Qualcomm pushes LTE forward again, up to 2 Gbps with Snapdragon X24 modem

Subject: Mobile | February 14, 2018 - 04:46 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, modem, 4g lte, x24

Hot on the heels of the 5G momentum that saw Qualcomm announce working with 18 different device OEMs and 18  different network providers to bring 5G hardware and carriers online for wide adoption in 2019, the mobile giant is launching another 4G LTE modem. The new Snapdragon X24 LTE modem will provide connectivity speeds as high as 2.0 Gbps (Cat 20) and happens to be the first chip officially announced to be built on a 7nm process technology. It will be shipping in products by the end of 2018.

x24slides-14.jpg

With the 5G wave of products just on the horizon it might seem odd to see Qualcomm launch yet another LTE modem, especially one that offers such high performance and capability. The truth is that while 2019 will see the first nationwide (and global) 5G networks launched, 4G LTE will remain a fallback for the many years going forward. In fact, the first 5G devices (phones, laptops, tablets) will be connected to both 5G and 4G networks simultaneously to maintain connectivity through location changes. This will be temporary as the 5G networks scale to outdoor and internal designs, but expect that to be the case for at least 5 years.

As a result, newer LTE modems will remain a key differentiation point for mobile devices and chipsets. While the Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform (Sebastian recently posted a story with early benchmarks if you’re interested) uses the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, which only runs at 1.2 Gbps peak download rate, the new X24 will start by shipping as a discrete modem/chip solution. As has been the case with the X16 and X20 before it, you should then expect to see the X24 integrated into the next-generation of Qualcomm Snapdragon application processor.

x24slides-17.jpg

Obviously the flagship feature of this new modem is its ability to raise peak download speeds to 2.0 Gbps, doubling that of the X16 modem that brought Gigabit-class LTE to the world. This is possible due to the chips ability to handle 7x CA (carrier aggregation) downlink and improved unlicensed spectrum support. You can see from the diagram above that the X24 modem greatly increases the complexity and potential combinations of spectrum.

The Snapdragon X24 also marks the first publicly announced 7nm chip in the world. Though it wasn’t confirmed by Qualcomm, this is being made at TSMC, the only foundry with currently available 7nm technology in place. This move to a new technology means Qualcomm can offer a chip that is smaller and more power efficiency than would be possible on 10nm or 14nm nodes. The company also has the world’s first 14nm RF transceiver chip to pair with the X24 modem, another improvement in power and space efficiency.

Qualcomm will be demonstrating the new Snapdragon X24 modem technology running at 2.0 Gbps at Mobile World Congress, working with Ericsson, Telstra, and Netgear later this month.

Source: Qualcomm

The SDM845 Reference Platform and CPU Results

The Snapdragon 845 is Qualcomm’s latest flagship mobile platform, officially announced on December 6 and known officially as the SDM845 (moving from the MSMxxxx nomenclature of previous iterations). At a recent media event we had a chance to go hands-on with a development platform device for a preview of this new Snapdragon's performance, the results of which we can now share. Will the Snapdragon 845 be Qualcomm's Android antidote to Apple's A11? Read on to find out!

SDM845_Platform.jpg

The SDM845 QRD (Qualcomm Reference Design) Device

While this article will focus on CPU and GPU performance with a few known benchmarks, the Snapdragon 845 is of course a full mobile platform which combines 8-core Kryo 385 CPU, Adreno 630 graphics, Hexagon 685 DSP (which includes the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine), Spectra 280 image processor, X20 LTE modem, etc. The reference device was packaged like a typical 5.5-inch Android smartphone, which can only help to provide a real-world application of thermal management during benchmarking.


Qualcomm Reference Design Specifications:

  • Baseband Chipset: SDM845
  • Memory: 6 GB LPDDR4X (PoP)
  • Display: 5.5-inch 1440x2560
  • Camera:
    • Front: IMX320 12 MP Sensor
    • Rear: IMX386 12 MP Sensor
  • Audio:
    • No 3.5 mm headset jack (Analog over USB-C)
    • 4 Digital Microphones
  • Connector: USB 3.1 Type-C
    • DisplayPort over USB-C

At the heart of the Snapdragon 845 is the octa-core Kryo 385 CPU, configured with 4x performance cores and 4x efficiency cores, and offering clock speeds of up to 2.8 GHz. In comparison the Snapdragon 835 had a similar 8x CPU configuration (Kryo 280) clocked up to 2.45 GHz. The SDM845 is produced on 10 nm LPP process technology, while the SD835 (MSM8998) was the first to be manufactured at 10 nm (LPE). It is not surprising that Qualcomm is getting higher clock speeds from this new chip at the same process node, and increases in efficiency (the new 10nm LPP FinFET process) should theoretically result in similar - or possibly even lower - power draw from these higher clocks.

Continue reading our performance preview of the new Snapdragon 845 mobile platform!!

Qualcomm 5G devices coming in 2019, leaving Apple behind

Subject: Mobile | February 8, 2018 - 11:01 AM |
Tagged: qualcomm, 5G, 5g nr, x50, snapdragon, apple, Samsung

This story originally appeared on ShroutResearch.com.

With significant pressure to show the value and growth opportunities for the company with a looming hostile takeover bid from Broadcom, mobile chip design house Qualcomm is hoping that its position in the market of next-generation cellular radio technology will be a foundation of its future. The company revealed today partnerships with 18 global OEMs that will be launching 5G-ready devices in 2019 and 18 worldwide cellular carriers will be completing tests of Qualcomm 5G radios in 2018.

5G is the follow up iteration to the current 4G cellular technology in the majority of the world’s smartphones. It will improve speed of connectivity, lower latency, and transform numerous markets from self-driving cars to industrial automation. And it can do all of this while lowering the load on carrier networks, giving all users a noticeable increase in performance and usability.

qcx50ref.jpg

Qualcomm has been leaning on this 4G-to-5G transition as a portion of its long-term plan and strategy for many years. As a part of the company’s recent call to action for shareholders to resist the hostile takeover from Broadcom, the San Diego-based company believes that it has a 12-24 month lead over competing connectivity providers, namely Intel. This position will allow Qualcomm to capitalize on what many believe could be the most disruptive and market shifting wireless transition in history.

To maintain the leadership role, despite mass-market availability being limited to 2019 products, Qualcomm has announced partnerships with 18 different OEMs that will build those products using the Snapdragon X50 modem. This modem was the first announced to support the finalized specification of 5G radios. OEMs like LG, HTC, Sony, ASUS, and vivo are committed to using the X50 modem in devices ranging from next-generation smartphones to Windows-based PCs.

There has been talk that 5G products would not be available until 2020, but Qualcomm believes that 5G will have an impact on revenue a year earlier than that. This collection of phone and device providers puts Qualcomm well ahead of Intel in terms of integration and support in the market, something Qualcomm has believed would be the case but is only now finally confirmed. Commercialization of 5G and collaborations with the leading device manufacturers will push Intel further back in the race, with time running out for it to catch up.

Two big OEMs are missing from the list in Qualcomm’s announcement: Samsung and Apple. While it makes sense that Apple would not want to be included in the public statements from Qualcomm considering the continuing legal dispute between the two companies, there is a legitimate question as to whether Apple will be an early-adopter of 5G technology at all. It has shown in the past that it is more than willing to let others experiment and drive wireless technology shifts on the networks, with both the iPhone 3G and first iPhone with LTE (iPhone 5) lagging behind other smartphones by several quarters. If Apple choses to not integrate the Qualcomm modem, it will depend on Intel to provide a solution instead, and could miss out on 5G technology for all of 2019.

Not seeing Samsung as a part of this announcement from Qualcomm is more surprising, but likely an omission of politics than of technology. I recently wrote about the extension and expansion of the licensing agreement between Samsung and Qualcomm and it is unlikely that this contract would not have included the X50 modem for 5G. I expect the 2019 models of Samsung’s Galaxy devices to include the Qualcomm chip as well.

The second part to this story is that 18 different global cellular carriers, including Verizon and AT&T in the US, China Mobile, and SK Telecom, will be testing 5G with Qualcomm devices and infrastructure in 2018. These validation tests are used to demonstrate the capabilities of new wireless technology and finalize the implementation methods for the hardware in the field.

These two announcements put Qualcomm in the driver’s seat for 5G adoption and integration. 5G will offer consumers speeds 4-5x faster than today’s top offerings, lower latency for more responsive web browsing and new capabilities like streaming virtual reality. It will make Wi-Fi less necessary. The cellular carriers will take advantage of 5G for its ability to run more data through existing infrastructure, opening capacity for more users, devices, and upgradable services.

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: AMD

Overview

For the first time in several years, the notebook market has gotten very interesting from a performance standpoint. First, we had Intel’s launch of its Kaby-Lake Refresh 8th Generation processors which packed a true quad-core CPU into a 15W package. Then, we heard about AMD’s Raven Ridge which aimed to combine a quad-core mobile CPU with Radeon Vega graphics into that same 15W power target.

Even though the excitement over Raven Ridge may have subsided a bit after Intel and AMD’s joint announcement of Vega graphics combined with Intel CPUs in the Kaby-Lake G platform, that is still yet to be released and will reside in a significantly higher class of power usage.

So today we are taking a look at AMD’s Raven Ridge, what may be AMD’s first worthy entry into the thin-and-light notebook market.

slide1.png

For our Raven Ridge testing, we are taking a look at the HP Envy x360, which at the time of writing is the only machine to be shipping with these Ryzen Mobile processors (although more machines have been announced and are coming soon). Additionally, we also wanted to wait a while for the software ecosystem on this new platform to stabilize (more on that later).

Continue reading our look at the new HP notebook powered by AMD Ryzen Mobile!

ZTE Axon 7 (US) Update Pushed -- Not Oreo, But Needed

Subject: Mobile | January 27, 2018 - 11:01 PM |
Tagged: zte, axon 7

Until this weekend, the ZTE Axon 7 was running on the August patch level of Android 7.1.1. The phone manufacturer was hinting that Oreo could be provided, and a few leaks have shown Android 8.0 running on the device. My assumption was that ZTE was just holding off on updates until their build of Android 8.0 is ready.

Today, my phone was updated to Android 7.1.1 with the December patch level.

zte-2018-axon7-update-jan.png

To me, this says that – well, one, the Blueborne and KRACK vulnerabilities are finally fixed. Two: if ZTE was holding out on updates until Android 8.0, then they no longer expect to ship it in the immediate future. They could still be working on it, and I’m guessing that they are unless they found a showstopper bug that simply cannot be worked around, but it’s slower than they projected.

That said, I’m glad that ZTE is still patching their device, two years later. The availability of updates is a major factor in my choice of which phone to buy. While I’ve had some hiccups with it, it’s been well worth the price, and software support is a big differentiator in that category. Sure, it’s not going to compete with Google’s first-party devices, especially in terms of update frequency, but it’s not competing with Google’s first-party devices.

Let’s see how long the support will last.

Source: ZTE

Lenovo's Yoga 920; Thunderbolt and a battery chock full of lightning

Subject: Mobile | January 25, 2018 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, Yoga 920

Sadly this is not the Yoda 920 model, however even the non-special model of Lenovo's Yoga 920 is worth taking a look at.  The entire body of the 14" convertible is metal to lend this tiny machine some stability and it features Lenovo's lovely watchband style hinge.  As you can see in the picture below, a Sharpie is thicker than the Yoga 920 which does mean the chiclet style keys do not have much travel, which TechSport noted but did not find to offer a bad typing experience.  The new Yoga also features Thunderbolt 3.0 and a 70WH battery which fared very well in the battery tests they performed in the full review.

2018-01-22-image-2.jpg

"With a 14" foldable display, an 8th-gen Core i7 CPU, and a premium-looking design, the new Lenovo Yoga 920 is aimed at business professionals who want a sleek laptop that is a solid companion on the go and for use in the board room, too."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

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Source: Techspot

Acer Launches Updated Chromebook Spin 11 Starting at $349

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 25, 2018 - 12:12 AM |
Tagged: wacom, convertible tablet, Chromebook, chrome os, apollo lake, Android, acer

Acer is bringing an updated convertible Chromebook to market in March with the Chromebook Spin 11 being available to consumers and not just through educational channels like the previous models. The 2.75-pound notebook with 360-degree hinge and 11.6” IPS display (1366x768) runs Chrome OS, supports Android apps, and is powered by “all day” battery life and Apollo Lake processors. Unfortunately, Acer is not using Intel’s latest Gemini Lake chips, but the Chromebooks do hit more budget friendly MSRPs as a result with the Chromebook Spin 11 starting at $349.

Acer Chromebook Spin 11.jpg

Acer’s updated silver colored Chromebook features a 360-degree hinge allowing it to be used in tablet mode, laptop mode, or anything in between. The hinge connects the top half with the 11.6” touchscreen and 1MP webcam to the bottom half which holds the keyboard, trackpad, I/O ports, and 5MP camera (intended to be used in tablet mode) along with all the internal battery and processing hardware. External I/O is fairly modern and includes two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C ports, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a headphone jack, and one micro SD card reader. Users can also opt for a Wacom EMR stylus to get pen input on the touchscreen display.

Internal hardware includes an Intel Apollo Lake processor of dual or quad core varieties that sit at 6W TDPs, either 4GB or 8GB DDR4 memory, and 32GB or 64GB of eMMC storage. The processor options include the dual core Intel Celeron N3350 (2.4 GHz), Intel Celeron N3450 (4 core / 4 thread at up to 2.2 GHz), and quad core Intel Pentium N4200 at up to 2.5 GHz.

The keys look fairly large and well-spaced for an 11.6” device save for the arrow keys which are squished into the bottom right corner. There appear to be two bottom firing stereo speakers as well. I am curious how much travel the keys have though.

The updated Chromebook Spin 11 is slated for availability in March for North America starting at $349 and in April at €379 for the EMEA market (Europe, Middle East, Africa).

Also read:

Source: Ars Technica

New Ryzen Mobile Notebooks Now For Sale from Acer, Lenovo

Subject: Mobile | January 24, 2018 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: vega APU, vega 8, vega 10, swift 3, ryzen mobile, raven ridge, Lenovo, ideapad 720s, amd, acer, 2700u, 2500U

Last October, when AMD launched their mobile-oriented Ryzen Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics product line (Raven Ridge), they talked about several different notebooks that would be shipping with these new parts. However, up until now, there has only been one officially launched and shipping product—the HP Envy x360.

We have an article on the performance of the Ryzen 5 2500U and the HP Envy x360 coming very soon, but today Ryzen Mobile-enabled notebooks have become available to order from both Acer and Lenovo.

First, we'll take a look at Acer's offering, the Swift 3.

acerswift3-RR.jpg

For anyone who might be familiar with Acer's current notebook offerings, the Ryzen Swift 3 will seem very similar. From the photos, it appears to be nearly identical to its 8th Generation Intel equipped counterpart. That's certainly not a negative though, as I have been impressed with the Intel variant during some recent testing.

Acer Swift 3
MSRP $749 $949
Screen 15.6” FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Display
CPU Ryzen 5 2500U Ryzen 7 2700U
GPU Integrated Radeon Vega 8 Integrated Radeon Vega 10
RAM 8GB DDR4 Dual Channel (non-upgradable)
Storage 256GB SSD 512GB SSD
Network 802.11ac Dual Band 2x2 MU-MIMO
Display Output

1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
2 x USB 3.0 Type-A
1 x USB 2.0 
1x HDMI

Battery

48Wh Battery, "Up to 8 Hours Battery Life"

As far as specs are concerned, Acer seems to be checking all of the boxes. RAM will ship in a dual-channel configuration (although we don't know at what speed it will be running, likely 2133 or 2400,) but will not be user replaceable according to questions answered by an Acer representative on their Amazon listing.

RR-specs.png

Additionally, Acer seems to be the only notebook maker set to ship the Ryzen 5 2700U variant. Not only does the 2700U give users increased clock speeds of 200MHz at base speeds on the CPU portion, but the GPU sees a significant bump. The 2700U gets an upgrade from Vega 8 graphics with 512 stream processors running at 1100MHz to Vega 10 graphics with 640 stream processors at 1300MHz. This should provide a nice performance boost for the extra $200 Acer is asking.

The Acer Swift 3 is set to start shipping on February 9th from Amazon.

Next up is Lenovo, with their Ideapad 720S.

ideapad720s-RR.jpg

The only 13" Ryzen Mobile option to be announced, the Lenovo Ideapad 720S also shares a lot of design DNA with Lenovo's Intel counterparts.

Lenovo Ideapad 720S
Processor AMD Ryzen 5 2500U
Graphics Integrated Radeon Vega 8
Memory 8GB DDR4-2133 (Single Channel)
Screen 13.3-in 1920x1080 IPS
Storage 512GB PCIe SSD
Camera 720p / Dual Digital Array Microphone
Wireless 802.11AC (1x1) + Bluetooth® 4.1
Connections 2 x USB 3.0
1 x USB 3.0 Type-C (DP & Power Delivery)
1 x USB 3.0 Type-C (DP)
Audio jack
Battery 48Wh "Up to 9.5 hours battery life"
Dimensions

12.0" x 8.4" x 0.5" / 305.9 x 213.8 x 13.6 (mm) 

2.5 lbs (1.14 kg)

OS Windows 10 Home
Price $1049 - Lenovo.com

Disappointingly, the Lenovo Ideapad 720S will ship only in a single memory channel configuration. This will significantly affect the performance of the integrated graphics, as it is highly dependant on memory bandwidth. I wouldn't expect the memory to be user upgradable either; it's likely a single DIMMs worth of memory soldered onto the motherboard.

ideapad720s-specs.png

Curiously, although AMD listed a 2700U variant of the Ideapad 720S in their slides in October, those models have yet to be seen. However, we've seen this before from Lenovo where they start skipping a single SKU that is the most popular configuration and then filling out the rest of the options shortly after.

The Lenovo Ideapad 720S is available to order now directly from Lenovo, with an estimated shipping date or 5-7 business days.

At a price premium above the Acer Swift 3, the Ideapad 720S seems like a hard sell with lack of dual channel memory. However, for users who may be set on a 13" screen size, it appears it will be the only option.

Overall, I am excited to see more AMD-powered options in the thin-and-light notebook category, and I look forward to getting our hands on some of these new models soon!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Dell

Overview

The sub-$1000 notebook market is one that we rarely cover here at PC Perspective. It's not due to a lack of interest from us, but rather from notebook manufacturers.

Generally, companies are only interested in sending out their latest flagship products, which leaves us without much of an opinion on the notebooks that most people actually walk into a brick and mortar retailer to purchase.

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Today, we're looking at one of these more mainstream notebooks which can be found with a quad-core 8th generation Intel processor for under $900—the Dell Inspiron 13 7373 2-in-1.

Dell Inspiron 13 7373 2-in-1 
MSRP $879 (Configuration as reviewed) $1049 $1149 $1299
Screen 13.3” FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS touch display
CPU Core i5-8250U Core i7-8550U
GPU Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM 8GB 16GB
Storage 256GB SATA 512GB SATA
Network Intel 7265 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.2, Dual Band 2.4 & 5 GHz, 2x2
Display Output

1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
1 x HDMI 2.0

Connectivity

1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
1 x HDMI 2.0
3.5mm headphone
SD Card Reader

Audio (2) tuned speakers; audio processing by Waves MaxxAudio® Pro 
Weight 3.2 lbs ( 1.45 kg)
Dimensions 12.91-in x 8.5-in x 0.61-in
(309.6mm x 215.7mm x 15.51mm)
Battery 38 WHr
Operating System Windows 10 Home

It's worth noting that while writing this review, these notebooks have been consistently available for under MSRP. The base configuration we are reviewing of the Dell Inspiron 13 7373 is remarkably well equipped and at the time of writing was available for $749. Considering that the $999 entry level model of the 2018 XPS 13 still comes with a paltry 4GB of system memory and 128GB SSD, this is a great value. For most consumers, including myself, I look at the 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD option as the sweet spot price comparison point between notebooks.

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Continue reading our review of the Dell Inspiron 13 7373 2-in-1!

CES 2018: Samsung Plans To Launch Galaxy S9 at MWC Next Month

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 11, 2018 - 05:20 PM |
Tagged: snapdragon 845, Samsung, MWC, galaxy s9, galaxy, exynos 9810, CES 2018, CES

Samsung confirmed to ZDNet at CES that it plans to launch its new flagship Galaxy S smartphone at Mobile World Congress next month. The company has managed to keep a tight lid on the new devices, which are expected to be named the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+, with surprisingly few leaks. Samsung will reportedly show off the smartphone and announce the official specifications along with the release date and pricing information at its MWC keynote event.

Samsung.jpg

Thanks to the rumor mill, there are potential specifications floating about with a few conflicting bits of information particularly where the fingerprint scanner is concerned. Looking around there seems to be several corroborated (but still rumored) specifications on the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. Allegedly the Galaxy smartphones will feature curved Super AMOLED displays with QHD+ (3200x1800) resolutions measuring 5.8" on the Galaxy S9 and 6.2" on the Galaxy S9+. Further, Smasung is equipping them with dual rear-facing cameras, USB-C, and 3.5mm headphone jack. There are conflicting rumors on the fingerprint scanner with some rumors stating it will feature a fingerprint sensor embedded in the display while other rumors claim that Samsung ran into issues and instead opted for a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.

Internally, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 in the US and Samsung's own Exynos 9810 SoC outside of the US. Cat 18 LTE support is present in either case with faster than gigabit download speeds possible (though less in real world situations). The Galaxy S9 will allegedly be offered with 4GB of RAM and either 64GB of 128GB of storage while the S9+ will have 6GB of RAM and up to 256GB of internal flash storage.

In any case, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are set to be powerhouses with the latest SoCs and (hopefully) large batteries for those infinity displays! It seems that we will have to wait another month for official information, but it should be out within the first quarter which is actually pretty fast considering it seems like the Galaxy S8 just came out (although it was actually last March heh). Mobile World Congress 2018 is scheduled from February 26th to March 1st in Barcelona, Spain.

What are your thoughts on the Galaxy S9 rumors so far? Do you plan to upgrade? This year may be the year I upgrade my LG G3 since the display is dying, but we'll see!

Also read:

 

Source: Ars Technica