Qualcomm and Microsoft bring full Windows 10 to Snapdragon devices

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

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

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

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

Software is the silver bullet though.

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

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

Windows_10_build_14393_(Redstone).png

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

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

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

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

Full press release after the break!

Source: Qualcomm

Ben Heck Tears Down (and Repairs) a Virtual Boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Source: Ars Technica

Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 offers 20% faster charging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full release after the break!!

Source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm Teases Snapdragon 835, built on Samsung 10nm FinFET

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

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

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

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

qualcomm-logo.jpg

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

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

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

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

Full press release after the break!

Source: Qualcomm
Author:
Manufacturer: MSI

We have a lot of gaming notebooks

Back in April I did a video with MSI that looked at all of the gaming notebook lines it built around the GTX 900-series of GPUs. Today we have stepped it up a notch, and again are giving you an overview of MSI's gaming notebook lines that now feature the ultra-powerful GTX 10-series using NVIDIA's Pascal architecture. That includes the GTX 1060, GTX 1070 and GTX 1080.

What differentiates the various series of notebooks from MSI? The GE series is for entry level notebook gaming, the GS series offers slim options while the GT series is the ultimate PC gaming mobile platforms. 

  GE series GS series GT62/72 series GT 73/83 series
MSRP $1549-1749 $1499-2099 $1499-2599 $2199-4999
Screen 15.6" and 17.3"
1080p
14", 15.6" and 17.3"
1080p and 4K
15.6" and 17.3"
1080p, G-Sync
17.3" and 18"
1080p, 4K
G-Sync (varies)
CPU Core i7-6700HQ Core i7-6700HQ Core i7-6700HQ Core i7-6820HK
Core i7-6920HQ
GPU GTX 1060 6GB GTX 1060 6GB GTX 1060 6GB
GTX 1070 8GB
GTX 1070 8GB (SLI option)
GTX 1080 8GB (SLI option)
RAM 12-16GB 16-32GB 12-32GB 16-64GB
Storage 128-512GB M.2 SATA
1TB HDD
128-512GB M.2 SATA
1TB HDD
128-512GB PCIe and SATA
1TB HDD
Up to 1TB SSD (SATA, NVMe)
1TB HDD
Optical DVD Super-multi None Yes (GT72 only) Blu-ray burner (GT83 only)
Features Killer E2400 LAN
USB 3.1 Type-C
Steel Series RGB Keyboard
Killer E2400 LAN
Killer 1535 WiFi
Thunderbolt 3
Killer E2400 LAN
Killer 1535 WiFi
USB 3.1 Type-C
3x USB 3.0 (GT62)
3x USB 3.0 (GT72)
Killer E2400 LAN
Killer 1535 WiFi
Thunderbolt 3
5x USB 3.0
Steel Series RGB (GT73)
Mechanical Keyboard (GT83)
Weight 5.29-5.35 lbs 3.75-5.35 lbs 6.48-8.33 lbs 8.59-11.59 lbs

Our video below will break down the differences and help point you toward the right notebook for you based on the three key pillars of performance, price and form factor.

Thanks goes out to CUK, Computer Upgrade King, for supplying the 9 different MSI notebooks for our testing and evaluation!

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

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

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

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

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Source: Kitguru

Google's Daydream View Available on November 10th

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

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

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

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

Source: Google

NES Classic PCB Pictured Online

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

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

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Image Credit: Peter Brown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mate_9_1.jpg

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

Mate_9_2.jpg

Specifications:

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

Mate_9_Lens.jpg

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

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

Source: Huawei