Along with today's other CES 2020 pre-announcements, Lenovo has introduced a new all-in-one desktop PC designed for business and corporate customers. The ThinkCentre M90a AIO brings together performance and features of a modern laptop, a fairly large display, and top-notch security capabilities from Lenovo.
The Lenovo ThinkCentre M90A AIO comes equipped with a 23.8-inch Full-HD display with 250 nits or 350 nits maximum brightness, and with further optional PrivacyGuard technology to protect potentially sensitive information against prying eyes. In addition, the system supports Lenovo’s PrivacyAlert technology that warns its user of any ‘over the shoulder’ spies (presumably by detecting them using its webcam) and automatically blurs the monitor when the user turns away from the screen. Topping off ThinkCentre M90A’s security capabilities are match-in-sensor fingerprint reader as well as a dTPM 2.0 chip.
In a bid to make its ThinkCentre M90A as compact as possible, Lenovo used components designed for mobile PCs, including Intel’s 10th Gen Core processors (presumably Comet Lake-U), AMD’s Radeon 625 discrete GPU with 2 GB GDDR5 DRAM, two SO-DIMM memory modules (supporting up to 32 GB of DDR4), an M.2-2242 SSD (optionally with OPAL), and a 2.5-inch HDD. Meanwhile, the PC can be equipped with a slim ODD.
When it comes to connectivity, the ThinkCentre M90A has everything one might need for work, including Wi-Fi 6, GbE, USB 3.1 Gen 1/Gen 2 Type-A ports, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C connector, a 3-in-1 card reader, an optional serial port, and a DisplayPort output to connect another monitor.
While formally Lenovo positions its ThinkCentre M90A for business and corporate clients, the company did equip it with a Dolby Atmos-badged speaker, which will certainly please home users too. Evidently, a Blu-ray drive could be a nice addition to the advanced audio sub-system, but there is no word whether the manufacturer intends to offer such a drive as an option.
Lenovo’s ThinkCentre M90A will be available in June 2020 starting at $1,099.
Continuing our run of CES 2020 announcements, Lenovo has announced its new ThinkVision Creator Extreme top-of-the-range professional-grade display. The new 27-inch Ultra-HD monitor features a Mini LED-based full-area local dimming (FALD) backlighting that enables a very high brightness in HDR mode along with matching contrast ratios.
As its name suggests, the Lenovo ThinkVision Creator Extreme P27 is designed for various content creators who need a 3840x2160 resolution display with accurate colors (100% of the sRGB and 99% of the DCI-P3 color gamut). The high-end monitor also offers HDR support, with a peak brightness of 1000 nits. The P27 comes factory calibrated and can be used for color-critical workloads by designers or videographers right out of the box.
The key feature of Lenovo’s ThinkVision Creator Extreme P27 is its Mini LED FALD backlighting, which offers 1152 zones (and 10,368 LEDs), three times as many zones as the first generation of FALD PC monitors. This allows the P27 to enable higher contrast ratios, deep blacks (when compared to LCDs with regular WLED backlighting), and the necessary total brightness required for HDR. Lenovo is not disclosing an official contrast ratio specification, though it is safe to say that we are talking about something considerably higher than that of typical IPS displays. The company also does not say which HDR transport formats are supported by the monitor, which is a little bit odd given its positioning.
To meet requirements of users with different computers, Lenovo equipped its ThinkVision Creator Extreme P27 with four display inputs: one DisplayPort 1.4, two HDMI 2.0, and one USB Type-C port with DP 1.4 Alt mode support and 90 W Power Delivery. One interesting feature of the new professional display from Lenovo is a special holder for a smartphone which lets users to follow lock screen announcements and save some space on the desk.
Lenovo’s ThinkVision Creator Extreme P27 will be available this April for $2,499. Considering the fact that to date only Acer and ASUS have introduced Mini LED-enabled professional-grade monitors, the very high price tag of Lenovo’s monitor does not come as a surprise.
|ThinkVision Creator Extreme P27 Specifications|
|Resolution||3840 × 2160|
|Refresh Rate||60 Hz|
|Response Time||14 ms gray-to-gray|
|Brightness||Normal: ? cd/m²
HDR mode: 1000 cd/m²
|Viewing Angles||178°/178° horizontal/vertical|
|Color Saturation||100% sRGB
|Display Colors||1.07 billion|
|Pixel Pitch||0.1557 mm²|
|Pixel Density||163 PPI|
|Inputs||1 × DP 1.4
2 × HDMI 2.0b
1 × USB Type-C
|USB Hub||4-port USB 3.0 hub|
3.5-mm mini jack
|Mechanical Design||Chassis Colors: black, metallic.
Height Adjustment: yes
Wrapping up today's Lenovo CES 2020 announcements, the company is joining the club of suppliers whom are offering ultrawide curved displays for productivity applications. The ThinkVision T34w-20 uses a large VA panel, has vast connectivity options, and can work as a docking station for a modern laptop.
The general characteristics of the 34-inch ThinkVision T34w-20 curved monitor resemble those of similar devices from other makers; so we are talking about a 3440x1440 resolution, 350 nits maximum brightness, 178°/178° horizontal/vertical viewing angles, a 60 Hz refresh rate, and a 6 ms response time. When it comes to color gamut, the LCD can reproduce 99% of the sRGB color space.
Being aimed purely at work, the Lenovo ThinkVision T34w-20 does not support technologies like variable refresh rate or HDR, which is quite explainable as these are clearly not priorities for the SOHO market. Furthermore, it also does not have speakers, but has a headphone output. For some reason, Lenovo also decided not to equip the monitor with PiP and PbP functionality, so it cannot be used to operate more than one PC at the same time.
Meanwhile, the workhorse monitor has three display inputs, including a DisplayPort 1.2, a HDMI 2.0, and a USB Type-C port with 75 W power delivery to connect a modern laptop. As well, the monitor has a quad-port USB 3.0 hub. In addition, it has an adjustable stand that can regulate height, tilt, and swivel.
|Lenovo's 34-Inch Curved Display|
|Native Resolution||3440 × 1440|
|Maximum Refresh Rate||60 Hz|
|Response Time||4 ms GtG in Extreme Mode
6 ms GtG in Normal Mode
|Viewing Angles||178°/178° horizontal/vertical|
|Pixel Pitch||0.233 mm|
|Pixel Density||109 ppi|
|Inputs||1 × DisplayPort 1.2
1 × HDMI 2.0
1 ×USB Type-C (with up to 75W PD)
|USB Hub||4-port USB 3.0 hub|
|Stand||Height: +/- ? mm
Tilt: -? to +?°
Lenovo will start sales of the ThinkVision T34w-20 display in March for $799.
While NVIDIA doesn’t have any new GPU hardware to show off at this year’s CES, the company is not coming entirely empty-handed. Along with a couple of monitor announcements, NVIDIA is also releasing a new video driver today, which they’re calling the CES Game Ready Driver, which will be introducing a few new quality of life improvements for GeForce users.
The marquee addition for the latest driver is what NVIDIA is calling Variable Rate Supersampling (VRSS) for Virtual Reality. Based on the Variable Rate Shading technology found in NVIDIA’s Turing GPU architecture, VRSS invokes the same concept, but in reverse. Rather than shading a section of the screen at a fraction of the normal rate (100%/1:1), as is normally done with VRS, VRSS can shade that section at a rate over 100%. This technique, in turn, is being deployed for use in VR headsets as a means to offer a mid-grade option between running without any kind of supersampling, and using relatively expensive full screen supersampling.
It’s this sectionality, in turn, that truly drives the utility of VRSS. As it’s based on NVIDIA’s variable rate shading technology, the company can do VRSS in a foveated manner, running it only towards the center of the VR user’s field of view, where they are most likely to see this difference. This way the outer edges of the screen don’t receive any supersampling, conserving resources in an area where the user isn’t likely to notice the benefit. We’ve been seeing NVIDIA talk about foveated rendering for some time now, and VRSS is a very practical application of that idea.
Diving a bit under the hood, the maximum image quality boost from VRSS should be fairly close to full screen supersampling, though based on NVIDIA’s announcement there seems to be a few differences. The outstanding question is whether VRSS can supersample geometry as well as shaders/textures. VRS, for reference, only dials down the sampling rate of the latter, while leaving geometry untouched. So if VRSS similarly doesn’t deal with geometry, then that would mean there would still be some geometry aliasing.
Finally, along with allowing foveated supersampling, NVIDIA will also support dynamically adjusting the VRSS sampling ratio. This means that the amount of supersampling can be dialed up or down as needed. Similar to dynamic resolution scaling, this is designed to allow games to hold to a (relatively) fixed framerate, while the complexity of the world changes around the user. Which for VR headsets means that NVIDIA can hold the framerate to 90fps, and do as much (or as little) VRSS as the remaining GPU resources allow.
VRSS is launching today, and is initially supported in 24 DirectX 11 VR games.
Moving on, today’s driver is also introducing a couple of more minor changes to NVIDIA’s software stack. First off, NVIDIA has finally added support for a maximum framerate cap. Long available via third party utilities like MSI Afterburner – as well as in competitor AMD’s drivers – a frame rate cap does exactly what’s in the name: it allows a user to cap the maximum framerate of a give to a specific value. The uses for a framerate cap outside of the maximum refresh rate are a bit on the niche side of matters, but some G-Sync users swear by keeping a game capped just below the monitor’s maximum refresh rate. As well, frame rate caps can be used to reduce the overall rendering performance required for a game, thereby saving battery life. That use is conceptually similar to (but less advanced than) AMD’s Radeon Chill technology.
The new driver is also introducing some changes to NVIDIA’s ever-evolving image sharpening option. Image sharpening can now be used with custom resolutions, and the feature is being tweaked to allow for GPU resolution scaling to be enabled/disabled independently when using image sharpening.
Finally, the CES driver is delivering a small update to NVIDIA’s Freestyle filters to enable more options to use multiple filters at once. A new filter has been added that allows for multiple filters to be used in a split screen fashion, allowing for filters to be split or blended across the screen.
Following yesterday’s announcement of the first 360Hz G-Sync monitor, the ASUS ROG Swift 360, this morning NVIDIA is announcing some updates in the high-end HDR portion of the market as well.
Kicking things off, NVIDIA is using CES 2020 to once again drum up interest in G-Sync Ultimate (HDR) monitors, this time by announcing a pair of new 32-inch 4K monitors with Mini-LED backlighting. For those keeping track, this is the second set of Mini-LED-based monitors that the company has announced; NVIDIA first unveiled 27-inch monitors back at Computex 2019 for Acer and ASUS, though those monitors have yet to ship.
Besides being the first G-Sync Ultimate monitors available in a 32-inch panel size, the new 32-inch models’ claim to fame is an 1152 zone backlighting system, which is the largest number of zones announced for an LCD monitor to date. According to NVIDIA, the forthcoming Acer X32 and the ASUS PG32UQX will be able to offer a peak brightness of 1400 nits, with the finer-grained Mini-LED FALD backlighting providing better local contrast and reduced backlight blooming. Otherwise these new monitors are fairly similar to the current-generation 27-inch models, offering a 3840x2160 resolution with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz (with 4:2:2 chroma subsampling).
Increasingly typical for CES monitor announcements, NVIIDA isn’t offering any guidance on when these monitors will be available.; for now, they’re works in progress. As mentioned earlier, we’re still waiting on last year’s 576 zone 27-inch monitors, the ASUS PG27UQX and its Acer equivalent, to start shipping. We haven’t heard anything about those monitors since Computex, so we’ll be poking NVIDIA about those as well.
Though it is interesting to note that if they do end up shipping, they’ll be quickly outclassed in backlighting technology by the new 32-inch designs. Even with the larger panel size of the 32-inch monitors, the backlighting density is still much greater. The 27-inch monitors will have ~1.85 LEDs per square inch, while the 32-inch monitors will offer 2.63 LEDs per square inch, a 42% increase in LED density.
Meanwhile in the high-end TV space, NVIDIA is announcing that they have already certified LG’s new 2020 OLED TVs as G-Sync Compatible. This follows last year’s certification of the E9, C9, and B9 series of TVs, all of which received HDMI-VRR variable refresh support, and were later certified by NVIDIA once their G-Sync Compatible certification program launched. As was the case with last year’s monitors, NVIDIA’s certification means that they meet the company’s standards for image stability (e.g. no artifacting or flickering), and that HDR gaming works as well. All told, NVIDIA says that 12 OLED monitors are being certified, though ahead of LG’s own announcement they aren’t specifying model numbers.
LG of course remains the player to beat in the TV space as far as most gamers are concerned. Their WOLED-based TVs have developed a (well earned) reputation for both low input latency and for HDR image quality, the latter a product of individually addressable OLED subpixels. And while LG and NVIDIA are not close partners in the way NVIDA and their PC monitor partners are – today’s announcement is basically just certifying a setup built on top of industry standards – it’s none the less important for NVIDIA, since LG all but has a lock on the high-end market for gaming TVs.
Just in time for CES 2020, Lenovo has introduced a new display for media creators, the Qreator 27. Lenovo's latest monitor offers essential professional-grade qualities along with a number of value-added features like built-in LG's Crystal Sound audio sub-system, a Qi wireless charger for mobile devices, and even some gaming technologies. Equally important, the Qreator 27 shouldn't be too hard on the wallets of its content creator market, with a retail price under $900.
The Lenovo Qreator 27 monitor relies on — you guessed it right — a 27-inch 10-bit IPS panel with a 3840x2160 resolution. The display offers a max brightness of 400 nits, a 4 ms response time, and a 60 Hz refresh rate. Under the hood, the LCD uses a WLED backlighting and can generate 98% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is in line with professional-grade monitors and which is important for videographers, game designers, and other digital content creators.
As far as connectivity is concerned, the Qreator 27 has a DisplayPort 1.2, an HDMI 2.0, and a USB 3.1 Gen 2 with DP Alt mode connector (presumably with Power Delivery support). In addition, it has a dual-port USB 3.0 hub.
Not many professional displays feature integrated speakers, but this is not the case with the Qreator 27, which uses LG’s Crystal Sound technology that produces sound by vibrating the screen panel. Also, the monitor has a Qi wireless charging pad that will make life for many people significantly easier.
While the LCD is designed primarily for professionals, it features VESA’s DisplayHDR 400 certification as well as AMD’s FreeSync variable refresh rate technology. Not that DisplayHDR 400 guarantees proper HDR experience due to mediocre brightness or FreeSync with a refresh rate of up to 60 Hz is important, but the fact that the Qreator 27 supports these technologies makes it somewhat more attractive to those who are going to use the device not only for work.
Lenovo will start sales of its Qreator 27 monitor in March for $899.99.
Acer and ASUS were the first and only companies to announce 27-inch NVIDIA G-Sync HDR 4Kp144 displays with a 384-Zone Mini LED-based Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlighting, and the DCI-P3 color space support three years ago. Time has come to up the ante and at CES 2020 Acer is announcing its Predator X32: a 32-inch G-Sync Ultimate 4Kp144 display that improves its predecessor in every possible way.
Acer’s Predator X32 is based on a 10-bit IPS panel with a 3840×2160 resolution that is equipped with a Mini LED-based backlighting. The updated Mini LED system offers 1,152 individually controlled local dimming zones, enabling a peak birghtness of 1400 nits in HDR mode as well as a very high contrast ratio. In fact, the combination of the higher peak brightness and the higher number of dimming zones, promises a solid improvement of HDR image quality when compared to the Predator X27.
The monitor can display 1.07 billion of colors and reproduce the sRGB, Adobe RGB, PCI-P3, and Rec. 2020 color spaces. Furthermore, the Predator X32 comes factory calibrated with a DeltaE<1 accuracy.
Apart from a high luminance, a high contrast ratio, and wide color spaces, one of the Predator X32's key selling points is support for a variable refresh rate of up to 144 Hz handled by NVIDIA’s G-Sync Ultimate processor. As with other G-Sync Ultimate monitors, enabling a 144 Hz refresh rate requires 4:2:2 chroma subsampling due to interface bandwidth constraints. Speaking of interfaces, it is necessary to note that the monitor has a DisplayPort 1.4 as well as three HDMI 2.0 connectors. In addition, the monitor has a quad-port USB 3.0 hub for various peripherals.
Acer intends to start selling its Predator X32 gaming monitor in EMEA and North American regions sometimes in the second quarter. Of course, pricing of an almost exclusive product will be high: €3,299 in Europe and $3,599 in the USA.
|Brief Specifications of the Predator X32 4Kp144 Display|
|Native Resolution||3840 × 2160|
|Maximum Refresh Rate||up to 144 Hz|
|Brightness||? cd/m² (sustained)
1440 cd/m² (peak)
|Viewing Angles||178°/178° horizontal/vertical|
|Backlighting||Mini-LED-based 1152-zone FALD|
|Pixel Pitch||0.1845 mm²|
|Pixel Density||138 ppi|
|Display Colors||1.07 billion|
|Color Gamut Support||Adobe RGB
|Stand||Hight, Tilt, and Swivel adjustable|
|Inputs||1 × DisplayPort
2 × HDMI 2.0
|USB Hub||4-port USB 3.0 hubs|
|Audio||2 × 4 W speakers
|Launch Date||Q2 2020|
Hello all, we're continuing the day hre at CES 2020 with Qualcomm's press conference event. We're likely to hear more about 5G adoption as well as the new Snapdragon chips, but we heard we might also hear about some other topics such as automotive. Stay tuned as we'll be live blogging the event, starting shortly.
In 2019 we were exposed to the first foldable display smartphones and wearables, with the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Huawei Mate X, and Xiaomi Mi Mix all demonstrating various themes of a foldable display in a hand-held device. Two of the main concerns with those devices is longevity of a display opened 50+ times a day, and durability if the display is on the outside. Clamshell Notebooks arguably don’t have those restrictions, so it makes sense to bring the technology to something more for business use (especially with the costs). Enter Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold.
One of the big questions through late 2019 was whether AMD would be releasing its newest Zen 2-based mobile processors by the end of the year. At the time this embargo lifts is AMD’s press conference at the annual CES trade show, and we should know more. But in advance of that announcement, Lenovo provided us a pre-briefing where it gave us details about its new Yoga Slim 7 laptop, featuring one of the new processors. The release date for this unit is listed as March, which matches the other devices showcased by other OEMs with the same processors.
Lenovo’s Yoga Slim range prides itself on offering full-sized mobile devices in a ‘thinner-than-you-expect’ form factor for the price. The Yoga Slim 7 being discussed today at CES with AMD’s Ryzen 4000 inside is a 14-inch display device featuring a 1920x1080 IPS display, offering up to 16 GB of LPDDR4X memory, up to a 1 TB NVMe SSD, two USB 3.2 ports, one multi-mode Type-C port, 802.11ac WiFi, and an IR camera, all for 14.9 mm thickness (0.58 inches).
Prices will start at $699, although that doesn’t state which processor/memory/storage configuration that would be. The battery comes in at 60.7 Wh, which Lenovo is stating should be good for 14 hours, which would be a sizeable uplift in mobile battery efficiency from AMD.
There will also be an Intel version with similar specifications, with only the Ice Lake Core i7-1065G7 CPU as an option, but otherwise similar specifications (an optional NVIDIA MX GPU) and similar battery life estimates. The difference is that one starts at $1210, and will be in the market from April 2020.
We will hopefully get some hands on with the devices at CES, so stay tuned for more information.
We’ve been tracking the development of ‘always connected PCs’ since Qualcomm entered the laptop market with promises of enhanced connectivity and all-day battery life. Depending on the market, it’s the latter that resonated most with users: a full 24 hours of real battery is a killer feature. Nonetheless, the desire to enhance the experience with more connectivity options is the primary purpose of this segment, and with the latest 8cx hardware almost ready to go, as one of Qualcomm’s primary partners, Lenovo is almost ready with its newest 5G Yoga device.
So I’ve actually had one of Lenovo’s older Yoga 630 WoS units, equipped with the Snapdragon 855, and the main purpose I use it for is two-fold: as the ultimate backup at events or as the sole device when I’m working and I can’t guarantee a power outlet (say, a 11+ hour flight in economy). The thing it needs is speed, especially as we’re talking about Windows on an Arm-based device. Qualcomm is promising speed with the new 8cx chip, and when paired with a Snapdragon X55 modem, the idea is that for 5G enabled offices and markets, connectivity won’t be an issue.
The new Lenovo Yoga 5G builds on the design of the Yoga 630 WoS, by offering a similar 14-inch 1920x1080 IPS display at 400 nits, a 60 Wh battery, dual USB-C ports, and a fingerprint reader. Aside from the bump from the S855 to the 8cx, the minimum specification also gets a memory/specification lift up to 8 GB of LPDDR4 and 256 GB of UFS 3.0, with a second model offering double the storage.
Inside with the Snapdragon 8cx is the X55 modem, which is stated to have antenna to support both full-band mmWave and Sub 6 GHz networks. Given Lenovo’s business for these devices is likely to be both China and North America, I would assume that this unit should support both (or variants for different markets would be provided). The battery inside, 60 Wh, is almost double the size of the Microsoft Surface that also uses a Qualcomm chip, which would solve the battery life concerns which that device has come under fire for.
The unit comes in an iron-grey color, like the Yoga C630, and also has a Touch Pen accessory available. Lenovo says the unit will start at $1499, which is a premium over the C630. The release date is listed as ‘Spring 2020’.
Wi-Fi platform vendors have long been citing the lack of enough spectrum in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands as true gigabit wireless becomes commonplace. In fact, despite support for 160 MHz channels in the Wi-Fi 6 standard, very few consumers are able to actually utilize it because the dynamic frequence selection (DFS) feature is often disabled by default. DFS is necessary to prevent Wi-Fi devices operating in the 5 GHz band from interfering with radars that are licensed users of the channels in that band. Wi-Fi devices essentially use unlicensed spectrum for communication. As more and more gigabit wireless devices get deployed, the available spectrum capacity in the 5 GHz band may soon get exhausted.
The FCC has been considering the opening up of the 6 GHz band (essentially, the 1.2 GHz unlicensed spectrum span just above the currently used 5 GHz band) for unlicensed operation. Wideband unlicensed channels of 160 MHz and more may become essential to achieve expected performance from 802.11ax, 802.11be, 4G LTE, and 5G NR in unlicensed spectrum. Opening up a continuous 1200 MHz chunk will enable substantial amount of new bandwidth over multiple wide bandwidth channels.
Opening Up 6 GHz Enables Additional 160 MHz Channels (Source: Broadcom)
Unfortunately, even though there are no currently unlicensed users of the 6 GHz band, certain fixed wireless point-to-point long-range deployments are licensed to utilize it. Wi-Fi platform vendors such as Qualcomm and Broadcom have been confident of working with those users to prevent any interference. Their key message to the licensed incumbents is that any Wi-Fi deployment in the 6 GHz band would use LPI (low-power indoor) operation and can also implement AFC (automated frequency coordination). LPI operation, for example, may impose restrictions on the total EIRP (effective isotropically radiated power) and PSD (power spectral density) for Wi-Fi devices. This will prevent interference due to low power levels and substantial building losses.
6 GHz Enables Practical Gigabit+ Bandwidth (Source: Broadcom)
In addition, most licensed users of the spectrum have their point-to-point endpoints well above the ground (mounted atop towers and buildings), and devices rated for LPI operation are not likely to affect them. AFC involves the maintenance of a database where licensed users are tracked based on their deployment location, and any unlicensed Wi-Fi usage in that spectrum capable of interfering with the licensed users could automatically shift to a different channel.
The Wi-Fi Alliance is introducing a new terminology to distinguish upcoming Wi-Fi 6 devices that are capable of 6 GHz operation - Wi-Fi 6E. This is essentially the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 / 802.11ax (higher performance in terms of faster data rates as well as lower latency) in the 6 GHz band. Wi-Fi 6E devices are expected to make it to the market relatively quickly after regulatory approval, as it only requires changing the antenna tuning / RF front end on existing devices.
As explained earlier, 6 GHz addresses Wi-Fi spectrum shortage by providing contiguous spectrum blocks to accommodate up to 14 additional 80 MHz channels and 7 additional 160 MHz channels. Wi-Fi 6E devices can make use of the wider channels and additional capacity to provide better performance and support denser deployments. At CES 2020, the Wi-Fi Alliance is also announcing the development of interoperability testing for Wi-Fi 6E devices.
We're here ready to Live Blog the annual CES keynote from AMD. We expect to see Lisa Su, Frank Azor, and others take to the stage to discuss what's happening for AMD in the first half of 2020.
The Wi-Fi system / mesh market has turned out to be very attractive for gateway vendors, enabling them to have higher ASPs and more revenue per user. On the technical side, each platform vendor has their own proprietary mesh solution, and these solutions have been rendered non-interoperable further by tweaks from the vendors themselves. In 2018, the Wi-Fi Alliance weighed in with the EasyMesh standard that could allow equipment from different vendors to co-operate for a standards-based mesh networking functionality.
At CES 2020, D-Link is announcing a set of routers and access points with D-Link Wi-Fi Mesh. Even though the Wi-Fi Alliance has not officially released the EasyMesh standard yet, D-Link promises that the new products with D-Link Wi-Fi Mesh will work seamlessly with other products that adopt the EasyMesh standard.
The new products also include some cost-effective Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) solutions, though the major ones are all based on the Wi-Fi 6 standard. A comparison of the features of the new products is provided below.
The gallery below presents details of the new products in the stack:
Pricing ranges from $100 for the DIR-1750-US AC1750 mesh router and the DAP-1755-US AC1750 mesh Wi-Fi range extender to $280 for the DIR-X5460-US Smart AX5400 mesh Wi-Fi 6 router.
At the tail end of last year, one of the key launches in the creator/workstation processor market was AMD’s latest 3rd Generation Threadripper portfolio, which started with 24-core and 32-core hardware, with a strong teaser that a 64-core version was coming in 2020. Naturally, there was a lot of speculation, particularly regarding sustained frequencies, pricing, availability, and launch date. This week at CES, we can answer a couple of those questions.
The new 64-core AMD Threadripper 3990X is essentially a consumer variant of the 64-core EPYC 7702P currently for sale in the server market, albeit with fewer memory channels, fewer enterprise features, but a higher frequency and higher TDP. That processor has a suggested e-tail price (SEP) of $4450, compared to the new 3990X, which will have a $3990 SEP.
|AMD HEDT SKUs|
|Third Generation Threadripper|
|TR 3990X||64 / 128||2.9 / 4.3||256 MB||4x3200||64||280 W||$3990|
|TR 3970X||32 / 64||3.7 / 4.5||128 MB||4x3200||64||280 W||$1999|
|TR 3960X||24 / 48||3.8 / 4.5||128 MB||4x3200||64||280 W||$1399|
|Second Generation Threadripper|
|TR 2990WX||32 / 64||3.0 / 4.2||64 MB||4x2933||64||250 W||$1799|
|TR 2970WX||24 / 48||3.0 / 4.2||64 MB||4x2933||64||250 W||$1299|
|TR 2950X||16 / 32||3.5 / 4.4||32 MB||4x2933||64||180 W||$899|
|TR 2920X||12 / 24||3.5 / 4.3||32 MB||4x2933||64||180 W||$649|
|Ryzen 9 3950X||16 / 32||3.5 / 4.7||32 MB||2x3200||24||105 W||$749|
Frequencies for the new CPU will come in at 2.9 GHz base and 4.3 GHz turbo, which is actually a bit more than I was expecting to see. No word on what the all-core turbo will be, however AMD's EPYC 7H12, a 64-core 280W CPU for the HFT market, is meant to offer an all-core turbo from 3.0-3.3 GHz, so we might see something similar here, especially with aggressive cooling. Naturally, AMD is recommending water cooling setups, as with its other 280W Threadripper CPUs. Motherboard support is listed as the current generation of TRX40 motherboards.
Although we don't put much stock in vendor supplied benchmark numbers, AMD did state that they expect to see Cinebench R20 MT numbers around 25000. That's up from ~17000 on the 3970X. This means not perfect scaling, but for the prosumer market where this chip matters, offering +47% performance for double the cost is often worth it and can be amortized over time.
The other element to the news is the launch date. February 7th is probably earlier than a lot of us in the press expected, however it will be interesting to see how many AMD is able to make, given our recent discussions with CTO Mark Papermaster regarding wafer orders at TSMC. As this chip more closely resembles the price of AMD’s EPYC lineup, we might actually see more of these on the market, as they will attract a good premium. However, the number of users likely do put close to $4k onto a high-end desktop CPU and not go for an enterprise system is a hard one to judge.
AMD recommends that in order to maintain performance scaling with the 3990X that owners should have at least 1 GB of DDR4 per core, if not 2 GB. To be honest anyone looking at this chip should also have enough money in the bank to also get a 128 GB kit of good memory, if not 256 GB. As with other Threadripper chips, AMD lists the support as DDR4-3200, but the memory controller can be overclocked.
We should be talking with AMD soon about sampling, ready for our February 7th review. Please put in some benchmark requests below.
With the launch of the Radeon RX 5700 series and Radeon RX 5500 XT under their collective belt, AMD is now getting ready to fill in the divide between the card families. With the RX 5500 XT carrying a $199 price tag and the next step up being the $349 RX 5700, there’s a significant gap in price and performance between the two cards. All of which has left AMD at a disadvantage in the popular $200-$300 mainstream segment, where NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1660 cards dominate. To that end, today AMD is announcing the third sub-series of the Radeon RX 5000 family, the Radeon RX 5600 series. These latest cards will be coming to retail, OEM, and mobile, with the retail Radeon RX 5600 XT leading the charge.
Designed to fill that gap between the RX 5700 series and the RX 5500 series, the $279 RX 5600 XT is employing a further cut-down version of AMD’s class-leading Navi 10 GPU. For their latest card, AMD is dialing back on the amount of enabled hardware in order to offer a card with performance between the existing Radeon RX 5000 series cards, and with a price to match. The net result is a card that, in AMD's words, is intended to be the ultimate 1080p gaming card, and just as importantly, go head-to-head with NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1660 cards.
At last year’s CES, AMD showcased its then Ryzen 3000 mobile processors as part of the announcements. In what is becoming a trend, at this year’s CES, the company is doing the same in announcing its next generation Ryzen 4000 mobile processors. This year is a little different, with AMD showing off its manufacturing strategy at TSMC 7nm for the first time in the mobile space. There’s a ton of options on the table, both at 15W and 45W, offering some really impressive core counts, frequencies, and most importantly, design wins. Here are all the details.
Everyone wants a notebook that fulfills their needs, is super light, lasts forever, and only costs a dime. We’re not in fantasy land just quite yet, but Acer is trying with its new Swift 3 for 2020. There’s one kicker in these units though – there will be AMD and Intel variants, using the latest and greated from both – Intel’s 10nm Ice lake vs. AMD’s new 7nm APUs.
The new Acer Swift 3 ultraportable is a 14-inch unit weighing 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs) that has either up to an octo-core AMD Ryzen 7 4700U inside or up to an Intel Core i7-1065G7, 16 GB of LPDDR4X memory, and up to 512 GB of NVMe storage. Acer is going for a premium design feel here, with the lightweight chassis, narrow bezels (4.37mm), and support for features like Windows Hello and Wake on Voice supported. The full unit is 16.55mm / 0.65-inches thick.
AMD Prices will start from $599 for the base configuration, and exact specifications will come closer to the launch in May. Intel will start from $699 and be available from March.
If one thing is going to be clear at this year’s CES, it’s going to be that AMD and Intel are going to be hitting each other with design wins. Normally for design wins we talk about flagships, but I suspect we’ll see AMD in a lot of mid-price notebooks with good all-round specifications, which is going to be where Intel will feel the heat. Not to be outdone, Intel is expected to have a number of Ice Lake designs at CES as well – the Intel Acer Swift 3 has Athena certification for example, which might be where the extra base cost comes from, as it will likely have Thunderbolt 3, Wi-Fi 6, and an ultra-low power display. It would be interesting to square off Intel vs AMD here in a review later this year.
We're here at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for Intel's CES 2020 keynote. Intel always makes their CES presentations exciting affairs, and we're expecting much the same this year. However there is no escaping the big question that Intel must face: how do you keep products fresh and competitive when the company's 10nm fab plans have gone well off course?
Western Digital has a history of showcasing cutting-edge technological advancements in the consumer electronics space at CES every year. In 2019, a 4TB thumb drive was demonstrated, and this year, we have a 8TB portable SSD with a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 interface.
As QLC flash becomes more common-place, and the number of layers in 3D NAND keeps increasing, it becomes economically feasible to produce high-capacity compact flash storage devices. In fact, WD presented details of 128L BiCS 5 production wafers at ISSC 2019, though it is not clear if the 8TB prototype being demonstrated at CES 2020 utilizes BiCS 5 flash. In any case, given the size of the prototype (similar to the SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSDs already in the market), even BiCS 4 TLC (96L 3D NAND) flash is enough. The choice of TLC or QLC would boil down to economics, and given that this is a techonology demonstration prototype, there is no pricing aspect to consider.
WD also announced some products with retail availability at the show. The SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive Luxe USB Type-C is a 1TB thumb drive that comes with a Type-C male port and a Type-A
female port. It is compact enough to fit in a keychain and will be available in late Q1 2020. Pricing has not been announced.
The WD_BLACK line of external storage solutions targeting gamers is also being showcased. The lineup includes the WD_BLACK P50 (one of the first external SSDs to feature a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 20 Gbps interface), the WD_BLACK P10 (external bus-powered 2.5" hard drive in 1TB, 3TB, and 5TB capacities), and the WD_BLACK D10 (external 8TB 3.5" 7200 RPM hard drive with a USB 2.0 hub). The P10 and D10 also come in Xbox-branded variants.
The SanDisk ibi photo management device (a cloud-based service with local storage) is also being demonstrated in WD's CES suite.
Netgear's Orbi has enjoyed tremendous success in the Wi-Fi system / mesh networking market. Technically speaking, the Orbi kits can't interoperate with mesh nodes from other vendors or even with netgear's own range extenders in a seamless manner. The proprietary nature of each vendor's mesh networking stack is the key contributor to this problem. In 2018, the Wi-Fi Alliance weighed in with the EasyMesh standard that could allow equipment from different vendors to co-operate for a standards-based mesh networking functionality.
At CES 2020, Netgear is announcing the Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System that implements a standards-based Wi-Fi mesh network capable of interoperating with other Wi-Fi EasyMesh-certified products. Typical of mesh networks, the Nighthawk Mesh also creates a single Wi-Fi network with device steering and intelligent roaming for mobile devices. The members of the kit come pre-paired for easy installation.
Netgear claims that each unit can cover up to 1500 sq. ft., while providing data rates up to 1.8 Gbps (pointing to a 2x2 configuration).
The RAX50 6-stream AX5400 router is also being introduced at CES. It is based on the Broadcom BCM6752 WLAN SoC. The in-built 2x2 WLAN radio in the SoC is used for operation in the 2.4 GHz band, while an external 4x4 radio is used for the 5 GHz operation.
The new EAX20 nesg extender is a 4-stream AX1800-class product that comes with four gigabit LAN ports. The product will be available in retail for $150 next month.
Overall, Netgear is expanding their Wi-Fi 6 offerings to target a wide budget range. While Orbi continues to remain the premium mesh networking product from Netgear, we are glad to see the company put in efforts to also release a standards-compliant EasyMesh-enabled mesh networking kit.
Cable service providers in the US market have been aggressively deploying DOCSIS 3.1 over the last couple of years. Netgear has been selling DOCSIS 3.1-compatible modems and gateways into the service-provider as well as the retail market. At CES 2020, Netgear is launching a new product to augment their product stack in this segment.
The Nighthawk Wi-Fi 6 DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem Router (CAX80) is an integrated device fulfilling modem, router, switch, and wireless access point functions. Priced at $430 and slated for availability in early Q2 20202, this device has a 8-stream Wi-Fi 6 configuration (AX6000-class). It also comes with a 2.5 Gbps LAN port.
The CAX80 has four additional gigabit ports, and two of those are capable of getting link-aggregated too. As Comcast starts to test 2.5 Gbps-capable services, the CAX80 has the ideal specifications to take advantage of it. The Nighthawk app for the gateway is also designed to simplify the onboarding process in a self-install scenario.
Users wanting to avoid a combo-device can currently go in for the CM1100 or CM1200 DOCSIS 3.1 cable modems. They are both multi-gig-ready, but need link aggregation for this purpose. We are looking forward to Netgear updating these models with a 2.5 Gbps port for a simplified installation.
Netgear's mobile broadband product stack has a variety of different product offerings mostly targeting the personal hotspot market. However, with 5G, wireless home broadband has become a credible proposition. In gearing up for the widespread adoption of 5G across different markets, Netgear is introducing the Nighthawk M5 5G Wi-Fi 6 Mobile Router at CES 2020.
The M5 is designed to make high-speed broadband available in multiple scenarios - such as in-vehicle, or camping, or even just at home. The device is equipped with Wi-Fi 6 technology, and features a touch UI. It supports up to 4 Gbps on the 5G side. Availability is slated for the second half of 2020, and pricing is yet to be decided. The battery is designed to be removable - this helps in cases where the unit is wall-powered (as is the situation when the M5 is used for in-home broadband). The unit also features a single gigabit LAN port.
Netgear is also introducing the 4G LTE Wi-Fi Orbi Router at the show. The device is mainly aimed at places where fixed broadband penetration is not high such as in rural areas or sites of vacation homes. The Orbi 4G LTE Wi-Fi router is a AC2200 tri-band Wi-Fi device with a 4G LTE Category 18 connection (up to 1.2 Gbps).
Netgear plans to sell the LBR20 router-only package for $400, starting in Q2 2020. Users can expand Wi-Fi coverage by adding any Orbi satellite to the installation. The LBR20 can also be used as a dual-WAN gateway with failover capabilities, allowing for seamless switchover to 4G LTE when the primary Internet service experiences a failure. The LBR20 carries over all the consumer-friendly Orbi features such as painless app-based setup and management, Disney Circle, and Netgear Armor.
The widespread 5G roll-out by different service providers has made wireless home broadband a very real possibility. The ability of 5G to support a denser subscriber base compared to 4G means that traditional consumer networking equipment vendors are bringing out a variety of 5G gateways to sell into the service-provider market for CPE (consumer premises equipment).
At CES 2020, D-Link announced that the DWR-2010 5G NR Enhanced Gateway (made public last year) now sports support for 5G in the sub-6 GHz band while delivering AX3000-class Wi-Fi connectivity on the other side. Key specifications include downlink speeds of up to 4 Gbps (5G) / 2 Gbps (4G LTE+), 3x1Gb and 1x2.5Gb LAN ports, a 1Gbps WAN port, 1 USB 3.0 port, a single SIM slot and one RJ-11 port for voice services.
Two additional products were announced - the 5G Gateway (DWR-978) and 5G NR Outdoor Unit (DWP-1020). The former sports bands support similar to the 5G NR Enhanced Gateway, but, the downlink is limited to 1 Gbps with 5G, and the Wi-Fi connectivity is restricted to AC2600. It has 4x 1Gb LAN ports and a 1Gbps WAN port, a single USB 2.0 port and one SIM slot. The 5G NR Outdoor unit also supports mmWave in addition to the sub-6 GHz band. It is also IP45-rated (waterproof), and can tolerate temperatures between -40C and 55C. It can be powered with PoE, comes with a single SIM slot and has a 5 Gbps LAN port.
Overall, D-Link's 5G offerings provide a variety of choices to service providers, and it bodes well for 5G wireless home broadband. It must be noted that D-Link's competitors such as Netgear also have a suite of 5G products targeting the same market.
D-Link's mydlink Smart Home lineup has consistently seen new products being introduced since the branding was launched in 2014. As machine learning and AI become more widespread, many edge devices have started to incorporate those features. D-Link's new IP cameras are following the script. The interesting aspect is that these features are being implemented at the edge, rather than the cloud (as has been done in many of the IP cameras currently in the market). In addition to the regular face / object detection features used for identification of different persons, the new cameras also come with glass break detection. Doing this at the edge ensures that there is minimal latency in the provision of alerts.
The DCS-8302LH is the indoor model priced at $100, while the DCS-8526LH is the outdoor one priced at $120. The latter sports a spotlight as well as a siren that can be triggered either upon motion detection or through the app. D-Link is also not forcing its customers to use the cloud - the cameras come with ONVIF Profile S support that greatly simplifies the recording of the video streams to NAS devices. The microSD slot on the cameras also support cards of up to 256GB in capacity.
Both cameras come with a wired Ethernet port in addition to Wi-Fi capabilities, and feature two-way audio. Availability is set for Q2 2020. The trend of moving inference to the edge is welcome news for folks who are wary of cloud-reliant devices (be it for security / privacy purposes, or, for just avoiding yet another point of failure in the usage chain). We would like to see other devices in the mydlink smart home lineup get the ability to operate without the need for a cloud connection.
AMD has just introduced its new Ryzen 7 4000H-series mobile APUs as well as the Radeon RX 5600M GPUs and Dell is among the first companies to use both it its new high-performance gaming notebook. Given its ingredients, Dell’s G5 15 Special Edition Ryzen promises to be one of the most powerful gaming laptop in its class this spring.
The flagship configuration of the Dell G5 15 Special Edition Ryzen will incorporate AMD’s Ryzen 7 4800H CPU with eight Zen 2 cores clocked at 2.9 – 4.2 GHz and integrated graphics as well as AMD’s Radeon RX 5600M discrete GPU (Navi architecture), which promise to deliver desktop-class performance in games. Like other AMD Ryzen 7 4000H-based laptops, the Dell G5 15 SE uses AMD’s SmartShift technology to dynamically shift power between the CPU and the GPU for additional performance. Meanwhile, the PC comes with the Alienware Command Center software that allows users to tweak performance and customize gaming profiles. Furthermore, the machine has a serious cooling system with multiple air inlets to help keep low thermals and ensure stable and consistent operation.
To experience all the performance and capabilities that AMD’s latest CPU and GPU have to offer, Dell equipped its G5 15 SE with a 15.6-inch Full-HD panel with a variable refresh rate of up to 144 Hz supported by the FreeSync technology, which should pair up very well with the targetted GPU class. Furthermore, the system comes equipped with an audio subsystem enhanced with Nahimic 3D Audio software. Last but not least, the laptop has a gaming keyboard with highlighted WASD keys as well as a numpad.
In a bid to enable gamers to store as many titles as possible locally, the Dell G5 15 Special Edition Ryzen comes with an up to 1 TB SSD as well as a 2 TB 5400 RPM hard drive. In addition, expect the system to feature loads of DDR4 RAM. As for I/O, the system features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GbE, USB-A, USB-C, mDP, HDMI, SD card reader, a 3.5-mm audio jack, and a webcam with IR sensors.
Dell will make its G5 15 Special Edition Ryzen gaming laptop available in early April. Entry-level configurations presumably based on the Ryzen 5 4600H (six Zen 2 cores) with an integrated Radeon GPU (384 SPs) will cost $799, whereas other machines will naturally be more expensive.
Corsair has introduced its new Elgato 4K60 S+ video capture device for gamers. The new capture box features an SD card reader and a hardware HEVC encoder that enables it to record up to seven hours of 4K HDR gameplay on a single 256 GB SD card.
The Elgato 4K60 S+ allows streamers with consoles or PCs to capture and record 4K 60 Hz videos with HDR10 while streaming via USB 3.0 connector, to services like Twitch using various PC broadcasting apps, such as OBS Studio. In case of recording from consoles, it is necessary to record to an SD card, whereas on case of the PC, it is possible to record on host’s SSD or HDD. One thing that the capture device does not support is 1080p240 and 1440p144 passthrough, which introduces some limitations to eSports gamers.
Corsair says that the Elgato 4K60 S+ features a hardware HEVC encoder, which helps to save space on the card. Maximum bitrate supported by the encoder chip is 140 Mbps, which is higher than that of Ultra-HD Blu-ray discs.
Just like the Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 card, the Elgato 4K60 S+is the only consumer-oriented external capture device that support 4Kp60 with HDR10 and even has an SD card slot.
The Elgato 4K60 S+ will be available shortly from Corsair and its retail partners.
Lenovo is one of the companies that experiments with form-factors and capabilities of its PCs. At CES 2020, the manufacturer introduced its ThinkBook Plus laptop that features two screens: one main 13.3-inch LCD and one auxiliary e-ink display on the top cover. The additional monitor doesn't add a lot of bulk to the device, thanks to the nature of e-ink.
With the ThinkBook Plus, Lenovo decided to offer SMB something it yet has to offer to other markets: the second e-ink screen on top cover. This display can be used to receive ongoing essential notifications, read documents, take notes, and create illustrations or diagrams using the integrated Lenovo Precision Pen without firing up Windows and the main screen. Lenovo does not reveal much about the auxiliary display, but it looks like it uses a proprietary set of applications with all the peculiarities of such approach, and as such some hands-on time is going to be needed to really get a feel for the benefits.
If the second screen is not considered, the ThinkBook Plus is a regular 13.3-inch laptop that comes in an aluminum chassis with 180° lay-flat hinges found on ThinkPads as well as a 13.3-inch Full-HD IPS display. The machine weighs 1.4 kilograms, which is heavier when compared to the ThinkPad X1, and is 17.4 mm thick.
At the heart of Lenovo ThinkBook Plus is Intel’s 10th Generation ‘Comet Lake’ Core i7 processor with built-in Intel UHD Graphics accompanied by 8 GB or 16 GB of DDR4 memory as well as an M.2 SSD featuring up to 512 GB capacity or Intel’s Optane Memory H10 storage solution comprising of 3D XPoint and QLC 3D NAND. Lenovo says that the ThinkBook Plus can last for 10 hours on its 45 Wh battery.
On the connectivity side of matters, the ThinkBook Plus has a pretty standard set of technologies, including Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, USB 3.0 Type-A, HDMI 1.4b, and a 3.5-mm audio jack. As for security, the laptop has a fingerprint reader, and a dTPM 2.0 chip.
Since the ThinkBook Plus laptop has an auxiliary e-ink display on its top cover, it is natural that this screen needs some extra protection. Because of that, Lenovo will offer a special charcoal grey ThinkBook 13.3-inch Plus Sleeve with soft-touch microfiber interior with foam padding. In addition, Lenovo preps its iron grey ThinkBook Bluetooth Silent Mouse with a 2400 DPI sensor.
Lenovo says that sales of its ThinkBook Plus will begin in March at prices starting at $1,999. The sleeve and the mouse will be available in April for $44.99 and $39.99, respectively.
Micron announced at CES that it had started sampling of its DDR5 Registered DIMMs with select partners. The very fact that Micron started sampling of DDR5 modules indicates that its partners already have server CPUs/platforms that support DDR5 memory.
Micron expects its first-generation DDR5 products to offer ‘more than’ 1.85-times performance increase when compared to JEDEC-standard DDR4 memory. There are multiple improvements to DDR5 because in addition to data transfer rates of up to 6400 MT/s, DDR5 also has improved functionality. Firstly, DDR5 uses two independent 32/40-bit channels per module (without/or with ECC), which improves channel utilization. Also, DDR5 has an improved command bus efficiency because the channels feature their own 7-bit Address (Add)/Command (Cmd) buses, better refresh schemes, and an increased bank group for extra performance.
What is important is that the DDR5 specification allows to design chips with capacities higher than 16 Gb and reduce supply voltage to 1.1 V and an allowable fluctuation range of 3% (i.e., at ±0.033V). So, in addition to performance, DDR5 will enable to reduce power consumption and build servers featuring higher memory capacity.
Increasing usable memory bandwidth and capacity is crucially important for next-generation server platforms that use processors with even higher number of cores.
Micron did not reveal specifications of its DDR5 RDIMMs it sent to partners or disclose when it plans to start commercial shipments of DDR5 memory. We can speculate that DDR5-enabled server platforms are several quarters away, but it is up for actual platform developers to set launch dates.
Tom Eby, senior vice president and general manager of the Compute & Networking Business Unit at Micron, said the following:
“Data center workloads will be increasingly challenged to extract value from the accelerating growth of data across virtually all applications. The key to enabling these workloads is higher-performance, denser, higher-quality memory. Micron’s sampling of DDR5 RDIMMs represents a significant milestone, bringing the industry one step closer to unlocking the value in next-generation data-centric applications.”
Plugable is introducing three new products at CES 2020, and the most interesting of the three happens to be the Titan Ridge-based TBT3-UDZ Docking Station with a 100W power delivery budget. Even though the TBT3-UDZ is not the first Titan Ridge-equipped docking station in the market (the StarTech.com TB3CK2DP and the Seagate FireCuda Gaming Dock are already available in retail), the unit brings in some unique features differentiating it from the other docking stations in the market. The use of Titan Ridge allows the docking station to work with both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C host ports.
includes DisplayLink chips to provide provides two 4Kp30 display outputs when used with USB-C hosts (the USB-C port needs to have DisplayPort-Alt-Mode support). In the case of a Thunderbolt 3 uplink, subject to display routing over the host port, two DisplayPort 1.4 outputs (up to 4Kp60) can be activated. [Update: Note that no displays can be driven if the dock is uplinked to a data-only USB-C port.]
It also features 100W power delivery (the highest we have seen in any Thunderbolt 3 dock from Plugable as yet). Plugable suggests that this would fit well with the 96W charging power requirement for the new Apple MacBook Pro units. The dock comes with a 170W adapter, and includes a wide variety of ports:
The TBT3-UDZ will be available for purchase in Q2 2020 for $299.
Plugable also announced a USB-C DisplayPort 1.4 MST to Dual HDMI 2.0 adapter. This can enable users of systems like the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro 7 to drive two 4Kp60 displays without using a DisplayLink adapter. The adapter supports up to 25.9 Gbps (more than the 18 Gbps requirement for HDMI 2.0), allowing for higher-resolution dual displays with a single cable. HDR is also supported. The adapter will be available for purchase in Q2 2020 for $40.
The adapter will require MST (multi-stream transport) support on the DisplayPort 1.4 host output port in order to drive two different 4Kp60 HDMI monitors.
Plugable is also launching a Realtek RTL8156-based 2.5 Gbps USB Ethernet adapter. On the host side, it requires a USB 3.0 port (either Type-C or Type-A), while the Ethernet port can auto-negotiate to 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, or 2.5 Gbps (802.3bz). Wide compatibility (Windows / macOS / Linux kernel 3.2+) is also being promised.
NBASE-T USB Ethernet adapters are a dime a dozen in the market currently - some of the popular ones include the StarTech.com US2GA30 priced at $110, the TRENDnet TUC-ET2G at $50, the Asustor AS-U2.5G at $46, the Cable Creation adapter at $24, and the QNAP QNA-UC5G1T at $79. The QNAP model is also capable of speeds up to 5 Gbps. The Plugable model differentiates itself with the attached USB-C to USB-A adapter ensuring wider host compatibility. The model will go on sale in Q2 2020 for $50.
This week AMD took the wraps off of its latest generation of mobile processors. The company is being aggressive, offering up to eight cores for both the traditional ultra-portable notebook as well as the higher-performance content creator and prosumer notebook. The move to 7nm, as well as design efficiency improvements, have been quite aggressive, with the new hardware claiming double the performance per watt, 20% lower SoC power, and 80% quicker adjustments from low-to-high power inside the chip. This has enabled some key design wins, as seen at CES this week, which are set to come out over the next year.
As part of the CES announcements, AMD invited a small number of press to talk to the CEO Dr. Lisa Su about the announcements, 7nm, mobile, and for any other lingering questions about AMD’s recent position in technology news.
Intel demonstrated a Tiger Lake system on stage in their CES 2020 keynote yesterday. One of the interesting aspects was the teaser of Thunderbolt 4, with a mention of it offering four times the speed of USB 3. After reaching out to Intel for additional details, it appears that they are not ready yet to share more information.
Intel did confirm that that they were referencing USB 3.2 Gen 2 - the 10 Gbps version - in the keynote presentation. This means that the peak speeds (40 Gbps) are not changing relative to Thunderbolt 3. Given that the Thunderbolt 3 specifications have been donated to USB-IF for USB 4.0, it appears likely that Thunderbolt 4 may be a push for Intel certification of certain Type-C ports. We look forward to receiving more concrete information from Intel regarding the new features, if any, in Thunderbolt 4.
Today MediaTek has announced a new entry into its new “Dimensity” 5G SoC product lineup. The new chip is called the Dimensity 800 and represents a mid-range solution for lower cost devices compared to the larger Dimensity 1000 flagship SoC. The chip’s main feature is the fact that it supports 5G connectivity in the sub-6 spectrum, making this amongst the first 5G designs at this price range.
|SoC||Dimensity 1000||Dimensity 800|
|CPU||4x Cortex A77 @ 2.6GHz
4x Cortex A55 @ 2.0GHz
|4x Cortex A76 @ 2.0GHz
4x Cortex A55 @ 2.0GHz
|GPU||Mali-G77MP9 @ ? MHz||Mali-G57MP4 @ ? MHz|
|APU / NPU / AI Proc. / Neural IP||3rd gen APU
2 "big" + 3 "small" + 1 "tiny"
4.5TOPs total perf
|3rd Gen APU
+2.4TOPs total perf
|Memory||4x 16b LPDDR4X||2x 16b LPDDR4X @ 2133MHz|
32MP + 16MP
H.264 & HEVC
& AV1 (Decode)
H.264 & HEVC
|Integrated Modem||5G Sub-6
DL = 4600Mbps
200MHz 2CA, 256-QAM,
UL = 2500Mbps
200MHz 2CA, 256-QAM,
LTE Category 19 DL
DL = ?Mbps
UL = ?
LTE Category ? DL
|Connectivity||WiFi 6 (802.11ax)
+ Bluetooth 5.1
+ Dual Band GNSS
The SoC is powered by an octa-core CPU setup, including 4x Cortex A76 cores at 2GHz alongside 4x Cortex A55 cores at also 2GHz. It’s interesting to see this segmentation in the IP – the A77 cores aren’t that much larger than the A76 cores, but it’s possible MediaTek has been able to optimise the A76 for higher density implementations, hence also the quite low frequency even though the new chip comes manufactured on TSMC’s 7nm N7 process node.
On the GPU side, we’re seeing a Mali-G57MP4 at an undisclosed frequency. The G57 is a derivative of the Valhall GPU family and covers the lower end spectrum of possible configurations.
The chip features a cut-down DRAM interface with only 2-ch (2x16b) LPDDR4X support at up to 2133MHz, so half the bandwidth of the Dimensity 1000.
The chip still comes with MTK’s newest 3rd generation in-house APU/NPU for AI acceleration, but doesn’t disclose the breakdown in the same way they did with the D1000. They do state there’s up to 2.4TOPs of inferencing throughput which is actually still a very respectable figure for a SoC at this range.
The Dimensity 800 comes with 5G Sub-6 integrated modem; MediaTek discloses 2CC CA on the downlink. MTK at this time didn’t disclose more information on the throughput and how it compares to the D1000, but they do state DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) as a feature of the D800 which is an important characteristic for the chip’s modem.
We’ll be seeing Dimensity 800 based products being announced and come to market throughout 2020.
Acer has introduced its new top-of-the-range ultrawide curved gaming display just hours before CES 2020 was set to kick off. The Predator X38 happens to be the industry’s first curved monitor to feature a UWQHD+ resolution and a 175 Hz refresh rate, a combination not yet available from any manufacturer.
The Acer Predator X38 is based on a 37.5-inch IPS panel featuring a 2300R curvature which means that it is ‘less curved’ than displays with a lower radius of curvature, a 3840x1600 resolution, a 1 ms GtG response time, and a 175 Hz refresh rate in overclock mode. The resolution of the display, along with its dimensions is well suited for immersive gaming as well as for watching Ultra-HD videos filmed in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 or 2.40:1, which is a popular aspect rator for film. Speaking of films, it is necessary to note that the Predator X38 can reproduce 98.5% of the P3 color gamut, which is a common color space used for digital movie projection these days and is a part of the Ultra HD Premium specification.
Being aimed at gamers, the Acer Predator X38 supports NVIDIA’s G-Sync adaptive refresh rate technology and is also DisplayHDR 400 certified. It is noteworthy that Acer does not disclose normal and peak brightness levels supported by the monitor, but the peak one should be at least 400 nits.
The display connects to host PCs and consoles using DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 ports and it also has a dual-port USB 3.0 hub to plug in peripherals. As for audio, the monitor has two 7 W speakers.
The ergonomic stand featured by the Predator X38 is stylized after battle robots with elements that resemble armor of the Predator character to emphasize the nature of the device. Meanwhile, it can adjust height, tilt, and swivel to optimize viewing position and maximize
fragging gaming performance.
Acer’s Predator X38 display will be available in Europe and the US this April for €2,199 and $2,399, respectively.
It's no secret that ASUS has its fingers in multiple areas of computer components including motherboard, VGA, desktop, mobile, and peripherals. Taking into consideration the cooling requirement for AMD's HEDT Ryzen Threadripper 3000 series of processors, it's showcased its latest conceptual AIO CPU cooler design which features a large 420 mm radiator, supplied with three premium Noctua black fans.
With AMD set to release its 64 core 128 thread Threadripper 3990X in the coming months, ASUS has unveiled a concept design 420 mm AIO CPU with a couple of notable features. The TR4 socket cooler which currently has no name includes an all-black design with no RGB LEDs to speak of, although the CPU block does include ASUS's 1.77" LiveDash OLED customizable screen. Other features include a full cover cold plate specially designed to cool the 3rd generation Threadripper processors, with an all-black design that fits well with its ROG Zenith II Extreme TRX40 motherboard.
The unnamed concept cooler as displayed at ASUS's suite at CES 2020 includes three Noctua NF-A14 2000 PWM fans which spin up to 2000 rpm and omits RGB LEDs for an all-black look which is more subtle. ASUS hasn't released any more information about when it may hit production, or if it will, but upon speaking to ASUS they were very keen to have it ready for the launch of AMD's Threadripper 3990X processor which features a TDP of 280 W.
One of the key advantages brought by Intel’s Ice Lake processors in addition to higher IPC is its improved integrated Iris Plus Graphics that is meant to offer a much-improved level of graphics performance for ultra-thin laptops. But even so, Lenovo has introduced its new Yoga Slim 7 14-inch notebooks that are powered by Intel’s latest 10nm CPU and offer an optional discrete GPU from NVIDIA.
The Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 14-inch is based on Intel’s 10th Generation Core ‘Ice Lake’ processor and may be configured with the company’s top-of-the-line Core i7-1065G7 with four cores clocked at 1.3 – 3.9 GHz as well as well as the Iris Plus Graphics ‘G7’ with 64 EUs and up to 1.1 TFLOPS compute performance. The CPU will share the motherboard with up to 16 GB of LPDDR4X memory as well as an up to 1 TB PCIe SSD.
Meanwhile, for those who want a discrete GPU, Lenovo plans to offer NVIDIA’s GeForce MX option, which in case of the model MX250 features compute performance of around 1.2 TFLOPS, depending on exact clocks. While the standalone GPU in this case is barely better than Intel’s G7, configurations with processors that feature G1 or G4 graphics will clearly be able to take advantage of NVIDIA’s chip.
In fact, Lenovo intends to offer two versions of the Yoga Slim 7 14-inch: in a pure aluminum body and in an aluminum body with Slate Grey fabric cover. The SKUs in aluminum body will come with a Full-HD IPS display featuring 300 nits brightness. The Slate Grey fabric models will offer a choice between a Full-HD touch-enabled LCD IPS screen with 300 nits brightness as well as an Ultra-HD IPS display featuring 500 nits brightness along with 90% of the P3 color space coverage. Depending on exact model, the machines are 14.9 mm – 15.4 mm thick and weigh between 1.4 kg and 1.5 kg.
I/O capabilities of all Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 14-inch will be similar and will include a 720p webcam with IR sensors for Windows Hello, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, a Thunderbolt 3 connector, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports, an HDMI output, an SD card reader, and a 3.5-mm audio jack.
Lenovo says that the Yoga Slim 7 14-inch can last for up to 14 hours on its massive 60.7 Wh battery, though this only concerns a Full-HD version in an entry-level configuration.
The Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 14-inch will cost starting at $1,209.99 when it hits the market this April.
Yesterday the Bluetooth SIG has announced and released the newest Bluetooth standard for audio playback: LE Audio. The new standard is a complete new redesign of the audio stack, building upon the years of learnings that we’ve seen with Bluetooth audio in the past. The new LE Audio standard expends the flexibility and functionality of audio playback over Bluetooth, and is said to represent the new baseline for future developments over the next decade.
Traditional audio playback should be a familiar matter with everybody in the industry as well as consumers. The existing audio stack has now been renamed to “Classic Audio”, and will continue to coexist alongside the new LE Audio standard.
So what does LE Audio bring? The most important aspect of the new standard is self-explanatory and divulged in its very name; it’s based on the new Bluetooth Low Energy radio as opposed to the Bluetooth Classic radio. As a reminder, LE radio is fundamentally different to the classic radio standard and significantly improves upon the power efficiency of transmissions.
LE Audio also brings a lot of new features and helps today’s TWS (True Wireless Stereo) use-cases that we’ve seen over the last few years. TWS audio products nowdays mostly rely on one earpiece receiving the data signal from the transmitter device, and then re-transmits this to its other channel sibling. This is quite inefficient as you might imagine, as you have to transmit from what is usually a very battery limited device. LE Audio now standardises multi-stream transmissions – the source device is the one who handles transmissions of multiple synchronized streams, so for example a smartphone will be able to transmit to both left and right earpieces in TWS products. It is said that the synchronisation here is in the tens of microseconds, allowing for seamless and transparent playback.
There were multiple companies at the launch event showcasing this capability:
Goodix showcased a production ready development platform with their chipsets, with two of them powering a pair of headphones with flawless synchronisation. Goodix’s demo is Bluetooth 5.1 compliant and supports LE ISOC (isochronous) architecture, which is the official name for this part of the LE Audio standard.
Qualcomm also had a development board showcasing the same feature. Other companies launching LE Audio ISOC solutions were CEVA, Nordic, Dialog and various other vendors.
LE Multi-Stream is envisioned to be able to able to support an unlimited amount of devices when in broadcast mode. Use-cases for this are envisioned to be events and location based broadcasts such as museums or other gatherings, where one would be able to tune into the audio broadcast. It’s to be noted that streams can also be protected as well as public.
Broadcasting also serves as the basis for Audio Sharing, where one can share playback with multiple devices in your immediate surrounding.
The most important aspect of LE Audio is that it brings with it a brand new base audio codec which massively improves upon the aging and lacklustre SBC standard. LE3 (Low complexity communications codec), is actually a quite complex new codec that promises major upgrades in transmission efficiency as well as audio quality.
The most interesting demonstration at the launch event was that of Tim Reilly of T2 Labs. The showcase here was a software demonstration with the ability to seamlessly switch between codecs during audio playback. Tim demonstrated SBC vs LC3 vs no compression, with users being able to hear the difference with the demo headphones.
There were several comparisons to be made. In an equal bitrate scenario at lower absolute bitrates, LC3 was able to blow SBC out of the water in terms of quality. In general, audio quality would only equal out between the two codecs only when SBC had 3x higher bitrate. In essence, LC3 either allows for three times better quality, or three times less energy used when transmitting audio.
The comparison between LC3 and no compression was also very interesting. Although it was quite a noisy environment, I was unable to discern differences in audio playback quality once the LC3 bitrate reached 192kbps. Let’s say that 256kbps would be damn near transparent in terms of quality. 128kbps the differences started to be audible, but still incomparable to how bad SBC sounds at this bitrate.
The LE Audio standard will be released as several standalone specifications for each feature over the course of 2020. What all the features have in common though is that they rely on a new Bluetooth 5.2 core specification, which was publicly released yesterday.
The Bluetooth SIG expects chip manufacturers to be able to release new designs supporting LE Audio over the course of the next year to 18 months, with consumer products (sources and sinks) to closely follow that timeline, with an expected timeline of 18-24 months.
Overall, LE Audio seems to be addressing some of today’s major shortcomings with Bluetooth audio, and most importantly it standardises a new much more capable codec that will hopefully bring some unison to today’s fragmented BT codec landscape. We’re looking forward to the first devices supporting LE Audio and LC3.
Samsung's booth at CES 2020 includes our first look at their next flagship consumer SSD, the 980 PRO M.2 NVMe SSD. This would appear to be Samsung's first client/consumer SSD to support PCIe 4.0, which has until now only been rolled out to their high-end enterprise drives.
Since this just a low-key preview instead of a formal announcement with a press release, information is limited. The exhibit shows only sequential performance numbers: 6500 MB/s reads, 5000 MB/s writes. That's a bit better than what we currently see with PCIe 4.0 drives using the Phison E16 controller, but by the end of this year we should start seeing the Phison E18 and other controllers offering sequential speeds around 7GB/s, so the 980 PRO may have little or no time to set throughput records for the consumer SSD market.
The available capacities will range from 250GB to 1TB, which strongly indicates that Samsung us still using 2-bit MLC for the PRO line rather than switching to 3-bit TLC NAND flash as the rest of the industry has done for their flagships. The fate of Samsung's flagship SSD product line was a bit unclear when Samsung updated the 970 EVO with new NAND as the 970 EVO Plus but did not introduce an accompanying 970 PRO Plus.
Samsung was unable to locate any employees at their sprawling "booth" who could answer our technical questions, so we don't have confirmation of which generation of V-NAND this uses (probably the 5th gen. 92L), nor do we have any details on the controller. We also don't have a timeline for retail availability. UPDATE: Samsung says to expect more information in Q2 of this year.
Remote management of IT resources on the go has been a pain point for many an IT administrator. Many SMB networking equipment vendors have come out with cloud-based deployment and management options to address this. The options are backed up by both web-based and mobile app-based configuration capabilities. For example, Ubiquiti Networks offers hosted UniFi Cloud Controllers, while Netgear has been slowly expanding the lineup of SMB devices compatible with its Insight Management offering. D-Link is now joining the trend with the launch of Nuclias Connect and Nuclias Cloud remote network management solutions.
Set to formally launch later this year, Nuclias Connect requires SMB administrators to install the Nuclias Connect Hub (DNH-100) priced at $240 in their network. Compatible access points (indoor-rated DAP-3666, 2x2 MU-MIMO up to 1.2 Gbps, 802.11af PoE, 1x Gb LAN and 1x RJ-11 voice port, or, the outdoor-rated DAP-2620 with similar features, but also carrying IP-68 certification) can then be deployed and administered using the Nuclias Connect desktop software or Android / iOS app.
Nuclias Connect makes administration seamless by allowing management of up to 1000 APs, while featuring L2/L3 access point discovery and NAT passthrough. This ensures that IT administrators can deploy APs from virtually anywhere with an Internet connection.
Nuclias Cloud allows the Connect software to be hosted in the cloud by D-Link, making things easier for certain administrators. D-Link already has a set of switches compatible with Nuclias Cloud.
We believe D-Link will further expand the set of devices compatible with Nuclias Connect in the future. The offering is a bit late in the market compared to already existing solutions from Ubiquiti Networks and Netgear, but, it is always good for consumers to have a wider choice of providers.
Lenovo has introduced its new ultra-thin 15.6-inch notebook, the Legion Y740S. Formally, the company positions this laptop for gaming and it is meant to be paired with Lenovo’s new Legion BoostStation eGFX solution to get desktop-class graphics performance, yet it can serve as an everyday machine for performance-minded users too.
The Legion Y740S weighs just 1.9 kilograms and comes in an Iron Grey aluminum chassis that is just 14.9 mm thick, which is in line with thickness of various 13.3-inch-class machines. Meanwhile, the Y740S comes equipped with a 300-nits Full-HD or a 500-nits Ultra-HD 15.6-inch display panel with a 60 Hz refresh rate.
Inside Lenovo’s Legion Y740S sits Intel’s 10th Generation Core processor H-series with integrated graphics accompanied by up to 32 GB of DDR4 memory as well as an up to 1 TB PCIe SSD. To make sure that the CPU works at full steam at all times, the Legion Y740S uses Lenovo’s new Coldfront 2.0 cooling system comprising of a vapor chamber and four fans.
Connectivity department of the Legion Y740S includes Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C connectors, an SD card reader, and a 3.5-mm jack for headsets. Apparently, to make the Legion Y740S laptop as thin as possible, Lenovo decided to get rid of USB Type-A ports as well as of GbE. Still, since the notebook is meant to be paired with the Legion BoostStation that has both USB-A and GbE connectors, the design decision makes sense.
Lenovo says that what sets the Legion Y740S notebook apart from non-gaming ultra-thin 15.6-inch laptops is its TrueStrike keyboard with ergonomic keys and a special coating to ensure long-term durability. In addition, design of its ports, with two on the left side, and two on the back, is arranged in a way to make it easier to connect the Legion BoostStation external GPU box. Finally, the laptop has a dual-speaker Dolby Atmos-supporting audio subsystem.
Lenovo’s Legion Y740S will be available this May starting at $1,099.99.
Kioxia has reportedly informed its customers that a production tool at one of its fabs caught fire early on Tuesday. The fire was promptly extinguished and no casualties were reported, and the impact on the joint venture's NAND supply is expected to be minimal, according to production partner Western Digital.
The fire occurred in the cleanroom of Fab 6 (pictured), which is a part of the Yokkaichi Operations fab complex owned by Kioxia and Western Digital, according to Wells Fargo senior analyst Aaron Rakers (cited by Blocks & Files). The fire started at approximately 6:10 AM JST on January 7, 2020, and one manufacturing tool was partially damaged, according to a document allegedly sent by Kioxia to one of its customers (and published by TechNews). The precise cause of fire is unknown thus far. Operations were partially interrupted for a brief period, but now are largely back, and the joint venture is working to bring the fab back to normal operational status.
Fab 6 is the latest and most advanced fab in Yokkaichi Operations that kicked off production in September, 2018. At present, the fab produces 64-layer and 96-layer 3D NAND memory. Adjacent Fab 2 and Fab 5 are also used to make 3D NAND flash, so Kioxia and Western Digital continue to make memory at other facilities.
A significant disruption of production at Fab 6 may cause some turmoil on the market, but Western Digital expects impact on supply to be minimal.
Here is what the company had to say:
"On Monday, January 6 (morning, January 7 local time), a small fire occurred at our joint venture facility in Yokkaichi, Japan. Local firefighters quickly extinguished the fire, and we are thankful for their rapid response. No employees were injured, and we are working closely with our JV partner to promptly bring the fab back to normal operational status. We expect any supply impact to be minimal, and will provide updates as appropriate."
Samsung's mass-market external drive, the Portable SSD T-series, was last updated in August 2017 with the introduction of the T5 with 64-layer V-NAND. The Portable SSD T5 came with a SATA SSD internally and a USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type-C port for the host interface. Since then, we have seen a number of technology updates in this market segment including newer flash generations and the introduction of NVMe - USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) bridge chips.
At CES 2020, Samsung is unveiling the Portable SSD T7 Touch and also announcing the Portable SSD T7. Both products place a NVMe SSD behind a USB 3.2 Gen 2 bridge to offer up to read/write speeds of up to 1050/1000 MBps. The performance specifications for the two products are similar, with the only difference being the fingerprint-based security option in the Touch version. Typically, Samsung has used external SSDs as test drivers for new V-NAND generations. For example, the Portable SSD T5 was the retail debut for their 64-layer V-NAND. Based on recent announcements, it looks likely that the Portable SSD T7 Touch and Portable SSD T7 use the sixth-generation 136-layer V-NAND.
The key differentiating aspect of the Portable SSD T7 Touch is the addition of fingerprint-based security to go with the password protection / 256-bit AES-based hardware encryption offered for the data in the internal SSD. External drives adopting biometric security for encryption purposes are rare - the market demanding that level of security is limited. Most of the products adopting this approach (such as the Apricorn Aegis Bio 3, Verbatim Fingerprint Secure HDD, and the Imation Defender H200) carry a significant price premium, with FIPS certification added in certain products to justify it. The Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch, aimed at casual users, is not FIPS certified. Samsung's scale and technology advancements have allowed for the pricing of the product at reasonable levels compared to the non-biometrics version. The key specifications of the Portable SSD T7 Touch and Portable SSD T7 are summarized in the table below.
|Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch and T7 Product Specifications|
|Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch||Samsung Portable SSD T7|
|Capacities||2TB, 1TB, 500GB|
|Interface||USB 3.2 (Gen 2, 10Gbps) with backward compatibility|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||85 x 57 x 8.0mm (3.3 x 2.2 x 0.3 inches)|
|Weight||58 grams (2.0 oz)|
|Transfer Speed||Up to 1050 MBps|
|Encryption||256-bit AES in Hardware|
|Security||Password Protection S/W
|Password Protection S/W|
|Certifications||CE, BSMI, KC, VCCI, C-tick, FCC, IC, UL, TUV, CB|
|Colors||Black & Silver||TBD|
|Packaged Cables||USB type-C-to-C, USB type-C-to-A|
|Warranty||3 Years Limited|
|Launch MSRP (USD)||$130 (500GB), $230 (1TB), $400 (2TB)||TBD|
The Portable SSD T7 Touch also features a 'Motion LED', allowing the user to determine device status with a single glance. The aluminum casing allows the products to weigh in at just 58 grams.
The product will be available for purchase this month in black and silver, with capacities of 500GB, 1TB and 2TB sizes priced at $130, $230, and $400 respectively. Pricing for the non-biometrics version (retail availability in Q2 2020) was not announced.
While sales Chrome OS-powered laptops are continuing to grow, the vast majority of these PCs – and arguably the platform itself – have been positioned as entry-level solutions both in terms of price and in terms of hardware. As a result, premium Chromebooks have historically been a commercial footnote; Google and Acer (among others) have developed some models, but nothing has really made a lasting impact on the larger Chromebook market.
Samsung, however, thinks that they finally have a winning formula for a high-end Chromebook. With the new Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, announced this week at CES, Samsung is looking to up the ante on what to expect from a Chromebook both in terms of design and hardware, putting together a Chromebook that can rival premium Windows notebooks in everything from features to pricing.
The 13.3-unch Samsung Galaxy Chromebook starts things off with a touch-enabled AMOLED display which offers a 3840×2160 resolution, a peak brightness of 400 nits in HDR mode, and a very high contrast ratio (given peculiarities of the AMOLED technology). The Galaxy Chromebook is a convertible and therefore it can be used as a tablet as well. To that end, Samsung equipped the unit with two cameras as well as a built-in stylus.
Keeping with the size and weight needs of a convertible, the Galaxy Chromebook is also rather light. The laptop tops out at 1 kilogram thanks to its lightweight aluminum chassis, and is 9.9 mm thick at its largest point. Though you might be hard-pressed to even realize it's aluminum at first thanks to Samsung's color choices; the convertible comes in a rather intense Fiesta Red (pictured), or for a lighter touch, Mercury Gray.
Under the hood, the Galaxy Chromebook packs Intel’s 10th Generation Core processor with UHD Graphics, which can be accompanied by up to 16 GB LPDDR3 memory as well as an M.2 SSD with a capacity up to 1TB. While there are numerous Apple MacOS or Microsoft Windows-based PCs to feature a configuration like this, most of Chromebooks come with very limited amounts of DRAM and equally limited storage space. By contrast, Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook is much closer to a modern, high-end 2-in-1 running Chrome OS.
In fact, Samsung has gone as far as designing the Chromebook to meet Intel's feature and design standards for Project Athena. So as well as meeting Athena's performance requirements, the Galaxy Chromebook has also been certified to meet the program’s user experience targets in terms of responsiveness, instant wake, and battery life. Which, with a 49.2 Wh battery, goes a long way in a 13.3-inch laptop.
Meanwhile, the wireless connectivity of the Galaxy Chromebook includes Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth, whereas wired connectivity consists of two USB Type-C ports, a UFS/microSD card reader, and a 3.5-mm audio jack for headsets. The system also has two 2W speakers, a microphone array, and a separate mono microphone.
|Samsung's Galaxy Chromebook Convertible|
|Display||Diagonal||13.3" with touch & pen|
|CPU||10th Gen Core
|Graphics||Intel UHD Graphics|
|RAM||up to 16 GB LPDDR3|
|Storage||up to 1 TB SSD|
|USB||2 × USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C|
|On Keyboard Deck||8 MP|
|Other I/O||UFS/microSD, TRRS connector for audio, speakers, microphones|
|Battery||49.2 Wh Express Charge|
|Price (starting at)||$999|
Samsung says that its Galaxy Chromebook will be available this quarter starting at $999.99 for an entry-level configuration, which is comparable to other Athena-class 13.3-inch notebooks, but certainly on the very high side for Chromebooks. And the top-of-the-line SKUs with faster processors and more storage will undoubtedly push that even higher.
AnandTech’s readers split into a number of categories, and Acer’s Predator Thronos Air certainly falls into the category of ‘whoever buys this has a lot of money’. Acer has already released its first generation Thronos Air, a fully combined PC desk/seat with mounted monitors and combined Predator PC, into several markets, and received a good deal of attention from the fact that no-one knows who exactly would buy a dedicated seat and monitor setup as an all-in-one solution. It turns out that there seem to be enough people willing to put down several thousand Gs in order to get one, because Acer is bringing it to the USA.
The Thronos Air design is essentially a self-contained gaming throne. The shaped frame has a number of LEDs inside, and is built to house a ‘gaming’ chair, a full Predator PC at the side, and then an arm comes over the users head to hold up three large 27-inch monitors. Obviously this puts limits on weight and height for those that can use it, although it covers most of the population. But the idea is that this is a dedicated gaming machine in the same way that some enthusiasts go all out and spend $10k on a multi-axis racing seat. This doesn’t move like a gaming seat, but it’s just meant to be a dedicated gaming space so that users can feel immersed, especially with the wide displays and the powerful PC behind that can drive term. Or it can look neat in an office I guess?
Acer says that the Thronos Air is modular, adjustable, and customizable. I don’t think there’s a big modding community on this, just because of the price. With a fully laden Predator PC capable of driving three monitors at top settings, Acer has a price tag of $13999 on this thing, and it is expected to be available from March 2020.
(I had to keep editing this news. It’s Thronos, as in ‘throne’. Not Theranos, as in the failed biochem company. And not Thanos, the big mean dude in Marvel. Though I could imagine Acer doing a one-off tie-in.)
Although all-in-one desktops are rather popular among many casual users, high-performance AIOs remain exotic and yet have to take off. At CES 2020, HP has introduced its new Envy 32 All-in-One desktop with ingredients that will make many fully-fledged desktops jealous. The system has an advanced Intel Core i7 CPU, NVIDIA’s high-end GPU, a sophisticated audio sub-system, and, even more importantly, a very good 4K display.
HP’s Envy 32 All-in-One system is based on Intel’s 9th Generation Core i7 processor with up to eight cores and up to 65 W TDP that is accompanied by up to NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 2080 discrete GPU. The PC comes with NVIDIA Studio drivers certified by developers of over 40 professional creative and design applications, so it ready for these programs out-of-box. The machine can also be equipped with up to 32 GB of DDR4 memory as well as 1 TB PCIe SSD or even two drives. Considering the desktop components inside, and the socketed nature of the CPUs and memory, user-upgradability may even be possible.
Considering rather powerful hardware inside the Envy 32 All-in-One, it is aimed at people who do some serious work and need more than one monitor and expanded storage. To that end, the AIO has a Thunderbolt 3 port and an HDMI output to connect a DAS and an additional displays. Quite naturally, there are also other ports available for peripherals and other expansions. Furthermore, expect the AIO to feature Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
One of the key advantages of the Envy 32 All-in-One is its 31.5-inch 4K Ultra-HD monitor that features 600 nits brightness, a 6000:1 contrast ratio, and can display 98% of the DCI-P3 color space. This will make the Envy 32 the first PC display to feature HDR 600 certification. Also, the LCD will come factory-calibrated to a Delta E<2 accuracy. This will be the first On top of the display is a pop-up webcam that physically turns on and pops up when it is needed by a legitimate Windows 10 application.
As for audio, the Envy 32 All-in-One comes with a 2.1 audio sub-system co-developed with Bang & Olufsen that features two tweeters, two medium drivers, and a woofer. It is noteworthy that the speakers can be used to stream audio from a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or a tablet without turning the PC on.
The HP Envy 32 All-in-One comes with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. The former has a special slot for a smartphone and a tablet and assuming that these devices support external BT keyboards, Envy’s keyboard can be used to type SMS or emails.
As for design, the Envy 32 All-in-One features a black chassis, ultra-thin display bezels, heathered acoustic cloth on the speakers, and a metal base with dark ash woodgrain finish. Speaking of the metal base, it also integrates a wireless charging pad.
The new HP Envy 32 All-in-One is now available directly from HP as well as from leading retailers like Amazon or Best Buy. Entry-level configurations start at $1599.99, whereas higher-end machines are naturally more expensive.
Demand for larger gaming displays is growing these days, so it is not surprising that more and more manufacturers have introduced 37.5-inch and bigger LCDs. But up until recently, there has still been a pretty big cutoff between PC-centric gaming monitors, and console-centric gaming TVs. Those differences are starting to fade away however, as traditional PC monitor manufacturers are increasingly dipping their toes into ultra-large big format displays, which offer screen sizes above 50 inches. ViewSonic in turn is the latest manufacturer to try their hand at a large format display, announcing its 55-inch 120 Hz OLED display at CES 2020.
ViewSonic’s Elite XG550 features a 3840×2160 resolution, a 0.5 ms GtG response time, and a 120 Hz maximum refresh rate. Since we are dealing with an OLED panel, it may not necessarily have a very high peak brightness, but given its natural ability to offer deep blacks as well as a very high contrast ratio, it should provide a very life-like picture. The monitor can reproduce 99% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is well in line with what professional LCDs can do.
One thing that strikes the eye about the Elite XG550 is its rather narrow bezels. In general, the monitor looks extremely futuristic and an RGB lighting on the back just emphasizes this design
Unfortunately, while the display is being announced this week, ViewSonic is closer to teasing the display than they are to commercially shipping it. So the company hasn't disclosed what kind of connectors the Elite XG550 has, which variable refresh rate technology it supports, and whether it supports any HDR transport technology (though judging from this week's other 55-incher, that's unlikely). Ultimately, as the company isn't saying anything about its launch timeframe, it looks like the monitor is still work in progress.
|ViewSonic Elite XG550 Display Specifications|
|Resolution||3840 × 2160|
|Refresh Rate||120 Hz|
|Response Time||0.5 ms gray-to-gray|
|Brightness||Peak: ? cd/m²|
|Viewing Angles||?°/?° horizontal/vertical|
|Color Saturation||99% DCI-P3|
|Display Colors||1.07 billion|
|Pixel Pitch||0.3108 mm²|
|Pixel Density||81 PPI|
|Inputs||? × DP 1.4
? × HDMI 2.0
? × USB-C
|Mechanical Design||Chassis Colors: black, metallic, w/RGB LEDs|
|Power Consumption||Idle||? W|
A thing to note about the ViewSonic Elite XG550 is that it is the third 55-inch OLED gaming monitor introduced in the last 12 months after Dell’s Alienware 55 as well as Acer’s Predator CG55K. Considering that there are not many 55-inch 4K 120 Hz OLED panels around (and it looks like only one large maker produces them), it is very likely that the Elite uses same panel as the other two displays, and will end up with very similar characteristics.
Amid a plethora of ASUS announcements and product showcases at CES 2020, one of the more interesting pieces of hardware on display came on the motherboard side. In what ASUS is currently calling a concept, it had a full system with white components on display, including an X570 Strix motherboard dressed to the nines in white heatsinks and covers.
While ASUS hasn't given much away about which model it's based on. the specifications list include support for DDR4-4400 memory with a capacity of up to 128 GB, with an Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 wireless interface, and a Realtek RTL8125-AG 2.5 G Ethernet controller. A SupremeFX S1220A HD audio codec handles the onboard audio, while the rear panel features plenty of USB 3.2 Gen2 connectivity. The PCB, controller layout and overall PCB layout not only resemble the ASUS ROG Strix X570 E Gaming motherboard, but it has identical specifications match between the two boards.
On the rear panel cover is the typical Strix branding with an illuminated Strix RGB logo, while the M.2 heatsinks and chipset heatsink have the Strix inspired graffiti etching. A two-digit LED debugger is located at the bottom, with plenty of headers and connectors for superior connectivity; again, resemblant of the ASUS ROG Strix X570 E-Gaming. As with all other ASUS X570 models, the X570 is actively cooled.
At present, the all-white ROG Strix X570 motherboard is just a concept, but we've seen ASUS release white themed models before including the Prime series, as well as limited-edition versions of its Sabertooths (now TUF). This could be one ASUS concept that makes it to retail, but it still remains to be seen.
With CES 2020 expected to be dominated with announcements of new mobile processors from both Intel and AMD, ZOTAC has taken things in a slightly different direction, preparing a few new ZBOX Edge SFF PCs. Chief among these is ZOTAC ZBOX Edge CI341, which features an Intel Celeron N4100 quad-core processor with Intel UHD 600 integrated graphics, and two SO-DIMM slots supporting up to 8 GB of DDR4-2400 memory.
The ZOTAC ZBOX Edge CI341 is designed with edge computing in mind with a small size and equally low power consumption, thanks to Intel Celeron N4100 and its 6 W TDP. While the Intel Gemini Lake architecture (which is based on the 14 nm process node) isn't new, it nonetheless allows ZOTAC to produce a PC with a slim 32 mm chassis and a passively cooled design. This means that the ZBOX Edge CI341 is near silent. For storage, a single M.2 slot is present which supports both M.2 2242 and M.2 2280 form factor SSDs.
Located on the front panel is a power button, a microSD card reader, and a single USB 3.1 G1 Type-A port, with a further USB 3.1 G1 Type-A port located on the rear panel. Also featured are dual Intel Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac Wi-Fi antenna port which also features BT 5.0 support. As for display connectivity, there are both DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 2.0 outputs.
ZOTAC hasn't unveiled any pricing or when the ZBOX Edge CI341 will hit retail shelves, but we do know that two versions will be available for purchase; one with Windows 10, and one without. We also know that both models will ship with just 4 GB of DDR4-2400 memory which populates one of two available SODIMM slots.
Among its many CES 2020 announcements this week, ASUS has unveiled its ultra-light 14-inch ExpertBook B9 (B9450) laptop, which as alluded to in the name, is aimed at the corporate market. The laptop is powered by Intel’s 10th Generation ‘Comet Lake’ processor is equipped with robust business and security features, and furthermore is Project Athena certified as well.
The ASUS ExpertBook B9 (B9450) comes in a 13-inch-class magnesium alloy chassis that 14.9 mm thick and houses a 14-inch NanoEdge Full-HD display with anti-glare coating and ultra-thin bezels. Since the machine is based on Intel’s 10th Generation Core platform with a smaller footprint when it comes to the motherboard size, the internal architecture of the machine enabled ASUS to install a 33 Wh battery in case of the 865 gram model, as well as a 66 Wh battery in case of 995 gram SKU that can last for up to 24 hours on one charge.
The ExpertBook B9 (B9450) is based on Intel’s quad-core Core i5-10210 (1.6 GHz – 4.2 GHz) or Core i7-10510 (1.8 GHz – 4.9 GHz) processors, which is paired with 8 GB or 16 GB of LPDDR3 memory, as well as up to two M.2 NVMe SSDs. In the case of a two drive configuration, the drives can furthermore operate in RAID 0 mode for superior performance or RAID 1 mode for added reliability.
Connectivity wise, the ASUS ExpertBook B9 has Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 4.2, GbE (over mDP port) Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A, HDMI, and a 3.5-mm audio jack for headsets.
Like most laptops designed for business and corporate customers, the ASUS ExpertBook B9 has sophisticated security capabilities, including a Windows Hello-capable webcam with IR sensors and a shutter, a fingerprint reader, an optional TPM 2.0 chip, and various enhancements from ASUS.
ASUS yet has to announce pricing and availability dates of its ExpertBook B9 (B9450) laptop.
It is noteworthy that the ExpertBook B9 (B9450) notebook resembles the ASUSPRO B9 (B9450) laptop demonstrated back at IFA last September. The latter one was based on Intel’s Ice Lake platform, yet featured an extremely similar chassis and had the same feature set. The one that ASUS introduced at CES is powered by Comet Lake and is 15 grams lighter. At this point, the destiny of Ice Lake-based ASUSPRO B9 is unknown, but it is possible that it is still in development.
Dell and Alienware have unveiled a new portable gaming machine it is calling Concept UFO. Demonstrated during its Dell Experience press conference at CES 2020, the Alienware Concept UFO is a handheld gaming device which is powered by one of Intel's 10th generation Core processors, with an 8" screen, and detachable controllers.
A lot of speculation has been placed on Alienware's Concept UFO and what the driving force behind the CPU and graphics. Alienware has confirmed that the 8" Concept UFO is using an Intel 10th generation Core processor, although they aren't detailing which model.
When pressed on the graphics performance, Alienware didn't specify but made a very tongue in cheek comment about it using Intel's latest graphics processor. With Intel having demonstrated their first Xe dGPU, the DG1, at this year's show as well, there is some degree of speculation that the Concept UFO could be an Xe concept device. Running counter to that, however, is that there's no indication that DG1 will be shipping in 2020, which would make this a concept device for hardware that won't be ready for another year. Either way, Dell and Alienware are staying mum on the issue for the time being.
As for the design of the Alienware Concept UFO handheld, it's all-white with black buttons and illuminated thumbsticks. One of the most interesting elements is that it features detachable controllers, which are very similar to the Joy-Cons used by Nintendo's Switch handheld game console. On the rear is a kickstand which allows users to place it on a table and game if it were a games console, or use it with the controllers attached to the device like a handheld.
Another interesting feature is that Concept UFO can be attached to an external monitor, although we can confirm that Concept UFO's 8" screen is manufactured by a partner, and not by Dell themselves. Dell refused to comment and go into detail about the exact technical specifications, or who manufactures the panel.
Alienware didn't have much to say when pressed on the official specifications, or if and when it may get past the concept stage into production. It's an interesting concept which, if nothing else, will pique the interest of gamers while showing off Alienware's research and design team as it looks to continue to be at the forefront of PC gaming.