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ARM announces “premium IP” for VR and AR with Cortex-A73 Processor and Mali-G71 GPU

May 30th, 2016 3 comments

Today ARM has revealed the first details of its latest mobile processor and GPU, both said to be optimized for VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) applications.

Starting with the ARM Cortex-A73, we’re looking at an evolution of the current Cortex-A72 with ARM claiming 30 percent “sustained” performance over the Cortex-A72 and over twice the performance over the Cortex-A57. ARM is already talking about clock speeds of up to 2.8GHz in mobile devices. Other improvements include an increase up to 64k L1 instruction and data cache, up from 48 and 32k respectively for the Cortex-A72, as well as up to 8MB of L2 cache.

ARM_Cortex_A73The Cortex-A73 continues to support ARM’s big.LITTLE CPU design in combination with the Cortex-A53 or the Cortex-A35. It’s also the first ARM core to have been designed to be built using 10nm FinFET technology and it should be an extremely small CPU at around 0.65 square millimeters per core, or a 46 percent shrink from the Cortex-A72. By moving to 10nm and FinFET, ARM is also promising power efficiency gains of up to 20 percent over the Cortex-A72.

Cortex A53 vs A72 vs A73

Cortex A53 vs A72 vs A73

The Mali-G71 GPU takes things even further, as ARM is promising a 50 percent increase in graphics performance, a 20 percent improvement in power efficiency and 40 percent more performance per square millimeter over its previous generation of GPU’s. To accomplish this, ARM has designed the Mali-G71 to support up to 32 shader cores, which is twice as many as the Mali-T880 and ARM claims that this will enable the Mali-G71 to beat “many discrete GPUs found in today’s mid-range laptops”. We’d take this statement with a grain of salt, as it takes more than raw computing performance to do a good GPU and that’s why there are so few companies that are still designing their own GPUs. As with the Cortex-A73, the Mali-G71 is optimized for 10nm FinFET manufacturing technology.

As always with ARM based GPUs, it depends on the partner implementation and the Mali-G71 supports designs with as little as one shader. Looking at most current mobile GPU implementations we’d expect to see most of ARM’s partners to go with a 4-8 shader implementation to keep their silicon cost at a manageable level. That said, we might get to see one or two higher-end implementations, as ARM has already gotten the likes of Samsung, MediaTek, Marvell and Hi-Silicon interested in its latest GPU.

ARM_Mali-G71

With a big move towards VR and AR, it’s also likely that the ARM partners are going to have to move to a more powerful GPU to be able to deliver the kind of content that will be expected from these market spaces. According to the press release, it looks like ARM has already gotten Epic Games and Unity Technologies interested in supporting their latest GPU

Devices using the new ARM Cortex-A73 and Mali-G71 are expected sometime in 2017, so there’s quite a gap between the announcement and the availability of actual silicon, but with HiSilicon, Marvell, MediaTek, Samsung Electronics and others having already licensed Cortex A73 IP. at least it means we have something to look forward to next year. You can find more details on ARM Cortex A73 and Mali-G71 pages, as well as ARM community’s blog.

OtterBox uniVERSE Modular Case System & Tapit Customizable Tactile Keyboard Case for Smartphones

May 25th, 2016 No comments

Two innovative cases for smartphones have been introduced very recently: OtterBox uniVERSE modular case system which allows you to add various modules in a similar fashion to what Project Ara promises, and Tapit case adding a flexible keyboard on top of your smartphone case.

OtterBox uniVERSE modular case system

OtterBOX_uniVERSE_Modular_CaseThe company offers a protective case for your phone for $50 to $60, and you can add modules as needed from the following selection:

  • Square Contactless & Chip Reader, $49.99 – To accept credit cards and contactless payments on the go
  • olloclip 4-in-1 lens, $79.99 – Fisheye, wide-angle, 10x and 15x lens options
  • SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive, $59.99 to $119.99 – 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of additional capacity
  • Nite Ize Steelie Vent Mount Kit, $39.99 – Mount your smartphone to a vehicle vent for hands-free use
  • Goal Zero Slide Battery, starting at $59.99 – Extra battery
  • Manatee Works StingRay Barcode Scanner, $95
  • Seek Thermal Compact Camera and Seek Case, starting at $249
  • Influx WiFi Booster, $39.99
  • PolarPro Trippler Tripod, $49.99
  • PolarPro Stance Compact Tripod, $29.99 – Folding tripod
  • PolarPro PowerPack Removable Battery Pack, $49.99
  • PolarPro Beat Pulsar Wireless Mobile Speaker, $59.99
  • PolarPro Fisheye Wide-Angle Lens, $29.99
  • PolarPro Trail Blazer Armband, $34.99
  • PolarPro Stash Slim Mobile Wallet, $19.99 – Ditch the wallet and stash cash directly on the uniVERSE case

The downside is that the case  and accessories are only available for iPhone 6/6s, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPhone 6s Plus, but I assume that if the system gains traction popular Android smartphone will be supported too. Alternatively you could also use Nexpaq once/if they sort out their issues.

The system will start selling on May 29 in the US. You can find more details on uniVERSE case system product page. Via Liliputing.

Tapit Customizable Tactile Keyboard Case

Tapit_Case

Tapit’s usefulness appears to be debatable, but basically it’s a case with a transparent physical keyboard that give users tactile feedback to make possible eye-free smartphone operation. So for example, it could improve the experience if you use your smartphone as a remote control for your TV or TV box, and Tapit Launcher app pictured above, allows the user to pre-defined 18 keys on their lock screen for fast access.

The company provides an API in order to let third parties develop app leveraging Tapit physical buttons. The case is compatible with Samsung S5, S6, S6 Edge, S7, and S7 Edge smartphones, and the company took it to Kickstarter to raise at least 20,000 Euros to go ahead with mass-production. Rewards start at 35 Euros (early bird) and 49 Euros (Classic bird) for the case. Shipping is included, and deliver is scheduled for November 2016. Visit Tapit Case website for a few more details.

Linux 4.5 Released – Main Changes, ARM and MIPS Architectures

March 15th, 2016 1 comment

Linus Torvalds released Linux Kernel 4.5 on Sunday:

So this is later on a Sunday than my usual schedule, because I just couldn’t make up my mind whether I should do another rc8 or not, and kept just waffling about it. In the end, I obviously decided not to,but it could have gone either way.

We did have one nasty regression that got fixed yesterday, and the networking pull early in the week was larger than I would have wished for. But the block  layer should be all good now, and David went through all his networking commits an extra time just to make me feel comfy about it, so in the end I didn’t see any point to making the release cycle any longer than usual.

And on the whole, everything here is pretty small. The diffstat looks a bit larger for an xfs fix, because that fix has three cleanup refactoring patches that precedes it. And there’s a access type pattern fix in the sound layer that generated lots of noise, but is all very simple in the end.

In addition to the above, there’s random small fixes all over-shortlog appended for people who want to skim the details as usual.

Go test, and obviously with 4.5 released, I’ll start the merge window for 4.6.

Linux 4.4 added support for a faster and leaner loop device, 3D support in virtual GPU driver, TCP improvements, various file systems improvements for BTRFS, EXT-4, CIFS, XFS etc… Some notable changes made to Linux 4.5 include:

  • Copy offloading with new copy_file_range(2) system call – Performance improvements on local file systems are marginal, but for networked file systems such as NFS, you could copy a file internally on a server drive without transferring file data over the network.
  • Experimental PowerPlay for amdgpu driver
  • Btrfs free space handling scalability improvements – New, experimental way of representing the free space cache that takes less work overall to update on each commit and fixes the scalability issues for large drives (30TB+). It can be enabled with -o space_cache=v2 mount option, and you can revert to the one method with -o clear_cache,space_cache=v1.
  • Support for GCC’s Undefined Behavior Sanitizer (-fsanitize=undefined) UBSAN (Undefined Behaviour SANitizer) is a debugging tool available since GCC 4.9. It inserts instrumentation code during compilation that will perform checks at runtime before operations that could cause undefined behaviors. Linux 4.5 supports compiling the kernel with the Undefined Behavior Sanitizer enabled.
  • Next gen media controller whose “goal is to improve the media controller to allow proper support for other types of Video4Linux devices (radio and TV ones) and to extend the media controller functionality to allow it to be used by other subsystems like DVB, ALSA and IIO”. See lkml for details

Some new features and improvements specific to the ARM architecture:

  • Allwinner:
    • Allwinner A80 support – IR receiver driver, NMI controller,PRCM driver, R_PIO support, and RSB driver
    • Allwinner H3 SoC support – H3 USB PHY clocks
    • A10/A20 Video Engine clocks
    • MIC1 capture for sun4i codec
    • Audio codec enabled on various boards
    • Added board – Orange Pi Plus
  • Rockchip:
    • Crypto module and io-domain driver enabled in multi_v7_defconfig
    • Tweaks for RK3368 SoC and eval board
    • Added Rockchip RK3228 SoC and eval board
    • New RK3228 subdriver in pinctrl
    • SPI driver fix
    • Added support for RK3399 in thermal driver
    • RK3036: Added SMP support, emac support
    • Expose USB PHY PLLs
  • Amlogic
    • Device tree changes – Add watchdog node to meson8b, add status LED for ODROID-C1
    • Watchdog timer modifications
  • Samsung
    • eMMC/SDIO minor fixes usage of bindings on Snow and Peach chromebooks.
    • Remove FIMD from Odroid XU3-family because on XU3 it cannot be used yet and on XU3-Lite and XU4 it is not supported.
    • Remove deprecated since June 2013 samsung,exynos5-hdmi.
    • Add support for Pseudo Random Generator on Exynos4 (Trats2 for now). This depends on new SSS clock.
    • Add rotator nodes for Exynos4 and Exynos5.
    • Switch DWC3_1 on Odroid XU3 and XU3-Lite to peripheral mode because  now it cannot be used as OTG.
    • Cleanup the G2D usage on Exynos4 and add it to a proper domain in case of Exynos4210.
    • Put MDMA1 in proper domain on Exynos4210 as well.
    • Minor cleanups
  • Qualcomm
    • New pinctrl subdrivers for Qualcomm MSM8996, PM8994,  PM8994 MPP support
    • Added Qualcomm PCIe controller driver
    • Qualcomm ARM64:  Add fixed rate oscillators to dts, fixup PMIC alias and properties, change 8916-MTP compatible to be compliant with new scheme, fix 8×16 UART pinctrl configuration, add SMEM, RPM/SMD, and PM8916 support on MSM8916
  • ARM SoC multiplatform code – “This branch is the culmination of 5 years of effort to bring the ARMv6 and ARMv7 platforms together such that they can all be enabled and boot the same kernel”
  • ARM64 – hugetlb: add support for PTE contiguous bit; perf: add support for Cortex-A72;
  • Other new hardware or SoCs – Sigma Designs ARM Cortex-A9 Tango4 “Secure Media Processor” platforms (SMP8756, SMP8758, and SMP8759), TI-based DM3730 from LogicPD (Torpedo), Cosmic+ M4 (nommu) initial support (Freescale Vybrid), Veyron-mickey (ASUS Chromebit), BCM2836 and Raspberry Pi 2 B.

MIPS changes:

  • Add support for PIC32MZDA platform
  • bcm963xx: Add Broadcom BCM963xx board nvram data structure
  • dts: Add initial DTS for the PIC32MZDA Starter Kit
  • math-emu: Add IEEE Std 754-2008 ABS.fmt and NEG.fmt emulation
  • math-emu: Add IEEE Std 754-2008 NaN encoding emulation
  • math-emu: Add IEEE Std 754 conformance mode selection
  • pci: Add MT7620a PCIE driver
  • ralink: add MT7621 support
  • zboot: Add support for serial debug using the PROM

If you want to get the full details, I’ve generated Linux 4.5 Changelog with comments only (12.2MB) using git log v4.4..v4.5 --stat, but it’s probably a better idea to simply check out Linux 4.5 changelog on kernelnewbies.org.

Samsung Unveils Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge Smartphones with Exynos 8890 or Snapdragon 820 Processor

February 22nd, 2016 1 comment

As Mobile World Congress 2016 is about to start,  Samsung has officially announced Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge smartphones powered by either Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 in the US, or the company’ own Exynos 8890 in the rest of the world. Let’s see if beside faster and more efficient processors, the company has brought some other innovation, or if it is just another boring smartphone release.

Samsung_GalaxyS7_EdgeBoth smartphones basically share the same specifications, and the main difference is that Galaxy S7 edge has a curved screen.

  • SoC
    • Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (Exynos 8890) octa core processor with four Exynos M1 core @ 2.3GHz + four Cortex A53 cores @ 1.6Ghz, and Mali-T880MP12 GPU, manufactured using 14nm process.
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad core Kryo processor with two cores @ up to 2.2GHz, and two cores @ up to 1.6GHz, an Adreno 530GPU, an Hexagon 680 DSP, and a 14-bit Spectra ISP.
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR4
  • Storage – 32/64GB UFS 2.0 flash + micro SD slot up to 200GB
  • Display
    • Galaxy S7 – 5.1’’ Super AMOLED Quad HD (2560×1440) 577ppi
    • Galaxy S7 Edge – 5.5’’ Super AMOLED Quad HD(2560×1440) 534ppi, dual edge.
  • Camera
    • 12MP rear “dual pixel” camera with smart OIS
    • 5MP front-facing camera
  • Video –  MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM
  • Audio Format – MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA
  • Cellular Connectivity – LTE Cat.9 (450/50Mbps). Hybrid SIM card for 2 SIM cards, or 1 SIM card + micro SD card
  • Connectivity
  • USB – 1x micro USB 2.0 OTG
  • Sensors – Accelerometer, RGB Light, Gyroscope, Proximity, Geo-magnetic, Barometer, Fingerprint, Hall, HRM
  • Misc – IR Remote
  • Battery – S7: 3,000mAh; S7 Edge: 3,600mAh.
  • Wireless Charging – WPC  & PMA
  • Dimensions  & Weight
    • Galaxy S7 – 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9mm | 152 grams
    • Galaxy S7 Edge – 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7mm | 157g
  • Ingress Protection Rating – IP68

Samsung_Galaxy_S7

Both phone will run Android 6.0 Marshmallow. I’ve highlighted the differences against Galaxy S6 models in bold, and there’s now more memory, the micro SD card is back!, Edge display is larger, LTE Cat.6 has been upgraded to Cat.9 for faster download speed, the battery got more capacity, and the smartphone has a pretty good water and dust proof rating with IP68. The only real new features are the dual pixel camera which should “deliver brighter and sharper images, even in low light”, support for MST for mobile payment, and an Always-on display feature – also found in LG G5 – showing time, missed calls and other notifications without requiring user interaction.

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will start selling in the middle of March 2016. Pricing has not been disclosed yet.

 

Samsung Exynos 8890 Processor with Custom Exynos M1 and ARM Cortex A53 Cores Benchmarked

February 22nd, 2016 No comments

When Samsung announced Exynos 8890 processor, it promised 10% lower consumption and 30% high performance compared to Exynos 7 Octa. The company also said it make its own custom ARMv8 cores for the new, but at the time details were limited. Anandtech has now published more information, and Exynos 8890 octa-core processor will make use of four Exynos M1 custom cores combined with four low power ARM Cortex A53 cores, combined with a Mali-T880MP12 GPU.

Samsung_Exynos_8_Octa

Exynos 8890 key features:

  • Low power cores – 4x ARM Cortex A53 cores @ 1.586GHz
  • High performance cores – 2x Exynos M1 @ 2.60 GHz, 2x Exynos N1 @ 2.29 GHz; If 4 cores are running at the same time: 2.29 GHz maximum
  • Memory – 2x 32-bit LPDDR4 @ 1794MHz; 28.7GB/s bandwidth
  • GPU – Mali-T880MP12 @ 650 MHz
  • Manufacturing process – Samsung 14nm LPP

Now that Samsung Galaxy 7 has been announced with Exynos 8890 processor (at least one of its versions),  as well as LG G5 with Snapdragon 820 processor using Qualcomm custom ARMv8 Cryo cores, benchmarks have also started to show up.

Exynos_8890_benchmark_Snapdragon_820

Source: Phonearena

The two new processors are usually performing much better than last year devices in benchmarks except for graphics where the Apple A9 processor found in iPhone 6s still performs better, and somehow Galaxy Note 5 (Exynos 7 Octa) achieved a better than LG G5 in Vellamo Browser. There’s however a good reason for iPhone 6s out-performance here as its screen resolution is 1920×1080, while the new models have higher resolution (2560 x 1440). Luckily Anandtech has the good idea of running offscreen tests instead of on-screen ones, and the results are quite different.

exynos_8890_snapdragon_820_GFXBench_T-Rex-HD_OffscrenIt should be  noted that MDPs (Mobile Development Platforms) can somtimes deliver better performance than smartphone due to better cooling. AnandTech also noticed that both Snapdragon 820 based LG G5 and Exynos 8890 based Galaxy S7 smartphones got pretty warm after testing.

More details about the processor should eventually be found on Samsung Exynos microsite.

Samsung Artik IoT Boards and Devkits with WiFi, Bluetooth LE, and Zigbee Available, Partners Announced

February 19th, 2016 12 comments

Samsung Artik IoT boards will finally start selling on February 22 via Digikey. With the many fascinating developments in the IoT space over the year, you’d be forgiven if you completely forgot about Samsung Artik boards. So let’s have a quick recap.

Samsung_Artik

The Korean company previously announced three boards all supporting Bluetooth LE:

  • Artik 1 – Ineda Systems Dual Core microAptiv MIPS32 processor with 1MB on-chip RAM, no GPU, and 4MB SPI flash
  • Artik 5 – Dual core Exynos ARM processor @ 1GHz with ARM Mali 400 MP2 GPU, 512MB RAM and 4GB eMMC flash (both on-chip), with WiFi & Zigbee/Thread connectivity
  • Artik 10 – Octa core Exynos processor with 4x ARM Cortex A15 @ 1.3GHz, 4x ARM Cortex A7 @ 1.0 GHz with ARM Mali-T628 GPU, 2GB LPDDR3 (on-chip), 16GB eMMC flash, and WiFi & Zigbee/Thread connectivity

Samsung also partnered with multiple companies working on:

  • Operating Systems – Tizen, Nucleus Real Time OS (for Artik 1), Fedora Linux, and Snappy Ubuntu Core.
  • Tools and Services
    • Arduino web-based development environment
    • Temboo for cloud connectivity and automatic code generation.
    • Medium One’s workflow tools for analytics and visualization
    • Sensory’s speaker-independent on-device TrulyHandsfree Voice Control technology
    • Soundhound’s contextual natural language and voice recognition engine
    • Vayyar’s 3D imaging sensor technology.
  • Cloud – Microsoft Azure IoT Suite and IoT Hub;  Samsung SAMIIO + the Open Data Exchange platform
  • Security – TEE support (Trusted Execution Environment) with Trustonic

You can find the SDK, documentation, and community forum on  Artik developer’s page.

Artik 5 Development Kit

Artik 5 Development Kit

Artik 1 and Artik 10 prices are not unavailable, 4 days from the launch… however Artik 5 kit is already sold for $99.99, and includes a baseboard, Artik 5 modules, three antennas for WiFi, Bluetooth and Zigbee, as well as a power supply and a USB cable.

Samsung Gear S2 Classic 3G Smartwatch Features an eSIM for Cellular Connectivity, Runs Tizen

February 19th, 2016 1 comment

Samsung has announced that Gear S2 classic 3G smartwatch would be first device in the market to be equipped with a GSMA compliant eSIM (Embedded SIM) The round watch is also powered by a dual core processor coupled with 512MB RAM and 4GB flash to run Tizen based wearable platform.

Samsung_Gear_S2_Classic_3GGalaxy Gear S2 Classic 3G specifications:

  • SoC – Dual core processor @ 1.0 GHz
  • System Memory – 512MB
  • Storage – 4GB RAM
  • Display – 1.2” circular super AMOLED display, 360×360 resolution, 302ppi
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n/e, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, 3G/4G (HSPA+ voice and data networks)
  • Audio Codec – MP3/AAC/AAC+/eAAC+
  • Audio Format – MP3, M4A, AAC, OGG
  • Sensors – Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Heart Rate, Ambient Light, Barometer
  • Dimension  – 44.0 x 46.9 x 13.4 (54g)
  • Battery – 300mAh Li-ion; Wireless Charging;  2~3days on a charge
  • IP Rating – IP68 Certified Dust and Water Resistant

The watch will run Tizen, and include a whole bunch of pre-installed apps including Contacts, Notifications, Messages, Email, Preset text, S Health, Nike+ Running
Maps & Navigation, Weather, Music Player, Gallery, and more others.

SIM_card_evolution

SIM Card Evolution – Edited from Understanding SIM Card Evolution (PDF)

This is all good, but what is an e-SIM? First it stands for embedded SIM, meaning it’s not simply the usual card that you can insert or remove from your phone, but it’s a chip soldered on the board. Does that mean you can’t change mobile operator? Actually you can because it supports remote provisioning. The concept was actually initiated for M2M / IoT application, as imagine you’ve got 100,000 “things” connected to cellular network, and for whatever reason you’d like to change mobile operator, you’d have to pay several people to replace all the SIM cards. With remote provisioning of eSIMs this can happen with one mouse click.

Back to the watch… Samsung Gear S2 classic 3G/4G will be available on March 11 onwards at a price that has yet to be disclosed.

Samsung Introduces Exynos 7870 Octa-Core Processor for Mid-Range Smartphones

February 17th, 2016 3 comments

Samsung_Exynos_7870Usually the higher the model number, the faster the processor, but not with Samsung, as the company’s new Exynos 7870 processor will feature eight ARM Cortex A53 cores @ 1.6 GHz coupled with an ARM Mali-T830MP GPU. It will be manufactured with 14nm FINFET process which should reduce power consumption by 30% compared to 28nm process.

The processor also include an LTE Cat.6 2CA Modem that supports 300Mbps downlink speed and FDD-TDD joint carrier aggregation. Multimedia capabilities include 1080p 60fps video playback, 1920×1200 display resolution, and 16MP front or camera support (8MP in dual camera configuration) via its image signal processor (ISP). Exynos 7870 processor will also integrate a GNSS solution that delivers fast time-to-first-fix (TTFF) feature.

In the recent pas, low and mid-range SoC were usually manufacturer with 28nm process due to the high cost of 14nm process, but those costs must have come down dramatically, after Snapdragon 625 processor, Exynos 7870 processor follows suit by being manufactured using 14nm process technology.

Exynos 7 Octa 7870 mass production  should start in Q1 2016.

Via AnandTech

Categories: Samsung Exynos Tags: lte, samsung, smartphone