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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Apple Announces iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X

Subject: Mobile | September 12, 2017 - 07:09 PM |
Tagged:

Apple today announced the successors to the iPhone 7 (and another, more impressive device), and this time the company has decided to forgo the “S” branding of an incremental update as the new phones are simply the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Though receiving the expected annual updates (SoC, camera, etc.) the phones still have largely similar designs and are offered with the same screen sizes (4.7 and 5.5 inches) and resolutions of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. So what exactly is new?

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

The new iPhone 8 design, which sports a glass back for the first time since the iPhone 4/4S, allowing Apple to add Qi wireless charging to the iPhone 8/8 Plus, has a new SoC under the hood. Both sizes feature the new 6-core Apple A11 Bionic processor, which combines two high-performance and four "efficiency" CPU cores along with Apple's Neural Engine and M11 motion coprocessor.

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The iPhone 8 Plus (image credit: Apple)

During the announcement much was made of camera advancements with the iPhone 8 Plus specifically, with its dual camera system now sporting optical image stabilization for both wide-angle and telephoto cameras - although Samsung was able to beat Apple to the punch with the Note8 announcement last month, with dual-OIS a major feature of the Note8’s rear camera system.

iPhone X

The biggest announcement was saved for last, with an homage to the Steve Jobs Columbo-inspired "one more thing" from CEO Tim Cook at the end of the keynote presentation. The iPhone X (pronounced ten, as this is the Roman numeral - though I imagine just as many people will say “ex” as they did when Apple used this for their OS) will occupy a new premium iPhone space for Apple, segmenting the iPhone in a way they never did in the first ten years.

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The iPhone X (image credit: Apple)

The 5.8-inch display is OLED, and from Apple's remarks on this it could be inferred that we are going to see the first RGB-stripe OLED display on a phone, rather than the PenTile matrix subpixel layout common to existing AMOLED displays (here's hoping).

“The beautiful 5.8-inch Super Retina display is the first OLED panel that rises to the standards of iPhone, with stunning colors, true blacks, a million-to-one contrast ratio and wide color support with the best system-wide color management in a smartphone. The HDR display supports Dolby Vision and HDR10, which together make photo and video content look even more amazing. The addition of True Tone dynamically adjusts the white balance of the display to match the surrounding light for a more natural, paper-like viewing experience.”

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The top of the display houses the TrueDepth camera system (image credit: Apple)

iPhone X is a striking design, though far less impressive than it might have been if Samsung had not released the Galaxy S8 - with its beautiful edge-to-edge display - beforehand. A (nearly) full-body OLED front display (featuring what Apple is calling "Super Retina HD" resolution) on the iPhone X is interrupted by an upper area occupied by a cluster of cameras and other devices required to make the new FaceID system function, which creates an odd protrusion into the screen that is especially cumbersome when the device is in its horizontal position (as a result full-screen videos do not use the full width of the display, either).

In what this editor considers a concession masquerading as progress, FaceID likely replaces an in-display fingerprint sensor which neither Apple nor Samsung have been able to successfully implement. For their part Samsung slapped a clunky sensor on the rear of their GS8/GS8+, next to the camera sensor (which for some users will be eternally smeared as a result). Apple decided against implementing a rear fingerprint sensor, leaving only a facial recognition tech for biometrically securing the device. This is fine as long as iPhone X users are fine with appearing to take a selfie every time they want to unlock their phone, and the technology (which does work in the dark thanks to IR) seems impressive.

Specs for this new iPhone X include (view the rest from Apple here):

  • SoC: A11 Bionic with Neural engine and embedded M11 motion coprocessor
  • Display: 5.8-inch OLED, 2436x1125 resolution (458 ppi), HDR, True Tone, P3 color
  • Rear Cameras: 12MP wide-angle and telephoto, optical zoom, dual OIS, quad-LED True Tone flash, Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting (beta)
  • Front Camera: 7MP TrueDepth camera, Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting (beta)
  • Face ID: Enabled by TrueDepth camera for facial recognition

The battery "lasts up to 2 hours longer than iPhone 7", but actual capacity was not announced for the iPhone X.

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The dual rear cameras on the iPhone X are in a vertical orientation (image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are priced starting at $699 and $799 for a 64GB model. The iPhone X starts at $999 for 64GB. Pricing for the iPhone 8, which rose $50 from last year's iPhone 7 launch, provides double the base storage capacity to justify the increase. As to the iPhone X, its $999 price tag seems rather shocking at first glance, though Samsung's Note8 is over $900 as well. Needless to say, installment plans will be very popular with this new flagship iPhone.

Source: Apple

Apple 2017 iPhone Keynote from the PC Perspective - 12:45pm ET / 9:45am PT

Subject: Mobile | September 12, 2017 - 10:01 AM |
Tagged: live, video, apple, keynote, iphone, iphone x, iphone 8

Today we are going to re-broadcast and talk over the Apple keynote, giving you some perspective on the new announcements from a more technical standpoint. We will look into the new CPU and GPU architectures as much as Apple will allow us, and we have a diverse crowd of Apple and Android users to discuss and dissect the new features that the iPhones, Apple TV, Apple Watches, etc. might provide.

We will have the live chat open to take questions and comments as we go! (You can find the live chat over on our PCPer Live! page right here.)

Join us at 12:45pm ET / 9:45am PT!

Source: PCPer Live!

The Aorus X5 v7 gaming laptop comes with G-SYNC and overclockability

Subject: Mobile | September 5, 2017 - 03:01 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, aorus, aorus X5 v7, gaming laptop, i7-7820HK, gtx 1070

The interior components of the Aorus X5 v7 are impressive but it is the screen on this 15.6" gaming laptop that deserves attention.  The IPS display is G-SYNC capable with a pre-installed colour scheme and is available in either 2880x1620 or 4k, though the GTX 1070 it contains may have some performance issues at that resolution.  The i7-7820HK and GTX 1070 installed in the laptop are both overclockable though when The Tech Report tested the Command & Control software they found overclocking was far more effective at raising temperatures than performance.  Additional features include a installed 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD with an empty M.2 2280 slot for future upgrading, 16GB of DDR4-2400 and two USB 3.1 Type-C ports one of which supports Thunderbolt 3.  Read more here.

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"Gigabyte's Aorus X5 v7 notebook puts a GTX 1070 and a high-resolution G-Sync display in a relatively thin-and-light package. We thoroughly tested it to see just how much of a slice of gaming goodness it offers on the go."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

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ZTE Axon 7 (US) Update Available

Subject: Mobile | September 2, 2017 - 10:39 PM |
Tagged: zte, axon 7

It’s been a while since ZTE has released an update for their Axon 7, but it looks like they’re still supporting the device with both security updates and new features. The Android version number is still 7.1.1, but 7.1.2 was mostly for Pixel phones, and it would be a little eager to expect Android 8.0. While all cellphone manufacturers should push security updates as quick as possible, because particularly nasty issues can be exploited within hours of a patch being publicly available, not months, at least they are still doing them at all.

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The ZTE Axon 7 was released a little over a year ago.

The most noticeable update is the multi-user support, which adds a colorful icon to your lock screen. When you click it, you’re able to choose the user to login as, create a new one, or create a guest account. I have noticed that the phone is also significantly more responsive, especially when rotating the display, but they might have just shortened the animation. Either way, it feels a lot faster, which is good, regardless of where that performance comes from.

If you're considering a phone from ZTE, then this should give clues about their intended update schedule. It's not Google-level, but it's at least a year, if the Axon 7 is any indication.

Source: ZTE

IFA 2017: Lenovo Announces Yoga 920 and 720 2-in-1 Laptops

Subject: Mobile | August 31, 2017 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: Yoga 920, Yoga 720, yoga, watchband, Star Wars, notebook, Lenovo, laptop, ips, Gorilla Glass, digitizer, Active Pen 2, 4k, 2-in-1

The Yoga 920 is Lenovo’s new “flagship consumer 2-in-1”, and features 8th-generation quad-core processor and a big emphasis on voice control with what Lenovo describes as “far-field microphones for Cortana which will recognizes voice commands in standby mode and from up to 4 meters away”.

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There is also optional digitizer/pen capability with the Yoga 920, featuring Lenovo’s Active Pen 2:

“In the case of the Yoga 920, an optional Lenovo Active Pen 2 with 4,096 levels of pen sensitivity dramatically expands the creative and cross-application potential of the PC. Offering pen-on-paper precision designed to give you no discernible lag, the Lenovo Active Pen 2 with Windows Ink lets you sketch and paint original schematics or annotate existing graphics and documents on the fly. Working on a presentation? Use the pen’s shortcut button to open and check email for any last-minute contributions from the team, sketch them into the presentation, add some color and annotations, then send – all without setting down the pen.”

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The display is ‘nearly bezel-less’ and offers a 13.9-inch 4K IPS panel. The familiar ‘watchband’ hinge is back for this new model, and the machine is quite thin at 13.95 mm (0.55 inches), weighing in at 3.02 lbs.

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Special Star Wars designs are also going to be available with the Yoga 920, as Lenovo explains:

“We are particularly excited to bring to customers limited edition Gorilla Glass cover designs: Yoga 920 Vibes, Star Wars Special Edition Yoga 920 Rebel Alliance and Star Wars Special Edition Yoga 920 Galactic Empire.”

The Yoga 720 is a compact 12-inch design which will be offered at a significantly lower price than the 920, and it is also digitizer/pen capable and offers a fingerprint reader as well.

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The Yoga 920 will be offered with a starting price of $1329.99, while the Yoga 720 will start at $649.99.

Source: Lenovo

IFA 2017: Acer announces passively-cooled Switch 7 Black Edition

Subject: Mobile | August 30, 2017 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: switch 7 black edition, Surface Pro, IFA 2017, ifa, acer, 8th generation core

Today at IFA 2017, Acer's keynote was full of new products arriving in the coming year. The most remarkable product of the bunch is their Switch 7 Black Edition 2-in-1.

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While the Switch 7 Black Edition may not look different than other 2-in-1 devices like Microsoft's Surface Pro initially, there are some surprises underneath the hood.

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First is Acer's innovative cooling solution which they are calling "LiquidLoop." Essentially this is a heatpipe system which circulates through the chassis to cool both the Quad-Core 8th Generation Core processor, as well as a dedicated GPU in the form of the NVIDIA Geforce MX150.

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Omitting the use of any fans in the chassis, Acer claims they can properly cool both the 15W processor and the 25W GPU with this heatpipe system.

As for the GPU, the Geforce MX150 is the Pascal-based successor to the 940MX, which saw popularity in many of these thin and light form-factor devices. While it won't play the latest titles at native resolution, you should expect to be able to play less demanding titles and older games at modest image quality settings. Personally, the idea of a passively cooled computer that can play Rocket League on the go excites me.

Beyond the innovative thermal design, Acer has some more tricks up their sleeve with the Switch 7 Black Edition. 

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Acer AutoStand is a kickstand system designed to operate with one hand, like a traditional notebook hinge. This could be a huge benefit to Acer over the more cumbersome competitors like the Surface Pro where you have to hold the tablet in place as you deploy the kickstand.

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The Switch 7 Black Edition supports Windows Hello through the use of a fingerprint sensor embedded underneath the glass of the screen bezel. This sensor also supports Power on Authentication (POA) so that a single press will turn on the device and log into Windows Instantly.

These features combined with the 12.5-in 2256x1504 IPS display make the Switch 7 Black Edition an attractive alternative to 2-in-1 devices like the Surface Pro. 

All of these cool features come with a steep price tag though. The Acer Switch 7 Black Edition is expected to ship in December in North America for prices starting at $1,699.

Source: Acer