Computex in Taipei is the annual gathering spot for the wider PC industry to show off its latest and best innovations. It’s the place to exchange and discuss ideas about the future of personal computing, often used as the launch platform for daring new concept designs and high-spec hype machines. Stay tuned here to be kept informed on all the latest from the 2018 edition of the show, highlighted by Asus’ gamer-centric ROG Phone and Nvidia’s new AI computer dedicated to robotics.
Jun 7, 2018
Gaming and Android have never been bigger. Nvidia’s CEO said at Computex this week that he fully expects every person on the planet to eventually be a gamer, and Android phones have taken over from Windows PCs as the most-used method for humans to access the web. Putting the two together in a new product, then, would seem to be an instant winner, and that’s what Asus has tried to do with its Computex announcement of a new Republic of Gamers Android phone. But is there any reason to expect its fate would be any different to all the previous Android gaming phones that already crashed and burned?Read Article >
The answer is complicated. Mobile gaming is undoubtedly on fire, with China’s Honor of Kings commanding an audience of some 200 million monthly players. Gaming overall has gotten a shot in the arm from the battle royale genre: Nvidia boss Jensen Huang credited games like PUBG and Fortnite with bringing 10 million more PC gamers to the family of GeForce users in the space of just eight months. PUBG is already available on Android and Fortnite is coming later this summer. So the hunger for Android gaming is real, and there’s room for a phone to distinguish itself by being the best at that task.
Jun 6, 2018
It's been over two years since Nvidia launched its current generation of GeForce gaming GPUs powered by the Pascal architecture, so you could have been forgiven for expecting the successor to have surfaced around Computex this week. According to CEO Jensen Huang, however, there's still a while to wait. Speaking to reporters at a roundtable in Taipei, Huang answered a query about the next GeForce GPUs by saying that “it's a long time from now.”Read Article >
The question is particularly pertinent because GPUs have represented extremely poor value for money of late due to the cryptocurrency boom skyrocketing prices. Things have settled down somewhat, but you're still likely to find yourself paying a lot of money for two-year-old technology if you want a GTX 1080, for example.
Jun 6, 2018
Microsoft is launching a new type of conference room display at Computex this week. While the software giant manufactures its own Surface Hub, its partnering with other display makers to create Windows Collaboration Displays. The displays simply hook up to existing Windows 10 PCs in businesses, and include built-in sensors that connect to Microsoft’s new Azure IoT spatial intelligence features. The sensors will detect presence in a room, so they could let a businesses improve how a room is heated or cooled, and to more efficiently manage room-booking systems.Read Article >
The displays are high resolution, multi-touch, and support stylus input just like you’d find on a Surface Hub. Microsoft is even certifying that the displays have far-field microphones for features like Cortana, and a camera is attached for video conferencing through Microsoft Teams or other software.
Jun 6, 2018
Mere hours after Intel raised eyebrows with the promise of a 5GHz 28-core processor, AMD has done four cores better with its own tease of a 32-core chip. The second generation of AMD’s Threadripper processors will have a truly extreme variant that straps four 8-core Ryzen dies together to form a unified, humongous 32-core part. This “heavy metal” Threadripper can handle 64 processing threads at a time, doubling the core count and capabilities of the original Threadripper, though it can still fit in the same motherboard socket as the first generation.Read Article >
The only other details that AMD disclosed here at Computex were that the second-gen Threadripper will be built using a 12nm process and will be available to buy in the third quarter of this year.
Jun 5, 2018
Rainbow-colored RGB-lit RAM isn’t new in the world of computing. Companies like Trident have already bravely infused memory sticks with glowing lights going as far back as 2016.Read Article >
Gigabyte, which announced that it will get into the RAM business at Computex this year, is taking things even further. It’s selling light-up LED-infused RAM that doesn’t even have any RAM in it.
Jun 5, 2018
Intel has started teasing a 28-core processor for PCs at Computex this week. The chipmaker briefly demonstrated the processor onstage today, promising that it will be available later this year. Intel isn’t revealing the mystery processor’s process technology or architecture, but a spokesperson did reveal it’s a single-socket processor with 28 cores running at 5GHz. Intel demonstrated a Cinebench score of 7,334, an impressive result for a single processor PC.Read Article >
Intel is promising to turn this processor into a real product, and if it manages to do so for workstations or even consumer PCs, it will put it way ahead of AMD in the multicore battle. AMD’s Threadripper chips include 16 cores and 32 threads, and Intel also has its own Core i9 Extreme with 18 cores. Intel’s 18-core chip is priced at $1,999, so it’s reasonable to assume a 28-core processor is going to be priced way beyond $2,000.
40 years after releasing its historic 8086 processor, the one that got the x86 architecture started, Intel today announced a special limited edition anniversary processor called the Core i7-8086K. This new 8th-gen Core chip maxes out at a dizzying 5GHz turbo frequency, with a default 4GHz clock speed out of the box. Intel is releasing the new Core i7 part on June 8th, the exact anniversary of the 8086’s release. Being a K-series processor, the Core i7-8086K also has its multiplier unlocked and is ready for overclocking to even more extreme speeds, should you feel the need.Read Article >
To maximize hype around this release, Intel is going to be giving away 8,086 Core i7-8086K chips, though the company hasn’t yet disclosed a price if you want to buy one.
Jun 5, 2018
5G PCs are supposedly coming soon, and today we’re learning a bit more about where you’ll be able to get them. In a joint announcement, Sprint said today that it’ll be offering 5G PCs next year powered by Intel’s chips.Read Article >
Two additional companies also said today that they’ll be building Intel-powered 5G PCs: Acer and Asus. That brings the total number of companies — which already includes Microsoft, Dell, HP, and Lenovo — up to six. Those companies are all supposed to release 5G laptops and 2-in-1s at some point next year.
At Computex today, Intel made a brief but potentially momentous announcement: it’s developed new power management technology for mobile displays that can cut battery consumption in half under some circumstances. The company didn’t go into the details of how its Intel Low Power Display Technology works, but it’s a combined effort with Sharp and Innolux, who are manufacturing the 1W LCD panel required for it. Sadly, you wouldn’t be able to retrofit this battery life extender into your existing laptop. Another requirement is that you’d have to use Intel’s graphics instead of Nvidia or AMD’s superior alternatives.Read Article >
Even with the inevitable caveats, and without assuming that this will magically double the battery life of your future laptop or 2-in-1, this new technology is exciting. Intel rightly points out that the display is the biggest battery drain on any mobile device, so figuring out ways to improve its power efficiency is always a welcome change. Now it’s just a matter of waiting to see exactly how big of an improvement this is in practice with real-world devices.
Jun 5, 2018
Asus has announced the ZenBook S, an ultraportable laptop with a unique hinge design. The company calls it ErgoLift, and it angles the keyboard at 5.5 degrees, which is supposed to be more comfortable during long periods of typing. The hinge also helps with the laptop's cooling system by offering more clearance from the surface below.Read Article >
That's probably for the best because Asus has crammed U-series Core i7 or i5 processors into the Zenbook S' 12.9mm-thick frame, which weighs 1 kg (2.2 pounds). The display is 13.3 inches with options for 4K and 1080p resolutions, and the slim bezels offer a screen-to-body ratio of 85 percent. Physical connectivity is handled entirely by three USB-C ports — two with Thunderbolt 3 — and a headphone jack.
Unveiled at Computex 2018, the Asus ZenBook Pro is the new pinnacle of Asus’ premium laptop range, and it comes with an attention-grabbing new feature: a smartphone-sized touchscreen in the place of the regular touchpad. I got to grips with the two ZenBook Pro models and their so-called ScreenPads here in Taipei, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well implemented and potentially useful this apparent gimmick feature is.Read Article >
Unlike Apple’s limited and unhelpful MacBook Pro Touch Bar, the Asus ScreenPad doesn’t take anything useful away like physical keys. It resides exactly where the laptop’s touchpad usually does, and it works exactly as a regular touchpad does. But the ScreenPad is “the world’s first smart touchpad,” in Asus’ words, because it can also serve as a multifunctional touch-enabled display, a sort of dumbed-down smartphone that’s integrated with your Windows PC.
Jun 5, 2018
Qualcomm has announced a new processor specifically designed for Windows 10 Always Connected PCs. The new Snapdragon 850 succeeds the Snapdragon 835 used in the first Always Connected PCs and offers improved performance, connectivity, and battery life. The Always Connected PC platform is Microsoft and Qualcomm’s answer to the iPad Pro. It features ARM processors, integrated LTE, long battery life, and an instant-on resume with no hibernation.Read Article >
The Snapdragon 850, which Qualcomm says will only be used in PCs and will not make its way to phones, is essentially a customized version of the Snapdragon 845 that debuted in phones earlier this year. The improvements that it brings to the Always Connected PC platform are in line with that: it has a claimed 30 percent performance improvement, 20 percent better battery life, and 20 percent faster peak gigabit data speeds over the Snapdragon 835. The Snapdragon 850 is built on the same second-generation 10nm process as the 845, and it’s paired with the same X20 modem for cellular connectivity. Qualcomm says the 850 includes both hardware and software tuning to make it better at performing PC activities compared to the Snapdragon 845.
Jun 4, 2018
Asus has announced a gaming headset called the ROG Delta Type-C, which as the name implies, sports a type-C USB connector. It also comes with a type-A adapter for backwards compatibility to legacy ports.Read Article >
Inside, the headset has a quad-DAC array that splits the sound, with each DAC devoted to a frequency range: lows from 20-150Hz, mids from 150-5,000Hz, highs from 5,000-20,000Hz, and ultrahighs from 20,000-40,000Hz. These four signals are then combined, and Asus says the resulting SNR (signal to noise ratio — a comparison of the level of signal power to the level of background noise) is 127dB. Complementing the DACs are 50mm Essence drivers, the same seen on Asus’ Strix Fusion gaming headset.
Jun 4, 2018
The ROG Balteus is Asus’ latest mousing surface. (Obviously, such a masterwork of technology can’t be labeled as a mere pedestrian “mouse pad.”) It’s designed for gamers, and it has the added bonus of an integrated Qi charger.Read Article >
Aside from the added features, the ROG Balteus also ditches the regular landscape design for a taller portrait layout. Asus says that should help players use their mice more comfortably without having to shift around the mouse pad as much. I’m not entirely sure that’s true, but at 37 centimeters tall (over 14.5 inches) by 32 centimeters wide (around 12.5 inches), it certainly seems like there will be more usable space.
Jun 4, 2018
Asus has announced a pair of new ROG gaming laptops that are basically the same thing tweaked for players of two different genres. The Strix Scar II is aimed at FPS players, while the Strik Hero II targets MOBA fans; what this means in practice is that the former has white WASD keys, and the latter has white QWER keys, along with slightly different finishes on the casing. (The Scar II looks like Kevlar, because bullets.) Otherwise the two share the same RGB-clad chassis, housing a screen that takes the Dell XPS approach to shaving down bezels: three skinny sides with a chunky bottom chin and inconveniently placed webcam.Read Article >
Both laptops have six-core Intel Coffee Lake Core i7-8750H or Core i5-8300H processors, 15.6-inch 144Hz 1080p “IPS-level” displays, up to 32GB of RAM, and the same array of ports including USB-A, USB-C, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, Ethernet, a headphone jack, and an SD card reader. The standard GPU is a GTX 1060, though the Scar II can be fitted with a 1070. The Hero II, meanwhile, has an option for a 60Hz display. Each laptop is 26mm (1 inch) thick and weighs 2.4 kg (5.3 lbs).
Asus is starting off Computex 2018 on a high-spec note with the announcement of its ROG Phone. Bearing the Republic of Gamers branding and an unmistakably gamer-oriented design, the ROG Phone is Asus’ answer to the Razer Phone. This is the second phone after Razer’s to offer a 90Hz display — meaning its screen refreshes 90 times per second, delivering smoother animations — and Asus throws in the added bit of gamer pride by powering each ROG Phone with a specially selected 2.96GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip. Yes, these will definitely be the fastest Snapdragons around.Read Article >
I got to see engineering samples of the ROG Phone for myself here at Computex, and I walked away feeling more impressed by the actual hardware than I expected, though the premise of an Android smartphone for hardcore gamers still feels like it’s off the mark. Android doesn’t have any games demanding enough to tax the regular Snapdragon 845, never mind an overclocked variant with vapor cooling and a special attachable fan accessory, which is what the ROG Phone offers. What I see in this device is a bizarre transplantation of the traditional PC gamer’s aesthetic and performance priorities into the mobile realm. Even as I question who this device might be for, I am also deeply intrigued by its design, customizations, and deluge of gaming-centric attachments.
Jun 4, 2018
Chip designer Nvidia has been an integral part of the recent AI renaissance, providing the processors that power much of the field’s research and development. Now, it’s looking to the future. At Computex 2018, it unveiled two new products: Nvidia Isaac, a new developer platform, and the Jetson Xavier, an AI computer, both built to power autonomous robots.Read Article >
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said Isaac and Jetson Xavier were designed to capture the next stage of AI innovation as it moves from software running in the cloud to robots that navigate the real world. “AI, in combination with sensors and actuators, will be the brain of a new generation of autonomous machines,” said Huang. “Someday, there will be billions of intelligent machines in manufacturing, home delivery, warehouse logistics and much more.”
Computex has always been the Wintel show.Read Article >
Before the age of Android-running, Qualcomm-powered smartphones, the dominant software-hardware combo in the world of personal computing was that of Microsoft’s Windows OS and Intel’s CPUs. But now Microsoft is preparing for a post-Windows future and Intel is scrambling to figure out what else it can do beside baking chips for a satiated audience of PC users. So what does that mean for Computex, the annual Taipei-based showcase of the latest innovations in the Intel-Windows ecosystem? It means change.