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New Qualcomm chips to power gaming, AI, cameras

Qualcomm Technologies has introduced the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 675  Mobile Platform.

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The Snapdragon 675 offers great gaming, a leap in artificial intelligence (AI) capability and a good camera. Premium features in the Snapdragon 675 are enabled by the Qualcomm AI Engine, Qualcomm Spectra ISP, Qualcomm Kryo CPU and Qualcomm Adreno GPU.
“The Snapdragon 675 plays a primary role in allowing OEMs to design next generation features with incredible performance into their upcoming smartphones,” said Kedar Kondap, vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies. “Packed with advanced gaming abilities, remarkable camera performance and a multi-core AI Engine, Snapdragon 675 based smartphones will bring new experiences to consumers globally.”
The Snapdragon 675 Mobile Platform provides new architectures and performance improvements over the Snapdragon 670 in the following areas:
 – Gaming: The most advanced games demand a lot out of a smartphone, which is where the Snapdragon mobile platform’s heterogeneous compute advantage comes into play, with Snapdragon 675 designed to deliver a high frame-rate and a smooth gaming experience. Qualcomm Technologies is working with game developers to deliver next level gaming experiences to the 600 tier. A number of specific games and game engines have been optimized including Unity, Unreal, Messiah and NeoX. Qualcomm Technologies also supports popular tools and APIs, including Vulkan, OpenGL 3.2, OpenCL, and Snapdragon profiler.
 – Capture: Unleashing the power of the Qualcomm Spectra 200 series ISP, Snapdragon 675 is designed to enable smartphone users to capture images and videos in professional-grade quality during the day and night, in slow-motion and with the help of AI. Snapdragon 675 supports a triple camera configuration in the front or back, supporting features such as telephoto, wide angle, and super-wide image capture, as well as enhanced portrait mode (Bokeh), 3D face unlock and ‘epic’ selfies. Additionally, Snapdragon 675 provides limitless slo-mo – capable of recording extended slo-mo video clips in HD, not limited to one second or shorter bursts.
 – Artificial Intelligence: Snapdragon 675 Mobile Platform with a multi-core AI Engine is engineered to deliver up to 50% overall improvements in AI applications. The multi-core AI Engine is designed to improve mobile devices’ ability to acquire information and become the ultimate personal assistant by capturing photos and videos, learning and adapting to a user’s voice, and optimizing battery life. Through heterogenous computing, the Hexagon DSP, Adreno GPU, and Kryo CPU– are engineered to work cooperatively to run AI applications on-device faster and more efficiently. Additional AI use cases supported on Snapdragon 675 include camera (scene and object detection, image style transfer, portrait relighting), security (face unlock, payment security), voice and translation. Global ISVs also support the platform including Megvii (Face++), NetEase, SenseTime, Thundersoft, and Trio.AI.
Beyond the enhancements to bolster gaming, camera and AI experiences, Snapdragon 675 includes:
 – DSP security designed to provide superior protection when unlocking a device via face recognition
 – Snapdragon X12 modem supports downlink speeds up to 600Mbps and 3x carrier aggregation
 – Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ is capable of charging a smartphone battery from zero to 50% in 15 minutes
 – Support for Qualcomm Aqstic and Qualcomm aptX audio technologies

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ASUS puts more screen into gaming

While others battle over the thinnest bezel for maximizing screen space, ASUS released a dual screen laptop that uses the space where one’s palms would usually rest, writes BRYAN TURNER

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When one imagines dual screen, it’s usually two screens side-by-side on a desk, providing a horizontally long desktop experience. There have been clunky dual screen laptops in the past, some that folded out horizontally, but these never really caught the attention of the consumer.  

Enter Asus with the ROG Zephyrus Duo 15. Like the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, the ROG Zephyrus Duo features two screens – the main screen on the top panel (as we’re all used to) and another screen just below that, where the top of the keyboard would usually be. The main difference is the secondary screen pops out at a 13-degree angle to bridge the gap between the two screens, and to give better viewing angles.  

That ZenBook Pro Duo is also a pretty good machine for gaming, because it features Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics, but it doesn’t have the latest graphics. With the new machine, Asus is one of the first manufacturers to release a laptop featuring Nvidia’s latest RTX 2080 Super Max Q GPU for mobile devices. This is a momentous feat, considering that not only are the external features  cutting edge, but also the internals. 

The main panel is configured to be either 4K 60Hz or 1080p 300Hz. The former is most likely going to be picked up by video editors and photoshop gurus, because it covers 100% of the Adobe RBG colour space, and the latter will appeal to gamers who want to see their high frame rates in action. Both panels are Pantone Colour Calibrated for high colour accuracy. 

The secondary panel features a 32:9 resolution, which is equal to putting two standard 16:9 widescreen panels together. The touchscreen panel outputs a 3840 x 1100 resolution at 60Hz.  

The combination of these panels will be ideal for portable gamers. The main game can be on the main panel, while Discord and game streaming software can be on the secondary panel, all at a glance. Not to mention the game developers that have support for two screens, where the second screen highlights stats and other components that had to be crammed into the main screen’s space.   

On the inside, the laptop features liquid metal cooling, which lowers the temperatures by 8°C and allows the computer to function with less fan noise. Asus has also slipped some very interesting cooling tech behind the secondary panel, when it pops open, to maximise airflow into the computer from both the bottom and the top of the device. 

The laptop features the biggest battery Asus has yet put in a computer, at 90Wh. This is incredibly close to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA’s) limit of 100Wh batteries being allowed on flights to the US. Fortunately, this computer can be taken around the world if necessary. 

These computers will come in two variants of 10th Generation Intel processors, namely the i9-10980HK or i7-10875H. They support up to 2 M.2 NVMe PCIE 3 slots for SSDs. 

The new ROG gaming range from Asus will be available later this year. The price of the computer has not yet been confirmed

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Vodacom, Discovery launch free virtual COVID-19 tests

Vodacom and Discovery have teamed up to launch free virtual COVID-19 testing for all South Africans – not only for their customers.

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Vodacom and Discovery have partnered to deliver a powerful online healthcare platform for the benefit of all South Africans during the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform provides easy access to a COVID-19 risk tool for all South Africans, to help understand your personal risk for COVID-19. Where needed, it assists immediately to schedule virtual healthcare professional consultations and get advice.

Globally, telemedicine has proved to be vital in the management of this disease, with many governments and healthcare systems advocating for digital healthcare tools and virtual consults to be the first step and primary means of healthcare support during the COVID-19 outbreak. The risk assessment and virtual healthcare tools can help to identify people who need health professional engagement and a potential referral for testing or to a hospital.

The online healthcare platform therefore makes it possible for South Africans to access a healthcare professional without them having to travel to a healthcare facility.

This reduces overcrowding at clinics and doctors’ rooms where there is greater risk of the virus spreading. It also protects healthcare professionals from potential repeated exposure to COVID-19.

It is free to use and available on any web browser or mobile phone to facilitate a full consultation with a doctor, either through video calls, voice calls, or by text. The service can be accessed by visiting either the Discovery or Vodacom websites. Vodacom customers can get additional information and do a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111#.

Through a partnership with Vodacom, Discovery’s existing DrConnect platform, which was previously available only to Discovery clients, is now accessible to all South Africans. Vodacom and Discovery have also jointly created a fund to pay doctors for approximately 100,000 consultations, making them free to any South African.

There are seven easy steps to use an online doctor consultation:

  1. Start the process by visiting Discovery’s COVID-19 information hub or Vodacom’s website. Members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme can access the service through the Discovery app. Vodacom customers can get additional information and do a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111#.
  2. Utilise the COVID-19 self-screening risk assessment tool, by answering a few easy questions.
  3. If you are confirmed as high risk of having COVID-19, a short registration and consent process on the DrConnect app will follow.
  4. Book a virtual consultation with a doctor who is available to assess the need for COVID-19 testing.
  5. If the doctor recommends testing, a photo of the completed pathology form will be sent to you by SMS, WhatsApp or email. The same process will apply to scripts for medicine.
  6. Testing and collecting of medicine will be facilitated by the relevant essential healthcare service providers that you must visit.
  7. Doctors will receive test results electronically and can then advise if you should schedule follow-up appointments to discuss results and next steps.

The Vodacom COVID-19 information hub contains other up-to-date information for consumers about COVID-19.

With virtual consultations, the location of the doctor or the location of the patient will not restrict access to fast and effective healthcare. All doctors can register to help.

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