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Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 888 promises faster speeds, better cameras, and more powerful AI – The Verge

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Qualcomm teased the Snapdragon 888, its latest 5G-equipped flagship smartphone processor, on the first day of its Snapdragon Tech Summit. But at the day two keynote, the company provided all of the details on the new chipset, which will be the brains powering almost every major 2021 Android flagship.

First off, the basic specs: the new processor will feature Qualcomm’s new Kryo 680 CPU, which will be one of the first devices to feature Arm’s latest customized Cortex-X1 core and promises up to 25 percent higher performance than last year’s chip with a maximum clock speed of 2.84GHz. And the company’s new Adreno 660 GPU promises a 35 percent jump on graphics rendering, in what it says is the biggest performance leap for its GPUs yet. The new CPU and GPU are also more power-efficient compared to those on the Snapdragon 875, with a 25 percent improvement for the Kyro 680 and a 20 percent improvement on the Adreno 660.

Another key difference between the Snapdragon 888 and last year’s 865 is that Qualcomm has finally integrated its 5G modem directly into the SoC. That means manufacturers won’t have to deal with finding the space (and power) for a second external modem. Specifically, the Snapdragon 888 will feature Qualcomm’s 5nm X60 modem, which the company announced back in February, and it will enable better carrier aggregation and download speeds up to 7.5 Gbps on new devices. The Snapdragon 888 will also support Wi-Fi 6 as well as the new 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E standard, which should boost that rollout by making it the default on most Android flagships.

As is tradition for a Snapdragon update, Qualcomm is also putting a big emphasis on its camera improvements. The new Spectra 580 ISP is the first from Qualcomm to feature a triple ISP, allowing it to do things like capture three simultaneous 4K HDR video streams or three 28-megapixel photos at once at up to 2.7 gigapixels per second (35 percent faster than last year).

It also offers improved burst capabilities and is capable of capturing up to 120 photos in a single second at a 10-megapixel resolution. Lastly, the upgraded ISP adds computational HDR to 4K videos, an improved low-light capture architecture, and the option to shoot photos in 10-bit color in HEIF. That said, it’ll be up to phone manufacturers to build cameras that can take advantage of the new features.

The final major changes come in AI performance, thanks to Qualcomm’s new Hexagon 780 AI processor. The Snapdragon 888 features Qualcomm’s sixth-generation AI Engine, which it promises will help improve everything from computational photography to gaming to voice assistant performance. The Snapdragon 888 can perform 26 trillion operations per second (TOPS), compared to 15 TOPS on the Snapdragon 865, while delivering three times better power efficiency. Additionally, Qualcomm is promising big improvements in both scalar and tensor AI tasks as part of those upgrades.

The Snapdragon 888 also features the second-generation Qualcomm Sensing Hub, a dedicated low-power AI processor for smaller hardware-based tasks, like identifying when you raise your phone to light up the display. The new second-gen Sensing Hub is dramatically improved, which means the phone will be able to rely less on the main Hexagon processor for those tasks.

All of this adds up to a substantial boost in Qualcomm’s — and therefore, nearly every Android flagship’s — capabilities for what our smartphones will be able to do. The first Snapdragon 888 smartphones are expected to show up in early 2021, which means it won’t be long before we’ll be able to try out the next generation of Android flagships for ourselves.

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Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries

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Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .

 

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver

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EBay will sell its South Korean business to retailer Shinsegae Group and e-commerce firm Naver for about 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion), local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.

Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.

Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.

South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.

Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.

($1 = 1,117.7000 won)

 

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum

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Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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