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Updated 2018-07-18 22:15
AOC Launches Inexpensive IPS WQHD 31.5-Inch Q3279VWFD8 Gaming LCD with FreeSync
AOC has introduced its new large gaming display aimed at gamers on a budget. The AOC Q3279VWFD8 is a 31.5-inch monitor and features AMD’s FreeSync technology, but its price will be around €250 in Europe.The AOC Q3279VWFD8 is based on an 8-bit + FRC 31.5-inch IPS panel featuring a 2560×1440 resolution, 250 nits brightness, a 1200:1 static contrast ratio, a 5 ms GtG response time, a 75 Hz refresh rate, and so on. The monitor covers 98% of the sRGB and 84% of the Adobe RGB color gamuts. In addition, the display supports AMD's FreeSync dynamic refresh rate technology. The manufacturer does not publish the exact FreeSync’s range, specifically the lower bound, but typically the range is around 30-75 Hz on inexpensive models.When it comes to inputs, the AOC Q3279VWFD8 has one DisplayPort 1.2 input, one HDMI 1.4 port, one DVI-D port, and one D-Sub input. In addition, the LCD has one 3.5-mm audio output for headphones, but does not include integrated speakers. As for the stand, it supports tilt adjustment, but not height or swivel adjustments.AOC will start selling its Q3279VWFD8 later this month for the price of £219 in the U.K. and approximately €250 in mainland Europe. Being very affordable for a 31.5-inch model, the AOC Q3279VWFD8 naturally does not support premium features, such as high brightness, DCI-P3, a high refresh rate and so on. Obviously, price and dimension are the main selling points of the product. Besides, customers in budget hardly own high-end graphics cards that offer performance of above 100 fps in the latest games at a 2560×1440 resolution.Specifications of AOC's Entry-Level 31.5" Gaming DisplayQ3279VWFD8Panel31.5" IPSNative Resolution2560 × 1440Maximum Refresh Rate75 HzDynamic Refresh TechFreeSync on DisplayPort
The Phison E12 Reference Design Preview: A Next-Gen NVMe SSD Controller
Phison's latest NVMe SSD controller will soon power a new generation of high-end consumer SSDs that may bring great performance and power efficiency to a cheaper price bracket than the current flagship SSDs from several top SSD manufacturers.
European Commission Fines Google €4.3bn For Android Market Dominance Abuses
Today the European Commission has announced that it has found Google in breach of EU antitrust and has fined the company €4.34 billion.The original proceedings against Google formally opened in April 2015 and investigate Google’s business practices related to Android licensing between 2011 and 2014 and has found the company of breaching EU rules prohibiting anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant market positions.As detailed in the thorough press-release, the particular three illegal practices which Google has been found in conducting are as follows:
Future plc to Acquire Consumer Division of AnandTech Publisher Purch
In a change of pace from the usual, we have some news about ourselves this morning.Future plc, a competing UK publisher, has announced that they will be buying the bulk of Purch, AnandTech’s publisher. The deal will see Future acquire Purch’s publisher services division (ad sales) along with the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) group. The vast majority of Purch’s publications – and essentially anything that you might read – are organized under the B2C banner, including AnandTech, Tom’s Hardware, and Space.The deal is valued at $132.5 million USD, and is expected to close on August 31. As Purch is a privately held company, the deal has already been approved by Purch. Meanwhile Future will be seeking shareholder approval to issue new shares to pay for the acquisition.Once it closes, the acquisition will see all of Purch’s B2C brands joining Future’s existing brands across the globe. In the technology space this includes TechRadar, GamesRadar, and PC Gamer. Ultimately Future is looking to strengthen their own technology publishing services, and this deal is expected to make them the top tech publisher in terms of comScore rankings.Speaking off the cuff here, at this point I have not been informed of any acquisition-changes planned for AnandTech. We remain a strong site in traffic and the depth of our editorial content, and I do not see that changing. In the meantime as the deal moves towards closing, I'll be sharing any new and relevant details with you, our loyal readers.At any rate, I’m expecting Purch to release its own press release later today, which may contain a bit more information.(Developing Story)
GIGABYTE Releases Aorus Branded Power Supplies: 80 Plus Gold, 750W/850W
GIGABYTE has announced a new line of power supplies under the Aorus premium branding unveiling the new P850W and P750W to the market. The two power supplies carry an 80 Plus Gold designation, a single +12V rail, fully modular cables, as well as a 135mm temperature-controlled 'smart' fan to keep the internals cool and noise to a minimum. GIGABYTE says the PSUs are geared towards gaming and overclocking, particularly those using multiple-GPUs.The standard ATX size chassis of the units are both black with some of the Aorus branding on two sides in grey and the AORUS orange along with the full name of the device, the AP850GM (or AP750GM). Hiding the 135mm fan and letting air in the device is a large perforated vent with the Aorus logo in the middle hiding the fan hub. The rear of the power supply has a honeycomb pattern to it and will exhaust the warm air out the back. The back also contains the plug that goes to the wall as well as a simple on/off switch. The front of the chassis has all the ports to plug in the cables on the fully modular device. Each port is labeled in orange specifying what goes where. One thing we will not see is RGB lighting as these power supplies, surprisingly, do not include any. The modular cables included are flat which should allow for better cable routing capabilities and should have enough length to reach the components in most builds. The 20+4 pin connector for the motherboard is 650mm in length while the longer of the two 4+4 pin cables for the CPU measures in at 800mm. The PCIe cables, four of them in total, measure 750mm with two of the cables sporting dual 6+2 pin connectors on one cable. Those same PCIe cables also include a capacitor at the end by the cable said to help reduce noise and ripple. The two SATA cables with six SATA plugs also include Molex adapters at the end which can help with minimizing wires by potentially not needing to use the peripheral cable just to get Molex plugs.Buy GIGABYTE GP-B700H 700W on Amazon.comInternally, GIGABYTE says the P750W and P850W use a 135mm 2 ball bearing smart fan that uses a stop function. The fan speed is adjusted according to system load and will stop when the unit is idle or under low loads (20%) for quiet when needed. The 2 ball bearing system is said to provide a longer life with a durability listed at 50000 hours or 5 years. GIGABYTE also uses 100% Japanese capacitors with the life of the main capacitor listed at over 20 years (25C environment). The caps and other internals yields an 80 Plus Gold rated unit able to deliver 90% efficiency at 50% load. GIGABYTE says the OEM for these is a company named MEIC. It will be interesting to see how these fare in proper power supply tests, but seeing as how there is a 10-year warranty, GIGABYTE is standing tall behind the product.The devices include several protection designs including OCP (Over Current Protection), OTP (Over Temperature), OVP (Over Voltage), OPP (Over Power), UVP (Under Voltage), and SCP (Short Circuit) to help ensure if something does go wrong that the issue remains isolated as to not further damage other components.The GIGABYTE AORUS P750W and P850W both include a long 10-Year warranty (region dependent) with availability listed as “soon”. Pricing was not listed. Specifications for the 850W version is below, 750W values were not listed.GIGABYTE AORUS P850WAC INPUT100-240 VAC, 47-63 HzRAIL+3.3V+5V+12V+5Vsb-12VMAX OUTPUT20A20A70.5A3A0.3A80W846W15W3.6WTOTAL850WConnectors1 x 24/20-pin motherboard connector (650mm)
NZXT Enters PSU Market with E-Series ATX Power Supplies Featuring Built-In Monitoring
NZXT has been expanding at a quite rapid pace in the recent years. Back in 2017 the company introduced its first motherboard, but ceased to offer PSUs. This month it is re-launching its first new PSUs in years. The NZXT E-series power supplies are made by Seasonic and support active monitoring of power consumption across the 12 V rail as well as temperature, which are their key features.UPDATE 7/18: As it appears, NZXT used to sell PSUs from 2010 to 2016, but then ceased to offer power supplies. Therefore, the company is now re-entering this market.The NZXT E-series PSUs are based on Seasonic’s Focus+ Gold platform featuring the PMBus architecture. The lineup includes three modular power supplies compliant with the latest ATX specification and rated for 500, 650, and 850-Watt output. Just like many other advanced PSUs, the new NZXT power suppliers use Japanese capacitors that can handle temperatures of up to 105°C as well as support overcurrent protection for the 12 V rail. Furthermore, the new PSUs also carry the 80 Plus Gold badge.One of the key selling points of the NZXT E-series PSUs is built-in wattage monitoring for the 12 V rail. The monitoring is handled by the company’s CAM software, which works only with Windows 10 operating system. In addition to monitoring power consumption, the CAM application can also manage rotating speed of fans and activate Silent, Performance, or Fixed preset modes.NZXT E-Series PSUs Output Specifications500 W650 W850WRatedCombinedRatedCombinedRatedCombined+3.3V20 A100 W20 A100 W20 A100 W+5V20 A20 A20 A+12V41 A492 W54 A648 W70 A840 W-12V0.3 A3.6 W0.3 A3.6 W0.3 A3.6 W+5Vsb3 A15 W3 A15 W3 A15 WTotal Power500 W650 W850 WNZXT’s E-series PSUs are now available from the company’s website in the U.S. NZXT’s partners on Europe and other countries will start selling the new power supplies starting in late July. As for pricing, the most affordable NZXT E500 PSU costs $125, whereas the most powerful model rated for 850W is available for $150. Meanwhile the 650-W model is priced at $135. All the new PSUs are backed with a 10-year warranty (just like Seasonic’s Focus+ Gold), which is a rare feature for relatively inexpensive power supplies.NZXT E-Series PSUs Connectivity SpecificationsConnector type500 W650 W850 WATX 24 Pin1EPS 4+4 Pin12EPS 8 Pin-PCIe 6+2 Pin24SATA84P Molex36Floppy-Related Reading:
The ASUS X399 ROG Zenith Extreme Motherboard Review: Top Tier Threadripper
Today we are having a look at the most expensive motherboard for Ryzen Threadripper processors, the ASUS X399 ROG Zenith Extreme. The motherboard has a very impressive list of features that reach far beyond what a consumer expects to see on a regular product, such as hardware support for liquid nitrogen cooling. We will closely inspect the motherboard and its features in this review.
VirtualLink USB-C Alt Mode Announced: Standardized Connector for VR Headsets
While PC VR headsets are fun, no one has especially enjoyed the number of cables required to hook one up. With separate video, power, and data cables, the end result has been that manufacturers have used somewhat unwieldy cables or breakout boxes. However as part of the generalized push towards the second generation of VR headsets, a new industry consortium is coming together today to reduce the requirements to a single cable. Backed by NVIDIA, AMD, Oculus, Valve, and Microsoft, the new VirtualLink standard is a USB Type-C alternate mode that will be able to supply all of the necessary power, video information, and data over a single Type-C cable and connector.Today’s announcement from the group is essentially a call for participation, announcing the group’s existence and inviting others to get involved ahead of the VirtualLink 1.0 specification. So the consortium and its members are broadly talking about the standard itself, but are not saying anything about products that may implement it. And indeed as of Monday evening as I’m writing up this article, the VirtualLink consortium’s website still isn’t up.
MediaTek Launches Helio A Series SoCs, Starting With Helio A22
Following the success of their Helio P and X series SoCs, MediaTek this morning is announcing a third SoC family to complement the existing pats: the Helio A series. Aimed at what MediaTek is calling the “mid-market”, the new “Advanced” series of SoCs is meant to address phones in the $100+ range, which would put it in competition with the likes of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 400 series. Kicking off the Helio A series family in turn is the A22, essentially MediaTek’s cheaper downmarket counterpart to the previously announced P22.MediaTek is of course no stranger to the entry-level market, the “mid-market”, or whatever else it may be called. While flagship phones and their equally flagship SoCs get most of the attention, it’s the entry-level market where the volume play is. And this goes for both western markets where smartphones are already established, as well as emerging markets where smartphone penetration is still growing. So it’s a market that MediaTek is keen to continue addressing, and to continue to fend off other competitors.Today the company is just announcing the first SoC for the A series family, though as the A22 is a relatively straightforward entry-level SoC, I wouldn’t be too surprised if this part is towards the low-end of the product stack going forward. Officially in their larger product stacks and promotional materials, MediaTek is lumping the A series more alongside parts such as the MT6750 – an octa-core Cortex-A53 based part – whereas the A22 is a simpler quad-core A53 design. So in practice, the Helio A22 is more a successor towards the MT6738/MT6739, which were also quad-core designs. Though lines of succession aside, it’s clear that the ultimate goal here for the company is to phase out the high-level use of MTxxxx product numbers, which would be a welcome development as the X/P/A series messaging is a lot clearer about which market and performance segments an SoC is meant to fit in.In any case, let’s dive in to the Helio A22 itself. As previously mentioned, the A22 is built around a quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU cluster, which in this latest SoC will be clocking at up to 2GHz. Those CPU cores will in turn be paired up with an Imagination PowerVR GE8320 GPU, a single cluster GPU design released by Imagination last year. Overall this is relatively similar to the MT6739, following the same CPU and GPU architectures but with more powerful configurations chosen. However beyond that, the A22 immediately starts setting itself apart from the MT6739 thanks to its manufacturing process: it is the first entry-level MediaTek SoC to be produced on a sub-28nm process, with MediaTek specifically using TSMC’s 12nm process, the same used for the Helio P60.MediaTek Entry-Level SoCsSoCHelio A22MT6739MT6738CPU4x Cortex A53 @ 2.0GHz4x Cortex A53 @ 1.5GHz4x Cortex A53 @ 1.5GHzGPUIMG PowerVR GE8320IMG PowerVR GE8100 @ 570MHzMali T860 MP2 @ 350MHzMemory1x 32bit LPDDR3
Samsung Announces First LPDDR5 DRAM Chip, Targets 6.4Gbps Data Rates & 30% Reduced Power
Samsung has been on a roll lately with memory & storage-related announcements, and that roll is continuing today with a new DRAM-related announcement out of the juggernaut. This afternoon the company is announcing that they have completed fabrication, functional testing, and validation of a prototype 8Gbit LPDDR5 module. The company is targeting data rates up to 6.4Gbps-per-pin with the new memory, and while Samsung isn’t ready to start mass production quite yet, the company’s press release notes that they’re already eyeing it.This is actually the first LPDDR5 announcement to cross AnandTech’s proverbial desk, so if you haven’t heard of the standard before, there’s a good reason for that. LPDDR5 is so cutting edge that the standard itself has yet to be completed; the JEDEC standards group has not yet finalized the specifications for DDR5 or LPDDR5. The JEDEC only first announced work on DDR5 last year, with the specification due at some point this year. As a result information on the memory technology has been limited, as while the major aspects of the technology would have been hammered out early, the committee and its members tend to favor holding back until the specification is at or is close to completion.In any case, it appears that Samsung is the first to jump out of the gate on LPDDR5, becoming the first manufacturer to announce validation of their prototype. And as part of the process, they have revealed, at a high level, some important specifications and features of the new memory standard.In terms of performance, Samsung is targeting up to 6.4Gbps/pin with the new memory. Which for a typical 32-bit bus chip works out to 25.6GB/sec of memory bandwidth. This is a 50% increase in bandwidth over the current LPDDR4(X) standard, which tops out at 4.266Gbps under the same conditions. So for a high-end phone where 64-bit memory buses are common, we’d be looking at over 50GB/sec of memory bandwidth, and over 100GB/sec for a standard 128-bit bus PC.Underpinning these changes are a number of optimizations for both increased bandwidth and reduced power consumption. On the bandwidth side, the single biggest change is that the number of memory banks per channel, from 8 banks on LPDDR4(X) to 16 banks on LPDDR5. And while Samsung’s press release doesn’t explicitly note it – and I’m still waiting to get confirmation thereof – doubling the number of banks has traditionally gone hand-in-hand with doubling the prefetch size. This would give LPDDR5 a 32n prefetch size, with increasing the prefetch size long being the favored method to improve DRAM performance. Or to simplify matters a bit, the core clockspeed of the DRAM itself wouldn’t be changing, but rather LPDDR5 increases the amount of parallelism so that data is read and written out over more banks simultaneously.Update: While they weren't able to get us a response at press time, Samsung got back to us early this morning with a few more specifications for their memory. Rather unexpectedly, the company is claiming that their LPDDR5 has a single 32-bit (x32) memory channel, with 16 banks in that channel. Furthermore the memory still has a prefetch of 16n, the same as LPDDR4. Besides undoing one of the core changes of LPDDR4 - the reduction to 16-bit memory channels - it's not clear how this organization allows Samsung to achieve the data rates they've published. But for now, this is the official answer we have from the company.LPDDR GenerationsLPDDR3LPDDR4LPDDR4XLPDDR5Max Density32 Gbit64 Gbit??Max Data Rate2.13Gbps4.26Gbps6.4GbpsChannels121?Banks
Intel and Micron To Dissolve 3D XPoint Partnership After 2019
A press release from Intel today has clarified the state of the 3D XPoint Joint Venture the company has with Micron. Currently Intel and Micron co-developed the new class of non-volatile memory, with manufacturing at the Intel-Micron Flash Technologies (IMFT) fab in Utah. Intel’s statement today states that for the second generation of memory, the development will also be a joint effort and is expected to complete in the first half of 2019. However the third generation will be developed independently, allowing each company to focus on the separate business needs.3D XPoint technology, branded as Optane by Intel and QuantX by Micron, has been a mini-revolution when it comes to non-volatile memory. Intel’s Optane products, mostly storage but with recent announcements about DRAM, have seen a sizeable uptick in interest from specific enterprise markets that can benefit from persistant data or fast random access storage. Intel is expected to launch its DRAM products alongside its next generation server architecture at some point in the new future. Under the terms of the joint venture, each company gets 50% of the flash memory made at the IMFT fab in Utah. Micron’s QuantX has not been released, which raises the question as to who has been buying it.Intel has long held that 3D XPoint has a long life ahead of it, offering speed, density, and a wide range of applications. The industry is still waiting to be fully exposed to Intel’s initial promises about the product, from storage to memory, but also future generations of the product, such as adding layers and capacity. As with all technologies, these things are generational, and today’s announcement states that Intel and Micron are still working jointly with the second generation product. The completion of second generation 3D XPoint is expected in the first half of 2019, but then R&D focus will shift to completing and finalizing the third generation. It is this generation that is the focus of the announcement: the companies will no longer work together for it. This means that both companies will have a chance to adjust their roadmaps independently, either pursing a more aggressive strategy, or none at all. The note also states that the memory will continue to be built in the same fab, which raises questions as to how the joint venture will work in that case, if the research is done independently.Both Intel and Micron have been having problems of late, with Intel’s Optane DRAM being released later than originally promised, and Micron having issues with the Chinese government, as well as disappointing sales of its own 3D XPoint. At least some clarity is being given to the 3D XPoint side of the businesses, if only to shine a light on the nature of the agreement for the next few years.Related Reading
ASRock Launches C246M WS Micro-ATX Motherboard for Xeon E CPUs
ASRock Rack has announced one of the industry’s first Micro-ATX motherboards for Intel’s new Xeon E processors for entry-level servers and workstations. The C246M WS platform is aimed at compact workstations, it supports a variety of PCIe add-in-cards, rather rich storage capabilities, and a couple of GbE connectors.As the name suggests, the ASRock C246M WS motherboard is based on Intel’s C246 chipset and therefore supports Intel’s Xeon E-2100 series processors. The platform features a multi-phase VRM that uses solid-state inductors and capacitors to sustain stable operation during prolonged workloads. The design of the motherboard contains an empty pad for the Aspeed AST2500 IPMI chip, so eventually ASRock plans to launch a management version of the product as well. That server SKU will support IPMI 2.0 and will gain an additional Realtek RTL8211E Ethernet controller, the company’s website suggests. Probably for cost reduction reasons, the manufacturer decided not to install a TPM module onto its C246M WS workstation platform, but there is a TPM header, so the actual PC makers can still add this feature if their clients want it.Just like other motherboards with the LGA1151 v2 socket, the C246M WS comes with four DDR4 DIMM slots supporting up to 64 GB of DDR4-2667 memory with ECC technology when a Xeon E processor is installed. PCIe 3.0 slots include one x16, one x8, and one x4 slot. The first one automatically switches to x8 mode once the second one is occupied.When it comes to storage, the C246M WS has one M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 slot (supports both NVMe and SATA drives), and eight SATA connectors (one connector shares SATA with the M.2 slot, hence no more than eight SATA drives per system no matter the form-factor). If all storage options are used, the C246M WS can support up to 12 drives in a Micro ATX system: four PCIe/NVMe SSDs (one M.2 + three PCIe 3.0 slots) as well as eight SATA HDDs/SSDs.Moving on to connectivity offered by ASRock’s C246M WS. The motherboard has two GbE ports, four USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A connectors (there are internal headers too), a D-Sub output (will be needed mostly on a server version outfitted with the AST2500 IPMI chip), an HDMI output, a Serial port, and audio outputs (analog and digital).ASRock's Micro ATX Motherboard
An AnandTech Exclusive: The Jim Keller Interview
You asked for it, and we were able to get 30 minutes with the big man himself. Jim Keller falls into the rockstar category of engineers: lots of ideas with vision and a very successful record. Jim has been able to turn a product market around by leading processor design teams, such as with Apple's A4 and A5 processors, or AMD's K8 and Zen microarchitectures. Recently he was hired by Intel as the Senior Vice President of the Silicon Engineering Group, with an emphasis on SoC design and integration, although not much more was said, leaving everyone to scratch their heads as to exactly what projects fall under his remit. With Intel's money and design at his fingertips, we asked Jim what exactly his role now entails, how he is integrating into Intel, and what the plans are for the future.
NVIDIA Unifies GeForce NOW Service Across PCs and SHIELD TV STBs: 200+ Games Supported
NVIDIA this month is unifying its GeForce NOW service across all platforms that it supports, extending the latest iteration of the service for PCs and Macs to include NVIDIA's SHIELD TV consoles. From now on, all 225 games supported by the game streaming service will also run on the Android TV STB.NVIDIA has been dabbling in cloud-based game streaming services for several year snow, starting with the GRID service early in this decade, which was created to extend the gaming capabilities of NVIDIA's first portable SHIELD devices. In October of 2015 this morphed into the first-generation GeForce NOW service, which was an interesting $8/month hybrid-subscription service that allowed users to both play games included with their subscription, along with buying certain (usually newer) games outright.The service supported dozens of games that could be played using a gamepad, but omitted PC titles that required a keyboard and a mouse. Back then this limitation was conditioned by several factors: the service was new and NVIDIA needed streaming quality much more than it needed quantity of games, and availability of keyboards and mice supporting Google Android was scarce (and their universal compatibility was not guaranteed).Meanwhile in early 2017 NVIDIA took the wraps off of its second-generation GeForce NOW service, which despite the identical name had a very different service model and an equally different (initial) audience. This seocnd-generation service was aimed PCs running macOS or Windows, and is currently operating as a free-to-use beta. Underpinning it is (or rather will be) the idea that rather than running a subscription service with a set library of games, NVIDIA would instead rent out compute time on virtual machines, with more powerful instances going for higher rates. Meanwhile users can bring their own games via access to their Steam, Uplay, and Battle.net accounts, getting NVIDIA out of the content curation game entirely.Being aimed at computers with keyboards and mice, this version of the cloud-based game streaming service supported a considerably larger library of PC games. To date, the service on PCs/Macs has gained support for 225 titles, significantly higher than the number of titles available for the first-generation service for SHIELD devices.Starting this month, however, the differentiation between services is coming to an end. NVIDIA is essentially discontinuing the first-generation GeForce NOW service, and in the process is moving SHIELD TV devices to the second-generation service. This will serve to unify GeForce NOW across all platforms, as now PC, Mac, and SHIELD TV will all access the same service.Besides bringing SHIELD TV clients to technical parity with the PC, this change also means that SHIELD TV owners will be able to access all of the games that PC and Mac users can currently play. Obviously, to play RTS titles like Civilization V and VI (both are supported), SHIELD TV gamers will need to get a keyboard (and preferably a mouse) compatible with Google’s Android TV, but since this OS is rather widespread nowadays, this is hardly a problem (Logitech has several keyboards with touchpads for Android TV).One thing to note about the service is that it is still in beta status. This is one of the reasons why it is free to use on PCs and now on SHIELD TV devices. It would seem that NVIDIA is still trying to figure out how to best monetize the service, so for at least throughout of 2018 users will continue to be able to access NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW streaming service for free.Buy NVIDIA SHIELD TV on Amazon.comRelated Reading:
Cooler Master Releases CM310 Gaming Mouse: 10000 DPI Sensor, RGB Illumination, $30
Cooler Master has announced the release of a new gaming mouse in the CM310. The mouse includes a 10000 DPI gaming grade optical sensor, RGB illumination, and is designed to be ambidextrous. The new peripheral, according to Cooler Master, is designed as 'a mouse for gamers of all calibers and is designed to be comfortable, reliable, and doesn’t break the bank'.The outside of the mouse is made of a matte black plastic and rubber and includes an RGB illuminated web wheel. A Cooler Master symbol is on top, along with an RGB strip which is wrapped around the entire body. Cooler Master includes five preset RGB modes and effects, but no mention if it can work with motherboard RGB software. Although the mouse is said to be ambidextrous, the side buttons are on the left and for right-handed grip so this may not work as well for lefties who need those buttons. For increased grip, the sides of the mouse, where most users’ thumb and pinky finger rest, are rubberized to prevent slippage in the middle of a game. There are a total of eight buttons on the mouse. The three buttons on top are mapped to DPI changed and profiles for the ability to quickly switch to slower/faster movements on the fly with seven levels (500, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, and 10000 DPI). The remaining five buttons are the typical left and right we see on nearly every mouse, the two buttons on the left side along with the web wheel are also clickable.The device uses a Pixart A3325 sensor, good up to the 10000 DPI mentioned earlier, along with a polling rate of 1000 Hz, a lift-off distance of ~3mm, and uses a 60 inch-per-second tracking speed (3.4 miles per hour). The wired mouse uses a 6-foot USB 2.0 cable to connect to the PC.Cooler Master CM310 Gaming MouseProduct Name / Model #CM310 / CM-310-KKW02Grip TypePalm & ClawMaterialABS Plastic / RubberColorBlackLED Color16.7M RGB with 5 ModesSensorPixart A3328 (10000 DPI)CPI / DPI7 Levels (500, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 10000)Tracking Speed60 ipsLift Off Distance< ~3mmPolling Rate / Acceleration1000 Hz / 20gButtons8Connector / Cable LengthUSB 2.0 / 1.8 Meters (Flexible Rubber)Dimensions (W x H x D)5" x 2.8" x 1.6"Weight100g/135g (without/with cable)Warranty2 YearsThe Cooler Master CM310 is said to be available today at Newegg/Amazon and carries an MSRP of $30/30€.Related Reading
Lian Li’s Strimer RGB PSU Cable Now Available: $40 For A Limited Time
Lian Li has started to sell its new PSU cable featuring addressable RGB lighting. The cable is now available on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean at an introductory price below $40/€40. Going forward, the unit will get a bit more expensive, but will stay below $50/€50.Announced at Computex last month, the the Lian Li Strimer (pronounced 'Streamer') is a light emitting module featuring RGB LEDs that can be attached to Lian Li’s white PSU cable and create an impression that the wires are glowing. The Strimer has a connector to attach to motherboards that can control addressable RGB lighting and works with all popular motherboards brands as well as their software. Alternatively, the Strimer can be plugged to a special module that features 10 pre-programmed lighting options and can be controlled manually.Check out a news story from our Computex coverage.Lian Li’s Strimer module and its white cable are compatible with all ATX PSUs available on the market and the installation procedure does not seem to be too complex.The Lian Li Strimer is now available from Amazon and Newegg in the US, Caseking in Germany, and OcUK in the UK. For a limited time the product will cost $5/€5/£5 below its MSRP, but after that its price will increase to $45/€45/£40.Pricing of Lian Li StrimerRetailerCountryCurrent PriceMSRPAmazonU.S.$35$45CasekingGermany€40€45NeweggU.S.$40$45Overclockers UKU.K.£35£40Buy Lian Li Strimer RGB PSU Cable on Amazon.comRelated Reading
The ASRock Z370 Gaming-ITX/ac Motherboard Review: Mini-ITX with Thunderbolt 3
There's a lot of love for mini-ITX, and our next review is the ASRock Z370 Gaming-ITX/ac. This gaming-centric board offers users a number of features which make it highly competitive in the small-form-factor overclocking space at $180. Despite the small size, the board includes Thunderbolt 3, Intel-based Wi-Fi and LAN, USB 3.1 support, M.2 storage, and six SATA ports - a rarety on a small motherboard. If everything else goes right, it could be a good contender for a sharp build.
Toshiba’s 14 TB HDDs Now Available from Supermicro
Toshiba was the first maker of hard drives to announce a PMR-based 14 TB HDD last December and apparently it is the first company to start their commercial shipments. As of this week, Supermicro has qualified Toshiba’s MG07-series HDDs with 12 TB and 14 TB capacities for use on select storage server platforms and is now offering the appropriate systems to customers. In addition to servers, the drives will be available from Supermicro’s online store eventually.Toshiba’a MG07 enterprise-grade helium-filled HDDs featuring 14 TB and 12 TB capacities rely on nine and eight PMR platters respectively from Showa Denko, with ~1.56 TB capacity per platter. The drives feature a 7200 RPM spindle speed, a 256 MB cache buffer, and a SATA 6 Gbps interface, which is in line with other HDDs for nearline storage applications. Power consumption of Toshiba’s 14 TB hard drive does not exceed 7.6 W, so it is drop-in compatible with virtually all backplanes and servers, but makers of such equipment still need to qualify the drives with their products to ensure their fine operation. Just like other enterprise-grade HDDs, Toshiba’s 12 TB and 14 TB offerings feature enhancements to improve their durability and reliability, including top and bottom attached motors, RVFF, environmental sensor, and so on.Supermicro has qualified Toshiba’s MG07-series drives with a number of its SuperStorage (SSG) systems, including its top-of-the-range SSG-6049P-E1CR45H/SSG-6049P-E1CR45L 4U machines based on two Intel Xeon Scalable processors with up to 56 cores in total and supporting up to 45 hot-swap 3.5-inch HDDs and up to six NVMe SSDs (connected to PCIe lanes). When fully populated with Toshiba’s 14 TB hard drives, such servers can store 630 TB of data on HDDs and terabytes more on flash drives. Customers interested in maximum HDD storage density can now order SuperStorage machines equipped with Toshiba’s 14 TB HDDs from Supermicro.Brief Specifications of Toshiba's MG07ACA HDDsCapacity14 TB12 TBP/N4K NativeMG07ACA14TAMG07ACA12TA512eMG07ACA14TEMG07ACA12TEPlatters98Heads1816Recording TechnologyPerpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) / ConventionalRPM7200 RPMInterfaceSATA 6 GbpsDRAM Cache256 MBPersistent Write CacheYesHelium-FillingYesSequential Data Transfer Rate (host to/from drive)260 MB/s~250 MB/sMTBF2.5 millionRated Annual Workload550 TBAcoustics (Seek)unknownPower ConsumptionRandom read/write7.6 W? WIdle4.6 W? WWarranty5 YearsToshiba’s MG07-series hard drives are rated for 550 TB average annualized workloads, 2.5 million hours MTBF, and are covered with a five-year warranty. With this level of reliability, it is not surprising that the drives are rather expensive. German retailer sysGen.de charges €619 w/VAT ($725) for a 14 TB version and at press time was the only company in the world to offer this HDD (this does not mean it has the drives in stock). Meanwhile, per-drive prices from Supermicro will depend on volumes and other factors.Related Reading
Intel To Acquire eASIC: Lower Cost ASICs in FPGA Design Time
Along with the other announcement today, Intel is also announcing that it will acquire a company called eASIC which develops FPGA-like design tools to roll out ‘structured ASICs’. These structured ASICs an intermediary between a full FPGA and a full ASIC that allow for a quick roll out time and cheaper production cost. Technically Intel has been using eASIC technology since at least 2015 in its custom Xeons, however today’s announcement means that the eASIC team will become part of Intel’s Programmable Solutions Group (PSG).
Aquantia’s Gamer Edition AQtion AQN-107 10 GbE NIC Available
On Wednesday, Aquantia started to sell the gamer edition of its AQtion AQN-107 multi-gig network card. As the name implies, the 10 GbE NIC is aimed at demanding gamers as well as enthusiasts who want to have a maximum network performance.Aquantia’s gamer edition AQtion AQN-107 card is based on the company’s AQC107 (10 GbE) network controller that supports various BASE-T standards, including 100M, 1G, 2.5G and 5G over an RJ45 connector using Cat5e/Cat6 cabling. The card uses a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface and comes on a black reference design PCB featuring an aluminum heat spreader that 'emphasizes' its gaming nature.The key feature that differentiates gamer edition AQtion AQN-107 card from regular multi-gig network adapters from Aquantia is the company’s in-house developed gaming prioritization software. This will seem similar to the software tools offered by the Rivet Networks Killer network controllers, however both solutions approach the issue differently internally. Right now, Aquantia has three levels of prioritization supported by its software, but the company continues to work on this product.Aquantia demonstrated a gaming rig outfitted with its AQtion AQN-107 card as well as the software at Computex. After trying the setup out, we can confirm that the software works and manages to reduce latency when priority modes are enabled and network traffic is being directed at mulitple sources.The Aquantia Gamer Edition AQtion AQN-107 10 GbE network card is currently available from Amazon for $89.99.The market of gaming PCs is not the most important one for Aquantia, especially in the light of the fact that there are virtually no affordable consumer-grade multi-gig switches. This partly explains why the card is currently available only from Amazon and why Aquantia is selling it under its own brand. In the meantime, it is evident that the company needs to address the market of demanding consumers with its 10 GbE offerings in a bid to establish itself a name among gamers to ensure successful competition against other multi-gig players in the future.Buy Aquantia AQtion 10G Gaming NIC on Amazon.comRelated Reading
Sony Unveils Xperia XA2 Plus Mid-Range Phone: 6-Inch, 2160x1080, SD630
Sony has introduced its new Xperia XA2 Plus ‘performance mainstream’ smartphone that is positioned above the rest of the Xperia XA2 series, but below the high-end XZ2 range. The new Xperia XA2 Plus is based on the same platform as other members of the family, the Snapdragon 630, yet it is outfitted with a large 6-inch 2160x1080 display featuring an 18:9 aspect ratio, and supports Sony’s high-resolution audio.The Sony Xperia XA2 Plus comes in a symmetric chassis with rounded edges made of anodized aluminum that resembles enclosures used by two other members of the family, but with significant changes on the front to fit in a 6-inch 18:9 display with a 2160×1080 resolution, which is bigger than screens used on other SKUs. To make the phone a bit more rugged, the Xperia XA2 Plus features Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 protection, an upgrade when compared to other XA2 models. As for dimensions, the phone is a bit larger and heavier than the Xperia XA2, but is a slightly smaller and lighter than the Xperia XA2 Ultra.When it comes to internals, the Xperia XA2 Plus is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 630 SoC that packs eight Arm Cortex-A53 cores along with an Adreno 508 graphics core. The same chip powers other Xperia XA2 handsets, so the XA2 Plus has the same performance and connectivity features as its brethren. Meanwhile the Xperia XA2 Plus will exist in two versions, one featuring 4 GB of LPDDR4 memory and 32 GB eMMC storage another outfitted with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB eMMC storage. In addition, there will be single SIM and dual SIM versions in select regions.Imaging capabilities of the Xperia XA2 Plus are also similar to other members of the family: the handset features a 23 MP Exmor RS (f/2.0, 24mm, 1/2.3”) sensor with ISO 12800 on the back as well as an 8 MP 120-degree sensor on the front. As for audio, the phone supports Sony’s high-resolution audio and Sony’s digital sound enhancement engine (DSEE HX), a first for a mid-range handset. For those who care, the Xperia XA2 Plus also has a 3.5-mm audio output.The smartphone is outfitted with a 3580 mAh battery that supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 as well as Qnovo Adaptive Charging technology. Sony does not disclose battery life of the phone, but it is probably comparable with the Xperia XA2 Ultra.Sony Xperia XA2 Family of SmartphonesXperia XA2Xperia XA2 UltraXperia XA2 PlusDisplaySize5.2"6"6"Resolution1920×1080 (16:9)2160×1080 (18:9)PPI424 PPI367 PPI402 PPICoverGorilla Glass 4Gorilla Glass 5SoCSnapdragon 630
Dell Announces Latest Precision Entry Level Workstations: Powerful 1U Rack and SFF Desktops
Today Dell has introduced new and updated lineups in their Precision entry-level workstation lineup. In this case, Dell has brought forth the Precision 3930 Rack (1U workstation), Precision 3630 (tower), as well as the Precision 3430 Small Form Factor Tower. The lineup will use i3/i5/i7 and Xeon E 8 Generation Intel processors as well as professional graphics from the NVIDIA Quadro and AMD Radeon Pro Graphics.Dell 3930 RackTo start, Dell's workstation racks have been in their portfolio since 2008 in 2U form. Dell says they love the rack format, but in most cases, it is overkill for the clients. The 2U racks previously used dual sockets with up to 56 cores, equipped with copious amounts of RAM, storage devices, and high-powered graphics. What Dell has done was to take the same architecture found in the mini-tower and placed it in a 1U sized rack. This way, users are able to move the desktop off the desk and increasing desk real estate which can be at a premium in many locations. Along with this shrink, prices start off lower as well. The 1U chassis itself uses a short-depth and narrow design for better rack density and a smaller footprint more suited for space-constrained workspaces with only a thin client sitting on the desk while this sits in the Data Center.The 3930 Rack will offer users a single socket 1U rack solution with up to 20TB of storage including SAS, SATA, and PCIe interfaces. CPU options range from 8 Gen Intel Core processors in i3, i5, and i7, form along with Xeon processors from theE-2100 family. The platform uses dual channel UDIMM memory up to 64GB 2666MHz DDR4 Non-ECC (for Intel Core CPUs) and ECC (Xeon) RAM. Graphics options range from NVIDIA Quadro P2000 to P6000 cards for the mid-range to high-end while entry level consists of AMD Radeon Pro WX 4100 graphics or Quadro P400. A consumer level GTX 1080 is also an option.Communications are handled by an integrated Intel GbE and Aquantia 10 GbE Ethernet connections along with additional single port and dual port with 10 GbE cards optional. Since this is a rack design that isn’t intended to be on the desktop, remote access can be achieved with the optional Teradici PCoIP technology supporting dual and quad display zero clients.Dell Precision 3930 RackWarranty Period3 Year Limited Hardware + NBD On-site ServiceProduct Page(s)N/APrice$899ChipsetIntel C246Memory Slots (DDR4)Dual Channel UDIMM Up to 64GB
Intel Launches Coffee Lake Xeon E (Entry): The Next-Gen E3-1200
Today Intel is announcing the Xeon E family of processors. The Xeon E-2100 stack of CPUs will replace the previous generation E3 v6 processors, following Intel's renaming of their whole Xeon stack, and in line with the workstation-focused Xeon W-2100 family, and the Xeon D-2100 family. The new processors mirror the current Coffee Lake Core processors on the market and will support up to 64GB of ECC memory, but require motherboards with a specalized workstation C246 chipset. The E in this case stands for 'Entry', and these processors aim to be the corner stone of Intel's portfolio of entry-level workstation parts.
Lian Li PC-O11 Air Mid-Tower Chassis: Loads of Airflow and Radiator Capacity
The new Lian Li PC-O11 Air is an update to the PC-O11 series to allow more airflow through the chassis. The PC-011 Air has five locations for air intake and exhaust and is able to accommodate a total of twelve 120mm fans and multiple 360mm radiators inside the Mid-Tower sized case. Lian Li dubs the case as the ultimate platform for cooling.On the outside, the Lian Li PC-O11 Air changes some of its panels (compared to the PC-O11 Dynamic) in order to accommodate more fans in the system and create a better environment with improved airflow. Instead of the sealed glass fascia, the new panel is perforated to let air in and allows for 3x 120mm fans. As far as connectivity goes, the front panel consists of two USB 3.0 ports as well as a USB 3.1 Type-C port along with headphone and microphone jacks and the power button.The other nine 120mm fan mount points are on the top and bottom as well as the on the inside of the case mounted on the right side of the motherboard tray/baffle. With so much potential airflow, dust prevention was considered and the front, bottom, top, and side panels all use magnetic dust filters to help that cause and keep the dust out. Up to three 360mm radiators can fit inside the case in either a top/bottom/front or top/bottom/side configuration. Using the front mount blocks the side mount location. In addition to the 12 potential fans, two 80mm mounts are found on the back.Internally the structure looks strikingly similar to the PC-O11 Dynamic on the inside, with its dual chambered setup and plethora of fan mount locations. The chassis is able to support microATX, ATX, and E-ATX sized boards along with the ability to use a heatsink up to 155mm. This height will fit the vast majority of air coolers on the market, but will not fit monsters like the Noctua NHD-14. VGA card length is up to 420mm which should fit just about every modern graphics card.Cable management should be fairly easy with the angled motherboard tray and back side cable management bar to conceal any mess from cables. A unique feature inside the PC-O11 Air is the ability to use two different power supplies. If a second power supply isn't needed, the mount location can be swapped from top to bottom.On the storage side of things, a total of six 2.5-inch devices can fit inside with two on the bottom panel in the main chamber, and four more 2.5-inch devices (or three 3.5-inch) can be housed in the dedicated storage and power chamber behind the motherboard.Buy Lian Li PC-O11 Air on NeweggLian Li PC-O11 AirModelPC-O11 AirCase TypeTowerDimensions(W) 270mm/10.6"
Apple Updates MacBook Pro Family for 2018: More CPU Cores, DDR4, & Same Form Factors
A surprising no-show at this year’s Apple World Wide Developer’s Conference was any kind of hardware refresh for Apple’s Mac products. While WWDC is first and foremost a software development show, it’s also been a convenient event for Apple to announce lower-key refreshes of their existing hardware platforms, as the press and developers are already there and paying attention. So with the MacBook Pro family all but guaranteed to receive a refresh thanks to Intel’s Coffee Lake launch, we had been expecting to see new MacBook Pros around then.Instead Apple has gone in a slightly different direction (more on that in a sec) but the end result is the same. Today, roughly a month after WWDC, Apple is announcing a more substantial refresh of both the MacBook Pro 13-inch and MacBook Pro 15-inch. The combination of Intel’s Coffee Lake processors and some of Apple’s own innovations such as their T2 controller make this a potentially potent performance upgrade for Apple’s professional-grade workhorses.
iBASE Lists C246 Motherboards for Intel Xeon E CPUs
iBASE has published specifications of its upcoming MB995VF-C246 motherboard aimed at entry-level/embedded servers and workstations that will support Intel’s upcoming (but not yet announced) Xeon E processors. The mainboard generally resembles platforms for desktops, but due to positioning it boasts with enhanced durability, reliability, as well as legacy I/O capabilities.The iBASE MB995VF-C246 motherboard is based on Intel’s as-yet unannounced C246 PCH and therefore supports Xeon E processors. The mainboard relies on design originally developed for the MB995VF based on the Intel Q370 PCH, and according to the listing will also support 8 Gen Core i3/i5/i7 as well as Pentium CPUs for business desktops. Given its positioning, the motherboard fully supports iAMT 11 remote management, TPM 2.0, vPro, and iSMART features.The MB995VF-C246 motherboard from iBASE is outfitted with a multi-phase VRM for CPU that is based on solid-state coils designed to sustain prolonged workloads. The platform carries four DDR4 DIMM slots supporting up to 64 GB of DDR4-2667 memory (either ECC or non-ECC), one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot for graphics cards, a PCIe 3.0 x4 for high-end SSDs, a PCIe 3.0 x1 for various add-on boards, one mini PCIe, as well as three PCI slots. Moving on to storage options. The MB995VF-C246 has six SATA ports, and one M.2-2280. The platform can support up to six SATA SSDs/HDDs as well as two PCIe/NVMe drives of different capacity.When it comes to networking connectivity, the motherboard has two GbE controllers, and an M.2-2230 slot for a Wi-Fi card. As for general I/O, the MB995VF-C246 has four USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, five USB 3.1 Gen 1 headers, a USB 2.0 via a pin-header (internal port), a DVI-D output, a DisplayPort 1.2, an HDMI 2.0a, four RS232 ports, two RS232/422/485 connectors, and a 7.1-channel audio.The iBASE MB995VF-C246 is positioned for embedded computing, which is why it has PCI slots (often used for outdated add-in cards) as well as various legacy ports. Meanwhile, presence of up-to-date slots and ports indicates that one can easily build a contemporary server or workstation using this motherboard.iBASE guarantees a 15-year lifetime for its MB995VF motherboards, so people looking to build an embedded system based on these platforms can be assured that they will be able to procure these mainboards in the years to come. The new mainboards are expected to become available shortly.iBASE's Motherboard for Intel's Xeon E CPUsMB995VF-C246Supported CPUsLGA1151 v2 CPUs
Hands On With The Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition
One of the more interesting laptop designs to come out of the Computex week was from Acer: its new Predator Helios 300 Special Edition was an eclectic mix of white and gold that made it stand out from the swathe of standard black and red looking gaming machines being announced and on the market. We had a recent chance to spend some time with the unit at an Acer UK event.So to begin, the unit in front of me was a Core i5-8300H model with a 15.6-inch 1920x1080 IPS display with a GTX 1060 inside. The unit looks great, if you like white and gold, and it will be interesting to see how the white stands up to repeated use and cleaning. We were told that the chassis is made from some composite materials (which ones were not disclosed) which should reduce fingerprints and scratches incurred during normal use.The display, while not going all the way to the edge, can get reasonably bright, was definitely useable in a dimly lit room. Viewing angles seemed solid as well. The webcam is above the screen, and to be honest the white surround of the display did not impinge on using the device.The keyboard is basically a full sized keyboard, using full size arrow keys which is a definite plus. The amount of key travel, compared to say the Huawei Matebook X Pro, was larger which is a plus for my use. It is easy to spot that the WASD keys have a ‘gold’ square on them. This is not a sticker, the keys themselves are colored this way. I feel like the key should be fully colored, rather than just a square (which sometimes looks off center), but I suppose it is easier to add the color after the fact. The key letters are actually cut aways from the keys as well. The function keys to adjust the brightness are in the arrow keys, with some of the F-key row for other functions. There are separate functions for music too. The downside of the keyboard though is the location of the power button – right next to the number pad. I often use the number pad for numbers and operational keys, so having the power button here is quite frustrating.With the Core i5-8300H and the GTX 1060, there’s going to be some heat with gaming, and Acer uses their dual fan system to help remove heat through the grated rear of the laptop. The fans can also reverse direction to help shift dust and blockages, and the way the system does this can be controlled through Acer’s installed applications.On the rear of the system, it looks like the 2.5-inch storage device and DRAM can be adjusted after purchase, due to two screwed down sections. In the device I was looking at, the system was using a 256GB Micron 1100 SSD, which is a mid-range SATA SSD, along with a Western Digital 1TB HDD.The ports on the side seemed numerous, including an ethernet port, a HDMI port, several USB ports, and a card reader. There is also a USB Type-C, however power is supplied through a larger power brick using a circular connector.When discussing the unit with the Acer reps here at the event, it seems like that the original Helios 300 got some good feedback however some of the retailers in the UK only got a few units of stock so there wasn’t a lot of noise. The hope is that something like this special edition will stand out from the crowd.Also alongside the Helios 300 SE will be a series of Predator related white and gold accessories. There's the backpack, the Predator Cestus 510 mouse, and the Predator Galea 500 headset.Acer’s Predator Helios 300 Special Edition laptop will be available later this year. The manufacturer did not disclose its estimated pricing or how many units will be produced.Related Reading
The GIGABYTE B360 Gaming 3 WIFI Review: A Cheaper Alternative at $120
One of GIGABYTE's first B360 series motherboards in the Gaming 3 WIFI. This is our first review of this new chipset, and it offers users a cheaper way into the 8th generation Intel processors. The GIGABYTE B360 Gaming 3 WIFI includes many of the features found in the Z370 version, and even trumps it in one respect with its ultra-fast Intel CNVi Wi-Fi with speeds up to 1.73 Gbps.
Lenovo’s Miix 630 Snapdragon 835-Based 2-in-1 Now Available
Lenovo has started to sell its Miix 630 always-connected PC based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 SoC and Microsoft’s Windows 10 S. The system weighs around 1.4 kilograms yet promises up to 20 hours of battery life with a perminent connection to the internet when in cell-tower coverage.Lenovo’s Miix 630 is a 2-in-1 detachable notebook with a 12.3-inch FHD+ display and a 15.6 mm z-height when equipped with a keyboard. The system is outfitted with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 SoC, 4 GB of LPDDR4-1866 memory, 128 GB of UFS 2.1 storage, 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, and an integrated Gigabit LTE modem. Since the Miix 630 uses a mobile SoC, it is always connected to a 4G/LTE network and offers a very long battery life because it is equipped with a laptop-class 48 Wh battery: Lenovo rates the system for 20 hours of video playback at 150 nits screen brightness.The 2-in-1 comes with Microsoft’s Windows 10 S, but there is an option to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free within the first 180-days after initial registration. Since the Snapdragon 835 is designed to be more space and efficient than the competition, the Miix 630 is rated to work significantly longer than the vast majority of ultra-thin notebooks.As reported previously, the platform supports applications through the Windows Store that are natively compiled for the S835, as well as non-native 32-bit apps through machine translation. Qualcomm is still in the middle of developing its 64-bit SDK, as well as looking into translation of non-native 64-bit apps. We covered the topic when Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 850. For some power users, this may be a limitation at this time, however most regular program suites for business use are ready and operational for full performance.Lenovo charges $899.99 for the Miix 630 product, which is the price that Microsoft charges for its entry-level Surface Pro 4 2-in-1 that is powered by Intel’s Core m3-6Y30 SoC.Lenovo’s Miix 630 is now available both directly from Lenovo as well as from retailers like Amazon.Buy Lenovo Miix 630 on Amazon.comThe Lenovo Miix 630SpecificationsDisplay12.3"
A DIY Portable Thunderbolt 3 SSD with the TEKQ Rapide and SanDisk Extreme Pro
The emergence of NVMe SSDs in the compact M.2 form-factor, coupled with the rising popularity of Thunderbolt 3, has enabled a new class of portable high-performance flash storage devices. External SSDs with a Thunderbolt interface have been around for a few years now, but, the price to performance ratio had prevented them from getting wide acceptance. Things are changing with the portable Thunderbolt 3 SSDs, and wallet-friendly choices are emerging, thanks to Phison's reference designs that went public at the 2018 CES. We recently reviewed TEKQ's Rapide, a portable Thunderbolt 3 SSD using a Phison controller (but, not the 3D TLC-based low-cost reference design). It proved to be quite easy to disassemble. We set out to determine the performance of the Rapide with the internal SSD replaced by one of the current high-performance units in the market - the SanDisk Extreme Pro M.2 NVMe 3D SSD.IntroductionThe TEKQ Rapide is a 98mm x 45mm x 12mm silver-colored external SSD with an aluminum chassis. It sports a single Thunderbolt 3 interface for both power and data. The port is enabled by the Intel DSL6340 Thunderbolt 3 Controller - note that this belongs to the Alpine Ridge family, and hence, works only with Thunderbolt 3 Type-C ports. On the other side of the DSL6340 is a PCIe 3.0 x4 connection that leads to a M.2 slot capable of accommodating M.2 2260 or 2280 PCIe SSDs. There are no plastic components in the chassis.There is nothing preventing advanced users from installing their own M.2 PCIe SSDs in the internal M.2 slot. The device is easy to disassemble, with four screws hidden under the rubber feet on the underside of the chassis. We took out the internal SSD (a Phison E7 reference design with Toshiba's MLC NAND) and replaced it with a 1TB version of the SanDisk Extreme Pro M.2 NVMe 3D SSD. The TEKQ Rapide enclosure includes thermal pads for both the M.2 SSD and the Thunderbolt 3 controller.As a refresher, the SanDisk Extreme Pro M.2 NVMe 3D SSD is essentially the same as the Western Digital WD Black 3D NAND SSD (review) except for the external branding. It uses Western Digital's in-house controller and couples it with 64-layer BiCS 3D TLC flash. While the SSD itself claims transfer rates of 3400 MBps reads and 2800 MBps writes, the extent of throttling introduced by the enclosure is not immediately evident.Synthetic BenchmarksVarious synthetic benchmarks are available to quickly evaluate the performance of direct-attached storage devices. Real-world performance testing often has to be a customized test. We present both varieties in this review, starting with the synthetic benchmarks in this section. Prior to covering those, we have a quick look at our testbed setup and testing methodology.Testbed Setup and Testing MethodologyEvaluation of DAS units on Windows is done with the testbed outlined in the table below. For devices with a Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C interface) connections (such as the DIY TEKQ Rapide - SanDisk Extreme Pro TB3 SSD 1TB that we are considering today), we utilize the USB 3.1 Type-C port enabled by the Intel Alpine Ridge controller. It connects to the Z170 PCH via a PCIe 3.0 x4 link.AnandTech DAS Testbed ConfigurationMotherboardGIGABYTE Z170X-UD5 TH ATXCPUIntel Core i5-6600KMemoryG.Skill Ripjaws 4 F4-2133C15-8GRR
ASRock Expands Phantom Gaming Lineup with Radeon RX Vega Cards
ASRock has expanded its Phantom Gaming lineup with AMD’s Radeon RX Vega 56 and Vega 64 GPUs running at reference clock rates. This launch allows ASRock to move into AMD’s top-of-the-range offerings.ASRock’s Phantom Gaming X Radeon RX Vega 56 and Vega 64 graphics cards are based on AMD’s reference design with air cooling featuring a composite vapor chamber and a high-performance blower. ASRock’s Phantom Gaming X Radeon RX Vega 64 runs at 1247-1546 MHz, whereas the Phantom Gaming X Radeon RX Vega 56 operates at 1156-1471 MHz, exactly what AMD recommends. Display outputs include three DisplayPort 1.4 connectors as well as an HDMI 2.0 header.ASRock started to offer its own graphics adapters this March and is still a new player in this market. The company’s Phantom Gaming Radeon RX 500-series video cards are available worldwide, but sources close to AMD believe that ASRock’s main focus with these board is China. Meanwhile, since AMD's Radeon RX Vega offerings are considerably more expensive than Polaris-based devices, it is likely that the products may be concentrated primarily on Western markets.Pricing of ASRock’s Phantom Gaming X Radeon RX Vega graphics cards is something that remains to be seen, but expect them to cost comparably with rivals based on the same GPUs and featuring AMD’s reference design.Buy ASRock Radeon RX 570 on Amazon.comRelated Reading
Intel’s High-End Cascade Lake CPUs to Support 3.84 TB of Memory Per Socket
While Intel has yet to detail its upcoming Cascade Lake processors for servers, some of the key characteristics are beginning to emerge. According to a new report from ServeTheHome, some of the new chips will support up to 3.84 TB of memory per socket, double the amount supported by contemporary Skylake-based Xeon Platinum M-series CPUs that support 1.5 TB of DDR4, due to combining 512 GB Optane DIMMs and 128GB DDR4 DIMMs. For a dual socket system, this rises to up to 7.68 TB per node.Last year Intel published a picture of a Cascade Lake-based server outfitted with six DDR4 DIMMs and six Optane Persistent Memory DIMMs per socket. Intel’s code-named Apache Pass modules have 512 GB capacity, whereas commercial standard DDR4 LRDIMMs often carry a peak of 128 GB of usable memory. If these modules are installed into a server, in a 6 x Optane and 6 x DDR4 configuration, they will provide 3072 GB of 3D XPoint memory and 768 GB of DDR4 RAM for a total of 3.84 TB of memory.For write endurance reasons, six DDR4 DIMMs and six Optane DIMMs per socket will likely be a popular configuration for servers that run databases which benefit from high capacity of memory.These metrics are confirmed by a document released by QCT and their QCT QuantaMesh systems, with the key picture here below:The top left is a single server in a 1U configuration, showing five PCIe expansion slots and up to 7.68 TB memory capacity when a Cascade Lake CPU is installed. The bottom right is the T42D-2U, giving four nodes in a 2U configuration, totalling 30 TB memory capacity for a 2U rack. Given that the price of a single DDR4 128GB LRDIMM is circa $3500, and pricing for Optane still unknown, along with reports that pricing for Cascade Lake might be adjusted, these systems are likely to cost a pretty penny.It is worth noting, given Intel's historic policy on product segmentation, that not all Cascade Lake SKUs will support the maximum 3.84 TB of memory, leaving it only to premium models. Or Intel may go even further, potentially, and say that not all SKUs will support Optane DIMMs - that might also be a premium feature. Intel did not confirm at the launch of Optane if all of the Cascade Lake Xeons would support it (the official response was 'we haven't released that information yet').Related Reading
GlobalFoundries Announces 22FDX Milestone: $2 Billion in Design Wins
GlobalFoundries on Monday announced a milestone concerning its 22FDX-branded fully-depleted SOI low-power planar transistor platform. The company initiated volume production using the technology with yields and performance meeting expectations of its clients. So far, the company has gained over 50 client designs and has booked contracts worth $2 billion.GlobalFoundries’ positions its 22FDX manufacturing technology as a cheaper alternative to 14 nm/16 nm FinFET fabrication processes. Since the 22FDX relies on planar transistors as well as fully-depleted SOI wafers, it is easier and cheaper to use than FinFET-based technologies. Another key feature of FD-SOI is very low static and dynamic power consumption, low voltages (down to 0.4 Volts) and software-controlled transistor body-biasing (up to 1.5V, which helps increase performance), all of which makes the process very appealing for mobile, wearables, IoT, RF and other applications. Since such chips are developed by startups without a lot of money, relatively low development costs are crucial for such companies.GlobalFoundries formally introduced its 22FDX platform — which includes four different manufacturing technologies for various applications — in mid-2015 and started early production this year. One of the first customers to use the GlobalFoundries’ 22FDX platform is Synaptics, but previously GlobalFoundries mentioned Cisco, Freescale and Sony as adopters of the technology.According to GlobalFoundries, the 22FDX has booked customers’ orders worth $2 billion, which is a lot. To put this number into perspective, GlobalFoundries earned $6.176 billion in revenue last year. Meanwhile GlobalFoundries does not share any additional details about the 22FDX wafer revenue so we do not know the amount of time it will take GlobalFoundries to actually get these money.Related Reading
AT 101: Understanding Laptop Displays & How We Test Them
Everyone might have a different take on what they feel is the single most important factor to consider when purchasing a new laptop, but it would be hard to argue that the display quality shouldn't be near the top. There’s simply no other part of a notebook computer you’re going to use more. The good news is that display quality has improved immensely in recent years, with even some low-cost notebooks offering a good display.
Samsung Begins Mass Production Of 96L 3D NAND
Samsung has started mass production of their fifth generation of 3D NAND flash memory, which they brand as V-NAND. This new generation bumps the layer count from 64 up to 96 (officially, "more than 90" layers), providing further density increases without incurring the endurance and reliability costs that came with process shrinks for planar NAND flash memory. Samsung first announced their 96L V-NAND at Flash Memory Summit in August 2017.The fifth generation V-NAND also includes performance enhancements, most significantly a Toggle DDR 4.0 interface running at 1.4Gbps, compared to the 800Mbps interface speed of Samsung's previous 3D NAND. A reduction of operating voltage from 1.8V to 1.2V offsets the extra power consumption that faster interface speed would otherwise bring. Samsung is also citing improvements to both read and program latency. Read latency did not improve from 48L to 64L, but now has been "significantly" reduced to 50μs. Program (write) latency is down about 30% to 500μs.Samsung hasn't shared many details about their process refinements, but the height of each memory cell layer has been reduced by 20%, which helps reduce the extremely high aspect ratio of the holes that need to be etched for the vertical strings of memory cells. Difficulties with high aspect ratio etching are widely believed to be the primary cause for delays that Samsung's 48L V-NAND suffered, which led to several product cancellations as Samsung's NAND development failed to keep pace with their SSD controller improvements. Samsung's transition to 64 layers was much smoother, and Samsung is claiming a 30% improvement to manufacturing productivity with the 96L process. Whether this is on a per-bit basis or a per-wafer basis, this should allow for another on-time roll out.The first 96L part in mass production is a 256Gb TLC (three bits per cell) die, which should see broad usage in the mobile and SSD markets. Larger dies will follow to fulfill the need for higher capacities with lower cost per bit, primarily in the enterprise SSD market. This will include a 1Tb QLC NAND (four bits per cell) part.
Microsoft Announces The Surface Go: Smaller And Less Expensive
Just over three years since the launch of the surprisingly good Surface 3, Microsoft has finally refreshed this category with a new device, now called the Surface Go. The Surface Pro series has been very successful for the company, and they’ve decided it’s time to offer an entry level Surface again. The Redmond company has been working on trying to win back the education market, so a smaller, lighter, and most importantly, less expensive Surface makes a lot of sense.The Surface Go is the thinnest and lightest Surface yet at just 8.3 mm, down from the 8.7 mm of the Surface 3, and 8.5 mm on the latest Surface Pro, but it undercuts the other models on weight significantly at 521 grams, or 1.15 lbs. That’s a full 31% lighter than the larger Surface Pro.The display is also smaller, this time coming in at 10-inches in the now familiar 3:2 aspect ratio Microsoft has focused on, and the taller aspect ratio certainly helps on mobile devices such as this that may be used in portrait. It’s an 1800x1200 PixelSense display, with 10-point multi-touch and Surface Pen support. The screen has a reasonable 216 pixels per inch of density, which is pretty much the same as the Surface 3 back in 2015 which was 213 PPI. That’s not quite as high as the Surface Pro or iPad Pro, but should still be fairly clear.One of the biggest upgrades over the outgoing Surface 3, which was the first of the value-oriented Surface models to ship with an x86 processor, is the move from the quad-core Atom to an Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y. This is a dual-core Kaby Lake processor with four threads, and a 1.6 GHz base frequency. With a TDP of just 6W, it’s not going to be a powerhouse, but it’ll still offer solid performance for a device of this size. The low TDP also means that it can be fanless, which it is. The CPU is coupled with the Intel HD Graphics 615, which offers 24 Execution Units (EUs), although at just 850 MHz maximum boost. Still, that should offer a good jump over the Atom in the previous model.The base model comes with just 4 GB of LPDDR3-1866, and 64 GB of eMMC storage, although it will be offered in 8 GB RAM versions with 128 GB and 256 GB NVMe SSDs, which should offer much better performance.Microsoft Surface GoSurface Go SpecificationsCPUIntel Pentium Gold 4415Y (Kaby Lake-Y)
Marvell Completes Acquisition of Cavium, Gets CPU, Networking & Security Assets
Marvell on Friday announced that it had completed its takeover of Cavium. The combined company will have a broad portfolio of IP and patents that promise to enable the combined company to grow as new types of compute workloads emerge in the coming years. In particular, Marvell gains processing capabilities along with a number of other assets. However the company yet has to make it as far as developing a comprehensive roadmap that takes advantage of all assets.As reported in November, Marvell had to offer approximately $5.5 billion for outstanding shares of Cavium and absorb Cavium’s debt of approximately $637.6 million, which brought the value of the transaction to over $6.1 billion. For a rather hefty sum of money, Marvell obtained a developer of ARM and MIPS-based SoCs for network, video, security, storage connectivity, server, and other applications. Essentially, the company transformed itself from a developer of storage controllers (HDD, SSD, RAID, etc.), networking and connectivity solutions into a corporation with a much greater potential.Marvell now pins a lot of hopes on such applications as AI, 5G, and Cloud & Edge computing. It is particularly noteworthy that in its letter to customers, the company even put processing ahead of storage when describing its new portfolio of products.
Sapphire Unveils FS-FP5V: AMD Ryzen Embedded Mini-STX Motherboard
Sapphire has announced one of the world’s first platforms based on AMD’s Ryzen Embedded V1000-series APUs. The motherboard is aimed at various embedded applications that can take advantage of AMD’s latest Zen and Vega architectures and their capabilities. The FS-FP5V also happens to be the industry’s first Mini-STX motherboards to feature AMD’s processor.The Sapphire FP5V is based on AMD’s Ryzen Embedded V1000 APU featuring two or four cores with SMT clocked at 2 – 3.35 GHz base frequency, AMD’s Radeon Vega 3/8/11 iGPU, a dual-channel memory controller, and so on. Depending on requirements for performance and price, the Ryzen Embedded SoCs can feature a 12 – 25 or a 35 – 54 W TDP. AMD introduced its Ryzen Embedded chips earlier this year and will continue to sell them throughout 2028, giving adopters plenty of time to build and sell their products.The motherboard is outfitted with two DDR4 SO-DIMMs supporting up to 32 GB of DDR4-2400 – DDR4-3200 memory, a SATA connector, an M.2-2280 slot (PCIe 3.0 x4 or SATA) for SSD, an M.2-2242 slot for a Wi-Fi module, two GbE ports (enabled by Realtek’s RTL8111G controllers), a quad-channel audio controller (ALC262), three USB 2.0 headers, one USB 3.1 Type-C connector, one RS232/422/485 module, etc. See precise specs in the table below.The key features of Sapphire’s FP5V are of course up to four high-performance Ryzen CPU cores, AMD’s Radeon Vega iGPU with up to 704 stream processors as well as rich connectivity capabilities (e.g., four display outputs). The list of embedded applications that may require such embedded SoCs. include various gaming machines, digital signage, thin clients, medical imaging, and so on.Sapphire’s FP5V is available for order from the company’s web site. Pricing depends on exact configurations as well as volumes.Sapphire's Mini-STX Motherboard with Ryzen Embedded V1000 APUsFP5VAPU
The HP EX920 M.2 SSD Review: Finding the Mainstream Sweet Spot
Historically, HP has not been a big player in the consumer storage market. Recently however, the HP brand has been used for several SSDs based on reference designs for Silicon Motion's SSD controllers. The HP EX920 SSD puts Silicon Motion's high-end NVMe SSD controller into a drive that is far cheaper than other flagship NVMe SSDs. The EX920 can't always match the performance of the fastest drives on the market, but it comes close enough for a much lower price. As a result, the drive has a very solid foothold as the mainstream NVMe SSD to beat.
Arm and Samsung Extend Artisan POP IP Collaboration to 7LPP and 5LPE Nodes
Arm and Samsung Foundry this week announced plans to extend their collaboration to 7LPP and 5LPE process technologies. Under the terms of the agreement, Arm will offer Samsung Foundry customers pre-designed Artisan POP IP solutions ready to be integrated into various SoCs.One of the first Artisan POP physical IP building blocks that Arm will offer for Samsung’s 7LPP and 5LPE platforms will be the Arm Cortex-A76 high-performance processor core. The two companies expect the core to run at 3 GHz or more, which is potentially higher than the target clock rate of 3 GHz announced by Arm earlier this year. The developers do not specify how high the final frequencies will be for the 7LPP and the 5LPE manufacturing processes, but keeping in mind that the latter does not explicitly promise to enable higher clocks when compared to the former, it is likely that the Cortex-A76 will run at about the same frequency in both cases.In addition to the high-performance Cortex-A76, Arm plans to offer physical implementations of its “latest processor cores featuring Arm DynamIQ technology” for the 7LPP and the 5LPE fabrication processes. The two companies do not name the processor cores, but considering the fact that we are talking about DynamIQ-capable cores, the likely candidates are the low-power Cortex-A55 as well as the high-performance Cortex-A75 (the A75 may not necessarily be popular in the 7LPP/5LPE era).The Arm Artisan physical IP offerings for Samsung’s 7LPP and 5LPE will also include high-density logic architecture, 1.8 V and 3.3 V GPIO libraries, as well as a suite of memory compilers. Meanwhile Samsung reiterated plans to offer a comprehensive suite of IP blocks for its 7LPP technology “by the first half of 2019.”Arm’s Artisan Physical IP blocks for Samsung’s 7LPP and 5LPE manufacturing technologies will be used by designers of various SoCs who do not need custom processing cores from Arm. Expect the first fruits of today’s agreement to reach the market sometimes in 2020.Related Reading:
Qualcomm’s Server Team Loses VP of Technology, Centriq Future Unknown
Normally we don’t particularly comment on these sorts of transitions at big companies unless they are C-level (CEO, CTO), however the narrative surrounding Qualcomm’s Centriq product line is still one that is perceived to be in flux. Qualcomm never commented on the rumors about its plans to find a buyer for Centriq, despite Axios and Bloomberg both reporting on them, and as a result never confirmed or denied the proposition: ultimately leading others to speculate. Followed by Anand Chandrasekher’s swift exit, again without public comment about reasons or replacement, and now another senior figure exiting the scene, brings more questions to the table than it answers.
GIGABYTE Launches CMT4030-Series PCIe 3.0 x8 and PCIe 3.0 x16 SSD Risers
GIGABYTE B2B has launched two PCIe riser cards for M.2 SSDs designed to build ultra-fast storage sub-systems consisting of multiple M.2 drives. The CMT4030-series risers will be available through B2B channels, hence, to makers of servers, workstations, and high-end PCs rather than to DIY enthusiasts.Neither of the GIGABYTE CMT4030-series cards use any PCIe switches and therefore rely on PCIe bifurcation supported by CPU or PCH (i.e., they will not work on cheap systems that have limited PCIe bifurcation capabilities) as well as on software RAID technologies supported by the platform. Both risers support M.2-2280 and M.2-22110 drives, they are equipped with their own thermal sensors and advanced VRMs to ensure quality power supply to SSDs.GIGABYTE’s CMT4032 is a low-profile PCIe 3.0 x8 riser card that supports two M.2 drives and comes with an aluminum heat spreader. This card may be used inside higher-end consumer systems to build high-performance storage systems featuring two SSDs as well as a 6.5 GB/s throughput.The CMT4034 low-profile PCIe 3.0 x16 riser card carries four M.2 drives on two PCBs that also has a passive cooling system. This riser is officially aimed only at GIGABYTE’s Purley generation servers, so their work on systems based on other Intel platforms (X299, X370, etc.) is not guaranteed. As for performance, maximum throughput supported by a PCIe 3.0 x16 slot is around 15.75 GB/s.Pricing of GIGABYTE’s CMT4032 and CMT4034 SSDs risers is unknown, but since we are dealing with B2B products, it will vary depending on volumes and negotiations. The manufacturer plans to offer its 4-way Aorus PCIe x16 M.2 SSD riser for high-end desktops at some point in the future, but details are unclear.Related Reading:
Multiple AMD B450-Based Motherboards Listed in Europe Ahead of Launch
AMD still has not formally announced its B450 chipset, but it looks like everything is ready for the launch. Pre-orders and listings for B450 boards from three major motherboard manufacturers have already appears in Europe, targeting customers with different budgets.Multiple stores in Austria and Germany are taking pre-orders on AMD B450 boards from ASUS and ASRock, according to Geizhals.eu. Some stores actually list some of these motherboards as “in stock”, but they also note that the product will be ordered from their warehouse (or a distributor) after a customer order is placed. So the devices may be available to buy, but delivery will take several days.Meanwhile, the ASUS Prime B450M-A seems to be available immediately. And GIGABYTE lists one of its B450 motherboards (the B450M DS3H), but it does not seem to be available for order anywhere. One thing to note is that neither of these board makers have said boards listed on their web sites, but stores mentioned by Geizhals.eu have all the official pictures of the products that can only be obtained from manufacturers.ASRock already demonstrated its comprehensive lineup of four B450-based motherboards at Computex a month ago. In fact, the ASRock B450M-HDV was listed as “in stock” by multiple retailers, but at press time it could not be ordered (i.e., the order pages have been removed). This product is an entry level one, it is expected to cost €72 ($84).ASUS is apparently prepping an even broader family of AMD B450 platforms that includes at least seven models. The listed items include the ROG Strix B450-F Gaming, the ROG Strix B450-I Gaming, the TUF B450-Plus Gaming, the TUF B450M-Plus Gaming, the Prime B450M-A, the Prime B450-Plus, and the Prime B450M-K. The higher-end ROG Strix models will traditionally feature a rich I/O feature set, a programmable RGB lighting, and vast overclocking capabilities. Less expensive TUF-series products will be aimed at gamers and therefore offer similar capabilities, but without ultra-premium features (e.g., high-end VRM, RGB, etc.). Meanwhile, Prime are basic motherboards without anything excessive. Prices of ASUS’ B450-based motherboards range from €86 to €186 ($100 to $217).General features of AMD’s B450 south bridge are more or less known despite the fact that the product has not been announced. The new chipset from AMD is expected to support CPU overclocking, six PCIe 2.0 lanes for add-in cards (in addition to 8 or 16 lanes supported by AMD’s APUs/CPUs), two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 connectors, six USB 2.0 headers, and so on. Some reports also indicate that the B450 will also support enhanced CPU boosting techniques (XFR2 Enhanced and Precision Boost Overdrive) and will be bundled with the AMD StoreMI software (re-badged Enmotus FuzeDrive software) to build hybrid storage sub-systems featuring SSDs and HDDs, but AMD yet has to confirm these.With nine AMD B450-based motherboards listed by a leading European price search engine, it is clear that numerous makers of mainboards are ready to start shipments of appropriate products (or are already shipping them). It is unknown when AMD plans to formally introduce its B450 south bridge, but it looks like the launch is imminent.Related Reading:
iBuyPower Element Gaming PC Review: i7-8086K and GTX 1080 Ti Inside
It has been a long while since AnandTech has reviewed full-sized systems, as most of our readers tend to build PCs for themselves. There is however quite a large contingent of PC users who buy off the shelves/website from companies like such as iBuyPower who build custom PCs. Today we are looking at a custom build using their Element chassis, which gives users a tempered glass chassis, some RGB bling, and some quite capable hardware inside with the latest Intel i7-8086K as well as an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. Read on to see how it's built and how well it performs in our testing.
Best Android Phones: Q3 2018
In our series of best product guides, here’s the latest update to our recommended Android Smartphone list. All numbers in the text are updated to reflect pricing at the time of writing (July 5th).We’re at the end of the spring refresh cycle, which means that all vendors have released their relevant devices for this generation. So now we can finally discuss the broader picture in terms of our current recommended device list.AnandTech Android Smartphone Recommendations: Q3 2018SegmentOption #1Option #2Flagship (US/CHN/JPN)OnePlus 6Galaxy S9/S9+Flagship (EU/ROW)OnePlus 6LG G7Upper Mid-RangeGalaxy S8Honor 10Best ValueHonor 7XHonor 9 LiteThis year started off with Samsung releasing the Galaxy S9 and S9+ which we reviewed in detail. Oddly enough, this year many vendors opted not go toe-to-toe with Samsung in terms of device announcements and releases, and instead in the subsequent months following MWC we’ve seen a staggered release of competing devices from various vendors. Huawei was the first in line with the launch of the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro in early April. We’ve covered more exotic devices such as the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S and currently have OnePlus 6 and LG G7 reviews cooking in the oven. The HTC U12 deserves a mention of its existence, however he hadn’t had a chance to review it and due to its high pricing it has trouble to really distinguish itself.The upper-mid-range is something that’s always a though to evaluate because if most of the time new devices at this price-point clash with last generation flagships which offer equally good value at their discounted price. The phones who do stand out on their own this generation are the Honor 10 and Honor View 10 which come with very similar fortes as Huawei’s flagships, but come at lower price points.Best Flagship Devices Americas, China, Japan: OnePlus 6 & Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+While we haven’t had the chance to publish our review of the OnePlus 6 yet, I’ve spent sufficient enough of time to test out the basics and come to conclusion that this device offers the single best value among current generation smartphones. The OnePlus 6 offers a fantastic updated design with a new glass back panel that overall feels and looks very premium. The phone has a notch but it does not detract from daily usage and the software integration is seamless.
NGD Launches Catalina 2 Programmable SSDs: 16 TB - 32 TB, ARM A-53 Cores
NGD Systems has announced its second-generation SSDs that feature compute capabilities. The Catalina 2 drives come in both 2.5-inch/U.2 and add-in-card form-factors, and are aimed at high-density servers for artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and computer vision (CV) server applications. The drives feature 16 TB – 32 TB capacities depending on the form-factor and use 3D TLC NAND memory.On a high level, NGD’s Catalina 2 drives are NVMe 1.3-compliant SSDs featuring a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface and based on Toshiba’s BICS3 3D TLC NAND memory. It is noteworthy that NGD’s architecture supports any 3D TLC flash and is 3D QLC ready, so the manufacturer can adopt any type of flash and is not dependent on its supplier. In fact, the AIC versions of the drives rely on M.2 modules that can be switched at any time. U.2/2.5-inch Catalina SSDs will be available in 4 TB, 8 TB, and 16 TB configurations, whereas add-on-cards will support maximum capacity of 32 TB. Peak read/write performance of the Catalina 2 drives can be as high as 3.9 GB/s, but this is not the main selling point of these SSDs. As for power consumption, the U.2 is speced for 12 W (which is in-line with requirements of enterprise-grade 2.5-inch storage devices), while AIC consumes up to 13 W.Just like in case of the original Catalina drives launched in early 2017, the key features of the Catalina 2 are in-storage processing capabilities (In-Situ Processing), patented Elastic FTL (Flash Translation Layer) algorithm, and a strong LDPC-based ECC (since it is QLC ready, it must feature a strong ECC). The NGD Catalina 2 are based on a recent Xilinx FPGA featuring several general-purpose ARM Cortex-A53 cores along with programmable transistors, and flexible I/O capabilities. The FPGA runs a micro-OS based on Linux to perform in-storage processing along with flash management, and ECC tasks.Processing data on an SSD enables to perform relatively simple tasks (e.g., search, analyze, etc.) without moving massive amounts of data to host CPU or over a network, which greatly reduces loads on data buses and networks, therefore speeding up processing while reducing overall power consumption of a data center. Because workloads vary greatly, NGD does not like to talk about raw performance numbers of its drives because their value for the end clients does not necessarily depend on it.NGD Catalina 2 SSDsPCIe AICU.2 2.5-InchRaw Capacity4 TB
Cypress and Zhaoxin Have USB 3.1 Gen 2 USB Controllers
The market of USB 3.1 controllers is largely commanded by ASMedia and VIA Labs, who sell the lion’s share of USB 3.1 Gen 2 solutions either as standalone chips or as IP. However times may be changing, as there are two new kids on the block: Cypress with its 7-port USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller, and Zhaoxin with its ZX-200 chipset for its CPUs that supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 as well.Cypress’s HX3PD USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller is designed primarily for multi-port USB hubs and displays featuring six USB 3.1 Gen 2 downstream ports (one with power delivery). The chip integrates everything necessary to build the aforementioned devices, including PHY, routing logic, dock management controller, USB-C bridge and so on. The product was demonstrated last month, so expect it to hit the market in the coming quarters. The HX3PD will compete against similar solutions and will not necessarily find its way inside PCs.What will be used inside PCs is Zhaoxin’s ZX-200 chipset for the company’s KaiXian KX-5000 and the KaiSheng KH-20000. The core logic supports four PCIe 3.0 lanes, four SATA ports, a GbE controller, RGMII interface, two USB 3.1 Gen 2 connectors, three USB 3.1 Gen 1 headers, and six USB 2.0 ports. Zhaoxin says that its USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller has been developed entirely in-house and that it is the first of such controllers designed in China to get an interoperability certification from the USB Implementers Forum. In fact, the ZX-200 is probably among the most complex chipsets developed in China in general.Zhaoxin introduced its ZX-200 chipset late last year, so it will likely be available in China shortly.Related Reading:
Acer Unveils ProDesigner BM270 LCD with Delta E<1 Color Accuracy: 4K, HDR, FALD
Acer has announced its new professional display designed for graphics and video professionals. The ProDesigner BM270 monitor boasts with a 4K resolution, an up to 1000-nits luminance in HDR mode, full array LED (FALD) backlighting, and a Delta E<1 color accuracy. The price means it's not going to be a wallet-friendly display, but its combination of features makes this display a very rare and compelling product in general.The Acer ProDesigner BM270 display is based on a 10-bit 27-inch IPS panel featuring a 3840×2160 resolution, a 400 - 1000-nits brightness (typical and peak in HDR mode), a 60 Hz refresh rate, 178°/178° viewing angles, and a high contrast ratio. Meanwhile perhaps the most important feature of the monitor is its full array LED (FALD) backlighting technology featuring 384 LED zones for dynamic local dimming. Being common in TVs, FALD is rare in PC monitors. In fact, the BM270 is the second announced professional monitor to feature FALD after the ASUS ProArt PA32UC LCD launched earlier this year. NVIDIA’s reference G-Sync HDR monitors from Acer and ASUS feature FALD too, but they are gaming displays and belong to a different category of products.A reason why this backlighting is important is because it enables the ProDesigner BM270 to support 100% of the sRGB, 100% of the AdobeRGB, and 97.8% of the DCI-P3 color range. To make the display even more appealing to professionals, Acer pre-calibrates it to Delta E<1 color accuracy for all color ranges (at least this is what it seems from the press release).When it comes to connectivity, the monitor has two HDMI 2.0 inputs, one DisplayPort 1.2 header, a mini DisplayPort 1.2 connector, and a USB Type-C port to drive the integrated 4 port USB-C hub. In addition, the display has two 4 W speakers.Specifications of the Acer ProDesigner BM270Panel27" IPSResolution3840 × 2160Refresh Rate60 HzResponse Time4 ms gray-to-grayBrightnessNormal: 400 cd/m²
The ASRock X399 Professional Gaming Motherboard Review: 10G For All
Today we are taking a look at ASRock's most advanced AMD X399 motherboard for Ryzen Threadripper, the Fatal1ty X399 Professional Gaming. As its name suggests, it is a motherboard strongly targeted towards demanding gamers, with impressive specifications and a long list of features.
ADATA Enters High-End Enterprise SSD Market With SR2000
Until now, ADATA's SSD portfolio has consisted of client-focused SSDs and industrial-grade models based on similar hardware but optionally rated for extreme temperatures, with only the occasional purely server-oriented SSD. ADATA is entering a new market segment with the release of the SR2000 family of enterprise SSDs with capacities up to 11TB.The ADATA SR2000 family uses Microsemi's Flashtec NVMe SSD controllers, from the generation codenamed "Belmar" consisting of the NVMe2016 and NVMe2032 controllers with 16 and 32 channels respectively (compared to 4 or 8 for client SSDs). The SR2000 family consists of two product lines: the U.2 SR2000SP and the add-in card SR2000CP. Both product lines include capacities ranging from 2TB to 11TB. The U.2 versions offer hot-swap capability while the add-in card versions support a PCIe 3 x8 interface for much higher sequential transfer rates and slightly better random read speeds. The SR2000 SSDs are aimed at read-intensive workloads, with endurance ratings in the 1-3 drive writes per day range and relatively unimpressive random write speeds.ADATA hasn't confirmed what flash memory they're using in the SR2000, but is is most likely Micron's 32L 384Gb 3D TLC NAND. This is a generation behind the 64L parts that are currently doing quite well in the client/consumer market. From a hardware perspective, this makes the SR2000 very similar to Micron's own 9200 series enterprise SSDs and some other drives that use the same controller and NAND combination, such as the Memblaze PBlaze5. That isn't to say that the SR2000 will behave the same as other NVMe2016-based drives: Microsemi's controllers dominate the high-end enterprise SSD market but each vendor that adopts the controllers does their own firmware customization. ADATA's product information doesn't offer much information about the firmware, and it is not clear whether advanced NVMe features like dual-port support or multiple namespaces are implemented by the SR2000 SSDs.ADATA SR2000 Series SpecificationsSR2000SPSR2000CPForm Factors2.5" U.2 15mmHHHL AICInterfacePCIe 3.0 x4PCIe 3.0 x8Capacities2 TB, 3.6 TB, 4 TB, 8 TB, 11 TBControllerMicrosemi Flashtec PM8607 NVMe2016 (or PM8609 NVMe2032)ProtocolNVMe 1.2aNAND3D Enterprise TLC NAND memorySequential Read3.5 GB/s6.0 GB/sSequential Write3.5 GB/s3.8 GB/sRandom Read (4 KB)830k IOPS1000k IOPSRandom Write (4 KB)140k IOPS150k IOPSPowerIdle7 W8 WOperating21 W21 WWrite Endurance1-3 DWPDPower Loss ProtectionYesMTBF2 million hoursOperating Temperature0°C to 35°C0°C to 55°CWarrantyFive yearsThe SR2000 may end up being a short-lived product for ADATA even if it is successful, because the long QA process for a successor with 64L 3D TLC is undoubtedly already underway. The competition is already sampling drives with 64L 3D NAND based on the same controllers, and other segments of the enterprise SSD market are already awash in 64L NAND.Now that ADATA is competing in the enterprise/datacenter SSD market, it will be interesting to see what direction they focus their efforts. They could be preparing a higher-capacity, lower-endurance QLC NAND based follow-up to the SR2000, or they may choose to seek higher performance with newer TLC NAND. Any firmware work ADATA has done could also help should they decide to make use of Microsemi's newer 8-channel NVMe2108 controller that is suitable for M.2 and thinner U.2 SSDs. That controller has seen limited adoption so far, with a Lite-On prototype at FMS last year being our only sighting of the NVMe2108 in the wild.
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