Qualcomm and Microsoft bring full Windows 10 to Snapdragon devices

Subject: Mobile | December 7, 2016 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, windows 10, snapdragon, qualcomm, microsoft, arm

At the WinHEC developer conference in China today, Qualcomm and Microsoft have announced a partnership to enable a full Windows 10 computing environment on systems based on the next-generation of Snapdragon processors in the second half of 2017. The importance of this announcement can’t be overstated – it marks another attempt for Microsoft to enter the non-x86 market with mobile devices (think tablets and notebooks, less smartphones).

If you remember the first attempt at Windows on ARM, Windows RT, it’s failure was a result of a split software base: some applications could work between Windows RT and Windows 8 while most could not. It likely helped in the demise of that initiative that Windows 8 was overall very poorly received and that the overzealous box-style interface just wasn’t a hit with users. Major players like NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Samsung and many different OEMs were all caught up in the mess, making it very unlikely that Microsoft would undertake this again without a surefire win.

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Though details are light today, the success of this depends on software compatibility. Microsoft and Qualcomm claim that Windows 10 on mobile devices will bring “the scale of the mobile ecosystem with an unparalleled pace of innovation to address consumers’ growing need to be always on and always connected.” Modems and high performance SoCs for mobile systems is the realm of Qualcomm and form factors using these components as the base could be a solid source of innovation. The press release states as much, saying this partnership will “enable hardware makers to develop new and improved consumer products including handsets, tablets, PCs, head mounted displays, and more.”

Software is the silver bullet though.

New Windows 10 devices powered by Snapdragon supports all aspects of Microsoft’s latest operating system including Microsoft Office, Microsoft Edge browser, Windows 10 gaming titles like Crysis 2 and World of Tanks, Windows Hello, and touchscreen features like Windows Pen. It also offers support for Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and Win32 apps through emulation, providing users with a wide selection of full featured applications.

Based on what I have learned, the native software experience will come with UWP applications. UWP is Microsoft’s attempt to merge the software base for different platforms, and though it has been slow, adoption by developers and users has been increasing. If it’s true that everything being sold in the Microsoft app store today will be compatible with the ARM architecture processors in the Snapdragon SoC, then I think this leaves the door open for a wider adoption by an otherwise discerning audience.

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Are you ready to hit that start button on your Snapdragon computer?

The emulation for ALL other Win32 (and x64) applications is critical as well. Being able to run the code you are used to running on an x86-based notebook will give users flexibility to migrate and the ability to depend on Qualcomm-based Windows 10 machine for work and for play. With emulation comes a performance hit – but how much of one has yet to be seen or discussed. The rumors have been circulating recently that ARM compatibility was coming to Windows 10 with the Redstone 3 update, and the timing of “late 2017” matches up perfectly with the announcement today.

While notebooks and convertibles are likely on the table for this platform, it’s the new form factors that should excite you. Microsoft’s Terry Myserson expects Qualcomm and Windows to bring “a range of thin, light, power-efficient and always-connected devices, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon platform, is the next step in delivering the innovations our customers love.” Cristiano Amon, President at Qualcomm Technologies thinks they can provide “advanced mobile computing features, including Gigabit LTE connectivity, advanced multimedia support, machine learning and superior hardware security features, all while supporting thin, fan-less designs and long battery life.”

This partnership will lead to more than just new consumer products though, reaching into the enterprise markets with the Qualcomm Snapdragon platform addressing markets ranging from “mobility to cloud computing.”

Full press release after the break!

Source: Qualcomm

Ben Heck Tears Down (and Repairs) a Virtual Boy

Subject: Systems, Mobile | November 27, 2016 - 04:25 PM |
Tagged: virtual boy, RISC, Nintendo, nec

I was one of the lucky kids who got a Virtual Boy, which was actually quite fun for nine-year-old me. It wasn’t beloved by the masses, but when you’re in a hotel, moving across the country, you best believe I’m going to punch that Teleroboxer cat in the head, over and over. It was quite an interesting piece of technology, despite its crippling flaws.

To see for yourself, Ben Heck published a full disassemble, with his best-guess explanations. He then performs a repair by 3D printing a clamp to put pressure on a loose ribbon connector.

From a performance standpoint, the Virtual Boy was launched with a 32-bit NEC RISC processor, clocked at 20 MHz. Keep in mind that, one, this is a semi-mobile, battery-powered device and, two, it launched around the same time as the original Pentium processor reached 120 MHz. The RAM setup is... unclear. I’m guessing PlanetVB accidentally wrote MB and KB to refer to “megabit” (Mb) and “kilobit” (kb) instead of “megabyte” and “kilobyte”, meaning the Wikipedia listing of 128KB VRAM, 128KB DRAM, and 64KB WRAM is accurate. The cartridge could also address up to an additional 16MB of RAM, meaning that specific titles could load as much as they need, albeit at a higher BOM cost. Shipped titles maxed out at 8KB of cartridge-expanded RAM, though.

Ben Heck’s video will be part of a series, where he will try to make it smaller and head-mounted.

Never buying Windows again, eh? How about the Linux powered Oryx Pro?

Subject: Mobile | November 24, 2016 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu, Oryx Pro, GTX1060, gaming laptop, desktop replacement

The Oryx Pro is the opposite of most of the laptops you have seen reviewed here recently.  At 15.2x10.7x1.1" and 5.5lbs it is bulkier than the slim laptops dominating the market, not to mention the 2lb power brick.  It also runs Ubuntu 16.04 LTS as opposed to Win10, thankfully the install is well configured for the hardware present according to the review at Ars Technica.  The hardware on the other hand is familiar and rather impressive, a desktop class GTX 1060, an i7-6700HQ, 32GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.  The model reviewed at Ars runs you almost $1900 or there is a 17" model, as well as a GTX 1070 upgrade available if you so desire.  Pop by to take a look at the full review of this Linux powered laptop.

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"System76 has a decent range of laptops, from the small, lightweight, battery-sipping Lemur to the top-end beast-like Oryx Pro. And after recently reviewing the svelte, but not necessarily top-end-specced Dell XPS 13, I got curious about this Oryx Pro. On paper, it sounds like a desktop machine somehow packed into a laptop form factor"

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Source: Ars Technica

Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 offers 20% faster charging

Subject: Mobile | November 17, 2016 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: snapdragon 835, quick charge 4, Quick Charge, qualcomm

Along with the reveal of the Snapdragon 835 today and its production on Samsung’s 10nm FinFET process technology, Qualcomm is also announcing the release of Quick Charge 4, an upgrade to the company’s successful fast charging solution that improves both efficiency and performance. Based on the information provided by Qualcomm, Quick Charge 4 will offer “premium phone users” some impressive charging rates.

  • 5 hours or more of use in 5 minutes of charging
  • 50% battery charge in 15 minutes or less

Those time metrics are based on talk time, not VR playback or gaming or browsing, meaning you can get 5 hours of additional talk time in 5 minutes of Quick Charge 4 charging time. While I think other battery life metrics (like browsing time, idle time) would provide additional context for these claims, even these numbers should impress potential buyers.

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Using an updated version of its voltage negotiation protocol INOV 3.0 (intelligent negotiation for optimal voltage), Quick Charge 4 will intelligently determine what voltages are available from the compatible charger and which voltage is the most appropriate based on temperatures and current battery state. QC 4 will offer 5V, 9V and 12V charging options at 3-5A! 

Quick Charge 4 will offer 30% higher efficiency along with the 20% faster charging and integrates support for USB Type-C connections and USB-PD support. (Which is important based on the noise Google has been making recently.) New PMICs (power management ICs) from Qualcomm, the SMB1380 and SMB1381, will be shipping this year and deliver low impedance peak efficiency of up to 95%.

And of course, no smart phone platform launch will go by for the foreseeable future that doesn’t mention safety.

In addition to providing the most consistent in-box and out-of-box charging experience, Quick Charge 4 comes with advanced safety features for both the adapter and mobile device. Protection is implemented at multiple levels and throughout the entire charging process to more accurately measure voltage, current, and temperature while protecting the battery, system, cables and connectors. An additional layer of protection is also being added to help prevent battery over-charging and regulate current throughout every charge cycle.

It’s worth noting that Quick Charge 4 won’t be limited to only the Snapdragon 835 processor, though other integrations haven’t been announced just yet. I have a feeling we will hear more at CES in January. The Quick Charge ecosystem has been steadily growing with hundreds of charging accessories and devices shipping today with QC3/QC2 and I expect that will continue with Quick Charge 4. 

Full release after the break!!

Source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm Teases Snapdragon 835, built on Samsung 10nm FinFET

Subject: Processors, Mobile | November 17, 2016 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: snapdragon, Samsung, qualcomm, FinFET, 835, 10nm

Though we are still months away from shipping devices, Qualcomm has announced that it will be building its upcoming flagship Snapdragon 835 mobile SoC on Samsung’s 10nm 2nd generation FinFET process technology. Qualcomm tells us that integrating the 10nm node in 2017 will keep it “the technology leader in mobile platforms” and this makes the 835 the world's first 10nm production processor.

“Using the new 10nm process node is expected to allow our premium tier Snapdragon 835 processor to deliver greater power efficiency and increase performance while also allowing us to add a number of new capabilities that can improve the user experience of tomorrow’s mobile devices.”

Samsung announced its 10nm FinFET process technology in October of this year and it sports some impressive specifications and benefits to the Snapdragon 835 platform. Per Samsung, it offers “up to a 30% increase in area efficiency with 27% higher performance or up to 40% lower power consumption.” For Qualcomm and its partners, that means a smaller silicon footprint for innovative device designs, including thinner chassis or larger batteries (yes, please).

qualcomm-logo.jpg

Other details on the Snapdragon 835 are still pending a future reveal, but Qualcomm says that 835 is in production now and will be shipping in commercial devices in the first half of 2017. We did hear that the new 10nm chip is built on "more than 3 billion transistors" - making it an incredibly complex design!

Image_Keith Kressin Qualcomm, Ben Suh Samsung with 10nm Snapdragon 835.jpeg

Keith Kressin SVP, Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies Inc and Ben Suh, SVP, Foundry Marketing, Samsung, show off first 10nm mobile processor, Snapdragon 835, in New York at Qualcomm's Snapdragon Technology Summit.

I am very curious to see how the market reacts to the release of the Snapdragon 835. We are still seeing new devices being released using the 820/821 SoCs, including Google’s own flagship Pixel phones this fall. Qualcomm wants to maintain leadership in the SoC market by innovating on both silicon and software but consumers are becoming more savvy to the actual usable benefits that new devices offer. Qualcomm promises features, performance and power benefits on SD 835 to make the case for your next upgrade.

Full press release after the break!

Source: Qualcomm

The 4K version of the MSI GS73 6RF Stealth Pro

Subject: Mobile | November 7, 2016 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: msi, GS73 6RF Stealth Pro, 4k, GTX 1060M

You have two choices of display when purchasing an MSI GS73 6RF Stealth Pro, a 120Hz 1080p which is neither FreeSync nor GSYNC or a 4K display.  It is the 4K version which Kitguru has reviewed, powered by the mobile version of the GTX 1060, an i7-6700HQ and 16GB of DDR4-2400.  Storage is handled by a PCIe based M.2 SSD as well as a HDD for extra storage.  Kitguru loved the look of the panel but unfortunately the 1060M just doesn't have the power to game at that resolution; it also came with more third party software than they would have liked but that did not ruin it for them.  Check out the full review here.

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"MSI have been producing a fine line of gaming-oriented laptops for the last couple of years and today we look at their latest super slimline 17 inch model which features a Core i7 processor, Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics, and a 4k IPS panel along with Steelseries keyboard and Killer networking."

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Source: Kitguru

Google's Daydream View Available on November 10th

Subject: Mobile | November 7, 2016 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: VR, google, daydream

Now that Android 7.0 Nougat is beginning to ship on phones, and the holidays are around the corner, Google is releasing accessories to support it. The Daydream View, which you can dock phones into for VR purposes, will be on sale on November 10th. The viewer will cost $79 USD, minus the phone of course, and can be purchased in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, and Australia.

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Currently, the only Daydream-compatible phone is Google's Pixel. As mentioned before, Nougat is only beginning to ship on phones, and the OS is required for this feature. One thing that's not entirely clear to me, after reading several sites, is whether all Daydream-compatible phones will be able to use this specific viewer, or if some will need a different chassis. You would think that variations in attributes like screen size might complicate things, but we know it will support other, non-Pixel phones; I'm just not clear whether it's some or all.

Anyway, that concern aside, it's almost cheap enough to be a “why not?” addition to any phone that is compatible. It certainly will not put the HTC Vive PC-based VR system out of business, but I'm interested in how it works with mobile content, especially linear video, going forward.

Source: Google

NES Classic PCB Pictured Online

Subject: Systems, Mobile | November 6, 2016 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: Nintendo, nes, Cortex A7, arm, Allwinner

It looks like Peter Brown, Senior Reviews Editor at GameSpot received an NES Classic and promptly disassembled it for a single photo. From there, users on Reddit searched the component model numbers and compiled specifications. According to their research, the system (unless Nintendo made multiple, interchangeable models) is based on an Allwinner R16 SoC, which has four ARM Cortex A7 cores and an ARM Mali 400 MP2 GPU. Attached to this is 256MB of DDR3 RAM and 512 MB of flash.

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Image Credit: Peter Brown

Thankfully, the packaging of each chip has quite large, mostly legible branding, so it's easy to verify.

In terms of modern phone technology, this is about the bottom of the barrel. The Allwinner R16 should be roughly comparable to the Raspberry Pi 2, only that system has about four times the RAM as Nintendo's. This is not a bad thing, of course, because its entire goal is to emulate a device that was first released in 1983 (in Japan) albeit at high resolution. Not all of the games will be free for them to include, either. Mega Man 2, PAC-MAN, Final Fantasy, Castlevania 1 and 2, Ninja Gaiden, Double Dragon II, Bubble Bobble, Tecmo Bowl, Super C, and Galaga are all from third-party publishers, who will probably need some cut of sales.

Users are claiming that it doesn't look like it could be updated. Counting the ports, it doesn't look like there's any way in, but I could be wrong. That said, I never expected it to be upgradeable so I guess that's that?

The NES Classic Edition goes on sale on November 11th for $59.99 USD MSRP.

Huawei Announces Mate 9 Smartphone with Kirin 960 and Dual-Lens Leica Camera

Subject: Mobile | November 3, 2016 - 09:58 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, phablet, Mate 9, Mate 8, Mali-G71, Leica, Kirin 960, Kirin 950, Huawei, dual camera

Huawei announced their flagship Mate 9 smartphone earlier today, successor to the Mate 8 we reviewed a few months back. A hair smaller than last year's phablet design, the Mate 9 boasts improved internals and the dual-lens Leica camera recently introduced with the company's P9 phone.

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The biggest change inside the Mate 9 is the new Kirin 960 SoC, which makes use of the latest ARM Cortex architecture in an 8-core big.LITTLE design. Importantly, the Kirin 960 also includes the latest Mali-G71 MP8 graphics, and with GPU power a low point with the Kirin 950 this is a welcome change.

Mate_9_2.jpg

Specifications:

  • Display: 
    • 5.9” FHD display
    • 2.5D glass
    • 1080p (1920 x 1080), 373ppi
    • 16.7M colors, Color saturation (NTSC) 96% High contrast 1500:1 (Typical)
  • CPU: HUAWEI Kirin 960; Octa-core (4 x 2.4 GHz A73 + 4 x 1.8 GHz A53) + i6 co-processor
  • GPU: Mali-G71 MP8
  • Memory and Storage: 
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB Storage
    • microSD card slot, supports up to 256GB (uses secondary SIM slot) 
  • Camera: 
    • Front: 8MP AF, F1.9
    • Main: Dual, 20MP Monochrome + 12MP RGB, F2.2 OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)
    • 4K video
  • Connectivity:
    • Wi-Fi 2.4G/5G, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with Wi-Fi Direct support
    • BT4.2, BLE support
    • USB Type-C (Hi-Speed USB)
  • Battery 4000 mAh
  • Operating System: Android 7.0 (Emotion UI 5.0)
  • Colors: Space Gray, Moonlight Silver, Champagne Gold, Mocha Brown, Ceramic White, Black
  • Size and Weight: 
    • (H x W x D): 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9 mm
    • Approx. 190 g

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The other major improvement for the Mate 9 vs. the 8 is the primary camera, which now incorporates a dual-lens system. The dual Leica lenses in the Mate 9 are backed by two different cameras, with separate color and monochrome image sensors. This unusual setup has the potential to offer more detailed images, and the camera system can also produce simulated depth-of-field effects.

We have day-one review hardware in hand here at PC Perspective, so stay tuned for the full review!

Source: Huawei

The Dell Alienware 13 arrives, with a 1440p OLED screen and GTX 1060

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 1, 2016 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: oled, GTX1060, dell, Alienware 13, alienware

Dell has announced four base models of Alienware 13 gaming notebooks, a TN model, a 1080p IPS model and two 1440p OLED models; one with 8GB of DDR4 and one with double that amount.  The two non-OLED models are powered by an i5-6300HQ while the OLED models contain an i7-6700HQ and all four have a desktop class GTX 1060.  That should offer you enough to power an Oculus or Vive, especially if you opt to purchase the Alienware Graphics Amplifier which is an external GPU dock that uses a proprietary connection from Dell.  It is described as a proprietary PCIe connection which provides four lanes of PCIe 3.0, which sounds very similar to Thunderbolt 3.0 which also provides four lanes when done correctly.

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It is also nice to see that all use SSDs for storage, the TN model a SATA drive and the other four base models a PCIe SSD.  One must assume that the pink can be turned off in the BIOS, though there are those guaranteed to like the glow.  You can check out all of the additional features and options on Dell's page and perhaps even pick one up as they are available as of today.  Hopefully we will have a chance to test Dell's external GPU connection against the more common Thunderbolt solutions in the near future.

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Source: Dell

Nexus has been Pixel-ated by Motorola ... Google it!

Subject: Mobile | October 20, 2016 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: pixel, pixel xl, google, Android, Snapdragon 821, nougat

Ah, the tech industry; blink and suddenly familiar things disappear and yet you are also simultaneously overcome with a sense of deja vu.  Former Motorola President Rick Osterloh now heads a team at Google which is the combination of Nexus, Pixel Chromebooks, Chromecast, OnHub, ATAP, and Google Glass and this team have just released two new Google phones.  The 5" 1920x1080 Pixel and the 5.5" 2560x1440 Pixel XL have arrived on the market, priced to compete with Apple's new lineup, though still far less expensive than the Chromebooks which bore the same name up until recently.  The phones run Android 7.1 Nougat on a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 and are manufactured by HTC.  Ars Technica considers them to now be the best Android phones on the market and yet somehow bland; read their full review to see if you agree.

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"Welcome to the age of Google Hardware. Apparently tired of letting third-party Android OEMs serve as the stewards of Android handsets, Google has become a hardware company. (Again)."

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Source: Ars Technica

NVIDIA Tegra SoC powers new Nintendo Switch gaming system

Subject: Processors, Mobile | October 20, 2016 - 11:40 AM |
Tagged: Nintendo, switch, nvidia, tegra

It's been a hell of a 24 hours for NVIDIA and the Tegra processor. A platform that many considered dead in the water after the failure of it to find its way into smartphones or into an appreciable amount of consumer tablets, had two major design wins revealed. First, it was revealed that NVIDIA is powered the new fully autonomous driving system in the Autopilot 2.0 hardware implementation in Tesla's current Model S, X and upcoming Model 3 cars.

Now, we know that Nintendo's long rumored portable and dockable gaming system called Switch is also powered by a custom NVIDIA Tegra SoC.

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We don't know much about the hardware that gives the Switch life, but NVIDIA did post a short blog with some basic information worth looking at. Based on it, we know that the Tegra processor powering this Nintendo system is completely custom and likely uses Pascal architecture GPU CUDA cores; though we don't know how many and how powerful it will be. It will likely exceed the performance of the Nintendo Wii U, which was only 0.35 TFLOPS and consisting of 320 AMD-based stream processors. How much faster we just don't know yet.

On the CPU side we assume that this is built using an ARM-based processor, most likely off-the-shelf core designs to keep things simple. Basing it on custom designs like Denver might not be necessary for this type of platform. 

Nintendo has traditionally used custom operating systems for its consoles and that seems to be what is happening with the Switch as well. NVIDIA mentions a couple of times how much work the technology vendor put into custom APIs, custom physic engines, new libraries, etc. 

The Nintendo Switch’s gaming experience is also supported by fully custom software, including a revamped physics engine, new libraries, advanced game tools and libraries. NVIDIA additionally created new gaming APIs to fully harness this performance. The newest API, NVN, was built specifically to bring lightweight, fast gaming to the masses.

We’ve optimized the full suite of hardware and software for gaming and mobile use cases. This includes custom operating system integration with the GPU to increase both performance and efficiency.

The system itself looks pretty damn interesting, with the ability to switch (get it?) between a docked to your TV configuration to a mobile one with attached or wireless controllers. Check out the video below for a preview.

I've asked both NVIDIA and Nintendo for more information on the hardware side but these guys tend to be tight lipped on the custom silicon going into console hardware. Hopefully one or the other is excited to tell us about the technology so we can some interesting specifications to discuss and debate!

UPDATE: A story on The Verge claims that Nintendo "took the chip from the Shield" and put it in the Switch. This is more than likely completely false; the Shield is a significantly dated product and that kind of statement could undersell the power and capability of the Switch and NVIDIA's custom SoC quite dramatically.

Source: Nintendo

Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon 653, 626, and 427 SoCs

Subject: Processors, Mobile | October 18, 2016 - 11:32 AM |
Tagged: SoC, Snapdragon 653, Snapdragon 626, Snapdragon 427, snapdragon, smartphone, qualcomm, mobile

Qualcomm has announced new 400 and 600-series Snapdragon parts, and these new SoCs (Snapdragon 653, 626, and 427) inherit technology found previously on the 800-series parts, including fast LTE connectivity and dual-camera support.

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The integrated LTE modem has been significantly for each of these SoCs, and Qualcomm lists these features for each of the new products:

  • X9 LTE with CAT 7 modem (300Mbps DL; 150Mbps UL) designed to provide users with a 50 percent increase in maximum uplink speeds over the X8 LTE modem.
  • LTE Advanced Carrier Aggregation with up to 2x20 MHz in the downlink and uplink
  • Support for 64-QAM in the uplink
  • Superior call clarity and higher call reliability with the Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) codec on VoLTE calls.

In addition to the new X9 modem, all three SoCs offer faster CPU and GPU performance, with the Snapdragon 653 (which replaces the 652) now supporting up to 8GB of memory - up from a max of 4GB previously. Each of the new SoCs also feature Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 for fast charging.

SD_600_400.png

Full specifications for these new products can be found on the updated Snapdragon product page.

Availability of the new 600-series Snapdragon processors is set for the end of this year, so we could start seeing handsets with the faster parts soon; while the Snapdragon 427 is expected to ship in devices early in 2017.

Source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon X50 5G Modem

Subject: Networking, Mobile | October 17, 2016 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: Snapdragon X50, snapdragon, qualcomm, modem, mobile, mmWave, LTE, cellular, 5G

Qualcomm has officially unveiled the development of a new 5G modem with the Snapdragon X50, which targets OEMs and early 5G development. The X50 supports milimeter wave (mmWave) technology initially, and rather than replace existing LTE solutions the X50 is designed to work alongside LTE modems integrated into Snapdragon SoCs, for a seamless handoff between 5G and 4G networks.

X50_Modem_Logo.jpg

"The Snapdragon X50 5G modem will initially support operation in millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 28GHz band. It will employ Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking techniques, which facilitates robust and sustained mobile broadband communications in non-line-of-sight (NLOS) environments. With 800 MHz bandwidth support, the Snapdragon X50 5G modem is designed to support peak download speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second. 

Designed to be used for multi-mode 4G/5G mobile broadband, as well as fixed wireless broadband devices, the Snapdragon X50 5G modem can be paired with a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor with an integrated Gigabit LTE modem and interwork cohesively via dual-connectivity. Gigabit LTE will become an essential pillar for the 5G mobile experience, as it can provide a wide coverage layer for nascent 5G networks."

Ratification of an official “5G” standard has not taken place, but Qualcomm hopes to position itself at the forefront of its development. The mmWave technology (which is explained in this video) is only one part of the puzzle:

"Work has begun on defining, standardizing and designing the new OFDM-based 5G New Radio (NR) as part of the global 3GPP standard. 5G NR is being designed to support a wide variation of device-types, services and deployments. It is also being designed to get the most out of every bit of spectrum across a wide array of available spectrum bands and regulatory paradigms."

(More information is available on Qualcomm's 5G Technologies page.)

The Snapdragon X50 modem is set to begin sampling to OEMs in the second half of 2017, with the first half of 2018 projected for the first commercial products featuring the new modem.

Source: Qualcomm

Samsung Begins Mass Production of 10nm LPE SoCs

Subject: Mobile | October 17, 2016 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, 10nm

Earlier today, Samsung announced that mass production has started for system-on-a-chip (SoC) products on their first-generation 10nm process, which is called Low Power Early (10LPE). Chips produced from this node will begin to ship in devices starting early 2017. The press release claims that, for integrated circuits manufactured under the 10LPE process, die area could decrease up to 30%, with either an increase in performance of up to 27% or a decrease in power of up to 40%.

samsung-logo.png

This is a little higher than the 10% increase in performance that AnandTech claimed in April. On the plus side, it was also expected that any design that was created for 10LPE could be migrated, pretty much without change, to the second-generation, Low Power Plus (10LPP) node. Jumping back to today's press release, Samsung claims that 10LPP will begin mass production in the second half of next year. So basically, early 10nm parts will launch in a couple of months, then a second wave will arrive the year after, using a more refined fabrication method.

Source: Samsung

Putting fingerprints on the Google Pixel

Subject: Mobile | October 6, 2016 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: google, pixel, pixel xl, nougat, Android 7.1

The Inquirer had a chance to lay their hands on the new Google Pixel and Pixel XL and have shared their experiences here.  We have covered the specs of the phone previously and so will not reiterate them here, check out Tim's coverage for the details.  The impression that The Inq immediately had upon grasping the phone is that it feels very much like a slimmer HTC 10, which they were not overly impressed by. That HTC phone was rated 88 in DxOMark, the Pixel an 89 while the iPhone 7 garnered a rating of 86, if you follow that particular benchmark tool.  They had a strong feeling that Google may have missed too many marks on this phone to justify the pricing, read on to see if you agree with their experiences.

google-pixel-fingerpint-540x334.jpeg

"On first impressions, we can't help but feel that the Pixel is a bit of a wasted opportunity. The handset has a largely boring design, doesn't offer much in the way of innovation and is expensive compared with previous Nexus smartphones."

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Source: The Inquirer

A Second Allegedly Replacement Note7 Catches Fire

Subject: Mobile | October 5, 2016 - 06:26 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy note 7

Last week, we passed along a Bloomberg report about a Galaxy Note 7 that caught fire in China. It was allegedly a replacement device from Samsung's recall, which was supposed to fix this issue. We have not heard anything about this phone since, but, at the time, we suggested keeping your replacement device powered off and disconnected from the charger until we receive further info.

samsung-2016-galaxynote7-front.png

Now a second, allegedly post-recall device has caught fire. This time, it occurred this morning on a plane. The Boeing 737 was about ten minutes from take-off when the passenger, who claims the phone was both shut down and in his pocket, noticed the device begin to smoke. He tossed it onto the floor when it begun to billow a thick, gray-green smoke, and burned through the carpet. He claims that it had the green battery icon to indicate that it was a fixed device, which should rule out a pre-recall Note7 getting incorrectly classified as post-recall by, for instance, a retail store goof.

All of that said, we don't know if either of the two cases are accurate yet. Samsung's released a statement over today's issue, which we include below via The Verge, that basically says no comment until they can perform their own investigation.

  • Until we are able to retrieve the device, we cannot confirm that this incident involves the new Note7. We are working with the authorities and Southwest now to recover the device and confirm the cause. Once we have examined the device we will have more information to share.

Obviously, we could speculate over a number of things that could be to blame. Part of the issue is just physics -- you're storing a lot of energy in a small volume. This is inherently difficult, and a rapid release of a lot of energy tends to be explosive. It's always good to remember this, even though it's the company's responsibility to produce devices that are safe from all but the most unreasonable of uses.

Source: The Verge

Mozilla Discontinues Firefox OS for All Devices

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 29, 2016 - 02:15 AM |
Tagged: mozilla, Firefox OS, firefox

Update: There has been a little confusion. The web browser, Firefox, is still going strong. In fact, they're focusing their engineering efforts more on it, by cutting back on these secondary projects.

Less than a year after their decision to stop developing and selling smartphones through carriers, Mozilla has decided to end all commercial development of Firefox OS. Releases after Firefox OS 2.6 will be handled by third parties, such as Panasonic, should they wish to continue using it for their smart TV platform. Further, source code for the underlying operating system, Boot-to-Gecko (B2G), will be removed from their repository, mozilla-central, so it doesn't hinder development of their other products.

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Obviously, this is quite disappointing from a platform standpoint. Many applications, especially for mobile and similar devices, can be created in Web standards. At this point, we usually get comments about how web browsers shouldn't be app platforms, and that JavaScript is too inefficient. The thing is, Web is about the best, ubiquitous platform we have, and it will only get better with initiatives such as WebAssembly. Also, native applications don't necessarily perform better than Web-based ones, especially if the latter are packaged standalone (versus sharing resources with other tabs in a browser).

Regardless, Mozilla needs to consider their long-term financial stability, and throwing resources at Firefox OS apparently doesn't return enough value for them, both directly and for its impact on society.

Source: Mozilla

Samsung Investigating Replacement Galaxy Note 7 Fire

Subject: Mobile | September 28, 2016 - 09:04 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, recall, galaxy note 7

Bloomberg is reporting that a 25-year-old customer from China, Hui Renjie, claims to have received a replacement Galaxy Note 7, and that it caught fire within 24 hours. A representative of the company immediately visited him and asked to take the phone to investigate, but the customer wished to go public first, assuming that he wouldn't get any answers if he just gave up the phone silently. The explosion allegedly caused minor burns to two of the customer's fingers, as well as damaged his MacBook.

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Naturally, Samsung is very interested in what happened. The previous incident involved Samsung-developed batteries. The manufacturing process accidentally pushed some the battery batch's two terminals together. Shorting out a battery causes it to release energy quickly as heat, which is often undesirable, to say the least.

Samsung is waiting to examine the device before they comment further. If you have also receive a replacement, then you might want to keep it powered off and disconnected from the charger until we find out what happened.

Source: Bloomberg

MSI's GT62VR 6RE Dominator Pro 4K; a gaming laptop almost as impressive as its name

Subject: Mobile | September 22, 2016 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: msi, GT62VR 6RE Dominator Pro 4K, gaming laptop, VR, GTX 1070M

At 15.6" the IPS screen on the MSI GT62VR 6RE Dominator Pro 4K is just big enough for a 4k resolution to make sense.  The mobile variant of the GTX 1070 inside the laptop is powerful, with 128 more cores than the desktop model and slightly lower clocks but it will strain powering some games at 4k.  The rest of the components are equally decent, an i7-6820HK, 32GB of DDR4 and a 512GB PCIE GEN3 NVMe SSD for your OS and software backed up by a 1TB HDD for storage.  Kitguru mentions in their review that they have seen this laptop running an HTC Vive so VR support is a given.  Drop by to see how the laptop did in their benchmarks and power testing.

MSI-GT62VR-6RE-Dominator-Pro-4K-Review-on-KitGuru-Front-Left-34-Open.jpg

"MSI GT62VR 6RE Dominator Pro 4K has an absurdly long model name that gives us a fair amount of information about this impressive gaming laptop. The GT part tells us this is a chunky chassis that can dissipate a fair amount of heat, VR shows support for your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive and 4K is, obviously, the number of pixels in the screen."

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Source: Kitguru