Apple in talks to Acquire Imagination Technologies for PowerVR GPUs

In what is likely good news for Qualcomm, Apple has confirmed they are in talks with mobile graphics designers Imagination Technologies. While Apple has denied making or considering an offer at this point in time, they may yet reconsider. Imagination Technologies is known for their PowerVR series of GPUs, integrated into Apple SoCs since the A4 and used in some Intel Atom SoCs as well; Apple currently owns a decent chunk of Imagination stock already.

Apple has a tendency to bring more and more development in-house. Back in 2008, Apple acquired PA Semi which eventually led to in-house CPU designs started with Swift for the A6 SoC. Bringing the GPU development in-house also makes sense for Apple as it will bring them better control over the direction and vision for the future. By doing their CPU designs, Apple was able to increase their IPC lead their competitors significantly as those firms had to rely on ARM and Qualcomm, both who were slow to the IPC and 64bit game.

If Apple does snatch up Imagination, that leaves Qualcomm and ARM as the only 2 major mobile GPU designers left. This may allow Nvidia to make some gains with their Tegra lineup and might even entice AMD to re-enter the market if the conditions are right.

 

AMD Preparing Updated A8 and A10 APUs

AMD’s strategy regarding APUs is to update the range with small boosts on a regular basis. The new flagship A10-7890K features an increased frequency of 4.1GHz compared to 3.9GHz on the previous model. AMD’s lower-end chip, the A8-7690K will reportedly be at least 100MHz faster than the current A8 APU. According to CPU-World, it’s uncertain if the revised APUs will receive any kind of improvement in terms of GPU frequency. Technically, the latest A8 and A10 products contains four “Steamroller” cores, DirectX 12 functionality, GCN 1.1 architecture, a second-generation video encoding engine (VCE) and fourth-generation unified video decoder (VCE). This allows for smooth, high-quality playback across a number of widely used codecs.

Both APUs employ the latest “Kaveri” design instead of the older “Godavari” process. As a result, the circuitry is improved and allows for a higher and more efficient power delivery. AMD hopes this will entice overclockers, and provide the headroom required to push the frequency even further.

While there’s no official release date, early predictions indicate a release within the next 3-4 months. Performance wise, APUs don’t really interest me as someone opting for extreme-grade hardware. Although, they are very useful for HTPCs and machines without huge gaming demands.

Do you currently use an APU?

Thank you Softpedia for providing us with this information.

Apple Updates iPod Touch with New Soc and Camera

Fans of Apple’s iTouch lineup will have reason to rejoice today. Apple has refreshed their iTouch lineup with both new internal and external features. This new 2015 iTouch will replace the aging 5th generation that launched back in 2012, languishing with relatively old hardware.

While the new iTouch keeps the old 4 inch, 1136×640 screen, the CPU and GPU are upgraded significantly. From the old A5 Soc, the new A8 SoC is a significant improvement, being used in the iPhone 6 as well. Though the A8 Soc is underclocked a bit to 1.1 GHz from the standard 1.4 GHz, the lower resolution should actually make the iTouch faster than the iPhone 6 in games. Other changes are a bump in RAM to 1GB, added new M8 motion coprocessor (step, distance, elevation tracking) and support for Metal, iOS 9 and 64bit.

Other changes include the removal of the camera strap and a more pronounced camera bump. The camera itself also gets a bump to 8MP form 5MP though the flash is not upgraded. Connectivity is upgraded to support 802.11ac Wi-Fi which is quickly becoming standard. Capacities come in at 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB for $199, $249, $299, or $399.

While the iPad and iPhone are the major iOS devices, the iTouch still serves an important role in being the entry point for new users, whether they be a younger pre-phone audience or for those who still use feature phones. This does put an end to rumors suggesting Apple would drop the iTouch. The iPod Nano and Shuffle also got updated with new colors today. The iTouch can be found on sale here and Apple’s press release here.

AMD Could Release a New Kaveri APU Soon

AMD are forever in the back seat of the CPU market, but in recent years they have dominated the low price point gaming sector with their line up of Accelerated Processor Units (APU). This is basically a hybrid CPU with real GPU cores crammed in.

The newest version, Kaveri has been with us for a few months, based on the FM2+ socket; with its flagship unit being the A10-7850k  (review here). Now there seems a new flagship APU is floating around the internet, dubbed the A10-7870k. The A0-7870k, on paper, it looks to be the same as the A10-7850k with a higher base clock; set to 3.9GHz.

Along with the A10-7870k, there are rumours of another lower spec chip, the A8-7670k. This follows a similar suit to the A10-7870k, by looking to be a beefed up version of its predecessor, the A8-7650k (review here). Pricing is still unconfirmed, but pre-order pricing of around 175EURO has been seen on some websites.

The new chips will be placed under the Kaveri series, but with the rumoured launch of Godavari, or Kaveri Refresh APU’s due this Summer, is this a strategic launch from AMD to fill the gap and draw our attention elsewhere? Who knows.

Are you an APU user? Will you be changing to these new APU’s on release or will you be waiting for the release of the Godavari to change your system? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to ComputerBase.de for providing us with this information.

Samsung to Make Apple A9 Chips for the Next iPhone

Samsung has won the new contract to build Apple A9 processors for the next iPhone model, stealing the role back from rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), sources close to the matter have revealed to Bloomberg. Samsung will begin manufacture of the A9 chip at its Giheung plant in South Korea, while additional orders will be handled by Samsung partner Globalfoundries Inc.

Prior to the A8 chip, Samsung was Apple’s go-to semiconductor manufacturer, but their relationship crumbled after a series of legal disputes, at which point Apple opted for TSMC as its new chipmaker. Reclaiming the Apple processor contract will help Samsung challenge TSMC, which became the second-largest chip manufacturer during its time providing chips for Apple’s iPhones and iPads, with the semiconductor industry market worth an estimated $300 billion.

Song Myung Sup, an analyst from Seoul’s HI Investment & Securities, thinks that Samsung’s new contract might bring further contracts, saying, “If Globalfoundries quickly adopts Samsung’s most advanced technology and increases yield, it could also win orders from Qualcomm.”

Samsung, Globalfoundries, and Apple all refused to comment.

AMD A8-7650k Kaveri APU Review

Introduction


In January 2014 AMD unveiled its latest generation of accelerated processing units dubbed “Kaveri”. The range was formed of the A10-7850K flagship, the A10-7700K mid-range part and the entry-level & low power A8-7600; of which a previous comparison can be found here. These new range of APU’s brought forward a new leap in internal graphic processing units (iGPU); making them more powerful and energy-efficient than ever before. Today we have the newest addition to the lineup, the A8-7650k. This chip is based on the A8-7600, but has been given the famous AMD ‘Black Edition’ treatment, allowing the user to overclock the core somewhat freely. Pricing in today’s market is paramount, and producing a fully unlocked processor for the same price as its predecessor is mind-boggling.

AMD seem to know how to pile the goodies into their products, offering a multitude of graphical advantages at such a low price throughout its entire range of APU’s.

Are we expecting anything different with this newest addition? I’d say not, with the same architecture as its little brother, the A8-7600, but just an unlocked multiplier and configurable TDP, we may seem some small gains once overclocked.

AMD Launches Elite Software for APU Based Systems

AMD has launched the new and free Elite Experiences software to enhance the functionality of their APU series. Sadly these function are limited to the mobile version, so desktop users will lose out this time. The logic behind it is however clear as most stationary systems don’t have the extra hardware needed for it to work. I still hope that it’ll be made available on a ‘use at your own risk’ basis for the desktop users who do own a webcam.

The new system brings a row of new functionality to the mobile hybrids with Face Login, Gesture Control, Quick Stream Technology, Perfect Picture and Wireless Display. These are functions that for the most part already exists, but in the past they usually were custom-created software by the hardware-manufacturers. Now there is a unified experience for all mobile AMD APU users with A10, A8 and A6 APUs from 2013 or newer.

AMD Face Login is a software that uses your webcam and enhanced image processing to recognize if the face in front of the camera matches one stored in the database. This way the software allows access to Windows and certain websites without requiring keying of passwords. AMD Face Login is designed as a convenient tool to help you log into Windows and many popular websites quickly and should not be used to protect your computer and personal information from unwanted access. However, it isn’t just some simple image matching algorithm and it won’t work to just hold a photo of someone up to the webcam. For extra security, you can let the system automatically lock your windows session or put the computer it into sleep when you leave the work area. The software can store up to 40 different images for the facial recognition.

AMD Gesture Control is a software that utilizes advanced real-time image processing and machine vision algorithms to track a user’s hand gestures and convert them into commands. These commands are then used to control functions and software within the device, creating a more natural user interaction.

Supported gestures are waving left and right and swiping your hand upwards. It also recognizes the mute gesture when you put a finger in front of your mouth to go “Shh”. Virtual mouse controls are performed by holding up an index finger and you can grab objects by making a fist. Clicking sounds tricky as you’ll have to keep the hand steady while quickly dipping the standing finger from vertical to a horizontal position and back up. The mapping of the gesture movements can be customized to any standard windows short-key.

AMD Wireless Display allows a computer to send up to 1080p HD video and 5.1 surround sound to a Miracast-compatible TV, projector or streaming media player. The protocol uses a direct Wi-Fi connection between two devices without involvement of a wireless router and cannot be used to stream to a router access point. AMD Wireless Display is already built into Windows 8.1 and is available from the Devices screen. Just click “Add a wireless display” and follow the instructions on the screen. The option will only be available if your hardware supports it. If you’re worried about DRM protected content, AMD Wireless Display can handle that as well.

The last two parts aren’t really that new, but still useful to have around. AMD Quick Stream was created to make video viewing experiences better. The application helps prioritize and manage software in a bandwidth-constrained environment to prevent stream-stuttering. AMD Quick Stream is essentially a Quality of service (QoS) that prioritises media streams over the rest.

The final part mentioned is the AMD Perfect Picture that is a set of optimizations and settings designed to improve and provide controls for video quality. It has options available for basic and advanced colour, video quality, AMD Steady Wide, Global video quality and accelerated video conversion. This is however a familiar function to all of us that have used AMD cards.

Thank you AMD for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of AMD

iPhone 6 Set To Feature A Dual-Core A8 CPU Clocked At 2GHz

News surrounding the iPhone 6 is unsurprisingly fruitful as ever and even though Apple themselves are keeping their cards very close to their chest, so-called leaks and rumours are circulating around very freely.

The latest information that we’re now hearing with the upcoming iHandset is in relation to the processor that will be at the heart of everything. Interestingly enough it seems that, according to Chinese site Cnbeta, the iPhone 6 will follow in the footsteps of its older siblings with a dual-core processor, although the clock speed has been ramped up to 2GHz – a full 700MHz increase over the 5S.

In addition to the faster clock speed, the sources also suggest that the A8 CPU will be running on a 20nm architecture, down from the 28nm architecture of the current A7 – we all know Apple like to save space so why the hell not shrink the CPU.

Even though the A8 processor will be smaller and faster than the A7, it is still only dual-core and with most Android based phones today featuring quad-core chips, deciding whether or not this is a bold more or not is yet to be decided – sure Apple are likely to move to quad-core in the future, but when exactly is anyone’s guess.

As with all rumours and supposed leaks, we don’t know if this is the definite specification that will be seen at launch so lets just continue sitting where we are, looking at information trickle in as we make up a picture of what could be the real deal.

Source: T3

AMD Announces the Specifications for its Upcoming Kaveri Mobility APUs

It appears that AMD has just revealed the specifications of their upcoming Mobility Kaveri APU lineup via AMD’s website, indicating that the company is planning to launch the lineup as soon as possible, having Computex 2014 in June as possible date of launch.

The AMD Mobility Kaveri APU lineup is said to come with the most basic features compared to the desktop Kaveri lineup launched in January, arriving in a variety of SKUs such as A-series, FX and Pro A-series APUs. There is also information of technologies such as Dual Graphics, Face Login, Eyefinity, Gesture Control, Wireless Display, Quick Steaming Technology and Start Now which would be available on the models.

In terms of specifications, the FX-7600P, which is also said to be the mobile platform APU, will feature 4 CPU cores and 8 GPU cores, while the x86 Steamroller would be clocked at 2.7 GHz stock and 3.6 GHz while in boost, having a 4 MB L2 cache and displaying a GCN graphics of 512 stream processors operating at 686 MHz with a TDP of 35W. The APU is also said to support 32 GB DDR3 memory having speeds of up to 2133 MHz.

The A10 Mobile Kaveri APU series includes the A10-7400P, having 4 CPU cores and 6 GPU cores, while the x86 Steamroller APU will be clocked at 2.1 GHz stock with a boost speed of 3.3 GHz. Looking at the cache, the L2 will present the same 4 MB cache as the FX version previously mentioned, while the GCN graphics will boast 384 streaming processors working at 654 MHz with a TDP of 35W. The amount of memory and frequency support is similar to the FX model, having a 32 GB DDR3 memory limit with up to 2133 MHz operating frequency.

The more business-oriented Pro model includes the A10 PRO-7350B, featuring 4 CPU and 6 GPU cores. The x86 Steamroller is said to be clocked at 2.1 GHz stock and 3.3 GHz in boost, while boasting a 4 MB L2 cache with a GCN graphics of 384 stream processors working at 553 MHz with a TDP of 19W. The APU will support 32 GB DDR3 with a working frequency of up to 1600 MHz.

The rest of the Kaveri Mobility lineup can be viewed below:

A few benchmarks have been made with the lineup, and the results show that AMD is gaining some ground in terms of gaming performance, since the retail FX-7500 is currently ahead of the ULV Maxwell and even the A10-7300 is showing its power ahead of Intel’s i7-4500U, i5-4200U and i3-4010U. The 3DMark11 and PCMark8 benchmark results can be viewed below:


In addition to the above, it is said that there is also a small chance of AMD along with its OEM partners will introduce the Crystal Series-based notebooks along with the mobility APU launch. Information about the new Crystal Series GPU also mention some enhancements including GCN 1.1 architecture, with a probability of offering Dual Graphics support along with the Kaveri Mobility lineup. A list of the latter GPUs can be viewed below:

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of WCCFTech

AMD’s Revenue Propels By 38% At The End Of Q4 2013, $1.59 Billion Recorded

AMD has related its financial situation today at the Q4 2013 Earnings Conference, where they have detailed their milestones, earnings and overview of their company’s financial situation. They have stated that they were successful in executing their “3 step strategic turnaround”, which ultimately lead to “transform” AMD.

According to AMD’s officials, they have accelerated their business growth during the 2013 year, leading to profit growth in the second half of 2013 by diversifying their product range from semi-custom SoCs, ARM and all the way to the PC component market.

In Q4, AMD reported a $1.59 billion revenue, a 9% sequential increase and 38% annual increase since 2012. They have also exceeded the goal for the semi-customed and embedded market with a 20% revenue growth in this sphere for the Q4 2013, ultimately leading to their expectations of reaching a 50% increase in revenue by 2015.

The embedded and semi-customed market propelled the business in Q4, where the demand for Sony and Microsoft had been met and both companies combined sold and estimate of 7 million next-gen consoles in less than 2 months (double than the previous number of consoles sold in their first quarter).

In terms of graphics solutions, AMD pointed to an excellent year in growth revenue, pointing to the dual FirePro graphics solution inside Apple’s Mac Pro. Though, the R7 and R9 chips have also been brought up, where they related a sequential increase in revenue from the chip demands, which they are expected to see in 2014 as well.

APUs and FX CPUs have also seen a steady increase during the third and all the way to the fourth quarter of 2013, having the launch of the Kaveri chipset market as a turning point and an exponential increase in revenue. AMD is aiming to provide a performance oriented solution at a reasonable price, having mentioned the A8 and A10 series of Kaveri CPUs as the best alternative to other competitors, which we mainly think is Intel’s Haswell.

The hardest part comes last, where AMD is aware of the 2013 decrease in the PC market, which they felt as well, and are continuing to cautiously approach it during 2014. They have predicted a slight decrease in 2014 as well and have stated to tackle the decrease quarter by quarter, while managing their expansion into other areas where AMD is not strongly represented to compensate their estimated loss in the PC sphere this year.

All in all, AMD has been keeping in on the green last year, and are going to do the same in 2014 by getting more involved in the semi-customed SoC, embedded and ARM markets.