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 Finally Launches Datacenter Opteron ARM Chips

Nearly 4 years after AMD first revealed their ARM plans, their first ARM-based Opteron chips are finally ready. Shipping today, the octa-core Opteron A1100 server SoC and platform is already able for purchase from several partners and is available in 3 SKUs. Despite such a late launch, the A1100 may yet find a home in the datacenter.

First off, AMD has done a lot of work to build a comprehensive ARM server SoC. The Opteron features up to eight 64bit A57 cores running at 2Ghz. This puts it roughly in the same space as Intel’s Silvermont Atoms clock for clock. The key is the 4MB of L2 cache and 8MB of L3 cache that connect up to 128GB of DDR4 (DDR3 is limited to 64GB) over a 128bit bus. This is all backed up by an A5 co-processor to handle system control, compression and encryption as well. I/O is impressive as well, offering up to 8 PCIe 3 lanes and 14 SATA3 ports and two 10GbE ports.

While the A1100 will undoubtedly blow its way past Intel Atoms and other ARM competitors as a server SoC, the biggest competition comes from Intel’s big Xeons. At $150, AMD is pricing their chip dangerously close to Intel’s big cores which offer much higher performance and potentially better performance/watt. Still AMD is offering a viable chip to cater to the microservices and cluster-based computing market. If AMD’s in-house K12 arrives on time and on performance, AMD stands a good chance as securing a strong foothold in this market.

GIGABYTE Launches Intel Xeon D-1500 Server Motherboards

Intel launched the very impressive Intel Xeon D-1500 System on Chip (SoC) last year and now GIGABYTE is ready with four new server boards based on this tiny wonder chip. The Xeon D-1500 family is a series aimed at low power and high-density server applications and it great at that as we’ve seen in our review section.

While I said that there are four new motherboards in this line-up, that’s both true and false at the same time. A better way to say it would probably be that there are two new motherboards that each come in two versions. The difference between the two versions is the SoC that has been used. Two of the motherboards use an Intel Xeon D-1521 processor while the other two use the faster Intel Xeon D-1541 processors. The motherboards are identical on all the other parts than the SoC.

The MB10-DS4 and MB10-DS3 server motherboards come with four cores/eight threads and eight cores/sixteen threads respectively from the SoC and are equally well packed on connectivity. Despite the small mITX form factor, these motherboards still pack dual 10GbE SFP+ LAN ports as well as dual 1GbE LAN ports for optimal connectivity. There’s also a dedicated IPMI 2.0 remote management port with iKVM support. With four DIMM slots, these motherboards can take up to 128GB ECC DDR4 memory and run it at 2133MHz.

Being server motherboards, these come with a rear IO ID button as well as a power button and LEDs for quick diagnostics. There’s also a D-Sub VGA port and two USB 3.0 ports. You can connect two more USB 3.0 ports via the onboard header, but we don’t find any USB 2.0 at all. There are six SATA ports for your drives and you also get a single PCI Express x16 Gen3 slot on the motherboard. The integrated display option is powered by the well-known Aspeed AST2400.

We find the same setup as on the above motherboards when we look at the MB10-DS1 and MB10-DS0 server motherboards, except for one difference. These motherboards don’t have the two 10GbE LAN ports that the above two come with. The faster network connection is something that will increase the price slightly per system which in return quickly runs up when a lot of systems have to be deployed. If you don’t need it, then don’t pay for it and get the versions without. It’s great to see so many options for what’s basically one motherboard with a few changes each time.

Wall Street Analysts Want Qualcomm to Merge with Intel or AMD

Despite being one of the largest firms in the smartphone SoC market, Qualcomm has been seen some trouble recently. Just a few months ago, the firm had considered splitting into separate licencing and manufacturing segments. While that idea silently died a quickly deserved death, it seems like Wall Street still isn’t too happy with the firm’s performance. According to Market Realist, some Wall Street analysts are suggesting that the best course of action would be a merger with Intel, and failing that, one with AMD.

Qualcomm’s troubles stem from a lack of brand recognition and the market failure of the Snapdragon 810. Due to this, the company has seen it’s profits and revenue fall significantly. A merger with Intel would fix some of the problems. First of all, Qualcomm would be able to get access to Intel’s first class fabs. Secondly, Intel brings along its data centre and enterprise connections, a highly lucrative market. For Intel, Qualcomm would provide in-roads into the mobile market, an area Intel ahs had trouble breaking into. Qualcomm would also ensure that Intel is making best use of their expensive fabs.

Unfortunately for Wall Street though, a merger is highly unlikely. First of all, the merger would bring a hoard of anti-trust issues, it being one of the largest tech mergers ever and bringing together the dominant players of their respective markets. The fundamental nature of the struggle of ARM vs x86 also stands in the way, meaning the merged firm would likely have to keep both, negating any benefits of moving into new markets. The ARM side would be stuck in mobile as that is what most customers are using while the desktop/enterprise will continue to use x86 as they are used to that as well. The synergies on paper simply don’t play out in real life.

The only sensible merger would be with AMD, though that would be more of acquisition of the ailing red team. Qualcomm does have enough cash to settle AMD’s debts and give a cash boost but it probably wouldn’t be good for a struggling firm to start throwing money around right about now. AMD does bring the desktop and data centre/enterprise experience though AMD’s marketshare is pretty poor right now. However, the downsides of the ARM/x86 struggle and lack of fabs still remain problems. It remains to be seen if this remains a crazy Wall Street thought exercise or will it actually end up happening.

ASRock Rack Launched Two New Xeon D Server Motherboards

Intel’s SoC based Xeon processors bring along amazing performance abilities and features for a SoC system as we’ve already had the pleasure to see in our motherboard review section. They come with full support for up to 128GB DDR4 ECC memory, impressive IOPS and support 10G Ethernet to bring an incredible value on a small footprint. ASRock Rack is now ready with two motherboards featuring the Intel D1500 series SoC processors, the new D1540D4U-2T2O8R and the D1520D4I, targeting the exponential growth for edge data.

The ASRock Rack D1540D4U-2T2O8R is a microATX motherboard slim enough to fit into 1U chassis and allow for 14 trays of 3.5-inch HDDs at the same time, allowing for an effective system with a low total cost of ownership. It features a D1540 processor and has four DDR4 DIMM slots for easy setups with 128GB ECC memory. You get six SATA3 ports from the SoC as well as eight SAS3 ports from an LSI3008 onboard controller. Besides these more legacy connectors, the board also features two M.2 slots that are perfect for both caching options and the operating system. It also supports up to 40G Ethernet controllers to connect all this raw performance and storage to the rest of the world.

D1540D4U-2T2O8R Highlights

  • uATX 9.6”x 9.6”
  • Intel Xeon D1500 Series Processors
  • Supports dual channel DDR4 2133/1866 ECC DIMM max. 64/64/128 GB
  • Support 6 SATA3 by D1500+ 8 x SAS3 by LSI3008
  • Supports 1x PCIe 3.0 x16
  • Integrated IPMI 2.0 with KVM and dedicated LAN (RTL8211E)
  • Supports Intel X540+ CS4227 by PCH

The second motherboard is the D1520D4I and it comes in an mITX form factor with a four-core D1520 processor. Despite the small size, it still features four DDR4 DIMM slots for up to 128GB DDR4 ECC memory. You also get six SATA3 slots, one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, integrated IPMI 2.0 with dedicated LAN and dual Intel i210 Gigabit Ethernet.

D1520D4I Highlights

  • Mini-ITX 6.7”x6.7
  • Intel Xeon D1520 Processor
  • Supports Dual channel DDR4 2133/1866 R-DIMM max 64/128 GB
  • Supports 6*SATA3 by D1500
  • Supports 1* PCIex16
  • Integrated IPMI 2.0 with KVM and Dedicated LAN (RTL8211E)
  • Supports Intel i210*2

Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Also Plagued by Overheating Issues

Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 810 processor has been marred by overheating issues which made a number of premium handsets uncomfortable to use during games or intensive tasks. Thankfully, this has been somewhat resolved in the latest version of Android but continues to add a negative aspect to many devices. Given the negative publicity of the chip’s heat output, you would expect Qualcomm to ensure their successor doesn’t contain the same flaws.

However, according to BusinessKorea, Samsung is supposedly trying to engineer a software patch to eliminate similar overheating problems on the 820 SoC. Additionally, if this isn’t possible, the company plans to integrate a “radiating pipe” to help with heat dissipation. In terms of its specification, the Snapdragon 820 features 40% faster graphics performance and consumes 40% less battery power than its predecessor.

The reports regarding overheating are a cause for concern as the SoC is planned to be integrated into various flagship phones. Clearly, Samsung feels the new chip hasn’t fixed the overheating problems and wants to engineer a solution as a matter of urgency. As a result, some manufacturers could opt for a different CPU to balance heat and performance.

This isn’t doing Qualcomm’s reputation any favors, but it’s still in a pre-production phase. This means the retail samples could have been fixed by the time of release.

Samsung Brings on Jim Keller as Chief Architect

When Jim Keller left AMD last month, there was a lot of speculation as to the reason for his departure. Given that we knew Zen was pretty much done, Keller probably wanted to work on something else as he lets AMD’s in-house engineers iterate on his design. Thank to recent reports, we now know that Keller has ended up at Samsung, presumably as Chief Architect of Research and Design. Keller will be joining the effort on mobile microprocessors.

While Keller is more well-known among the PC for his involvement with AMD, he does have mobile experience. Under Apple, Keller was part of the team responsible for the A4 and A5 SoCs, the chips powering the iPhone 4 and 4S among others. With Keller joining their team, it looks like Samsung may be serious about making their own CPU/GPU combo.

Just two weeks ago, we got word that Samsung was planning on building their own mobile-GPU. We speculated at that time that Samsung might also consider making their own mobile-CPUs. Right now, Samsung uses ARM’s own stock designs for their Exynos SoCs, with some modifications of course. With a more robust design team, Samsung may look to be more adventurous and think about making their own cores and challenging Qualcomm for the mobile SoC business. That however, is likely many months if not years away given the timeframes involved in designing CPUs.

Apple Considering Custom AMD Zen SoCs for iMac

Having moved from PowerPC to Intel’s x86 a little under a decade ago, it looks like Apple may be considering a CPU switch again. This time around, the rumours point o a much less dramatic change, with Intel being dropped in favour of AMD. This is due to AMD’s new Zen architecture which is expected to launch next year, with the new chips expected to improve their IPC by 40% and bring them much closer to Intel’s offerings. A move by Apple to use Zen would serve as a high-profile endorsement and an indicator of Zen’s performance.

One of the biggest reasons Apple may consider a change to AMD is due to the latter’s semi-custom designs. AMD allows their customers to make and choose their own style of APU SoC, allowing creative blends like the chips found in the PS4 and XBox One. While Intel’s move towards better iGPUs can be traced partially to pressure from Apple, AMD would allow more flexibility than Intel currently allows. It would allow Apple, for instance, to order a custom APU paired with HBM in a unique configuration available only to Apple.

Another reason is that Apple stands to save a good chunk of cash as AMD chips ar generally cheaper and the 2nd place chip manufacturer is in a worse bargaining position. While Apple could design their own chips, the need for x86 support still requires either Intel or AMD. Supporting AMD also allows Apple to gain a better bargain from Intel if Apple continues to source chips from the latter.

Apple has started a shift to include more AMD chips recently. Despite using Nvidia for a long period, Apple has moved to include AMD’s Radeon 7970, R9 285 and M370X in their systems. A move to using AMD CPUs and APUs makes sense as long as the performance and efficiency are there. As long as Apple can maintain their computing experience for users with ADM chips, it is unlikely many of Apple’s customers will care.

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information 

Qualcomm Unveils 24 Core ARM Server Processor

Ever since ARM took over the mobile world, we’ve been hearing about how the RISC architecture was trying to expand into other higher performance areas. While ARM first entered the server world via relatively weaker micro-servers, it looks like performance options are coming along soon. Qualcomm, one of the major ARM partners and licensees, has unveiled their first 24-core server processor.

Running off the latest ARMv8-A instruction set, the chip will be part of Qualcomm’s Server Development Platform and part of a stack of server tools. While details on the chip itself have been slim, we do know that it is based off a FinFET process, meaning either TSMC 16nm or Samsung 14nm. The core is also fully custom meaning it is not like the A57/A53 found int he Snapdragon 808/810 and given the server environment, probably isn’t Qualcomm’s in-house 64bit Kyro architecture found in the Snapdragon 820.

Along with the Soc, the SDP  also includes server-class PCIe and storage interconnects. Other hardware requirements like ethernet and FPGA are to be proved by Mellanox and Xilinix respectively. On the software side, SDP comes with a software stack capable of running a KVM Linux hypervisor, OpenStack DevStack, and guest Linux distributions running Apache and WordPress as shown in the demo.

With a complete package available, Qualcomm stands a good chance at breaking into the server market. The biggest question is if ARM will be able to bring the same performance to the table as x86 does while still remaining more power efficient and cheap. This is especially true of single threaded IPC where Intel has historically dominated.

Samsung Developing In-House Mobile GPU for 2017

According to the latest rumours, Samsung is planning on creating their very own in-house mobile GPU. Set to debut inside their Exynos series of SoCs, the new GPU will probably arrive in the 2017-2018 timeframe. The GPU was originally set to launch much earlier but it seems like those plans have been shelved.

One of the reasons for the delays is that making a new GPU from scratch is really hard and takes a long time and is even harder to get it right. Both AMD and Nvidia for instance, tend to build on their existing architectures and evolve them over time. AMD for instance, evolved their GCN architecture over time, fine-tuning and optimising it as their experience with it grew. Designing a new GPU is also a multi-year process that can take quite a while to bear fruit.

Right now Qualcomm with their Adreno series and ARM with their Mali lineup are the main mobile choices with Apple off doing their own thing. Samsung currently licences both their CPUs and GPUs from ARM but with this break on the GPU side,  Samsung may become more adventurous on the CPU side. While the Exynos lineup uses ARM designs for now, Samsung may choose to change things up to suit their needs given their core licence. It will be interesting to see if Samsung will develop more focus on say HSA or other technologies.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information 

VIA Introduces ARTiGO A600 Smart Automation Control System

Smart homes and general smart automation of all sorts of things is one of the wonderful things about the time we currently live in. All the things we (nerds and geeks) have dreamt of building for years is finally possible. VIA has now introduced a new control system that again could help make it a lot easier and smarter, the VIA ARTiGO A600 Smart Automation Control System.

The ultra-compact and fanless smart automation control system is specifically designed for enterprise IoT and M2M applications that require reliable low-power computing and extensive I/O support. The ARTiGO A600 comes with four integrated 3-pole Phoenix RS-485 COM ports with full 3.75KV isolation, a COM connector for an RS-232 port, and a DIO port for 8-bit GPIO to provide dependable connections to automated equipment and machinery.

Other I/O features include two Mini USB 2.0 ports, one Mini HDMI port, one 10/100Mbps Ethernet port, and one miniPCIe slot. The whole unit only measures 12.5cm x 12.5cm x 3cm and you can even add an optional Wi-Fi module through the onboard USB pin headers.

Inside the ARTiGO A600, you’ll find an 800MHz VIA Cortex-A9 SoC, an onboard Micro SD card slot, 4GB eMMC Flash memory, and 1GB DDR3 SDRAM.

“Smart automation control systems will play a pivotal role in boosting manufacturing productivity and enabling the development of innovative new product customization and personalization services,” said Richard Brown, Vice-President of International Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. “By delivering extensive I/O connectivity in a highly-affordable low-power solution, the VIA ARTiGO A600 lowers the barriers to entry for enterprises planning to transform their operations by implementing the next generation of intelligent distributed manufacturing systems.”

Features:

  • Ultra-compact fanless smart automation control system
  • High-performance 800MHz VIA Cortex-A9 SoC
  • Four 3-pole Phoenix RS-485 ports with full 3.75KV isolation
  • Optional Wi-Fi support
  • Customized Linux BSP services

QNAP Launches AMD-Powered TS-x63U Series Rackmount NAS

QNAP announced a new NAS series and this time it is built around an AMD G-Series quad-core processor, the TS-x63U Turbo NAS. These new NAS units come as 4-bay, 8-bay, and 12-bay version and can be had with single or redundant power supplies. I for one love this and am pleased to see more NAS units being built around an AMD chip, something that can be highly beneficial for many people. The new TS-x63U NAS units feature four normal Gigabit Ethernet connections as well as a single-port SFP+ network adapter that provides 10 GbE connectivity for that extra speed.

The CPU used is a 64-bit AMD Embedded G-Series quad-core 2.0GHz SoC processor and the units come with 4GB DDR3L RAM pre-installed, but you can upgrade that to 16GB if it shouldn’t be enough for your needs. The NAS units also feature AES-NI hardware encryption engine that allows unmatched sequential read performance that exceeds 780MB/s with AES 256-bit full NAS volume encryption. Without encryption, the units can perform with up to 1090MB/s sequential throughput.

The TS-X63U Turbo NAS units run the latest QTS 4.2 operating system and they’re also able to run multiple applications on Windows, Linux, Unix, and Android-based virtual machines. You can operate multiple isolated Linux systems on the NAS as well as download apps from the built-in Docker Hub Registry by using the Container Station which integrates LXC and Docker lightweight virtualisation technologies. They also allow you to simplify virtual storage management for VMware, Microsoft, and Citrix virtualization solutions.

You can also expand the units with QNAP’s 12-bay and 8-bay expansion units and add up to 24 extra drive bays on top of the ones already built-in. The new NAS units should be available as of now, so all that’s left is to pick the one that suits your needs the best.

Redundant power supply:

  • TS-463U-RP:4-bay rackmount model
  • TS-863U-RP:8-bay rackmount model
  • TS-1263U-RP:12-bay rackmount model

Single power supply:

  • TS-463U:4-bay rackmount model
  • TS-863U:8-bay rackmount model
  • TS-1263U:12-bay rackmount model

Samsung Enters SOC Market by Opening Up Exynos to Third Parties

Folks at Qualcomm, MediaTek and other SoC producers may soon be having sleepless nights. According to a report, Samsung is set on releasing their in-house Exynos SoC including the latest 7420 to third parties, the first being Meizu. The Exynos 7420 is Samsung’s top Soc with 4 A57 and 4 A53 cores respectively tied to a Mali-T760 MP8 GPU. As a giant conglomerate, Samsung probably thinks that maximizing the chip and fab profits will outweigh any risks from supplying competitors with good chips.

While Samsung has long been designing and manufacturing their own Exynos Socs for their own use, they were not shy about using Qualcomm SOCs in certain markets. That practice has dwindled off however in recent years as Samsung moves towards using their Exynos chips exclusively. While cost is likely a big reason, Samsung has also been able to improve their chips be competitive in both the radio connectivity and CPU performance.

If Samsung starts expanding their Exynos business quickly, both Qualcomm and Mediatek should be worried. With the latest 14nm process and their own fabs, Samsung is able to leverage better power efficiency, cost and control their product cycle better. Qualcomm is also hurting heavily with their major misstep with the 810 though the 820 may soon come and save the day. Qualcomm has previously enjoyed a near monopolization, with most major smartphones using their chip. A new competitor that brings as many resources as Samsung does is probably the last thing they need right now.

Thank you Sammobile for providing us with this information

ASRock N3700-ITX Braswell SoC Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


There comes a time for every enthusiasts when someone asks them to build a computer that is quiet, efficient, small and cheap. I know most of us would tend to go straight for an Intel i3/AMD APU and a mini-ITX motherboard, but sometimes even those options are too costly. So what do we decide on? We could look on the second-hand market or look at SoC options.

SoC options have been around for years; inside some netbooks with the Intel Atom range or even some NAS options in recent years. What we tend to think of when considering these options is how poor they are when trying to do medium workloads such as word processing, image processing and web browsing at the same time.

When used correctly, a SoC option can make perfect sense. Many consumers tend to buy them for HTPC (Home Theatre PC) or home-built NAS options; which is exactly what they’re designed for. These are extremely low power options, which can handle basic tasks such a 1080p video playback; although in today’s market, 4K playback is becoming the norm.

How much does something like this cost? It can be as low as £50 for a no fuss model, when it would cost roughly that much for just a CPU in most cases. Along with it being seriously cheap, they are seriously low power, drawing as little as 15W, so even the most budget of power supplies could run it (although we wouldn’t recommend buying cheap power supplies).

The sole purpose for SoC options like this is for simple media playback and simple web browsing, but just how much different are they from the current top dog enthusiast CPU, the Intel Core i7-4770k? Let’s find out.

Key Features

Despite these Braswell based motherboards being at the lower end of the spectrum, they do include some nice features.

  • 6 USB 3.0 ports
  • 4k video playback
  • Power gear
  • Power Spike Protection

For more information on these functions, please visit the N3700-ITX product pages.

Supermicro X10SDV-F Xeon D-1540 SoC Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging


The motherboard I’m taking a look at today is a little something special. It is a tiny board yet it packs a punch that is worthy of a large right hook. The Supermicro X10SDV-F is a Mini-ITX motherboard with an onboard Intel Xeon D-1540 System-on-a-Chip (SoC) processor and lot of other goodies to go along with it. The Intel Xeon D-1540 is an octa-core processor with sixteen threads. It runs at 2GHz with a boost of up to 2.6.GHz. You will also need a lot of RAM to go along with that kind of CPU and that isn’t any problem for this tiny Supermicro board. It supports up to 128GB DDR4 memory with its 4 DIMM slots. You also get six high-speed SATA3 ports, a PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot, a full speed PCIe Gen3 x16 slot and two Intel Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. The bigger brother of this board is called the X10SDV-TLN4F which also features two integrated 10 Gigabit Intel Ethernet ports for those that need even more connectivity from a tiny board. Further, you get two USB 3.0 connectors on the rear I/O while USB 2.0 is provided via two headers. The remote management with a dedicated Realtek Ethernet port and built-in Aspeed graphics solution for maintenance and setup is another great feature and one that shouldn’t be missing on a server-grade motherboard.

There isn’t much you won’t find here. You can also choose whether you want to power it via a standard 24-pin power header or rather use 12V connectors depending on your power supply options. With a thermal design of just 45 watts TDP, the CPU can be passively cooled, but it is recommended that you cool the chassis properly.

Specifications

The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers homepage and are as such subject to change in possible future revisions.

Key Features

There is always something that sets each and every motherboard apart for the rest, sometimes it’s in features and other times it is the software. On this motherboard, it is most likely the SoC and up to 128GB DDR4 memory support in this form factor.

  • mITX
  • Intel Xeon D-1540 SoC with 45W TDP
  • Up to 128GB DDR4 ECC Memory
  • ATX and 12V Dual power abilities and low power consumption
  • Dedicated IPMI Remote Management and SuperDoctor 5
  • 6 SATA3 ports, M.2 slot, USB 3.0 on-board, Dual Intel i350-AM2 Gigabit LAN
  • PCI-E gen3 x16 slot

Packaging and Accessories

As reviewers we don’t always get the retail package on these products as we simply don’t need them and the companies wish to get the products to us as fast as possible for review. In this case, I got the motherboard in a simple OEM box without any accessories. Normally however the motherboard includes two 57.5 cm flat SATA cables and a standard I/O shield.

Qualcomm Cuts Staff and Mulls Break Up after Profits Drop 50%

After years of dominating the mobile SoC industry, Qualcomm has suffered a pretty bad quarter. Compared to the same time last year in 2014, the firm has earned 47% less profit which means they made about half as much as they did the year before. Interestingly, the stock market has not taken the news badly, only falling 1.46% so far though they have been trading down over the past while.

Qualcomm has had a rough start to the year so far. Last quarter, the firm took a $1 billion fine due to an antitrust lawsuit with the Chinese government. Despite, not being burdened with a fine this past quarter, profit did not noticeably improve, only posting $1.2 billion, down from $2.2 billion last year. Revenues also fell sharply, down about $1 billion which is not a good sign. In an effort to cut costs, Qualcomm is planning on cutting 15% of its staff and is even considering a split.

Much of the trouble can likely be traced to the underperforming Snapdragon 810. That chip has been suffering from performance and thermal issues, leading some OEMs to avoid it. Samsung, the largest Android OEM, has also shipped their own Exynos SoCs in their Galaxy S6 globally, removing a major customer. Much of the focus for mobile devices have also been on the budget side, where margins are thinner. With both MediaTek and Intel looking to make inroads, Qualcomm needs to get their newer chips out that will hopefully be more competitive.

ASRock N3150 Braswell Motherboard Round-up Review

Introduction and Specifications


Integrated processors and motherboards aren’t really in the direct interest of the enthusiast, where the focus is more on; in the word of Jeremy Clarkson, “POWAH”. With limited output options and they very rarely have PCIe slots for additional add-in cards, they don’t stack up to make the best option for the consumer market; so why are these even produced?

To some, it’s not about overall performance, but “will it run internet explorer, play 1080p videos and let me do basic work on?” I know many people who have an Intel Core i7 2600k (or similar) in an HTPC that is turned on once a week to play the odd movie from a pen drive. That’s serious overkill for the task and not to mention the heat it would produce, or the cost of the build. Onboard processing (SoC) options are not only perfect for less demanding tasks but also run passively thanks to a built-in heat sink.

How much does something like this cost? It can be as low as £50 for a no fuss setup, when it would roughly cost that much for just a CPU in most cases. Along with it being cheap, they are also efficient, drawing as little as 15W, so even the most budget friendly PSUs could run them (although we wouldn’t recommend buying cheap power supplies).

The sole purpose for Soc options like this is for media playback and web browsing, but how much different are they from the current top dog enthusiast CPU, the Intel Core i7-4770k? Let’s find out.

Key Features

Despite these Braswell based motherboards being at the lower end of the spectrum, they do feature some nice features.

  • At least 4 USB 3.0 ports
  • Power gear
  • Power Spike Protection

For more information on these functions, please visit the N3150M, N3150B-ITX and N3150-ITX product pages.

QNAP Announced Affordable AMD Powered 10GbE-Ready 5-Bay SMB NAS

I have long been a supporter of AMD processors in the NAS segment and built numerous systems on such a base myself. I am not the only one that thinks there is potential here as QNAP continues to strengthen their AMD portfolio with a new 5-bay Turbo-NAS based on AMD’s G-Series processors.

The new QNAP TS-563 comes equipped with a 2GHz SoC processor, 2GB or 8GB RAM depending on model and support for up to 16GB, AES-NI hardware-encryption, SSD cache, AMD-V virtualization, and it is also 10Gb Ethernet ready thanks to a low profile PCIe slot.

“The TS-563 is our most affordable 10GbE-ready quad-core NAS with hardware-accelerated encryption and virtual machine support. It is a fast and scalable NAS solution designed for optimizing business applications and satisfying quickly-growing data storage needs while providing 10GbE readiness for budget-conscious organizations and professionals,” said Jason Hsu, product manager of QNAP.

Besides the five drive bays, the TS-563 has five USB 3.0 and two gigabit ethernet port. The USB ports can be used for printers, pen drives, external enclosures, UPS, and much more. The two gigabit ethernet ports can be expanded thanks to the PCIe Gen2 x4 slot with two more GbE or two 10GbE ports. The system itself resides on a 512MB Flash module.

 

With the support for AMD-V technology, the TS-563 can operate multiple Windows, Linux, UNIX and Android-based virtual machines. The Virtualization Station offers numerous functions including snapshots, VM import/export, user permissions, and more.

Businesses can rest assured that the usual SMB features are present. The units support VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft virtualization solutions just as well as cross-platform sharing, Windows AD, LDAP, ACL, domain controller, RTRR, Rsync, and cloud storage.

An extra and nice touch is the Surveillance Station that comes with 4 IP camera channels included and support for up to 40. Use your NAS to keep an eye on your property too. The TS-563 also supports the5-bay and 8-bay QNAP expansion enclosures to expand your storage needs beyond the built-in drive bays.

The new TS-563 Turbo NAS will be available in a couple of weeks. There is no word on pricing yet, but since QNAP started out by labeling it as a unit that brings premium business features at a competitive price, we can assume that it will come with a wallet-friendly price.

ASUS Quietly Launched Cherry Trail SoC MATX Motherboards

Just because a processor is designed with one field in mind, doesn’t mean you can’t take it for something else. A previous prime example of this was the AMD Neo II, but this time ASUS have taken the 14nm Cherry Trail platform designed for tablets and packed it onto two new motherboards.

The two new motherboards silently launched by ASUS are the N3050M-E and N3150M-E and the only difference between the two is what SoC they’re using.

The motherboard numbering follows the CPU and the boards come with either the Intel Celeron Dual-Core N3050 SoC or Quad-Core N3150 SoC onboard Processors that have a TDP of 4W and 6W respectively. This allows for a passive and completely silent cooling while the mATX form factor still allows for plenty of customization.

You get one PCIe 2.0 x16 slot that runs in x1 mode and two normal PCIe 2.0 x1 slots and two U-DIMM RAM sockets for a maximum of 8GB DDR3 1600MHz Non-ECC dual-channel memory.

The motherboards have two onboard SATA3 ports that support Intel’s Smart Connect Technology, Realtek TRL8111H1 Gigabit Ethernet, Realtek ALC887-VD2 8-channel HD Audio and both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports with UASP support and onboard headers for both.

The boards should also last quite well with five times protection, over 1000 devices tested for compatibility, and with over 7000 validation hours. The five protections include LANGuard that protects your network connection, enhanced DRAM overcurrent protection, 5K-hr solid-state capacitors, stainless-steel back I/O and ESD Guards for protection against electrostatic discharge.

There is a lot of potential in these small SoC’s, they even support native 4K UHD resolutions and come with UEFI BIOS for easy configuration.

ARM Sheds New Light on High-End Cortex-A72 CPU

At yesterday’s annual Tech Day event, ARM shared more details about their upcoming Cortex-A72 architecture. Set to replace the current A57 performance chips, this new replacement is set to be faster, more efficient, and doing it all with a smaller die. While the A72 is the high-performance successor, it’s still largely based on the previous A57 design.

Starting off, ARM is making big claims against the previous generation A15 cores. For the same workload in a smartphone, ARM is expecting to reduce power consumption by 75% or keep the same power levels and increase performance by 3.5 times. Of course, part of the gains are due to process improvements but about 66% of those gains come from the architecture. Of course, the A72 is also a 64bit design. Most of the changes are deep down in the chip, ARM having gone through and optimized everything. Branch prediction is improved by about 20% over the A57 and pretty every compute unit got latency reductions in the 25 to 50% range. Combined, these changes should yield about a 16 to 30% IPC increase at the same power as the A57. This lead is set to grow since the reduced die size also helps the A72 achieve higher clock speeds than before.

While beating the previous generation ARM processors is expected, the bigger question is how these improvements will fare against Intel’s Broadwell and Cherry Trial chips. Pitting a 2Ghz Core-M5Y10C against a 2.5Ghz Cortex A72, the ARM chip manages to hold it’s own. Once power is limited though, the A72 manages to pull ahead as Core-M starts throttling. Of course, we don’t know the specifics of the test, but its good food for thought nonetheless. If ARM is able to keep up their pace, Intel will soon be seriously challenged, and not just in the mobile space.

For now though, consumers will have to wait for the A72. It will be up to ARM partners like MediaTek, Qualcomm and Samsung to implement their own A72 designs. While ARM has done much to improve over the A57, it remains up to their partners to make sure it all works out, an issue highlighted by the Snapdragon 810. Earliest chips are set to ship later this year, pointing to release in mobile devices for 2016. Who knows, maybe the A72 might make it in time for the next Nexus phone?

Thank you Anandtech for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Arstechnica

Samsung Rumoured to Start Making Chips for Nvidia

A week ago, Samsung reportedly won a contract to make chips for Apple’s upcoming iPhones using their latest 14nm FinFET technology. However, it seems that the South Korean manufacturer has been busy scooping up more contracts in the meantime.

The latest points to a “few million dollars” contract between Samsung and Nvidia, allowing both Samsung and GlobalFoundries to make 14nm chips in Korea as well as the US for Apple, Qualcomm and Nvidia as per the new contract. As previously reported, GlobalFoundries struck a deal with Samsung to replicate its 14nm FinFET technology.

“The latest agreement between Samsung and Nvidia is another positive factor lifting Samsung’s logic chip business unit. The timing looks good as increased foundry customers justify the Korean chip giant’s moves to find new revenue sources,” a source told Korean Times.

So why the rush to roll out small factor GPU chips? Easy. A GPU takes a lot of workload off the CPU and as we all know, smartphones are requiring new tech to handle better graphics while cutting down on power consumption. However, in order to achieve the perfect balance, a smaller form factor SoC is needed.

Looking at the partnership from another perspective reveals that Samsung and Nvidia are still not on the best of terms. Both companies are reportedly engaged in legal actions, but another source stated that the companies are more focused on business rather than their little disagreements.

“The Samsung-Nvidia deal means that there is no enemy and friend in businesses,”

Neither Samsung nor South Korean-based representatives for Nvidia wanted to shed more light on the new partnership, but stay tuned as we will keep you updated with more information as it unravels.

Thank you Korea Times for providing us with this information

MSI Launches 3 Braswell Based ECO Motherboards

MSI debuts their first Intel Braswell based Mini-ITX ECO motherboards: the MSI N3050I ECO, N3150I ECO and N3700I ECO. The passive cooled ECO motherboards come with onboard 14nm dual-core and quad-core Intel Celeron and Pentium processors and MSI’s power-saving design that together result in a ultra-low power consumption with just 6W for the SoC. These boards will run cool and silent, and barely consume any power. Perfect for a bed or livingroom setup.

The new MSI Braswell based ECO motherboards feature a wide variety of multimedia solutions such as H.265 (HEVC) hardware decoding, support for 4K output, Blu-ray playback and 8-channel HD Audio via HDMI. You can add up to 8GB DDR3L-1600MHz SO-DIMM RAM in the two slots and attach two high-speed drives to the SATA 6Gb/s ports. There is one PCIe slot for expansion and onboard Gigabit Ethernet, COM port, and USB 3.0.

The new Intel Braswell processors come with improved graphics core and have full support for the upcoming DirectX 12 and Windows 10. The boards still come packed with MSI’s Military Class 4 components that ensure your system runs stable even under extreme conditions. The key components have all passed the seven tests of MIL-STND-810G military class which are performed by independent laboratories.

Feature summary

  • 3 New ECO models featuring Intel Braswell onboard SoC
    • MSI N3700I ECO with Intel Pentium Quad-core N3700, 2.40GHz SoC
    • MSI N3150I ECO with Intel Celeron Quad-core N3150, 2.08GHz SoC
    • MSI N3050I ECO with Intel Celeron Dual-core N3050, 2.16GHz SoC
  • HDMI 1.4b – High-Definition Multimedia Interface Version 1.4b with 4K output support
  • USB 3.0 – Fully Supports High-speed USB Storage Devices
  • M-FLASH – Simply Update & Backup Your BIOS
  • FAST BOOT – Quickly Boot Up And Enter OS In A Few Seconds
  • LIVE UPDATE 6 – Easily Update The Latest BIOS & Drivers
  • Military Class 4 components

No word on pricing or availability yet, but we’ll keep you updated as more information and photos get released.

Thanks to MSI for providing us with this information

Intel Launches Braswell Entry-level SoCs

Intel has launched the brand new Braswell SoCs that will take the place of the current Bay Trail-D SoCs. The four new SoCs are built on the same 14nm process as Broadwell CPUs, with two dual-core and two quad-core models.

The two new dual-core Braswell parts that are in the Celeron line, the N3000 and the N3050. They both have GPUs with a base frequency of 320MHz and boost to 600MHz and 1MB of L2 cache. The Celeron N3000 has a base clock of 1.04GHz and boosts to 2.08GHz. The N3050 is clocked higher with a base clock of 1.60GHz and a boost of 2.16GHz.

The quad-core Braswell parts both have 2MB of L2 cache with a 640MHz GPU that will boost to 700MHz. The Celeron N3150 comes in with a base clock of 1.6GHz and boosts up to 2.08GHz.  The Pentium N3700 has the same base of 1.6GHz but boosts higher, up to 2.4GHz.

All Braswell SoCs support up to DDR3-1600 memory and have a TDP of 6W, all except the N3000 which comes in with a TDP of 4W.

Source: TechSpot

MediaTek’s Latest Helio SoC Will Let You Record 4K Videos at 120 FPS

The Taiwanese mobile chip maker, MediaTek, is reportedly working on a high-end SoC lineup named Helio, which the company states will compete with its rivals, Qualcomm and Samsung.

The company has revealed its latest SoC at a recent conference in Beijing, where the company’s executive explained how MediaTek is going to grasp the high-end SoC market with its new Helio lineup, which is comprised of the Helio X and Helio P versions.

While the Helio X is stated to be used in high-end smartphones, the Helio P will help the company grasp the budget smartphone market as well. The first Helio lineup is stated to be made up of the MediaTek MT6795, featuring an octa-core package, and the second will come with the ARM Cortex-A53 CPU clocked at 2.2 GHz.

Mediated is said to be creating more chipsets in the future, which will feature ARM’s Cortex-A72 processor that will allow users to record 4K videos at 120 FPS.

Thank you Etagnet for providing us with this information

Latest Gigabyte microATX Motherboard Arrives with Octo-Core ARMv8 SoC

Gigabyte apparently has developed a new microATX motherboard that comes with a 64-bit ARM onboard processor, a motherboard that is dedicated to datacenters.

The MP30-AR0 board is said to be built around Applied Micro’s X-Gene SoC, which is an octo-core chip clocked at 2.4 GHz that comes with a 45W TDP. Applied Micro’s cores are said to be their own design and are compatible with the 64-bit ARMv8 ISA.

The SoC appears to be paired to a quad-channel memory controller with eight UDIMM slots, each of them supporting modules of up to 16GB at 1600 MHz speeds and is also ECC compliant. The board is not designed with a great graphical solution in mind, having the board be more networking oriented.

The motherboard is said to come with dual 10-Gigabit Ethernet controllers embedded in the SoC and two auxiliary Marvell Gigabit Ethernets on the board itself. In terms of storage solution, the MP30-AR0 comes with only four SATA 6 Gbps ports and one SD slot. Two PCIe x16 slots are also present on the board, but each slot provides eight lanes of Gen3 bandwidth, most likely from the SoC.

Gigabyte states that the motherboard supports Ubuntu 14.04, having the motherboard also available in the company’s R120-P30 1U server.

Thank you TechReport for providing us with this information

Snapdragon 815 Said to Have Lower Operating Temperatures than Its Predecessor

There have been a lot of talks regarding Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 and its alleged overheating problems. However, despite its latter issue claims, no conclusive tests or evidence have been found to pin it officially on the processor being faulty.

It is said that a few reports have been spotted, especially from the HTC One M9, where high operating temperatures have been noticed. The issue however seems to have been fixed in the Snapdragon 815, having an operating temperature of 38°C compared to the 42°C registered for the Snapdragon 801 and 44°C reported on the 810.

Thank you NextPowerUp for providing us with this information

Acer Rolls Out New Iconia Tab 10 Tablet

Acer has announced its new Iconia Tab 10 tablet recently, a device that comes with top performance at an acceptable price tag as it seems from the specs and recommended price set by the company.

Two versions of the Iconia Tab 10 have apparently surfaced on the market, one with a 10.1-inch WUXGA display, 2GB of RAM, 32 GB flash storage, the MediaTek MT8217 SoC and a 1.5 GHz Quad-Core Cortex-A7. The latter device is the more pricier version, coming with a price tag of $249.

The cheaper version is set at $199 and comes with a 1280 x 800 screen, 1 GB of RAM, 16GB flash storage, a 1.7 GHz SoC compared to the latter and a smaller battery, namely 5700 mAh, compared to the 5910 mAh from the first version.

Both models are said to support only Wi-Fi connectivity, so users wanting to see a 3G/4G version of the tablet would be extremely disappointed. Also, in terms of colour options, the tablets come in black and white choices.

Thank you NextPowerUp for providing us with this information