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Best of Computex 2015: Five Trends to Care About

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Computex Taipei, the biggest technology tradeshow in Taiwan, wraps up today after a week of keynotes and tech reveals. This year’s show focused heavily on new hardware from Intel, Windows 10 systems, and mobile developments. We take a look at new technologies IT administrators should expect to push for soon.

MU-MIMO Wi-Fi is Getting Cheaper

You may not know the Qualcomm brand very well, but if you use a smartphone or wireless router you likely have used one of their technologies. At Computex, they announced several new chips for mobile and enterprise wireless networks. Their new 802.11ac Wave 2 MU-MIMO chips for wireless access points in particular should interest IT administrators.

In the past, we’ve discussed how the Wave 2 standard includes MU-MIMO provisions and Qualcomm now brings that to the real world with their MU-MIMO-enabled QCA9994 and QCA9984 chips. These chips pack a speed boost (up to 1.7 Gbps from their previous best of 1 Gbps) and functionality improvements such as support for additional channels and increased spectrum efficiency.

Bottom line: A significant speed boost and improved simultaneous support for multiple devices.

 

Thunderbolt 3 gets USB Type-C Support

Like FireWire, Intel’s Thunderbolt connector technology has been around for several years now but without wide support and adoption. At Computex, Intel announced the third generation of Thunderbolt and stated it will support the USB Type-C connector and USB 3.1 standard. Previous versions of Thunderbolt utilized the Mini DisplayPort connector.

A single Thunderbolt 3 will support a maximum bandwidth of 80 Gbps and up to two 4K displays running at 60 Hz. No official release date for Thunderbolt 3 has been announced but we know there will be at least three types of Thunderbolt 3 cables: Lower cost 20 Gbps “Passive” copper cables, 40 Gbps “Active” copper cables up to 2 meters in length, and 40 Gbps “Active” optical cables up to 60 meters in length.

Bottom line: For IT administrators, Thunderbolt 3 can be a single cabling solution used for charging laptops, connecting accessories, or driving displays.

 

Look for Intel Broadwell in New Desktop PCs

Intel did not reveal any new details about its upcoming Skylake microarchitecture. Instead they announced the launch of several new Broadwell CPUs for desktops, laptops, and servers. Broadwell processors were released for laptop computers in mid-2014, but now they will be available for desktop and server systems. Originally intended to be released on all three platforms simultaneously in 2014, Intel had to stagger its launch due to manufacturing issues.

For Broadwell, Intel shrunk the dies down from 22 nanometers (nm) to 14 nm. Aside from the die shrink, the new Broadwell processors integrate Iris™ Pro graphics on the chip and include 128 MB of DRAM built-in. A total of 15 SKUs will be launched: 5 for laptops, 5 for desktops, and 5 for servers.

Bottom line: Finally a full roll out for Broadwell, which brings 14 nm cores to desktops and servers.

 

Windows 10 is Built for 2-in-1 PCs

As expected, plenty of Windows 10 computers were announced. Computex was a chance for manufacturers and system integrators to show off PCs launching with Windows 10. Unlike computers out already, these are designed specifically to be fully compatible with the new operating system and do not need to be upgraded to it.

This year featured plenty of all-in-one desktops as well as convertible laptops and tablets. The Dell XPS in particular, wowed with a nearly bezel-less Infinity screen—though hardware specifications remain unknown. Dell also showed off several 2-in-1 laptops, including the Inspiron 15 7000, which features a 360-degree hinge, convertible form factor, and Core i7 processor.

Asus unveiled its next Transformer Book tablet/laptop hybrid, the T100HA, which features an Intel Atom processor, 4 GB of memory, 128 GB storage, and USB Type-C. Hardware reviewers often compare the Asus Transformer Book 2-in-1 line with Microsoft’s Surface™ Pro series and this is set to take on the Surface Pro 3 when it launches in Q3 of this year.

Bottom line: Manufacturers continue to blur distinction between tablet and laptop.

 

Your Desktop is Getting Smaller

The drive towards ever-smaller desktop computers—like the Intel Compute Stick—remains strong this year and several mini-PC systems were unveiled. The Quanta Compute Plug in particular stands out, considering an entire PC is housed within a power adapter-sized case. Foxconn revealed their hard drive-sized Kangaroo PC, a portable desktop computer that features a six-hour battery. Like the Compute Stick, the Compute Plug and Kangaroo transport easily and connect to any computer display or TV for use as a full desktop PC.

Bottom line: These smaller form factors will eventually allow for more space-efficient offices and make the desktop tower a thing of the past.

Those were the things that we expect will eventually see their way into IT purchasing requests in the near future—Windows 10 and 802.11ac Wave 2 devices almost assuredly. Let us know what other announcements at Computex 2015 got your attention in the comments below.

Summary
Computex 2015: Get Ready for Broadwell & Thunderbolt 3
Article Name
Computex 2015: Get Ready for Broadwell & Thunderbolt 3
Description
What did Computex 2015 have in store for IT admins? Plenty! We cover the important trends, including Intel Broadwell, Windows 10 PCs, and Thunderbolt 3.
Author
Wallace Chu

Wallace Chu

A self-professed tech hipster that loves computers and music. Uses an iPhone ironically.

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