Qualcomm, HP, and ASUS announce first Windows on Snapgdragon devices

Subject: Mobile | December 5, 2017 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon x16, snapdragon tech summit, snapdragon 835, snapdragon, qualcomm, NovaGo, LTE, hp, envy x2, asus

Today at its Snapdragon Tech Summit, Qualcomm has announced the first round of Snapdragon-enabled devices running Windows from partners HP and ASUS.

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The HP ENVY x2 is a detachable 2-in-1 device reminiscent of the Microsoft Surface products or the Huawei Matebook-E that we recently took a look at. The 12.3-in screen is the same size as the current Surface Pro, but the HP option will have a more traditional 16:9 screen aspect ratio.  

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Built upon the Snapdragon 835 SoC, the Envy x2 will be available in configurations featuring up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. The Envy x2 will also support an active stylus that is Windows Ink certified for activities such as note-taking and illustration.

For connectivity, the Envy x2 has a single USB-C port which will serve for both charging the tablet as well as connecting external devices.

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The ASUS NovaGo, however, features a more traditional thin-and-light notebook design with a 360-degree hinge. This means that users can take full advantage of the 13.3-in 1920x1080 screen in all sorts of different scenarios from traditional notebook mode to tablet mode. 

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Similar to the HP offering, the ASUS NovaGo will be available in configurations ranging up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of Storage. However, connectivity on the NovaGo includes 2x USB 3.1 Type-A ports, as well as an HDMI Port and Micro-SD card slot for memory expansion allowing for more options than the HP Envy x2. 

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Utilizing the Snapdragon 835 SoC, both of these devices will also feature cellular connectivity from the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem. This is a huge advantage for mobile users, who can simply add these devices to their cellular accounts and receive internet connectivity anywhere in the world, allowing them to simply turn on their device and start working instead of hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots.

Both of these devices will come preinstalled with Windows 10 S but will allow for a one-time upgrade to a full Windows 10 license which will allow users to install non-Windows store applications.

(For those asking in the comments, yes, this is the emaulation layer we have mentioned previously at work. Snapdragon-based Windows machines will be able to run MOST x86 (not x64) Windows applications, with some exceptions. Exceptions tend to stem from things like kernel-mode drivers that some software wants to install that won't work. Dropbox is an unfortunately example of this.)

Availability of both systems is expected just before the end of the year and pricing for both will range from $600-800 depending on the specific configuration.

It's just the beginning here at the Snapdragon Tech Summit, so stay tuned for more announcements from Qualcomm as the week progresses!

Source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm Showcasing Windows on Snapdragon and Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform on Tech Summit Live Stream

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | December 4, 2017 - 01:50 AM |
Tagged: windows on snapdragon, snapdragon 845, snapdragon, qualcomm, live stream

Qualcomm is preparing for its second annual Technology Summit, this time from the sunny shores of Maui, where it will unveil the roadmap and technologies that it will be driving into the ecosystem for 2018. Hosted by EVP of Qualcomm Technologies Cristiano Amon, this event will play host to not just Qualcomm personnel but several other key leaders in the hardware and software industry, backing Qualcomm’s play into flagship mobile, Windows, and more.

The PC Perspective team is on-site to cover the announcements, interview executives, and attempt to gauge the potential for this technology being presented. If you want to follow along at home, Qualcomm is hosting a live stream of the event on its website and of course will be tweeting all of the key details from its primary account. It starts bright and early at 8:30am HST in Hawaii but that translates into 10:30am PST and 1:30pm EST for those of you on the mainland.

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There are definite announcements coming that you should expect during the live stream. First, Qualcomm will be updating its flagship mobile platform to the Snapdragon 845, a potentially significant bump over the 835 shipping today. We have already seen rumors of several next-gen Android smartphones using the SD 845 including Samsung’s Galaxy S9. The company announced the SD 835 and corresponding technology in November of 2016 at the first Tech Summit, so expect Qualcomm to follow suit for the SD 845 this year.

More exciting to many might be the pending release of the much-hyped Windows on Snapdragon hardware. We have been talking about it for more than a year now, but we have it on high authority that we are past theory and will be seeing real hardware from real vendors with real prices and real time tables. These Windows 10-based notebooks and convertibles should include Gigabit-class LTE, extended battery life, and a true Windows 10 experience. But details up to this point have been sparse – hopefully this week we’ll have much more definitive information in our hands.

That’s all I can say for sure we’ll see at the Qualcomm Tech Summit, but who knows, the company may have some more surprises in store for us. The company has a lot of technology in development in areas like self-driving cars, mobile connectivity, IoT, VR; any of which could make for an interesting addition to our pre-CES flurry.

Source: Qualcomm

Whose is longer, AMD's Ryzen Mobile or Intel's Kaby Lake-R?

Subject: Mobile | November 30, 2017 - 03:07 PM |
Tagged: hp, Envy x360, ryzen mobile, Ryzen 5 2500U

The Tech Report have been spending quite a bit of time with the Ryzen powered HP Envy x360, contrasting its performance to Intel based laptops.  They have moved from performance to battery life, something which means a great deal to those who travel with laptops or simply want to use the laptop without getting tangled in cords.  Their focus in this look at battery life is the impact of using an external screen only, with the built-in display disabled.  They chose a 2560x1440 display and tested the Envy against a Acer Swift 3 with an Intel i5-8250U to see how long the battery lasts without needing to power the integral display.  The results are quite striking and show a large difference in power efficiency.

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"As we've continued testing AMD's Ryzen 5 2500U APU over the past few days, we've been confronted with the problem of comparing battery life across laptops with different screen sizes. Many readers suggested that I should take each machine's internal display out of the picture by hooking them up to external monitors. While I wanted to get real-world battery-life testing out of the way first, I can certainly appreciate the elegance of leveling the playing field that way. Now we have."

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HP's Ryzen Mobile Powered Envy X360 Is Available Now

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 20, 2017 - 08:25 PM |
Tagged: windows hello, stylus, ryzen mobile, Ryzen 5 2500U, hp, convertible, amd

Last month AMD formally launched its Ryzen Mobile APUs with partners Acer, HP, and Lenovo announcing that systems using the new processors would be out by the end of the year. The first system to become available for purchase appears to be the HP Envy X360 convertible notebook which is available with a Ryzen 5 2500U APU. The 15.6” 2-in-1 starts at $574.99 (at time of writing) and thankfully appears to take full advantage of the AMD processor.

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The HP Envy X360 was spotted by Anandtech who noted that the notebook is currently being sold at HP.com as well as brick and mortar Best Buy stores. The notebook is part of the company’s higher end Envy brand. It weighs in at 4.75 pounds and measures 14.16” x 9.8” x 0.77”. The 360° hinge allows the touchscreen display to flip around to lay flat with the underside of the keyboard enabling tablet mode. The top half with thin bezels holds the 15.6” 1920 x 1080 display and IR capable Windows Hello camera. The bottom half holds the rest of the hardware and features a backlit island-style keyboard with numpad, a wide trackpad, and the various I/O ports around the edges including USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 with DisplayPort 1.4 and USB Power support (for charging), two full size USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, HDMi, and a headset jack. Other features include Bang and Olufsen audio with dual speakers and a stylus that can be used with Windows Ink, One Note, and other apps.

Internal specifications include the above-mentioned Ryzen 5 2500U, up to 16 GB of dual channel 2400 MHz memory, and mechanical and solid-state storage options. The base model of this laptop starts at 8 GB DDR4 at 2400 MHz (2 x 4GB) and 1TB of 7200 RPM hard drive storage. Users can configure the notebook with up to a 1TB NVMe SSD or a combination of SATA hard drive and NVMe M.2 drives. The HP Envy X360 also features Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi and it is all powered by a 3-cell 55.8 Wh battery. The APU is a 15W TDP chip with four Zen-based CPU cores (eight threads) running at 2 GHz base and up to 3.6 GHz boost, a RX Vega-based GPU clocked at up to 1100 MHz with 8 CUs (512 cores), and 6 MB of cache (2MB L2 and 4MB L3).

The HP Envy X360 15z Touch convertible laptop is available now starting at $574.99 and going up to $1374.99 fully loaded with Windows 10 Pro.

In all this looks to be a good design win for AMD is a promising start for the future of Ryzen Mobile. Thankfully the APU appears to be running at its full 15W TDP and is not being held back by single channel memory like past AMD mobile chips have allegedly been. I am looking forward to seeing what AMD’s other partners have to offer. Until then though, we have a Ryzen 7 1700 powered Asus ROG gaming laptop to ponder about!

Source: AnandTech

Meet Eve V, the crowdfunded laptop

Subject: Mobile | November 20, 2017 - 04:18 PM |
Tagged: Eve V, Surface Pro, crowdfunding, thunderbolt 3

The Eve V exists because of a successful Indiegogo campaign run by a motivated group of techies who wanted to create their own competitor to the Surface Pro.  Physically the design is very similar, a 12.3" tablet with a magnetically attached keyboard and a kickstand and the price range is similar, from $800 for the base model to $2000 for the kitchen sink.  That price includes the keyboard and active stylus, something Microsoft's Surface does not. The hardware is similar, as will be the benchmarks, it is in the extra features that the Eve V stands out.  The Eve V not only has an extra USB 3.0 port, it also has a USB 3.1 Type-C port and a separate Thunderbolt 3 port for a monitor or even an external GPU. 

Check out more about this tablet, from it's clicky keys to standard wall charger at Techspot.

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"For a first-generation product, the Eve V is remarkably solid. It's especially impressive when you consider its direct competition - the Surface Pro - is well entrenched in the Windows tablet market and known to be an excellent option."

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Source: Techspot

ASUS ROG Announces the Ryzen powered Strix GL702ZC

Subject: Mobile | November 20, 2017 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: ryzen 7 1700, asus, ASUS ROG, Strix GL702ZC, amd, gaming laptop, RX580, freesync

The ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZC is the first Ryzen powered gaming laptop we have seen, featuring the Ryzen 7 1700 desktop CPU along with a 4GB RX580 GPU.  This means that the 17.3" IPS 1080p monitor is Freesync capable with a maximum 60Hz refresh rate.  That resolution and refresh rate will ensure even AAA titles can play with your graphics settings cranked.  

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In addition to the previously mentioned components,the GL702ZC ships with 16GB DDR4-2400MHz, a 256GB SATA III SSD, a 1TB 5400rpm HDD, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C connectivity and 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi along with Bluetooth 4.1.  The base model retails for a competitive $1500.

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PR below the fold.

Source: AMD

Intel Announces New CPUs Integrating AMD Radeon Graphics

Subject: Processors | November 6, 2017 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: radeon, Polaris, mobile, kaby lake, interposer, Intel, HBM2, gaming, EMIB, apple, amd, 8th generation core

In what is probably considered one of the worst kept secrets in the industry, Intel has announced a new CPU line for the mobile market that integrates AMD’s Radeon graphics.  For the past year or so rumors of such a partnership were freely flowing, but now we finally get confirmation as to how this will be implemented and marketed.

Intel’s record on designing GPUs has been rather pedestrian.  While they have kept up with the competition, a slew of small issues and incompatibilities have plagued each generation.  Performance is also an issue when trying to compete with AMD’s APUs as well as discrete mobile graphics offerings from both AMD and NVIDIA.  Software and driver support is another area where Intel has been unable to compete due largely to economics and the competitions’ decades of experience in this area.

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There are many significant issues that have been solved in one fell swoop.  Intel has partnered with AMD’s Semi-Custom Group to develop a modern and competent GPU that can be closely connected to the Intel CPU all the while utilizing HBM2 memory to improve overall performance.  The packaging of this product utilizes Intel’s EMIB (Embedded Multi-die Interconnect Bridge) tech.

EMIB is an interposer-like technology that integrates silicon bridges into the PCB instead of relying upon a large interposer.  This allows a bit more flexibility in layout of the chips as well as lowers the Z height of the package as there is not a large interposer sitting between the chips and the PCB.  Just as interposer technology allows the use of chips from different process technologies to work seamlessly together, EMIB provides that same flexibility.

The GPU looks to be based on the Polaris architecture which is a slight step back from AMD’s cutting edge Vega architecture.  Polaris does not implement the Infinity Fabric component that Vega does.  It is more conventional in terms of data communication.  It is a step beyond what AMD has provided for Sony and Microsoft, who each utilize a semi-custom design for the latest console chips.  AMD is able to integrate the HBM2 controller that is featured in Vega.  Using HBM2 provides a tremendous amount of bandwidth along with power savings as compared to traditional GDDR-5 memory modules.  It also saves dramatically on PCB space allowing for smaller form factors.

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EMIB provides nearly all of the advantages of the interposer while keeping the optimal z-height of the standard PCB substrate.

Intel did have to do quite a bit of extra work on the power side of the equation.  AMD utilizes their latest Infinity Fabric for fine grained power control in their upcoming Raven Ridge based Ryzen APUs.  Intel had to modify their current hardware to be able to do much the same work with 3rd party silicon.  This is no easy task as the CPU needs to monitor and continually adjust for GPU usage in a variety of scenarios.  This type of work takes time and a lot of testing to fine tune as well as the inevitable hardware revisions to get thing to work correctly.  This then needs to be balanced by the GPU driver stack which also tends to take control of power usage in mobile scenarios.

This combination of EMIB, Intel Kaby Lake CPU, HBM2, and a current AMD GPU make this a very interesting combination for the mobile and small form factor markets.  The EMIB form factor provides very fast interconnect speeds and a smaller footprint due to the integration of HBM2 memory.  The mature AMD Radeon software stack for both Windows and macOS environments provides Intel with another feature in which to sell their parts in areas where previously they were not considered.  The 8th Gen Kaby Lake CPU provides the very latest CPU design on the new 14nm++ process for greater performance and better power efficiency.

This is one of those rare instances where such cooperation between intense rivals actually improves the situation for both.  AMD gets a financial shot in the arm by signing a large and important customer for their Semi-Custom division.  The royalty income from this partnership should be more consistent as compared to the console manufacturers due to the seasonality of the console product.  This will have a very material effect on AMD’s bottom line for years to come.  Intel gets a solid silicon solution with higher performance than they can offer, as well as aforementioned mature software stack for multiple OS.  Finally throw in the HBM2 memory support for better power efficiency and a smaller form factor, and it is a clear win for all parties involved.

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The PCB savings plus faster interconnects will allow these chips to power smaller form factors with better performance and battery life.

One of the unknowns here is what process node the GPU portion will be manufactured on.  We do not know which foundry Intel will use, or if they will stay in-house.  Currently TSMC manufactures the latest console SoCs while GLOBALFOUNDRIES handles the latest GPUS from AMD.  Initially one would expect Intel to build the GPU in house, but the current rumor is that AMD will work to produce the chips with one of their traditional foundry partners.  Once the chip is manufactured then it is sent to Intel to be integrated into their product.

Apple is one of the obvious candidates for this particular form factor and combination of parts.  Apple has a long history with Intel on the CPU side and AMD on the GPU side.  This product provides all of the solutions Apple needs to manufacture high performance products in smaller form factors.  Gaming laptops also get a boost from such a combination that will offer relatively high performance with minimal power increases as well as the smaller form factor.

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The potential (leaked) performance of the 8th Gen Intel CPU with Radeon Graphics.

The data above could very well be wrong about the potential performance of this combination.  What we see is pretty compelling though.  The Intel/AMD product performs like a higher end CPU with discrete GPU combo.  It is faster than a NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti and trails the GTX 1060.  It also is significantly faster than a desktop AMD RX 560 part.  We can also see that it is going to be much faster than the flagship 15 watt TDP AMD Ryzen 7 2700U.  We do not yet know how it compares to the rumored 65 watt TDP Raven Ridge based APUs from AMD that will likely be released next year.  What will be fascinating here is how much power the new Intel combination will draw as compared to the discrete solutions utilizing NVIDIA graphics.

To reiterate, this is Intel as a customer for AMD’s Semi-Custom group rather than a licensing agreement between the two companies.  They are working hand in hand in developing this solution and then both profiting from it.  AMD getting royalties from every Intel package sold that features this technology will have a very positive effect on earnings.  Intel gets a cutting edge and competent graphics solution along with the improved software and driver support such a package includes.

Update: We have been informed that AMD is producing the chips and selling them directly to Intel for integration into these new SKUs. There are no royalties or licensing, but the Semi-Custom division should still receive the revenue for these specialized products made only for Intel.

Source: Intel

Rumor: Google Pixel 2 XL Slow Charging

Subject: Mobile | November 5, 2017 - 07:49 PM |
Tagged: google, Pixel 2 XL

The Pixel 2 XL launch hasn’t been going so well for Google. Early complaints were about the screen: how it had alleged burn-in problems within the first few days, and how it couldn’t support the sRGB color space. Since then, we’ve even been hearing reports that some phones shipped without the OS even installed. Whoops!

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Now here’s a specific complaint: people are saying that the phone is charging slow. This is an easy one to test – run a multimeter in-line with the USB cable see what happens. Google+ user, Nathan K., apparently did, and he found that the Pixel 2 XL maxed out at 10.5W. When the screen is on, this drops to a maximum of 6W, which he claims (and I would have guessed) is likely due to the combined heat of a phone that’s both in-use and charging. Lithium batteries are very sensitive to heat.

He also says that this issue isn’t really a problem in-and-of itself. He just wishes that manufacturers advertised more about how the battery should perform, and maybe even provide the switches for users to override if needed. I could see that being a warranty nightmare, but I’m rarely going to fall on the side against user choice as a general rule, so I think that would be nice.

Speaking of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar ...

Subject: Mobile | October 24, 2017 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: asus, ROG, strix scar, gaming laptop

The official ASUS announcement gave us the specification of their new ROG Strix gaming laptops, but to truly get an idea of how they will perform a review is needed.  Thankfully Kitguru got their hands on the GTX 1060 powered model of the Scar and tested its performance in FPS games.  As it turns out the design of the laptop helps get the most out of that GTX 1060; the fans are loud but very effective at preventing throttling because of high temperatures.  It will not compete with a laptop containing a GTX 1080 but it provides a strong showing compared to similar machines.  Drop by for a look at the full review and a video which demonstrates the decibel level you can expect at full load.

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"ASUS ROG’s Strix Scar laptop is aimed squarely at first person shooter gamers. It boasts GTX 1060 graphics, an i7-7700HQ processor and 16GB of DDR4 – but most impressive is the 120Hz Full-HD display and its 5ms response time."

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Source: Kitguru

ASUS Republic of Gamers Announces Strix Hero and Scar Editions

Subject: Mobile | October 24, 2017 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: strix scar, strix hero, ROG, lion king, gaming laptop, asus

ASUS have updated their gaming laptop series with three new models, the ROG Strix Hero and ROG Strix Scar.  The Hero is a 15.6" laptop designed for MOBA gaming while the two 17.3" Scar models are intended for FPS players.

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As you can see in the specifications, there is no difference between the Hero and Scar GL703VM-DB74 model apart from the size and response rate of the screen.  There is a GTX 1060 in both, with an i7-7700HQ and 16GB DDR4-2400 and a 120Hz panel, though only the Scar sports a response time fast enough to make you competitive in a FPS.  All models will ship with a 256GB NVMe PCIe SSD and a 1TB FireCuda SSHD with 8GB cache, offering a level of storage performance which is pretty much expected from a gaming laptop today.

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The Scar GL503VS-DH74 is a different beast, keeping the CPU and memory but replacing the graphics with a GTX 1070 which powers a 17.3" G-SYNC panel. There was also a variant model announced, which is trims the size to 15.6" but increases the maximum refresh rate to 144MHz.

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You can read the full PR here.

Source: ASUS

Qualcomm Introduces Snapdragon 636 Platform with 8-Core Kryo CPU

Subject: Mobile | October 17, 2017 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: SoC, Snapdragon 636, snapdragon, qualcomm, octa-core, mobile platform, Kryo 260, Kryo, cpu, adreno, 8-core

Qualcomm's latest mobile platform is the Snapdragon 636, positioned (at least numerically) between the Snapdragon 630 and 660 introduced earlier this year, and offering a very impressive set of features for mid-range devices - even reaching parity with the Snapdragon 800-series in some respects.

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Qualcomm claims CPU performance gains of up to 40% from the Kryo 260 cores in the Snapdragon 636 compared to the ARM Cortex-A53 cores found in the Snapdragon 630, and the switch to Kryo brings the new Snapdragon 636 closer to the specs of the Snapdragon 660 - also an 8-core Kryo 260 design (though the higher-numbered platform does boast slightly higher clocks from its eight CPU cores at 2.2 GHz vs. 1.8 GHz from the 636).

The Snapdragon 636 also features the same X12 LTE modem found in the existing Snapdragon 630/660, which is capable of up to 600 Mbps download speeds (3 x 20 Hz carrier aggregation, 256-QAM) and 150 Mbps peak upload (2 x 20 Hz aggregation, 64-QAM).

Graphics duties are performed by the Adreno 509, and 18:9 FHD+ displays are supported. The Snapdragon 636 also includes the Hexagon 680 DSP (which we first saw in the Snapdragon 820) with Spectra 160 ISP for supported image capture "of up to 24 megapixels with zero shutter lag while supporting smooth zoom, fast autofocus and true-to-life colors for outstanding image quality", according to Qualcomm.

This new Snapdragon 636 also offers Qualcomm's Aqstic codec (another feature inherited from the 800-series) for high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/192 kHz PCM, along with dual-oscillator support (separate clock generators for 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz based sample rates!) and a 130dB dynamic range with a very low THD+N of -109dB.

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To expand on what the Aqstic codec in the SD636 provides, the separate clock generators are a fascinating addition in a world where many codecs resample the common 44.1 kHz - pretty much all digital music at or below CD quality - to 48 kHz during playback. Having a proper 44.1 kHz clock means native playback without the interpolation and subsequent filtering required when altering the original signal to an incompatible sample rate.

The Snapdragon 636 - which is both "pin and software-compatible" with existing Snapdragon 660 and 630 mobile platforms, according to Qualcomm - is expected to ship to customers beginning in November.

Source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm shows first 5G Smartphone Reference Design, mmWave module in silicon

Subject: Mobile | October 16, 2017 - 09:30 PM |
Tagged: x50, qualcomm, mmWave, 5g nr, 5G

Earlier this year Qualcomm announced that it had made its first connection with the 5G NR (new radio) through its prototype system. This prototype was constructed to help with the build outs with Ericsson and Vodafone to get 5G in trials in the second of half this year. The device was crude, but effective, and took up a lot of space in a 2U rackmount design.

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Today Qualcomm steps up its investment and apparent leadership position with the next generation connectivity technology by showcasing a reference smartphone design that implements the X50 5G modem for the first time.

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Though far from a retail-ready announcement, this 9mm thin smartphone design proves that the future of 5G is strong and allows Qualcomm to crow about its position in the field. This design makes several key points, according to the connectivity giant:

  1. It is the first smartphone-style design integration for the X50 modem, announced a year ago at the company’s 4G/5G summit in Hong Kong.
     
  2. Showcases greater than 1Gbps data connectivity on the 100 MHz bands with only a 2xCA (carrier aggregation) implementation.
     
  3. Proves the feasibility of mmWave (millimeter wave) technology at 28 GHz in a smartphone with a silicon-based chip that fits four mmWave antenna and a 5G transceiver.

The real bright spot on this design is the inclusion of connectivity support on mmWave technology, previously thought to be extremely difficult to do in a smartphone form factor. Using mmWaves creates complexity due to its reluctance to transmit THROUGH things (including people), so the small surface area of a phone was going to cause issues. By integrating support for four large surface area antenna on this design and the 5G module, Qualcomm believes it has taken a large step in productization.

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This reference design will enable trials of 5G technology in real-world environments and use cases. Qualcomm also claims that at launch time (early 2019), the module for the mmWave transceiver will be shrunk by another 50%. Qualcomm hopes that by showing OEMs and carriers that 5G technology challenges are addressable in common and expected form factors, it can accelerate and ease the adoption of the technology for consumers and enterprise applications.

Source: Qualcomm

AORUS' X5 V7-KL3K3D gaming laptop, no external monitor required

Subject: Mobile | October 16, 2017 - 04:59 PM |
Tagged: X5 V7-KL3K3D, aorus, gigabyte, gaming laptop, g-sync

Instead of attaching ye plain olde 1080p fixed refresh rate display to the X5 V7-KL3K3D gaming laptop, Gigabyte chose a 2880x1620 G-SYNC display which is capable of up to a 75Hz refresh rate.  As the laptop is powered by a GTX 1070, you will be able to play most games at full resolution, with G-SYNC ensuring a smooth experience.  Along with the Kaby Lake i7-7820HK is a Samsung SM961 SSD, so non-graphical tasks also fly.  The high end panel does boost the price, the model TechPowerUp reviewed will set you back $2400.  If the features are worth it to you, check it out here.

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"The AORUS X5 V7-KL3K3D is a stellar offering in terms of specifications, providing impressive performance due to an Intel Quad-Core i7-7820HK CPU, which Gigabyte paired with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070. This relatively thin and light gaming notebook also comes with a 3K IPS display that supports G-Sync."

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Source: TechPowerUp

Huawei Announces Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro Smartphones

Subject: Mobile | October 16, 2017 - 10:23 AM |
Tagged: SoC, smartphone, phone, Oreo, mobile, Mate 10 Pro, Mate 10, Kirin 970, Huawei, Android 8, Android

Huawei has announced the successor(s) to the Mate 9 smartphone with the new Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, which feature a new "3D Glass Body" industrial design along with the new Kirin 970 processor and other improvements.

Mate 10_Front and Back.jpg

The key features from Huawei include:

  • Kirin 970, the world’s first AI processor for smartphones with a dedicated Neural Network Processing Unit (NPU)
  • A 3D Glass Body featuring a barely-there-bezel, HUAWEI FullView Display and HDR10 supported technology for intensely vivid and brighter colors
  • TÜV Fast-Charge Safety Certified HUAWEI SuperCharge and 4000 mAh battery with AI-powered Battery Management
  • New Leica Dual Camera with SUMMILUX-H lenses, with both featuring  an aperture of f/1.6, and intelligent photography including AI-powered Real-Time Scene and Object Recognition and AI-powered Bokeh Effect;
  • An all-new, simplified EMUI 8.0 based on Android 8.0

Mate 10 Pro_Blue Front.jpg

The Mate 10 Pro features an 18:9 OLED display

The Mate 10 is a 5.9-inch device with a 16:9 IPS display supporting HDR10, while the Mate 10 Pro offers an 18:9 OLED display (also with HDR10 support).

The new dual-camera system is again a joint effort with Leica, and combines a 12 MP color sensor with a 20 MP monochrome sensor, using lenses with a aperture of f/1.6 - and Huawei says this aperture is the "world's largest" for a smartphone. The digital zoom and bokeh effects are AI-powered, along with real-time scene and object recognition.

Mate 10 Pro_Camera.jpg

The new Kirin 970 combines an 8-core CPU with a 12-core Mali-G72 GPU, and includes an NPU (neural processing unit) for AI-related tasks as well as a new dual ISP for the AI-powered camera features mentioned above.

Both phones include a 4000 mAh battery which offers "smart battery management" which Huawei states "understands user behavior and intelligently allocates resources to maximize battery life". The new TÜV-certified fast charging feature supports low-voltage charging of 4.5V / 5A, and Huawei states this will charge the phones from 1% to 20% in 10 minutes, or 1% to 58% in 30 minutes.

Mate 10_Group.jpg

The Mate 10 lineup

The Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro ship with Android 8.0 and a new "simplified" version of Huawei's EMUI interface. Pricing and availablity for the U.S. was not revealed, but the phones will go on sale internationally starting this month for the Mate 10, and mid-November for the Mate 10 Pro.

Mate 10 Pro_Group.jpg

The Mate 10 Pro lineup

While we don't have U.S. pricing yet, European pricing for the Mate 10 with 64GB of storage and 4GB memory is set at €699, and the Mate 10 Pro with 128GB/6GB will be €799.

Source: HUAWEI

Microsoft Once Again Backs Away from Windows 10 Mobile

Subject: Mobile | October 8, 2017 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10 mobile, windows 10

Windows 10 Mobile has been in a holding pattern for a couple of years now. Microsoft has not really announced any new hardware initiatives, but they were also saying, consistently, that the platform would get revisited in some other year. Likewise, they were keeping the mobile OS up-to-date, even tying Insider builds roughly in lockstep with PC build releases. If you were also paying attention to the Windows on ARM announcements, you could assume that Microsoft was waiting for several pieces to fall into place before pushing, once more, with all of their weight.

 

 

Today, Joe Belfiore of Microsoft has tweeted that features and hardware “aren’t the focus”. Windows Central goes on to note that some enterprises have already adopted Windows 10 Mobile.

 

 

He also goes on to discuss initiatives that they’ve attempted to attract app developers. They commissioned works, and even built apps to get third-parties started. They didn’t take off because there wasn’t enough users. (Personally, I was scared off by development requirements and restrictions back in the Windows 8 Developer Preview days, which is an ongoing issue with UWP. That said, the developers that Joe Belfiore is talking about are the type who would publish on iOS, so that’s not an issue for them.)

But let’s think about this for a second. Microsoft still seems to be pushing Windows 10 for ARM, and it’s ever-less likely to be for an upcoming mobile initiative. So, why are they doing that? I can see how they would be concerned that Intel and AMD, in the future, repeat the mistakes of ~2007-2010 and fail to keep up with ARM vendors on an important market segment (which was tablets and mobile phones at the time, but might not be going forward). It could be a good opportunity to make this big change while the rest of the company is struggling with many other big changes, rather than waiting for the dust to settle to try again (although that’s already happened a few time over the last several years). Also, there are some implications for the server market, although I always assumed things like x86 emulation was for the consumer and enterprise markets.

It’s also possible that they don’t really have a cohesive plan. Some of these ideas could be running on momentum alone, until they gradually come to a stop.

Lenovo Announces Limited-Edition ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25

Subject: Mobile | October 5, 2017 - 08:30 AM |
Tagged: thinkpad 25, Thinkpad, t470, Lenovo

It's official! After several years of teasing, Lenovo today has finally unveiled the "Retro ThinkPad."

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Coinciding with the exact 25th anniversary of the release of the first ThinkPad model, the ThinkPad 700C, the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 harkens back to some of the features that have made the ThinkPad brand special over the years.

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Built on the same chassis as the current generation ThinkPad T470, the Anniversary Edition has been updated with some features ThinkPad fans have been yearning for. The IBM-era 7-row keyboard is back, along with the traditional blue accented enter key and the key switch design that helped make the ThinkPad known as the premier option for business users throughout the years.

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The return of a retro-style RGB ThinkPad Logo is a nice additional detail for longtime ThinkPad fans.

We don't know about the complete specifications yet, but so far we know that the base configuration will feature an Intel i7-7500U CPU with an NVIDIA 940MX GPU and a 14-in 1080p matte touchscreen. 

As for pricing and availability, the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25 should be available today, October 5th, on Lenovo's web store for a price starting at $1899. We've been told there's a special deal available today only for the 25th anniversary, but we have no indication of how much that discount is right now.

$1899 is a high price for the specifications, especially compared to other machines in Lenovo's lineup like the T470, but this seems like it will be a low-volume special edition SKU produced for the most dedicated ThinkPad fans.

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We're still waiting to get some hands-on time with the device at the 25th-anniversary event, but we'll report back with more impressions on the ThinkPad Anniversary Edition 25!

Source: Lenovo

Google Announces Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL Smartphones

Subject: Mobile | October 4, 2017 - 04:32 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, pOLED, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 2, pixel, phone, Oreo, google, DxOMark, Android 8, AMOLED

Google has announced the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, the second-gen versions of the Nexus-replacement Pixel which launched last October. We looked at that first Pixel phone, which was the premier Android device at the time, and these new Pixel 2 devices hope to place Google at the top of the heap again (with stiff competition from Samsung, of course).

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The Google Pixel 2 XL (image credit: Google)

The Pixel 2 arrives in a standard version with a 5-inch 1920x1080 AMOLED display, and an XL version with a new 6-inch pOLED display with 2880x1440 resolution. Both phones are powered by the 8-core Snapdragon 835 and feature 4GB of RAM and the option of either 64GB or 128GB of storage (no card slot on either phone).

While the design of the Pixel 2 is largely unchanged compared to last year, with large bezels above and below the display, the Pixel 2 XL comes closer to the ever-popular “all screen” look with its smaller top/bottom bezels.

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The Google Pixel 2 (image credit: Google)

Both phones offer dual front-facing stereo speakers as well, unlike iPhones which have to combine an earpiece speaker and bottom-firing speaker for their stereo effect. The battery capacities are a little different than last year with both Pixel 2 phones, with a 2700 mAh battery (down from 2770 mAh) in the Pixel 2, and a 3520 mAh battery (up from 3450 mAh) in the Pixel 2 XL.

It’s all about camera

Once again, Google is proclaiming the Pixel 2 camera as the best in the industry, and again this is based on testing from DxOMark which has it ranked #1 overall among smartphones. with an incredible 98 out of a possible 100 in their scoring system.

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Image credit: DxOMark

Both sizes of Pixel 2 offer a single 12.2 MP rear camera (sorry, no dual cameras here) with 1.4μm pixels, laser + dual pixel phase detection autofocus, OIS, and a f/1.8 aperture. Fans of simulated lens bokeh have no fear, as Google’s dual-pixel sensor design is said to allow for better portrait-style photos than the original Pixel. Video of up to 4k (but only at 30 FPS) is supported, and an 8 MP f/2.4 camera handles front-facing duties.

More on those new displays

Google has improved the display technology with the Pixel 2, as both versions now offer wide color gamut support (95% DCI-P3 coverage from the Pixel 2, and a full 100% DCI-P3 from the Pixel 2 XL). The displays are now ‘always on’, a handy feature that makes sense from a power standpoint when working with AMOLED panels (and hard to give up once you’ve grown accustomed to it as I did with the Galaxy S8+). Last but not least, covering these new displays is Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which is the most drop-resistant version to date (and is also found on the Galaxy S8/S8+ among other phones).

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A comparison of LCD and OLED technologies (image credit: Android Authority)

The Pixel 2 XL’s “pOLED” display designation suggests a polymer OLED panel, which has the advantage of being much thinner than traditional glass OLED substrates. (Read more about AMOLED vs. P-OLED here.)

The Pixel 2 phones ship with the new Android 8.0 Oreo, with the promise of “minimum” 3 years of OS and security updates. Vanilla Google phone owners (previously Nexus) have enjoyed being the first to new OS updates, and that should still be the case with these new devices. And if you are coming over from another platform - say, Apple, for instance - a “quick switch” adapter is in every box to help transfer data quickly between phones.

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The Quick Switch Adapter in action (image credit: Google)

Google is offering the (unlocked) phone for sale directly from their website, and have partnered with Verizon as the exclusive mobile carrier as they did with the original Pixel. The price? $649 gets you the 5-inch Pixel 2 with 64GB of storage, or double that to 128GB for $100 more. The Pixel 2 XL is available for $849 for the 64GB capacity, with the same $100 premium for a 128GB version. There are also four color options this year, with the whimsical naming fully intact from the previous generation: Just Black, Clearly White, Kinda Blue, and Black & White.

Oh, and one more thing: the 3.5 mm headphone jack is gone.

Source: Google

Svelte yet powerful, Gigabyte's Aero 15 gaming laptop

Subject: Mobile | September 26, 2017 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, aero 15, gaming laptop, gtx 1060, i7-7700hq

Gigabyte's Aero 15 gaming notebook is a mere 19.9mm (0.78") at its thickest point and weighs in at 2.1 kg (4.62lbs), yet it manages to hold respectable components inside.  Intels Core i7-7700HQ along with a proper 6GB GTX 1060, a Samsung 512 GB PCIe SSD and 16GB of DDR4-2400.  That list of parts will set you back $1900, about what you should expect from a gaming laptop; if you want to play Prey and Doom on the road you do have to pay.  Check out The Tech Report's full review to see how it handled a variety of other games.

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"Gigabyte's Aero 15 notebook brings together one of Intel's most powerful mobile CPUs and Nvidia's GTX 1060 6GB graphics chip in a chassis that's well under an inch thick. We put the Aero 15 to the test to see if it can keep its cool under the most demanding workloads."

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Imagination Technologies Announces PowerVR 2NX NNA

Subject: Mobile | September 25, 2017 - 10:45 PM |
Tagged: Imagination Technologies, deep neural network

Imagination Technologies is known to develop interesting, somewhat offbeat hardware, such as GPUs with built-in ray tracers. In this case, the company is jumping into the neural network market with a Power VR-branded accelerator. The PowerVR Series2NX Neural Network Accelerator works on massively parallel, but low-precision tasks. AnandTech says that the chip can even work in multiple bit-depths on different layers in a single network, from 16-bit, down to 12-, 10-, 8-, 7-, 6-, 5-, and 4-bit.

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Image Credit: Imagination Technologies via Anandtech

Imagination seems to say that this is variable “to maintain accuracy”. I’m guessing it doesn’t give an actual speed-up to tweak your network in that way, but I honestly don’t know.

As for Imagination Technologies, they intend to have this in mobile devices for, as they suggest, photography and predictive text. They also state the usual suspects: VR/AR, automotive, surveillance, and so forth. They are suggesting that this GPU technology will target Tensorflow Lite.

The PowerVR 2NX Neural Network Accelerator is available for licensing.

Imagination Technologies Agrees to Canyon Bridge Offer

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | September 23, 2017 - 09:59 PM |
Tagged: Imagination Technologies

Canyon Bridge, a private investment LLC and a believable codename for an Intel processor architecture, has just reached an agreement with Imagination Technologies to acquire most of their company. This deal is valued at £550 million GBP and does not include MIPS Technologies, Inc., which Imagination Technologies purchased on February 8th of 2013.

According to Anandtech, however, MIPS Technologies, Inc. will be purchased by Tallwood Venture Capital for $65 million USD.

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The reason why Imagination Technologies is expected to be split in two like this is because purchasing CPU companies places you under national security review with the United States, and Canyon Bridge is backed by the Chinese government. As such, they can grab everything but the CPU division, which lets another party swoop in for a good price on the leftover.

That said, it is currently unclear what either company, Canyon Bridge Capital Partners or Tallwood Venture Capital, wants to do with Imagination Technologies or MIPS Technologies, Inc., respectively. When Canyon Bridge attempted to purchase Lattice Semiconductor last year, they mentioned that they were interested in their FPGAs, their “video connectivity” products (HDMI, MHL, etc.), and their wireless products (60 GHz, etc.). I would assume that they’re just picking up good technology deals, but it’s also possible that they’re looking into accelerated compute companies in particular.

There’s still a few barriers before the sale closes, but it’s looking like we’re not going to end up with Imagination just merging into an existing player or something.

Source: Reuters