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Once you have regular security problems on your Windows 10 PC like me, and you are essentially already close to 100% using web applications only like me, than it is time to move over to the Chrome OS platform. And this could be done now with a rock bottom cost. This is what I’ve found by examining the latest Chrome OS platform information as well as the entry level hardware represented by devices built on Rockchip RK3288-C SoC (a low-end quadcore 64-bit ARM SoC with lowest cost IP inside, so the SoC is the lowest cost too).
There is a “hidden” advantage as well. The “Android apps on Chrome OS” is in Beta now, but when the current Android Framework in Chrome OS will move from support of Android Marshmallow [6.0] to Android Nougat [7.0] Coming to Chrome OS 58 or 59 all Google Play store apps will be available properly on Chrome devices as well. In a companion post I’ve examined the current state-of-the-art of Android security as well, and that is looking much better than that of current Windows 10. So as far as all this information is concerned such a platform change looks like the final solution for my current security issues on Win10.
There is a further impetus from yesterday’s news on Microsoft Edge comes last in browser security battle By 18 hours ago from techradar:
Chrome remains the undisputed champion at Pwn2Own
So let’s examine first the state-of-the-art of Chrome OS security:
1:57-2:00: “What we know is that every Chrome device on the market today has a TPM.”
Streamed live on Feb 1, 2017, G Suite: Chrome OS Security Guide, an in-depth discussion by David Karam, Chrome OS Product Manager. An overview of Chrome OS security across the entire stack.
Next let’s see the latest information about the strategic value proposition of the Chrome OS:
March 9, 2017, Google Cloud: Simple, flexible, and secure Chrome OS solutions built for the future (Google Cloud Next ’17) by Rajen Sheth Director of Product Management, Android and Chrome for Business and Education, Google. As businesses evolve, they need technology solutions that are simple, flexible and cost-effective to help them succeed today and build for tomorrow. Chrome provides solutions fit for the workplace of the future – providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. Learn how your business can leverage ChromeOS in multiple ways.
March 15, 2017, G Suite: Optimizing your Retail Business with Google Chrome (17- min) by Chris McLaughlin (Strategy and Solutions Manager, Android and Chrome at Google)
– Retail is being disrupted by digital. With a need to improve the in-store experience, retailers want technology to optimize employee effectiveness and customer experience.
Chrome devices empower retail store employees and delight customers while improving IT efficiency.
March 8, 2017, The Keyword from Google: How businesses are smartly transforming with Google Cloud, Android, and Chrome by Rajen Sheth Director of Product Management, Android and Chrome for Business and Education, Google.
While businesses with a mobile strategy are commonplace today, that doesn’t mean the mobile transformation is over. Today, we’re highlighting how companies are using Google Cloud, Chrome, and Android to reimagine the way they engage customers in public spaces and also equip employees to work more productively in the office and in the field.
Smart signs cut costs and provide customer insights
We recently collaborated with Coca-Cola on Chrome-based digital signs for supermarkets that pull in localized ads from DoubleClick and are equipped with beacon technology for pushing personalized messages to mobile users.
The company has worked closely with Google Cloud to build a new signage solution that includes affordable digital sign and menu boards for Coca-Cola sellers.
“Our mission at Coca-Cola is to elevate the consumer experience to a place of pure excellence and the ability to send the right message to the right person at the right time is key to driving that world class experience in the connected retail world,” said Greg Chambers, Global Group Director of Digital Innovation at Coca-Cola.
The displays are powered by inexpensive Chromebit devices connected to a content management system (CMS) on Google Cloud Platform. The Chromebits also provide simple, centralized management of the signs. Combined with sensors, they can offer the company detailed, actionable information through Google Analytics as well as highly contextual advertising to other screens like nearby customer smartphones.
Android plus cloud intelligence enables field workers
UK pest control company Rentokil Initial is piloting a fleet of Android devices that utilize Google Cloud machine learning, including our Vision API image classification technology, to help field workers better identify pests and get treatment suggestions. Employees use an Android app to capture images that are identified using a machine learning model that’s been trained on Rentokil’s pest imagery database. The app then provides solutions to eradicate the pests. The PestID app, jointly developed by Accenture Mobility, is among the first wave of solutions Google is helping build as part of an alliance announced last year with Accenture.
Connecting manufacturing to the back office
42Q, a product division of manufacturing services provider Sanmina, developed a Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) solution that runs on Google Cloud Platform.
It enables Sanmina employees and 42Q’s customers to bring real-time transparency to their factory operations using Android and Chrome devices. Using 42Q with Chrome, “deskless” back office workers can access work instructions, data requirements, and quality plans without deploying heavy client applications and expensive equipment.
Factory operators can also use the 42Q Android app for a “tailored” mobile interface, ensuring they only see critical information on demand.
When combined with G Suite, everyone from front office planners to back office operators can collaborate on current production line states, critical orders and real time reporting on factory operations.
Tomorrow’s businesses: empowered with advanced devices, collaboration and context
With a Google Cloud devices and mobility strategy, businesses are able to gather contextual data through devices and apply machine learning analytics to quickly take smart, well-informed actions. And the more employees who use managed Chromebooks and Android devices to collaborate and securely access documents in G Suite, the more efficient your whole team becomes.
Several new devices support this secure data-driven strategy. The Asus Chromebook Flip and recently-announced Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus function as both a Chromebook and an Android tablet with Google Play support. Last month, AOPEN launched the Chromebox mini and Chromebase mini, which also support Android apps and can use our new Kiosk APIs for improved app management and a robust customer experience.
To learn more about the Google Cloud devices and mobility solutions that enable a connected workspace, visit our booth at Next 2017 between March 8 and 10. There we’ll be demonstrating how a business becomes smarter when you pair Chrome and Android devices, cloud services and sensors with employees, customers and spaces. Or sign up here for additional information as we continue to evolve our range of data-driven tools to make every workspace connected no matter where it is.
Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 1: Developing Next Gen Solutions AOPEN’s Jim Hoey along with Google’s Chris McLaughlin (Strategy and Solutions Manager, Android and Chrome at Google) go over Chrome OS, developing on Chrome, and an example of a fully integrated Chrome solution.
Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 2: Chrome Device Management AOPEN’s Jim Hoey and Miles Schofield discuss the benefits of Chrome Device Management (CDM) and how businesses can utilize it for rapid deployments, reducing and controlling costs, and much more.
Feb 22, 2017, AOAMarketing: AOPEN Chrome Webinar Series Part 3: AOPEN Chrome Mini Devices AOPEN’s Jim Hoey and Miles Schofield introduces two new AOPEN Chrome Devices: Chromebox Mini and Chromebase Mini
Re: “TPM chip” mentioned in the early part of the 1st video above:
from Trusted Platform Module article in Wikipedia
Trusted Platform Module offers facilities for the secure generation of cryptographic keys, and limitation of their use, in addition to a random number generator. It also includes capabilities such as remote attestation and sealed storage, as follows:
- Remote attestation – creates a nearly unforgeable hash key summary of the hardware and software configuration. The program hashing the configuration data determines the extent of the summary of the software. This allows a third party to verify that the software has not been changed.
- Binding – encrypts data using TPM bind key, a unique RSA key descended from a storage key.
- Sealing – encrypts data in a similar manner to binding, but in addition specifies a state in which TPM must be in order for the data to be decrypted (unsealed).
Software can use a Trusted Platform Module to authenticate hardware devices. Since each TPM chip has a unique and secret RSA key burned in as it is produced, it is capable of performing platform authentication.
Generally, pushing the security down to the hardware level in conjunction with software provides more protection than a software-only solution. However even where a TPM is used, a key would still be vulnerable while a software application that has obtained it from TPM is using it to perform encryption/decryption operations, as has been illustrated in the case of a cold boot attack. This problem is eliminated if key(s) used in TPM are not accessible on a bus or to external programs and all encryption/decryption is done in TPM.
Starting in 2006, many new laptop computers have been sold with a built-in Trusted Platform Module chip. In the future, this concept could be co-located on an existing motherboard chip in computers, or any other device where the TPM facilities could be employed, such as a cell phone. On a PC, either the LPC bus or the SPI bus is used to connect to the TPM.
Many manufacturers make TPMs. The Trusted Computing Group has certified TPMs manufactured by Infineon Technologies, Nuvoton, and STMicroelectronics. The Trusted Computing Group has assigned TPM vendor IDs to Advanced Micro Devices, Atmel, Broadcom, IBM, Infineon, Intel, Lenovo, National Semiconductor, Nationz Technologies, Nuvoton, Qualcomm, Rockchip, Standard Microsystems Corporation, STMicroelectronics, Samsung, Sinosun, Texas Instruments, and Winbond.
- Discrete TPMs are chips that implement TPM functionality and nothing else, and are in their own semiconductor package. These implement their functions in hardware to resist software bugs and implement tamper resistance. They are therefore the most secure type of TPM.
- Integrated TPMs are part of another chip that implements other functionalities. While they use hardware that resists software bugs, they are not required to implement tamper resistance. Intel has integrated TPMs in some of its chipsets.
How does the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) compare to Trusted Platform Mobile (TPM)?
There are two main components of platform security:
- Trusted Execution Environment
- Trusted Platform Module
They work in tandem; one is not designed as a replacement of the other. As an analogy, TEE is the bulletproof safe, while TPM is the 128-digit combination lock for the safe. Both are needed to ensure the safe is protected.
TEE encompasses the following elements:
- A protected or secure execution of critical applications in a virtualized environment
- Safe and secure boot ensures all system software components are in a known and “trusted” state before launching.
TPM provides the following services:
- Remote attestation: External services can verify that the system has not been altered or tampered with by using a hash of both system state. The verification is performed on both hardware and software. It is necessary to check that the system is not compromised before executing sensitive processes.
- Binding: Encryption of data using a unique RSA key that is burned into the chip when the chip is manufactured.
- Sealing: A feature that ensures that data isn’t accessed or decrypted when the system is in normal operation. It ensures that applications cannot access protected data when the system is in a sealed mode. But it can also allow legitimate applications to access protected data.
Arguments were made that TPM is not necessary if the TEE is robust. Some vendors have chosen not to use external TPM and store the keys and protected data in a TEE-only addressable area. TEE can help with Binding and Sealing. ISO standards suggest using a full-fledged TPM. External TPM could be very useful in coordinating between several masters and other complex systems. On the other hand, solutions that only rely on TPM are very vulnerable for execution and boot attacks. It is easy to override the application run states and circumvent TPM.
Do Intel or AMD offer Trusted Execution Environments?
Yes, other processor architectures support TEE. Popular CPU Architectures and their TEE implementations:
- ARM TrustZone
- Intel TXT
- AMD Secure Execution Environment
All three of these TEE implementations provide a virtualized Execution Environment for the secure OS and applications. To switch between the secure world and the normal world, Intel provides SMX Instructions, while ARM uses SMC. Programmatically, they all achieve very similar results.
Popular TPM Implementations:
- ARM SecureCore
- TPMs from Broadcom and other vendors who meet ISO standards
ARM: SecurCore Processors
Tamper resistant – optimized for security applications
The ARM® SecurCore™ processor family provides powerful 32-bit secure solutions based upon industry leading ARM architecture. By enhancing highly successful ARM processors with security features, SecurCore provides smart card and secure IC developers easy access to the benefits of ARM 32-bit technology such as small die size, energy efficiency, low cost, excellent code density and outstanding performance. SecurCore processors, used in a wide range of security applications, outperform legacy 8-bit or 16-bit secure processors.
High performance smartcard and embedded security applications
Highest volume smartcard and embedded security applications.
ARM SecurCore processors are designed primarily for tamper-resistant smart cards and incorporate several security features that make SecurCore an ideal choice for such applications. Further details on the SecurCore security features are available under an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) from ARM.
ARM SecurCore are built upon the ARM Cortex-M series. They benefit from wide tools support, including full support from RealView® Microcontroller Development Kit (the Keil uVision environment), the most popular smart card development tool chain in the industry.
SecurCore is shaping the future of smart cards and it is successfully adopted in many applications:
SecurCore is the industry standard architecture of choice for smart cards.
We have been rolling out the Google Play Store on select Chromebooks on the Stable channel and the Play store will now be available on more Chromebooks in the coming months.
You can find the full list of Chromebooks here but please note also that all the Chromebooks we launch in 2017 will support Android apps.
This post aims to answer the most frequently asked questions about Android apps on Chrome OS and provide more clarity on which what Chromebooks run Android Apps:
Android apps are now available on Stable Channel in the following devices
- ASUS Chromebook Flip C100PA
- Acer Chromebook R11 / C738T / CB5-132T
- Google Chromebook Pixel (2015)
- Samsung Chromebook Plus
- ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
- Acer Chromebook R13 (CB5-312T)
- ThinkPad 11e Chromebook 3rd Gen (Yoga/Clamshell)
- Dell Chromebook 13 7310
- ASUS Chromebook C202SA/C300SA/C301SA
- HP Chromebook 13 G1
- Samsung Chromebook 3
- HP Chromebook 11 G5 / HP Chromebook 11-vxxx
FREQUENT ASKED QUESTIONS
WHY ANDROID APPS AND HOW WE BUILT
What does it mean that “Android apps are coming to Chromebooks”?
“Android apps are coming to Chromebooks” means that we are bringing the Google Play Store and all Android apps to compatible Chromebooks.
Why are we building it?
Chrome OS has brought the web as a first class citizen to our users. With that, we made great productivity and knowledge devices. We want to give the Google Play Store Google’s app ecosystem, the same treatment and treat both the web and Android apps as first class citizens to our users and provide them with a platform for productivity, consumption, gaming and more.
How did we build this?
Android will run in a container side-by-side with Chrome OS. The apps will then be composited into Chrome OS inside of windows. Input into those windows (touch, mouse, keyboard) will be sent to the Android container and processed by the app. All concepts expected by Android apps (intents, notifications, toasts, you name it) will be fully supported by Chrome OS.
Why is Play Store not available for download on my Chromebook?
The Play Store is available for certain Chromebooks. To see the list of Chromebooks that will eventually be able to run the Play Store, check here.
I did not opt into to download Play Store support – how do I enable it?
You can enable Android apps by going into Settings and checking – Enable Google Play Store on your Chromebook. You can check steps in our Help Center.
I’m using Chromebook in my workplace or school, and heard that Play Store should be available for download – how come it’s not showing up?
Please ask your IT administrator so that you can enjoy using Play Store applications as soon as possible.
APPS & GOOGLE PLAY RELATED QUESTIONS
While the ability to run Android apps on Chrome OS continues to roll out, the question for many is when or if it will be updated. The answer is yes and pretty soon. This week while attending Google Cloud Next in San Francisco, I posed the question to Chrome OS product management in a breakout session and it was confirmed that Android Nougat will be coming to the platform build 58 or 59. Given that it is already in the beta channel, I suspect that it is likely 58.
As readers may know, Android Framework in Chrome OS currently is based on Android Marshmallow [6.0]. So, in theory, if an app will run in Marshmallow, it will run on Chrome. The tricky bit has been that some apps can’t go full screen in 6.0 and features like multi-window support for apps is not something that is supported at all in Marshmallow. All of that changes under 7.0 obviously as the framework allows for it.
The other big challenge with Marshmallow is that you can only run one app at a time, somewhat related to the multi-window aspect. In other words, if you are running an Android app on your Chromebook and switch focus to another app, the first app quits running on the backend. So things like sync don’t work. That would change in a Nougat framework.
When I asked Google about this, they confirmed that Nougat is coming to Chrome OS in the 58 or 59 train. That’s good because 58 is in the Beta Channel and 59 is in the Developer channel. So, at best, we are likely 6 weeks away and at worst, 12 weeks.
Perhaps the better news in all of this, the Chrome team also confirmed that they want to accelerate support in the future of Android so when Android O [8.0] is released later this year, we could see widespread support of it much faster than we have Nougat.
New York, 17 January 2017 – Two new powerful and innovative AOPEN Chrome devices, from one of the leading commercial* Chrome device manufacturers, are set to drive customer experience in 2017.
The AOPEN Chromebase Mini and Chromebox Mini devices are part of a new enterprise range aimed at bringing enterprise reliability and features at an affordable price.
The Chromebase Mini is an enterprise-ready interactive 10.1-inch all-in-one touchscreen solution. It’s designed to be managed with ease, reliability, and security – making it ideal for high-traffic enterprise environments including digital signage, POS, self-service kiosks, digital corporate communication, and AV room control.
The second device, the Chromebox Mini, is the smallest Chromebox on the market today and also runs on the Chrome OS platform. It is solid state and can be used as an SME or enterprise desktop replacement hosting IOT applications, digital signage and kiosks and affording greater control of in-store engagement.
Stephen Borg, Global Chief Digital Officer AOPEN Group, says the devices represent a major leap forward in design – allowing a ubiquitous approach to multiple use cases, rapid application development, and ease of use for the signage, kiosk, POS, and other enterprise markets.
“AOPEN designed its new Chrome OS device line to empower the customer by servicing a wide range of verticals and needs,” says Borg. “They are fully enterprise-ready in terms of product longevity and reliability, ease of large deployment, remote access, and service.”
The Chromebase Mini, an all-in-one 10.1-inch solution, does not require a kiosk protective case, is waterproof and tamper proof unlike like a consumer touch device.
The enterprise ready all-in-one touch device supports audio-video conference platforms, such as Google Hangouts. It offers mounting options for A/V or desktop use (including a built-in Vesa Mount stand), high-quality camera and audio, and a dual microphone. The chromebase mini is also accompanied by optional accessories such as recess wall mounts, POE adapters, and adapters to mount various payment solutions.
By leveraging AOPEN software layer meldCX, the Chromebase Mini is compatible with end-user legacy POS systems – featuring local app instances for offline use and device integration, while maintaining a competitive price point.
“The Chromebase Mini achieves both customer and operational benefits. Its aesthetic and interactive design makes it ideal for high-traffic enterprise environments and provides a compelling way for customers to transact. Retailers or Integrators can also use Chrome Device Management to control and manage their device fleets. It means that content updates and management of the devices can be done remotely via the cloud, and its ease of rollout gives retailers an amazing experience,” says Borg.
“The Chromebase Mini is also ideal for enterprise business solutions. It positions Chrome squarely in the cloud, offering secure flexibility of business cloud solutions and enabling both Google Hangouts and other video conferencing solutions.”
The Chromebox Mini is a solid-state, ultra-small form factor device. It is the smallest enterprise-ready Chromebox currently available.
It supports Chrome Device Management, and can be used as an enterprise desktop replacement. Its features include fanless design, Bluetooth, wide-reaching dual-band antenna, and power button extension ports for ease of mounting behind device or having other AV equipment control on/off state .
Both the Chromebase and Chromebox Mini are enterprise-grade solutions, at a price point suitable for home use for those wanting a more reliable silent solution. Both feature fanless/non-venting hole designs, can operate in a wide range of temperatures, and meet Google’s security requirements.
“Rather than re-purposing consumer-grade products and support for commercial environments, AOPEN has introduced a design for the Chrome Mini Range that is robust and reliable enough for enterprise deployments across key verticals – including retail, hospitality, and QSR,” says Borg.
Chromebase Mini – key features:
- Panel: 10.1” 1280 x 800 250nits AHVA
- Touch: 10 point multi-touch; pinch to zoom
- CPU: Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
- DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
- Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
- FHD Webcam (2M)
- Built-in Dual Digital MIC and Stereo Speaker
- WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1
Chromebox Mini Fievel – key features:
- Fanless/non venting hole design
- CPU:Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
- DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
- Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
- WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1
*AOPEN commercial grade products are engineered for 24/7, 365 use in a commercial environment. Products are all solid state. In addition, the Chromebase Mini has tamper proof and water resistant features.
Founded in 1996, AOPEN is today a major global electronics manufacturer and a thought leader in digital signage.
AOPEN is an official partner for Google Chrome devices, including the following tiers:
- Google Cloud Sales Premier Partner (Chrome)
- Google for Education Sales Premier Partner
- Google Cloud Services Partner (Chrome)
- Google for Work Education Services Partner
Specialising in multi-platform, ultra-small form factor computing for both home and business, AOPEN works with a wide range of partners – from hardware to software and services. Through these partnerships, AOPEN creates advanced digital display solutions for many of the world’s top brands.
Part of the Wistron group, AOPEN has a presence in over 100 countries. AOPEN customers and partners range from governments and financial institutions to retailers, retail design firms, strategic consultants, and branding agencies.
● Fanless/non venting hole design
● CPU:Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
● DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
● Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
● WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1
● Dimensions: 5.75 x 3.8 x 0.94 in
For additional details, download the Chromebox Mini spec sheet below. DOWNLOAD SPECSHEET
● Panel: 10.1” 1280 x 800 250nits AHVA
● Touch: 10 point multi-touch; pinch to zoom
● CPU: Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz
● DRAM: LPDDR3 Dual Channel 4GB
● Storage: EMMC 5.0 16GB
● FHD Webcam (2MP)
● Built-in Dual Digital MIC and Stereo Speaker
● WIFI+ BT4.0: 802.11 b/g/n/ac + BT4.0 x 1
For additional details, download the Chromebase Mini spec sheet below. DOWNLOAD SPECSHEET
2016–05-09, Rockchip: RK3288-C based CTL J4+ Chromebook, priced at under $200!
The humble Chromebook has gone through many revisions since its inception nearly five years ago. Originally designed as a low-cost notebook running the Google Chrome OS and connected to the cloud for everyday work, there are now ultra-premium models such as the Pixel, a wider range of touchscreen-enabled designs primarily from Asus, as well a bevy of entry-level offerings that target value above all else.
This budget end of the market is dominated by Chromebooks powered by the ARM architecture. Chief amongst the proponents of this Internet-connected device is Chinese chipmaker Rockchip, whose RK3288 system-on-chip processor powers a number of Chromebooks for the consumer and education markets.
Found in Chromebooks from Asus, Haier and HiSense, as well as the novel Chromebit, the RK3288(C) SoC is also present in education-focussed notebooks made popular by CTL. Priced at under $200 for the best-in-breed J4+, we have one in for evaluation today.
Under the hood: RK3288C
But before we get to the Chromebook it is instructive to take a peek at what makes the RK3288 SoC an ideal fit for these devices. The RK3288 uses two of ARM’s best-known technologies – Cortex A-class processor and Mali graphics – and then wraps them inside a fully-baked SoC with display, memory, camera and connectivity support.
The Cortex-A17, which is ostensibly a speed-bumped version of the Cortex-A12, is arranged in a quad-core configuration and scales up to 1.8GHz. Though now superseded by the Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A72, the 32-bit-only processor remains a potent choice for an entry-level Chromebook. Graphics oomph is provided by the Mali-T760 GPU also in a quad-core configuration, and its performance in a range of last year’s premium handsets bodes well for the kind of work that Chromebook users will engage in on a daily basis.
The rest of the SoC treads familiar ground. There’s a dual-channel 64-bit memory controller supporting DDR3/L memory, 4K-capable HDMI-out, an H.264 video encoder/decoder, and 13MP ISP for snapping duties.
The point to appreciate is that a budget SoC provides enough general chutzpah for a fluid experience on a Chromebook. We’ve seen this proved empirically with the evaluation of the similar, yet more expensive, Chromebook Flip from Asus.
The CTL J4+
Designed primarily for the classroom but available to purchase from a selected number of retailers for regular customers, the CTL J4+ is solid enough to withstand the usual knocks that might be expected in an education environment. The carbon-like pattern is, as you would expect, made of plastic, but it’s of a high quality throughout. Grabbing the sides of the Chromebook in both hands results in very little flex. Indeed, we’ve seen full-on notebooks costing multiple times more having inferior build quality.
That said, the lid, although a dark grey, is a magnet for fingerprints. The slightest bit of grease or moisture shows up, so you’ll be rubbing it away constantly to ensure it’s kept nice and clean. Portability is a key concern for the education market, too; the J4+’s 1,124g weight is very competitive against other Chromebooks of a similar bearing, while the total travel weight, including small power charger, is less than 1,500g. My 11-year-old niece felt it was portable enough to be carried in a rucksack during the daily 15-minute walk to school.
There are inevitable compromises when retailing a sub-$200 Chromebook. One area where the J4+ falls slightly short is shown by a lack of USB 3.0. An older, slower port lines either side, with HDMI-out and a micro-SD card-reader also available. Though it would be nicer to have USB 3.0, the question we ask ourselves is whether it makes much of a real-world difference on a machine that’s purposely designed to be used almost exclusively with the Internet?
Other than the previously mentioned quad-core Rockchip SoC operating at up to 1.8GHz, this Chromebook is supported by 16GB of eMMC storage, 4GB of DDR3L memory, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and an integrated, 3,400mAh battery promising up to nine hours of regular usage from a single charge. A couple of 1.5W speakers offer rudimentary sound capabilities.
The smooth hinge goes back about 120° revealing an 11.6in display with large bezels on all sides. Premium Chromebooks look more like expensive laptops, but at the cheaper end of the market the design has barely changed over the past decade. But hey, it works well enough for its intended market.
The + suffix is the differentiator between this and an otherwise similar Chromebook from the CTL stable. The regular machine also has an 11.6in screen with a native 1,366×768 resolution but it uses a TN display instead. The + model improves this to an IPS screen with wider viewing angles and, in our opinion, considerably better colour reproduction.
It’s bright, sharp enough for the modest resolution and a good fit for a budget Chromebook. In a world where children often have higher-resolution tablets as the norm rather than exception, my niece noted that the fidelity wasn’t as impressive as her retina-equipped iPad. Yet good enough for basic spreadsheets and some simple word processing? Sure.
The keys offer shallow travel that take a little getting used to if coming from a full-size, discrete keyboard. Optimised for Chrome it misses out the regular Caps Lock key which gives way to Search while the usual function keys are routed instead to common Chrome tasks.
In a similar vein to the Chromebook Flip, the trackpad is solid. It also supports Chrome gestures and has a satisfying click each time it’s depressed. We’d describe the inputs as generic for an entry-level Chromebook, but do understand that isn’t meant in a pejorative sense; the duo work well.
The power-sipping nature of the SoC is a boon for those searching for quietness. A lack of vents hints to silent computing, and it is, with the Rockchip SoC cooled passively. Students coming from a tablet world will appreciate that, in terms of noise, it’s no different to what they’re accustomed to.
General performance is dictated by the SoC and supporting memory contained within the Chromebook. In concert with the majority of others plying this end of the market, one where Rockchip has a leadership position, applications open quickly and the user experience is smooth and predictable. This isn’t a machine for doing anything taxing, mind – the Chrome OS is built for Internet-centric usage – yet playing videos, opening up multiple tabs in simple programs, and calling on Skype does little to push the capabilities of the RK3288C SoC.
For those that haven’t used a Chromebook of late, think of the performance as analogous to a mid-range smartphone of this year. It’s never electric, as on the latest PCs or high-end phones, but neither is it slow at any task you would commonly undertake.
More pertinently, it’s quick enough for the education market for which this model is primed. Rather than conduct looping battery tests, we used the J4+ over the course of a weekend, doing the usual browsing and video playback, and noted that it kept going for approximately 10 hours before running out of juice.
A simple machine with a simple premise of appealing to a broad educational market, the CTL J4+ is a solid Chromebook arriving with an attractive bulk price of under $200. It strikes all the right notes for an entry-level Chromebook powered by the ever-popular Rockchip RK3288C SoC. Pricing, though, remains absolutely key, as more feature-filled models are available for a little more, while the absolute budget end, based on the same chassis, starts at just $150. Tablets, too, offer a similar level of performance, albeit without physical keyboard, for less money.
The evolution of mobile SoCs has meant that adequate performance can be gained by spending a very reasonable amount of money. A case in point is the Rockchip RK3288C, widely seen in these devices, and with enough grunt and longevity to run everyday tasks for well, all day. CTL naturally takes this on with the J4+ education-focussed Chromebook equipped with a solid IPS display and surprisingly decent build quality.
Available to purchase to regular consumers for $189 at present, it represents good value in a congested marketplace. If your heart is set on a Chromebook and require a solid machine that covers all the basics, the CTL J4+ is a good starting point.
- Quad-core Cortex-A17 up to 1.8GHz
- Mali-T764 GPU
- Dual-channel DDR3/DDR3L/LPDDR2/LPDDR3
- 4K UHD H265/H264
- H264 encoder
- TS in/CSA 2.0
- USB 2.0
Process • 28nm CPU • Quad-Core Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz GPU • Mali-T764 GPU, Supports AFBC (ARM Frame Buffer Compression) • support OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.1, OpenCL, DirectX9.3 • High performance dedicated 2D processor Multi-Media • 4K 10bits VP9/H265/H264 video decoders, up to 60fps • 1080P other video decoders (VC-1, MPEG-1/2/4, VP8) • 1080P video encoder for H.264 and VP8 • Video post processor: de-interlace, de-noise, enhancement for edge/detail/color Display • Support RGB/Dual LVDS/Dual MIPI-DSI/eDP interface, up to 3840*2160 resolution • HDMI 2.0 for 4K@60Hz with HDCP 1.4/2.2 Security • ARM TrustZone (TEE), Secure Video Path, Cipher Engine, Secure boot Memory • Dual-channel 64bit DDR3-1333/DDR3L-1333/LPDDR2-1066 • Support MLC NAND, eMMC 4.51 Connectivity • Embedded 13M ISP, MIPI CSI-2 and DVP interface • Dual SDIO 3.0 interface • TS in/CSA2.0, support DTV function • Embed HDMI, Ethernet MAC, S/PDIF, USB, I2C, I2S, UART, SPI, PS2 Package • BGA636 19X19, 0.65mm pitch State • MP Now
Cortex-A53 is used alone in higher and higher-end devices as the result of increased competition between MediaTek and Qualcomm
We’ve learned a lot during the last one a half years about the superiority of the Cortex-A53 cores for the mass produced SoCs. Some major points about that you see on the right:
My prediction back in Dec 23, 2013 was that The Cortex-A53 as the Cortex-A7 replacement core is succeeding as a sweet-spot IP for various 64-bit high-volume market SoCs to be delivered from H2 CY14 on. Such a prediction is a reality now as no less than 291 smartphones are listed as of today in PDAdb.net, which are using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916 quad-core SoC based on Cortex-A53. The first such device, the Lenovo A805e Dual SIM TD-LTE was released in July, 2014.
Meanwhile Qualcomm’s downstream rival, MediaTek is moving up fast with its offerings as well. There are 8 devices based on quadcore MT6732M since Dec’14, 27 devices which based on quad-core MT6732 since Nov’14, and even 6 devices based on octa-core MT6753 since Jan’15. Note however that there are 3 such products from the Chinese brand Meizu, and one each from another local brands, Elephone and Cherry Mobile. Only the ZTE model is from a 1st tier global vendor yet.
My prediction was also proven by the fact that interest in that post was the highest on this blog as soon as the respective new SoCs, and commercial devices based on them arrived:
Now even higher end, octa-core smartphones based on Cortex-A53 alone are coming to the market from 1st tier device vendors
June 1, 2015: Asus ZenFone Selfie (ZD551KL)
(launched on the ASUS Zensation Press Event at Computex 2015)
from the product site:
ZenFone Selfie features the industry’s first octa-core, 64-bit processor — Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615. With its superb performance and superior power-efficiency you’ll shoot sharp photographs at stupefying speed, record and edit Full HD (1080p) video with minimal battery draw, and enjoy using the integrated 4G/LTE to share everything you do at incredible speeds of up to 150Mbit/s!
expected price in India: ₹12,999 ($205)
(Re: “coming in an incredible price” said in the launch video about the earlier ZenFone 2 (ZE551ML) which has the same price, but a 1.8 GHz Intel Atom Z3560 processor, only 5 MP secondary camera etc.)
from the ASUS Presents Zensation at Computex 2015 press release:
ZenFone Selfie is a unique smartphone designed to capture the best possible selfies, quickly and simply. Featuring front and rear 13MP PixelMaster cameras with dual-color, dual LED Real Tone flash, ZenFone Selfie captures beautiful, natural-looking selfies in gloriously high resolution. The rear camera features a large f/2.0 aperture lens and laser auto-focus technology to ensure near-instant focusing for clear, sharp pictures — even in low-light conditions where traditional cameras struggle.
ZenFone Selfie includes the brilliant ZenUI Beautification mode for live digital cosmetics. A few taps is all that’s needed to soften facial features, slim cheeks, and enhance skin tone to add vibrancy, and all in real time — injecting instant verve into any composition. ZenFone Selfie also has Selfie Panorama mode, which exploits ZenFone Selfie’s f/2.2-aperture front lens and 88-degree field of view to capture panoramic selfies of up to 140 degrees. With Selfie Panorama mode enabled, selfies become a party with all friends included — plus the ability to capture panoramic scenery for stunning backdrops.
ZenFone Selfie has a large 5.5-inch screen that fits in a body that’s a similar size to that of most 5-inch smartphones, for a maximized viewing experience in a compact body that fits comfortably in the hand. It has a high-resolution 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS display with a wide 178-degree viewing angle and staggering 403ppi pixel density that renders every image in eye-delighting detail. ASUS TruVivid technology brings color to life in brilliant clarity, making selfies and other photos look their best. Tough Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4 covers the display to help protect against scratches and drops.
ZenFone Selfie features the industry’s first octa-core, 64-bit processor for the perfect balance of multimedia performance and battery efficiency — the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 615. This extraordinarily powerful chip equips ZenFone Selfie to provide the very best multimedia and entertainment experiences, carefully balancing high performance with superior power-efficiency.
June 19, 2015 by SamMobile: Samsung’s first smartphones with front-facing LED flash, Galaxy J5 and Galaxy J7, now official
Samsung has announced its first smartphones with a front-facing LED flash; the Galaxy J5 and the Galaxy J7. Specifications of these devices were previously leaked through TENAA, and their UI was revealed through Samsung’s own manuals. Now, they have been officially announced in China, where they would be available starting this week, but there’s no clarity about their international launch.
All the mid-range and high-end smartphones from the company released recently have started featuring high-resolution front-facing cameras, and the same is the case with the Galaxy J7 and the Galaxy J5. To complement their 5-megapixel wide-engle front-facing cameras, they are equipped with a front-facing single-LED flash. Other features include a 13-megapixel primary camera with an aperture of f/1.9, 1.5GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, dual-SIM card slot, and LTE connectivity. Both these smartphones run Android 5.1 Lollipop with a new UI that is similar to that of the Galaxy S6 and the S6 edge.
The Galaxy J7 is equipped with a 5.5-inch HD display, a 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor, a 3,000 mAh battery, and is priced at 1,798 CNY (~ $289). The Galaxy J5 features a slightly smaller 5-inch HD display, a 64-bit quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor, a 2,600 mAh battery, and is priced at 1,398 CNY (~ $225). Both of them will be available in China in three colors; gold, white, and black.
The Galaxy J5 and J7 are targeted at the youth and compete with devices like the HTC Desire EYE, Sony Xperia C4, and the Asus ZenFone Selfie, all of which have high-resolution front-facing cameras with an LED flash.
The selfie phenomenon is about to kick up a notch with the introduction of Xperia™ C4 and Xperia C4 Dual – Sony’s next generation PROselfie smartphones, featuring a best in class 5MP front camera, a Full HD display and superior performance.
“Following the success of Xperia C3, we are proud to introduce Sony’s evolved PROselfie smartphone,” said Tony McNulty, Vice-President, Value Category Business Management at Sony Mobile Communications. “Xperia C4 caters to consumers that want a smartphone that not only takes great photos, but also packs a punch. Benefiting from Sony’s camera expertise, the 5MP front-facing camera with wide-angle lens lets you capture perfect selfies, while its quality display and performance features provide an all-round advanced smartphone experience.”
We all like a high-profile selfie – so go ahead and get snapping:
You can now stage the perfect selfie, getting everything – and everyone – in shot, thanks to the powerful 5MP front camera with 25mm wide-angle lens. Sony’s Exmor RTM for mobile sensor, soft LED flash and HDR features means the pictures will always be stunning, even in those ‘hard to perfect’ low light conditions. Superior auto automatically optimises settings to give you the best possible picture and SteadyShot™ technology compensates for any camera shake.
With 13MP, autofocus and HDR packed in there is no compromise on the rear camera, which delivers great shots for those rare moments you’re not in the picture.
You will also be able to get even more fun out of your smartphone with a suite of creative camera apps such as Style portrait with styles including ‘vampire’ and ‘mystery’ to add a unique edge to your selfie. Moreover, apps such as AR maskgive your selfie a twist by letting you place a different face over your own face or others’ faces while you snap a selfie.
Experience your entertainment in Full HD
Now you can enjoy every picture and every video in detail with Xperia C4’s 5.5” Full HD display. Watching movies on your smartphone is more enjoyable thanks to Sony’s TV technology – such as Mobile BRAVIA® Engine 2 and super vivid-mode – which offers amazing clarity and colour brightness. Enjoy viewing from any angle with IPS technology.
Great video deserves great audio to match, so Xperia C4 features Sony’s audio expertise to deliver crisp and clear audio quality. With or without headphones, you can sit back and enjoy your favourite entertainment in all its glory.
The design of Xperia C4 has also been crafted with precise detail and care to ensure every aspect amplifies the sharp and vivid display. A minimal frame around the scratch-resistant screen enhances both the viewing experience and the smartphone design, while its lightweight build feels comfortable in the hand. Xperia C4 comes in a choice of white, black and a vibrant mint.
Superior performance, with a power-packed battery that just keeps going
Whether you’re running multiple apps, checking Facebook, snapping selfies or listening to the best music – you can do it all at lighting speed thanks to Xperia C4’s impressive Octa-core processor. Powered by an efficient 64-bit Octa-core processor [Mediatek MT6752], Xperia C4 makes it easier than ever to multitask and switch between your favourite apps, without affecting performance. Ultra-fast connectivity with 4G capabilities means it’s quicker than ever to download your favourite audio or video content and surf the web without lag.
The large battery (2,600mAh) provides over eight hours of video viewing time, meaning that the entire first season of Breaking Bad can be binged uninterrupted, while Battery STAMINA Mode 5.0 ensures you have complete control over how your battery is used.
Xperia C4 is compatible with more than 195 Sony NFC-enabled devices including SmartBand Talk (SWR30) and Stereo Bluetooth® Headset (SBH60). You can also customise the smartphone with the protective desk-stand SCR38 Cover or with a full range of original Made for Xperia covers.
Xperia C4 will be available in Single SIM and Dual SIM in select markets from the beginning of June 2015.
For the full product specifications, please visit: http://www.sonymobile.com/global-en/products/phones/xperia-c4/specifications/
June 1, 2015: The stakes have been raised even higher by a higher-end octa-core SoC from MediaTek with 2GHz cores which is also 30% more energy efficient because of the first time use of 28HPC+ technology of TSMC
MediaTek Expands its Flagship MediaTek Helio™ Processor Family with the P Series, Offering Premium Performance for Super Slim Designs
P-series the first to use TSMC’s 28nm HPC+ process, which reduces processor power consumption
MediaTek, a leader in power-efficient, System-on-Chip (SoC) mobile device technology solutions, today announces the launch of the MediaTek Helio™ P10, a high-performance, high-value SoC focused on the growing demand for slim form-factor smart phones that provide premium, flagship features. The Helio P10 showcases a 2 GHz, True Octa-core 64-bit Cortex-A53 CPU and a 700MHz, Dual-core 64-bit Mali-T860 GPU. The Helio P10 will be available Q3 2015 and is expected to be in consumer products in late 2015.
The P10 is the first chip in the new Helio P family, a series which aims to integrate into a high-value chipset, premium features such as high-performance modem technology; the world’s first TrueBright ISP engine for ultra-sensitive RWWB; and, MiraVision™ 2.0, for top-tier display experiences. The features available in the P series include several of MediaTek’s premier technologies, such as WorldMode LTE Cat-6, supporting 2×20 carrier aggregation with 300/50Mbps data speed; MediaTek’s advanced task scheduling algorithm, CorePilot®, which optimizes the P10’s heterogeneous computing architecture by sending workloads to the most suitable computing device – CPU, GPU, or both; and, MediaTek’s Visual Processing Application – Non-contact Heart Rate Monitoring, which uses only a smartphone’s video camera to take a heart rate reading and is as accurate as pulse oximeters/portable ECG monitoring devices.
“The P series will provide OEM smartphone makers with greater design flexibility to meet consumer demands for slim form-factors, which provide dynamic multimedia experiences,” said Jeffrey Ju, Senior Vice President of MediaTek. “The P10 enables state-of-the-art mobile computing and multimedia features all while balancing performance and battery life.”
The Helio P10 is the first product to use TSMC’s 28nm HPC+ process, which allows for reduced processor power consumption. With the help of the latest 28HPC+ process and numerous architecture and circuit design optimizations, the Helio P10 can save up to 30% more power (depending of usage scenarios), compared to existing smartphone SoCs manufactured using the 28 HPC process.
“We are pleased to see MediaTek’s achievement in producing the world’s leading 28HPC+ smartphone chip,” said Dr. BJ Woo, Vice President, Business Development, TSMC. “As an enhanced version of TSMC’s 28HPC process, 28HPC+ promises 15% better speed at fixed power or 50% leakage reduction at the same speed over 28HPC. Through our competitive 28HPC+ technology and process-design collaboration with MediaTek, we believe MediaTek will deliver a series of products which benefit smartphone users across the world.”
As with the entire line of Helio SoCs, the P10 is packed with premium multimedia features. With a concentration on advanced display technologies, premium camera features, and HiFi audio, the P10 delivers leading functionality around the features most used on today’s mobile phones:
21MP premium camera with the world’s first TrueBright ISP engine:
Enables ultra-sensitive RWWB sensor to capture twice as much light as traditional RGB sensors in order to retain true color and detail, even in low light. The RWWB sensor also enhances the color resolution, even when compared with RGBW sensors.
Other features include a new de-noise/de-mosaic HW, PDAF, video iHDR, dual main camera, less than 200ms shot-to shot delay, and video face beautify.
Hi-fidelity, hi-clarity audio achieves 110dB SNR & -95dB THD
Full HD display at 60FPS with MediaTek’s suite of MiraVision 2.0 display technologies:
UltraDimming – Dimmer background lighting for more comfortable reading, even in low-light situations.
BluLight Defender – A built-in blue light filter that saves more power than conventional software applications.
Adaptive Picture Quality – Ensures the best picture quality when using different applications. True-to-life colors when in camera preview; vibrant colors when watching videos.
The MediaTek Helio P10 will be released in Q3 2015 and is expected to be available in consumer products in late 2015.
Note that Helio P1 is a significant step in MediaTek’s strategy already outlined in the following posts of mine:
– March 4, 2014: MediaTek is repositioning itself with the new MT6732 and MT6752 SoCs for the “super-mid market” just being born, plus new wearable technologies for wPANs and IoT are added for the new premium MT6595 SoC
– March 10, 2015: MediaTek’s next 10 years’ strategy for devices, wearables and IoT
Oct 9, 2014 (reports on several Chinese websites about the launch): [First MT8752 octa-core Tablet!] 首款MT8752八核平板！[999 Yuan Cool Rubik’s Cube T7] 999元酷比魔方T7发布
Oct 11, 2014 on JD.com (Jingdong Mall): [Cool Rubik’s Cube] 酷比魔方（CUBE）T7 7[inch tablet computer]英寸平板电脑（MT8752[octa-core]八核 JDI[Retina [1920*1200] screen]视网膜屏64[bit]位[China Unicom]联通/[mobile dual]移动双4G 2.0GHz 2G/16G ￥999.00 [$163]
Oct 11, 2014 in ProductShow on [site home of] 网站首页 – [Cool Rubik’s Cube] 酷比魔方(CUBE)[brand website]品牌网站: T7 – 酷比魔方(CUBE)品牌网站
8″ and 9″ tablets (T8 and T9) to come later, as well as the ones with the quad-core SoC variety MT8732.Their lead partner for that is Shenzhen Alldo Cube Technology and Science Co., Ltd. releasing its products under the [Cool Rubik’s Cube] 酷比魔方（CUBE）brand. More information on this blog: MediaTek is repositioning itself with the new MT6732 and MT6752 SoCs for the “super-mid market” just being born, plus new wearable technologies for wPANs and IoT are added for the new premium MT6595 SoC [March 4-13, 2014]
This is MediaTek’s very first response to the 32-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 Processor (ARM TechCon 2014, Oct 1-3): “our latest and greatest”. Regarding the MediaTek competitive edge over Qualcomm before that you can read on this blog:
– Qualcomm’s SoC business future is questioned first time [May 1, 2013]
– Eight-core MT6592 for superphones and big.LITTLE MT8135 for tablets implemented in 28nm HKMG are coming from MediaTek to further disrupt the operations of Qualcomm and Samsung [July 20, 2013 – March 15, 2014]
– MediaTek MT6592-based True Octa-core superphones are on the market to beat Qualcomm Snapdragon 800-based ones UPDATE: from $147+ in Q1 and $132+ in Q2 [Dec 22, 2013 – Jan 27, 2014]
– ARM Cortex-A17, MediaTek MT6595 (devices: H2’CY14), 50 billion ARM powered chips [Feb 18 – March 13, 2014]
Centaur Technology: Do the same job that an Intel processor can do, but doing it less expensively, with a much smaller group and Glenn Henry in charge
An October 11, 2014 teaser video (what might be behind see: Can VIA Technologies save the mobile computing future of the x86 (x64) legacy platform?). Glenn Henry on Wikipedia.
Their previous teaser was Coming very soon from Centaur Technology: A Leap Ahead in Chip Design [this same blog, Oct 9, 2014]
HP split into two–HP Enterprise and HP Inc. (devices and printers)–for the growth phase of its turnaround
Also seeing total 55,000 job cuts this year, with 45,000-50,000 cuts already done in Q2. CEO Meg Whitman (age 58) is enjoying huge bonus payments via those job cuts, and then she will lead HP Enterprise as CEO, as well as will become the non-executive Chairman of HP Inc.’s Board of Directors.
Detailed information on this blog about the new direction set up for Personal Systems Group part of HP Inc. (very few):
- The growing Chromebook challenge for Windows laptops: promises from Google I/O are getting realized with new Chromebooks introduced at IFA 2014 [Sept 5, 2014]
- The ultimate ultrabooks/notebooks and 2-in-1 hybrids/detachables with the upcoming Intel Core M processors [Sept 11, 2014]
- + “Hewlett-Packard this year  began selling the HP 8, a $170 [Android] tablet that runs on an Allwinner quad-core processor” from here [March 18, 2014]
- + “Asustek Computer and Hewlett-Packard (HP) are both set to enter the China tablet market with new cheap [Android] tablet models: the Asustek 7-inch 8GB MeMO Pad HD 7, priced below CNY999 (US$163) and HP Slate 7, priced at CNY999 [$163], according to sources from channel retailers.“ from here [July 5, 2013]
Latest news from HP Personal Systems Group:
– Revamped Z desktop and ZBook mobile workstations [Sept 10, 2014]
– HP Stream series of skinny Windows 8.1 laptops and tablets targeted for the holidays [Sept 29, 2014]
– HP 10 Plus 10.1-Inch 16 GB Android Full HD IPS Tablet with Allwinner A31 quadcore 1.0 GHz on Amazon and elsewhere for $280 [July 13, 2014]
– HP Slate 21 – 21.5″-k100 All-in-One Full HD IPS Android PC with NVIDIA Tegra 4 for $400 [Sept 28, 2014] a 17″ version of which, HP Slate 17 will be hitting stores by New Year
Note that such large screen All-in-One Full HD IPS strategy for both desktop replacements as well as great home devices + complete flat tabletop mode for using an application that’s maybe multi-orientational was started with Windows 8-based HP ENVY Rove [June 23, 2013], using Intel® Core™ i3-4010U and now selling for $980.
Detailed information on this blog about the new direction set up for HP Enterprise (quite extensive and deep):
- Software defined server without Microsoft*: HP Moonshot [April 10 – Dec 6, 2013] from which it is important to give here the following strategic view taken by HP:
* Note here that as of now Microsoft Windows Server is not available (even the upcoming Windows Server 10 for “the Future of the datacenter from Microsoft“) on the emerging 64-bit ARM. See: Intel: ARM Server Competition ‘Imminent,’ But Not Yet There, Says MKM [Barrons.com, Oct 2, 2014], in which the current state characterized as:
ARM highlighted progress in servers by citing two data center end-customers (sharing the stage with Sandia Labs but not Paypal) that use HP blades for their Moonshot server chassis based on 64-bit Applied Micro (AMCC, NR, $6.90) and 32-bit Texas Instruments silicon.
HP’s ARM-powered ProLiant m400 (Moonshot) is ready for DDR4 [ARM Connected Community, Oct 8, 2014]
AppliedMicro and Hewlett-Packard recently introduced the first commercially-available 64-bit ARMv8 server. Dubbed the ProLiant m400, the cartridge is specifically designed to fit HP’s Moonshot server framework. The new server – targeted at web caching workloads – is based on AppliedMicro’s X-Gene System-on-a-Chip (SoC) and runs Canonical’s versatile Ubuntu operating system.
… One of the key advantages of the X-Gene based m400? The doubling of addressable memory to 64GB per cartridge. … “You put 10 of these enclosures in a rack and you have 3,600 cores and 28 TB of memory to hook together to run a distributed application,” … “The m400 node burns about 55 watts with all of its components on the board, so a rack is in the neighborhood of 25 kilowatts across 450 nodes.” …
Loren Shalinsky, a Strategic Development Director at Rambus, points out that each ProLiant m400 cartridge is actually a fully contained server with its own dedicated memory, which, in the default launch version, carries a payload of DDR3L DIMMs.
“However, future generations of the cartridges can be upgraded from DDR3 to DDR4, without affecting the other cartridges in the rack. This should allow for even higher memory bandwidth and lower power consumption,” he added. “Our expectation is that DDR4 will ramp on the server side – both in terms of x86 and ARM – before finding its way into desktop PCs, laptops and consumer applications like digital TVs and set-top boxes.”
As we’ve previously discussed on Rambus Press , DDR4 memory delivers a 40-50 percent increase in bandwidth, along with a 35 percent reduction in power consumption compared to DDR3 memory, currently in servers. In addition, internal data transfers are faster with DDR4 , while in-memory applications such as databases – where a significant amount of processing takes place in DRAM – are expected to benefit as well.
Compare the above to what was written in Choosing chips for next-generation datacentres [ComputerWeekly.com, Sept 22, 2014]:
HP CEO Meg Whitman has high hopes for the company’s Moonshot low-energy server family as a differentiator in the commodity server market. Moonshot is based on Intel Atom and AMD Opteron system-on-a-chip (SoC) processors, optimised for desktop virtualisation and web content delivery applications. These servers can run Windows Server 2012 R2 or Red Hat, Canonical or Suse Linux distributions.
Semiconductor companies Cavium and Applied Micro are taking two different approaches to the ARM microserver market. Cavium is specialising in low-powered cores, while Applied Micro is taking a high-performance computing (HPC) approach.
AMD is building its chips based on the ARM Cortex-A57 core. … Servers with AMD’s Seattle [Opteron A-Series] ARM-based chip are not expected to ship until mid-2015.
Note here as well that AMD’s Seattle, i.e. Opteron A-Series strategy is also serving the company’s own dense server infrastructure strategy (going against HP’s Moonshot fabric solution) as described here earlier in AMD’s dense server strategy of mixing next-gen x86 Opterons with 64-bit ARM Cortex-A57 based Opterons on the SeaMicro Freedom™ fabric to disrupt the 2014 datacenter market using open source software (so far) [Dec 31, 2014 – Jan 28, 2014] post.
- Disaggregation in the next-generation datacenter and HP’s Moonshot approach for the upcoming HP CloudSystem “private cloud in-a-box” with the promised HP Cloud OS based on the 4 years old OpenStack effort with others [Dec 10, 2013]
- The cloud services brokerage (CSB) business model and the HP Cloud Services [Feb 14, 2014]
- 64-bit ARM (ARMv8-A) outlook: full smartphone penetration by 2018, volume start in servers next year, plus strong presence in enterprise networking [April 24, 2014] from which it is important to include here the following quote:
“HP has supported ARM’s standardization effort since its inception, recognizing the benefits of an extensible platform with value-added features,” said Dong Wei, HP fellow. “With the new SBSA specification [Server Base System Architecture from ARM], we are able to establish a simplified baseline for deploying ARM-based solutions and look forward to future HP [server] products based on the ARM architecture.”