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Updated 2017-07-28 06:30
Intel Announces Q2 FY 2017 Earnings: Record Quarter
This afternoon, Intel announced their second quarter results for fiscal year 2017, and continuing a trend, they have once again set a record for the current quarter. Intel recorded $14.8 billion in revenue this quarter, up 9% from a year ago. Operating income, which was down dramatically a year ago due to restructuring charges, has rebounded to $3.8 billion for the quarter, up 190% when compared to a year ago when they took the restructuring hit. Gross margin came in at 61.6%. Net income was up 111% to $2.8 billion, and earnings per share were up 115% to $0.58 per share.Intel Q2 2017 Financial Results (GAAP)Q2'2017Q1'2017Q2'2016Revenue$14.8B$14.8B$13.5BOperating Income$3.8B$3.6B$1.3BNet Income$2.8B$3.0B$1.3BGross Margin61.6%61.8%58.9%Client Computing Group Revenue$8.213B+3.0%+11.9%Data Center Group Revenue$4.372B+3.3%+8.6%Internet of Things Revenue$720Mflat+25.9%Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group$874M+1.0%+57.8%Programmable Solutions Group$440M+3.5%-5.4%All Other Revenue$144M-75%-75%Intel also released Non-GAAP results to account for the restructuring charges, and they give a better look at the underlying business without the wild swings taken into account when there is a large hit to the bottom line. On a Non-GAAP basis, revenue was the same, at $14.8 billion, up 9%, and gross margins were 63%. Not factoring in certain charges such as acquisition costs and restructuring, operating income came in at $4.2 billion, up 30% from a year ago. Net income was up 23% to $3.5 billion, and earnings per share were up 22% to $0.72 per share.Intel’s Client Computing Group, which includes platforms for notebooks, 2-in-1 systems, desktops, tablets, phones, wireless, and mobile communications, had a very strong quarter, with revenue up 12% from a year ago to $8.2 billion. Notebook revenue was up 20% from a year ago, while desktop processor revenue slid 3%. Overall, Intel sold 3% more units in Q2 2017 compared to Q2 2016, and average selling prices increased 8%. We’ve not seen anything yet post 14nm, but Kaby Lake’s improved 14nm process is still very competitive, and was able to boost overall performance without any changes in IPC by allowing higher frequencies in the same thermal design. AMD’s new Ryzen platform doesn’t yet compete with Intel in the notebook space, so this will be interesting to watch, since AMD really has no competition to Core based SoCs at this time. Intel announced on their earnings call that they expect to begin shipping 10nm chips in low volume by the end of 2017, with a ramp up to higher volumes in 2018, so 14nm is still going to be the prevalent process for some time. It could easily be CES before we start to see shipping systems with 10nm, although Intel is currently sampling customers with engineering samples right now.The Data Center Group continues to perform very well, and Intel sees this business having a lot of growth in the future. Revenue for this group was up 9% year-over-year to $4.4 billion. Operating income was $1.66 billion for this group, down 6% from a year ago. The lower margin was attributed to the move to 14nm, which has higher startup costs, and development costs, along with investments in AI. Intel shipped 7% more units, and average selling price was up 1%. We’ve just seen Intel announce the Xeon Scalable Processor Family, and they have had a pretty impressive response to this new branding. Intel shipped over 500,000 units to over 30 customers, which makes it the largest early ship program they’ve ever had. Intel faces strong competition here from AMD though, so we’ll see how the reshuffle their product stack over the next while.Intel’s Internet of Things revenue was up 26% year-over-year to $720 million in revenue. This segment has had some product changes over the last quarter, with Intel discontinuing their Galileo, Joule, and Edison lines, but Intel is still moving forward in this space with other products for industrial, video, and automotive. Despite the shakeup, this group increased its operating income 56% to $139 million.The Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group had strong revenue growth as well, jumping 57.8% from a year ago to $874 million. Intel is now shipping 64-layer 3D NAND solutions, and they feel they have a competitive advantage there with density. Operating income for this group was still a loss of $110 million, compared to a $224 million loss a year ago, but Intel says that the core NAND business was profitable this quarter, and they expect it to be profitable the rest of the year. Intel Optane has shipped over 200l,000 units so far, and the profitability includes the ramp up of more 3D XPoint memory.Programable Solutions Group, which includes Intel’s Altera FPGA business, had a drop in revenue from $465 million a year ago to $440 million this year. Operating income was almost flat at $97 million. They had growth in industrial, military, and embedded FPGAs, but that growth was more than offset by lower data center revenue for this quarter.Intel is forecasting revenue of $15.7 billion, plus or minus $500 million for Q3, with gross margins around 61%.Intel is on track to deliver yet another record year, with the first two quarters both setting new records for revenue, on the heels of their record setting 2016 fiscal year. They’ve got some strong competition though to compete against, and it should be fascinating to see how the next couple of quarters play out.Source: Intel Investor Relations
AMD Releases Radeon Pro Software Enterprise Driver 17.Q3
This Thursday marks AMD’s third quarter update of Radeon Pro Software Enterprise, AMD’s enterprise and workstation graphics drivers. While Radeon Pro Software Enterprise 17.Q3 is not as extensive as last quarter’s 17.Q2, this release continues the pace of post-FirePro enterprise-ready software support, standing adjacent to this week’s major Radeon Software 17.7.2 launch.Introduced last fall as a replacement to the AMD FirePro drivers, Radeon Pro Software Enterprise exists separately from the standard consumer Radeon Software and general professional Radeon Pro Software. As the namesake suggests, Radeon Pro Software Enterprise is geared towards enterprises, with workstation application certification and regular updates on the 4 Thursday of every quarter. Radeon Pro Software Enterprise also comes with 24/7 Radeon Pro support and AMD’s Prioritized Enterprise Support program, where AMD works with the custom, OEMs, and ISVs to provide priority engineering support.17.Q3 sees official support for the Radeon Pro Duo (Polaris), Radeon Pro WX 3100, and Radeon Pro WX 2100, all products that were launched after the release of 17.Q2. For older products, AMD did note substantial gains for the WX 7100 with respect to power consumption and professional application performance.For 17.Q3, AMD has also added support for the Windows 10 Creators Update. In addition, AMD has added 8K resolution and Dell High Dynamic Range display support, as well as VR support for Autodesk VRED.In terms of bug fixes, the 17.Q3 driver release has resolved issues with external monitor auto switching when plugging into mini-DisplayPort/DisplayPort/HDMI/DVI ports on SG/Spec graphics mode. A WX 7100 audio output compatibility issue was also resolved in certain 8K panels when dual DisplayPort cables were plugged in. Similarly, AMD fixed WX 4100 compatibility issues with certain 8K monitors running DX applications at full resolution. Lastly, setting a multi-GPU single-large-screen to maximum resolution should no longer cause unexpected display issues.17.Q3 is compatible with the Radeon Pro WX and Pro Duo series, as well as the FirePro W and S series. The updated drivers for AMD’s workstation graphics are available through at the AMD workstation graphics driver download page. More information on this update and further issues can be found in the Radeon Pro Software Enterprise Driver 17.Q3 release notes.Future Radeon Pro Software Enterprise releases will follow on October 26 2017, January 25 2018, and April 26 2018.
Apple Discontinues iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle
Apple has discontinued its iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle personal media players. The only iPod that remains in Apple’s fleet is the iPod Touch, which is based on the iOS device hardware and software stacks. At present, Apple’s iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle are still available from retailers like BestBuy, but EOL of the outdated iPods once again signals that MP3 players are essentially a dead product category.Apple launched its first iPod in late 2001 and the player quickly gained popularity among users of Apple’s Mac computers. Initially, Steve Jobs did not want iPod to be compatible with Windows-based PCs as he considered the player to be an important selling point for the Mac platform as back then MP3 players from other makers were not sophisticated or user friendly. Moreover, in the lack of smartphones in Apple’s arsenal, iPod and iTunes (launched in early 2003) were in the center of its personal digital media strategy of the company.Other executives at Apple persuaded the CEO to make iPod and iTunes compatible with Windows in 2004 and this is when sales of the music player started to grow rapidly. Several years later, the iPod became Apple’s most successful product ever and brought the company billions of dollars. Over time, many third-party accessories were developed for iPods, creating an industry around one product. Besides, Apple’s iPod players were among of the most desired Christmas gifts in the U.S. in the second half of 2000s.Throughout its more than 15-year history, Apple’s iPod has changed its form-factor multiple times and switched hardware platforms for a dozen of times. For example, Apple’s initial iPods used miniature HDDs (including HGST’s and Seagate’s 1” hard drives in the iPod Mini), but eventually all of them switched to NAND flash memory. With iPod Touch, the players obtained hardware found in iPhones and started to use iOS.As sales of Apple’s iPhones increased, shipments of the company’s iPods declined because people now use smartphones to watch videos and listen to music. As a result, the company began to phase out the iPod. At first, Apple discontinued the iPad Classic player in 2014. This week, the company EOLed its iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle, as well as iPod Touch with 16 GB and 64 GB of memory. The only iPods left are the iPod Touch models with 32 GB and 128 GB of storage.The discontinued iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle were released on 2012 and 2010, respectively. Moreover, the existing iPod Touch was launched in mid-2015. Officially, Apple claims that the discontinuance of the outdated iPods is a way to simplify the product family. On the other hand, due to dropping sales of personal media players (the company has not reported sales of players for years), it may simply make no sense for Apple to keep the cheap and unpopular models in the lineup."Today, we are simplifying our iPod lineup with two models of iPod Touch, now with double the capacity, starting at just $199, and we are discontinuing the iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano," a statement by Apple reads.Related Reading:
Silicon Power Launches Mobile C50 USB Drive with USB Type-A, Micro-B and Type-C
This week Silicon Power has announced a rather unique series of USB flash drives. Dubbed the Mobile C50, the Swiss army knife-type USB flash drive is a 3-in-1 drive that features all three major types of USB connectors, and as a result can be used with virtually all USB host devices from PCs to smartphones. The drives come with up to 128 GB capacity along with additional software to make them further compatible with mobile devices.The Silicon Power Mobile C50 flash drives feature 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB configurations and are equipped with USB Type-A, USB Micro-B, and USB Type-C connectors. Meanwhile the interesting construction of the drives is designed to protect the connectors from damage: the Micro-B connector is sheltered by the Type-A connector, whereas the Type-C connector is protected by a rubber cap (specified to be snapped open over 10,000 times). Along those lines, the drives are also built to protect against dust, water as well as vibration and can operate at temperatures between 0°C and 70°C.When it comes to performance, Silicon Power only says that the USB Type-A and the USB Type-C connectors enable up to 5 Gbps data transfer rate (USB 3.0), whereas the USB Micro-B connector is a 2.0 style connector, and consequently can transfer data only at up to 480 Mbps. With PC host compatibility a given, mobile compatibility is a bit trickier, and for that reason Silicon Power also ships their SP File Explorer App (for Android mobile devices) with the devices.Silicon Power Mobile C50 Flash DrivesSP032GBUC3C50V1KSP064GBUC3C50V1KSP128GBUC3C50V1KCapacity32 GB64 GB128 GBType of NANDUnknownMaximum Transfer RateUSB Type-A and the USB Type-C: up to 5 Gbps
EVGA Introduces the GTX 1080 Ti K|NGP|N Edition Video Card
Since the release of NVIDIA's Pascal architecture, specifically the fully enabled Geforce GTX 1080 Ti, many enthusiasts have been eagerly awaiting card partners' flagship parts built off the big silicon. After a couple of months, we saw the ASUS ROG Poseidon 1080 Ti, AORUS Extreme Edition, and most recently, the MSI Lightning hit store shelves. Missing from that group was EVGA’s K|NGP|IN which was formally introduced earlier this week. The K|NGP|N (KPE) version is, by all accounts, a video card engineered to be overclocked. The EVGA website boldly proclaims it is, “Designed to be the best Overclocking Geforce GTX 1080 Ti”. In fact, the KPE GPU is guaranteed by EVGA to reach 2025 MHz+ overclock (tested using Unigine Heaven 4.0 Extreme at room temperatures). In their release video, product manager Jacob Freeman said they expect most to overclock even further. While the overclocked clock speeds are within reach to other cards, it certainly isn't for all. It appears some binning went into choosing the stock for the KPE in order to stand behind that guarantee.The KPE also has three BIOSes on the card (normal, overclocked, and LN2), which can be toggled via a switch on top of the card. The OC and LN2 BIOSs are said to allow for more flexibility with the power target among other tweaks. Near to where that switch is located, there is another point for connectivity for an upcoming accessory and access to additional features.EVGA uses two 8-pin PCIe connectors to deliver power to an all-digital, 14 phase VRM. Atypically, these connectors are located on the bottom right edge of the board, along with the EVbot connector and USB connector to attach directly to the motherboard.In order to keep the card running cool, EVGA includes its iCX Technology on the KPE, which uses an additional 9 thermal sensors – for a total of 11 – in critical locations on the PCB (x5 on the VRMs, x3 for the vRAM, and another sensor on the GPU itself). The additional data these sensors provide allow the independent fans to speed up and cool the video card where it’s needed, while the other fan(s) spin slower.Even with the copper coated heat sinks and fans, this is a true dual-slot card. It can also be a single slot solution if the heat sink is removed and adding a Hydro Copper waterblock and using the included single slot bracket. The backplate is not only there for aesthetic and structural reasons; it also makes contact with key areas of the PCB, for example behind the VRMs, in order to help with cooling.The low level specifications on the 1080 Ti K|NGP|N Edition remain the same as other GP102 based cards in reference to ROPs (88), TMUs (224), and CUDA Cores (3584), only the clockspeeds will be different on that front. The 100 Mhz base clock bump over reference leading the pack out of the box, but the card is meant to be overclocked considering its clock speed guarantee.EVGA Geforce GTX 1080 Ti K|NGP|N SpecificationsGTX 1080 Ti K|NGP|NBase Clock1582 MHzBoost Clock1695 MHzMemory Clock11016 MHz EffectiveVRAM11GB GDDRX5 (352-bit)TDP250WOutputs1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x DL-DVI, 3x Mini-DisplayPort 1.4Power Connectors2 x 8-PinDimensions (L x H)11.8"(299.7mm) x 5.61" (142.6mm) - Dual SlotCooler TypeCopper-coated Heat sink w/ 3x FansPrice/AvailabilityTBAPrice and availability were not available at the time of publication.Related Reading:
EagleTree and Partners Acquire Majority Stake in Corsair for $525 Million
EagleTree Capital, the Investment Management Corp. of Ontario (IMCO), and the Honeywell pension fund on Wednesday announced that they had reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in Corsair. Andy Paul, founder and CEO of Corsair, will continue to serve as the head of the company. Corsair expects to use investments from EagleTree and its partners to fund development of new technologies and products.Corsair was founded in 1994 and initially focused on high performance memory modules. Since its establishment more than 20 years ago, Corsair has expanded its product lineup considerably to computer cases, NAND flash-based products, coolers, keyboards, mice, PSUs and even actual gaming PCs. All these expansions require a lot of money and back in 2013 Corsair received $75 million in strategic investments from Francisco Partners.Further growth and increased competition from companies like Razer and other brands require additional investments and Corsair got them from EagleTree, IMCO, and Honewell. The three investors will buy a majority stake in Corsair from Francisco Partners and several minority shareholders for $525 million. Since the deal is conducted between private equities, they are not disclosing how much money will be paid to Francisco Partners and how much will go into Corsair's coffers for investment into the development of new products.“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with EagleTree and leverage the team’s consumer products expertise to further accelerate our progress,” said Andy Paul, founder and CEO of Corsair. “EagleTree’s backing will allow us to continue to focus first and foremost on our loyal and passionate customers and accelerate our investment in innovation and new technology and products to enhance the quality experience that enthusiasts and gamers have come to expect from us.”Under the terms of the agreement with EagleTree and its partners, Andy Paul and other managers of the company will continue to control a significant stake in Corsair. Moreover, they will also continue to serve at the company and therefore Corsairs’ strategy will generally remain the same. In particular, the company considers its PC business a significant growth opportunity and will therefore likely continue to invest in it.Razer, which is one of the rivals of Corsair, recently disclosed plans to raise around $600 million in Hong Kong IPO in a bid to enable further growth. With money from EagleTree and its partners, Corsair will have similar investment opportunities going forward.Related Reading:
The AMD Ryzen 3 1300X and Ryzen 3 1200 CPU Review: Zen on a Budget
AMD has always promised that Zen is a core suitable form entry level x86 computers all the way up to high-performance server parts. Within that scale so far, AMD has launched EPYC for servers, Ryzen 7 for high-end desktop and Ryzen 5 for mainstream consumers. All that is left is Threadripper for super-high-end desktops, coming in August, Zen paired with graphics, coming in Q3/Q4, and Ryzen 3 for entry level desktops, being launched today. The two entry level parts are quad core Zen CPUs, targeting the $109 to $129 boundary and offering four full x86 cores for the same price Intel offers two cores with hyperthreading.
Toshiba Announces TR200 Retail SATA SSDs With 3D NAND
Toshiba has announced their first retail SSDs to use 3D NAND. The new TR200 series will use Toshiba's 64-layer BiCS3 3D TLC NAND, the first generation of their 3D NAND flash technology to be suitable for mainstream mass-market use. The TR200 series is the successor to the OCZ Trion 100 and Trion 150 SSDs, the latter of which was renamed TR150 when Toshiba began assimilating the OCZ brand identity. The TR200 series will not bear the OCZ name, but Toshiba is not completely abandoning the OCZ brand.Where the previous Trion/TR series SSDs served as Toshiba's entry-level SATA offering and split the market with their MLC-based Vector/VT 180 and VX500, the TR200 will be Toshiba's only retail SATA SSD for this generation. As with most other SSD vendors, Toshiba is no longer using MLC for new mainstream consumer SSDs based on 3D NAND flash. Unusually, Toshiba's TR200 will feature a DRAM-less controller design, which typically restricts the performance to only be competitive in the entry-level segment of the SATA market. The controller may be a descendant of the Toshiba controller used in the OCZ VX500, updated to support TLC and larger capacities. However, it's possible that like previous generations of the TR series, the TR200 is using a re-badged Phison controller—Phison's S11 this time instead of the S10 used in the earlier generations. The ultra-low-end and low-capacity TL100 that was introduced last year is also not getting a direct successor.Toshiba's OCZ VX500 high-end SATA SSD isn't getting a direct successor based on 3D NAND, but it is not being retired yet either. It remains to be seen whether Toshiba will introduce a NVMe SSD using 3D MLC, but their most likely strategy will be a retail version of the OEM-only XG5 NVMe SSD with 3D TLC. The XG5 is the successor for both the TLC-based XG4 and the MLC-based XG3 whose retail counterpart was the OCZ RD400.Toshiba SATA SSD SpecificationsTR200TR150VX500Capacities240-960GB120-960GB128-1024GBNAND Flash64-layer 3D TLC15nm TLC15nm MLCSequential Read550MB/s550MB/s550MB/sSequential Write525MB/s530MB/s515MB/s4KB Random Read80k IOPS90k IOPS92k IOPS4KB Random Write87k IOPS64k IOPS65k IOPSEndurance60-240 TB30-240TB74-592TBWarrantyThree yearsThree yearsFive YearsThe TR200 carries the same three-year warranty and write endurance ratings as its predecessor. Performance specifications have only changed slightly, with the most significant difference being substantially improved random write performance. Pricing has not yet been announced. The TR200 series will start shipping to retailers this fall. It will compete against Western Digital's SATA SSDs using the same BiCS3 3D TLC NAND, the new WD Blue and SanDisk Ultra 3D. Intel's SSD 545s is already available. Most other SSD vendors can also be expected to soon announce new products featuring 64-layer 3D NAND to ship late this year.
AMD Releases Bristol Ridge to Retail: AM4 Gets APUs
The focus for AMD’s AM4 platform is to span a wide range of performance and price points. We’ve had the launch of the Ryzen CPU family, featuring quad cores up to octa-cores with the new Zen microarchitecture, but AM4 was always designed to be a platform that merges CPUs and integrated graphics. We’re still waiting for the new Zen cores in products like Ryzen to find their way down into the desktop in the form of the Raven Ridge family, however those parts are going through the laptop stack first and will likely appear on the desktop either at the end of the year or in Q1 next year. Until then, users get to play with Bristol Ridge, originally released back in September 2016, but finally making its way to retail.First the OEMs, Now Coming To RetailBack in 2016, AMD released Bristol Ridge to OEMs only. These parts were the highest performing iteration of AMD’s Bulldozer design, using Excavator v2 cores on an AM4 motherboard and using DDR4. We saw several systems from HP and others that used proprietary motherboard designs (as the major OEMs do) combined with these CPUs at entry level price points. For example, a base A12-9800 system with an R7 200-series graphics card was sold around $600 at Best Buy. Back at launch, Reddit user starlightmica saw this HP Pavilion 510-p127c in Costco:$600 gets an A12-9800, 16GB of DDR4, a 1TB mechanical drive, an additional R7 2GB graphics card, 802.11ac WiFi, a DVDRW drive, and a smattering of USB ports.Initially AMD's focus on this was more about B2B sales. AMD’s reasoning for going down the OEM only route was one of control and marketing, although one might suggest that by going OEM only, it allowed distributors to clear their stocks of the previous generation APUs before Ryzen hit the shelves.Still, these were supposed to be the highest performing APUs that AMD has ever made, and users still wanted a piece of the action. If you were lucky, a part might pop up from a broken down system on eBay, but for everyone else, the question has always been when AMD would make them available through regular retail channels. The answer is today, with a worldwide launch alongside Ryzen 3. AMD states that the Bristol Ridge chips aren’t designed to be hyped up as the biggest thing, but fill in the stack of CPUs below $130, an area where AMD has had a lot of traction in the past, and still provide the best performance-per-dollar APU on the market.The CPUsThe eight APUs and three CPUs being launched f spans from a high-frequency A12 part to the A6, and they all build on the Bristol Ridge notebook parts that were launched in 2016. AMD essentially skipped the 6th Gen, Carrizo, for desktop as the Carrizo design was significantly mobile focused (for Carrizo we ended up with one CPU, the Athlon X4 845 (which we reviewed), with DDR3 support but no integrated graphics). Using the updated 28nm process from TSMC, AMD was able to tweak the microarchitecture and allow full on APUs for desktops using a similar design.The table of 'as many specifications as we could get our hands on' is as follows:AMD 7th Generation Bristol Ridge ProcessorsModules/
HTC Announces Snapdragon 835-Based VIVE VR Headset for Chinese Market
This morning at the ChinaJoy expo, HTC is announcing their first shipping VIVE standalone VR headset, specifically for the Chinese market. The aptly named VIVE Standalone is based on Qualcomm’s recently launched Snapdragon 835 SoC, and for the first time brings the Viveport store and its content to the Chinese market.The HTC VIVE Standalone VR headset is a yet another device of this kind to be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 SoC, which is one of the highest-performing mobile processors available today. The VR headset does not require a PC or a smartphone, is completely standalone and will get content from the Viveport store in China. Since Google's Daydream content is not available in China due to national regulations barring Google's services, HTC had to design a separate headset for the country rather than to sell its Daydream-compatible VR hardware.HTC is not disclosing much in the way of details about the specifications of the VIVE Standalone VR headset for China, but its design and some other factors indicate that the product has quite a lot in common with HTC's previously-announced Daydream VR-compatible headset. The dimensions of the product hint that we are dealing with a device featuring a 5” or better panel, though it's anyone's guess on whether the resolution is FHD or higher at this point. Finally, content developed for the HTC VIVE Standalone VR headset will be created using tools compatible with Qualcomm’s VR platform.Meanwhile, for customers outside of China who will have access to Daydream content, HTC is also making it very clear that this headset has no bearing or impact on their previously announced standalone Daydream headset. That product is still being developed and will be released to the market later this year.HTC did not specify pricing of its VIVE Standalone VR headset, but said that the device was designed to enable “a more affordable, yet high-quality VR experience”.Related Reading:
USB 3.2 Update to Bring 20 Gbps Bandwidth: USB 3.1 Type-C Cables Compulsory
The USB 3.0 Promoters Group announced an update to the existing USB 3.1 standard in order to double the maximum possible bandwidth from 10 Gbps to 20 Gbps. This USB 3.2 specification is currently in the final draft review phase. USB 3.2 will remain backward compatible with existing USB devices.The new specifications will retain the USB 3.1 physical layer data rates and encoding techniques. The doubling of bandwidth is achieved by going in for a two-channel operation (current USB 3.1 Gen 1/2 devices use only one 'super-speed' channel).The use of two channels is possible only if a certified USB 3.1 Type-C cable is used to connect the host and the device.To understand this further, it is helpful to take a look at the layout of the pins in a Type-C connector.In addition to USB transfers, the Type-C connector also supports 'alternate modes'. In these modes, the cable can carry Display Port, Thunderbolt, MHL, or HDMI signals. There are two high-speed channels in the Type-C specifications, (TX1+/TX1-, RX1+/RX1) and (TX2+/TX2-, RX2+/RX2-). USB 3.1 uses only one of these channels to achieve the required bandwidth, with the other channel (four pins) dedicated to the alternate mode signals. In some cases, if all high-speed channels are used for the alternate mode, USB transfers are restricted to using the legacy pins for USB 2.0 speeds. USB 3.2 will allow both channels (eight pins) to become available for USB transfers. Obviously, both host and client devices need to be updated to use both channels. Note that the usage of any alternate mode automatically negates the availability of the second channel between the host and the device for USB transfers.Finally, a certified USB 3.1 Type-C cable is necessary between the USB 3.2 host and device in order to get the full performance benefits with dual lane operation. For passive cables, the USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) speeds are supported only if the length is 1m or shorter. The Type-C cable market is a mess, with many products in the market not carrying the proper certification, and the requisite logo (which is supposed to be in place only after the USB-IF testing process) not being prominent enough even in certified products. To make matters worse, most of the Type-C cables supplied with smartphones are limited to supporting USB 2.0 speeds only. So, consumers are advised to do proper research before purchasing Type-C cables for use with current USB 3.1 Gen 2 and future USB 3.2 systems.The USB 3.2 update is consumer-friendly, since backwards compatibility is retained and there is no need for any new cables. Thunderbolt 3 also uses Type-C, and can go up to 40 Gbps. Its specifications are being opened up, and that makes future developments in the USB Type-C space worth keeping an eye on.
AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.7.2: ReLive Edition Refined for Gamers and Developers
It’s been roughly 7 months since AMD released the Crimson ReLive Edition update for Radeon Software, the latest entry in their annual cadence for major driver revisions and feature additions. Today’s launch sees AMD/RTG bring the sequentially and demurely named “Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.7.2,” but for all intents and purposes 17.7.2 serves as a major feature revamp to the original Crimson ReLive Edition, as well as refinement of Radeon ReLive and Radeon Chill. In addition to performance optimizations and feature changes, 17.7.2 also introduces AMD’s new Enhanced Sync (comparable to NVIDIA’s Fast Sync and Adaptive V-Sync) and Radeon GPU Profiler, a low-level GCN hardware tracing developer tool.
AMD Announces Q2 2017 Results: Ryzen Makes An Impact
This afternoon, AMD announced their second quarter results for their fiscal year 2017, and the news is promising. AMD still has some work to do in order to get back to profitability, but that work has been helped tremendously by successful product launches earlier this year. Ryzen has shown exciting potential, and a diverse and strong product lineup has helped AMD’s bottom line. For the second quarter, AMD’s revenue was up 19% year-over-year to $1.22 billion, and operating income was $25 million for the quarter. Net income was still in the red with a loss of $16 million, resulting in a loss per share of $0.02 on a GAAP basis. Gross margin was 33%, hovering right around that 35% range that AMD wants to hit for profitability.AMD Q2 2017 Financial Results (GAAP)Q2'2017Q1'2017Q2'2016Revenue$1220M$984M$1030MGross Margin33%34%31%Operating Income+$25M-$29M-$8MNet Income-$16M-$73M+$69MEarnings Per Share-$0.02-$0.08+$0.08AMD also releases Non-GAAP results which exclude results such as restructuring charges, debt fees, and stock based compensation. Sometimes Non-GAAP results can help you look at an underlying business when there is restructuring charges affecting results either positively or negatively, but in this quarter for AMD, the Non-GAAP results are almost exclusively the result of not factoring in stock-based compensation which amounted to $24 million. On a Non-GAAP basis, revenue for the quarter was the same $1.22 billion, but operating income is now $49 million, compared to just $3 million a year ago. Net income was $19 million, and earnings-per-share results in $0.02.AMD Q1 2017 Financial Results (Non-GAAP)Q2'2017Q1'2017Q2'2016Revenue$1220M$984M$1030MGross Margin33%34%31%Operating Income+$49M-$6M+$3MNet Income+$19M-$38M-$40MEarnings Per Share+$0.02-$0.04-$0.05The year-over-year results may seem a bit skewed, since Q2 2016 was actually a profitable quarter for AMD, but that was due to a $150 million infusion of cash from a joint-venture with Nantong Fujitsu Microelectronics. This quarter doesn’t have any large cash deals involved, and AMD is very close to breaking even, with strong gains across its product line.The star of the show is undoubtedly Ryzen, and the Computing and Graphics segment had a very strong quarter, with revenues of $659 million, up 51% compared to Q2 last year. AMD attributes this jump to demand for graphics and Ryzen desktop processors. Operating income for the Computing and Graphics group was $7 million, compared to an $81 million loss last year, and much of that was driven due to higher average selling prices for its processors. Although AMD is not yet able to charge the premium of Intel, it can at least charge a lot more than it did for the last generation of CPUs.AMD Q2 2017 Computing and GraphicsQ2'2017Q1'2017Q2'2016Revenue$659M$593M$435MOperating Income+$7M-$15M-$81MEnterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom had a 5% drop in revenue, to $563 million, mostly due to a softening in semi-custom SoC sales. This segment is where AMD’s EPYC CPU line will impact though, so the next couple of quarters should be interesting to see here, with the launch of the Xbox One X, and EPYC.AMD Q2 2017 Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-CustomQ2'2017Q1'2017Q2'2016Revenue$563M$391M$592MOperating Income$42M$9M$84MAll Other had an operating loss of $24 million, compared with a loss of $11 million in Q2 2016, with this primarily being stock-based compensation, as well as a $7 million restructuring credit in Q2 2016 helping out that quarter.AMD has a lot to be excited about, and they’ve delivered a strong product in Ryzen already, which will branch out to enterprise with EPYC where the higher margins are. On the GPU side, Vega has launched as well with workstation graphics cards available now. Add in the custom SoC market that they’ve worked hard to establish, and the future seems just a little bit brighter than before. For Q3, AMD is expecting a 23% increase in revenue compared to this quarter, plus or minus 3%.Source: AMD Investor Relations
Bluetooth SIG Announces Bluetooth Mesh for Large-Scale Device Networks
The month the Bluetooth SIG has taken the wraps off of their latest standards project: an addition to the Bluetooth specification that enables creation of large networks of devices. Dubbed "Bluetooth Mesh", the new standard is designed for smart homes, public and manufacturing facilities. An extension of the Bluetooth LE protocol, the Bluetooth SIG hopes that the first products supporting the Bluetooth Mesh specification will be quickly available in the coming months as the new technology does not require principally new hardware.Bluetooth EvolutionThe Bluetooth technology was originally developed in the late 1990s to enable wireless device-to-device communications. This device-to-device tech has been evolving since 1997 by improving transfer rates, extending range, and improving reliability. In the early 2000s, researchers and product developers determined that there were many devices that could benefit from short-burst wireless connectivity, but did not need a fully-fledged Bluetooth implementation due to power consumption and size concerns. To this end, developers from Nokia and other companies started to design a low-power version of Bluetooth that was first marketed under the Wibree trademark in 2006 and then became a part of the Bluetooth 4.0 spec under the Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth LE) trademark.Bluetooth LE introduced a one-to-many communication paradigm to the standard, enabling various new usage models and applications, such as item finding beacons or way finding beacons. Meanwhile, device-to-device and device-to-many-devices Bluetooth interconnections ultimately use a star topology, and thus such networks have limits to their range and the number of devices in a network, which can inhibit their usage models.With the introduction of the Bluetooth Mesh standard, the Bluetooth SIG is bringing a many-to-many communication paradigm to the standard. As the name implies, Bluetooth Mesh enables building large-scale device networks with a mesh topology and thus extends the range of a single Bluetooth network virtually to infinity (mind latency and other factors though). In turn, such large networks open up new usage models for the technology, particularly in the field of IoT devices.How It WorksAt a high level, Bluetooth Mesh uses the Bluetooth 4.0 LE protocol to transport data between devices (nodes). This means that from a data transmission point of view, nearly everything has already been specified, from low layer radios to encryption to application layers.What Bluetooth Mesh adds on top of Bluetooth LE is an ability to retransmit data (a message) from one device to other devices that are in direct radio range (a single hop away) until it reaches the destination — the address it is sent to — using the so-called managed flooding technique. Managed flooding allows the receiver to determine how many hops it's away from the sender, and thus disable message relaying further than it is needed (i.e., set the maximum number of hops over which the message is retransmitted), thus preserving power and saving the bandwidth of the whole network. This technique ensures that the message always reaches its destination potentially using various paths even if certain nodes fail. Moreover, by not using routing devices, Bluetooth Mesh networks become cheaper and more reliable — messages always get to their destinations no matter what happens to individual nodes within a network (so long as there's a path).Under the hood, Bluetooth Mesh networks consist of relay nodes that can retransmit messages, and low-power nodes that connect to relay nodes to periodically transmit or receive data using a mechanism called friendship (i.e., each LP node has a Friend). Low-power nodes could be various sensors or beacons that only use short-burst data transmissions with their “Friends”, which then retransmit their data to other nodes.The Bluetooth SIG says that a single Bluetooth Mesh network can contain up to 32,767 elements (a node has at least one element, or addressable entity), but admits that in the real world such networks will typically consist of at most thousands, rather than tens of thousands of devices.When it comes to bandwidth, the gross air data rate of the Bluetooth LE is 1 Mb/s (at maximum transmit power of 10 mW), but this figure does not account for protocol overhead. There are reports that the maximum achievable BLE data rate is around 10 KB/s depending on the devices used. Such data rates are not a problem for point-to-point communications within the contemporary star network topology. However what happens when hundreds of devices start passing numerous messages over the mesh network remains to be seen. Bandwidth, latency (6 ms per hop – the standard for the Bluetooth LE) and lack of priority attributes for data packets could be limiting factors for Bluetooth Mesh adoption in environments that generate loads of data.It is important to note that the Bluetooth SIG made interoperability a part of the specification development process, and therefore thousands of interoperability tests have already been conducted. This is not exactly surprising as the Bluetooth Mesh spec builds up Bluetooth LE, and therefore existing Bluetooth 4/5-capable chips can support the new technology. Meanwhile, actual contemporary devices may or may not receive firmware and software upgrades to enable Bluetooth Mesh support. Some device makers interested in addressing smart home and other applications are more likely to enable the new spec on existing products, but others are more likely to qualify future products for the new tech.Use Cases and CompetitionAt present, the Bluetooth SIG and its members are pursuing several key applications for Bluetooth Mesh: smart home, lighting, beaconing, automation, and asset tracking applications. For example, integrating relay-capable nodes into lighting devices across a home extends range of the network to the whole building. Each of the multiple relay nodes installed in every room can then connect to various low-power nodes, such as temperature sensors, thermostats, window blind controls, and so on. In a warehouse, a robot could navigate its way across the building without any network range-related constraints while enabling operators to track its whereabouts.The Bluetooth SIG is certainly not alone with its mesh-networking standard for IoT applications, both in general and smart homes in particular. There is ZigBee that is used for various smart home appliances already, there are proprietary technologies, and Wi-Fi HaLow is incoming. A natural advantage that the Bluetooth SIG and its members have is that there are hundreds of millions of Bluetooth-enabled devices produced and sold every year, and therefore the majority of upcoming smartphones, smart TVs, notebooks, tablets, and other products will have the ability to be compatible with the Bluetooth Mesh specification. As a result, it will make a lot of sense for developers of smart home appliances to design devices compatible with Bluetooth Mesh — millions of consumers will have compatible devices in about a year from now, and this is a huge number for an emerging market. Meanwhile, when it comes to custom automation or industrial applications, it remains to be seen which technology developers prefer for their large-scale device networks.Preliminary ThoughtsNowadays there are billions of Bluetooth LE-enabled devices, and in the coming years their number will grow further not only because people will buy more smartphones, but because a lot of brand new device types will emerge. The Bluetooth Mesh specification enables building large-scale device networks without the need to launch any new hardware, and thus makers of smart home appliances (and other devices) may begin quickly adopting the new tech in the coming months.Relying on the Bluetooth LE specification and the managed flooding message transport technique ensures that Bluetooth Mesh-based large-scaled device networks will have predictable performance (RF interference withstanding), known security mechanisms, high reliability, and relatively low costs. Moreover, to a degree the usage Bluetooth LE eliminates the chicken and egg dilemma for the new standard early in its life, as supporting devices are already here. However, it is not completely clear how the number of nodes per single network affects its performance, and that will be a very important factor once large networks consisting of hundreds or thousands of nodes are built.Keeping in mind that Bluetooth connectivity is ubiquitous nowadays, Bluetooth Mesh has a good chance to become a very popular wireless standard for smart homes and other applications, provided that it can deliver the right performance and ensure compatibility and interoperability between devices from different vendors. The Bluetooth SIG says that interoperability is nearly guaranteed for Bluetooth Mesh supporting devices, but we will have to see how that pans out ourselves.Otherwise, while developers of smart devices can start building Bluetooth Mesh products based on silicon solutions designed by others, they will still have to complete the long-standing Bluetooth qualification and/or declaration processes in order to ensure that their products satisfy the Bluetooth license the requirements and to pay the appropriate fees. This is not going to be a problem for the established players, but may pose a small challenge for small startups.Finally, the Bluetooth SIG is naming a number of semiconductor manufacturers, software developers, and device manufacturers as among Bluetooth Mesh's early adopters. This include 3M, ARM, Ericsson, STMicroelectronics, Qualcomm, Toshiba, and others. While the organization does not announce any final products, it makes it clear that Bluetooth Mesh is has manufacturer support at both the silicon and on-device levels. Moreover, there are turnkey silicon and software solutions available from companies like Cypress, Silicon Labs, and Wisilica to build devices compatible with Bluetooth Mesh. Ultimately, the sky looks blue for the Bluetooth Mesh to take off, but its actual market acceptance will depend on the adoption of IoT devices for homes, offices, and production facilities.
Western Digital Announces Four Bit Per Cell 64-Layer 3D NAND Flash
Western Digital's SanDisk subsidiary and Toshiba have a long history of jointly developing and manufacturing NAND flash memory. While that relationship has been strained by Toshiba's recent financial troubles and attempts to sell of their share of the memory business, the companies are continuing to develop new flash memory technology and are still taking turns making new announcements. In recent months both companies have started sampling SSDs using their 64-layer BiCS3 TLC 3D NAND and have announced that their next generation BiCS4 3D NAND will be a 96-layer design.Yesterday Western Digital made a small announcement about their other main strategy for increasing density: storing more bits per memory cell. Western Digital will introduce four bit per cell QLC parts built on their 64-layer BiCS3 process, with a capacity of 768Gb (96GB) per die. This is a substantial increase over the 512Gb BiCS3 TLC parts that will be hitting the market soon, and represents not only an increase in in bits stored per memory cell but an increase in the overall size of the memory array. These new 3D QLC NAND parts are clearly intended to offer the best price per GB that Western Digital can manage, but Western Digital claims performance will still be close to that of their 3D TLC NAND. Western Digital's announcement did not mention write endurance, but Toshiba's earlier announcement of 3D QLC NAND claimed endurance of 1000 program/erase cycles, far higher than industry expectations of 100-150 P/E cycles for 3D QLC and comparable to 3D TLC NAND.Western Digital has not announced any specific products based on QLC NAND flash, but they will be exhibiting both removable media and SSDs using QLC NAND at Flash Memory Summit August 8-10. Western Digital's CTO will be delivering a keynote presentation at FMS on August 8, so more details are likely to be revealed in two weeks.Western Digital's roadmaps also include plans for QLC parts on their 96-layer BiCS4 process, with capacities up to 1Tb (128GB) per die. BiCS4 production is scheduled to ramp up over 2018 and 2019 with the QLC parts expected to arrive later in the cycle, so Western Digital's first-generation 3D QLC based on the BiCS3 process will probably be their highest-density flash memory in mass production for over a year.
NVIDIA Releases 384.94 WHQL Game Ready Driver: ShadowPlay Highlights for LawBreakers
Following up on the July 4384.80 hotfix resolving Watch Dogs 2 crashing on startup, today NVIDIA has released driver version 384.94, an update heavily focused on game support. Along with the usual bugfixes, this edition brings Game Ready support for several titles: LawBreakers, ARK: Survival Evolved, Dark and Light, Fortnite Early Access, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. This release also sees the official debut of ShadowPlay Highlights via LawBreakers, as well as support for EVE: Valkyrie’s new Ultra graphics settings.Building off of support for the LawBreakers “Rise Up” Open Beta in 384.76, NVIDIA has followed up with driver support for the full release of LawBreakers, slated for release on August 8. The upcoming release also brings the first game to support NVIDIA’s new ShadowPlay Highlights feature, a GameWorks technology.Presently, LawBreakers is also the only game with ShadowPlay Highlights support, and NVIDIA has posted a guide describing how ShadowPlay Highlights works for matches in LawBreakers. ShadowPlay Highlights requires GeForce Experience, and automatically captures gameplay video and screenshots, allowing for easier sharing and uploading.Under the hood, the game's developers configure what events and actions automatically trigger recording by ShadowPlay Highlights. While these triggers are game-specific, examples include multi-kills, boss battles, and unlocking achievements. After a session, the Highlights can be selected to be shared via Facebook or YouTube. Imgur uploading support is mentioned but does not specifically appear for LawBreakers at this time.Moving on, 384.94 brings Game Ready VR support for EVE: Valkyrie’s “Ultra” graphics settings, which developer CCP Games worked with NVIDIA to create. Among the new settings are volumetric lighting (“God Rays”), Multi-Sample G-Buffer Anti-Aliasing (MSGAA), and Lens Matched Shading (LMS). The last feature, LMS, actually involves rendering to the curvature and shape of VR headset lenses; because a rectangular render has extra unneeded pixels for a curved lens, this can increase performance.In addition to Game Ready support for ARK: Survival Evolved, Dark and Light, Fortnite Early Access, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, NVIDIA has also brought Ansel support for ARK: Survival Evolved and Dark and Light. We’ve described Ansel before, but as a quick summary it is NVIDIA’s ultra-high resolution screenshot utility with an artistic flair, able to capture 360 degree 3D images.In terms of gamefixes, an SLI issue with GeForce GTX 980s in IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle for Stalingrad was resolved, where performance was not improved under DX11 after enabling SLI. A game-crashing bug within minutes of gameplay was also fixed in Star Ruler 2, as was freezing in Gears of War 4 with the GTX 970 and poor GeForce performance in DNF. HDR settings can now be enabled from the in-game Mass Effect: Andromeda menu while running in full-screen mode on a Titan Xp. Similarly, color over-saturation no longer occurs in Shadow Warrior 2 with GTX 1070/1080 due to Windows HDR conflicting with in-game HDR settings. Lastly, NieR:Automata no longer freezes with the GTX 780/780 Ti, and Watch Dogs 2 no longer crashes on launch with the Titan X.On the non-game side of matters, an issue was resolved where Channel 9 and rPlay apps on the Windows Store became choppy during playback before crashing. In addition, a DisplayPort connection issue was fixed where the monitor would display no signal after a power cycle on the GTX 980.Wrapping things up, NVIDIA has also added or updated SLI profiles for LawBreakers and ARK: Survival Evolved, as well as IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad. Finally, NVIDIA is offering a promotional Mass Effect: Andromeda giveaway to selected GeForce Experience users. Users are made eligible by simply logging into GeForce Experience, and then opting into communications from NVIDIA. Winners will be informed via GeForce Experience notification on August 1. This promotion is not available in China.The updated drivers are available through the GeForce Experience Drivers tab or online at the NVIDIA driver download page. More information on this update and further issues can be found in the 384.94 release notes.
The Intel Kaby Lake-X i7 7740X and i5 7640X Review: The New Single-Threaded Champion, OC to 5GHz
Intel’s direction for the high-end desktop space has taken an interesting turn. After several years of iterative updates, slowly increasing core counts and increasing IPC, we have gotten used to being at least one generation of microarchitecture behind the mainstream consumer processor families. There are many reasons for this, including enterprise requirements for long support platforms as well as enterprise update cycles. For 2017, Intel is steering the ship in a slightly different direction, and launching the latest microarchitecture on the HEDT platform. These CPUs don’t feature the high core counts of the other HEDT parts, but offer a higher point up the voltage/frequency scale to be the fastest single thread processors money can buy. They also overclock quite well.
BenQ Announces ZOWIE XL2546 ‘eSports’ Display: 24'', FHD, 240 Hz, DyAc ULMB Tech
BenQ this week introduced a new version of its ZOWIE XL2540 ultra-fast gaming display it launched last year. The improved device carrying the XL2546 model number has the same specifications as its predecessor, including a 1920×1080 resolution and a refresh rate as high as 240 Hz, but also adds BenQ’s proprietary DyAc (Dynamic Accuracy) technology designed to make fast-motion scenes a bit more clear.The BenQ ZOWIE XL2540 monitor is one of the fastest gaming displays on the market today. The unit was launched in late 2016 and now BenQ launches its improved version, the ZOWIE XL2546 with DyAc. According to a preorder page at B&H, the new model mimics nearly the specs of the predecessor, then the new display features the same 24.5” TN panel from AU Optronics with a 1920×1080 resolution (it is the only 24" FHD panel with a 240 Hz refresh rate), supports for 16.7 million (6-bit + FRC) colors, has a typical contrast ratio for mainstream screens (1000:1), as well as offers a 320 cd/m brightness, which is lower compared to what the XL2540 offers (400 cd/m). For some reason, with the ZOWIE XL2546, BenQ continues to ignore AMD’s FreeSync and NVIDIA’s G-Sync dynamic refresh rate technologies.Two main features of the ZOWIE XL2546 display are its native 240 Hz refresh rate as well as the company’s DyAc (Dynamic Accuracy) technology that enhances the display's motion clarity. The manufacturer does not explain anything about this tech, but from various media reports (e.g., this one) it appears that the DyAc is BenQ's implementation of Ultra Low Motion Blur backlight strobing. ULMB reduces motion blur by inserting a black image between each frame of video and thus reducing time each frame is displayed. Given the hardware similarities between the monitors, I'm left to ponder of BenQ could have enabled this in current monitors via a firmware update, but for some reason BenQ decided not to add it to the ZOWIE XL2540, but to launch a new display instead.Other interesting capabilities of the ZOWIE XL2540/XL2546 are the Black eQualizer that increases the brightness of dark areas without oversaturating the bright areas, an option to quickly increase color vibrancies, a special external controller to activate different settings and profiles rapidly, as well as a light-shielding hood (which BenQ calls a way to help gamers to focus on their games).Just like the XL2540, the XL2546 uses DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI, and DVI-DL to connect to host PCs (though it should be noted that DVI does not support a 240 Hz refresh rate). In addition, the monitor has an integrated three-port USB hub and a PSU.BenQ plans to showcase the ZOWIE XL2546 display at DreamHack Atlanta 2017 this weekend. The company does not disclose anything regarding the price or the ETA of the new unit officially, but B&H is charging $549 for the new unit, which is $50 higher compared to its predecessor.Related Reading:
Dell’s UltraSharp U3818DW Now Available: Curved 37.5”, 3840×1600, USB-C, $1499
Dell this week began shipments of its curved ultra-wide 3840×1600 UltraSharp U3818DW display. The monitor is the fourth screen of this size and with this resolution on the market, and one of a few displays with a USB Type-C input (via DP 1.2 alternate mode). Dell is positioning its U3818DW as a business-class monitor, so it gets market-typical features such as an antiglare coating, but notably it does not get support for AMD’s FreeSync (which is available on competing monitors).The Dell UltraSharp U3818DW is based on a 37.5” 8-bit + FRC IPS panel featuring a 3840×1600 resolution, a 24:10 aspect ratio, 2300R curvature, and 1.07 billion colors. This panel has rather unique specifications and comes from LG Display. So far, three displays have used the panel for monitors aimed at consumers. For example, LG’s own 38UC99 and Acer’s XR382CQK come with FreeSync support and up to 75 Hz refresh rate (LG’s one only supports 75 Hz when FreeSync is used). Moreover, ASUS’s Designo Curve MX38VQ has integrated wireless Qi charging, whereas the LG 38UC99 has Bluetooth speakers (to playback music from smartphones or notebooks without using wires), two consumer-oriented features. By contrast, Dell seems to position its UltraSharp U3818DW in a similar way that it positions a number of its other curved displays: as a solution for business users looking to do a lot of multi-tasking.Dell UltraSharp U3818DWPanel37.5" IPSResolution3840 × 1600Refresh Rate60 HzResponse Time5 ms gray-to-gray
MAINGEAR Launches R2 Razer Edition: Mini-ITX System with AMD Ryzen or Intel Core i7
MAINGEAR this week introduced the first small form-factor Razer Edition desktop aimed at loyal clients of Razer. The new MAINGEAR R2 Razer Edition uses AMD’s and Intel’s latest platforms and comes with a lot of green lights, green coolant, and other green features to reflect the company’s main color.Razer has made quite a name for itself over the years in the gaming laptop market, but instead of entering the desktop business, the company decided to collaborate with renowned system builders to produce "Razer Edition" PCs. This enables Razer to offer Razer-branded desktops customers without entering a highly competitive market, whereas its partners gain access to Razer’s customer base. So far, Razer has collaborated with Lenovo and MAINGEAR for tower gaming desktops aiming mainstream and no-compromise gamers. With the MAINGEAR R2 Razer Edition, the two companies offer something for those who are looking for a miniature system featuring extreme components with further overclocking potential and liquid cooling.The MAINGEAR R2 Razer Edition is a Mini-ITX desktop that can fit in a motherboard based on AMD’s B350 or Intel’s Z270 chipset as well as an AMD Ryzen R5/R7 or Intel Core i5/i7 CPU respectively. Keeping the form-factor in mind, the R2 Razer desktop can fit in one graphics card (up to NVIDIA’s Titan Xp), one 3.5” or two 2.5” storage devices, as well as one M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD. Unlike many contemporary gaming desktops, the MAINGEAR R2 can accommodate a 5.25” ODD, and when equipped with an appropriate drive, can playback Blu-ray disks.When it comes to the motherboard choice, MAINGEAR offers ASRock AB350 Gaming-ITX/ac for use with AMD's Ryzen processors or ASUS ROG Strix Z270I Gaming or MSI Z270I Gaming Pro Carbon AC for Intel’s Core i7 CPUs. All of the motherboards feature GbE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, 7.1-channel audio, as well as USB 3.1 connectivity. MAINGEAR’s product brochure for the R2 also mentions ASRock’s X99 Mini-ITX motherboard, but at this point, it is impossible to order such a system, which is not surprising as this is an outgoing platform.Cooling is crucially important for high performance gaming PCs and MAINGEAR offers many options for the R2 Razer Edition. For entry-level builds, MAINGEAR can install AMD’s or Intel’s retail CPU coolers and keep stock cooling systems on the GPU. For something more advanced, the company offers the closed loop EPIC 240 LCS for the CPU. For high-end configurations MAINGEAR can also build a custom open loop LCS for both the CPU and GPU featuring soft tubing and a 360 mm radiator, whereas for ultra-high-end builds the PC maker can design a custom LCS with crystal or metal hardline tubing, chrome fittings, and other stylish components.MAINGEAR’s R2 Razer Edition desktops are now available from the company’s web site. Entry-level machines featuring AMD's Ryzen R5 or Intel's Core i5 start at $1099 and $1199, respectively. Meanwhile, SuperStock configurations featuring a customized LCS with hardline tubing and top-of-the-range CPUs and GPUs start at $4299 or $4399 depending on the platform.Gallery: MAINGEAR Launches R2 Razer Edition: Mini-ITX System with AMD Ryzen or Intel Core i7Related Reading:
ADATA Launches ISSS314 and IM2P3388 Industrial SSDs: 3D NAND, Extreme Temps
ADATA has introduced two new families of 3D NAND-based SSDs aimed at industrial applications. Dubbed the ISSS314 and the IM2P3388, these drives are designed to handle extreme temperatures as well as humidity levels, allowing them to work reliably in very tough environmental conditions. The more powerful IM2P3388 drives use a PCIe interface and offer high performance levels along with a powerful ECC engine and encryption, whereas the less speedy ISSS314 uses a SATA interface and offers very low power consumption that barely tops 2.5 W.The IM2P3388: M.2, High Performance, Extreme Temps, Encryption, TCG OpalThe ADATA IM2P3388 is an M.2 drive that uses a NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 interface and is based on 3D MLC NAND. This specific drive is designed to withstand ESD and EMI, up to 20 G vibration and 1500G/0.5ms shock, extreme temperatures from –40°C to +90°C, as well as high humidity (5%-95% RH, non-condensing). To put it into perspective: the IM2P3388 drives can operate in Antarctica or in the Lut Desert in Iran. In the real world, ADATA’s new SSDs will serve inside space-constrained industrial or commercial PCs, servers, military-grade systems, and embedded computers.The IM2P3388 drives are based on a Silicon Motion controller that ADATA does not name, we suspect is the SM2260 with some additional customization. As for the NAND, the IM2P3388 SSDs use carefully selected 3D MLC that can handle high temperatures for prolonged amounts of time. The IM2P3388 takes advantage of all the capabilities of the controller and therefore supports AES-256 encryption, TCG Opal 2.0 spec, end-to-end data protection, and so on. In addition, the drive has multiple sensors that monitor its condition.ADATA IM2P3388 SSD SpecificationsCapacity128 GB256 GB512 GB1 TBModel NumberCommercialIM2P3388-128GBIM2P3388-256GBIM2P3388-512GBIM2P3388-001TBIndustrialIM2P3388-128GCIM2P3388-256GCIM2P3388-512GCIM2P3388-001TCControllerSilicon Motion SM2260 (?)NAND Flash3D MLC NANDForm-Factor, InterfaceM.2-2280, PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.2Operating TemperatureCommercial-10°C to 80°CIndustrial-40°C to C to 90°CVibration Resistance20G (10 - 2000 Hz)Shock Resistance1500G/0.5 ms half sine waveOperating Humidity5% - 95% RH non-condensingSequential Read~1000 MB/s (?)~2000 MB/s (?)2500 MB/sSequential Write~300 MB/s (?)~600 MB/s (?)1100 MB/sRandom Read IOPSunknownRandom Write IOPSunknownPseudo-SLC CachingSupportedDRAM BufferYes, capacity unknownTCG Opal EncryptionYesPower ConsumptionUp to 4.8WPower ManagementDevSleep, SlumberWarrantyunknownMTBF>2,000,000 hoursAs for performance, ADATA specifies the drive to offer up to 2.5 GB/s sequential read speeds and up to 1.1 GB/s sequential write speeds (when pSLC caching is used), but does not specify random performance. ADATA’s IM2P3388 will be available in 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB configurations. Keeping in mind the high density of modern flash chips, expect the entry-level models to be slower than their higher-capacity counterparts. In general, expect performance of the IM2P3388 to be comparable to the XPG SX8000 drives featuring the SM2260 and 3D MLC.The ISSS314: 2.5”, Extreme Temps, Low Power, Starting at 32 GBThe ADATA ISSS314 SSDs come in a traditional 2.5”/7 mm drive form-factor and use a SATA 6 Gbps interface. In order to satisfy the diverse needs of customers, ADATA will offer the ISSS314 in 32 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB configurations. The higher-end models will provide up to 560 MB/s sequential read and up to 520 MB/s sequential write speeds, whereas the entry-level drives will be considerably slower. As for power consumption, the new SSDs are rated to only use up to 2.5 W, which puts them into the energy efficient category.The ISSS314 SSDs are based on an unknown controller as well as 3D MLC and 3D TLC NAND memory sorted using ADATA’s proprietary A+ testing methodology to find the higher quality chips. The industrial ISSS314 drives based on 3D MLC memory are rated to withstand shock, EMI, and extreme temperatures from –40°C to +85°C, and thus are aimed at industrial applications. By contrast, commercial 3D MLC ISSS314 SSDs are rated for –10°C to +80°C operation. Meanwhile, the 3D TLC-powered ISSS314 is guaranteed to work in a temperature range from 0°C to +70°C, but can also withstand shocks, ESD, EMI, and so on. As for features, all the ISS314 SSDs have S.M.A.R.T, a temperature sensor, hardware power detection, and flash protection.ADATA ISSS314 SpecificationsCapacity32 GB64 GB128 GB256 GB512 GBModel NumberMLCCommercialISSS314-032GBISSS314-064GBISSS314-128GBISSS314-256GBISSS314-512GBIndustrialISSS314-032GCISSS314-064GCISSS314-128GCISSS314-256GCISSS314-512GCTLCCommercial-ISSS314-128GDISSS314-256GDISSS314-512GDControllerSilicon Motion SM2258 (?)Form-Factor/Interface2.5"/7 mm/SATANANDMLCCommercial3D MLCIndustrial3D MLCTLCCommercial-3D TLCOperating Temp.MLCCommercial-10°C to 80°CIndustrial-40°C to C to 85°CTLCCommercial0°C to 70°CVibration Resistance20G (10 - 2000 Hz)Shock Resistance1500G/0.5 ms half sine waveOperating Humidity5% - 95% RH non-condensingSequential Readunknown560 MB/sSequential Writeunknown520 MB/sRandom Read IOPSUp to 90K IOPS (taken from SM2258, actual will be lower)Random Write IOPSUp to 80K IOPS (taken from SM2258, actual will be lower)Pseudo-SLC CachingSupportedDRAM BufferYes, capacity unknownTCG Opal EncryptionNoPower ConsumptionUp to 2.5WPower ManagementDevSleepWarrantyunknownMTBF2,000,000 hoursADATA does not publish recommended prices for its industrial and commercial SSDs. Since such products rarely show up in mainstream retail, their actual prices for customers typically fluctuate depending on the order size and other factors.Related Reading:
Alphacool Releases Two New SSD Coolers: Passive HDX-2 and Watercooled HDX-3
This week Alphacool announced the availability of their new M.2 SSD Coolers, the HDX-2 and HDX-3. Some may recall the original HDX M.2 cooler was a simple, passive, clip on heatsink for M.2 SSDs, and was designed to help prevent thermal throttling which has a tendency to plague synthetic test results on some M.2 based drives. With the advent of the HDX-2 and HDX-3, they have moved beyond the simple clip cooler and to using a PCIe x4 card. This design change allowed a full sized heatsink to be mounted on it giving more surface area to cool the attached M.2 device. The HDX-3 takes the HDX-2 and its passive setup a step further and uses a waterblock instead of the large heatsink to remove the heat created from these SSDs. The dimensions both the of HDX-2 come in at 100 x 81.5 x 20 mm with the HDX-3 being slightly taller at 120 mm while sharing the same width and height. According to Alphacool, the included 4x PCIe card allows a maximum bandwidth of around 3900 MB/s. Existing M.2 drives on the market will not be able to saturate it. Though it is double sided, both M.2 coolers hold one M.2 based device. Contact from the M.2 device to the heatsink is provided by included thermal pads. These thermals pads cover both single and double sided M.2 drives. The HDX-2 and HDX-3 both support up to one 80mm M.2 SSD. Both devices connect to the PCIe slot and mount to the case for a stable platform.Alphacool HDX-2 and HDX-3 M.2 SSD CoolersTechnical DataHDX-2HDX-3Dimensions (LxWxH)100 x 81.5 x 20 mm120 x 81.5 x 20 mmMaterialAluminumCopper, AcetalThreadsN/A2x G 1/4"PCIe Form FactorPCIe 3.0 x4CompatibilityM.2 2280 PCIe SSDsMax. Bandwidth PCIe Card3938 MB/sThe HDX-2 uses large aluminum heatsinks on both sides of the included PCIe card easily covering the M.2 drive it aims to cool. The heatsinks are black with αCOOL and HDX-2 stenciled on it in white as well as having cooling fins to increase cooling area - the heatsinks cover the entire PCB of the PCIe card. The drive is mounted to the PCB, thermal pads applied to the drive, then mount the heatsink to the board.The HDX-3 block is made of nickel-plated copper with the top made from a single piece of acetal. The block mounts to one side of the PCIe card leaving the other side open. Alphacool says water flows over the entire SSD to help keep things cool. The water enters and exits the block at the opposite end to the PCIe connector using standard G ¼” a threads.Gallery: Alphacool HDX-2 and HDX-3Pricing and availability were not listed in the press release.Related Reading
ASUS Introduces ROG Crosshair VI Extreme AM4 Motherboard for Ryzen
Most enthusiasts are familiar with ASUS’ Republic of Gamers (ROG) sub-brand bringing users what they state is an innovative lineup of products, promoted for performance and quality with gaming in mind. The ROG lineup has motherboards, graphic cards, laptops, desktops, monitors, even audio equipment, routers, and other peripherals. Today ASUS has announced in the US an addition to the AMD ROG family, the Crosshair VI Extreme Motherboard (C6E). The C6E is made on the AM4 platform using the flagship X370 chipset. According to ASUS, “...the ROG Crosshair VI Extreme is designed for gamers and power users looking to maximize AMD Ryzen performance”.ASUS mentions ROG engineers worked on the board’s intelligent auto-tuner to improve one-click overclocking. For those new to overclocking, this means less hassle than manually tweaking multiple parameters to find a balance between a high overclock and having a stable system. Just click once, and the board should find a stable overclock. If one-click overclocking isn’t in the cards, and pushing the limits is the goal, the 12-phase VRM and plethora of overclocking features (dual bios, slow mode, LN2 mode, and voltage read points, to name a few) are also present.Cooling an overclocked PC is an important factor as to how far one can safely push their machine. ASUS has partnered with Bitspower to produce a monoblock custom made for the Extreme (sold separately). The C6E uses a header on the board to monitor the Bitspower monoblock temperatures, flow rates, and also includes leak detection circuits. The board has other onboard connectors for keeping tabs on liquid temperatures and water flow at other points in the loop for users with their own thermistors. This data is managed by the FanXpert 4 software allowing consumers the ability to finely tune their cooling setup for performance, or silence as needed, across a total of 13 fan headers.The Crosshair VI Extreme has the two full-length PCIe slots from the CPU using the ASUS Safeslot, which reinforces the PCIe bracket with a metal bracing for rigidity protection. With a nod to cooling, the dual full-length PCIe slots are spaced 3-slots apart giving two-slot coolers breathing room than with slots closer together. There is a third full-length slot on the board supporting a PCIe 3.0 x4 connection via the chipset which buyers can use for three-way CrossfireX using dual-slot video cards.Looking at connectivity, the C6E has two USB 3.1 Gen2 (10 Gbps) ports on the rear, one Type-C and one Type-A, both from the chipset. It also has integrated Intel I211-AT gigabit Ethernet and an Intel AC 8265 as the 802.11ac module using a 2x2 antenna for Wi-Fi duties, as well as Bluetooth 4.1. There are a total of two M.2 ports - one uses the PCH/M.2 heatsink, and another which does not. For SATA, we see a total of eight ports. The back I/O plate is integrated and gives the board a clean look without having to install the I/O plate.The C6E is using their latest SupremeFX banding, with an S1220 codec (based off the Realtek ALC1220) onboard audio. The actual IC is covered and protected from electromagnetic interference by the extended IO cover. The system contains an ESS Sabre DAC and “the usual assortment of engineering tweaks to improve the output and recording quality”, according to ASUS.ASUS chose to use a monochromatic palette with a base color of black for the PCB with some stenciled in gray patterns, black and gray on the four DIMM slots, while the VRM cooling is mostly gray with some black highlights on it. The C6E will use its onboard LEDs (found on the I/O shroud, PCH, PCIe retention clips, and the right side of the board) and AURA Sync software to control the LEDs. If that isn’t enough, there is a header for addressable light strips allowing users to control each individual LED on the strip for even more lighting options. There are also two other onboard headers for standard LED strips. Another design feature aimed at aesthetics and overclockers is the right-angled 24-Pin ATX power connector. This change from vertical to lay flat against the board is said to allow for better cable routing in cases that have sufficient horizontal space.Gallery: ASUS Crosshair VI ExtremeThe flagship ROG Crosshair VI Extreme can be found on store shelves starting in early August with an MSRP of $349.Related Reading:
Intel Launches Movidius Neural Compute Stick: Deep Learning and AI on a $79 USB Stick
Today Intel subsidiary Movidius is launching their Neural Compute Stick (NCS), a version of which was showcased earlier this year at CES 2017. The Movidius NCS adds to Intel’s deep learning and AI development portfolio, building off of Movidius’ April 2016 launch of the Fathom NCS and Intel’s later acquisition of Movidius itself in September 2016. As Intel states, the Movidius NCS is “the world’s first self-contained AI accelerator in a USB format,” and is designed to allow host devices to process deep neural networks natively – or in other words, at the edge. In turn, this provides developers and researchers with a low power and low cost method to develop and optimize various offline AI applications.Movidius's NCS is powered by their Myriad 2 vision processing unit (VPU), and, according to the company, can reach over 100 GFLOPs of performance within an nominal 1W of power consumption. Under the hood, the Movidius NCS works by translating a standard, trained Caffe-based convolutional neural network (CNN) into an embedded neural network that then runs on the VPU. In production workloads, the NCS can be used as a discrete accelerator for speeding up or offloading neural network tasks. Otherwise for development workloads, the company offers several developer-centric features, including layer-by-layer neural networks metrics to allow developers to analyze and optimize performance and power, and validation scripts to allow developers to compare the output of the NCS against the original PC model in order to ensure the accuracy of the NCS's model.The 2017 Movidius NCS vs. 2016 Fathom NCSAccording to Gary Brown, VP of Marketing at Movidius, this ‘Acceleration mode’ is one of several features that differentiate the Movidius NCS from the Fathom NCS. The Movidius NCS also comes with a new "Multi-Stick mode" that allows multiple sticks in one host to work in conjunction in offloading work from the CPU. For multiple stick configurations, Movidius claims that they have confirmed linear performance increases up to 4 sticks in lab tests, and are currently validating 6 and 8 stick configurations. Importantly, the company believes that there is no theoretical maximum, and they expect that they can achieve similar linear behavior for more devices. Though ultimately scalability will depend at least somewhat with the neural network itself, and developers trying to use the feature will want to play around with it to determine how well they can reasonably scale.Meanwhile, the on-chip memory has increased from 1 GB on the Fathom NCS to 4 GB LPDDR3 on the Movidius NCS, in order to facilitate larger and denser neural networks. And to cap it all off, Movidius has been able to reduce the MSRP to $79 – citing Intel’s "manufacturing and design expertise” – lowering the cost of entry even more.Like other players in the edge inference market, Movidius is looking to promote and capitalize on the need for low-power but capable inference processors for stand-alone devices. That means targeting use cases where the latency of going to a server would be too great, a high-performance CPU too power hungry, or where privacy is a greater concern. In which case, the NCS and the underlying Myriad 2 VPU are Intel's primary products for device manufacturers and software developers.Movidius Neural Compute Stick ProductsMovidius Neural Compute StickFathom Neural Compute StickInterfaceUSB 3.0 Type AUSB 3On-chip Memory4Gb LPDDR31Gb/512Mb LPDDR3Deep Learning Framework SupportCaffeCaffe
EKWB Releases New RGB Monoblock for MSI X299 Motherboards
This week, the Slovenian based liquid cooling manufacturer, EKWB (EK Water Blocks) released a new monoblock which is custom made for specific MSI X299 motherboards, and named the EK-FB MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon RGB Monoblock. MSI claims this solution provides up to 30% cooler VRM and CPU temperatures as measured at the back of the PCB. It has a built-in 4-pin RGB LED strip compatible with MSI’s Mystic Light software in order to customize the lighting experience.Based on the EK-Supremacy Evo cooling engine, EK states it has a high flow design and can be used in systems running a weaker pump. The EK-FB MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon Monoblock directly cools Intel LGA2066 socket CPUs as well as the potentially hot running VRM area on many X299 boards. It does so with direct contact on the both the CPU and MOSFETs with liquid flowing directly over those critical parts inside the block.Sparing little expense, the base is made out of nickel-plated electrolytic copper, with the top constructed of acrylic glass. According to MSI, the cold plate portion of the block has been redesigned to ensure it “…has better mechanical contact with the IHS…thus enabling better thermal transfer”. An example of this is the raised circle where the CPU IHS would be pressed against (see picture below). The required barbs are the common G 1/4" type.The included 4-pin RGB LED strip connects to the motherboard’s 4-pin RGB LED header, or to other 3 party 4-pin LED controllers. The LED strip cover can be removed and replaced with another compatible RGB LED strip, or flipped around for better cable management, orientation, and aesthetics.Though the name of this monoblock specifically mentions one specific motherboard, MSI says it is compatible with the following boards in their X299 lineup:
Kontron Merges with S&T, Gets Access to Software, Manufacturing
Kontron and S&T Deutschland Holding on Monday announced that shareholders of both companies have agreed to merge the two companies. Kontron, which is known for its servers, small form-factor PCs, and other specialized hardware, will retain its brand, but will gain access to S&T’s software and contract manufacturing capabilities. Meanwhile, S&T will broaden its hardware portfolio. Combined, sales of the two companies are expected to hit the $1 billion mark in 2017.Kontron is one of the world’s largest makers of industrial rackmount servers and embedded systems, many of which are specialized and do not fall into traditional commodity categories. Last year was particularly tough for the company: its revenues decreased by 18% year-over-year to €385.1 million ($440 million), its gross margin dropped to 14.6% from 26.1% a year earlier, and its EBIT loss was €141.7 million ($161.7 million), reports LightReading. In the light of challenging financial situation, Kontron began talks with S&T regarding the merger late in 2016, which in turn concluded in June.The merger with S&T will give Kontron access to S&T’s software as well as to Ennoconn, a subsidiary of Foxconn that designs and produces motherboards and systems for specialized and embedded applications. Outsourcing of manufacturing will naturally shrink costs for the new company, whereas the ability to offer software, hardware, and services will help the newly established entity to better address needs of its customers and sustain strong margins. In general, the consolidation of hardware and software is what has been driving the merger trend on the sever market for many years.Kontron is one of a few suppliers of servers that have offered ARM-based servers. For example, at this year’s Mobile World Congress the company demonstrated the world’s first and only 1P server running Applied Micro/MACOM's X-Gene 3 processor with 32 custom ARMv8-A cores and 32 MB of cache. It will be interesting to see how the merger between Kontron and S&T affect the former’s ARM server plans.The two companies hope that the merger, combined with internal restructuring of Kontron, will result in faster decision-making and shorten development times and evolutionary cycles. From a financial point of view, Kontron and S&T expect their combined revenues to be between €860 and €890 million ($993 – $1028 million) in fiscal year 2017, and intend to break the €1 billion ($1.155 billion) sales milestone in 2018.
Samsung Increases Production Volumes of 8 GB HBM2 Chips Due to Growing Demand
Samsung on Tuesday announced that it is increasing production volumes of its 8 GB, 8-Hi HBM2 DRAM stacks due to growing demand. In the coming months the company’s 8 GB HBM2 chips will be used for several applications, including those for consumers, professionals, AI, as well as for parallel computing. Meanwhile, AMD’s Radeon Vega graphics cards for professionals and gamers will likely be the largest consumers of HBM2 in terms of volume. And while AMD is traditionally a SK Hynix customer, the timing of this announcement with AMD's launches certainly suggests that AMD is likely a Samsung customer this round as well.Samsung’s 8 GB HBM Gen 2 memory KGSDs (known good stacked die) are based on eight 8-Gb DRAM devices in an 8-Hi stack configuration. The memory components are interconnected using TSVs and feature over 5,000 TSV interconnects each. Every KGSD has a 1024-bit bus and offers up to 2 Gbps data rate per pin, thus providing up to 256 GB/s of memory bandwidth per single 8-Hi stack. The company did not disclose power consumption and heat dissipation of its HBM memory components.Update 7/20: Samsung confirmed that the DRAM devices are made using 20 nm process technology, but could not disclose power consumption and TDP of KGSDs.Samsung began mass production of 4-Hi HBM2 KGSDs with 4 GB capacity and 2 Gbps data rate per pin in early 2016. These chips have been used to build various solutions based on NVIDIA’s GP100 and later GV100 GPUs aimed at HPC and similar applications. The company also started to manufacture HBM2 KGSDs with 8 GB capacity in 2016 and so far, Samsung is the only company to publicly announce that they can mass-produce 8 GB HBM2 KGSDs.Recently AMD launched its Radeon Vega Frontier Edition cards, the first commercial products featuring Vega and 8-Hi HBM2 stacks. To date we haven't been able to get confirmation of whose HBM2 AMD is using – frequent collaborator SK Hynix's or Samsung’s – however as Samsung is for now the only vendor to announce 8-Hi volume production, it's looking increasingly likely that AMD is using Samsung's HBM2. Meanwhile in the coming months AMD will expand the lineup of its graphics cards based on the Vega GPU with the RX Vega line for gamers, and considering that such devices are sold in mass quantities, Samsung has a very good reason for increasing HBM2 production..Samsung expects 8 GB HBM2 KGSDs to account for over 50% of its HBM2 production by the first half of 2018.Gallery: Samsung Increases Production Volumes of 8 GB HBM2 Chips Due to Growing DemandRelated Reading:
Intel Releases Graphics Driver 15.46 for Windows
With last week’s release of Minecraft: Story Mode – Season Two, Intel has released their Graphics Driver 15.46 to provide launch support, as well as bugfixes, feature updates, Computer Vision and AI application development support, and support for Windows 10 Creator’s Update features. The driver is only for Windows 10 64-bit, and applies to Intel HD, Iris, and Iris Pro graphics on 6 and 7 generation processors (Skylake and Kaby Lake), Apollo Lake platforms, and Xeon E3-1200v5/E3-1500v5/E3-1200v6 product families.Other than Minecraft: Story Mode, several other games have launch drivers or improvements included in 15.46 (Driver Version, Windows Driver Store Version Fortnite, Gigantic, Pyre, Master x Master, Secret World Legends, and Pit People. Intel notes that all these optimizations only apply for processors with HD Graphics 620 or better.In terms of key game bugs, Intel has corrected texture flickering in Halo 2 and other DX9 games. Intel has also resolved issues with graphical anomalies in Guilty Gear Xrd, Fallout 4, Euro Truck Simulator 2, Guild Wars 2, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Vikings – Wolves of Midgard, Rainbow Six Siege, For Honor, Watch Dogs 2, Lego Minifigures Online (DX12 mode), and other games. Finally, Intel has fixed intermittent crashes and hangs in Guild Wars 2, DOTA 2, and The Talos Principle (when resumed from suspend state in Vulkan mode), and others.Other non-game related issues were resolved in 15.46 as well. The HD Graphics Control Panel no longer displays the Panel Self Refresh (PSR) option for non-PSR panels, and now does not have issues with bezel correction in tri-display collage configurations. Additionally, Intel has resolved an issue with graphical anomalies for certain tablets when the panel is rotated 180 degrees through hardware during fullscreen video playback. Lastly, Intel has fixed incorrect resolution caps during virtual display auto-detection, and has brought general WebGL stability improvements.The 15.46 driver also brings support for CV and AI workload acceleration on Intel integrated GPUs. This support ties in with Intel’s open source Compute Library for Deep Neural Networks (clDNN) and associated Computer Vision SDK and Deep Learning Deployment Toolkits. As for the Creators Update, Intel simply states in the release notes that Windows 10 Creators Update features are enabled in 7 generation Intel Core processors.Moving on, Intel has enabled additional OpenCL media extensions, as well as a few preview extensions. In addition, 15.46 brings support for OpenGL v4.5, Vulkan v1.0.38, and programmable sample positions in Direct3D12.Although this graphics driver update is not the usual AMD or NVIDIA news, it is important to note that Intel remains very important in the consumer graphics space, despite the cancellation of Larrabee for discrete consumer graphics some seven years ago. As of Q1 2017, Intel iGPUs hold over 70% share of the graphics market. Since 2010, Intel has kept marching on, enhancing their integrated graphics prowess with Iris to the extent that Intel themselves now consider their iGPUs equivalent to discrete GPUs for mainstream and casual gamers. As iGPUs and APUs become more and more powerful, lower-end discrete graphics may be supplanted entirely.Likewise, there is a machine learning element involved as well. In recent years, Intel has made a push towards deep learning in edge devices by utilizing their ubiquitous iGPUs, efforts of which are continuing in this very 15.46 driver. With Intel acquisitions like Nervana and Movidius, it was only a matter of time before the humble Intel IGP was hit with the AI and deep learning fever too. In that machine learning space, the competition is rapidly heating up with Google’s TPU, NVIDIA’s Tesla, and AMD’s Radeon Instinct among those in the mix, not to mention Intel’s own Knights Mill Xeon Phi and ARM’s own DynamIQ endeavors. As automotive, deep learning, and neural networking (as well as all the other related fields) applications grow, edge devices like Intel’s iGPUs can offer a method of democratization with respect to software development, and one to look out for in the future.Wrapping things up, the updated drivers for Intel products are available on their driver download page. More information on 15.46 and further issues can be found in the release notes or on the 15.46 download page.
The Asus Prime Z270-A & GIGABYTE Z270X-Ultra Gaming Motherboard Review
In this review we are having a look at two mainstream, Intel Z270 based gaming motherboards: the Asus Prime Z270-A and the GIGABYTE Z270X-Ultra Gaming. They look very similar on paper, with both retailing for the almost the same retail price and even using the same audio, LAN and USB chipsets, but each motherboard has its own strengths and weaknesses, which will examine in this review.
Gigabyte Announces H110-D3A Motherboard for Mining Rigs: The Mining Cart Rolls on
GIGABYTE this week has taken the wraps off of a new motherboard built specifically for the again popular cryptocurrency mining crowd: the H110-D3A. Like other boards targeted at mining, there are a plethora of PCIe x1 slots. Having several PCIe x1 slots on mining motherboards make it more cost effective to simply add more video cards into a single system, rather than expanding to additional systems. Despite this being a mining focused board, some more common features found in mainstream consumers boards are here, such as a Realtek ALC887 audio codec, although others are left out as well in an effort to reduce board prices for this cost-conscious and investment-oriented market.Based on Intel's H110 chipset, the H110-D3A has five PCIe x1 slots from the PCH and a PCIe x16 slot from the CPU, giving a total of six slots for GPU mining. This is compared to a typical consumer motherboard board with three or four PCIe slots, so it is easy to see the value proposition for miners. Due to the socket/chipset combination, processor support is for both 6th and 7th generation Intel CPUs, while memory support is listed at DDR4-2133/2400 and 32GB for the two DIMM slots. It is pretty sparse on extra features, as are most boards aimed at mining, but it still offers a full PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot and four SATA 6 Gbps ports.The board is built using GIGABYTE's “Ultra Durable” components, which GIGABYTE states are tested for extended operation. Power is fed to the board and CPU via the usual 24-Pin ATX and 8-Pin EPS sockets, which in turn is regulated by a 5-phase VRM setup. Two additional power headers, via 4-Pin Molex plugs, are located above the first PCIe (x16) slot and below the last (x1) slot to handle the additional power required for running several video cards through the multiple PCIe slots.Connectivity on the rear panel is basic, but all the required elements are there. This consists of two PS/2 ports, one parallel port, one serial port, a VGA port, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB2 ports, a Realtek Gbe LAN RJ-45 port, and Realtek ALC887 based audio.GIGABYTE H110-D3AWarranty Period3 YearsProduct PageLinkPrice$89SizeATXCPU InterfaceLGA1151ChipsetIntel H110Memory Slots (DDR4)Two DDR4
The Kingston HyperX Alloy Elite Mechanical Keyboard Review
A few months ago, Kingston made their move into the mechanical keyboards market with the Alloy FPS, a compact, portable mechanical keyboard. Today we are having a look at their second mechanical keyboard, the HyperX Alloy Elite, a product that is ditching the portability of the Alloy FPS for additional practical features and superior aesthetics.
Viking Ships UHC-Silo SSDs: 25 - 50 TB Capacity, Custom eMLC, SAS, $0.4 per GB
Viking Technology has started shipping their new lineup of ultra high capacity (UHC) SSDs designed to replace 3.5” HDDs in capacity-demanding applications that can take advantage of flash memory. The Viking UHC-Silo drives use planar eMLC NAND memory in custom packaging with raw NAND capacities of 25 TB and 50 TB, and consequently are currently the highest capacity SSDs available on the market.An increasing number of datacenters these days use both SSDs and HDDs, balancing the high performance of SSDs with HDDs' ability to store huge amounts of data relatively cheaply. Meanwhile, there is an emerging category of all-flash or hybrid storage systems that either do not use hard drives at all, or use HDDs mostly for things like “cold” archives. Such systems are rather energy efficient and offer high performance thanks to the heavy use of solid state storage.Nevertheless, when it comes to bulk storage, their requirements are similar to the requirements of datacenters using HDDs: maximum capacity per cubic meter, maximum capacity per watt, high availability, and predictable cost per GB. Viking’s UHC-Silo SSDs were designed for the aforementioned kinds of applications — in some cases, they are going to replace hard drives for huge databases or even “cold” storage, in other cases they are going to sit between “warm” and “cold” storage. Given that many applications may benefit from SSDs, demand for high-capacity flash storage devices is growing in general.The Viking UHC-Silo SSDs come in a 3.5” form-factor (a rarity for any kind of SSD) and utilize a SAS 6 Gbps interface, two features that make the drives particularly well-suited for replacing high capacity HDDs. The drives are designed for mixed workloads that do not generate more than 1 DWPD and do not require very high performance. The UHC-Silo SSDs offer sustained sequential read/write speed of 500/350 MB/s as well as up to 60,000/15,000 random read/write IOPS, which is in line with other extreme capacity SATA SSDs and is a result of their internal architecture and limitations of contemporary controllers. In fact, given the UHC-Silo's performance limitations (350 MB/s sustained write speed), it's impossible to write more than 30 TB of data in a single day. So while the 25 TB version can physically support 1 DWPD over five years (this is what Viking guarantees), the 50 TB model cannot physically support more than 0.6 DWPD. The latter fact essentially means that, assuming Viking's sustained performance figures are reasonably accurate, the TBW rating of the 50 TB SKU (91.25 PB) cannot be physically exceeded during the warranty period.Viking UHC-Silo Specifications25 TB50 TBForm Factor3.5" SAS DriveInterfaceSAS 6 GbpsControllerProprietaryNANDSK Hynix eMLC in proprietary packagingSequential Read500 MB/sSequential Write350 MB/sRandom Read (4 KB) IOPS60,000Random Write (4 KB) IOPS10,000PowerIdle10 WOperating16 WECC55 bit/512 byte BCHEnduranceUp to 1 DWPD for over five years (limited by performance)Uncorrectable Bit Error Rate<1 bit per 10 bits readEnd-to-End Data ProtectionYesWarrantyFive yearsCustomization OptionsYes, can add power failure protection, etc.Additional InformationLinkThe UHC-Silo drives are based on a custom-built proprietary controller that's paired with eMLC NAND from SK Hynix, which is acquired in wafer form and then cut, tested and packaged in house. In fact, Viking’s proprietary packaging is what enables these drives of rather extreme capacities. SK Hynix officially sells 2048 Gb (256 GB) MLC packages containing 16 128 Gb NAND devices. If Viking used these off-the shelf packages, it would require 100 of them for the 25 TB drive and 200 of them for the 50 TB SSD. Since it is impossible to pack 100 or 200 chips into a 3.5” SSD, Viking uses proprietary NAND packages to build its UHC-Silo drives. The company does not disclose information about its custom NAND chips and does not freely show the internals of the drives because the packaging is one of its key trade secrets.The proprietary controller that Viking uses supports BCH-based 55 bit/512 byte ECC with end-to-end CRC protection to enable a <1 in 10 bits read bit error rate. The drives also support data recovery from sector, page and block failure, but for some reason the standard versions listed on the company’s web site do not have any power failure data protection. Meanwhile, since such drives are usually bought for a particular project and are built-to-order, clients may ask Viking to add this feature (and not only this) for an additional fee. Viking stresses that the controller supports NAND from different vendors and thus it can switch between suppliers if it needs to.Viking says that its UHC-Silo SSDs are the highest-capacity SSDs available on the market today. From raw capacity standpoint, the UHC-Silo are exactly what Viking claims them to be: nobody else offers 25 and 50 TB SSDs in a 3.5” form-factor. Meanwhile, Viking had to make significant tradeoffs between performance, capacity, power and compatibility, which is why its drives are considerably slower than some of their direct rivals, such as NGD’s Catalina 24 TB SSD (up to 3.9 GB/s throughput) and Samsung’s PM1633a 15.36 TB drive (up to 1.9/0.9 GB/s read/write). Since there are loads of potential customers requiring massive SSDs for their existing 3.5” SAS backplanes, Viking had to use this interface and could design the drives' capabilities around its limitations.But perhaps most surprisingly, despite the industry-leading capacity of their drives, Viking is keeping the overall prices of the drives relatively reasonable. The actual prices of the Viking UHC-Silo SSDs are not published (remember that they can be customized), but the manufacturer says that the two drives are priced at around $0.40 per GB. This would put the 25 TB drive at approximately $10,000, whereas the 50 TB version would run for $20,000. By contrast, the aforementioned Samsung PM1633a 15.36 TB SSD costs ~$11,300, or $0.73 per GB.Related Reading:
ASUS Adds Entry-Level VP28UQG to Gaming LCD Lineup: 28”, 4K, FreeSync, 1ms
Without making any formal announcements, Asus has quietly added a new gaming display to their product lineup. The VP28UQG features a 4K resolution, a 1 ms response time, as well as AMD’s FreeSync dynamic refresh rate technology. The new monitor does not belong to the premium ROG product family and does not support high refresh rates, so all signs point to Asus positioning it as an entry-level monitor.The ASUS VP28UQG display is equipped with a 28” TN panel featuring a 3840×2160 resolution, 300 nits brightness, a 1000:1 contrast ratio, 170°/160° viewing angles, a 1 ms response time, as well as a 60 Hz refresh rate. The monitor can reproduce 1.07 billion colors, but ASUS for some reason does not disclose its actual coverage of standard color spaces. Since the VP28UQG is designed for gaming, it is most likely tailored for Windows and therefore the sRGB color space.Hardcore gamers might consider a 60 Hz refresh rate too low for action packed titles, but ASUS seems to aim the new monitor at casual gamers who have demands for a higher resolution and an above-average screen size. The three main reasons why ASUS calls the VP28UQG a gaming display is because it has a low response time from the use of a TN panel, supports AMD’s FreeSync technology (with a 40 to 60 Hz range, so unfortunately no LFC), as well as ASUS’s own GamePlus technology that adds on-screen crosshair, FPS counter, timer and so on. Keeping in mind that casual gamers barely have graphics cards that can hit above 60 frames per second in demanding titles at a 4K resolution, the 60 Hz refresh of the monitor might not be an issue for now. In fact, the VP28UQG is not the first 4Kp60 monitor aimed at gamers in ASUS’ lineup. The company has been selling the MG28UQ featuring a similar panel for a while now and the VP28UQG is positioned a bit lower in the lineup.When it comes to connectivity, the VP28UQG is equipped with two HDMI 2.0 inputs as well as a DisplayPort 1.2 input, and has a 3.5-mm audio jack to connect headphones. As for ergonomics, ASUS says that the monitor can adjust its tilt, but not swivel or height.ASUS 4Kp60 Gaming MonitorsASUS
New Intel Kaby Lake Core i3 Processors: i3-7340, i3-7320T, i3-7120T, i3-7120
Last week Intel recently updated its specifications for the 7 generation processors. In doing so, we can see several new Kaby Lake i3 SKUs coming to desktop, along with a few new KBL-U series SoCs for notebooks and a new Xeon E3-1285 v6 CPU, which matches the specification for Apples newest iMac. The full specification update from Intel is listed here.New Desktop Core i3 Kaby Lake CPUsThe existing lineup of Core i3 on the desktop has six models ranging from the i3-7100T to the Core i3-7350K. Like previous generations, all the parts have two cores and support hyperthreading, although Intel did shake things up with this generation by offering an overclockable Core i3, but also moving the lower-class Pentiums from plain dual core to dual-core with HT as competition. The main differences between the parts are core frequency (Core i3 has no Turbo), L3 cache, GPU Turbo and TDP.7th Generation Core i3 and Pentium Desktop ProcessorsSteppingCoresFreqL3GPU Turbo
Toshiba Weds 3D NAND and TSV: Up to 1 TB 3D TLC Chips with 1066 MT/s I/O Incoming
Toshiba on Wednesday introduced its first BiCS 3D TLC NAND flash chips with 512 GB and 1 TB capacities. . The new ICs stack 8 or 16 3D NAND devices using through silicon vias (TSVs) and are currently among the highest capacity non-volatile memory stacks available in the industry. Commercial products powered by the 512 GB and 1 TB packages are expected to hit the market in 2018, with an initial market focus on high-end enterprise SSDsStacking NAND devices to build high capacity flash memory ICs has been used for years to maximize the capacities and performance of SSDs and other solid state storage devices. In many cases, NAND makers use wire-bonding technique to stack multiple memory devices, but it makes packages larger and requires a lot of power for reliable operation. However in more recent years, Toshiba has adopted TSV techniques previously used for ASIC and DRAM devices to stack its NAND ICs, which has enabled it to shrink size of its NAND packages and reduce their power consumption.TSVs are essentially electrodes that penetrate the entire thickness of a silicon die and connect the dies above and below it in the stack. A bus formed by TSVs can operate at a high data transfer rate, consume less power, and take up less space than a bus made using physical wires. Since 3D NAND is based on vertically stacked memory layers and has numerous vertical interconnects, so far Toshiba has not used TSVs to interconnect such devices. To wed TSV and 3D NAND, Toshiba had to develop a special 512 Gb BiCS NAND die featuring appropriate electrical conductors.It is noteworthy that the company used its 48-layer 2 generation BiCS architecture instead of the 64-layer 3 gen BiCS to design the 512 Gb 3D TLC NAND device. The reasons for such design decision are not obvious. On the one hand, 48-layers could minimize the height of the 8-high and 16-high stacks. On the other hand, Toshiba could opt for a lower number of layers because it is using a thicker process technology to build the 3D TLC NAND devices in a bid to improve their endurance (thus, a structure with fewer layers is meant to keep height in check).Toshiba’s 512 GB and 1 TB 3D TLC NAND ICs use a 1066 MT/s Toggle DDR interface, which is one of the advantages that the use of TSVs has enabled. Another advantage enabled by TSVs is a near doubling of Toshiba's data transfer energy efficiency relative to their existing BiCS2-based products that use wire bonding, according to the manufacturer.Toshiba's 512 GB and 1 TB 3D TLC NAND Chips512 GB (4096 Gb)1 TB (8192 Gb)PackageNAND Dual x8 BGA-152Base Die512 Gb 48-Layer BiCS2 3D TLC NAND ICNumber of Stacks816External DimensionsWidth14 mmDepth18 mmHeight1.35 mm1.85 mmInterfaceToggle DDRInteface Data Transfer Rate1066 MT/sThe 512 GB and 1 TB 3D TLC NAND chips from Toshiba come in 14×18 mm packages and use the industry-standard dual x8 BGA-152 interface. The standard pinout is important because the ICs will be used primarily for high capacity SSDs used in servers. In fact, apart from their high density, the 1066 MT/s interface and overall energy efficiency will be the two significant benefits for datacenter-class drives. Further down the line, 512 GB and 1 TB 3D TLC NAND chips will also enable Toshiba and its partners to build 2.5" SSDs with 15 – 30 TB of usable capacity (Samsung uses 512 GB packages to build its flagship PM1633a) and go even higher with 3.5" drives.Toshiba has already started to ship prototypes of its 512 GB and 1 TB 3D TLC NAND chips for development purposes, and plans to start sampling the 8-high and 16-high flash memory ICs in the second half of 2017. It is hard to make precise predictions about the availability of actual SSDs based on the aforementioned chips, but it is logical to expect them in 2018.Related Reading:
Logitech Acquires ASTRO Gaming, Strengthens Portfolio of Headsets for Consoles
In a bid to expand its portfolio of products, Logitech this week acquired ASTRO Gaming, whom is primarily known for its high-end headsets for consoles and PCs. The move will help Logitech to address the console gaming market with high-margin products and strengthen its headset lineup in general.Logitech’s family of products includes tens of mice and keyboards, many of which are designed for gamers with different requirements and budgets. But when it comes to headsets, Logitech (only) offers eight models priced from $35 to $200. By acquiring ASTRO Gaming, the company gets a portfolio of headsets that includes dozens of SKUs with different accessories and designs, many of which retail for $200 – $300, thus expanding Logitech’s addressable market. For the Lausanne-based company it is particularly important that ASTRO’s products are tailored for game consoles and come with special MixAmp controllers for quick setup and adjustments. Besides headsets, special edition headsets, and accessories for them, ASTRO Gaming sells various accessories for gamers, including headset cases, bags, hats, jackets, and other items.While ASTRO has loads of product SKUs, there is a catch: ASTRO Gaming only has three base headset models (if previous-generation devices are not taken into account), which they mix and match with different designs and accessories to create a wide product portfolio to address different customers. This is a typical approach of small companies that do not have huge R&D budgets to expand their lineups. Moreover, at present, ASTRO Gaming’s products are only available in the U.S. As a result of the acquisition, ASTRO gains access to Logitech’s technologies and global distribution, enabling further growth for the brand.Logitech is set to pay $85 million in cash for ASTRO Gaming and expects to close the deal next month. This is not the first time in the recent quarters where Logitech has expanded their products portfolio by acquiring other companies. In September 2016, the company acquired the Saitek brand and product lines, allowing them to enter the market for sim controllers. Just like in case of Saitek, ASTRO Gaming’s customers tend to be loyal and do not change their peripherals suppliers often.Meanwhile, given long upgrade cycles in the world of peripherals, it is not always easy to take advantage of customers’ loyalty. Instead, the more immediate play for Logitech will be to start capitalizing on ASTRO’s products by simply making them available in Asia and Europe.Related Reading:
ADATA Announces XPG Gammix S10: 3D TLC, SM2260, 1.7 GB/s Seq. Read, Radiator
ADATA this week launched yet another family of midrange SSDs aimed at gamers. The XPG Gammix S10 products are based on a well-known controller from Silicon Motion and resemble the company’s XPG SX7000 series announced in April. The new drives are equipped with a radiator to avoid performance throttling, and while using the M.2 form factor, will only fit into desktops as a consequence.Over the past few quarters ADATA become one the largest independent vendors of 3D NAND-based SSDs due to the fact that it has managed to secure supply of 3D TLC and 3D MLC NAND flash from Micron. So far, the company has introduced multiple 3D NAND-based SSDs, including drives with SATA and PCIe/NVMe interfaces featuring different controllers from Silicon Motion and Maxiotek. The ADATA XPG SX7000-series drives powered by the SMI SM2260 controller and Micron’s 3D TLC NAND are among of the company’s recently launched drives aimed at performance mainstream PCs. As it appears, in the near future such SSDs will be joined by the new XPG Gammix S10 family, which use the same controller and 3D TLC NAND memory from Micron, but are equipped with a radiator to ensure lack of overheating and consistent performance. ADATA is not commenting on whether the XPG SX7000 and the XPG Gammix S10 are essentially the same SSDs, but they have exactly the same performance numbers and even their model numbers look similar (ASX7000NP-512GT-C => ASX7000NPC-512GT-C).Speaking of performance, we know a lot what to expect from the SMI SM2260 in general and from the ADATA XPG SX7000/Gammix S10 in particular. As mentioned in the initial XPG SX7000 coverage, the drives are very different from each other due to the level of parallelism afforded by the controller/NAND combinations. The 512 GB models are rated for sequential read speeds up to 1750 MB/s, while sequential writes can reach up to 860 MB/s when pseudo-SLC caching is used. As for random performance, the 512 GB drive can offer up to 130K/140K 4 KB read/write IOPS. When it comes to the XPG SX7000/XPG Gammix S10 128 GB, the lowest capacity of the set, we are dealing with a drive capable of up to 660/450 MB/s sequential read/write performance as well as 35K/95K read/write IOPS.This drive is slightly faster than SATA SSDs based on TLC NAND, but it should offer higher endurance because 3D TLC NAND is made using larger process technologies and can account for voltage drift better. Keep in mind that the XPG Gammix S10 are equipped with a radiator and therefore their performance under load may be slightly higher when compared to the predecessor. In the meantime, the XPG Gammix S10 will hardly fit into laptops because of its dimensions.Meanwhile when it comes to endurance ratings, the ADATA XPG SX7000 and the XPG Gammix S10 are, again, exactly the same: the 128 GB SSD is rated for 80 TBW, the 512 GB version is capable of 320 TBW and the 1 TB model can handle 640 TBW (equals to around 0.3 DWPD (drive writes per day) across the warranty lifetime). Both SSD series come with a five-year limited warranty and are rated for 2 million hours MTBF.ADATA XPG Gammix S10 SpecificationsCapacity128 GB256 GB512 GB1 TBModel NumberASX7000NPC-
TYAN Launches Latest Generation Skylake-SP Xeon Server Platforms
A few weeks ago we talked about Tyan’s demonstration of two new HPC servers for high-performance computing and deep workloads, the Tyan FT77D-B7109 and FT48B-B1700. Tyan looks to continue updating their HPC server platform using Intel's newly launched Skylake-SP Xeons, and this week has added the GA88-B5631, TN200-B7108-X4S, and GT62F-B5630 to their lineup.A peer-to-peer single root complex 1U server, the GA88-B5631 server platform can be used for cognitive computing workloads like AI and Machine Learning. This platform supports up to four Xeon Phi coprocessors and a full height / half length PCIe x16 card, allowing a networking adapter to reach speeds of up to 100 Gb/s with items like EDR InfiniBand or 100 Gigabit Ethernet. The server has 12 DIMM slots (6 channels) supporting capacities up to 384GB with RDIMMs, or up to 1536GB using 3DS (3 Dimensional Stacked)/LRDIMMs. As for connectivity, the server has two 10 GbE ports utilizing Intel's X550-AT2 controller, and another for IPMI duties. On the storage side of things, the GA88-B5631 has two SATA3 and two SATA-DOM (Disk on Module) ports. It supports RAID 0/1/10/5 with four SATA devices.Tyan’s cloud computing and storage platforms continue to grow with the addition of the TN200-B7108-X4S. This dual-socket 2U 4 node all-flash server platform will support up to 24 2.5” NVMe U.2/SATA drives, with each node controlling eight NVMe devices setup across six PCIe x4 NVMe U.2 hot-swap drive bays (front) as well as a pair of integrated 2280/22110 NVMe M.2 ports. Totaling 16 DIMMs (per blade), users can have up to 512GB in RDIMMs, or 2048GB in LRDIMM 3DS. The platform has support for 100G Omni-Path Fabric as well. When using all four blades, users have a total of eight CPU sockets, 64 DIMM slots, and 32 NVMe devices with a total of 8192 GB of RAM. Tyan believes this is “an ideal platform for High Performance Computing workloads and hyper-converged all-flash storage applications."The last new product, the GT62F-B5630, is a 1U server platform designed for hybrid NVMe/SATA cache data storage. The chassis supports up to eight hot-swap NVMe U.2 drives and an OCP v2.0 LAN Mezzanine slot, which in turn supports networking speeds up to 100 Gb/s. Tyan says the single CPU socket makes it ideal for platform workloads which operate best within a single NUMA domain (since it does not have to access another processor's memory) and require large amounts of high-speed flash. For example, media streaming applications.Tyan did not supply the information on when these will be for sale, but expect to see these soon now that the Xeon Skylake-SP family has been released.Related Reading
Patriot Publishes List of AMD Ryzen Compatible DIMMs: Up to DDR4-3400, 64 GB
Patriot has published a list of its memory modules that are verified and compatible with AMD Ryzen processors. This includes the Viper 4 and Viper Elite modules that are already on the market, and the announcement was made after the company ran extensive tests of its DDR4 DIMMs on different platforms supporting AMD’s latest CPUs.As previously reported, with AMD’s release of its Zen based CPUs a few months ago, there were some growing pains in the new platform, particularly with RAM speed and compatibility. As it turned out, not all high-end DDR4 memory modules (at the time) would work with AMD Ryzen processors at their labeled data transfer rates. As a result, a number of DDR4 DIMM suppliers have released modules specifically qualified for enthusiast-grade AMD Ryzen-based systems and factory tested for compatibility. Moreover, AMD is working with motherboard makers to improve compatibility of its Ryzen platforms with memory modules via BIOS updates, recently promoting its AGESA update. In the meantime, end users are advised to get DDR4 DIMMs that are labeled for AM4 to ensure compatibility - these modules should be factory-tested to be compatible with the AMD Ryzen.Patriot has tested dozens of its single unit DIMMs, and as dual-/quad channel kits, with multiple motherboards from ASUS, ASRock, GIGABYTE and MSI based on AMD’s X370, B350 and B320 chipsets (see the details in the table below) for compatibility with AMD Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 CPUs. Among the tested modules are Patriot’s Viper 4 and Viper Elite DIMMs with 4 GB, 8 GB and 16 GB capacities rated to operate at 2133-3400 MT/s with CL15 and CL16 timings. The company published its list of AMD Ryzen-compatible DDR4 DIMMs and we republish it below.AMD Ryzen and Patriot DDR4 DIMMs Compatibility | ModulesProduct FamilySpecsModel NumbersTypeViper 416GB 3400 MT/s CL16
AMD Threadripper 1920X and 1950X CPU Details: 12/16 Cores, 4 GHz Turbo, $799 and $999
Last night out of the blue, we received an email from AMD, sharing some of the specifications for the forthcoming Ryzen Threadripper CPUs to be announced today. Up until this point, we knew a few things – Threadripper would consist of two Zeppelin dies featuring AMD’s latest Zen core and microarchitecture, and would essentially double up on the HEDT Ryzen launch. Double dies means double pretty much everything: Threadripper would support up to 16 cores, up to 32 MB of L3 cache, quad-channel memory support, and would require a new socket/motherboard platform called X399, sporting a massive socket with 4094-pins (and also marking an LGA socket for AMD). By virtue of being sixteen cores, AMD is seemingly carving a new consumer category above HEDT/High-End Desktop, which we’ve coined the ‘Super High-End Desktop’, or SHED for short.Today’s announcements, accompanied by a video from the CEO of AMD Dr. Lisa Su, shed some light on the new SHED processors: namely clock speeds and pricing, and a reaffirmed commitment to launching the new CPUs in August.AMD Ryzen CPUsThreadripper
Colorful Announces iGame GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Neptune W: All-in-One Liquid Cooling With 240mm Radiator
The past few months have been full of announcements and releases for all-in-one liquid cooled graphics cards, and now Colorful is joining the fray with their iGame GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Neptune W. First teased at Computex 2017, the Neptune W comes equipped with an all-in-one closed loop cooling solution, featuring a novel 240mm radiator.While Colorful is a China-based vendor, at Computex 2017 the company also disclosed plans to launch their iGame series cards worldwide, starting in Southeast Asia and Korea; Colorful already has branches in Germany, South Korea, and Vietnam. This follows previous information hinting at future market expansion with Colorful’s iGame GTX 1080 Ti Vulcan X OC. In the meantime, the Neptune W product page is only listed on their Chinese site.Colorful iGame GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Neptune WBoost Clock1708MHz (One-Key OC)
MSI Announces the X299 XPower Gaming AC Motherboard: Five M.2 Slots
This week MSI has announced a new X299 motherboard: the MSI X299 XPOWER GAMING AC. This is designed as a flagship motherboard for MSI's X299 range, and aims to combine gaming features and performance with the overclocking pedigree of their XPower family from previous generations.One thing that may jump out is MSI is adjusting its aesthetic scheme and returning back to a more neutral black on the XPower, a deviation from the recent generations where the XPower would get a 'titanium' silver treatment (or even older generations of XPower that were yellow). The theme agnostic color choice is due to the prevalence of RGB LEDs, found on both the “reactor” design of the chipset heatsink as well as above the I/O area on the shroud. The basic premise is that having customizable RGB LEDs should allow the motherboard to fit into more customized and themed builds, whereas some of the previous color designs may have pigeon-holed the design of systems. To contrast the dark color scheme, MSI has used their branded 'Steel Armor' protective coverings for the x16 PCIe slots, as well as the DIMM slots and the U.2 connector.For the X299 XPower Gaming AC, MSI uses a 14 phase power design which is claimed to help heavy overclocking, combined with a joined VRM and IO heatsink. MSI likes to promote the use of 'Military Class' components for the power delivery and other features, and claims that their use of isolated memory circuits that use optimized routing (to ensure optimal signals to and from the CPU and RAM) will allow each motherboard to reach DDR4-5000 or higher depending on the CPU memory controller, although they do not state on what cooling (likely, sub-zero).One of the key features for this board will be the M.2 support. MSI is directly supporting three drives on board, but has also bundled a riser card for two more. For the onboard slots, MSI is using its new heatsink, the M.2 Shield Frozr. For the top M.2 slot, the heatsink is connected to the PCH heatsink in order to help move heat away. The bundled PCIe riser card is called MSI's XPander-Z, for M.2 slot expansion. This add-in-card gives a PCIe 3.0 x8 connection, and allows the user to mount two additional 110mm PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 drives on it, giving the board a total of five M.2 slots. The expansion card setup supports Intel VROC technology, allowing a RAID-0 configuration directly from the CPU bypassing the typical throughput limits of PCIe 3.0 x4 slots. Moving more towards the connectivity, the XPower features two Intel Gigabit LAN ports (Intel I219V and Intel I211), an 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi card, and a Realtek ALC1220 audio codec. MSI likes to promote its use of advanced audio design options, such as EMI shielding, PCB separation, corrosion resistant audio connectors, and bundled software. MSI also bundles traffic shaping software for the networking.MSI used the ASMedia ASM3142 controller to deliver two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, including a front panel header. They claim to have worked closely with several case manufacturers for product testing to ensure they are compatible with any MSI X299 motherboard. We've not particularly approached the ASM3142 controller in detail on AnandTech yet, but it represents a more power efficient variant of the ASM2142, which in turn is a dual-bandwidth version of the ASM1142, the first dual-port USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) controller we found on motherboards.Gallery: MSI Announces X299 XPower Gaming AC MotherboardAt the time of this writing, pricing and availability were not available.Related Reading
ASUS Launches the 360º Chromebook Flip C213: 11.6-inch Apollo Lake, Starting $349
Back in January of this year, ASUS announced they were coming to market with a new Chromebook targeted specifically at education-focused customers. With Google focusing on Education in their Chromebooks as of late, using these ‘convertibles’ instead of iPads, ASUS hopes to increase its market share with the newest offering.The Chromebook Flip C213 is listed as a rugged notebook and supposed to be designed to take bumps and bruises from daily use by students. To reinforce this, it touts a MIL-STD-810G spec construction, rated to protect it from drop damage (from nearly 4 feet) and moisture (spills up to 60ml). The outside of the laptop is protected by a rubber ‘bumper’ to protect it, as well as to reinforce the I/O ports.By virtue of the Flip nomenclature, it operates in various rotational modes. These include a standard laptop (pictured above), a tent, a stand, and tablet modes, making it an option for a wide variety of use scenarios. It also features dual cameras, a 5MP on the back and an HD camera on the front.The 360-degree all metal hinges attach to the 11.6” touchscreen, working at a native resolution of 1366x768. There are two versions of the screen for two different use models: the first screen type uses an anti-glare finish, while the second is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass as well as supporting an (optional) stylus - using the Wacom EMR technology for painting, sketching, and handwriting. This version should be available in a couple of months, and carries with it a price premium over the anti-glare model.The included 46Wh battery is said to last up to 12 hours of continuous use, which ASUS claims that it potentially eliminates the need for a charge in the middle of the day and more suitable for classroom or travel situations. The unit uses Chrome OS (59) to provide access to all of Google tools made for business and education, called the 'G Suite'. Users will get automated updates, built-in anti-virus protection, and the security that comes with using Google personal accounts.ASUS claims that the unit is designed for easy servicing: it has a modular construction, enabling quick replacement of key components like the keyboard, touchpad, battery, motherboard, power jack daughter board, and the display panel. Modularity replacements could reduce the burden on IT resources, potentially lowering total cost of ownership in servicing.Hardware wise, the Flip C213 uses the Intel Apollo Lake N3350 - a dual core Atom-class CPU with a base clock of 1.1 GHz capable of bursting to 2.4 GHz. DRAM capacity sits at 4GB, with static storage at 32GB of eMMC rated up to 300 MB/s sequential reads and 140 MB/s sequential writes. Wireless is provided by an 802.11AC 2x2 Wi-Fi card with Bluetooth 4.0. There are 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C ports, 2x USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a micro SD card reader and a 3.5mm audio combo jack rounding out connectivity.ASUS Chromebook Flip C213Non-Stylus VersionOptional Stylus VersionProcessorIntel Apollo Lake Dual-Core N3350
AMD Announces AMD4U Promotional Bundle with Square Enix and Adobe
In collaboration with Square Enix and Adobe, AMD has announced their new AMD4U promotion, bundling indie games and creative software trials with eligible AMD-powered systems. AMD says that this campaign highlights their recently released Ryzen processors and Radeon RX 500 series graphics cards, putting the focus on content creators and gamers.This bundle only applies to systems purchased through qualifying OEMs and system builders, and depending on the CPU/APU or discrete graphics powering the system, may include up to three free Square Enix Collective games and/or a 2-month Adobe Creative Cloud subscription or a 3-month Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan subscription.Square Enix Collective is essentially an indie game development/incubation/spotlight platform curated by Square Enix, where creators can post ideas that are voted in turn by gamers. Successful pitches may receive additional support in the form of Square Enix assisted Kickstarter crowdfunding. 10 Square Enix Collective game titles are included in this AMD4U promotion: The Turing Test, Goetia, Oh My Godheads, Children of Zodiarcs, Black the Fall, Tokyo Dark, Forgotten Anne, Deadbeat Heroes, Battalion 1944, and Fear Effect Sedna. At the moment, only The Turing Test, Goetia, and Oh My Godheads are released, so for participants who choose other titles, a key code will be made available as soon as the game is released.The Adobe Creative Cloud software usually operates by monthly subscription model, so the complimentary subscriptions are not as atypical as they appear, but at only 2-3 months are closer to extended trials than free software. Adobe Creative Cloud is the full CC suite with more than 20 applications, while the Creative Cloud Photography plan includes Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC desktop applications, as well as a slew of mobile apps.The promotion will run for the rest of the 2017 year, and applies for systems purchased as early as June 12, 2017. Key codes will expire after 2017 as well. Note that Adobe Software may not be available in countries outside the United States.System eligibility/reward details and redemption instructions can be found at the AMD4U Promo site. For reference, AMD offers the following chart to determine eligibility:
Sizing Up Servers: Intel's Skylake-SP Xeon versus AMD's EPYC 7000 - The Server CPU Battle of the Decade?
This morning kicks off a very interesting time in the world of server-grade CPUs. Officially launching today is Intel's latest generation of Xeon processors, based on the "Skylake-SP" architecture. Part of Intel's new Xeon Scalable Processor family, the "Purley" 100-series processors incorporate all of Intel's latest CPU and network fabric technology, not to mention a very large number of cores.Meanwhile, a couple of weeks back AMD soft-launched their new EPYC 7000 series processors. Based on the company's Zen architecture and scaled up to server-grade I/O and core counts, EPYC represents an epic achievement for AMD, once again putting them into the running for competitive, high-performance server CPUs after nearly half a decade gone. EPYC processors have begun shipping, and just in time for today's Xeon launch, we also have EPYC hardware in the lab to test.Today's launch is a situation that neither company has been in for quite a while. Intel hasn't had serious competition in years, and AMD hasn't been able to compete. As a result, both companies are taking the other's actions very seriously.In fact we could go on for much longer than our quip above in describing the rising tension at the headquarters of AMD and Intel. For the first time in 6 years (!), a credible alternative is available for the newly launched Xeon. Indeed, the new Xeon "Skylake-SP" is launching today, and the yardstick for it is not the previous Xeon (E5 version 4), but rather AMD's spanking new EPYC server CPU. Both CPUs are without a doubt very different: micro-architecture, ISA extentions, memory subsystem, node topology... you name it. The end result is that once again we have the thrilling task of finding out how the processors compare and which applications their various trade-offs make sense.
Intel's Data Center Event Live Blog (8:30am PT)
Today Intel is running an event announcing the latest developments in their data center business. We're ready to live blog the registration-only event, and expect to see Navin Shenoy, Intel’s EVP and GM of the Data Center Group (DCG), and Lisa Spelman, DCG’s VP of Products and Marketing on stage.
Netgear Launches Nighthawk X4S AC3200 DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem Router
​The 2017 CES saw various vendors introduce their first cable modem based on Broadcom's DOCSIS 3.1 BCM3390 chipset. Netgear's CM1000 was one of the first out of the gate, though it didn't come with future-proof features such as the dual Ethernet ports in the Linksys CM3132.Today, Netgear is launching the C7800 cable modem router (being marketed under the Nighthawk X4S tag) based on the same platform as the CM1000. I won't go into the details of DOCSIS 3.1 and its advantages (already covered in the CM1000 launch article). The router and network processor segment is more interesting. Based on the AC3200 specifications, the C7800 appears to be heavily based on the Broadcom BCM93390 reference design (PDF) where the BCM3390 itself is the network processor with the integrated switch, and the Wi-Fi features enabled by the BCM4366 4x4 802.11ac Wave 2 radio. The BCM3390 integrates a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor. The BCM4366 has the proprietary QAM extensions to enable up to 550 Mbps for each 5 GHz spatial stream and up to 250 Mbps for each 2.4 GHz one (hence, the AC3200 tag). The CM1000, as mentioned earlier, is limited to 1 Gbps practically even if the ISP supports, say, 2 Gbps. However, the C7800's integrated switch ensures that the unit can support 1 Gbps+ speeds to the coax link (assuming ISP support) using just the wired LAN ports.Netgear's differentiating aspects include the unique active antennae that moves some power amplifiers from the main board to the antennae in order to alleviate interference and simplify board design, while delivering better performance. Like other Netgear router products, the C7800 also supports the Netgear Genie app, ReadySHARE USB, and ReadySHARE Vault features . The ReadySHARE features enable a USB drive attached to the C7800 to act as a central backup destination.The big growth in the Wi-Fi market has been in the area of whole-home Wi-Fi systems and mesh kits. For power users who need to make their Wi-Fi signals cover significant area, I would recommend a modem, a unified security gateway, a PoE switch, and a suitable number of Wi-Fi access points. However, such a solution is not for everybody. The most common configuration amongst people who don't use the cable ISP's supplied gateway is to use a discrete cable modem and a Wi-Fi router. This is logical, given that cable modem standards change at a much slower pace compared to Wi-Fi standards. The mesh kits also fit into that particular scenario. However, there are many cases (such as apartment units and relatively small houses) where a compact system that cuts down on the number of discrete units is preferable. Devices such as the C7800 target that market segment. The C7800 will be available for purchase this month, and will have a MSRP of $400.In other Netgear product news, the Nighthawk X6S AC4000 router (R8000P) was launched late last month. This is an update to the first Broadcom 5G Wi-Fi product - the R8000 Nighthawk X6. Netgear's slide deck provides a helpful comparison between the two.Netgear will continue to sell both units in the market. The Nighthawk X6S adopts a 64-bit Linux kernel, thanks to the use of the BCM4908 router SoC. The router is available for purchase on Amazon today.
AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.7.1
After the release of Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.6.1 and a follow-up bugfix in the form of 17.6.2, AMD has brought a new major driver update with Crimson ReLive Edition 17.7.1. The latest driver adds support for mining cards and fixes for several games & applications.In light of the now official AMD Radeon RX 470 based mining cards, 17.7.1 (Driver Version 17.10.3211.1031, Windows Driver Store Version brings support for Radeon RX 460 and 470 based mining cards. While no RX 460 based mining card has been announced, this driver update suggests that such cards exist or are being prepared. In addition, 17.7.1 adds official support for RX 550 and 560 graphics cards, which were originally launched in April. Unlike the RX 580 and 570, the RX 560 and 550 house different GPUs from their RX 400 series counterparts: the RX 560 is powered by a fully-enabled configuration of Polaris 11 that was only previously seen in laptops such as the MacBook Pro, whereas the RX 550 is powered by Polaris 12, a GPU not seen at all previously.Moving on to bug fixes, AMD has resolved an issue causing crashes with Adobe Lightroom CC 2015.10. AMD has also fixed game-crashing bugs affecting RX 300 series cards running Final Fantasy XIV and Little Nightmares, and R9 380 series cards running Tekken 7.As a final note: 17.7.1 is not applicable for Radeon Vega Frontier Edition; the inaugural driver, revision number 17.6 (also referred to as Radeon Vega Frontier Edition 17.20) remains the most up-to-date.The updated drivers for AMD’s desktop, mobile, and integrated GPUs are available through the Radeon Settings tab or online at the AMD driver download page. More information on this update and further issues can be found in the Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.7.1 release notes.
Oculus Announces Six Week Sale of $399 Rift + Touch Bundle
In the spirit of summer sales and their own “Summer of Rift,” Facebook subsidiary Oculus VR has announced that the Rift + Touch bundle is now on sale for $399. The bundle includes the headset, a pair of Touch controllers, two sensors, an Xbox One wireless controller, a remote, and cables, including connectors for Rock Band VR guitar controllers.Oculus also offers seven free games for the Rift: Lucky's Tale, Medium, Toybox, Quill, Dead and Buried, Dragon Front, and Robo Recall. For those lacking Rift-compatible titles, these selections provide a simple way to game on the Rift immediately.The sale will take place for six weeks and follows the permanent price adjustments in March that cut the Rift + Touch bundle from $798 to $598. This competitively positions the Rift + Touch bundle against the $799 HTC Vive headset/controllers bundle and the $499 Sony PlayStation VR headset/controllers bundle. As it stands, Rift’s shipments, cumulatively as well as for 2017 Q1, lag behind the Vive’s according to SuperData, while both are behind the PSVR; at the top of the heap is the more affordable Oculus-powered Samsung Gear VR.According to Fortune, Oculus vice president of content Jason Rubin stated that “This is a good time to test a mass-market price,” where Oculus is considering whether to permanently drop the price. If so, the Rift would finally arrive at the “$350 ballpark” that was originally targeted. As PC-based high-end VR devices, both the Rift and Vive require VR-capable computers, which carry a hefty price of their own.As a reminder, Oculus offers the following recommended and minimum PC specifications to power Rift:Oculus Rift PC SpecificationsRecommendedMinimumCPUIntel i5-4590 / AMD Ryzen 5 1500XIntel i3-6100 / AMD Ryzen 3 1200, FX4350GPU (AMD)Radeon RX 480 / R9 290Radeon RX 470 / R9 290GPU (NVIDIA)GeForce GTX 1060 / 970GeForce GTX 1050Ti / 960Memory8GB+ RAMVideo OutputHDMI 1.3USB Ports3 x USB 3.0
Razer Files for IPO in Hong Kong to Raise $600 Million
This week Razer has made a preliminary filing for IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The company plans to raise $600 million for future growth, particularly in Asia. In addition, the funding is supposed to improve the company’s overall march with investments in R&D as well as the brand. Razer's recent financial filings indicate Razer operated at a $20m profit in 2012-2013, but ran a loss of ~$70m in 2015-2016 because of multiple acquisitions as well as a tripling in R&D activities with a small uptick in revenue.Razer started as a subsidiary of a computer peripheral maker Kärna in 1998 and quickly became famous for its Boomslang mouse designed specifically for FPS gamers and launched in 1999. Kärna ceased to exist in 2000 because of financial issues, but the Boomslang was so popular despite its price tag (which was high by the standards of the year 2000) that Terratec brought the Razer Boomslang back to market in 2003. Min-Liang Tan and Robert Krakoff (who used to be the GM of Kärna back in the day) acquired rights to the IP and the brand sometime in 2005 and established Razer Inc., as we know it today. Initially, Razer focused on mice, but the company gradually expanded its product portfolio with keyboards, headsets and other peripherals. Sometime in 2009-2010, Razer began to hire engineers from PC companies like Dell and HP with an aim to develop actual systems and go beyond peripherals. Today, the company offers various gaming gear, laptops, co-developed Razer Edition PC systems, and licenses its designs to others. Meanwhile, Razer is always in pursuit to expand its lineup of products and their distribution.The company actively develops various concept devices that may or may not become big. Over the past years, Razer has demonstrated its Switchblade console, the Christine modular PC concept, the Valerie triple-display notebook, the Ariana projector and other devices: none of which have ever hit retail production. In addition, they have acquired multiple companies, including Ouya, THX, Nextbit and others, to expand its IP portfolio. Finally, to drive sales, Razer started to open its own stores in the U.S. and Asia in 2015–2016. R&D efforts, acquisitions, and stores all require money, which is why Razer went from a $20.332 million profit in 2014/15 to losing $20.356 and $59.332 million in successive years. Over that time, Razer’s revenues have increased from $315.2 million in 2014 to $392.1 million in 2016, clearly indicating growing demand for gaming hardware and peripherals as well as Razer’s success.Razer’s latest round of $50-$100 million venture capital investment in May valued the supplier at approximately $2 billion, reflecting investors’ confidence in the company. Apparently, to keep evolving, Razer needs more money and with its IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange the hardware supplier plans to raise up to $600 million, reports TechCrunch.One of the things that Razer wants to do is to expand in Asia. At present half of the company’s revenue comes from the U.S., the remainder is split between Asia and Europe. Since the Asian/APAC market is very large and has a high potential, the company has good chances to increase its revenue, particularly in countries like China and Taiwan.Another potential area for growth is gaming PCs. In 2016, the company generated 76.2% ($298.8 million) of its revenue from gaming peripherals, whereas PCs accounted for only 23.1% ($90.1 million). Owners of Razer’s mice and keyboards tend to be loyal customers and if the firm manages to offer them the right computers, they could bite, driving Razer’s revenues up. More recently Razer jumped into services and digital currency businesses, but have yet to become significant revenue sources for the balance sheet.Wrapping things up, it is evident that Razer is growing fast as a result of overall industry trends, as well as competitive products and brand recognition. With additional funding, the company could unlock more growth opportunities, but Razer is tight-lipped what it plans to do with the IPO.Related Reading