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Intel brings i9 to laptops

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Intel last week unveiled a mobile range of its powerful Core i9 series processors. The new line-up brings desktop performance to laptops, writes BRYAN TURNER.

Since Intel’s announcement of the first Core i9 processors in early 2017, consumers have considered it to be desktop-exclusive, because of the power it requires to operate. At a global event in Beijing, Intel claimed that the Core i9 series for laptops will deliver the best gaming and content creation that the market has ever seen.

The new 8th generation Core i9, i7, and i5 processors for laptops are based on the Coffee Lake platform, which brings up to 41% more frames per second in gameplay and a 59% speed increase in rendering 4K video, compared to the previous Kaby Lake mobile processors.

The new processors compete directly with AMD’s mobile lineup. Last year’s launch of the AMD Ryzen series of processors gave Intel’s rival a massive lead in mobile processing power.

The top-of-the-range Core i9 for laptop processors are the first mobile processors to use 6 cores and 12 threads.

This means that software can make use of an additional 2 cores and 4 threads, compared to the previous top-of-the-range Core i7 series. This translates into more processing power and faster performance.

This level of processing will only be economically viable to consumers who need to make heavy use of mobile gaming or video editing while on the go. Intel also only allows utilisation of the processor’s full 4.8GHz if the laptop is in a well-ventilated area and is plugged in to charge. Without this, Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost will not kick in.

The 8th generation Core i5+, i7+, and i9+ processors represent the Intel Core extension platform, which allows external chipsets to develop Intel-approved processor extensions for specific applications. This extension platform is powered by Intel’s Optane memory extension, which provides on-demand acceleration of everyday tasks. 

The implementation of Optane memory in the previous generation of processors has shown a browser launch speed increase of up to 5 times and a Microsoft Office program launch speed increase of up to 3.8 times. This high performance is described by Intel as revolutionary, because acceleration is exclusively on-demand and does not affect the battery life of the laptop.

Intel is shifting a large amount of its processor attention to mobile computing, as the demand grows for mobile gaming and streaming those games from non-desktop environments. This shift in attention has been welcomed by the PC gaming industry, says Intel, as it has a track record of delivering sharp and immersive graphics experiences on desktop computers.

However, gaming is not the focus of Intel’s offerings for the Core i9 for laptop processors. Editing and rendering of 4K video, digital publications, digital art, and other digital content creation have quickly moved to the mobile space. Creators of this content are finding themselves less and less behind desktop computers and interacting with their colleagues and clients on the go. Intel is tapping into this market with the Core i9’s graphics delivery, with desktop-grade VR experiences on a mobile device.

Intel’s chipsets have also been improved, with the introduction of the Intel 300 Series Chipset, bringing on-board gigabit AC Wi-Fi. This chipset has a Wi-Fi transceiver that is twice as fast as the previous series chipset. This is huge step forward for local area networks which need to transfer files quickly, but the average home network infrastructure will not yet be able to maximize this chip’s potential. For example, MWEB’s current offering of gigabit fibre-to-the-home, which will match the Wi-Fi card’s speed, costs R2500 per month – unlikely to gain much consumer uptake in the short term.

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Huawei Mate 20 Pro matches camera benchmark record

A benchmark by DxOMark sees the triple-cam handset tie with the P20 Pro for best smartphone camera on the market.

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The Huawei Mate 20 Pro has come out top in a camera benchmark test that assesses all aspects of smartphone camera performance.

DxOMark, which conducts rigorous hardware testing and is trusted as an industry standard for image quality measurements, has just released the results of its in-depth analysis of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone camera. 

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the Chinese manufacturer’s latest top-end device. Building on the P20 Pro’s camera technology, the Mate 20 Pro comes with a Leica-branded triple-camera setup, but swaps its stable-mate’s monochrome camera for a super-wide-angle module, offering a 35mm-equivalent focal length range from 16 to 80mm—the widest of all current smartphone cameras.

The handset is in direct competition with the Apple iPhone XS Max, the Google Pixel 3 XL, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, among other. How does it fare?

“With a total photo score of 114, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro ties the record-setting score of its cousin, the P20 Pro,” says DxOMark. “The overall Photo score is calculated from sub-scores in tests that examine different aspects of its performance under different lighting conditions.”

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro achieves a photo score of 114 points. In stills mode, the Mate 20 Pro’s triple camera captures images with good target exposure and a wide dynamic range, recording both good highlight and shadow detail even in difficult high-contrast situations. Noise levels are well under control down to low light levels, and the camera’s white balance system and colour rendering settings produce a pleasant colour response in almost all circumstances.

At 97 points, the Mate 20 Pro is very close to the best for video as well, thanks to a fast and smooth autofocus system with good tracking performance, accurate white balance as well as pleasant colour rendering, and low levels of noise, especially in bright shooting conditions. Our testers also liked the exposure system’s ability to adapt quickly and smoothly to changes in illumination.

It was not all good news. DxOMark also had some criticism for the device.

Click here to read about the drawbacks of the Mate 20 Pro camera, and other positives.

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SA car wins
Dakar Rally

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The final stage of Dakar 2019 drew to a close at the bivouac in Pisco, Peru, and saw Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel bring home their South African-built Toyota Hilux for an historic victory. Not only was it a first win for Toyota, but it was also the first petrol-powered car to win the Dakar in the South-American era.

The Qatari driver ensured his French navigator, who turned 43 years old on Thursday, 17 January, received a great birthday present, when the pair arrived at the final time control of Dakar 2019 with teammates Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in close formation. The two Toyota Hilux crews completed the entire stage together, as De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz waited nearly 55 minutes for the leaders to start the stage, in order to shadow them to the finish.

The emotions bubbled over for Team Principal Glyn Hall, who found himself without words as his two crews drove into the media area after the time control. “This victory was long overdue,” he finally managed, before being swamped in a sea of well-wishers.

The winning driver, however, was much more vocal: “We are so happy to win the Dakar – not only for ourselves, but also for Toyota and the entire Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team. Everyone has worked so hard for so long, and really deserve this. Thank you for letting us drive this car.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA led Dakar 2019 from the first to the last stage, with Al Attiyah/Baumel drawing first blood, before handing the mantle to De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz during stage 2. But then a disastrous Stage 3 saw the Qatari retake the lead – a lead he didn’t relinquish despite some of the toughest stages yet seen on any South-American Dakar.

“When we first heard that the rally was going to take place only in one country, we were skeptical,” said Hall after regaining composure. “But the organisers made sure that this year’s race will long be remembered as one of the toughest tests in the last decade.”

Al Attiyah / Baumel’s victory at Dakar 2019 means that Toyota Gazoo Racing has now won both of the world’s toughest automotive races – the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the DakarRally.

Click here to read Glyn Hall’s comment on winning the Dakar Rally, as well as the rankings.

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