Technologists love powerful processors, Nintendo Switch and bending things.
In early January, the Consumer Electronics Show, one of the major international electronics exhibitions, to which most brands bring new technology, takes place in Las Vegas. It is worth mentioning that at CES very rarely finished products are shown. Typically, reporters and investors are shown concepts and prototypes, only a few of which ultimately “live out” to mass production.
Technological giants and tiny startups bring wild experiments and raw achievements to the exhibition in the hope of determining the vector of further development, so everything from odd AR glasses and pedalos to treadmills for cats in the Little Prince style is used.
This year, we once again saw a lot of “technologies for technology” divorced from reality, but at the same time we were able to trace several trends that can really affect what we will use in the coming years.
Let’s start with the most specific announcements.
Intel: DG1 graphics card announcement and processors with integrated gaming graphics
The main conclusion from the presentation of Intel – the company finally felt that AMD was methodically squeezing it out of the market, and moved on to action, rolling out technologies that had been rumored for years. Perhaps, at the beginning of the new decade, we are waiting for a real technological breakthrough.
After several years of leaks, hints and speculation, Intel finally announced its own full-fledged graphics card, which got the simple name DG1 (most likely from the English Discrete Graphics). According to the manufacturer, the graphics accelerator based on the proprietary Xe architecture is energy efficient and versatile.
The DG1 desktop graphics card, which may appear on the market by the end of 2020, will compete with NVIDIA and AMD in the lower price segment. According to forecasts, its performance is expected to be at the level of the GeForce GTX 1650. Apparently, it will be a compact card without additional power, aimed at casual users and frugal lovers of undemanding online games. More productive modifications are expected in the future, but they will not have to wait until next year, and there are no confirmed details and characteristics yet.
However, much more interesting in the announcement was different – DG1 will also appear in laptops, literally on the same substrate with the new generation of Tiger Lake processors. Despite the fact that real models of this configuration will not be available until next January, at the last presentation, we have already demonstrated the capabilities of such a bundle.
Intel in the best traditions did not disclose the exact configuration of the test bench, nor the image resolution, nor the frame rate, nor the graphics preset. But it still looks interesting – a thin and light prototype laptop reproduces Destiny 2 without noticeable jams and delays with a fairly decent quality of textures and lighting effects.
As for the new mobile processors, the 14-nm Ice Lake and 10-nm Comet Lake will be replaced by a single Tiger Lake family, made using the 10-nm ++ process technology. The main features of the new products are the unspecified increase in energy efficiency and productivity and support for the high-speed protocols Thunderbolt 4 and Wi ‑ Fi 6. We will not find out any details about them at least until the summer.
They did not say a word about the 10th generation desktop processors at CES 2020.It is noteworthy that for devices with new mobile processors and graphics chips, Intel has designed a record-breaking compact (by its standards) motherboard. This may mean that in the foreseeable future, even the smallest and thinnest devices like Microsoft Surface and laptops in the “up to 1 kg” category can get a decent level of performance. Of course, if the temperature allows. So far, we do not know anything about how much the new video card will heat up, and what size cooling system it will require for efficient operation.
A new combination of processors and advanced graphics from Intel can pave the way for a new class of gaming devices. At the exhibition, DELL showed the prototype of the portable console Alienware Concept UFO. The massive UFO obviously develops the Nintendo Switch idea: two “halves” with buttons and sticks that can be disconnected and attached to the dock controller are attached to the sides of an 8-inch tablet with a folding leg. The only difference is that it is a full-fledged Windows 10 PC that launches ordinary PC games. However, the manufacturer does not say that inside the prototype. Some sources casually mention a certain platform from Intel (most likely with Iris Pro integrated graphics), while others They claim that it was based on a platform from the AMD Ryzen 4000 family with integrated Radeon RX Vega graphics.
However, systems-on-a-chip with Intel DG1-level graphics accelerator and low power consumption look like ideal for compact gaming systems, and we can see more of these devices in the coming years.
AMD thoroughly took up the laptop market
AMD expansion continues to gain momentum. In 2019, the company confidently captured the market for desktop processors (according to a large German retailer, MindFactory, in November AMD accounted for 82% of all processor sales, in other regions the situation is generally similar), but laptops have virtually unchallenged Intel rules. Now the “blue” will begin to cramp in the mobile segment, and NVIDIA can also fall under the distribution in the segment of entry-level and mid-range gaming laptops.
AMD’s presentation came out more meaningful than Intel, but caused less wow effect. Like competitors, the red team focused on mobile solutions, in particular, two families of Ryzen 4000 notebook processors: energy-efficient models for compact devices with an index U and high-performance stones with an index H for gaming systems and workstations.The main innovation is that all the new products are made using 7-nm technology, and the top models of both segments received 8 cores / 16 threads for the first time. AMD finally enters the market for expensive top-end gaming laptops with an 8-core Ryzen 4800H, which, according to the manufacturer, outperforms in tests not only the mobile i7‑9750H, but even the desktop i7‑9700K.
AMD also threw a heap of announcements regarding graphics solutions. Firstly, in January mid-budget desktop RX 5600 XT video cards will appear on the shelves, which should compete with the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. Secondly, the first mobile video chips with Navi architecture are expected to appear by summer: 5600M and 5700M. Thirdly, the president and chief executive officer of the company, Lisa Su, promised reporters that by the end of the year she will definitely talk about a top-end desktop video card with hardware ray tracing and performance at the level of RTX 2080 Ti.
The announcements of AMD met more than warmly. Acer, ASUS, DELL, HP and Lenovo officially supported the release of new products and it can be expected that they will release or at least announce their own devices in the first half of 2020.
Bend first, then think. Foldable laptops and roll televisions
CES 2020 has confirmed that the trend for the use of folding OLED panels in electronics is just beginning, and manufacturers have caught an interest in such products. Perhaps, at such a pace, “clamshells” will indeed become the next locomotive of marketing after the idea of “frameless” is completely exhausted.
Thin frames now almost did not pay attention. A couple of significant exceptions were the “most frameless” serial TV in the world Samsung Q950TS with a resolution of 8K and a frame of only 2.3 mm, and the updated DELL XPS 13 (2020) with a bottom frame of the screen of only 4.5 mm.
But there were a lot of flexible and folding technologies. Three companies showed their own laptops with a folding display on both halves: DELL Ori and Lenovo X1 Fold when closed, they resemble a diary and unfold in a single panel with a diagonal of 13.3 inches. Lenovo’s design implies a removable keyboard with magnets like the one Microsoft showed a couple of months ago in its Surface Neo concept.
Intel also showed the concept of a laptop with a flexible screen Horseshoe (“Horseshoe”). When unfolded, the device forms a 17-inch panel and also has a magnetic wireless keyboard. This device will definitely not appear in stores – it was developed solely as a concept to show Microsoft and laptop manufacturers that Intel supported the idea and is ready to help in its development.
Foldable panels have been used in televisions, and this time even in a production model. LG Signature RX was first shown as a concept at CES 2019, but in mid-2020 it will go on sale in some countries. Miracle TV most of the time is a neat white cabinet with a built-in soundbar, from which, if necessary, leaves a 65-inch OLED panel. At the same time, when playing music and in some other modes, only the panel worm is advanced, very minimalist.
What is not minimalistic is the price of devices with flexible screens. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold laptop, which is the closest to sale, is expected to be priced at $ 2,500 (~ 153,000 rubles) for a minimal configuration with Core i5 and 8 GB of RAM, and LG Signature RX TV plans to sell for $ 60,000 (~ 3,680 000 rubles).
Meanwhile, Samsung revealed behind closed doors a new version of the smartphone with a flexible screen, but instead of the design of the clamshell, something like a slider is used. Part of the screen is hidden inside the case and automatically extends by pressing a key. So far, there is only an unofficial render of how it looks, and such solutions will go on sale only after 2-3 years, if any. By the way, laptops can also use a similar design to turn a 16: 9 screen into a 21: 9 analogue.
TV for millennials
Samsung has distinguished itself in a TV in an unusual format – the Sero model comes on a high non-removable stand, like an easel. And this is necessary so that the 43-inch panel can rotate 90 degrees in the “portrait” orientation.
Samsung calls Sero “a TV for the mobile-first generation,” and has been selling this model for several months in South Korea. The essence of technology is to achieve maximum convenience when duplicating a smartphone screen on a TV. Also from this year, some Samsung TVs are equipped with NFC tags to stream broadcasts from a smartphone with one touch.
It’s convenient to show relatives vacation photos or watch YouTube videos on the big screen on a regular TV, but Samsung wants to expand the range of such usage scenarios.
For example, on a vertically oriented screen, you can broadcast fitness and yoga applications to practice at home, read comics, scroll social networks or, at worst, watch vertical videos in TikTok.
Sero continues one of the interesting trends that began a couple of years ago – TVs are looking for a new niche for themselves and are trying to more organically fit into the life of the owners and the interior. In addition to the aforementioned LG Signature RX, we have already seen options in massive picture frames and with unusual stands, ultra-thin models that almost merge with the wall and even the concepts of transparent screens, and in the future the number of such experiments will only increase.
Entertaining little things
In addition to devices of understandable purpose, many interesting, but not obviously useful devices were brought to CES 2020.
A funny home robot (I want to call it a droid in the manner of the Star Wars universe) rolls on the floor after the owner, whistles, squeaks and has several useful functions: acts as an alarm clock, monitors order and controls home appliances with IoT (air humidifier, robot vacuum cleaner) , “Smart” curtains), can play with animals and call for help if its elderly owner falls or feels bad. But most importantly, he is so cute!
Just watch this promo video.
Intel has announced the era of compact “modular” PCs. How are they more “modular” than regular computers? The fact that they are based on the finished Element block, which consists of a laptop motherboard with a soldered laptop processor, a set of laptop RAM and two slots for M.2 SSD. This unit is inserted into a compact case with a pre-installed power supply, in which there is just enough space for a conventional video card.
It sounds strange, but for those who do not want to bother with the selection of individual components, and then also with the assembly and cable management, such a solution may come in handy. So far, Intel itself has shown its housing options for Intel Element in the form of Nuke Extreme 9 and Razer in the form of a Tomahawk prototype.
Razer showed another variation on the theme of gamepads for a smartphone a la JoyCon. However, this time the gadget was shown not with mobile titles like Fortnite Mobile, but with a test version of the streaming service Microsoft Project XCloud. Alternatively, you can also use GFN, for which Russia recently launched a version for smartphones, or even stream games from your home Xbox One or PC via Steam Link.
Samsung Bot Chef
Two robotic arms with artificial intelligence Bot Chef can help with chores in the kitchen: chop the ingredients, serve seasonings from the cabinet, stir the contents of the pan. So far, it’s pretty slow, but it’s just for now!
Sony’s electric car made a splash – many were waiting for details about the PlayStation 5, but at the presentation they confined themselves to the logo and once again mentioned the hardware ray tracing and fast SSD.
But the concept of a super-technological electric car did not disappoint. However, it will never go on sale – it is incredibly expensive and risky to set up serial production of cars, and Sony’s goal was to show real car makers that it is now possible to turn to it for components like rear-view cameras, monitors and audio systems. Another cool electric car was shown by Mercedes-Benz, its futuristic concept with luminous wheels and movable fins in place of the rear window was created in collaboration with the team of the Avatar franchise.