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Qualcomm’s Snapdragon gets snappier

Snapdragon 855, the latest Qualcomm chipset, adds 5G connectivity and AI in a smaller package, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Qualcomm Technologies has announced the first mobile chipset to support multi-gigabit 5G connectivity, which allows a device to connect to multiple masts to get speeds of more than 1Gbps.

Qualcomm, the company that powers high-end phones like the Google Pixel, Sony Xperia, the LG G range, and some of the Samsung Galaxy line, revealed details of the Snapdragon 855 at the Snapdragon Technology Summit in Hawaii this week.

The chip also introduces smarter handset features by including artificial intelligence (AI) processing and dedicated processing for augmented reality (AR) experiences. Following in the footsteps of Huawei and Apple, the smaller 7nm chip will offer users better battery life and better processing of photography and gaming.

“As operators launch 5G networks in early 2019, consumers will – for the first time – be able to take advantage of transformative 5G consumer experiences on mobile devices with Snapdragon 855,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president at Qualcomm Technologies. “We are proud to share our technology inventions and be among the first to bring mobile 5G to the world.”

The embedded 5G technology is implemented in the Snapdragon X50 modem, which Qualcomm claims is up to 20 times faster than other modems on the market. Wi-Fi was also improved, adding Target Wakeup Time functionality to allow for 67% less battery usage and support for the latest WPA3 security standard.

The Snapdragon’s performance has been boosted, with the latest CPU, the Kyro 485, improving up to 45% on performance. Graphics, with the latest Adreno 650 GPU, will get a performance boost of up to 20% compared to the previous generation, while maintaining the top spot for performance per watt in the mobile graphics industry.

AI processing is up to 3 times faster than the previous generation, performing more than 7 trillion operations per second (7 TOPs). This has many applications, from taking better photos to listening to optimised audio. For example, it has applications in the on-device Voice Assistant, using dedicated AI acceleration for echo cancellation and noise suppression, so users can talk to their phone even when it’s noisy around them.

Image and video processing has been improved to current industry standards like High-Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC) and High-Efficiency Image Codec (HEIC). Not only do these save space on a user’s device by up to 50%, compared to a JPEG image, but it also allows for capturing of over 1 billion colours in HDR10+ video. The Snapdragon 855 can now classify objects the phone focuses on, in real-time, during video recording in 4K HDR at 60fps.

Overall, the announcement of the Snapdragon 855 is exciting for Android users approaching their next upgrade. OnePlus has also announced that it will be making use of the 855 in its upcoming devices. That said, Qualcomm announced that the chipset will only be ready sometime in the first half of 2019, which may mean that its implementation will be in late 2019 or early 2020.

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Notre Dame, Scoop Makhathini, GoT, top week in search

From fire disaster to social media disaster, the top Google searches this week covered a wide gamut of themes.

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Paris and the whole world looked on in shock as the 856-year-old medieval Catholic cathedral crumbled into ash. The tragic infernal destruction of this tourist attraction of historical and religious significance led South Africans to generate more than 200 000 search queries for “Notre Dame Cathedral” on Monday. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that razed the architectural icon.

In other top trending searches on Google this week, radio presenter Siyabonga Ngwekazi, AKA Scoop Makhathini, went viral when it appeared he had taken to Twitter to expose his girlfriend, Akhona Carpede, for cheating on him. Scoop has since come out to say that he was not responsible for the bitter rant and that his account was hacked. “Scoop Makhathini” generated more than 20 000 search queries on Wednesday.

Fans generated more than 20 000 search queries for “Sam Smith” on Tuesday ahead of the the British superstar’s Cape Town performance at the Grand West Casino. Smith ended up cutting his performance short that night due to vocal strain.

Local Game of Thrones superfans were beside themselves on Sunday, searching the internet high and low for the first episode of the American fantasy drama’s eighth season. “Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 1” generated more than 100 000 queries on Google Search on the weekend.

As the festivities kicked off in California with headliners such as Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande, South Africans generated more than 2 000 search queries for “Coachella” on Saturday.

South Africans generated more than 5 000 search queries for “Wendy Williams” on Friday  as it emerged that the American talk show host had filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Hunter after 21 years of marriage. Hunter has long been rumored to have been cheating on Williams, which reportedly finally led to the divorce.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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5G smartphones to hit 5M sales in 2019

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According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Early 5G smartphone models will be expensive and available in limited volumes. Samsung, LG and Huawei will be the early 5G smartphone leaders this year, followed by Apple next year.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “We forecast global 5G smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Less than 1 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide will be 5G-enabled this year. Global 5G smartphone shipments are tiny for now, due to expensive device pricing, component bottlenecks, and restricted availability of active 5G networks.”

Ville Petteri-Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung will be the early 5G smartphone leader in the first half of 2019, due to initial launches across South Korea and the United States. We predict LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola and others will follow later in the year, followed by Apple iPhone with its first 5G model during the second half of 2020. The iPhone looks set to be at least a year behind Samsung in the 5G smartphone race and Apple must be careful not to fall too far behind.”

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The short-term outlook for 5G smartphones is weak, but the long-term opportunity remains huge. We forecast 1 billion 5G smartphones to ship worldwide per year by 2025. The introduction of 5G networks, by carriers like Verizon or China Mobile, opens up high-speed, ultra-low-latency services such as 8K video, streaming games, and augmented reality for business. The next big question for the mobile industry is how much extra consumers are really willing to pay, if anything, for those emerging 5G smartphones and services.”

Strategy Analytics provides a snapshot analyses for the outlook for 5G smartphone market in this Insight report: 5G Smartphones : From Zero to a Billion

Strategy Analytics provides a deep-dive into the air-interface technologies that will power phones through 2024 across 88 countries here: Global Handset Sales Forecast by 88 Countries and 19 Technologies : 2003 to 2024

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