ASUS ROG Strix performs Hero-ics

Subject: Mobile | October 15, 2018 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: asus, ROG Strix, ASUS ROG Strix Hero II, GL504GM, gaming laptop

ASUS released the updated ROG Strix Hero II, which Kitguru grabbed for review.  The 15.6" laptop is powered by an Intel i7-8750H and GTX 1060, with 16GB DDR4-2666 and a 256GB PCIe SSD paired with a 1TB hybrid drive.  The screen is 1080p IPS, with a top refresh rate of 144Hz sadly lacking in either Freesync or GSYNC.  The gaming performance was as expected, but Kitguru did find a couple of things they wish ASUS would improve, which you can find out about in the full review.

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"That brings us to today where we finally have our hands on the Strix Hero II GL504GM. In this review we put it through its paces to find out if this is a must have laptop for gamers on the go and whether it is worth the £1800 asking price."

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Source: Kitguru

Dell announces Alienware m15 thin-and-light gaming notebook

Subject: Mobile | October 4, 2018 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, m15, Intel, gtx 1070 max-q, gtx 1060, dell, alienware

Dell today unveiled their latest gaming notebook, the Alienware m15. Weighing in at just under 5 lbs, the Alienware m15 is Dell's smallest 15-in gaming notebook ever.

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Buyers have the choice of either the quad-core Intel Core i5-8500H or the six-core i7-8750H. On the graphics side, the Alienware m15 will be offered with an "overclocked" GTX 1060, as well as with the GTX 1070 Max-Q.

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Display options on the Alienware m15 include two 1080p options, a 60Hz TN and a 144Hz IPS, as well as a 4K 60Hz IPS panel. Despite the availability for a high-refresh display, none of these displays seem to support G-SYNC variable refresh technology. 

Considering the relatively small size for a gaming notebook, the Alienware m15 still features an impressive array of ports including Ethernet, 3 USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a Thunderbolt 3 port, HDMI 2.0 as well as Mini DisplayPort 1.3.

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The Alienware m15 continues support for the Alienware Graphics Amplifier, which utilizes a proprietary PCI-Express cable to connect external graphics to a given notebook. While the m15 also features a Thunderbolt 3 port, it remains unclear if Thunderbolt 3 graphics will also be supported.

The Alienware m15 will become available on October 25th, at a starting price of $1,299.99.

Source: Dell

Walks like a laptop but folds in your hand, Y O G A

Subject: Mobile | September 28, 2018 - 03:25 PM |
Tagged: yoga, thinkpad x1, lenovo thinkpad x1 yoga, Lenovo

Lenovo's new ThinkPad X1 offers a unique choice, you can get a silver model if for some reason you wish to commit such a heretical action.  The connectivity options include two Thunderbolt 3 and two USB-C 3 ports, along with a mini-LAN port if you can't go wireless at some point, which should be quite infrequently as you can install a SIM card in these Yogas.  The IPS screen is HDR, though not OLED and The Register was quite taken with it.  Check out their full review as well as the rather important note at the very end right here.

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"The Yoga form factor has been one of Lenovo’s biggest successes, and in 2013 the company slapped a business suit on it and brought the it into the Thinkpad fold. Three years later it added the X1 branding, and a premium OLED display."

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Source: The Inquirer

Facebook announces Oculus Quest All-in-One VR System

Subject: Mobile | September 26, 2018 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: VR, rift, oculus quest, oculus go, Oculus, htc vive, facebook, 6 dof

Today, at their Oculus Connect 5 developer conference, Facebook announced the Oculus Quest standalone VR headset.

 

Oculus Quest (previously codenamed Santa Cruz) is similar to the Oculus Go launched last year in that it's an entirely self-contained solution, with no need for an external device like a PC or phone. 

Oculus Quest builds on what the Go offers in several significant ways. Quest provides 6 Degree of Freedom (DoF) movement and room scale tracking, compared to the 3-DoF system on the Go. This means that you will now be able to walk around a room, instead of just moving your head. For reference, both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (via external trackers), and the Lenovo Mirage Google Daydream headset offer 6-DoF movement functionality.

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Additionally, Oculus Quest will ship with a full set of touch controllers, similar to the Oculus Rift, where Go only ships with a single controller that is more akin to a remote than a full game controller.

Compared to the Oculus Go's 1280 x 1440 per eye, the Oculus Quest also offers a much higher resolution of 1600x1440 resolution per eye.

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Oculus Quest will sit alongside the Oculus Rift and Oculus Go, offering VR experiences at several different price points. Facebook has said the addition of this third device completes their roadmap, and that app compatibility will be retained for future products in each of these segmentations (e.g., Oculus Go apps will run on Oculus Go 2).

Facebook has said the Oculus Quest will offer "Rift-like" experiences, touting Quest versions of Robo Recall, The Climb, and Moss. However, we aren't exactly sure what hardware is powering the Oculus Quest to accomplish this. However, due to the form factor, we expect it to be similar to the Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Oculus Go, especially given the limited 64GB on-board storage.

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Oculus Quest is set to ship in Spring 2019, for a price of $399 (including the touch controllers). 

Stay tuned for more details from Oculus Connect 5!

Source: Oculus

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

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

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

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

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

XS_Screen.png

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

A12_Screen.png

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

XS_Bokeh.png

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

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

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

XR_Screen.png

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

iPhone_Lineup.PNG

Pricing for the new lineup is as follows:

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

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

Source: Apple

Huawei Kirin Cheating Extends to Geekbench, P20 Pro Tested

Subject: Processors, Mobile | September 9, 2018 - 04:50 PM |
Tagged: p20 pro, Kirin 970, Kirin, Huawei

This story first appeared on ShroutResearch.com.

Last week the gang at Anandtech posted a story discovering systematic cheating by Huawei in smartphone benchmarks. In its story, AT focused on 3DMark and GFXBench, looking at how the Chinese-based silicon and phone provider was artificially increasing benchmark scores to gain an advantage in its battles with other smartphone providers and SoC vendors like Qualcomm.

As a result of that testing, UL Benchmarks (who acquired Futuremark) delisted several Huawei smartphones from 3DMark, taking the artificial scores down from the leaderboards. This puts the existing device reviews in question while also pulling a cloud over the recently announced (and impressive sounding) Kirin 980 SoC meant to battle with the Snapdragon 845 and next-gen Qualcomm product. The Kirin 980 will be the first shipping processor to integrate high performance Arm Cortex-A76 cores, so the need to cheat on performance claims is questionable.

Just a day after this story broke, UL and Huawei released a joint statement that is, quite honestly, laughable.

"In the discussion, Huawei explained that its smartphones use an artificial intelligent resource scheduling mechanism. Because different scenarios have different resource needs, the latest Huawei handsets leverage innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence to optimize resource allocation in a way so that the hardware can demonstrate its capabilities to the fullest extent, while fulfilling user demands across all scenarios.

To somehow assert that any kind of AI processing is happening on Huawei devices that is responsible for the performance differences that Anandtech measured is at best naïve and at worst straight out lying. This criticism is aimed at both Huawei and UL Benchmarks – I would assume that a company with as much experience in performance evaluation would not succumb to this kind of messaging.

After that AT story was posted, I started talking with the team that builds Geekbench, one of the most widely used and respected benchmarks for processors on mobile devices and PCs. It provides a valuable resource of comparative performance and leaderboards. As it turns out, Huawei devices are exhibiting the same cheating behavior in this benchmark.

Below I have compiled results from Geekbench that were run by developer John Poole on a Huawei P20 Pro device powered by the Kirin 970 SoC. (Private app results, public app results.) To be clear: the public version is the application package as downloaded from the Google Play Store while the private version is a custom build he created to test against this behavior. It uses absolutely identical workloads and only renames the package and does basic string replacement in the application.

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gb-multi.png

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Clearly the Huawei P20 Pro is increasing performance on the public version of the Geekbench test and not on the private version, despite using identical workloads on both. In the single threaded tests, the total score is 6.5% lower with the largest outlier being in the memory performance sub-score, where the true result is 14.3% slower than the inaccurate public version result. Raw integer performance drops by 3.7% and floating-point performance falls by 5.6%.

The multi-threaded score differences are much more substantial. Floating point performance drops by 26% in the private version of Geekbench, taking a significant hit that would no doubt affect its placement in the leaderboards and reviews of flagship Android smartphones.

Overall, the performance of the Huawei P20 Pro is 6.5% slower in single threaded testing and 16.7% slower in multi-threaded testing when the artificial score inflation in place within the Huawei customized OS is removed. Despite claims to the contrary, and that somehow an AI system is being used to recognize specific user scenarios and improve performance, this is another data point to prove that Huawei was hoping to pull one over on the media and consumers with invalid performance comparisons.

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Some have asked me why this issue matters; if the hardware is clearly capable of performance like this, why should Huawei and HiSilicon not be able to present it that way? The higher performance results that 3DMark, GFXBench, and now Geekbench show are not indicative of the performance consumers get with their devices on real applications. The entire goal of benchmarks and reviews is to try to convey the experience a buyer would get for a smartphone, or anything else for that matter.

If Huawei wanted one of its devices to offer this level of performance in games and other applications, it could do so, but at the expense of other traits. Skin temperature, battery life, and device lifespan could all be impacted – something that would definitely affect the reviews and reception of a smartphone. Hence, the practice of cheating in an attempt to have the best of both.

The sad part about all of this is that Huawei’s flagship smartphones have been exceptional in nearly every way. Design, screen quality, camera integration, features; the Mate and P-series devices have been excellent representations of what an Android device can be. Unfortunately, for enthusiasts that follow the market, this situation will follow the company and cloud some of those positives.

Today’s data shows that the story of Huawei and benchmarks goes beyond just 3DMark and GFXBench. We will be watching this closely to see how Huawei responds and if any kinds of updates to existing hardware are distributed. And, as the release of Kirin 980 devices nears, you can be sure that testing and evaluation of these will get a more scrutinizing eye than ever.

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

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

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

KIRIN_980.PNG

Image credit: The Verge

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

K980.png

Image credit: AnandTech

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

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

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Image credit: AnandTech

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

mali_g76.jpg

Image credit: AnandTech

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

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

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

The full press release is available after the break.

Source: AnandTech

MSI Announces New Premium Notebook Designed for Content Creators - the P65

Subject: Mobile | August 31, 2018 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: P65, msi, coffee lake h

If you spend more time being productive on your laptop than gaming, but still want to be able to spend a few hours playing then check out MSI's new P65 laptop.  It is available in both silver and white, with both featuring an IPS panel with 100% Adobe RGB support to ensure the colours you see while designing will match when printed out.

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The laptop is build for use on the road, weight 4.14" and 0.69 inches thick with an 82Whr battery MSI states will last for up to nine hours of regular use.  The limited White Edition comes with Thunderbolt 3 and a GTX 1070 while the Silver offers USB 3.1 Gen 1 and either a GTX 1060 or 1050Ti so make sure to take a look quickly if you are on an upgrade path. 

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Berlin, Germany – August 31, 2018 – MSI, a world leader in high performance computing hardware, today announces its new notebook designed specifically for content creators and professionals, the P65. The P65 is a powerful system with a stylish design featuring high-end specs, beautiful thin-bezel display and long-lasting battery life. MSI will have the P65 on display at IFA 2018 at Booth number 107.

The P65 provides everything a content creator or business professional needs to work quickly and efficiently. Creators are constantly on the move and need to have desktop-grade power in a form factor they can easily carry around. With a potent processor and dedicated graphics, the P65 gives users more than enough power to edit raw HD or 4K video, create motion graphics and fly through complicated spreadsheets on the go. The P65 also features a full suite of ports including an SD card reader, USB Type-C, USB Type-A, HDMI, micro-DisplayPort and an ethernet jack. The P65 will be available this September.

The P65 was made to arm creators with the best creative tools. The 15-inch screen features MSI’s exclusive True Color 2.0 technology. Each panel is examined thoroughly and undergoes an extensive factory calibration process, so each color is displayed with absolute precision. This results in a near perfect color presentation, with close to 100 percent coverage of the sRGB color spectrum. The IPS-level, 4.9mm thin-bezel panel is ideal for those who need extreme color accuracy when editing photos or videos.

While the elegant new silver chassis separates the P65 from MSI’s traditional design, the high-performance specifications keep the P65 in close comparison with MSI’s top-of-the-line gaming offerings. The P65 features Intel’s latest 8th Generation Core i7 processor and up to a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU. These specifications allow for faster rendering times and better multitasking. The P65 has up to almost three times more graphical performance than leading competitor in this category. The P65 uses MSI’s Cooler Boost Trinity, the same system found in its gaming laptops, to keep the notebook cool even during intense workloads.

“For a long time, MSI has just been recognized as a leader in PC gaming hardware,” said Sam Chern, MSI Assistant Vice President of Global Marketing. “With the P65, we’re investing deeply in professionals and content creators, bringing them high performance for all of their everyday tasks. We have taken the lessons we’ve learned from our years of experience in making gaming hardware and used it to create a beautiful, professional notebook that is more powerful than any laptop in its class.”

The P65 features top-of-the-line specifications while maintaining a slim, portable form factor. With its ultra-light aluminum chassis, the P65 weighs just 4.14 pounds and measures 0.69 inches thick. However, the slim design does not sacrifice battery life. The P65 has an 82Whr battery for up to nine hours of regular use. In addition to the productivity features, the P65 uses a Windows Hello Certified fingerprint sensor for a high-privacy business security solution and supports Microsoft’s Cortana voice-enabled digital assistant.

At launch, the P65 will be available in both silver and a gorgeous limited-edition white. The White Limited Edition shares many of the same specifications as the Silver Edition, but comes with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU, Hi-Res Audio and Thunderbolt 3. At launch, the Silver Edition will be available with either a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q or GTX 1050 Ti. The White Limited Edition also comes in a beautiful wooden box and includes an extended one-year warranty and protective laptop sleeve.

Source: MSI

IFA 2018: Dell Announces Updated XPS 13 2-in-1, Cheaper XPS 13 Configuration

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 29, 2018 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: xps 13 2-in-1, XPS 13, ifa 2018, i7-8500Y, i5-8200Y, dell, core m, amber lake

Hot on the heels of Intel's announcement of new Amber Lake-Y ultra-low voltage processors, Dell today announced an updated version of their XPS 13 2-in-1 device. 

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Image_2.png

With a choice of either the Core i5-8200Y or Core i7-8500Y, the chassis design of the XPS 13 2-in-1 remains largely unchanged from when it's introduction in 2017. However, users should look forward to the increased performance and battery life from the new 8th generation Intel processors.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 will start shipping September 11th, starting at $999.99.

Dell also launched a slightly more inexpensive option for users looking at their standard XPS 13 notebook for users looking who aren't as performance conscious.

XPS 13 silver_2.jpg

Featuring a dual-core Intel Core i3-8130U, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB SATA SSD, and a 1080P display, this new XPS 13 configuration is now available for $899 from the Dell site and other retailers.

Finally, Dell announced that their popular Developer Edition XPS 13 is now shipping with the latest release of Ubuntu (18.04). As always, these Developer Editions come preconfigured with Ubuntu and all the necessary drivers out of the box and are less expensive than their Windows-toting counterparts.

Source: Dell

IFA 2018: Intel Announces New 8th Generation Mobile Processors

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

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

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Whiskey Lake-U

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

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

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

Amber Lake-Y

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Intel

HP's Ryzen powered Envy x360

Subject: Mobile | August 28, 2018 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: Envy x360, Ryzen 5 2500U, hp

The Envy x360 13 which TechSpot got in for review costs a mere $700 and comes with a Ryzen 5 2500U, 8GB of RAM and 256GB with a 13.3" 1080p IPS touchscreen as well as a pen which is compatible with Windows 10 input and offers 1024 levels of pressure.  For the creative types a higher end pen can be purchased with significantly more sensitivity.  The body is all metal, with 15mm bezels and a 360 degree hinge for use as a tablet.  Check out how it performs in their full review.

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"Today we're finally looking at another Ryzen Mobile laptop, the second ever system we've had proper hands on time with. Despite a few difficulties finding these systems on the market, HP has pulled through with their brand new Envy x360 13-inch, and this - spoiler alert - is a fantastic system."

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Source: TechSpot

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.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 670.png

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

Razer shaves a little off the sides on their new gaming laptop

Subject: Mobile | August 9, 2018 - 12:59 PM |
Tagged: gaming laptop, razer blade

The most noticeable change on this years version of the Razer Blade is the bezel on the 15.6" IPS display, which is looking rather svelte.  The display is powered by a GTX 1070 Max-Q and is available in several varieties, a 1080p model with a 144Hz refresh rate or a 4K 60Hz option along with a less expensive 1080p 60Hz if that fits your budget better.   The remainder of the internals of the model which TechSpot reviewed were a Core i7-8750H, 16GB of DDR4-2666 and a 512GB Samsung PM981 NVMe SSD.  What do you get for your $2400? 

Check it out here.

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"One of the most popular gaming laptops on the market continues to be the Razer Blade. New for 2018, Razer has refined the design and improved the internal hardware to make it even better than before. With the 2018 Blade, Razer is fully on board with the thin bezel revolution."

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Source: TechSpot

Yes Virginia, there is a Nokia ... and there is a new phone

Subject: Mobile | July 16, 2018 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: nokia 6.1, nokia, HMD, android 8.1

Ah Nokia, what a strange life you have lived.  You went from being the eminent cellphone company, to a cell company that didn't actually make any phones, to being purchased and decimated by Microsoft to being taken over by a Finnish company called HMD Global.  Ars Technica delves into the story behind how all this happened, as well as reviewing the actual phone in this article.  The Nokia 6.1 will cost you ~$270 all told and it's 1080p 5.5" screen is powered by the popular Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of local storage.  There is a microSD slot to expand this and not only is there a Type-C USB port it also has a headphone jack which leaves that USB port open for use.  

Also worth noting is that it runs vanilla Android 8.1, no fancy skins or weird enhancements!

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"Enter HMD's Nokia phones, an entire lineup of cheap smartphones ranging from $100 to $400. HMD recently launched the second generation of its lineup, with phones like the Nokia 2.1, 3.1, and 5.1. We recently spent time with the highest end phone in this series that happens to be one of the few HMD devices for sale in the US: the Nokia 6.1."

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Source: Ars Technica

A shiny new tablet from Acer, the Chromebook Tab 10

Subject: Mobile | June 29, 2018 - 06:34 PM |
Tagged: Chromebook, acer, tablet, chrome os, Tab 10

Featuring a 9.7" 2048×1536 IPS touchscreen powered by a Mali T860, an OP1 which is a dual-core Cortex A72 and quad-core Cortex A53 with 4GB LPDDR3 and 34GB of local storage the $330 Acer Tab 10 sounds quite interesting.  The performance of the OP1 chip falls behind the pack, falling behind even the Tab S3 however this extends the battery life, Ars Technica saw it last 651 minutes in their WiFi test.   Along with the tablet you get a Wacom stylus, which is effective for note taking and simple sketches, though the tablet does not offer real time writing to text which could be a turn off.  Also worth mentioning is the USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 port that charges the tablet but can also be used for data transfer or connecting to an external monitor.

It might not be great for architects and artists but for a student this might be a great low cost mobile tool.

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"Chrome OS took over schools with clamshells, but now Google is shaking things up with slabs. After a spring announcement, Acer has built the first Chrome OS tablet, the $329 Chromebook Tab 10, to give teachers and students a more flexible device to use for schoolwork both in and out of the classroom."

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Source: Ars Technica

MSI slips on a suit, the WS63 8SJ mobile workstation

Subject: Mobile | June 8, 2018 - 02:41 PM |
Tagged: WS63 8SJ, mobile workstation, msi

Inside the svelte 4.2lb, 0.7" thick chassis of the W63 8SJ laptop is an i7-8750H with 32GB of DDR4-2400, a 512-GB Samsung PM981 NVMe SSD and most importantly an NVIDIA Quadro P2000 GPU.  The 15.6" IPS screen is 1080p and the bottom of the laptop is, well, coated in microfleece.  The performance of the laptop was decent but doesn't hold up to thicket workstation class laptops which are able to fit more RAM and cooling in.  The Tech Report were also less than satisfied with the Thunderbolt 3 implementation on the W63, which you can read more about here.

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"I took a walk on the wild side and picked up a mobile workstation not made by HP, Dell, or Lenovo with MSI's W63 8SJ. Will my impatience lead to regret, or have I discovered a new notebook contender for my on-the-go CAD users?"

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This is your Yoga on tiger blood; Intel's dual display demo duo

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 7, 2018 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: Tiger Rapids, Intel, kaby lake

Recently seen in the Lenovo Yoga devices, mobile devices with dual screens are attracting attention but so far the implementation has not been without troubles.  Intel showed off two prototype machines at Computex that they believe will offer what this segment of customers is looking for.  The Tiger Rapids machine has a conventional touchscreen on one side and some sort of electronic paper display on the other, which has a bit of give to it so that using a stylus on it gives you some tactile feedback.  It is powered by a Kaby Lake processor of some description, with an SSD and the unfortunately common lone USB Type-C port on it.  At 4.7mm thin it is a fairly impressive design. 

Their second does not bear a code name but resembles the Yoga as it has two traditional touchscreens with one generally displaying a keyboard.   We don't know much about them, but you can take a peek at them over at The Inquirer.

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"The first machine codenamed Tiger Rapids - this is Intel after all - mixes one touchscreen panel with an electronic paper display designed specifically for note taking and stylus scribbling, even coming with a slight give to simulate writing on paper."

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Source: The Inquirer

ASUS reveals the new ZenBook Pro 15 UX580 at Computex

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2018 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: xenbook, UX580, thunderbolt 3, pantone, asus

ASUS revealed their new Xenbook, with its new ScreenPad and NanoEdge bezels, which give this laptop an 83% screen-to-body ratio.  You will be able to get a variety of models, including a 4k alternative for those who can't stand 1080p anymore. 

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Inside you will find a processor of up to an i9-8950HK, 16GB of DDR4-2400, a GTX 1050 Ti and a 1TB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD.  The 15.6" screen is PANTONE vaildated with guaranteed Delta-E colour difference of less than 2.0 for the 4K display model and less than 3.0 for the 1080p, as well as 100% Adobe RGB and 132% sRGB coverage. 

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The ScreenPad is a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display, replacing a standard touchpad with support for up to to four finger gestures.  As it is more capable than the run of the mill touchpad, ASUS included a configureable menu at the top of the ScreenPad, which can perform a variety of tricks.  If you are using a compatible Microsoft Office product the menu will offer you various ribbon commands, or you can control your YouTube and Spotify sessions.  If you prefer you can also use it as a secondary monitor or use the ASUS Sync app to display and control your smartphone.

This adds up to a powerful little machine, with a reported MSRP of $2300.   Now have some PR ...

Source: ASUS

Computex 2018: ASUS Unleashes ROG Phone for Serious Mobile Gamers

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 5, 2018 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: asus, ASUS ROG, gaming, mobile gaming, game streaming, Gigabit LTE, computex 2018, computex

In addition to the usual Republic of Gamers branded gear, ASUS unveiled the new ROG Phone at Computex which is a high-end Android device aimed at gamers that extends the ROG brand to mobile devices. The new ROG Phone packs a ton of hardware into a six-inch smartphone that can double as a portable gaming machine and is complete with the requisite aggressive ROG aesthetics especially around back where, yes, there is even configurable RGB.

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ASUS’ new smartphone measures 158.8mm x 76.2mm x 8.6mm (6.25”x3”x0.34”) and weighs in at 200g (0.44 lbs). The device is black with white accents drawing aggressive angles on back along with vents for cooling and both Republic of Gamers branding and a configurable RGB ROG logo. The front of the phone looks fairly standard with a large 6” 18:9 AMOLED display taking up most of the front face and surrounded by dual front facing SmartAmp speakers that can reportedly get quite loud according to the various hands on videos online. The display has a resolution of 2160 x 1080, a refresh rate of 90 Hz, a 1ms response time, 10,000:1 contrast ratio, and is rated at 108.6% of the DCI-P3 color space. A dedicated image processing chip handles HDR support and the ability of the display to boost the local contrast of certain areas of the display.

As for cameras, there is an 8MP camera in front and dual cameras around back with a main 12MP camera and a 8MP 120-degree wide angle camera.

One interesting thing as far as I/O is that the phone has two USB-C ports with one in the usual spot on the bottom edge and one on the left edge to make using it in landscape mode easier. The included AeroActive cooler can plug into this port and blow air onto the back of the phone to help cool it and your fingertips while also breaking the USB-C port out into a USB-C and 3.5mm headphone jack. As far as audio, ASUS’ ROG Phone supports Dolby DTS Headphone 7.1 virtual surround sound and Qualcomm aptX for wired and Bluetooth headphones respectively.

Asus has also placed ultrasonic buttons around the edges with two on the left edge corners and one on the bottom right edge that can be used as triggers while in landscape mode for gaming or to do usual Android stuff like taking photos or launching an app.

As far as internal specifications, Asus managed to work out a deal with Qualcomm for binned Snapdragon 845 chips that can run all eight Kryo 385 CPU cores at 2.96 GHz (+160 MHz over stock). The Snapdragon 845 processor also contains the Adreno 630 GPU, Hexagon 685 DSP, Spectra 280 ISP, Qualcomm SPU, Aqstic audio, Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, and 802.11ad Wi-Fi. The chip also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 though I’m not sure which level Asus has enabled as Asus is calling it HyperCharge (up to 20W with the charging IC in the adapter to reduce phone temps). The SD845 is paired with 8GB of LPDDR4X memory and either 128GB or 512GB of UFS 2.1 internal storage. The ROG Phone is powered by a 4,000 mAh battery that can be charged to 60% in 33 minutes or 85% in an hour with the included charger. The USB-C ports reportedly only support USB 2.0, however so no USB 3 speeds when transferring files – I suppose Asus needs to at least try to keep the pricing in check! Wireless I/O includes 802.11ad 60GHz Wi-Fi, 802.11ac 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz 2x2 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and Gigabit LTE.

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ASUS is using a copper heat spreader as well as a 3D vapor chamber to keep the phone cool while gaming and to keep the Snapdragon 845’s CPU and GPU clocked as high as possible for as long as possible. For the serious mobile gamer wanting to keep the frame rates up there is also the clip on AeroActive cooler or “enhanced cooling” in the TwinView dock.

Speaking of docks, ASUS wants gamers to be able to get serious with the ROG Phone by plugging it into docks that will be sold separately. The TwinView dock adds a second display (that is reportedly identical to the AMOLED on the phone itself), physical trigger buttons, and a 6,000 mAh battery while the Mobile Desktop Dock turns the ROG Phone into a portable computer by allowing you to hook it up to a 4K display, keyboard and mouse, Gigabit Ethernet, 5.1 channel speakers, and other USB peripherals. For those wanting to game on the big screen to share games with friends there is also a WiGig dock and compatibility with the third-party Game Vice controller that turns the ROG Phone into something resembling the Nintendo Switch with joystick and physical buttons on either side.

The ROG Phone is packed with enough hardware to make it competitive with other high-end smartphones as well as the other gaming-focused phone offerings from Razer, Xiaomi, and other entrants to this market. At launch Asus has the docks and accessories down, but pricing is going to be a major concern as the phone itself is not going to be cheap and after adding the docks it might be equivalent to a budget DIY PC build (well before the GPU and RAM price spikes I guess)! On the other hand, it would be a powerful mobile device for running emulators and Fortnite and PUBG are on mobile now (heh) so maybe there is a market serious enough about mobile gaming willing to pay a premium for the ROG Phone.

What do you think? Will you be picking up the ROG Phone?

If you are curious Hardware Canucks and Austin Evans were able to get some hands-on time with the phone and some of the accessories in Taipei, Taiwan.

The ROG Phone is slated for release later this summer with specific pricing not yet available.

Source: Asus

Fancy the underdog? HTC has the new U12+ available

Subject: Mobile | May 28, 2018 - 04:13 PM |
Tagged: htc, U12+, smartphone

HTC has been having Nokia-like difficulties in the smartphone market, but they refuse to give up ... perhaps because of what Microsoft did to Nokia. That hasn't stopped them from putting out new phones, and interesting ones at that.  The camera on this phone is almost, but not quite as good as the one found on the new Pixel but The Register found the overall performance and features of the HTC to be superior and significantly better priced.  Check out their hands on review here.

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"HTC's only flagship smartphone of 2018 – the U12+ – looks like a sensibly priced alternative to the Pixel and Galaxy, without the eccentricities and flaws of the Huawei P20 Pro."

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Source: The Register