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By Jay Bonggolto
Qualcomm unveils the Snapdragon 678 SoC with upgraded camera features and more
by Jay Bonggolto
Qualcomm today announced its next-generation mid-range chipset in the form of the Snapdragon 678. The new mobile platform succeeds the Snapdragon 675, promising a camera upgrade, immersive entertainment experiences, and enhanced streaming features for affordable mobile devices.
The Snapdragon 678 combines a Kryo 460 CPU clocked at up to 2.2 GHz with the Adreno 612 GPU. It also packs the Spectra 250L image signal processor for an improved level of photography and videography performance for cheaper handsets. The chipset supports triple camera photos at up to 48MP, portrait mode, and laser autofocus. For videos, it brings support for 4K video capture, slo-mo recording, 5x optical zoom, and dual-camera support up to 16MP.
For gaming, the Snapdragon 678 supports Unity, Messiah, NeoX, and Unreal Engine 4. It features faster graphics rendering with high frame rates, courtesy of the Kryo 460 CPU and Adreno 612 GPU.
There's no support for 5G, however. Instead, the chipset uses the Snapdragon X12 LTE modem with support for up to 600Mbps of download speeds and up to 150Mbps of uploads. Connectivity-wise, the chipset features support for 802.11ac Wave 2, 802.11a/b/g, and 802.11n with spectral bands of 2.4GHz and 5GHz. It also supports Bluetooth 5.0 and Quick Charge 4+ fast charging.
TrendForce: Apple to sell a record number of MacBooks in 2021
by Paul Hill
The analyst firm, TrendForce, has announced that it expects Apple to ship a record number of MacBook devices in 2021 thanks to its new Apple Silicon M1 processor. With the pandemic, Apple is already set to ship 15.5 million units, up 23.1% year-over-year but thanks to Apple’s new processor, shipments are expected to reach 17.1 million units in 2021.
With the growth in shipments, TrendForce believes that Apple will increase its global notebook market share from 8% this year to 8.7% next year. In recent years, Apple’s best year for MacBook shipments was 2017 when it shipped a few hundred thousand more notebooks than are expected this year. In 2018 and 2019, the firm saw sales continually decline which could be one of the reasons for the strong growth this year.
According to TrendForce, while the 13.3-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are the only MacBook products equipped with the M1, M series processors are expected to be introduced on the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros next year. From there, Apple is likely to introduce its energy-efficient processor across more of its product range.
Apple announced its M1 processor at an event earlier this week. It’s the first ARM-based chipset for MacBooks and delivers great battery life while offering excellent performance. According to Geekbench, the new MacBook Air with Apple’s M1 processor outscored the 16-inch MacBook Pro despite the significantly lower price tag. Things may pan out differently in real-world tests but so far the M1 chip looks promising.
By Ather Fawaz
Former Intel engineer reasons that Intel's Skylake lineup led to Apple opting for ARM
by Ather Fawaz
Earlier this week at WWDC, Apple finally confirmed that it will be switching Macs from Intel to its custom ARM-based chips. The move had been rumored for a while but the conference was the first time we received official word from the firm. Apple's own silicon will bring with it some key advantages, including improved performance levels at lower power consumption and the promise of iPhone and iPad apps natively working on macOS.
Nevertheless, Apple's decision to make the switch is still being discussed across forums. Considering this, François Piednoël, a former Principal Engineer at Intel, has reflected upon the firm's decision to adopt the ARM architecture during an X-Plane stream session. He reasons that Intel's 2015 Skylake processors had numerous quality control issues which led to frequent complaints from Apple:
According to him, this was where the Cupertino firm made the decision to switch to a different architecture:
Of course, Piednoël's comments are his own opinion and cannot be taken as fact. Though they do provide an interesting take on the situation. Officially, however, apart from stating the obvious advantages offered by its custom Apple Silicon itself, the Cupertino firm intended to unify the architectures across all its devices, consolidating its handheld and desktop offerings with the switch away from Intel.
By Ather Fawaz
Amazon EC2 C5a Instances with 2nd Gen AMD EPYC Processors now generally available
by Ather Fawaz
Starting today, Amazon's C5a instances featuring 2nd Generation AMD EPYC processors are generally available. These C5a instances are variants of Amazon EC2’s compute-optimized (C5) instance family and are primarily intended for jobs like batch processing, distributed analytics, and data transformations. Amazon claims that these C5a instances deliver high performance at 10% lower cost over comparable instances.
These C5a instances come in eight sizes, starting from c5a.large with 2 vCPUs with 4 GiB of RAM and going up to c5a.24xlarge with 96vCPUs and 192 GiB of RAM. Further details for each variant are summarized below.
C5a instances are ready to be deployed in the following regions: US East (N. Virginia), US East (Ohio), US West (Oregon), Europe (Ireland), Europe (Frankfurt), Asia Pacific (Sydney), and Asia Pacific (Singapore) Regions in On-Demand, Spot, and Reserved Instance or as part of a Savings Plan.
Of course, the C5a instances support many AWS resources including AWS Batch, Amazon EMR, Elastic Container Service and Elastic Kubernetes Service. They are also managed by the Nitro platform that is used across Amazon EC2. Amazon has further stated that the disk variants of C5a instances—C5ad—that come with local NVMe instance storage and bare-metal variants, C5an.metal and C5adn.metal, are coming soon.
Samsung announces 5G-integrated Exynos 980 processor built on 8-nm FinFET process
by Paul Hill
Samsung has announced the new Exynos 980 mobile processor. The hardware is notable because it’s the first artificial intelligence (AI) mobile processor from the company that also comes with an integrated 5G modem. Devices shipping with this processor in future will be capable of running “multiple apps, intricate UX designs and high resolution-graphic games effortlessly” thanks to the included CPU and GPU, while downloading content at blistering speeds with 5G.
The Exynos 980, which is built on 8-nanometer (nm) FinFET process technology, reduces power consumption by containing an integrated 5G modem. With integrated 5G capabilities, it also means that space efficiency within the devices increases too, allowing for thinner phones. The 5G modem is capable of operating on 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G, providing a gigabit downlink speed in 4G LTE and up to 2.55Gbps in sub-6-gigahertz (GHz) 5G. The modem also supports E-UTRA-NR Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) which combines 2CC LTE and 5G connectivity to deliver a downlink speed of up to 3.55Gbps. It also supports the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, IEEE 802.11ax for faster speeds and stability.
Commenting on the new hardware, Ben Hur, vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics, said:
In terms of actual processing, the Exynos 980 comes with two Cortex-A77 CPU cores and six Cortex-A55 cores. There’s also a Mali-G76 GPU for graphics-intense applications. For AI tasks, the chip includes a neural processing unit (NPU) which increases performance by 2.7 times compared to its predecessor.
When it’s finally integrated into phones, it’ll be able to support up to 108MP photos as well as the encoding and decoding of 4K UHD video at 120 frames per second. HDR10+ support will also offer more details and better colours in video content. Samsung plans to begin mass production of the Exynos 980 by the end of the year, so we’ll be waiting until next year for phones to ship with it.