Tag Archives: Intel SoFIA

5 Takeaways From The Intel Computex 2016 Keynote

On the first day of Computex 2016, Diane M. Bryant and Navin Shenoy from Intel gave an hour-long keynote on “Expanding the Boundaries of Computing“. It was basically a combination of new product announcements and the technologies that Intel will be focusing on going forward.

Diane M. Bryant is the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Data Center Group, while Navin Shenoy is the Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Client Computing Group. Hang on to every word they say, because they will show you why Intel is changing direction.


Real Possibilities With RealSense

Before the Intel Computex 2016 keynote started, there was a wushu demonstration. It was not mere entertainment, but a demonstration of Intel RealSense’s ability to follow the wushu master’s moves, and Intel processing power in determining how the background display should react to her movements.


The Intel Computex 2016 Keynote

Here is the 70-minute long Intel Computex 2016 keynote in its entirety. We will summarise the 5 key takeaways from this keynote in the following section.

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5 Takeaways From The Keynote

No. 1 : Intel’s Evolution Is Underway

Last month, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich radically changed the direction for the entire company, based on five core beliefs :

  • The cloud is the most important trend shaping the future of the smart, connected world – and thus Intel’s future.
  • The many “things” that make up the PC Client business and the Internet of Things are made much more valuable by their connection to the cloud.
  • Memory and programmable solutions such as FPGAs will deliver entirely new classes of products for the data center and the Internet of Things.
  • 5G will become the key technology for access to the cloud and as we move toward an always-connected world.
  • Moore’s Law will continue to progress and Intel will continue to lead in delivering its true economic impact.

That change is underway, with Navin Shenoy describing how Intel will change the way we view computing. He not only emphasised the future of connected homes, smart vehicles and drones, but also unveiled new products to deliver new capabilities in those spaces.


No. 2 : Visual cloud, machine learning unlock human potential

Video streaming is now taking up almost 80% of all Internet traffic, so delivering that content via the cloud is top priority for many service providers. To help them accelerate video encoding for secure streaming, Intel announced the Intel Xeon E3-1500 v5 family of processors. This allows service to pack more video streams into a single server or appliance for a minimized data center footprint and reduced power consumption.

Intel demonstrated that capability by live-streaming a 360-degree virtual reality jazz concert delivered from the legendary Blue Note Jazz Club in New York using hardware-assisted 4K video delivery on Intel Xeon E3-1500 v5 servers.


No. 3 : Continuing to push the boundaries of PC innovation

Intel will continue to work on newer and faster processors. To demonstrate that commitment, Intel announced the availability of the new Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition processor. This is the first 10-core desktop processor that can handle up to 20 threads simultaneously.

Intel also confirmed that the 7th Generation Intel Core processors (codenamed Kaby Lake) as well as the low-cost Intel Pentium, Celeron and Atom processors (codenamed Apollo Lake) are on schedule for release later in Q3, 2016.


No. 4 : “Things” are getting smarter and more connected

Intel is betting on connected homes, vehicles and the Internet of Things. They demonstrated that by announcing the Intel AnyWAN GRX 750 system-on-a-chip (SoC) family and the Intel XWAY WAV500 Wi-Fi chipset – Intel’s new 5th Generation 11ac MU-MIMO Wi-Fi family of products for home gateways.

The Intel Atom x3 (formerly known as SoFIA) lives on though. Intel will continue to expand Intel Atom x3 processor-based solutions for products like point-of-sale systems, healthcare tablets and industrial devices within the IoT.


No. 5 : 5G will transform mobility

5G is not just about faster mobile Internet. It is about more powerful wireless networks that connect “things” to each other, to people and to the cloud. To that end, Intel announced an agreement with Foxconn to collaborate on the development of 5G network infrastructure technologies like Mobile Edge Computing, Cloud Radio Access Network (CloudRAN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV).

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ASUS ZenPad 7.0 (Z370CG) Tablet Review

The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 (Z370CG) tablet was designed as a more affordable alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0. Priced at least 30% lower than the Galaxy Tab A 8.0, it even offers a higher resolution screen and a higher-resolution rear camera. How did ASUS accomplish this feat?

A major reason is the Intel Atom x3 SoC that powers the ZenPad 7.0. Codenamed SoFIA, it is a low-cost chip that combines a quad-core Intel Atom CPU, an ARM GPU, and a 3G modem. The ZenPad 7.0 uses a detuned Intel Atom x3-C3230RK, allowing ASUS to achieve a lower price point with better features.

So what does ASUS’ experiment with the Intel Atom x3 chip offer in return? Take a look at this comparison of the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 :

ASUS ZenPad 7.0
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0
Operating System
Android 5.0 Lollipop
PlatformIntel Atom x3 (SoFIA)Qualcomm Snapdragon 410
Processor900 MHz* Intel Atom x3-C3230 (quad-core) processor1.2 GHz ARM Cortex A53 (quad-core) processor
GPUARM Mali-450 MP4Qualcomm Adreno 306
Display7" IPS display
- 800 x 1280 resolution
- 216 ppi pixel density
8" IPS display
- 768 x 1024 resolution
- 160 ppi pixel density
Primary Camera8 MP PixelMaster camera5 MP camera
Secondary Camera
2 MP camera
Internal Storage
16 GB flash storage
Storage Expansion
microSD slot
- supports up to 128 GB
SIM Card Slot
Single micro SIM
Connectivity- HSPA+ 21.1/5.76 Mbps
- HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
- GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
- 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
- Bluetooth v4.0, A2DP, EDR, LE
- HSPA+ 21.1/5.76 Mbps
- HSDPA 850 / 900 / 2100 / 2700
- GSM 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
- 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi
- Bluetooth v4.1, A2DP, EDR, LE
Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS
Fingerprint Sensor
Accelerometer, proximity, compass
Built-In StylusNoYes, S Pen
BatteryNon-removable 2600 mAh Li-Po batteryNon-removable 4200 mAh Li-Po battery
Dimensions- 110.9 mm wide
- 189.0 mm tall
- 8.7 mm thick
- 137.9 mm wide
- 208.3 mm tall
- 7.5 mm thick
Weight272 g313 g
Colour Options- Black
- White
- Metallic
- Smoky Titanium
- Smoky Blue
- White
Current PriceRM 749 (~USD 179)RM 1099 (~USD 255)

* For more information on its true CPU speed, please see this article.

Now, let’s check out the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 in detail, and see how it performs…

Updated @ 2016-03-13 : Revamped the review with an additional page and links to the ASUS Power Case review.


What’s Inside The Box?

The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 that is sold here in Malaysia comes in a slightly larger box, because it contains a surprise inside – an extra ASUS ZenCase. The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 is available in three colour options – Black, White and Metallic, so check the colour printed on the back label to make sure you are getting the right colour.

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When you open the box, you will find the following items :

For more details, take a look at our previous article – Unboxing The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 Tablet.

Next Page > The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 Tablet, ASUS ZenCases


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The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 (Z370CG) Tablet

The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 tablet has a 7″ IPS display with a resolution of 1280 x 800. It is powered by the quad-core Intel Atom x3-C3230 SoC with 2 GB of LPDDR3 SDRAM, and runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop with ZenUI. It comes with 16 GB of flash storage, which can be expanded through a microSD slot.

For selfies, the ZenPad 7.0 has a 2 MP wide-angle shooter in the front, but for serious photography, there is an 8 MP PixelMaster camera at the back. The only buttons are on the left side – a rocker Volume button and a smaller Power button. At the bottom of the ZenPad 7.0 is the micro-USB port and the microphone.

The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 tablet has a plastic chassis, but the matte finish of the main chassis and the leather finish of the back cover not only confers it a classy feel but a better grip as well. As a bonus, it is very resistant against fingerprint smears.

If you are fashion-concious and would like the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 to match your outfit for the day, you can actually swap out the back covers (ASUS calls them ZenCases). To do that, you just have to peel off the back cover at a small groove at the bottom right corner of the ZenPad 7.0.

You will also need to remove the back cover to gain access to the micro SIM slot, as well as the microSD card slot. The microSD card slot supports microSD, microSDHC and microSDXC cards. The 10-pin connector to the left of the micro SIM slot is only used to connect to the Audio Cover and Power Case upgrades.


The ASUS ZenCases

ASUS will offer ZenCases in four colour options – black, metallic, orange and blue. The ZenCases are simple plastic covers that replace the original back covers your ASUS ZenPad 7.0 comes with. Take a look at how they look when we swap out the original black ZenCase for the metallic, blue and orange ZenCases.

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ASUS will also be making available the ASUS Zen Clutch, which is a folding leather cover for the ZenPad 7.0; as well as the Power Case, which extends the ZenPad 7.0’s battery life up to 16 hours. There is also an Audio Cover that upgrades the ASUS ZenPad 7.0‘s audio capabilities with 5 speakers and a subwoofer, with DTS technology.

Next Page > It’s ALIVE!, Available Storage & Memory, Camera Capabilities & Options


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The first thing you will notice when you turn on the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 is how vibrant the screen is, thanks to the ASUS Tru2Life Technology. Tru2Life dynamically applies a HDR effect to images displayed on the screen, giving them more “pop”.

The ZenPad 7.0 has a relatively high-resolution 800 x 1280 IPS display. That’s a million pixels packed into a 7″ screen. Thanks to the higher pixel density of 216 ppi, everything displayed looks really sharp and crisp at the normal viewing distance.


Available Storage & Memory

Out of the box, it runs on Android 5.0.2 and has 10.75 GB of free space, out of its internal 16 GB flash storage. As you can tell – that’s not a lot of storage space. Unless you are a light user, you are going to need to add additional storage via a micro SD card.

The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 tablet comes with 2 GB of LPDDR3 memory, which is decent considering its price point. What’s just as important is the ZenPad 7.0 has relatively little bloat, leaving you with 1.2 GB of free memory to play with.

The Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system itself takes up 262 MB of RAM, with the ZenUI interface and ASUS apps taking up 221 MB of RAM. Another 220 MB of RAM is used to cache apps, leaving you with 1.2 GB of free memory. This is plenty enough for several apps to run at the same time.


Camera Capabilities & Options

The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 tablet has an 8 MP PixelMaster camera at the back, and a 2 MP wide-angle camera in the front. Both cameras use a 4:3 ratio, with small crop sizes available in the settings menu. Neither cameras have an LED light to brighten up dark scenes. Even more disappointing was the rear camera’s video recording capability. Even though it sports an 8 MP sensor, it was only capable of recording 720p videos.

The camera comes with a bunch of built-in software features like a HDR mode and a low light option that extends the camera’s ability to capture poorly-lit scenes by combining light from multiple pixels. You can also apply some filters or convert your pictures into GIF animation.

Next Page > Camera Performance – Photos, Video Recording


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Camera Performance – Photos

The ASUS ZenPad 7.0‘s rear 8 MP PixelMaster camera handles shaded scenes pretty well, but overexposes in bright areas. This overexposure can be seen in the glass panes on the left in the elevator photo. Even a bright light shining down can cause the cloth in the background of the bottles photo to be terribly overexposed.

In these two shaded scenes, the exposure was appropriate. On closer inspection, you can see some blurring and considerable noise in the photo of warning signs. This is due to the dimmer light condition. In the brighter bubblegum photo, you can see that there is very little noise.

These two pictures of oranges and pineapples again show the abilities and limitations of the ASUS PixelMaster camera. The oranges were not directly lit so appear well-exposed and well-detailed. However, the upper part of the large pineapple in the foreground was overexposed, as were the Dole Tropical Gold labels on the two smaller pineapple. This was because a light was shining directly on these pineapples.

In summary, the ASUS ZenPad 7.0‘s rear PixelMaster camera works best in shaded areas, with indirect lighting. Any direct light will cause overexposure of the scene. On the other hand, if there is too little light, the sensor introduces a significant amount of noise.


Camera Performance – Video Recording

Even though the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 boasts an 8 MP PixelMaster camera, it can only record 720p video. Here is a sample video we recorded of a piano performance by Mr. Yang I-Deun.

As you can see, the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 has problems controlling the exposure of the scene. All of the bright areas are grossly overexposed. ASUS needs to really work on the software to correct this. We don’t think this has anything to do with the camera hardware because we have seen less capable cameras do a better job of handling exposure…

Next Page > Work Performance, Battery Performance


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Work Performance – PCMark

We tested the ASUS ZenPad 7.0‘s performance using PCMark, which simulates work applications like web browing, playing video, writing text and editing photos.

ZenPad 7.0
ZenFone 2
Galaxy S6
Work Performance Score
2440 5644 5078
Web Browsing 1863 6108 6788
Video Playback 3443 3970 3091
Writing 2306 5039 5918
Photo Editing 2396 8301 5357

As the results show, the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 tablet is no Speedy Gonzales. It was much slower than the ASUS ZenFone 2, which uses the much more powerful Intel Atom Z3580 processor and faster flash memory.

The ZenPad 7.0 did very well in video playback though. In fact, it actually beat the Samsung Galaxy S6 in the video playback test!


Battery Performance – PCMark

We then tested the ASUS ZenPad 7.0‘s battery performance using PCMark. It basically ran the PCMark work tests until the ZenPad 7.0’s battery dropped to 20%.

In normal usage, ASUS quotes a battery life of 8 hours, based on looping a 720p video with the brightness set to 100 nits and Gmail logged in for emails and updates.

As you can see, the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 tablet lasts only about 4.5 hours on the PCMark stress test. Of course, this is a stress test that simulates the worst possible workload. In our real world experience, we had no problem using it for 6 hours at a time, although non-stop gaming dropped that to about 3.5 hours.

Next Page > Gaming Performance, Overall Performance, Our Verdict


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Gaming Performance – 3DMark

We tested the ASUS ZenPad 7.0‘s gaming performance using 3DMark, using the Ice Storm Extreme test.

ZenPad 7.0
ZenFone 2
Galaxy S6
Gaming Score 3794 10194 Maxed out!
Graphics 3423 9467 Maxed out!
Physics 6113 13943 Maxed out!
Graphics Test 1 16.4 fps 59.4 fps 59.6 fps
Graphics Test 2 13.7 fps 31.5 fps 49.6 fps
Physics 19.4 fps 44.3 fps 39.6 fps

Without a doubt, the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 tablet is not really meant for 3D gaming. The ASUS ZenFone 2, in comparison, was more than 2.5X faster. Needless to say, the Samsung Galaxy S6 is even faster.


Overall Performance – AnTuTu Benchmark

AnTuTu is a nice benchmark for testing various performance aspects of Android devices.

ZenPad 7.0
ZenFone 2
Galaxy S6
TOTAL SCORE 21451 47304 41258
Multitask 2298 6266 4443
Runtime 1978 4130 3516
CPU Integer 1636 4559 4855
CPU Float-Point 1664 4397 5060
Single-Thread Integer 788 2116 1583
Single-Thread Float-Point 896 2432 1576
RAM Operation 1198 3184 3405
RAM Speed 1216 2937 2540
2D Graphics 1648 1643 1639
3D Graphics 6501 13436 9381
Storage I/O 1008 1504 2560
Database I/O 620 700 700

With the exception of 2D graphics, the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 falls far short of the ASUS ZenFone 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 in performance. Take a look at how the ZenPad 7.0 compares against a selection of other Android devices.


Our Verdict

The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 is a cheap and cheerful mini-tablet. Powered by the low-cost Intel Atom x3 chip, it is never going to win any speed race. If you are looking for a mobile 3D gaming machine, then this is not what you are looking for.

The ZenPad 7.0 is targeted at consumers who want an affordable mini tablet and don’t need a stylus. In fact, it was obviously designed to lure away potential buyers of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 tablet. If you don’t need the Tab A’s S Pen, then the ZenPad 7.0 will probably be a better deal. After all, the ZenPad 7.0 boasts higher-resolution display and camera as well as a faster GPU at a significantly lower price point.

[adrotate banner=”4″]The ASUS Tru2Life display is really sharp and vivid – a real delight to use. Thanks to the integrated ARM Mali-450 MP4 GPU, the ZenPad 7.0 is as fast as ASUS ZenFone 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 in 2D graphics and video playback capabilities.

The 8 MP PixelMaster camera, on the other hand, was a disappointment. Despite its higher resolution, it could not record 1080p video, and the 720p videos it recorded suffered from exposure issues. Its photographic capabilities were similarly marred by poor exposure control. It should be possible for ASUS to improve the camera’s firmware to better manage exposure, so we look forward to an update to fix this problem.

It also has rather limited battery life. This is not a significant problem if you intend to use it for basic tasks like web surfing, reading ebooks, etc. But if you intend to play games on it, it will run out of juice real quick. That is probably why ASUS offers the Power Case upgrade which basically doubles its battery life.

Despite its flaws, the ZenPad 7.0 is a delightful tablet to use, and it is rather well-built for its price point. ASUS even went to the effort of giving it user-swappable back covers, called ZenCases. ASUS now offers 6 different ZenCase colours as well as an Audio Cover upgrade and a Power Case for those who need longer battery life.

We would recommend this tablet for those who want a small 7-8″ tablet but do not require a stylus. The ASUS ZenPad 7.0 is best used for surfing the Internet, email and messaging, video playback, office applications and light games.


Lowest Prices

If you are interested in purchasing the ASUS ZenPad 7.0 outside of Malaysia, try the Amazon.com links below.


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