Arm-based chips are ubiquitous today, but the company isn’t resting on its laurels. After announcing its ambitions for powering more high-end devices like laptops a few months ago, the company today discussed its roadmap for chips that are dedicated to internet infrastructure and that will power everything from high-performance servers to edge computing platforms, storage systems, gateways, 5G base stations and routers. The new brand name for these products is ‘Neoverse’ and the first products based on this IP will ship next year.
Arm-based chips have, of course, long been used in this space. What Neoverse is, is a new focus area where Arm itself will now invest in developing the technologies to tailor these chips to the specific workloads that come with running infrastructure services. “We’ve had a lot of success in this area,” Drew Henry, Arms’ SVP and GM for Infrastructure, told me. “And we decided to build off that and to invest more heavily in our R&D from ourselves and our ecosystem.”
As with all Arm architectures, the actual chip manufacturers can then adapt these to their own needs. That may be a high core-count system for high-end servers, for example, or a system that includes a custom accelerator for networking and security workloads. The Neoverse chips themselves have also been optimized for the ever-changing data patterns and scalability requirements that come with powering a modern internet infrastructure.
The company has already lined up a large number of partners that include large cloud computing providers like Microsoft, silicon partners like Samsung and software partners that range from RedHat, Canonical, Suse and Oracle on the operating system side to container and virtualization players like Docker and the Kubernetes team.
Come 2019, Arm expects that Neoverse systems will feature 7nm CPUs. By 2020, it expects that will shrink to 5nm. What’s more important, though, is that every new generation of these chips, which will arrive at an annual cadence, will be 30 percent faster.
Xiaomi Redmi K40 Pro flaunts Snapdragon 888 and a shocking price tag
Although it is Qualcomm’s best bet for 2021, very few phones so far carry its Snapdragon 888 chipset. Those that do also have rather high price tags, including the Xiaomi Mi 11 to some extent. The Chinese smartphone superstar, however, isn’t done with the Snapdragon 888 just yet and, at least for certain markets, it may have an even better offer in the guise of the Redmi K40 Pro and Redmi K40 Pro+.
The base Redmi K40 is actually the first of the brand’s K-series to use a Snapdragon 8-series processor. That said, Redmi opted for the Snapdragon 870 here instead, reserving the Snapdragon 888 for the “Pro” models. Both, of course, are 5G-capable and few users might see much difference between the two in real-world use.
The Redmi K40, Redmi K40 Pro, and Redmi K40 Pro+ do share many things in common, particularly the 6.67-inch Samsung E4 AMOLED display with a 2400×1080 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. This screen has a punch-hole cutout in the middle, hiding a single 20MP camera common to all three. The siblings also have the same 4,520 mAh battery that supports 33W wired fast charging and no wireless charging capabilities at all.
They naturally differ in some aspects, particularly the cameras. While they share the same 8MP ultra-wide and 5MP telemacro cameras, only the Redmi K40 Pro+ boasts of having a 108MP Samsung ISOCELL HM2. The Redmi K40 Pro gets a 64MP Sony IMX686 while the Redmi K40 settles for a 48MP Sony IMX582.
As with many Redmi phones, price is where it’s at. The Redmi K40 Pro+, with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, goes for 3,699 RMB ($570), lower than an equivalent Xiaomi Mi 11 at 4,699 RMB ($727). Of course, the Xiaomi Mi 11 has more features and some better hardware but the Redmi K40 Pro+ definitely covers the basics already. Xiaomi also announced the Redmi AirDots 3 for 199 RMB ($31) that will be launching on March 4 in China along with the Redmi K40 series.
Wear OS “OK, Google” bug is finally getting a fix soon
Smartwatches are rather curious little gadgets that are like miniaturized and watered-down versions of our smartwatches. For better or worse, that means that smartwatches can’t really use the same interaction conventions and UIs that are almost second nature on smartphones. While touch screens and buttons are always an option, Google has been pushing for more hands-free controls on Wear OS using Google Assistant. Unfortunately, an important part of the process has been broken for months before the company committed to working on a fix.
If Google’s vision is to be followed, smartwatches will primarily be controlled by voice with the screen simply providing visual feedback in addition to spoken responses. Google Assistant is perfect for that role and there are multiple ways to call it up on your wrist. The most convenient is, of course, to literally call it up with “OK, Google” or “Hey, Google” but, unfortunately, that is also the most broken method at the moment.
Users have been complaining that the wake words just don’t work on their Wear OS smartwatches, no matter the brand. It has apparently been the case since November last year but there are also claims that the problem was present even back in June 2020. During that period, Google has seemingly been silent, which naturally caused a lot of disappointment among Wear OS users.
The good news is that Google is no longer silent. It told The Verge that it is aware of users reporting issues and will work with its partners to address those. It doesn’t explain, however, why it took so long for it to even respond to the numerous and loud complaints.
Google also hasn’t given a timeline for the availability of the fix, which could still take weeks or even months. Unfortunately, the incident has opened up old wounds about the state of Wear OS and the dissatisfaction users have over its development or lack of it.
Galaxy Tab S7 Lite 5G specs give weight to its name
The tablet market today is mostly dominated by Apple’s iPads and only a few Android manufacturers have stuck to that device category through thick and thin. Samsung is arguably the biggest of those, launching a few tablets across different price tiers. Rumor has it that it has at least two more coming soon headed for the mid-range market. One of those may have appeared on a benchmark site showing that the Galaxy Tab S7 Lite 5G might indeed be light in almost every sense.
Samsung doesn’t always put out “lite” versions of its tablets and when it does, it doesn’t always use the same naming scheme. There was a Galaxy Tab S6 Lite last year but that was preceded by a Galaxy Tab S5e. Curiously, there was no “non-lite” Galaxy Tab S5.
There were rumors that a Galaxy Tab S7 Lite would be coming and, based on the most recent leak, it would have some heavyweight features like a large 12.4-inch screen and 5G connectivity. The latter, however, is no longer exclusive to high-end and expensive devices thanks to Qualcomm’s numerous 5G-capable chips and that seems to be the case with the mid-range version of last year’s high-end Samsung tablet.
Spotted on Geekbench is an entry for a certain SM-T736B, believed to either be the Galaxy Tab S7 Lite or a Galaxy Tab S8e. Although the entry doesn’t actually name the processor, MySmartPrice suggests that the specs, like the 2.21 GHz clock speed and Adreno 619 GPU, point to a Snapdragon 750G chipset. This is indeed one of Qualcomm’s mid-range processors capable of 5G connectivity.
The site also puts 3.28GB RAM in the tablet, which could either be 4GB or even 3.5GB in reality. The scores that this device gets on Geekbench aren’t exactly reassuring, especially for a tablet with a large screen and fast data connectivity.
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