Taiwanese fabless semiconductor company MediaTek on Thursday said the first laptops enabled by it and Intel 5G modem solution are expected in early 2021. MediaTek said its T700 5G modem, which will be used to bring 5G connectivity to Intel-powered PCs, completed 5G standalone (SA) calls in real-world test scenarios.
Additionally, Intel has progressed on system integration, validation and developing platform optimisations for superior user experience and is readying co-engineering support for its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners. “Our partnership with Intel is a natural extension of our growing 5G mobile business, and is an incredible market opportunity for MediaTek to move into the PC market,” MediaTek President Joe Chen said in a statement.
“With Intel’s deep expertise in the PC space and our groundbreaking 5G modem technology, we will redefine the laptop experience and bring consumers the best 5G experiences.” The MediaTek T700 modem supports non-standalone and standalone Sub-6 5G network architectures to deliver consistently faster speeds and more reliable connectivity, the company said.
“Building on our 4G/LTE leadership in PCs, 5G is poised to further transform the way we connect, compute and communicate. Intel is committed to enhancing those capabilities on the world’s best PCs,” said Chris Walker, Intel Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Mobile Client Platforms. MediaTek is rolling out its 5G technology across the PC, mobile, home, auto and Internet of Things (IoT) segments to make super-fast connectivity accessible to everyone.
Apple has announced updates for the 21.5-inch iMac and the 27-inch iMac with the new line of Intel processors as well as specification upgrades all round. The biggest change has to be the switch to the Intel’s 10th Gen Comet Lake processors for the entire iMac line now, which could perhaps make this the last iMac refresh on Intel before the expected switch to Apple’s own processors, the Apple Silicon, sometime next year. There are now SSDs that are standard across the line, the displays get some new capabilities and the FaceTime camera has finally been given an upgrade to 1080p resolution. There are three variants in the 21.5-inch iMac lineup and three in the 27-inch iMac line-up, with further configuration options available. The prices for iMac line-up in India start at Rs 99,900 for the entry spec 21.5-inch iMac with the Retina 4K display options priced at Rs 1,19,900 and Rs 1,39,900. The larger and more exciting 27-inch iMac is priced Rs 1,69,900 onwards.
With work from home very much a reality for many of us, at least for the foreseeable future, there are changed to the iMacs which should help in that regard. Apple has added a new nano-texture glass option to the iMac line, which is basically a less reflective matte glass. This should be good for those who may be working on the iMac in less than perfect ambient lighting at home. We may have never realized this, but the iMac didn’t have the True Tone ambient display capabilities till now—something that all MacBook options have had for a while now. That changes too, with the True Tone feature now standard on the new iMac, the 27-inch option. The FaceTime camera, the 720 affair that has been the same for many years now, has finally been swapped for a new 1080p camera, at least on the 27-inch iMac. That’s a demand we have had for a while now for MacBook line-up as well, and the change is happening. Apple says the new T2 chip will also improve tone mapping, exposure control, and face detection for video calls.
As far as the processor options go, you can have the 21.5-inch iMac with up to an Intel Core i7 processor with up to 32GB RAM, while the larger 27-inch iMac can be configured with an Intel Core i9 processor with as much as 128GB RAM. With SSD storage now standard across the options, performance will get a significant boost as well—these will be much faster than Fusion Drives and can be configured for your storage needs. That’s up to 1TB for the smaller iMac and up to 8TB for the 27-inch iMac. As standard, the 21.5-inch iMac is configured with Intel Core i3 and Intel Core i5 processor options with with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSDs. The 27-inch iMac standard configurations can be had with the Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors, with 8GB RAM and 256GB or 512GB SSDs.
The 21.5-inch iMac is available in the Full HD display option as the entry-spec variant, with the Retina 4K display available for the more powerful configurations. The larger iMac gets the 27-inch Retina 5K display with the 5120×2880 resolution.
Buying ARM would consolidate graphics giant Nvidia’s position at the centre of the semiconductor industry.
Last Updated: August 1, 2020, 11:05 AM IST
US chip-maker Nvidia is reportedly in advance talks to acquire SoftBank-owned UK chip company ARM in a cash-and-stock deal worth at least $32 billion. According to a report in the Financial Times on Friday citing sources, the talks began after “Nvidia approached SoftBank, which has been pursuing a series of other asset sales, about a potential acquisition”. The proposed deal includes “both cash and stock and that it valued ARM at above the $32bn price that SoftBank paid for the business in 2016”. Both Nvidia and ARM did not comment on the report. The British chip designer powers major mobile processor from companies like Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung and Huawei.
Apple last month confirmed its break up with Intel chips for ARM chips in its Mac desktops, announcing it will transition the Mac to its world-class custom silicon to deliver industry-leading performance and powerful new technologies. Buying ARM would consolidate graphics giant Nvidia’s position at the centre of the semiconductor industry. SoftBank bought ARM for $31 billion in 2016. Microsoft makes an ARM-based Surface laptop and a version of Windows designed for ARM. According to The Verge, Nvidia would make an interesting owner for ARM. While Nvidia is the leader for GPUs, it has little to do with CPU design or mobile hardware.
Nvidia said this week it delivered the world’s fastest Artificial Intelligence (AI) training performance among commercially available chips, a feat that will help big enterprises tackle the most complex challenges in AI, data science and scientific computing. Nvidia A100 GPUs and DGX SuperPOD systems were declared the world’s fastest commercially available products for AI training, according to MLPerf benchmarks. The A100 Tensor Core GPU demonstrated the fastest performance per accelerator on all eight MLPerf benchmarks.
ASUS is expanding its portfolio of notebook offerings in India with the launch of its new ZenBook and VivoBook devices. Powered by the latest 10th-Gen Intel Core processors, the new notebooks that ASUS is bringing for its customers in India include the new ZenBook 13, ZenBook 14 and the new VivoBook range including the VivoBook S14 and the VivoBook Ultra K14.
ZenBook 13 and ZenBook 14
ASUS continues to offer its premium ultrabook options with the ZenBook 13 and ZenBook 14. Both are lightweight ultrabooks both weighing below the 1.2kg mark and super-thin at just 13.9mm. Both also come with Full-HD displays with ‘NanoEdge’ bezels and 90% screen-to-body ratio with 100% sRGB colour gamut coverage.
As for core hardware, the notebooks are offered with the latest 10th-gen Intel Ice Lake processors. The notebooks can be configured with up to a Core i7-1065G7 processor, 16GB LPDDR4X RAM, and 1TB PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD. The notebook offers two USB Type-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support, an HDMI 2.0, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, and a microSD card slot. Notably, there is no headphone jack, but ASUS bundles a USB Type-C to 3.5mm audio jack connector as well as standard USB to ethernet port as well. The touchpad also comes with a backlit numpad that can be enabled by tapping it on the top right corner. Pricing for the ZenBook 13 and 14 starts at Rs 79,990 and will be available from Flipkart, Amazon India and other offline partners.
VivoBook S14 and VivoBook Ultra K14
The VivoBook S14, as the name suggests, comes with a 14-inch Full-HD display and a slim design having a thickness of about 16mm, and weighing at 1.4kg. This one also comes with the latest 10th-Gen Intel Core processor with the options going up to a Core i7-10510U processor and Nvidia MX250 graphics.
The notebook also comes with a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, an HDMI 1.4 port, a combo audio jack and an SD card reader. The laptop is also said to come with up to 15 hours of battery life. Pricing starts at Rs 67,990.
The VivoBook Ultra K14, also known as the VivoBook 14, comes in a more affordable package. It is still a lightweight machine having a profile that is less than 18mm and weighing 1.4kg. It comes with a 14-inch Full-HD display with an 84% screen-to-body ratio, up to a 10th-gen Intel Core i5-10210U processor, up to 8GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB M.2 NVME PCIe X2 SSD storage. Ports include a combo audio jack, a Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, a Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port and a micro SD card slot. This one comes in three colour options- Hearty Gold, Transparent Silver, Indie Black. Pricing starts at Rs 39,990.
Intel Corp’s Chief Engineering Officer Murthy Renduchintala is departing, part of a move in which a key technology unit will be separated into five teams, the chipmaker said on Monday. Intel said it is reorganizing its technology, systems architecture and client group. Its new leaders will report directly to Chief Executive Officer Bob Swan. According to Intel, Renduchintala will depart on August 3
Ann Kelleher, a 24-year Intel veteran, will lead the development of 7-nanometer and 5-nanometer chip technology processes. Last week, the company had said the smaller, faster 7-nanometer chipmaking technology was six months behind schedule and it would have to rely more on outside chipmakers to keep its products competitive.
Renduchintala, who was president of the wide-ranging group before its reorganization and widely seen as a No. 2 to Swan, joined Intel in 2015. He was executive vice president of Qualcomm Inc, and has been on Accenture’s board since April 2018. Renduchintala was one of several key hires from outside Intel, which had been famous in Silicon Valley for developing and promoting talent from within. He was hired as part of a strategy to go after broader markets than the central processing units, or CPUs, the company became known for in the PC era.
One major effort, creating modem chips to connect smartphones to mobile data networks, ended last year. Intel sold the business to Apple for $1 billion, a fraction of what it had invested in the effort. Renduchintala eventually took responsibly for turning around Intel’s process technology, which struggled with years of delay for its current 10-nanometer process. CEO Swan told investors in November that Intel was set to start catching up to rivals with its 7-nanometer process in early 2021, but was forced to reverse himself last week because of the delays.
Intel said on Thursday its new 7nm chip technology was six months behind schedule and it would consider farming out more work to outside semiconductor foundries, eroding a founding principle that manufacturing is key to its success. The setbacks will have little effect in the next few quarters, but will cause a years-long domino effect, delaying chips meant to counter the rise of rivals Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Nvidia until late 2021 or even 2023.
Intel’s 7nm delays extend the lead in the smaller, faster chip technology held by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), which is now expected to remain at least one generation of technology ahead for years to come. They will likely benefit rivals AMD and Nvidia, which outsource their manufacturing to TSMC.”We’re going to be pretty pragmatic about if and when we should be making stuff inside or making outside, and making sure that we have optionality to build internally, mix and match inside and outside, or go outside in its entirety if we need to,” Chief Executive Bob Swan said on a call with investors.
Intel is the top supplier for processors for PCs and data centers, but Nvidia and TSMC are challenging the logic of Intel’s business model as a both a designer and manufacturer of its own chips. Swan told investors that Intel’s “Ponte Vecchio,” a data center graphics chip meant to compete with Nvidia, will not be released until late 2021 or early 2022 and could use outside chip factories. He said Intel’s first 7nm chip, meant for personal computers, will not arrive until late 2022 or early 2023. Its first 7nm data center processor will not ship until the first half of 2023.
In recent years, Intel has relied on booming growth in data centers that power cloud computing as PC sales declined, though both segments have expanded as the pandemic forced increased technology spending to facilitate working from home. The company estimated third-quarter revenue of about $18.2 billion on adjusted earnings of $1.10 per share, compared with analysts’ average forecast of $17.9 billion and $1.14 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. It updated its full-year 2020 revenue guidance to $75 billion versus analysts’ consensus estimate of $73.86 billion, according to Refinitiv data.
For the second quarter ended in June, Intel said overall revenue and adjusted profits were $19.73 billion and $1.23 per share, compared with analysts’ estimates of $18.55 billion and $1.11 per share, according to Refinitiv. Revenue for its data center segment was $7.1 billion compared to estimates of $6.61 billion, according to data from FactSet. Sales for PC chips were $9.5 billion, compared to analyst estimates of $9.10 billion, according to FactSet data. Nvidia, which designs but does not make its own chips, earlier this month overtook Intel as the most valuable US chip supplier, thanks to strong sales to data centers using Nvidia chips for artificial intelligence work.
In the PC market, longtime Intel rival AMD this week announced new PC chips that analysts expect to be powered by TSMC’s manufacturing processes. Last month, Apple said it would end its reliance on Intel chips for Mac computers after nearly 15 years. Apple uses chip technology from SoftBank Group Corp-owed Arm. “The delay of its 7nm roadmap timing will create even more headwinds for Intel as its risk increased probability of further share loss to AMD and to other architecture like Arm in both its client and data center markets in the next two to three years,” said Kinngai Chan, an analyst at Summit Insights Group.
When work from home is a very real thing, a good laptop, a reliable and fast enough broadband connection and lots of patience to deal with communication overload become as essential as food and water. For some, the laptop that they use to get work done also has to be a symbol of style. Make a statement, if you will. Budget isn’t a constraint either and you can really take your pick from the premium options out there. But that doesn’t mean you should splash the cash on the first cool laptop that you see. Laptop makers see you and have some very cool premium laptops in their arsenal that tick off the style, luxury and performance checkboxes. All in one. That is, if you are rich enough. Apple, HP, Lenovo, Dell and MSI have some that are better than the rest, but mind you, the margins are very thin and preferences are quite fickle.
The reality is, it is getting harder to buy a laptop that isn’t genuinely good. Even more so with the launches over the past few months, as the focus on laptops is back. After all, when it really came down to it, all those pretenses of smartphones and tablets ushering in the end of laptops as we know them, have disappeared in thin air. To get actual work done, a laptop is as necessary as ever. Some now even offer the optional mobile SIM functionality, letting you use a Reliance Jio, Airtel or Vodafone SIM to get data on 3G or 4G networks if the home broadband isn’t available. We have curated this list of some of the best premium laptops that you can spend a lot of money on, and these will deliver on the performance aspect as well.
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HP Spectre x360
Around Rs 1,04,999 (HP Spectre x360 – 13-aw0204tu)
The HP Spectre x360 has been one of the most beautifully crafted laptops in the Windows 10 ecosystem, for a while now. The chopped off corners round the back still look cool, particularly when coupled with the sharper lines elsewhere. This can be had in two colour options—Nightfall Black and Poseidon Blue. This is powered by the 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor with 8GB RAM and a fast 512GB SSD. The 13.3-inch display can be had in 4K resolution as well, if that is what you need. The HP Spectre x360 – 13-aw0204tu is just 16.9mm thick, which makes this one of the slimmest laptops out there. There is a fingerprint reader, mic mute key and a physical webcam kill switch, for those who are worried about privacy. The HP Fast Charge feature juices up a fully discharged battery to 50% charge in 30 minutes.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 4
Around Rs 2,02,500
This is when the corporates want to work, or be seen working, in style. Lenovo ThinkPad laptops have long been the default choice for a lot of business users, particularly because of the ruggedness, longevity and the plethora of security features on offer. That doesn’t change with the ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 4, even though it has adopted a lot of the modern cues. You get a 14-inch IPS display with the WQHD resolution, a bunch of ThinkShield security features including the ThinkShutter physical camera cover and support for Dolby Atmos as well as Dolby Vision standards. Powering this is a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB RAM. You get a fast 512GB SSD too. In terms of the form factor, Lenovo says they have shaved off enough to make this 17% more compact than its predecessor, and this weighs 1.35kg. Lenovo Rapid Charge juices up a completely discharged battery to 80% in 60 minutes.
Apple MacBook Pro 16
Around Rs 1,99,900 onwards
The latest MacBook Pro is what you need if you want the most gorgeous display in the world of laptops. This 16-inch Retina Display replaces the 15.6-inch canvas that was the highlight of the MacBook Pro 15. This supports the Display P3 wide colour gamut, True Tone and is rated at 500nits of brightness. You get to choose between the latest generation Intel Core i7 and Intel Core i9 processors with 16GB RAM. Your storage options are 512GB and 1TB SSD, though you can choose to have your machine configured for up to 8TB SSD for storage—the highest capacity in any notebook. The AMD Radeon Pro 5300M and the AMD Radeon Pro 5500M add to the power stakes. The built-in microphones can do studio quality audio recording. Apple updated the keyboard with the new Scissor mechanism, which is great news for those who type a lot.
MSI Prestige 15
Around Rs 1,36,590 (MSI Prestige 15 A10SC)
What MSI have made is a gorgeous piece of machinery here. For starters, you will be impressed by the high-quality materials in use, as well as the diamond-cut edge and sandblasted texture. The way the edges shine at certain angles adds a touch of class. This is powered by the 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB RAM. The 15.6-inch display is what MSI calls IPS-like, and what you get is a bright and vivid screen that also doesn’t reflect ambient lighting back in your eyes. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q should be good news for those who also want to game a bit. The security features include Windows Hello authentication. Oh, and this supports Amazon Alexa too, if you want to use voice to command your laptop to answer back. MSI’s Cooler Booster tech uses two fans and three heat pipes to keep this powerhouse cool, and in our tests, it did the perfect job. All this, in a laptop that weighs just 1.6kg.
Dell XPS 13
Around Rs 1,44,807 onwards
Finally, Dell got the 2020 line-up of the XPS laptops to India. Albeit without the XPS 17. Which means you still have to choose between the XPS 13 and the XPS 15. The latest XPS 13 is significantly more expensive than before now. The positive is that it retains the ingredients that made it quite popular over the years. The bezels on the sides as well as below the screen have been further thinned down, which makes the 2020 edition of the Dell XPS 13 about 2% smaller in size than before. That has allowed Dell to also go for a slightly larger 13.4-inch display in the latest model. You get the 10th generation Intel Core processors and Dell says they have redesigned the thermals as well to keep the laptop thin.
HP Elite Dragonfly
Around Rs 2,19,518 (SKU: 9MV10PA)
You can be rich. You can have the luxury to splurge on a cool laptop. You can do so while feeling good about caring for the environment too. The HP Elite Dragonfly (SKU: 9MV10PA), HP says, uses post-consumer recycled plastic including ocean-bound plastics in the construction of certain elements of the notebook. This makes it the world’s first laptop to use otherwise ocean-bound plastics. Yes, you will have to make do with a slightly older 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor, but that’s paired with 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. You get a 13.3-inch Full HD display, speakers tuned by Danish company Bang & Olufsen, HP Fast Charge that juices up the battery from 0% to 50% in 30 minutes and ruggedness that has withstood the MIL-STD 810G tests. Depending on the config, this could weigh as little as 0.99kg.
Technology took centre stage at the recently concluded RIL AGM 2020, with Jio Platforms proving key to the digital transformation of RIL, as well as being a key contributor to India’s digital revolution. Jio created history by becoming the first Indian telecom operator to launch 5G in India, all of which has been completely built from scratch in India itself. Jio also welcomed Google as an investor and strategic partner, and is now slated to build a 5G-ready affordable smartphone from the ground up. For this, Google will collaboratively develop a customised Android-based operating system. Other key announcements included the expansion of JioMart, JioMeet and JioGlass, all of which will tap into the 5G ecosystem that Jio Platforms has envisaged as the way forward.
Dell finally announced the new XPS notebook lineup to India last week. The company’s premium laptop range has been regarded as one of the highest recommended products in the past few years, and not without good reason. They really pushed the benchmark for laptops in the Windows 10 ecosystem, across pretty much all metrics. Be it design, slimness, the use of premium materials, performance, slimming bezels and more. Much of that remains as is. Judging by the looks and specifications of the latest Dell XPS 2020 series, the company might continue its streak. But remember, the competition is now tougher than it probably has ever been for XPS series, not just in the Windows 10 laptop space but also with the Apple MacBook Pro line-up proving to be just the alternative many users may prefer.
Having laid out the landscape for the 2020 updates of the Dell XPS series of laptops, there are a few things I want to talk about. First of all, the XPS range is quintessentially the perfect rival for the Apple MacBook Pro. Dell never openly says that, but it seems pretty obvious. The XPS 13 takes on the MacBook Pro 13 while the XPS 15 tries to take on the MacBook Pro 15 and now the MacBook Pro 16. For that, the company has the XPS 17 which makes a comeback after 10 long years. Of course, the particular model from the series hasn’t been launched in India just yet for some reason, but let’s leave that for a separate rant.
Now in comparison, the new XPS 2020 range seems to be at par with the latest Apple MacBook Pro range as far as the specs are concerned. Of course, Apple has some extra tricks up its sleeve and in hindsight offers superior packaging in many ways. Dell has done its best and offers one of the best displays on any Windows laptop and an original design that it has been perfecting over the years. I really appreciate Dell as they seem to surprise me almost every year with their refreshed models. This year, however, I couldn’t appreciate one big factor, the price.
The new XPS 13 is priced at Rs 1,44,807 for the Intel 10th-Gen Core i5 model with a Full HD+ display and a whopping Rs 2,10,990 for the Core i7 model with the QHD+ screen. That is some admittedly some crazy pricing, for the 13-inch variant, especially for a machine that has no discrete graphics card. At this time, you can get the MacBook Pro 13 for upwards of Rs 1,15,000 depending on the deals and offers that you can snare, which makes the price difference even bigger. Spec for spec, give or take.
The XPS 15 range on the other hand starts at Rs 1,86,072 for the Core i7, fullHD+ display, and Rs 2,13,990 for the same Core i7, but more RAM, storage and a QHD+ display. There is no Core i5 option nor the top of the line Core i9, which is yet again quite disappointing. If this was designed to be a proper powerhouse, at least the Core i9 option could have been made available. The XPS 17, which was probably the most exciting product of the lineup, hasn’t been introduced in the country. This was yet again quite upsetting as I was looking forward to it, although Dell says ‘wait for it’ hinting a possible launch in the latter half of the year.
I completely understand that the Rupee vs Dollar conversion rates hasn’t been kind to tech companies, but the kind of pricing that Dell has slapped on the latest XPS laptops makes it difficult for me to not suggest an Apple MacBook Pro to someone looking for a premium and powerful notebook. And it is not just the MacBooks, because there are many worthy gaming notebooks as well as premium laptops at this price point that would eat the XPS range for breakfast. Particularly the entry spec variants of the Dell XPS 13, which will see competition from the likes of the HP Spectre series and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon.
Having said that, I think that the new XPS range is still THE best looking, premium Windows notebook that you can buy today in India. The aluminum metal chassis, the carbon fiber weave on the deck, and that gorgeous display with those super-slim bezels are just something that you cannot ignore. But remember, Dell aren’t the only ones doing this on laptops now. I am currently reviewing the new XPS 15 and honestly, I absolutely love the machine. Stay tuned for the full review on News18.
Intel has officially released information on the new Thunderbolt 4 standard which aims to push the universal connectivity to a new level. Announced first at CES 2020, the new standard continues to rely on the USB Type-C connector and will be backward compatible with Thunderbolt 3.
The new Thunderbolt 4 will offer the ability to transfer data along with power delivery over a single connection and complies to USB 4, DisplayPort, and PCI Express (PCIe) standards as well. Similar to Thunderbolt 3, It is claimed to deliver 40Gbps data transfer speeds. What’s new is that it is now upgraded to support two 4K display connectivity as well as PCIe support at 32Gbps. It will also allow docks to now offer up to four ports, whereas hardware OEMs were earlier limited to a maximum of two Thunderbolt ports.
For security, Thunderbolt 4 also requires Intel VT-d based direct memory access (DMA) protection to prevent physical DMA attacks. PCs featuring the new Thunderbolt 4 ports are expected to arrive later this year. Intel has also made it mandatory for manufacturers to have charging support on at least one Thunderbolt 4 port provided that the system requires less than 100 watts for charging.
Intel’s Tiger Lake mobile processors will be the first to integrate Thunderbolt 4, although Thunderbolt 4 controller 8000 series will also bring the new experience to various existing Thunderbolt 3 PCs and accessories. Apart from Intel’s own Project Athena, Lenovo has confirmed that it will be one of the early adopters of the new Thunderbolt 4 standard.