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Dell Streak official: O2 UK in June, US this Summer
Dell have finally confirmed availability for the Dell Streak – the Android MID formerly known as the Mini 5 – with the 5-inch tablet hitting O2 UK in early June, followed by a US launch later this summer. Packing a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, WVGA capacitive touchscreen, 5-megapixel autofocus camera and front-facing video camera, the Streak will also get an update to Android 2.2 Froyo with Flash 10.1 later in 2010. Check out our hands-on first impressions – and some demo video – of the Streak after the cut.Video demo after the cut
While we’ve seen 5-inch MIDs before, the Streak manages to break new ground by virtue of its sheer slenderness; for once, this is a MID that you could comfortably drop into the front pocket of your jeans (assuming they’re not too fashionably-tight, of course). We’ve played both with a gloss red unit and the matte black that will be the first to launch, and both – despite being pre-production prototypes – felt well put together with little in the way of flex. Navigation is swift, and Dell’s customised UI – which is likely what has delayed the Android 2.2 update – makes things straightforward to use with fingers while also making the most of the screen size. Out of the box it runs Android 1.6.
Dell Streak hands-on:
The Streak’s wireless capabilities include quadband GSM/EDGE and dualband UMTS/HSPA (7.2Mbps), along with WiFi and Bluetooth. There’s a microSD card slot and 2GB of integrated storage, along with GPS for use with Google Maps Navigation. Up against the iPad it’s obviously far smaller, but we’ve a feeling more people will choose to carry the Streak in every-day life despite the reduced screen real-estate on offer. Multitouch worked as expected and the on-screen keyboard manages to be well-spaced but also pack more buttons into a single view than Apple’s version.
All in all we’re excited; having seen a spate of Android tablets over the past few months, Dell’s polish looks like it might have propelled the Streak to the top of the MID pack. The Dell Streak will launch on O2 UK in early June – pricing and plans to be announced closer to the time – while the MID will arrive in the US later in the summer.
DELL STREAK TABLET ENTICES PEOPLE TO WATCH, SURF, CONNECT, LISTEN, AND PLAY ON 5″ OF POWER AND PORTABILITY
· Streak to launch early June in the UK exclusively on O2
· Available at O2 stores, chúng tôi The Carphone Warehouse and later next month at Dell.co.uk
· U.S. availability to arrive later this summer
BRACKNELL, UK – May 25, 2010 – Today, Dell released plans for Streak, a 5-inch Android™-based Tablet designed to provide people the best “on-the-go” entertainment, social connection, and navigation experience. Early this June the Dell Streak will be available across the UK at O2 stores, chúng tôi The Carphone Warehouse, and later in the month at chúng tôi Pricing and data plans for the UK will be announced by O2 ahead of availability. Later this summer, Dell plans to make Streak available in the U.S.
The Dell Streak is a compact and powerful companion for people who want to expand their ability to access their digital lives on the go, and realize tomorrow’s technology today. The spacious 5-inch screen is ideal for experiencing thousands of Android Market™ widgets, games and applications, all without squinting or compromising portability. Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and available 3G connectivity brings easy access for downloading and listening to music, updating social networking status in real-time, and staying connected to friends and family through e-mail, text, IM, and voice calls.
On-the-go students, mobile professionals, and active families will find Streak’s web-browsing capabilities as natural as a laptop. The 5-inch screen is large enough to present Web pages in their natural form, create a comfortable viewing experience, and make turn-by-turn navigation simple and safe. The Dell Streak leverages Qualcomm’s Snapdragon™ solution with integrated 1GHz processor to combine basic functionality, performance, and benefits of a laptop in a pocket friendly size.
“The Dell Streak hits the sweet spot between traditional smartphones and larger-screen tablets,” said Ron Garriques, president, Dell Communication Solutions Group. “Its unique size provides people new ways to enjoy, connect, and navigate their lives.”
The Dell Streak was designed with the future in mind and will support over-the-air updates including platform upgrades, Adobe Flash 10.1 on Android™ 2.2 later this year, video chat applications and other software innovations.
Dell is a member of the Open Handset Alliance™ (OHA), a group of technology and mobile companies working together to accelerate innovation in mobility. Together, the OHA created Android, the first complete, open, and free mobile platform to provide people a richer, less expensive, and better mobile experience.
Integrated Google Maps™ with turn-by-turn navigation, street and satellite views
· A full screen browsing experience with a 5-inch capacitive multi-touch WVGA display
· Easily integrated social media apps: Twitter™, Facebook, YouTube
· High resolution 5 MP camera, VGA front facing camera, removable battery, built-in Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth connectivity options
· 2GB* of internal dedicated storage provides plenty of space to access and download Google Android Market’s many options
· Packaged with cushions made from 100 percent sustainable, compostable bamboo
Android platform complete with Android Market and Dell user interface enhancements
ARM-based Processor: Qualcomm’s powerful and efficient Snapdragon chipset and software platform with integrated 1GHz processor
3G + WiFi + Bluetooth
UMTS / GPRS / EDGE class 12 GSM radio with link speeds of up to HSDPA 7.2 Mbps* / HSDPA
User accessible Micro SD expandable memory available up to 32 GB*. Store up to 42 movies* or 32,000 photos*, or 16,000 songs* with 32GB* Micro SD
Follow conversations in the blogosphere: #DellStreak
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As summer approaches, many of us plan to attend educational conferences of all kinds. Some of the best ones are in our own backyards. Others are international in nature, and, because of budget or travel constraints, are available to us only every once in a while.
I still remember the first big conference I attended: TelEd, put on, in part, by the International Society for Technology in Education . I was teaching fourth grade at the time, and paid for part of my attendance, roomed with our central-office technology director (thanks, Cornie Moon!), and was given the lowdown on how to get the most out of a huge conference (thanks, Adrianne Hunt!).
I was completely mesmerized by the presentations, the vendor booths, and just the buzz of being at a big conference. What a great experience for a simple elementary school teacher from little ‘ol Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana! I can still remember combing through my conference program, highlighting all the sessions I wanted to attend, and taking feverish notes at each one.
Since then, I’ve been fortunate to attend dozens of summer workshops, teacher institutes, and other conferences. I still learn lots — sometimes just from the social-networking component. I love being able to find other people who do what I do, but with a different take, or from a different place.
I also present and deliver conference sessions all over, and I always encourage attendees to be sure that the next time they attend a conference, they bring a coworker along who might not otherwise attend that specific event. We tend to go to conferences in our specific field, when sometimes the best thing might be to go to one outside our main area of interest.
I’ve taken principals, special-ed directors, parents, and students with me to numerous conferences just so the nontechnology people I deal with can hear different versions of what I’m always preaching. I also try to attend nontechnology conferences when I can so I can make sure I don’t lose sight of other content areas or strands.
This summer, I’m attending the National Educational Computing Conference, as well as the High Schools that Work Staff Development Conference. I’ve been to NECC many times, but I haven’t ever been to the HSTW event. I’m thrilled and grateful to be able to attend both this summer, not to mention several others at which I’ve been asked to present. (If you’re attending any of these, be sure to find me and say hi!)How about you? Are any of you putting on workshops this summer or attending any teacher-related institutes or conferences? Are you taking anyone along with you that might not typically go?Share your favorite educational conference, institute, or other summer professional-development experiences of any kind. What are your summer plans for professional learning? Which events will you be attending this summer? Why did you choose the one(s) in which you’re taking part? How do you get the most out of your attendance?The Virginia Department of Education has some simple suggestions for obtaining the most value for your event attendance. If you have other tips, post them here as chúng tôi you around this summer!
Since the United Kingdom attempts to sharpen its attention on the way that it governs big tech businesses, Facebook is carrying a large step upward from the function it plays in presenting media to the U.K. people, and to the way that it works together with the nation’s media sector.
Now it’s launching Facebook News from the U.K., Facebook’s first market beyond the U.S. because of its committed, curated news portal accessed, such as the U.S. variant, via a tab at the Android or iOS app menu.
The portal site will start with information from hundreds of national and local media organizations such as Channel 4 News, Daily Mail Group, DC Thomson, Financial Times, Sky News and Telegraph Media Group. The Economist, The Guardian, The Independent, STV and countless local news websites out of Archant, Iliffe, JPI Media, Midlands News Association, and Attain, also as”lifestyle” names GQ, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Vogue and many others were declared in a previous record of partners this past year.
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Facebook has confirmed to us that it’s going to be working with an agency named Upday to curate the tales which look on News. “The item is a mixture of curated, top stories and customized links selected by algorithm,” a spokesperson said. Upday is apparently a joint alliance involving German publisher Axel Springer and Samsung, which also conducts an information agency on its own telephones powered by it.
People have used newsfeeds on Facebook and other social websites to catch up with information while at the same time browsing articles from buddies, Groups and Pages they follow. Facebook News intends to take that a step farther, as a curated page to get headlines and links from hundreds of books in the nation to supply customers of its mobile programs a one-stop location to browse the stories of this moment.
Social networking has been a important source of information for customers , but as we have seen, an extremely skewed and faulty supply at that.
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Additionally, it helps Facebook News provides still another method for Facebook — that has made attempts in movie, entertainment material, mentoring and job-hunting, Nextdoor-style community listings, peer reviewed marketing, and much more — to keep on diversifying away in your Newsfeed for people who have grown tired with this: today, individuals are able to visit the Facebook program to browse information, also.
However, this global growth was a long time coming: Facebook News initially started as a evaluation in the US over one year ago, in October 2023, before heading to all consumers continue June.
No word from Facebook how many consumers or participation that the U.S. edition of Facebook News has picked up, except that”it’s risen steadily,” according to a spokesperson.
It is not clear why there has been such a long gap between its initial attempts in the U.S. and also the U.K. start now, but Facebook has more going on along with procuring those licensing prices to roll out within this marketplace.
Launching a brand new news portal site, together with the concept that it is intended to”assist” publishers, takes to a new dimension when you believe that Facebook continues to be in the crosshairs of labs from Europe, who were on a long-term assignment to inspect the range of major technology companies.
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Whether those regulatory motions will affect how a service such as Facebook News functions, or what earnings reductions and use information are shared with information spouses, remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, it is full speed ahead for much more climbing: Facebook supported plans annually that its long term goal is to get a larger global expansion for Facebook News, together with the longer list of countries such as Brazil, France, Germany, and India. At a blog post now, Facebook’s manager of information partnerships in Europe, Jesper Doub, supported France and Germany were next in line for Facebook News, but no launch dates were given.
SHA Students Travel to Paris This Summer to Learn Hospitality from the Best
Since the pandemic hit, France has spent 30 billion euros propping up its tourism sector, according to the New York Times. Photo by Il Vagabiondo/Unsplash
Study AbroadSHA Students Travel to Paris This Summer to Learn Hospitality from the Best Study Abroad program provides immersive overview of tourism marketing
France was the world’s most visited country before the pandemic, for a few obvious reasons. It has world-class museums and popular sites like the Eiffel Tower and Versailles, its cuisine has earned a spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, its iconic hotels range from smaller boutique properties to opulent accommodations. And Paris’s stellar Métro and infrastructure helped it nab the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
But now, two and a half years after COVID-19 first struck France, the country is attempting to revive its tourism sector, which accounted for 7.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2023. Since the pandemic hit, France has spent 30 billion euros propping up its tourism sector, according to the New York Times.
All of these factors help explain why the country is the perfect setting for BU School of Hospitality Administration students to learn the principles of hospitality marketing, says Leora Lanz (COM’87), an SHA associate professor of the practice and assistant dean for academic affairs, who taught a course on the subject this summer. It’s one of two courses—the other a food and beverage management class—that make up the hospitality curriculum for this summer’s BU Paris Study Abroad. (The program also offers a separate writing curriculum.)
The hospitality marketing course was designed to be a completely immersive experiential learning session, says Lanz, with less than 25 percent of the classes held in an actual classroom. Students took field trips and met with reps from the Paris 2024 Olympics Organizing Committee, the upscale Royal Champagne Hôtel & Spa (whose parent company’s founder and managing partner is SHA Advisory Board member Denise Dupré), and the marketing agency Pascal Venot. They traveled to popular destinations, including Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s home at Giverny and Disneyland Paris.
The six-week course fulfilled the BU HUB Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy requirement, and “became a chance to meet and network with folks in the industry in Paris,” Lanz says, “while learning all about hospitality marketing, its theories and principles, and then how to apply them.” It took Lanz months to line up and coordinate the contacts, which she found thanks to her long career in the global hospitality industry.
Students took field trips and met with reps from the Paris 2024 Olympics Organizing Committee. Photo courtesy of Kyle McMullin (SHA’24)
Renée Pontbriand (CAS’91), director of BU Study Abroad Paris, says the program’s offerings received a record amount of interest this summer, and they had to limit the size of certain programs to guarantee the quality of the learning experience. Also, more juniors and seniors enrolled than normal, she says, since they were unable to travel abroad at the height of the pandemic.
Students saw firsthand the effects of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry. It has forced the closure of hospitality venues around the world, France included, and a labor shortage is wreaking havoc on businesses. The clientele has also changed: “Americans are making up probably 40 to 50 percent of the traveling consumer that’s coming to Paris right now,” Lanz explains. The city “is not seeing as many travelers from Asian countries as they normally would see this time of year because of their lockdown situation. And patterns have changed; there are many more short-term bookings, and people are booking last minute. We don’t know if this is the new normal.”
A big part of Lanz’s course involved introducing the students to hospitality brands they had likely never heard of. On one of the visits, the class traveled to the five-star hotel Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris, which has a sister location opening in Boston’s Copley Square next year. On another trip, students visited Mama Shelter Paris East, a trendy three-star hotel with three other locations in Paris.
“The students have heard of Marriott and Hilton, and from a global perspective, they need to know about Raffles and Mama Shelter hotels, too, as they are key players,” Lanz says. “It’s important to me to provide our students with these opportunities to teach them about new companies they’ve never heard of before, to teach them about the companies’ DNA, their brand propositions. Is it a fit for the students? Would they want to work for them? And then connect them for potential internships and jobs.”
Students enjoying their on-the-go baguette sandwiches. Photo courtesy of Maggie Thompson (SHA’25)
Another lesson focused on Disneyland Paris. The main park at the French version of the House of Mouse attracted over 9.7 million visitors in 2023, more than the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, or the Palace of Versailles. The BU students met with Eva Gutierrez, directrice of the Disney Paris hotels Sequoia Lodge and the Davy Crockett Ranch, and a longtime Disney cast member. Gutierrez provided the students with some insight into the history of the park and discussed what it’s like to have a very American destination in a very non-American setting and how Disney shifted its tried-and-true approach to better serve European customers. For example, the French version of the famous Space Mountain ride has details inspired by the science fiction novels of the French writer Jules Verne. Afterward, the group visited the main park and took in the fireworks show.
Kyle McMullin (SHA’24) had never traveled internationally prior to the trip to Paris. The experience exceeded his expectations, and outside of class, he and his friends “found restaurants, shopping centers, entertainment venues, and historical sites to visit together,” he says. “One of my favorite group experiences was the Fête de la Musique [World Music Day] celebration. It had multiple singers, dancers, and many restaurants playing music in the avenues of Paris, and it was our first time trying many French foods, such as escargot and French onion soup.”
Classmate Maggie Thompson (SHA’25) had to take this introduction to marketing course for her major and chose to do so in Paris so she could immerse herself in the city’s culture, food, and tourist attractions. She enjoyed exploring Paris’ museums, parks, neighborhoods, and monuments by herself or with friends after class, and took trips to Versailles and Chantilly, among other places.
“Experiencing different cultures was incredible and eye-opening and allowed me to create memories I will never forget,” Thompson says. “Needless to say, I crossed a lot off my bucket list this trip.”
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We can all agree that Dell’s latest XPS 13 with Kaby Lake is an incremental update. But when your ultrabook is the one that’s being copied by everyone, that’s not such a bad thing, is it?
Gordon Mah Ung
Three generations of InfinityEdge PCs. Dell knows it has something good, so it hasn’t changed its XPS 13 much for three generations.
The real changes are inside, where you’ll find Intel’s latest 7th-gen Kaby Lake CPU, basically a souped-up Skylake chip that’s roughly 10 percent faster. On the GPU side, you’ll see a similar boost.
Dell also increases the battery capacity by using slightly denser cells. That takes your fuel tank from about 57.5 watt hours to 59 watt hours.
Gordon Mah Ung
The trackpad on the latest XPS 13 has less friction than more rubbery-feeling predecessors. I think the keyboard is still a tad small, though.
Although Dell says the trackpad hasn’t changed, to my fingers, the trackpad definitely feels less rubbery than before, and more similar to the Microsoft Surface Book’s silky-smooth glass version. I have no complaints.
The keyboard, unfortunately, hasn’t changed either. It’s not a bad keyboard, and I’ve used an older XPS 13 for several months. Still, I’d still be remiss if I didn’t mention that the keys just feel a tad bit small versus the competition. And no, I don’t mean Apple’s MacBook, I mean HP’s Spectre x360, which gives us a roomy keyboard.
Ports don’t change either: You still get a Thunderbolt 3 using a USB-C, as well as two USB 3.1 (10Gbps) Type A ports. There’s also a cowardly headphone jack and SD card reader too.
Gordon Mah Ung
The newest XPS 13 (top) has the same ports as the previous iteration (middle) and let you charge via USB-C. The oldest XPS 13 (bottom) has a mini-DisplayPort.
What this really comes down to is Intel’s Kaby Lake so let’s get on to it. The review model here was equipped with an Intel Core i5-7200U, 8GB of LPDDR3/1866 in dual-channel mode, and a 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe drive. The screen is a 1920×1080 IPS non-touch panel with a light anti-reflective coating. Dell offers touch and 4K display options, but they cost more money and eat the battery, too.Cinebench R15 Performance
Kaby Lake is based on the same 14nm process as Broadwell and Skylake—Intel’s backup plan when it couldn’t move to a smaller process as planned. Intel took its experience making Broadwell and Skylake and squeezed higher clock speeds out of the chip while using nearly the same amount of power.
The 7th-gen Kaby Lake in the latest XPS 13 comes out on top in the Cinebench R15 CPU test.Handbrake performance
Cinebench R15 takes just a few minutes to run. To see how laptops fare under a longer load, we use the free and popular encoder Handbrake to convert a 30GB high-resolution MKV video file using the Android Tablet preset. The entire process can take up to two hours on a dual-core Core i5 or Core i7 CPU.
On a desktop or larger laptop, cooling generally is not an issue. On tiny little laptops, this test can function as a performance test or an indicator of how well the laptop handles heat. Some laptop makers will opt to reduce performance to keep the laptop cooler and the fan noise down. Dell, generally, favors performance. That pattern doesn’t change here, as the Kaby Lake-based XPS 13 comes in well ahead of its siblings and again bests even the pricier Core i7 / Iris-based XPS 13.
The Kaby Lake outpaces even the Core i7-based Skylake chip with its fancy-pants Iris graphics and eDRAM.3DMark Cloud Gate performance
For graphics performance, I tested all four units using Futuremark’s synthetic gaming test, 3DMark Cloud Gate. It’s a test made lower-ambition laptops that lack discrete graphics—all models tested here rely on the graphics integrated directly into their Intel CPUs.
Cloud Gate favors the XPS 13 with 6th-gen Core i7 when only graphics is factored in.Battery life
I expected to get pretty good run time out of the slightly larger battery on this laptop, and I did. Our test loops a 4K video file in airplane mode with sound enabled (using ear buds). The screen is set to a fairly bright 250 to 260 nits, which is a good setting for watching a movie in a typical office or home.
While you might look at the results and decide Kaby Lake gives you more battery life over Skylake, there are differences between the two Core i5 XPS 13 units in SSD power consumption. The Lite-On SSD in the Kaby Lake XPS 13 is far more power-efficient than the one in the Skylake XPS 13. SSD performance may also play into the battery life of the 5th-gen Broadwell: That particular generation of XPS 13 used an M.2 SATA drive rather than the more power-hungry NVMe PCIe drives of the newer models.
The Kaby Lake XPS 13 has pretty great battery life while playing video.One more thing
Perhaps the most significant improvement with the 7th-gen Kaby Lake chip is the video engine. Intel basically added hardware support for 10-bit HEVC video, and boatload of other encoding and decoding features. Of course, 10-bit HEVC and other support doesn’t yet matter for most of us, but it’s something keep in mind. The practical upshot is you can actually play video encoded using 10-bit color on the Kaby Lake, while a Skylake or a Broadwell machine would just spit furballs. Here’s the proof in pictures: Playing a 1080p file encoded with 10-bit color saw the Kaby Lake XPS13 basically at idle.
Gordon Mah Ung
The 7th gen Kaby Lake CPU in the latest Dell XPS 13 can play 10-bit color video files without breaking a sweat.
Without the hardware support in the GPU, that means the CPU is doing all the work. Decoding that Tears of Steel video file with 10-bit color depth isn’t easy, either. It took battery life on the Skylake-based XPS 13 to a dismal three hours. That higher clock speed means more power consumption, which means less battery life. The Kaby Lake XPS 13, though, took a minimal hit and could loop the video for 10.5 hours.
Gordon Mah Ung
Skylake can’t handle video files encoded at 10-bit color depth without cranking up the CPU and even then will drop a massive amount of frames.Should you upgrade?
If you’re already aboard the Dell XPS 13 train, you don’t need to be told how great of a laptop it is. The question you’re probably asking is whether you should upgrade. I’d say it depends.
When you step back one more generation to a 5th-gen Broadwell-based XPS 13, then it starts to get interesting. You get roughly a 20-percent or more performance increase, a much faster NVMe drive and Thunderbolt 3, plus the ability to do USB-C charging. Coming from that generation of XPS 13, it’s a very decent upgrade, especially if you can sell your older unit to a friend or family member.Conclusion
In the end, you can look at Dell’s latest XPS 13 as a “if nothing’s broken, don’t fix it” moment. It’s arguably one of the best if not the best laptop available. You get that beautiful InfinityEdge display, a super-compact body, and oodles of performance.
Not that anyone should be resting on their laurels, because the competition isn’t going to sit still for much longer. For now though, it would be hard to beat the XPS 13.
Gordon Mah Ung
Some may ding the XPS 13 for not changing much but it’s clear the latest one is the best.
The next generation
Qualcomm continues to do what Qualcomm does best – produce a range of high quality chips with everything that handset manufactures need already built in. This time last quarter, we were taking our first look at the upcoming Snapdragon 600 processors which would be replacing the older S4 Pro, another incredibly popular Qualcomm processor.
Qualcomm doesn’t use the exact specification for the Cortex A15, it licenses the architecture from ARM which it then implements into its own Krait CPU cores, the newest version of which, the Krait 300, has shown up in the new Snapdragon 600 SoC.
We’ve already seen that Qualcomm is taking graphics extra seriously with its latest chip, as the Snapdragon 800 became the first processor to receive OpenGL ES 3 certification and is compliant with all the big graphics APIs.
Quite a few upcoming top of the line handsets are rumored to be utilizing Qualcomm’s latest processor, including the Galaxy S4 LTE-A, OPPO Find 7, and an Xperia Z refresh as well, so the Snapdragon 800 is perhaps the biggest chip to look out for in the coming months.
Exynos 5 Octa
Moving away from Qualcomm, there was certainly a lot of hype surrounding Samsung’s octo-core monster of a processor. Upon release, the chip mostly lived up to expectations — the Exynos version of the Galaxy S4 topped our performance charts and is currently the fastest handset on the market. The SoC is the first to utilize the new big.LITTLE architecture, with four new Cortex A15 cores to provide top of the line peak performance, and four older low power Cortex A7s to keep idle and low performance power consumption to a minimum.
The chip is certainly one of the best when it comes to peak performance, but it has had its share of troubled when it comes to balancing power consumption and performance.
The Exynos 5 Octa version of the Galaxy S4 is the fastest smartphone around right now, by a slim margin, but availability varies by region.
If you’re in the market for the fastest smartphone currently around, then the Galaxy S4 is the one to pick right now, providing that it’s available in your region. It has the fastest CPU currently on the market, and its PowerVR SGX544 tri-core GPU matches that of the latest iPad. But with the Snapdragon 800 just around the corner, there could soon be a new processor sitting on the performance throne.
Looking forward, it’s difficult to see the Exynos retaining its top spot for much longer. Other companies are starting to look beyond the power-hungry Cortex A15 architecture, but Samsung hasn’t yet unveiled any new plans.
Intel Clover Trail+ and Baytrail
Speaking of which, perhaps the biggest mover this year has been Intel, and although the company still isn’t competing with ARM in terms of the number of design wins, Intel has finally show off some products which will pose a threat to ARM’s market dominance.
Although we’ve been hearing about Clover Trail+ since last year, the chip is now moving into full swing, with a few handsets arriving which are running the chip, and some of the benchmarks we’ve seen are really quite impressive. Clover Trail+ has managed to find the right balance between performance and power consumption, unlike previous Atom chips which been far too slow to keep up with the top of the line ARM-based processors.
The results show a benchmark score followed by the average and peak current draw during the test. Intel’s chip scores highest on the most tests and draws the least current, and it’s only beaten by the Exynos 5 Octa when it comes to GPU performance.
Then there’s Baytrail. Back at Mobile World Congress earlier in the year, Intel laid out its plans for its Clover Trail+, but we’ve already heard information about the processor’s successor. Intel claims that its new Silvermont cores will further improve on both energy efficiency and peak performance. It sounds great on paper, but we always have to take these unveilings with a pinch of salt. What we are most likely looking at with Baytrail is a decent performance improvement, which should keep the processor ahead of the current Cortex A15 powered handsets in the benchmarks, but energy improvements are likely to come in the form of idle power consumption and low power states, rather than saving energy at the peak performance levels.
But Intel isn’t just interested in breaking into the smartphone and tablet markets with its new line-up of processors. The company is still very much focused on producing chips for laptops. One particularly interesting prospect is the confirmed new generation of Android based netbooks and laptops powered by more robust Intel processors, which could give Microsoft a real run for their money.
Intel has clarified that it will also be assigning the additional Pentium and Celeron titles to its upcoming Silvermont architecture as well as using it in the new BayTrail mobile chips. What this potentially means is a further blurring of the line between tablets and laptops, where the same processor technology will be powering a range of Intel based products. I’m expecting the performance rankings to go from Baytrail for phones and tablets, to Celeron for notebooks, and Pentium chips for small laptops, but this naming strategy hasn’t been confirmed yet. It’s also interesting to see where this will stack up with Intel’s newly released Haswell architecture, which is also aimed at providing power efficient solutions to laptops.
Taking all that into consideration, Baytrail has the potential to be a big game changer for Intel, as it could stand out well ahead of Samsung’s top of the line Exynos chips and will certainly rival the upcoming Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. But we’ll be waiting until the end of the year before we can finally see what the chip can do. In the meantime, we’ll look forward to seeing if Clover Trail+ can finally win over some market share.
NVIDIA Tegra 4 and 4i
Nvidia, on the other hand, has had a much more subdued second quarter of the year. We already had many of the unveilings for its new Tegra 4 and Tegra 4i designs by the start of the year, and so far, no products have launched which are making use of NVIDIA’s latest chips.
But we have seen quite a bit about NVIDIA Shield, which will be powered by the new Tegra 4 chip, and it certainly looks to be a decent piece of hardware. There have also been some benchmarks floating around suggesting that the Tegra 4 is going to significantly outpace other Cortex A15 powered chips, but, without a significant boost in clock speeds, I doubt that the chip will be much faster regarding most applications.
Nvidia’s real strength obviously lies in its graphics technology, and the Tegra 4 certainly has that in spades. NVIDIA, much like Qualcomm, has focused on making its new graphics chip compatible with all the new APIs, like OpenGL ES 3.0 and DirectX 11, which will allow the chip to make use of improved graphical features when gaming. But it’s unclear as to whether that will be enough to win over manufactures or consumers.
The Tegra 4i has been similarly muted, without any handsets yet confirmed to be using the chip and we haven’t really heard much about performance either. We already know that the Tegra 4i certainly isn’t aiming to compete with top of the line chips, as it’s only the older Cortex A9s in its quad-core, but with other processors already offering LTE integration, it’s tough to see smartphone manufactures leaping at NVIDIA’s chip.
The Tegra 4 is set for release at the end of this quarter, with the Tegra 4i following later in the year. But such a delayed launch may see NVIDIA risk missing the boat on this generation of processors as well, which may have something to do with NVIDIA’s biggest announcement so far this year – its plan to license its GPU architecture.
This change in direction has the potential to turn NVIDIA into the ARM of the mobile GPU market, allowing competing SoC manufacturers, like Samsung and Qualcomm, to use NVIDIA’s graphics technology in their own SoCs. However, this will place the company in direct competition with the Mali GPUs from ARM and PowerVR GPUs from Imagination, so NVIDIA’s Kepler GPUs will have shine through the competition. But considering the problems that the company had persuading handset manufacturers to adopt its Tegra 3 SoCs, this seems like a more flexible and potentially very lucrative backup plan rather than spending more time and money producing its own chips.
Looking to the future
ARM Cortex A57
If you fancy a look even further ahead into the future, then we have also received a little bit of news regarding ARM’s successor to the A15, the all new Cortex A57. This new top of the line chip recently reached the “tape out” stage of development, but it’s still a way off from being released in any mobile products.
The Cortex A50 series is set to offer a significant performance improvement. Hopefully the big.LITTLE architecture will help balance out the power consumption.
ARM has hinted that its new chip can offer up to triple the performance of the current top of the line Cortex-A15 for the same amount of battery consumption. The new Cortex-A57 will also supposedly offer five times the amount of battery life when running at the same speed as its current chips, which sounds ridiculously impressive.
We heard a while back that AMD was working on a Cortex A57/A53 big.LITTLE processor chip as well, which should offer an even better balance of performance and energy efficiency than the current Exynos 5 Octa. But we’ll probably be waiting until sometime in 2014 before we can get our hands on these chips.
The age of x64
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