to have an “instant on” button to turn on the screen without a boot or wake-from-sleep process, again in the same way your smartphone works today, is another touted feature. Battery life is the other tent pole, with Qualcomm often citing disingenuous battery life estimates on Intel-powered systems but “beyond all day” battery life for its own.
Getting these Qualcomm-chip Windows notebooks into the market might seem like a trivial task but inserting a new totally new product category into retail and e-tail takes careful management. Qualcomm will have to educate consumers on how its platform is different and what advantages it can offer over other laptops. Retailers will have to undertake most of that education process, as the customer will need guidance to avoid costly returns and support calls.
The added complexity of a cellular connection will mean that some kind of registration process will have to occur before the PC is truly “always connected.” It will need to be added to a data plan on an existing carrier agreement (think adding a new phone to your cell account) or through a pre-paid arrangement.
A touchier subject surrounds the retail channel and how PCs are sold in today’s market. Despite the years of legal disputes and resolutions, most in the industry still view Intel as wielding incredible power in the retail and online e-tail sales channels. Through practices like rebates, education programs, and sales clerk discounts, it can be hard for a new player to battle the incumbent without a similar amount of marketing muscle and dollars behind them. Even AMD, with years of practice selling its own processors and systems, struggles at time to get the attention and retail shelf space its products deserve.
In the US market, Microsoft will be taking the helm at the retail channel, stocking and selling the three first Qualcomm Snapdragon Windows 10 PCs from HP, Lenovo, and ASUS. Though the quantity of Microsoft stores is limited, placement here is a big win for Qualcomm and its partners. The Microsoft Stores are generally considered the presentation point for the flagship Windows devices, indicating that Microsoft itself puts a lot of weight behind the category that Qualcomm is creating.
For the online markets, Amazon will be the primary location in the US for sales. In talks with Qualcomm executives, it appears that the online giant will be handling a lot of that education and cellular activation. While I am certain that Qualcomm would love to have had a nationwide brick-and-mortar retailer like Best Buy in the mix, the Minneapolis-based company did not buy in.
Qualcomm has other retailers lined up across the globe, including in Australia, Italy, France, and the UK. China will have sales through JD.com, one of the largest online retailers in the world with more than 266M active users. Qualcomm still has many regions to address with availability and wider distribution as the second wave of PCs comes to market in the holiday of 2018, but it believes it has a solid start under its belt.
Graphic Source: TechSpot
Operator support is just as crucial for Qualcomm’s new PC category as retail availability. If a consumer buys a device but isn’t offered service from a mobile telecommunications provider along with it, much of the appeal of the device is lost. Carriers in the UK, Italy, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, and US (including all four major players Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile), will begin offering plans for the Windows 10 on Snapdragon PCs. Details of what the specific costs will be aren’t being shared and will vary for each carrier.
Affordability of these plans will be critical to the mass market success of the Always Connected PC. Consumers will not pay exorbitant amounts of money to add a device to their existing cell phone plan but providers may be hesitant to offer discounts for a platform that inherently will have potential for greater data consumption. Users on smartphones often get lower resolution video or web pages because of the smaller screen size. But these full capability PCs will likely stream full resolution content and could create additional strain on the networks.