You typically would expect an SoC manufacturer such as Qualcomm to announce what new technology it has planned next at an event such as the Mobile World Congress. However, this time around, Qualcomm has announced a new partnership with Cyanogen to work on the software shipped on next generation reference devices.
Qualcomm makes special devices with every chipset launch, called Qualcomm Reference Devices or QRDs. The program basically simplifies the process for companies to make and sell a device in as little as 60 days. Although Qualcomm uses Android for its devices, it is usually built from internal software repositories with all the basic necessary software to make it work, which is often not optimized.
This is where the partnership between Cyanogen comes in. There are reports that the QRD program has already been updated and that the Snapdragon 200, 400 and 600 series QRDs will be available with Cyanogen OS (not to be confused with CyanogenMod) along with a set of feature options for each device tier.
The partnership would allow manufacturers to be able to customize their experience more on the devices they sell, as well as making the Cyanogen OS more popular on Android devices. Users would also benefit from the partnership, since manufacturers would be able to offer more QRDs with the latest Android and a significantly greater chance for software updates compared to the current QRD.
Latest news reveals Microsoft opening its Windows Phone gates to handset makers in an attempt to skyrocket forward into the mobile market. The company has announced a new reference design hardware sample for potential OEMs and ODMs which includes having reduced hardware requirements to make it easier for new manufacturers to adapt the Windows Phone OS on their handsets.
Having launched the oem.windowsphone.com website, Microsoft will allow any potential manufacturer to view and review key component and design details based on the Qualcomm reference design. Besides the latter, Microsoft has also made the Windows Phone OS more universal, allowing OEMs to install the operating system on current Android handsets.
The move might look surprising and also a bit desperate, however the company has already enlisted quite a few manufacturers up for the grab of this new idea, including HTC, Samsung, ZTE, Huawei, Lenovo, LG Electronics, XOLO, Gionee, Karbonn and Foxconn. However, the idea might backfire and Windows Phone could also lose some substantial ground here if something goes wrong.
“We are pleased to add these new partners to our expanding Windows Phone ecosystem. They will be key contributors to continued growth across price points and geographies for Windows Phone,” said Nick Parker, corporate vice president of the OEM Division at Microsoft.
As you may already know AMD’s new series of graphics cards are officially launched today and we have here for you the AMD Radeon R9 270X review, but we’ve also checked out the R9 280X and R7 260X of which you can see reviews of both on our site’s main homepage, or by searching in the search bar if you’re reading this some time after publication. We have managed to get our hands on a reference AMD R9 270X, a card which is essentially an overclocked HD 7870 brought to market at a lower price point than the HD 7870 originally was.
The specifications can be seen below and a clock speed of 1050MHz on the core and 5600MHz on the memory is a fair bit higher than the 1000MHz and 4800MHz the AMD HD 7870 offered. The higher clock speeds mean the R9 270X is capable of 2.69 TFLOPS over the 2.56 TFLOPS offered by the HD 7870. Like with all new AMD RX-2XX series graphics cards there is Direct X 11.2 support, OpenGL 4.3 support and support for AMD’s new API mantle. AMD have opted for a price point of $199 MSRP for the R9 270X meaning it is actually priced roughly the same as the HD 7870 currently is (the HD 7870 is currently priced to clear so stocks won’t last long) but when the HD 7870 originally came to market it retailed for $349 – so this is $149 cheaper.
The R9 270X we received from AMD was a stock card. As such it comes with the stock clocks of 1050MHz core and 1400MHz (5600MHz effective) memory. There is 2GB of GDDR5 across a 256 bit interface but 4GB versions will be made available by some select AMD partners. Since our R9 270X was a retail OEM unit it came with nothing other than the graphics card in an anti-static bag so we have no accessories or packaging to show you. The AMD Radeon R9 270X is designed to compete with Nvidia’s $200~ offerings which currently consists of the GTX 760 ($249) and the GTX 660 ($180-200) but Nvidia are expected to add a few new models later on this year to combat AMD’s new launches. Without any further ado let us proceed in taking a look at the AMD Radeon R9 270X.
Having already checked out the AMD R9 280X and AMD R9 270X for today’s launch it is now time to take a look at something from the mainstream R7 series and in particular we have the R7 260X with us in this review. The AMD R7 260X is another of AMD’s “new” graphics cards that is actually based on a rehashed card from the HD 7000 series. In particular the R7 260X we have here today is AMD’s $139.99 offering based on the HD 7790. In fact it is more or less identical to the HD 7790 which came to market at about $150 when it was released but can now be had for as low as $115. That said the R7 260X does bring some improvements such as 2GB of GDDR5 as standard (instead of that being a more expensive luxury like it was on the HD 7790) and higher clock speeds.
Those higher clock speeds are quite substantial with a boost from 1000MHz to 1100MHz on the core and 6000MHz to 6500MHz on the memory – that’s roughly 10% on both. That sees an increase in TFLOPS from 1.79 to 1.97. API support is also updated – going from DX 11.1 and OpenGL 4.2 to DX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3 and Mantle API support is also introduced. As mentioned previously the memory is now a standard 2GB configuration as opposed to the either 1GB or 2GB on the HD 7790. This has come at a power cost according to what AMD say, the TDP has been uprated from 85W to 115W but will that show up in testing?
The R7 260X uses the same Bonaire GPU as the HD 7790 did with 896 GCN cores. Despite the seemingly “mediocre” specifications it’s worth noting that the R7 260X is still a great card. The R7 260X is more powerful than an AMD Radeon HD 5870 – the flagship of three generations ago (and a graphics card that I still run inside my own personal rig). However, let’s not dwell on the past and let’s see how well the R7 260X stacks up against the current market offerings.
Last week we saw the release of NVIDIA’s latest graphics range – namely the 700 series and its top model, the GTX 780. In many respects the GTX 780 brings a whole new level of performance to a greater audience and as I showed, there is only a small difference between the 780 and Titan on a single screen.
Working through the new 700 series line-up, NVIDIA are now lifting the lid on their next card, the GTX 770. Like the GTX 780, the GTX 770 has had many rumours surrounding its release and like the 780, these are all related to specifications, performance and most of all the GK104 core and a GTX 680. Like the GTX 780 I first of all want to put one of these rumours to rest and state the reason why. The one that I am referring to is the speculation that GTX680 owners would be able to turn their card into a GTX 770 through a BIOS update. Simply put this CANNOT be done. Whilst both cards share the same GK104 GPU core, there are a number of factors that lead to this impossibility. Like the 780 to Titan comparison, the GTX 770 has a slightly different revision of the GK104 core with varying number s of CUDA cores and texture units, however the most significant factor for the inability to ‘convert’ the GTX680 lies with the on-board memory.
One of NVIDIA’s major shouting points with the GTX770 is the inclusion of memory that runs at a whopping 7Gbps at stock, these are no overclocked ICs either, they are entirely new, so unless you have the ability to unsolder and resolder the ICs on to a GTX 680 as well as change the PCB layout slightly, there is no possibility of changing your card from one to the other.
Whenever a new chipset launches, so does a new reference board from Intel, and today sees the DZ87KLT-75K being the board in question. Now while we can’t divulge huge amounts of information in terms of features to do with the chipset and speaking about performance completely out of question, we can obviously comment on the design of the board and its aesthetics.
Firstly, it is worth noting that you are unlikely to see mass amounts of these boards appear within the retail sector, as they are generally used as reference and media viewing, though you may occasionally see them used in system integrator machines or for OEM purposes, but as it gives a further insight into the upcoming technology, we want to show as much as we can without giving too much away.
You’ll notice some similarities with their previous reference boards including those from Z77 and X79 with the black PCB and blue colour scheme that surrounds it, but with Intel being Intel, it would be wrong not to use their own blue colouring, right? It uses an ATX form factor and is jam packed full of features, so we will try to highlight a few that we can see from a visual perspective, as we don’t really want to get in trouble for breaking any NDA’s.
Around the CPU socket we find two Intel branded blue heatsinks, with one quite small and the other quite the opposite with it being on the large scale and including a skull as we’ve see before from Intel. There is still plenty of space around the CPU socket and a single 8-pin ATX power connector gives us an idea on the power delivery for the CPU giving us a small indication as to what we can work with in terms of overclocking.
The other cooling on the board is a small Intel branded heatsink covering over the chipset Not much else to see here barring some jumpers, SATA ports and a Mini PCI-Express/mSATA expansion slot.
As with all of our previews, we’ve kept the writing short, and focussed more on the videos, and therefore we invite you to check out the video below for a more in-depth look at the design of the board, but don’t expect any benchmarks or performance results, as remember this is just a preview.
Design wise, for a reference board, Intel have really done a great job. The black PCB and the cosmic blue colour scheme really adds a professional feel to it, and the inclusion of the skull shows that it means business, and we can only hope that is reflected in the review in terms of performance and of course; overclocking.
Feature wise, we can see plenty of SATA ports, a nice variety of expansion lanes with x16 and x1 PCI-Express and a legacy PCI lane for those with older generation expansion cards. Also on top of this is the Mini PCI-Express/mSATA slot just beneath the Intel branded chipset cooler for those wanting to add even more functionality to their system. Debug LEDs and quick buttons for power and reset will see overclockers and enthusiasts loving this board too and with plenty of fan headers jotted around the board for extra cooling, which enthusiasts should also welcome with open arms.
Rounding things off, this isn’t a lot more we can say without getting in trouble with our friends at Intel, so we have to cut things a bit short and leave it there, as all of the features that we can mention are in a what you see is what you get style, and hopefully the video has more than shown you that in terms of specifications and of course design.
With talks of this being the last Intel board being produced before they pull out of the DIY market, we can honestly say that they’ve finished things off nicely, but we sure do hope that there is more to come in the future from them, as this is certainly an improvement on the Z77, which was an improvement over its predecessor, so it’s clear to say that Intel are learning and fast, and we hope that the rumours stay as just that; rumours.