Google's hardware plans for the future are getting bigger. Variety is reporting that Google has hired Manu Gulati, a hardware architect, away from Apple. Gulati is reported as having previously played a significant role in the development of Apple's SoCs for the last eight years and was hired sometime in the last few weeks. His new title at Google is Lead SOC Architect, and he's expected to work on custom chipsets for future Pixel phones. Read More
MediaTek has just announced a new chipset for two of Google's favorite recent projects: Google Assistant and Android Things. The descriptively named MT8516 is a 64-bit ARM platform that includes wireless radios and is designed specifically for voice assistants applications. It looks like Google has one more hardware partner behind Intel and Qualcomm for its future IoT plans. Read More
Qualcomm, one of the world's most renowned mobile chipset manufacturers, has just announced three new chipsets in its Snapdragon 600 and 400 tiers: the 653, 626, and 427. Sure, these aren't as exciting as a flagship 830 would be, but the mid-range market is huge for Qualcomm. The San Diego-based company has actually made some fairly interesting improvements with these new pieces of silicon.
The 653, 626, and 427 all receive a new X9 LTE modem and support for Quick Charge 3.0 and dual cameras. This X9 LTE supports Cat 7 downlink speeds of up to 300MBps, and Cat 13 uplink speeds of up to 150Mbps (up to 50% better than the X8 LTE's uplink speeds). Read More
Intel hasn't been very fortunate in the smartphone chipset business. Despite dominating the personal computing semiconductor space, the company failed to gain traction in mobile in time and struggled to catch up afterward despite trying to crack the entry code from different angles: wearables, IoT, tablets, phones, and so on. Eventually, Intel sort of threw in the towel and decided to close its Atom business and take its time to regroup and think of other ways to tackle the issue.
Its foundry business seems to be the key. See, aside from offering platforms and architectures for chipsets, Intel also has a small side business, Intel Custom Foundry, which produces chipsets for other chipmakers. Read More
The dream is to have smartphone batteries that can last days upon days of use. The reality is that the more power-efficient our smartphones become, the more demanding we are, perpetuating the status quo of lousy battery life. The band-aid solution so far seems to be the speeding of charge times. Qualcomm has its Quick Charge technology, Oppo has its Super VOOC, ASUS has BoostMaster, and MediaTek has Pump Express. The latter just received a boost to version 3.0, marking the first time it uses USB Type-C Power Delivery instead of VBUS current modulation.
The first benefit of Pump Express 3.0 is that it significantly reduces overheating while charging by bypassing all circuitry inside the phone. Read More
The Snapdragon 820 is far from a secret, but today marked the official "launch" of the upcoming chipset from Qualcomm in New York. The 820 is a huge bet for Qualcomm on the future of its high-end SoC business, marrying the latest technologies across the board for what it hopes will be the ultimate mobile processor.
The 820's full specification sheet, such as it is, is below.
The 820 will be manufactured on a 14nm FinFet process, sporting four brand-new Kryo CPU cores designed by Qualcomm. This marks a departure from the ARM reference cores Qualcomm has used exclusively on its 2015 lineup and which have arguably been a source of woe for the company this year. Read More
NVIDIA has been the first few pebbles of the landslide that is CES for the last few years, and 2015 is no different. To kick off the world's biggest consumer tech show, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang started with mobile. The company announced its successor to the Tegra K1 mobile processor, the Tegra X1. This chip includes an octa-core 64-bit CPU married to a 256-core GPU. And that second chip is the killer: it's based on the same architecture as the latest full-sized NVIDIA desktop graphics cards, Maxwell.
While Huang was quick to point out the chip's fantastic graphical capabilities (without going into extreme detail), he also wanted to show off its video rendering prowess. Read More
Though the hardware was mildly refreshed back in June, Google Glass has been running on much the same internals for the better part of two years. With the rise of Android Wear, at least some of us were wondering whether Google still intended to bring its head-mounted wearable system to retail at all. According to the latest report from the Wall Street Journal, Google is indeed planning at least one more version of Glass, this time running on an Intel chipset. The new hardware will reportedly be released next year.
The original and current Glass models use Texas Instruments processors. Read More
At the moment, mobile platforms are vastly dominated by the ARM architecture, licensed to pretty much every major chip/phone maker out there. That isn't stopping Intel from pushing forward with its x86 mobile chips. The latest taker for the Atom line is Chinese manufacturer ZTE, with the oh-so-appropriately-named ZTE GEEK. The 5-inch smartphone was announced at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing.
The GEEK is built around the Atom Z2580 chip, a 2.0Ghz dual-core processor that uses Intel's 32 nanometer fabrication process. (It's even got the familiar "Intel Inside" badge on the back.) It's only the second commercial phone announced that uses the CloverTrail+ series of chips, behind the Lenovo K900. Read More
At ARM TechCon today, the titular purveyor of semiconductors announced its Cortex-A50 series, dubbed "the world's most energy-efficient 64-bit processors." Based on the ARMv8 architecture, the line will launch with the Cortex-A53 and A57 processors, allowing not only for significantly more energy-efficient processing, but SoC scalability that makes the line applicable to devices from smartphones to high-performance servers. The A57 is geared toward high-performance, while the A53 is lauded by ARM as its most power-efficient. Both chips also support 32-bit and 64-bit ARM code, and according to ARM, the A53 can live up to the performance of the Cortex A9 at 60% the die area. Read More