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Updated 2018-11-13 21:15
Western Digital Announces Ultrastar DC ME200 Memory Extension Drive
Western Digital on Monday introduced its new special-purpose SSD designed to speed up in-memory processing applications. The new Ultrastar DC ME200 Memory Extension Drive uses proven hardware and comes with special software that creates virtualized memory pools.From hardware standpoint, the Ultrastar DC ME200 belongs to the Ultrastar SN200 family launched about two years ago. The drive is based on a proprietary controller and paired with Western Digital’s 128 Gb planar MLC NAND memory. The drive comes in U.2 and PCIe 3.0 x8 HHHL card form-factors, making it drop-in compatible with most existing x86 servers. WD is offering 1 TB, 2 TB, and 4 TB versions of its Ultrastar DC ME200 drives, all rated for up to 17 drive writes per day over a three-year period.Meanwhile when it comes to speed, the special-purpose SSD should perform in line with the SN200-series. But the key thing about performance of the Ultrastar DC ME200 are not sequential reads or writes, but ability to speed up select applications that use in-memory processing.As noted above, the Ultrastar DC ME200 comes with software that allows the NAND flash to be “seen” as system memory by the operating system. The software supports advanced prefetch algorithms that the company claims enables near-DRAM performance in applications that use in-memory processing (e.g., Redis, Memcached, SGEMM, MySQL, etc.). Western Digital recommends to install one Ultrastar DC ME200 per socket, essentially extending system memory capacity upwards of eight-fold.By using the Ultrastar DC ME200 owners of datacenters can potentially reduce their spending on DRAM while still ensuring high performance for their large databases that require a lot of system memory. For example, a server featuring 256 GB of DDR4 and a 2 TB memory extension drive costs 25% less than a system with 1.5TB of DDR4.Western Digital’s Ultrastar DC ME200 memory extension drive are sampling with select customers. Pricing has not been announced because it depends on volumes and other factors.Western Digital Ultrastar DC ME200 SpecificationsUltrastar DC ME200Capacities1 TB
Just When You Thought It Was Dead: Qualcomm Centriq Arm Server Systems Spotted
Much to our surprise, we saw a Qualcomm Centriq server from an OEM at Supercomputing this week.
First AMD EPYC Rome Motherboard Spotted
Part of AMD’s recent pre-announcement of its next generation Rome server processors, using 7nm chiplets and running up to 64 cores, is that the new processors will be compatible with current motherboards on the market. However, one of the new features of Rome is the use of PCIe 4.0. PCIe 4.0 has different standards for on-board signalling in order to get the required speed, so even though the processors are backwards compatible with PCIe 3.0, we expect new motherboards and new systems to be developed with PCIe 4.0 specifications in mind. Today, we saw the first early revision of such a motherboard.
AMD Launches High-Frequency EPYC 7371 Processor
AMD has announced its new high-frequency EPYC 7371 processor designed for applications that benefit from high clocks. The CPU has 16 cores and is aimed at tasks like electronic design automation, high-frequency trading, and other. The EPYC 7371 can work in dual-socket configuration, thus offering up to 32 cores and 64 threads per box.The AMD EPYC 7371 processor features 16 cores with SMT (spread across four eight-core Zen dies), 64 MB of L3 cache, an eight-channel DDR4 memory subsystem, and 128 PCIe lanes. The CPU features a 3.1 GHz default frequency, yet can run all cores at 3.6 GHz, or just eight cores at 3.8 GHz.Being aimed at workloads that need a high single-thread performance, the EPYC 7371 takes advantage of its massive L3 cache along with its rather high frequencies. Meanwhile, its ability to work in dual-socket configuration is a major advantage that the EPYC 7371 has over other high-clock CPUs because the processor still enables 32 physical cores and 64 threads per system.AMD EPYC Processors (2P)Cores
Buffalo Unveils New 10GBase-T Network Card with 2.5G+5G
One of the interesting elements in NBase-T networking is how and when companies are releasing new multi-gig 2.5G+5G+10G controllers to the market. This week Buffalo lifted the lid their newest card, which is using a unique controller implementation we’ve not seen in the wild before.The LGY-PCIE-MG expansion card is a PCIe 2.0 x4 card designed for commercial systems with a standard RJ-45 port but capable of 1G, 2.5G, 5G and 10G networking connectivity. The key part of the card, the MAC and PHY, comes from a combination of a Tahuti Networks TN4010 multi-speed MAC and Marvell’s Alaska M 88E2180 PHY. Up until this point, any multi-gig Base-T working implementation has been using Aquantia solutions, or we’ve recently seen Realtek controllers for 2.5G, but now we have a true second player in the multi-gig space. The Marvell controller was actually announced back in May 2017, so it seems there has been a long lead time before coming to market. The obvious players missing from this set are Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Intel.The Buffalo LGY-PCIE-MG card is designed to work with operating systems from Windows 7 and up, as well as Windows Server 2012 and up. Power consumption is listed in the specification sheet at 6.1W, and has an operating temperature window of 0-55C (which seems low?). The RRP of the card is £155 (UK), which is substantially higher than current Aquantia solutions on the market, which are around £100.Related Reading
The Intel Core i9-9980XE CPU Review: Refresh Until it Hertz
It has been over a year since Intel launched its Skylake-X processors and Basin Falls platform, with a handful of processors from six-core up to eighteen-core. In that time, Intel’s competition has gone through the roof in core count, PCIe lanes, and power consumption. In order to compete, Intel has gone down a different route, with its refresh product stack focusing on frequency, cache updates, and an updated thermal interface. Today we are testing the top processor on that list, the Core i9-9980XE.
Microsoft Releases Surface Go LTE
Earlier this year, Microsoft launched their lower cost, smaller Surface Go. With a display size of 10 inches, and weighing 1.15 lbs, or 515 grams, it’s a more portable version of the popular Surface Pro.Today Microsoft is announcing a new LTE variant for those that want to use the convertible PC even more on the go. The Surface Go has been paired with the Qualcomm X16 modem, which is the same modem they used in the Surface Pro LTE.Microsoft Surface GoSurface Go SpecificationsCPUIntel Pentium Gold 4415Y (Kaby Lake-Y)
Naples, Rome, Milan, Zen 4: An Interview with AMD CTO, Mark Papermaster
At AMD’s Next Horizon event this week, the company disclosed for the first time the layout of its next generation EPYC processor, the new Vega Radeon Instinct datacenter compute accelerators, as well as a strong confidence that its execution on 7nm will be a big win. If there’s anyone at AMD prepared to talk about execution, it’s the Chief Technology Officer, Mark Papermaster.
TACC Frontera: Targeting 210W Next-Gen Xeons and Extreme Performance
The Frontera supercomputer is the next generation high performance machine set to debut at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). As part of Intel’s HPC Forum, being held just before the annual Supercomputing conference, a number of disclosures about the design of Frontera (Spanish for ‘Frontier’) were made. One of which is certainly worth highlighting: this is not a supercomputer that is going to worry about performance per watt – this is all about the peak performance.
Intel Offers More Cascade Lake-AP Performance Numbers
One of the announcements from last week involved Intel and its new Cascade Lake Advanced Performance category of processors to launch next year. These new processors will be based on combining two 24-core Cascade Lake-SP processors on a single package substrate to offer a single socket 48-core option with a total of twelve memory channels. The Cascade Lake-AP parts are going to be launched next year, and until then Intel is putting out some internal benchmark numbers.Vendor Benchmark ResultsWhen we are this far away from a product launch, all benchmark numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. This goes doubly so for vendor supplied benchmarks. However, Intel is on the warpath to promote what it sees as a new product family within its portfolio, even if it is only set to come out next year.At the announcement last week, Intel offered Linpack and Stream Triad as two main high-performance metrics as comparison. Today Intel is also offering more ‘real world’ metrics. These metrics are, to quote Intel, ‘estimates based on pre-production hardware’. This means that the hardware is not ready yet, and these are values based on the engineering samples running but extrapolated to an expected benchmark value. Add another dump truck of salt on these numbers.Intel’s official list of results are as follows:Intel's Benchmark Numbers
In The Lab: Double Capacity 2x32GB DDR4 from G.Skill and ZADAK
One of the interesting things to come out of the news in recent weeks is the march to double capacity memory. In today’s market, memory modules for consumer grade computers have a maximum of 16GB per module. This is unbuffered memory, and the standard for home computers and laptops. However recently there have been two major announcements causing that number to double from 16GB to 32GB: Samsung has developed double capacity ICs to drive up to 32GB per module with the same number of chips, but also a couple of DRAM vendors have found a way to put two times as many ICs on a 16GB module to make it up to 32GB. Both G.Skill and ZADAK fall into that latter category, and now we have both of these kits in the lab for review.
Eurocom Launches Tornado F7W DTR Laptop: Desktop Core i9-9900K with 128 GB of RAM
Eurocom this week introduced its newest high-end desktop replacement mobile workstation, the Tornado F7W. Aimed at those who need desktop-class performance in a clamshell form-factor – with little heed to weight or power consumption – the new DTR packs in Intel’s latest eight-core desktop processors, 128 GB of memory, as well as NVIDIA’s flagship professional-grade GPU for notebooks.Eurocom’s Tornado is the company’s flagship mobile workstation. The luggable computer comes in an aluminum + plastic chassis and is equipped with a 17.3-inch display panel (4Kp60 or 2Kp120). Under the hood, the machine is powered by Intel’s desktop-class (socketed) CPUs, as well as NVIDIA’s Quadro Mobile GPUs. In its top configuration, the Tornado F7W comes with Intel’s eight-core Core i9-9900K processor paired NVIDIA’s Quadro P5200 MXM module featuring 16 GB of GDDR5X memory. To cool down its two key components, the mobile workstation uses two cooling systems, each featuring a high-speed blower and five thick heat pipes.Gallery: Eurocom Launches Tornado F7W Laptop: Core i9-9900K, 128 GB DDR4, Quadro P5200The Tornado F7W can be equipped with up to 128 GB of DDR4-2667 memory, three M.2 PCIe SSDs, as well as two 2.5-inch storage devices for a total of 22 TB of storage space. Meanwhile, those machines powered by Xeon processors can also take advantage of ECC memory. Since the machine uses socketed CPUs, discrete MXM GPUs, SO-DIMMs, and M.2 SSDs, it can be easily upgraded after the purchase, just like a desktop PC.Moving on to connectivity. the Tornado F7W can be equipped with Intel’s Wireless-AC 8265 supporting 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.2, Rivet’s Killer Wireless-AC 1535 featuring 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.1, or Intel’s Wireless-AC 9260 supporting 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.On the physical side of things, the system has one GbE port (controlled by the Intel I219-LM to enable vPro and remoted management for Xeon-powered machines), five USB 3.0 Type-A connectors, one Thunderbolt 3/USB Type-C port, two display outputs (HDMI 2.0, mDP), an SD card slot, a SmartCard reader, and 5.1-channel audio connectors. Obviously, the laptop also has a keyboard with a keypad, a 2MP webcam, integrated speakers, and so on.Since the Eurocom Tornado F7W is a mobile workstation, it has to support workstation-class security. Therefore, the machine comes with a pre-installed TPM 2.0 module, optional BIOS-enabled disk encryption, a fingerprint scanner, a SmartCard reader, and a security lock. For those who want an ultimate security/privacy, Eurocom offers machines without a webcam, microphone, and WLAN/BT.Time to talk about portability and battery life. The Tornado F7W comes equipped with a 90 Wh battery that the manufacturer affectionately calls "a built-in UPS". Eurocom does not assign an actual battery life rating to the device, but then this isn't a machine that's intended to be away from a power outlet for long. The machine is 51 mm thick and weighs 4.14 kilograms, so it is portable but not especially easy to carry around. For mainstream configurations Eurocom offers a 330 W PSU that weighs 1.24 kilograms (making the effective weight of the PC about 5.4 kilograms), but for ultra-high-end configs the company also has a 780 W PSU that weighs 1.7 kilograms.Eurocom’s Tornado F7W is already available for order at the company’s website. The cheapest configuration with a Full-HD 120 Hz LCD, Intel’s Xeon E2176G, NVIDIA’s Quadro P3000, 16 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB HDD retails for $3,499. Once the system is beefed up for maximum performance and storage redundancy, the price of the Tornado F7W skyrockets to $14,000 and can actually go all the way to $20,500.General Specifications of Eurocom Tornado F7Wm452DisplayDiagonal17.3"General Specifications1920×1080, 120 Hz, TN, 3 ms, 94% NTSC
Sony Releases Quad-Layer 128 GB BD-R XL Media
Sony is about to start selling the industry’s first 128 GB write-once BD-R XL optical media. The discs will also be the first quad-layer BDXL media formally aimed at consumers, but bringing benefits to professionals that use BDXL today.Although the general BDXL specifications were announced back in 2010 for multi-layered write-once discs with 25 GB and 33.4 GB layers, only triple-layer BDXL discs with a 100 GB capacity (generally aimed at broadcasting, medical, and document imaging industries) have been made available so far. By contrast, quad-layer 128 GB media has never seen the light of day until now.As it turns out, increasing the per-layer capacity of Blu-ray discs (BDs) to 33.4 GB via a technology called MLSE (Maximum Likelihood Sequence Estimation) was not a big problem, and most of today’s BD players and optical drives support the BDXL standard. However, increasing the layer count to four while ensuring a broad compatibility, signal quality across four layers, yields, and some other factors slow downed release of 128 GB BDXL essentially by eight years.In a bid to build a viable quad-layer 128 GB write-once BDXL disc, Sony had to design three new materials. First, the company had to create a new recording alloy that would provide the right combination of reflectance and transmittance to ensure that the layers can “reflect” data bits when needed while allowing the 405nm laser to pass through them when another layer is accessed. Then, Sony had to develop a new inter-layer material (called dielectric) that would also be able to transmit light waves. Finally, because with four layers the first one has to be located closer to the disc’s surface, Sony had to design a new protective coating for the media.Sony will start shipments of its BD-R XL 128 GB media on the 10 of November. Single-disc packages (BNR4VAPJ4) will retail for ¥1,500 ($13), a pack of three (3BNR4VAPS4) will cost ¥3,900 ($34), whereas a pack of five (5BNR4VAPS4) will be priced at ¥6,000 ($53). The discs should be compatible with drives supporting the BDXL spec, though a firmware update may be needed regardless.Related Reading:
ZOTAC Unveils VR GO 2.0 Wearable PC: Core i7-8700T Meets GeForce GTX 1070
ZOTAC this week officially launched its second-generation VR GO wearable backpack PC for VR gaming. The new VR GO 2.0 system is somewhat smaller and marginally lighter than the one ZOTAC introduced back in 2016, though the only tangible performance upgrade versus the previous-gen backpack PC is Intel’s six-core processor.The manufacturer announced plans to release its second-gen VR GO back at Computex, but did not disclose its exact specs. This week ZOTAC finally revealed that the new VR GO 2.0 system is outfitted with Intel’s six-core Core i7-8700T processor and paired with NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1070 GPU with 8 GB of GDDR5, 16 GB of DDR4 memory, and a 240 GB M.2 SSD with a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. The system also has a 2.5-inch bay for another storage device so to provide plenty of capacity to install more games. Technically, the system can accommodate other CPUs and GPUs, but due to thermal concerns ZOTAC will offer its new backpack PC with the aforementioned hardware only (at least initially).Just like its predecessor, the second-generation ZOTAC VR GO has a rich set of I/O capabilities that includes an HDMI 2.0 output as well as three USB Type-A ports on top to connect a VR headset as well as three additional USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a USB 3.0 Type-C header, two display outputs (one HDMI 2.0, one DP 1.3), an 802.11ac Wi-Fi + BT 5 module, one GbE port, an SD card reader, as well as two 3.5-mm audio jacks.ZOTAC’s VR GO 2.0 is equipped with two hot-swappable batteries that can enable about 1.5 hours of gameplay (according to the manufacturer), which is a tad lower than in case of the the original VR GO. Just like before, the batteries can be hot-swapped and charged separately. In the meantime, the form-factor of the system allows it to be used like a desktop computer as it can be placed on a desk either vertically or horizontally and all the ports will remain accessible.To make the system a bit more attractive to gamers and enthusiasts, the VR-GO 2.0 also has addressable RGB lighting on the back that can be used for customization.ZOTAC has not officially disclosed pricing of the VR GO 2.0 wearable backpack PC so far, yet it is likely that it will cost around $2000, similar to the previous one. As for availability, the new system should hit the market sometime in late November or so, in time for holiday season in the U.S.ZOTAC VR GO ComparisonVR GO
Why Intel Processors Draw More Power Than Expected: TDP and Turbo Explained
One of the recent topics permeating through the custom PC space recently has been about power draw. Intel’s latest eight-core processors are still rated at a TDP of 95W, and yet users are seeing power consumption north of 150W, which doesn’t make much sense. In this guide, we want to give you a proper understanding why this is the case, and why it gives us reviewers such a headache.
Best SSDs: Holiday 2018
The unsung hero of PC performance, these days it’s often storage that makes the difference between a fast, responsive PC and something that feels like less. A processor can only work as quickly as it can be fed data, and this is where a good solid state drive can help even a slow system become faster. Whether it’s an upgrade for an older system still packing a hard drive, or building out a new system from scratch, picking the right SSD is one of the more important decisions to make in configuring and customizing a computer. To help with this, we’ve assembled our SSD guide, outlining the best choices in SSDs of every form factor and price range.Sizing up the SSD market here as we go into the holiday shopping season, what we find is that NAND flash memory prices have continued to drop in recent months. And this is a trend will persist into 2019. So as this year winds down we should see plenty of SSD sales, setting some new records for affordability along the way.
AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.11.1
Today, AMD released Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.11.1, bringing zero-day game support and performance improvements ahead of Hitman 2 (11/13/18), Fallout 76 (11/14/18), and Battlefield V Early Access (11/15/18). As a low-key game-oriented driver, 18.11.1 also includes a few bugfixes for issues affecting Assassin's Creed: Origins, Wolfenstein II, and Strange Brigade. As the year comes to a close though, we should expect to hear about more wide-ranging driver developments with the annual Radeon Software major feature update.In terms of 18.11.1 improvements for Hitman 2, AMD cited up to 3% more 1080p performance on the Radeon RX 580 than 18.10.2. Meanwhile, for Battlefield V Early Access at 1080p AMD is touting up to an 8% uplift on the Radeon RX Vega 64 and 9% uplift on the RX 580, compared to 18.10.2. To be clear, while the latter title is releasing in full on the 20th, those who pre-ordered Battlefield V Deluxe Edition receive early access starting on the 15th.In any case, Battlefield V is not just the latest entry of the popular and high-profile FPS series, but is arguably the flagship game for upcoming real-time raytracing effects via DirectX Raytracing (DXR), something which NVIDIA is strongly pushing with their new GeForce RTX cards. Though with EA refering to an "early release of DXR will be available in an upcoming patch, near the Battlefield V Deluxe Edition release window," it's not clear when DXR support will arrive. For now, only NVIDIA RTX cards support hardware accelerated DXR, but AMD is working on drivers to support hardware acceleration on their own cards. Either way, EA's recommended system specs for DXR are pushing much beefier CPUs.Moving on to the bugfixes, 18.11.1 resolves the following issues:
SK Hynix Launches 96-Layer 3D NAND and Discloses QLC Plans
SK Hynix this week officially launched its new 96-layer 3D NAND flash memory chips, which feature a new architecture and a faster interface. The NAND has already been qualified for SSDs, with first 1 TB consumer models launching shortly and enterprise-grade solutions following on later. What is noteworthy is that these drives are going to be based on SK Hynix’s own controllers. In addition, SK Hynix will eventually offer UFS 3.0-based mobile storage devices featuring the same memory.SK Hynix’s 3D-V5 NAND Memory About to Hit Mass ProductionInitially available in a 512 Gb capacity, SK Hynix’s new 96-layer 3D TLC NAND memory devices are based on a charge trap flash (CTF) design with a peripheral circuits under cells (PUC) architecture. Officially the company has started referring to these devices as “4D NAND” (as announced back at Flash Memory Summit in August), though the technology is not fundamentally different from current 3D NAND architectures.The new 3D-V5 devices use a 1.2 Gbps Toggle 3.0 I/O interface, which is faster than SK Hynix’s 72L 3D-V4 generation products. Meanwhile the chip also features a 64 KB page size (the smallest area of the flash memory that can be written in a single operation) and an 18 MB block size (the smallest area of the flash memory that can be erased in a single operation), which will further speed up performance of the new 3D-V5 devices compared to its predecessors.SK Hynix says that the increased number of layers and its PUC architecture makes its 96-layer 512 Gb 3D NAND devices around 30% smaller versus their similar 72-layer 512 Gb 3D NAND devices. Furthermore, it can now produce wafers containing 49% more bits than before (assuming the same yield), albeit at the cost of extra process steps. Speaking of production, the company hopes to kick off “the early stage of mass production” this year. At least some of the new chips will be made at the company’s recently built M15 fab.1 Tb 96L 3D TLC and 3D QLC NAND Chips IncomingAfter SK Hynix refines the mass production of its 96L 3D TLC NAND chips, the company will move on to the next stage. Sometime next year the company plans to roll out 96L 3D NAND chips with a 1 Tb (128 GB) capacity, with both TLC and QLC variants planned.Consumer, Enterprise SSDs Incoming, UFS 3.0 Storage PlannedSK Hynix has already validated its 96L 512 Gb 3D TLC NAND for SSDs. The company plans to release 1 TB client SSDs featuring the memory and its own controllers/firmware “within this year”. Meanwhile, enterprise-grade drives based on the same memory are due in the second half of 2019.In addition to SSDs, SK Hynix intends to release UFS 3.0-based 96L 512 Gb 3D TLC NAND chips in the first half of next year. These will be the company’s first UFS 3.0-supporting devices and will enable it to address various high-end smartphones.Related Reading:
Micron Kicks Off Mass Production of 12 Gb LPDDR4X DRAM Chips
Micron this week announced that it had started mass production of its first LPDDR4X memory devices using its second-generation 10 nm-class process technology. The new memory devices offer standard LPDDR4X data transfer rates of up to 4.266 Gbps per pin and consumes less power than earlier LPDDR4 chips.Micron’s LPDDR4X devices are made using the company’s 1Y-nm fabrication tech and feature a 12 Gb capacity. The manufacturer says that its LPDDR4X memory chips consume 10% less power when compared to its LPDDR4-4266 products; this is because they feature a lower output driver voltage (I/O VDDQ), which the LPDDR4X standard reduces by 45%, from 1.1 V to 0.6 V.Micron’s 12 Gb (1.5 GB) LPDDR4X devices feature a slightly lower capacity than competing 16 Gb (2 GB) LPDDR4X offerings, but they are also cheaper to manufacture. As a result, Micron can offer lower-cost quad-die 64-bit LPDDR4X-4266 packages with a 48 Gb (6 GB) capacity and a 34.1 GB/s bandwidth than some of its competitors.The 12 Gb LPDDR4X DRAM is Micron’s first product to be manufactured using the company’s second-generation 10 nm-class process technology, so expect Micron to launch more DRAMs that are made using the same tech and therefore feature lower power consumption and higher frequency potential when compared to existing products.Like other makers of DRAM, Micron usually does not announce products before it ships the first batch. Therefore, at least one customer of Micron may have already received its LPDDR4X DRAM devices.Related Reading:
The Crucial P1 1TB SSD Review: The Other Consumer QLC SSD
The Crucial P1 is the second consumer SSD with QLC NAND to hit the market, and the first consumer NVMe drive that Crucial has released. It is fundamentally similar to the Intel SSD 660p, but Micron has made some different tradeoffs with their custom firmware that make it worth consideration.
Micron Announces Broad Availability Of 5210 ION QLC SSD
Micron's 5210 ION enterprise SATA SSD was announced in May as the first shipping SSD with four bit per cell (QLC) NAND flash memory, but until now it has only been available to Micron's largest customers and partners. Starting this week, the 5210 ION is getting a broad release that will include sales through online retailers. This means that we finally have concrete detailed specifications and prices for the 5210.As originally announced, the 5210 ION is a fairly straightforward adaptation of the 5200 series TLC-based enterprise SATA SSDs to use Micron's new QLC NAND. The controller and most of the firmware are the same, and the change in flash memory brings lower cost, write endurance and performance. We now have a clear idea of just how big an impact the switch to QLC NAND makes on those specifications.Micron 5210 ION Series SpecificationsCapacity1.92 TB3.84 TB7.68 TBForm Factor2.5" SATA 6 GbpsControllerMarvell 88SS1074NANDMicron 64-layer 3D TLC NANDSequential Read540 MB/sSequential Write260 MB/s350 MB/s360 MB/s4KB Random Read70k IOPS83k IOPS90k IOPS4KB Random Write13k IOPS6.5k IOPS4.5k IOPSIdle Power1.5 WMax Read Power2.8 WMax Write Power3.6 WWarranty5 yearsMicron's primary goal with the 5210 ION is to expand the market for their enterprise SSDs. Micron does expect some customers to replace some of their TLC-based enterprise SSDs with QLC drives like the 5210 ION, but they're more interested in going after the remaining market for 10k RPM hard drives. Micron believes that with the 5210 they finally have a SSD that is cost-competitive with high-end hard drives, while offering higher performance, density, and power efficiency. Write speeds are the biggest weakness of QLC NAND, but even the smallest, slowest 5210 model can sustain sequential writes at least as fast as a 10k RPM hard drive.However, the 5210 has already proven to have broader appeal, and Micron has some large customers that are deploying it as replacements for 7200RPM hard drives or client TLC SSDs that were being used in datacenters. With a price similar to consumer TLC drives but firmware tuned for enterprise workloads, the 2TB 5210 is being rolled out to replace 1TB consumer SSDs in service with a major streaming media CDN. Serving up streaming video is an appropriately read-heavy, mostly sequential workload that allows the 5210 to saturate the SATA link as well as any drive, but with more consistent latency than client/consumer SSDs offer.Micron also cites a system builder of servers for machine learning is migrating from 8+TB 7200 RPM to the 8TB Micron 5210 ION for storing the massive datasets involved. The 5210 is quite a bit more expensive than the hard drives, but the hard drives have been a serious bottleneck. The higher performance of the 5210 allows these systems to perform tasks like image classification 8x faster, greatly improving the utilization of the expensive compute hardware in those machines and lowering the total cost of ownership. Machine learning can be an extremely read-heavy workload for inference tasks when a large model is consulted repeatedly and only occasionally updated.Write Endurance Gets ComplicatedWith the 5210 ION, Micron has adopted a workload-dependent write endurance rating system. The same drive can be rated for anywhere from 0.05 drive writes per day up to 0.8 drive writes per day depending on how much of the data written is sequential vs random, and whether it is small 4kB random writes or larger block sizes. By contrast, their Crucial P1 consumer QLC SSD still gets a single number rating of 0.1 DWPD. By giving a wide range of endurance ratings, Micron avoids having to label the 5210 with a single conservative rating that would make it look particularly fragile compared to TLC-based SSDs. It also encourages their customers to be more aware of the details of their workload when shopping for storage. A gradual increase in that kind of awareness has been an important enabler for the transition from MLC to TLC, and is the main reason for the decline of enterprise SSDs with 10+ DWPD endurance ratings. (Micron claims that last year, 75% of all enterprise SSDs sold were rated for 1 DWPD or less, and that percentage will continue to grow.)Micron 5210 ION Series Write EnduranceCapacity1.92 TB3.84 TB7.68 TB100% 128kB Sequential0.8 DWPD
Seasonic To Increase Power Supply Prices In United States Next Month
In a bit of an unusual move, Seasonic is announcing in advance that they intend to increase the prices of most of their power supplies in the United States. Citing "recent market developments" - i.e. the tariffs imposed by the U.S. government on select components manufactured in China - the company will be increasing the recommended prices of its products to cover the higher costs. The new MSRPs will become effective on December 1st, 2018,Once the new prices go into effect, all Seasonic products made in China and sold in the U.S. will become $5 to $20 more expensive, depending on the product and its original price. It's worth noting that Seasonic is listing their manufacturer suggested retail prices here, and these are not the prices that retailers are actually paying for the hardware. So actual retail prices will depend both on what the real cost is to retailers, and what kind of margins they're aiming for.Meanwhile, all orders placed prior to December 1st will be priced at current levels. So there is plenty of time before the price increases take effect (though, this will depend on particular retailers).One other thing to keep in mind about Seasonic is that it also produces PSUs for numerous brands, including Corsair, NZXT, XFX, and a number of others. So don't be surprised if the company's downstream customers follow suit, as they're going to be impacted by the same tariff increases. It remains to be seen how significant those increases might be, but it is something that's seemingly inevitable given the current situation on the market.Buy Seasonic Prime 750W Titanium on Amazon.comRelated Reading:
AMD EPYC for ATX Workstations: GIGABYTE MZ01-CE0 & MZ01-CE1 Motherboards
AMD’s EPYC processor has made it into servers and supercomputers, yet it still has to find its place inside workstations. To a large degree that is because up until recently there were no motherboards for these CPUs on the market. ASRock Rack was first to showcase such a mainboard at Computex. Now, GIGABYTE is coming up not with one, but with two ATX mobos for AMD’s EPYC aimed at workstations.GIGABYTE’s lineup of ATX motherboards for AMD’s EPYC consists of two motherboards, the MZ01-CE0 and MZ01-CE1. Both feature a socket for AMD’s EPYC, four PCIe x16 slots (as expected from a CPU that has 64 128 spare PCIe lanes) compatible with dual-slot graphics cards and accelerators, a PCIe x8 slot, eight DDR4 slots supporting up to 1 TB of DDR4 ECC memory, an M.2 slot for SSDs, and four SlimSAS ports for up to 16 SATA storage devices.Despite being ATX-compatible, the two motherboards from GIGABYTE can be used to build both workstations as well as servers. The MZ01-CE0 and MZ01-CE1 platforms come equipped with Aspeed’s AST2500 BMC for remote management as well as GIGABYTE’s Server Management software.Both MZ01-CE0 and MZ01-CE1 motherboards come equipped with two onboard Intel I210 GbE LAN controllers. Meanwhile, the MZ01-CE0 is also outfitted with two extra 10 GbE Base-T LAN ports (controlled by the Intel X550 chip) for those who have appropriate networks for transferring large files from one system to another (something quite common in movie industry, for example).GIGABYTE has not touched upon MSRPs of its EPYC-supporting motherboards because they will be available mostly to B2B customers. Meanwhile, being unique products for server CPUs and equipped with expensive network controllers, the MZ01-CE0 and MZ01-CE1 will certainly carry premium price tags.GIGABYTE's ATX Motherboards for AMD EPYC CPUsMZ01-CE0MZ01-CE1Supported CPUsAMD Socket 4094
Netgear Announces Nighthawk RAX80 and RAX120 802.11ax AX6000 Routers
Netgear has announced imminent availability of their first 802.11ax router - the 8-stream Nighthawk RAX80, along with the technical details, pricing, and other information. In addition, they have also unveiled the 12-stream RAX120. While the RAX80 will be available for purchase this month, RAX120 will make it to retail in Q1 2019.802.11ax has had an uphill adoption curve. Silicon vendors have been announcing draft-compliant chipsets since late 2016 (Quantenna - Q4 2016, Qualcomm - Q1 2017, Broadcom - Q3 2017, Marvell - Q4 2017, and Intel - Q1 2018). Device vendors were not far behind, with Asus going public about its plans to release a router (RT-AX88U) based on the Broadcom platform as early as September 2017. A year after the announcement, the RT-AX88U finally made it to retail at a $350 price point. D-Link also gave a sneak peek into their AX6000 and AX11000 routers based on the Broadcom chipset at the 2018 CES. In the meanwhile, we have had deployments of the Qualcomm chipset in the carrier gateways from KDDI and NEC in Asia, as well as enterprise access points from Huawei and Ruckus Wireless.Netgear had hinted at their 802.11ax product stack in their 2018 Analyst Day presentation. Today's launch provides concrete details of their first-generation 802.11ax products.The benefits of 802.11ax have been brought out in multiple articles before, but, a recap of the major improvements is in order:
The Be Quiet! Straight Power 11 750W PSU Review: Excellent Quality, But Not Quiet
In today's review we are taking a look at the latest Straight Power 11 series from Be Quiet!, a German manufacturer. The Straight Power 11 units are not the highest tier that the company currently offers, yet the company still rates them (and appraises them) as a premium series, boasting that they can deliver excellent overall performance, reliability, and, above all else, near-silent operation.
ChipRebel Releases Kirin 980 Die Shot: Cortex A76's & Mali G76 in View
When new flagship silicon chips are released, one thing that I always eagerly await is somebody publishing a die shot of said design. Over the past few years this has always been done by ChipWorks and subsequently TechInsights – but last year a little known site called ChipRebel caught my attention when they released a very high quality, high-resolution shot of the Apple A11. I’ve been in touch with the folks over there over the past few weeks, poking to see what their plans were, and was happy to hear that they’re trying to gain more traction in the future.Yesterday ChipRebel released a preliminary teardown of the new Huawei Mate 20 – and along with it publicly released a low-res version of their Kirin 980 die shot, along with their commercial high-resolution shot. This is very exciting, as the new HiSilicon chip marks the second commercially available consumer 7nm chip – of course after Apple’s own A12 from just a few weeks prior. More importantly, this is the first time we’re seeing Arm’s new Cortex A76 CPUs as well as the new Mali G76 GPU.I took the liberty to label some of the some more obvious block complexes of the SoC image on my own, and also shared this with the folks over at ChipRebel:
AMD Announces Radeon Instinct MI60 & MI50 Accelerators: Powered By 7nm Vega
As part of this morning’s Next Horizon event, AMD formally announced the first two accelerator cards based on the company’s previously revealed 7nm Vega GPU. Dubbed the Radeon Instinct MI60 and Radeon Instinct MI50, the two cards are aimed squarely at the enterprise accelerator market, with AMD looking to significantly improve their performance competitiveness in everything from HPC to machine learning.Both cards are based on AMD’s 7nm GPU, which although we’ve known about at a high level for some time now, we’re only finally getting some more details on. GPU is based on a refined version of AMD’s existing Vega architecture, essentially adding compute-focused features to the chip that are necessary for the accelerator market. Interestingly, in terms of functional blocks here, 7nm Vega is actually rather close to the existing 14nm “Vega 10” GPU: both feature 64 CUs and HBM2. The difference comes down to these extra accelerator features, and the die size itself.With respect to accelerator features, 7nm Vega and the resulting MI60 & MI50 cards differentiates itself from the previous Vega 10-powered MI25 in a few key areas. 7nm Vega brings support for half-rate double precision – up from 1/16 rate – and AMD is supporting new low precision data types as well. These INT8 and INT4 instructions are especially useful for machine learning inferencing, where high precision isn’t necessary, with AMD able to get up to 4x the perf of an FP16/INT16 data type when using the smallest INT4 data type. However it’s not clear from AMD’s presentation how flexible these new data types are – and with what instructions they can be used – which will be important for understanding the full capabilities of the new GPU. All told, AMD is claiming a peak throughput of 7.4 TFLOPS FP64, 14.7 TFLOPS FP32, and 118 TOPS for INT4.7nm Vega also buffs up AMD’s memory capabilities. The GPU adds another pair of HBM2 memory controllers, giving it 4 in total. Combined with a modest increase in memory clockspeeds to 2Gbps, and AMD now has a full 1TB/sec of memory bandwidth in the GPU’s fastest configuration. This is even more than NVIDIA’s flagship GV100 GPU, giving AMD the edge in bandwidth. Meanwhile as this is an enterprise-focused GPU, it offers end-to-end ECC, marking the first AMD GPU to offer complete ECC support in several years.The enterprise flourishes also apply to 7nm Vega’s I/O options. On the PCIe front, AMD has revealed that the GPU supports the recently finalized PCIe 4 standard, which doubles the amount of memory bandwidth per x16 slot to 31.5GB/sec. However AMD isn’t stopping there. The new GPU also includes a pair of off-chip Infinity Fabric links, allowing for the Radeon Instinct cards to be directly connected to each other via the coherent links. I’m still waiting for a confirmed breakdown on the numbers, but it looks like each link supports 50GB/sec down and 50GB/sec up in bandwidth.Notably, since there are only 2 links per GPU, AMD’s topology options will be limited to variations on rings. So GPUs in 4-way configurations won’t all be able to directly address each other. Meanwhile AMD is still sticking with PCIe cards as their base form factor here – no custom mezzanine-style cards like NVIDIA – so the cards are connected via a bridge on the top. Meanwhile backhaul to the CPU (AMD suggests an Epyc, of course) is handled over PCIe 4.Finally, looking at the GPU itself, it’s interesting to note just how small it is. Because AMD didn’t significantly bulk up the GPU on CUs, thanks to the 7nm process the new GPU is actually a good bit smaller than the original 484mm2 Vega 10 GPU. The new GPU comes in at 331mm2, packing in 13.2B transistors. Though it should be noted that AMD’s performance estimates are realistically conservative here; while 7nm does bring power consumption down, AMD is still only touting >1.25x performance of MI25 at the same power consumption. The true power in the new cards lies in their new features, rather than standard FP16/FP32 calculations that the existing MI25 card was already geared for.Wrapping things up, Radeon Instinct MI60 will be shipping in Q4 of this year. AMD has not announced a price, but as a cutting-edge 7nm GPU, don’t expect it to be cheap. MI60 will then be followed by MI50 in Q1 of next year, giving AMD’s customers a second, cheaper option to access 7nm Vega.Gallery: Rome Presentation Slide Deck
AMD Previews EPYC ‘Rome’ Processor: Up to 64 Zen 2 Cores
AMD on Tuesday formally announced its next-generation EPYC processor code-named Rome. The new server CPU will feature up to 64 cores featuring the Zen 2 microarchitecture, thus providing at least two times higher performance per socket than existing EPYC chips.As discussed in a separate story covering AMD’s new ‘chiplet’ design approach, AMD EPYC ‘Rome’ processor will carry multiple CPU chiplets manufactured using TSMC’s 7 nm fabrication process as well as an I/O die produced at a 14 nm node. As it appears, high-performance ‘Rome’ processors will use eight CPU chiplets offering 64 x86 cores in total, as well as an eight-channel DDR4 memory controller supporting up to 4 TB of DRAM per socket. Besides, the new processor supports 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes to connect next-generation accelerators, such as the Radeon Instinct MI60 based on the Vega 7nm GPU.Gallery: Rome Presentation Slide DeckConsidering the fact that Zen 2 microarchitecture is expected to generally increase performance of CPU cores (especially when it comes to floating point performance, which AMD expects to double), the Rome processors will boost performance of servers quite dramatically when compared to existing machines. In particular, AMD expects performance per socket to double as a result of higher core count, and predicts that floating point performance per socket will quadruple because of arhitectural IPC improvements and increase of the core count.One important peculiarity of AMD’s EPYC ‘Rome’ processor is that it is socket compatible with existing EPYC ‘Naples’ platform and will be forward compatible with AMD’s future ‘Milan’ platforms featuring CPUs powered by the Zen 3 microarchitecture. This will greatly simplify development of AMD-based servers and will enable server makers to reuse their existing designs for future machines, which is important for AMD that needs to capture market from Intel. To do that, it has to simplify job of server builders by making its platforms simple.AMD is currently sampling its EPYC ‘Rome’ processor with server makers and customers. The company plans to launch ‘Rome’ products sometimes in 2019, but it does not disclose its launch schedule just now.Gallery: AMD EPYC 'Rome' CPU: A Hands OnThis is a breaking news. We are updating the news story with more details.
AMD Unveils ‘Chiplet’ Design Approach: 7nm Zen 2 Cores Meet 14 nm I/O Die
AMD on Tuesday disclosed some additional details about its upcoming codenamed Rome processor based on its Zen 2 microarchitecture. As it turns out, the company will use a new design approach with its next-generation EPYC CPUs that will involve CPU ‘chiplets’ made using TSMC’s 7 nm manufacturing technology as well as an I/O die made using a 14 nm fabrication process.AMD’s chiplet design approach is an evolution of the company’s modular design it introduced with the original EPYC processors featuring its Zen microarchitecture. While the currently available processors use up to four Zen CPU modules, the upcoming EPYC chips will include multiple Zen 2 CPU modules (which AMD now calls ‘chiplets’) as well as an I/O die made using a mature 14 nm process technology. The I/O die will feature Infinity Fabrics to connect chiplets as well as eight DDR DRAM interfaces. Since the memory controller will now be located inside the I/O die, all CPU chiplets will have a more equal memory access latency than today’s CPU modules. Meanwhile, AMD does not list PCIe inside the I/O die, so each CPU chiplet will have its own PCIe lanes.Separating CPU chiplets from the I/O die has its advantages because it enables AMD to make the CPU chiplets smaller as physical interfaces (such as DRAM and Infinity Fabric) do not scale that well with shrinks of process technology. Therefore, instead of making CPU chiplets bigger and more expensive to manufacture, AMD decided to incorporate DRAM and some other I/O into a separate chip. Besides lower costs, the added benefit that AMD is going to enjoy with its 7 nm chiplets is ability to easier bin new chips for needed clocks and power, which is something that is hard to estimate in case of servers.This is a breaking news. We are updating the news story with more details.Source: AMD
AMD Announces Zen 4 Microarchitecture Under Development
At its Next Horizon event in San Francisco, AMD announced the fourth iteration of its Zen microarchitecture. The Zen 4 is currently in development, so the company does not share many details about it right now.Right now, the company is sampling its codenamed Rome CPUs based on Zen 2 microarchitecture and made using TSMC’s first-generation 7 nm manufacturing technology (N7). After that, AMD plans to release a processor based on its Zen 3 architecture and these chips will be made using TSMC’s N7+ fabrication process that will take advantage of EUV lithography. Since Zen 4 microarchitecture is still in design phase, chances are that processors on its base will be made using a more advanced node, so think 5 nm, but keep in mind that any guesses today are speculations at best.At its event AMD implied that the first CPUs based on its Zen 3 microarchitecture will ship in 2020, so it is natural to expect Zen 4 to reach actual products in 2021 or later. As for what to expect from the new microarchitecture, the company naturally promised higher performance and performance per watt when compared to prior generations.Previously AMD has only discussed Zen 2 and Zen 3 microarchitectures, yet it is not surprising that the company will keep evolving its successful design in the coming years.This is a breaking news. We are updating the news story with more details.Related Reading:
AMD’s EPYC CPUs Now Available on Amazon Web Services
AMD on Tuesday announced availability of its processors on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). AMD EPYC-based systems will be used as web and application servers, backend servers for enterprise applications, as well as for test/development environments. The announcement is very important for AMD because Amazon Web Services is one of the world’s top adopters of servers.AMD’s EPYC will be used for Amazon’s EC2 memory optimized and general purpose R5 and M5 instance families. AMD EPYC-powered M5 and R5 instances are offered in six sizes with up to 96 processors and up to 768 GB of memory. Meanwhile, AMD-based T3 instances will be available in 7 versions featuring up to 8 CPUs and 32 GB of memory.AMD EPYC-based instances are already available in U.S. East (Ohio, North Virginia), U.S. West (Oregon), Europe (Ireland), and Asia Pacific regions. AWS intends to install AMD EPYC-powered machines to other datacenters in the future, so eventually EPYC-based instances will be available in other regions soon, Amazon said.“The availability of multiple AMD EPYC processor-powered instances on Amazon EC2 instances marks a significant milestone in the growing adoption of our high-performance CPUs with cloud service providers,” said Forrest Norrod, senior vice president and general manager, Datacenter and Embedded Solutions Business Group, AMD. “The powerful combination of cores, memory bandwidth and I/O on AMD EPYC processors create a highly differentiated solution that can offer lower TCO for our customers and lower prices for the end-user. Working with AWS, the number one provider in cloud services, has been amazing for the AMD team and we are excited to see the new instances come online today for their customers.”This is a breaking news. We are updating the news story with more details.Related Reading:
Intel Architecture Event Announced: December 11th
On the back of a series of recent announcements regarding Intel’s future product line and portfolio, Intel has disclosed to us that it will be holding a forward-looking Architecture Summit/Event in a few weeks. The event will be an exclusively small affair, with only a few press invited, but an opportunity for Intel to discuss its future vision for the next few months with engineers and technical fellows set to give some detailed presentations.One of the most frequent requests we have put to Intel over the recent months is for a return to an Intel that offers more information. In previous years, Intel would dive deep into its product portfolio and its architecture designs in order to showcase its engineering talent and prowess. This often happened at the awesome annual Intel Developer Forum, a yearly event held in the heart of San Francisco, but since it was disbanded a couple of years ago, the level of detail in each subsequent launch has been agonizingly minimal. For an engineering company that used to proudly present its technical genius on a stage, in detail, to suddenly become so very insular about its R&D raised a lot of questions. It would appear our persistence is paying off, and Intel is going to do something about it.Details on the content of the Intel Architecture Summit/Event are slim at this point, as invites are slowly being handed out. At this point we are not immediately aware whether Intel intends to have an embargo. In the past at these sort of events, some of the information became almost immediately available, while some of the meatier details had longer embargo times to allow for the press to get to grips with the information and ask questions and write articles. When Intel discussed the Skylake design in detail before it hit the shelves, there was a short lead time. This event is likely to be along the same lines.At this point we do not know exactly what Intel will be discussing – the only thing we’ve been told is that it will be ‘update’ with Intel’s architects and technical fellows focusing on architecture. This could extend into CPU, GPU, AI, and everything in-between, and if we’re lucky, manufacturing. Given that Cascade Lake is a known part at this point, it would be difficult to see Intel discussing more on the CPU side unless they have an ace in the design we don’t already know about. A far more interesting topic would be on the GPU side, assuming that Raja Koduri and his team have something to say. We already know that the Nervana Neural Network Processor is due out in 2019, so there could be some detail to discuss there as well. An outside possibility is Intel talking 10nm. One can hope.I’ll be attending for AnandTech. I hope this ends up being a good event, so that there are more like it in the future.Buy Intel Core i9-9900K on Amazon.com
AMD Next Horizon Live Blog: Starts 9am PT / 5pm UTC
AMD's 2019 is set to be full of 7nm products, and on the back of AMD's New Horizon event on 2016, today it is hosting part two: Next Horizon. In CEO Dr. Lisa Su's welcome letter, it states that AMD is set to 'enter a new chapter in [its] journey to deliver the datacenter of the future'. I'm here in San Francisco to get all the details on what appears to be discussions and presentations about the next generation EPYC and 7nm Vega, as well as customer responses and deployments about AMD's current datacenter portfolio.Come back to this page at 9am Pacific Time when then event is set to start, and come follow our live blog.
Best Video Cards for Gaming: Holiday 2018
For gaming PCs that push the pretty pixels on the screens, the video card is the most important component. And given the sheer amount of custom options, choosing the right graphics card for your budget can be very difficult. In our Video Cards for Gaming guides, we give you our recommendations in terms of GPU models and current prices representative of an affordable non-blower custom card. Our guide targets common gaming resolutions at system-build price points similar to our CPU guides.
Intel Xeon E Six-Core Review: E-2186G, E-2176G, E-2146G, and E-2136 Tested
Despite having officially launched back in July, Intel’s Xeon E desktop platform has yet to see the light of day in systems casually available to users or small businesses. This should change today, with the official embargo lift for reviews on the parts, as well as the announcement today that SGX-enabled versions are coming for Server use. The Xeon E platform is the replacement for what used to be called the E3-1200 family, using Intel’s new nomenclature, and these parts are based on Intel’s Coffee Lake (not Coffee Lake Refresh) microarchitecture. We managed to get a few processors in to test, and today we’ll start by examining most of the six-core family.
Lexar Launches 512 GB microSD Card with A2 App Performance Spec
Lexar this past week introduced its new family of A2-class microSD cards, the Lexar High-Performance 633x A2. Supporting the highest Application Performance class, the new microSD card is designed in particular for smartphones that need additional storage space for applications. Overall the Lexar High-Performance 633x family of microSD cards is fairly diverse; the cards range in capacity from 16 GB to 512 GB in capacity, and not all of the cards meet an App Performance class standard. Indeed, only the new 512 GB card meets the A2 class standard, while the medium-sized cards are A1 class.Under the hood, all the cards use the UHS-I bus and are rated for 95 MB/s – 100 MB/s reads as well as 45 MB/s – 70 MB/s writes. Most of the cards in the lineup support the Video Speed Class 30 spec, therefore offering at least 30 MB/s sequential write speeds. As for operating temperature range, it is pretty standard: from 0° to 70° C (32°F to 158°F), which is good enough for everyone except those using specialized devices to work in extreme conditions.The key feature of the Lexar High-Performance 633x range is of course support for A1 and A2 App Performance specifications, for use with Android phones that need more space for applications. While A1 cards are pretty common these days, A2 cards are still rare partly because they require a more sophisticated (and expensive) controller and partly because not all of their features can be experienced on commonly available hosts.As we've mentioned before, A2-badged microSD cards mandate a random performance of at least 4000 read IOPS and 2000 write IOPS (vs. 1500/500 read/write IOPS mandated by the A1). Meanwhile, A2-compliant controllers have to support such functions as command queuing (with a minimum depth queue of 2 and a maximum depth queue of 32) to optimize random read performance, caching to hit write performance targets, as well as self-maintenance capabilities. Though to get the most out of an A2 card, the host also needs to support command queuing to guarantee the device's read performance.Lexar High-Performance 633x microSD Cards512 GB256 GB128 GB64 GB32 GB16 GBSequential Read Speed100 MB/s95 MB/sSequential Write Speed70 MB/s45 MB/s?Minimum Sequential Write Speed30 MB/s10 MB/sMinimal Random Read Speed4000 IOPS1500 IOPS?Minimal Random Write Speed2000 IOPS500 IOPS?Operating Temperatures0° to 70° C (32°F to 158°F)InterfaceUHS-IAvailabilityQ4 2018SDA LabelsA2, V30, U3A1, V30, U3A1, V10, U1U1Part NumbersLSDMI512BBNL633A
Intel Goes For 48-Cores: Cascade-AP with Multi-Chip Package Coming Soon
Ahead of the annual Supercomputing 2018 conference next week, Intel is today announcing part of its upcoming Cascade Lake strategy. Following on from its server-focused Xeon Scalable Skylake family, Intel has already pre-announced that Cascade Lake-SP will form the next generation, with a focus on compute and security. Today’s announcement is for a product family to run alongside Cascade Lake-SP, called Cascade Lake-AP, or Cascade-AP for short. Cascade-AP is going to be aimed at ‘advanced performance’. In order to implement this new processor family, Intel is combining multiple chips in the same package.
Corsair Unveils Hydro H100i & Hydro H115i RGB Platinum LCSes with Mag Lev Fans
Corsair on Thursday introduced two new closed-loop CPU liquid cooling systems, both of which feature its magnetic levitation fans and RGB lighting. The new Hydro Series RGB Platinum LCSes also feature what Corsair is calling a Zero RPM cooling profile, which stops the fans entirely at low processor temperatures to further reduce the noise levels generated by the PC.Corsair’s Hydro H100i RGB Platinum and Hydro H115i RGB Platinum use the company’s new pump with a copper base and integrated RGB lighting, as well as new magnetic levitation PWM fans that minimize the friction on their magnetic bearings. The company’s mag lev bearing promises to generate high airflow and static pressure while making less noise than fans featuring ball bearings. The H100i model is equipped with two 120-mm fans spinning at 400 – 2400 RPM and a 240-mm radiator, whereas the H115i model is outfitted with two 140-mm fans spinning at 400 – 2000 RPM as well as a 280-mm radiator.Corsair does not disclose maximum amount of heat that its new Hydro Series RGB Platinum LCSes can dissipate, but given the fact that the coolers can handle AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper and Intel’s Core X parts, it is safe to say that their thermal performance is well north of 250 W (400 W is a relatively safe bet, but it is not an official figure). Besides AMD TR4 and Intel 2066-pin processors, the coolers also come with mounting brackets for AMD’s AM2/AM3/AM4 CPUs as well as Intel’s 115x-pin chips.One thing to keep in mind when using the Hydro Series RGB Platinum coolers with AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper is that they feature a square base and therefore they cannot cover 100% of the large TR4 IHS surface. This won't prevent reliable operation of these processors, but it remains to be seen how efficient they are going to be in cooling overclocked AMD HEDT products.Modern high-end PC hardware not only has to perform well, but also look good in a bid to attract the enthusiast/modding community. The new Hydro Series RGB Platinum closed-loop liquid coolers from Corsair do just that: they feature 16 addressable RGB light LEDs in the pump and four ARGB LEDs in each fan. The lights can be controlled using Corsair’s iCUE software, which can also adjust pump and fan speeds as well as create custom cooling profiles that automatically regulate speeds in accordance with a range of monitored system temperatures.Specifications of Corsair Hydro Platinum RGB Cooling SystemsHydro H100i Platinum RGBHydro H115i RGB PlatinumCPU Socket CompatibilityIntel: 2066, 2011-3, 2011, 115x
The Google Pixel 3 Review: The Ultimate Camera Test
The Pixel 3 is Google’s third generation in-house design, meant to showcase the company’s own view of what an Android device should be, whilst fully embracing Google’s first-party software applications and services. The one thing Google’s Pixel phones have become synonymous with is the camera experience. The Pixel 3 continues this focal point of the line-up, and promises to be “the best smartphone camera”, period. We’ll dive into the phone and verify Google claims, including an extensive camera comparison between all of this year’s major camera shooters.
GlobalFoundries Establishes Avera Semiconductor: a Custom Chip Company
GlobalFoundries this week announced that it has spun off its ASIC Solutions division, establishing Avera Semiconductor, a wholly owned subsidiary that will help fabless chip developers to design their products. Avera will work closely with GlobalFoundries' customers to enable them take advantage of various process technologies that GF has, but the company will also establish ties with other contract makers of semiconductors to help their clients develop chips to be made using leading edge process technologies at 7 nm and beyond.Avera Semi will inherit a rich portfolio of silicon-proven IP containing Arm cores, performance and density-optimized SRAMs, embedded TCAMs, high-speed SerDes, interfaces, and other necessary things. In addition, Avera will offer production-proven design methodologies as well as advanced packaging options. Right now, Avera naturally has silicon-proven IP for GlobalFoundries’ manufacturing technologies as well as Samsung Foundry’s 14LPP fabrication process, but over time the company will have to gain silicon-proven IP for other contract makers of semiconductors, namely TSMC.GlobalFoundries says that Avera’s team can serve clients from virtually every semiconductor industry, including AI/ML (think leading edge technologies), aerospace & defense (think special-purpose technologies as well as radiation-resistant semiconductors), HPC, storage, wired/wireless networking, and so on.The new wholly owned subsidiary of GlobalFoundries has over 850 employees, an annual revenue of over $500 million, and ongoing projects worth $3 billion. By working not only with clients of GlobalFoundries, but expanding to customers of companies like Samsung Foundry and TSMC, Avera has a chance to increase its earnings over time. Avera Semi is led by Kevin O’Buckley, a former head of ASIC Solutions, who joined GlobalFoundries from IBM.Avera Semiconductor will continue to work with a variety of industry partners, including Arm and Synopsys, who have already endorsed the new business unit.Related Reading:
Apple Announces Q4 FY 2018 Earnings: Revenue Up, Sales Not
This afternoon Apple announced their earnings for the fourth quarter of their 2018 fiscal year, and in what can only be described as a very Apple-esque quarter, revenue was up 20% year-over-year to $62.9 billion. Gross margin came in at 38.2%, up 0.3% from a year ago. Operating income was up 22.9% to $16.1 billion, and partially due to the new tax cuts, net income was up 31.8% to $14.1 billion. Earnings per share were up 40.6% to $2.91.Apple Q4 2018 Financial Results (GAAP)Q4'2018Q3'2018Q4'2017Revenue (in Billions USD)$62.900$53.265$52.579Gross Margin (in Billions USD)$24.084$20.421$19.931Operating Income (in Billions USD)$16.118$12.612$13.917Net Income (in Billions USD)$14.125$11.519$10.714Margins38.5%38.3%37.9%Earnings per Share (in USD)$2.91$2.34$2.07As usual, iPhone leads the way at Apple, but as has become the norm the Q4 results will only have a glimpse at the new launch sales, since this quarter ended on September 29. iPhone revenue was up a staggering 29% year-over-year to $46.9 billion, but overall unit sales were up only 0.4% from Q4 2017, with 46.9 million devices sold this quarter. But with iPhone pricing moving in an upward trajectory, Apple now has an amazing $793.04 average selling price on iPhone.The other half of iPhone is Apple’s services, which are up 17% year-over-year to just under $10 billion for the quarter. Services include digital content, Apple Pay, and of course iTunes sales.We just saw a Mac event this week, showing off the new MacBook Air and Mac Mini, but with this quarter ending in September we won’t be able to see that impact Mac sales until Q1 2019. For this quarter, Mac sales fell 2% to 5.3 million units, with revenue up 3% reflecting the higher price of the new models.iPad sales also fell. Apple sold 9.7 million iPads this quarter, which was down 6% from last year. Revenue fell even further though, coming in at $4.1 billion for the quarter, which is a 15% drop from Q4 2017. Apple’s price-reduced iPad has likely eaten into sales of the more profitable Pro models, but like the Mac updates, the latest iPad Pros were just announced and won’t be reflected in this quarter’s earnings.Apple Q4 2018 Device Sales (thousands)Q4'2018Q3'2018Q4'2017Seq ChangeYear/Year ChangeiPhone46,88941,30046,677+14%+0.4%iPad9,69911,55310,326-16%-6%Mac5,2993,7205,386+42%-2%Finally, Apple’s “Other” category, which has become their catch-all, had $4.2 billion in revenue, which was up 31% from a year ago. Other now includes HomePod, in addition to Apple TV, Apple Watch, Beats, and accessories.Apple is expecting revenues for Q1 2019 to be between $89 and $93 billion, with margins between 38% and 38.5%.Moving forward, Apple has also decided to stop reporting unit sales. This is unfortunate, because Apple has been more open on their earnings than several of their competitors, even though they’ve never broken-down sales per-model in a category. There’s likely a good reason for this of course. With device sales declining, they will be taking heat, despite the company continuing to increase revenue.Source: Apple Investor Relations
U.S. Government Indicts Chinese DRAM Maker JHICC on Industrial Espionage; Bans Exports To Firm
The U.S. Department of Commerce this week banned U.S. exports to a China-based maker of DRAM. The DoC believes that Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company (also known as Fujian or JHICC) not only uses technologies obtained from Micron, but also threatens the latter’s long-term economic viability and therefore could also be involved in activities that are contrary to the U.S. national security interests.In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Justice has also filed an indictment against JHICC, United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), and several individuals accusing them of corporate espionage and stealing IP from Micron. Between the two, the U.S. authorities essentially sided with claims that Chinese makers of memory have illegally obtained IP and technologies from DRAM makers from the U.S. and potentially other countries.A Complicated SituationAs a result of DoC actions against JHICC, all U.S.-based (and, actually, non-U.S.-based too) companies will require a special license for all exports, re-exports, and transfers of commodities, software and technology subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). DoC makes no secret that such license applications will be “reviewed with a presumption of denial”, so it will be tremendously hard for JHICC to obtain practically everything, including Windows 7 licenses for manufacturing equipment and production tools themselves (ASML has a strong presence in the U.S., whereas Nikon Precision is based in California). Meanwhile, the whole situation is somewhat more complex.“When a foreign company engages in activity contrary to our national security interests, we will take strong action to protect our national security. Placing Jinhua on the Entity List will limit its ability to threaten the supply chain for essential components in our military systems,” Secretary of Commerce Ross said.The indictment from DoJ may also have very serious consequences for JHICC, UMC, and several individuals. If found guilty, the companies will face forfeiture and a maximum fine of more than $20 billion, which might easily destroy almost any firm. As for individual defendants, they are facing a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and a $5 million fine. Besides, any products containing allegedly stolen IP will be banned from the U.S. market.Without any doubts, a strong new player on the DRAM market poses a threat for the whole industry when it comes to its economic viability, and the DoC is correct when it does not underestimate the DRAM effort. If Chinese companies flood its domestic market with their own memory, global businesses of Micron, Samsung, and SK Hynix might suffer. Micron will of course suffer the most as it is the only DRAM maker with no semiconductor production facilities in China. Meanwhile, for Tianxia the DRAM effort is part of a larger “Made in China 2025” project (which we are going to discuss below) that includes establishment of a domestic semiconductor industry, so actions of the DoC against JHICC may slow down the DRAM endeavor, but will barely affect the grand plan that the Chinese authorities have.Since DRAM and NAND are commodities that China has to buy from abroad in order to build hardware that is then sold worldwide, it is natural for China to want to produce them locally. It does not mean that producing DRAM is easy. Developing a competitive chip manufacturing technology from scratch is a tremendously hard task these days as leading makers of semiconductors have spent decades researching microelectronics and have both experience and IP. Building an industry that requires a variety of manufacturing processes is close to impossible. Meanwhile, this is exactly what the Chinese government is attempting to do these days with semiconductors. In the recent months Micron and some other makers of memory accused Chinese DRAM producers of illegally obtaining IP from memory makers based in South Korea and the U.S.Micron Acquisition AttemptIt all began in May 2015, when the Chinese government announced its “Made in China 2025” initiative to broadly upgrade Chinese industry a decade later and reduce the country’s reliance on foreign goods and components. Establishing a competitive domestic semiconductor industry is a significant part of the plan and producing volatile and non-volatile memory is considered one of its crucial parts.At first, government-controlled Tsinghua Unigroup tried to acquire Micron and get all the technologies and IP it needed to make DRAM and NAND legally. That deal never worked out and it is widely believed that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) would have blocked the deal. Since by 2015 only three major makers of DRAM remained on the planet, and as giants like Samsung as well as SK Hynix could not be purchased, the Chinese government turned to different tactics in a bid to get what they needed.Buying DRAM Technology from… UMC?In February 2016 local authorities in Fujian, China, (which are still controlled by the central government) established Fujian Jin Hua Integrated Circuit (JHICC). In May, 2016, JHICC signed a contract with UMC to develop a competitive DRAM manufacturing technology. According to Micron, UMC would get $300 million in R&D equipment in exchange for an advanced DRAM technology. JHICC started to construct its first 300-mm fab in July 2016 (i.e., well before it had a process technology ready). This fab costs $5.65 billion and is about to start production of chips. However there is substantial proof that UMC did not really develop a new DRAM process, but instead headhunted engineers from Micron’s operations in Taiwan in early 2016 and asked them to steal specs and peculiarities of Micron’s chips and process technologies.Micron accuses Stephen Chen, a former site director at Rexchip in Taiwan (Rexchip became a part of Micron in 2013) who was hired by UMC in the second half of 2015 and became a senior vice president, of stealing ‘trade secrets’. The company also accuses J.T. Ho and Kenny Wang, its former process integration managers, of stealing documents related to Micron’s process technologies. All three people had all the information about then-current and some upcoming memory products from Micron. Based on what is publicly known about JHICC’s process technology that will be used to make DRAM chips, it appears like that UMC and JHICC have managed to obtain and at least partially replicate one of Micron’s 20 nm-class fabrication process they now call ‘22 nm’.Furthermore, the U.S. DoJ has found the evidence from Micron and Taiwanese authorities viable enough to file a civil lawsuit seeking to prohibit JHICC and UMC products developed using Micron's IP from exporting to the U.S.Micron started to suspect that it had a leak of confidential information after JHICC and UMC demonstrated a presentation containing Micron’s code names at a recruiting event aimed at Micron staff in the U.S. In the meantime, Taiwanese authorities charged Stephen Chen of stealing trade secrets from Micron. After conducting an internal investigation, Micron filed a complaint against the said companies in Federal District Court for the Northern District of California in December, 2017.In response, JHICC and UMC sued Micron in Fuijan, accusing it of infringing their patents in China. All of these patents were originally issued to UMC and given the fact that this company does not produce DRAM or NAND, it is highly likely that they are related to production of semiconductors in general. Micron denies that it had infringed them because they are invalid, according to the company.Samsung and SK Hynix Targeted TooMicron is not the only company that poses interest to Chinese makers of DRAM. Apparently, South Korean producers of memory are also targets of industrial espionage by the said companies, a report from The Korea Times said citing an “official directly involved with the issue.”Both Samsung and SK Hynix have production plants in China, so it remains to be seen how these companies deal with this delicate situation. Neither of them are interested in helping a potentially mighty rival, but they cannot fight government-controlled companies without a risk of ruining relationship with authorities.Chinese DRAM Is Already HereDespite controversies when it comes to DRAM-related IP, patents, process technologies, and other factors, there are at least three DRAM producers from China that either already make memory, or are about to start manufacturing operations. Besides JHICC, there are Innotron Memory and about Xi'an UniIC Semiconductors. Ironically, the latter inherited IP and process technologies originally developed by Qimonda (which assets were acquired by Elpida and which itself was taken over by Micron). Neither of these companies are under attack by foreign companies or governments (at least as of today), so the Chinese DRAM industry is developing and actual memory chips are already available. Furthermore, if you take a look at the list of JEDEC members, you will find a lot more names from Tianxia that are not only getting ready to make DRAM or NAND, but test equipment for memory chips too.With the “Made in China 2025” plan in place, it is evident that China will work rigorously to develop its own semiconductor industry. The early attempts look like a mixed bag, given the DRAM controversies, CPU joint-ventures with AMD and Via Technologies (as well as multiple developers of Arm-based SoCs), licensing of 3D NAND, and so on. The big question is whether you can sustain an industry by either licensing or copying someone else’s work?A History LessonHere is a quick example from the past. Having plenty of natural resources, but lacking the industry and designs, the USSR began to buy factories and blueprints from companies like Ford in the 1930s. The country needed both manufacturing technologies and actual products to develop after the devastating civil war of 1917 – 1922, so timing was crucial. The USSR did not stop there: it bought multiple designs from the U.S.-based companies after the World War II, then it bought the Fiat 124 blueprint and factory from Fiat in 1970 (i.e., a process technology + the design). The Fiat 124 small family car design branded as VAZ in the USSR and then in modern Russia had been evolving from 1973 all the way to the 2000s (because at some point the USSR/Russia was no longer able to buy technologies from the West), but it had never been truly competitive against the Western counterparts. Nowadays the automaker AutoVAZ is majority owned by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, it produces vehicles based on platforms developed by Renault/Nissan with some customization considering local realities. From a high point of view, the Russian automotive industry has never taken off and today it is a part of the international auto industry.Something similar might happen to the Chinese semiconductor industry. Now that Micron, (as well as Samsung and SK Hynix, but unofficially) has accused JHICC of stealing its IP, it is probably going to great length to avoid such a situation in the future. All DRAM makers are going to protect their secrets and technologies more rigorously than ever in a bid not to help their rivals. Therefore, once Micron (or any of the aforementioned memory companies) moves to, say, 4F² cell structure for DRAMs (that has been in the plans for sub-20 nm processes anyway) that will enable to them to make chips smaller and cheaper, companies with outdated fabrication processes and cell structures will not be able to compete in terms of costs. Eventually, with DDR5 and various specific DRAM products (LPDDR, HBM, Wide I/O, etc.) they will not be able to compete in terms of performance too, essentially shrinking their addressable markets.Things Getting TougherTo make things even harder for Chinese DRAM makers in general, there is an ongoing trade feud between the U.S. and China. The actions of DoC and DoJ against JHICC may be an isolated case, or may be an element of this confrontation. Considering the background of the ongoing Micron vs. UMC legal battle and with facts already discovered by the Taiwanese authorities, it is highly likely that the plaintiff will win a cease and desist in the order barring all devices featuring the infringing memory chips from the U.S. market. In fact, the DoJ is essentially doing the same thing as Micron: barring any JHICC-made memory or products containing such chips from the U.S.Another move could be getting a cease and desist order in the Netherlands (the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the points of entry for virtually all the electronics made in China in the E.U.). Blocking two major markets for devices featuring DRAMs from JHICC will be a problem for this memory maker in particular and for China in general. Considering the fact that JHICC now cannot license anything or buy new equipment, it is going to be extremely hard for the company to take off and stay competitive even if it does.There is a reason why China wants its semiconductor industry up and ready right now. The government wants to maintain its exports and lower its imports. China has already done a lot to build up its internal market, but it is unclear whether it is big enough for domestic designs and locally-developed process technologies. The latter may not be as advanced as those designed in the U.S. or South Korea, but remain good enough for mainstream products sold in China. Meanwhile, the U.S. DoC and DoJ just demonstrated that they have a toolset that they will not hesitate to use if they find that interests of companies like Micron are affected by infringements of IP rights by emerging rivals. If more companies join the U.S. DoC’s Entity List, then without proper access to technologies and new equipment, it will be far more difficult to develop Chinese semiconductor industry in the coming years.
AMD Investor Relations Announces “Next Horizon” Event for November 6th
Earlier today on their Investor Relations website, AMD posted notice of a new event. Dubbed “AMD Next Horizon”, the event is currently slated for November 6 – no time is provided – and this is all we know. In fact the event page is outright barren, containing nothing except the name of the event and the calendar links. No other details are provided regarding the content or who might be presenting this event.Meanwhile, that this went up on the Investor Relations site is telling. US financial regulations require AMD to post notice of events where significant material information will be disclosed – meaning that when AMD announces new products or releases significant information about products, architectures, & roadmaps, they’re required to make that information accessible to investors. So whatever AMD is up to next week, it’s important enough to trigger those rules.As for a best guess at just what AMD is up to, the name “Next Horizon” is notable because this is the second time AMD has used the “Horizon” moniker for an event. Almost two years ago, AMD held their “New Horizon” event, where the company disclosed for the first time the Ryzen brand name as well as revealing some basic information about the then-forthcoming Ryzen processors and related platform. So assuming this is an intentional pattern, then it stands to reason that we’re going to hear something about AMD’s Zen 2 plans next week. The company is intending to launch Zen 2 products in 2019, so an event now would be consistent with those plans.As for AnandTech, we’ll have more on the matter if and when AMD releases anything else about the event. So stay tuned.Update: As pointed out by some of our readers, AMD actually snuck a mention of this into last week's earnings conference call."AMD's next horizon event is scheduled for Tuesday, November 6, 2018, where we will discuss innovation of AMD products and technology, specifically designed with the datacenter on industry leading 7-nanometer process technology."
The ASRock Z390 Taichi Review: Jack of All Trades, Master of None
In the first of our new Z390 motherboard reviews, we're taking a look at the ASRock Z390 Taichi. This model sits quite high up in the product stack and offers users 2x1G LAN, three PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 and a total of eight SATA ports. ASRock has taken the unique Taichi design and implemented the new Z390 chipset into the mix for a high-performance and feature-packed offering designed for enthusiasts looking to push the new Intel processors.
Nubia X: a Dual-Display Smartphone with No Selfie Camera
Nubia, a ZTE brand, this week introduced its new range-topping smartphone outfitted with front and rear displays and Qualcomm’s high-end SoC. The new Nubia X features a rare 93.6% screen-to-body ratio on the primary LCD, maximizing its screen real estate while also offering a serious performance. The phone will certainly catch some eyes, but what remains to be seen is how useful the second display is and how will it affect battery life of the device.Impressive on the OutsideThe two screens are naturally the key selling point of the Nubia X. The primary display is a 6.26-inch IPS LCD offering a 2280×1080 resolution, a 19:9 aspect ratio, and featuring no notch (as there is no camera). The secondary display is a 5.1-inch OLED that has the same aspect ratio, but a 1520×720 resolution. The screen on the rear of the smartphone blends with the device’s aluminum body and is designed primarily for ultimate personalization (e.g., you can load your own unique wallpaper on the back and get a handset no one else has). To make selfies as the Nubia X does not have a front-facing camera, but users will use the main camera and the rear screen to do so.Speaking of the body, the Nubia X features a CNC-machined frame with Deep Gray, Black Gold, or Sea Light Blue finishes. The chassis has two side-mounted fingerprint readers, so the phone can be activated from either of its “sides”. It is noteworthy that despite packing two displays, the Nubia X is neither thicker or heavier than competitors. The phone has an 8.4-mm z-height and weighs 181 grams.Powerful InsideThe smartphone is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 SoC that integrates eight general-purpose Kryo 385 cores running at 1.80-2.65 GHz, the Adreno 630 GPU, a 64-bit LPDDR4X memory controller, Qualcomm’s X20 LTE modem, and so on. Right now, the S845 is Qualcomm’s flagship SoC for smartphones, so from processing and general features point of view, the Nubia X is on par with its competitors from other companies. The SoC is paired with 4 or 8 GB of LPDDR4X memory as well as 64 or 128 GB of storage. Interestingly, Nubia claims that it uses graphene layers too cool down the key electronic components of the Nubia X.As for the battery, the handset is equipped with a 3,800 Li-Po battery, which is in line with battery capacity of top-of-the-range smartphones from other makers. Meanwhile, one has to keep in mind that the Nubia X has second screen and therefore consumes more than competing devices. Even though OLEDs do not consume a lot of power, they still do consume some, so it will be interesting to see how long will the Nubia X live on one charge.When it comes to imaging capabilities of the Nubia X, they are limited to the back-facing dual camera setup. The primary camera comprises of a 24 MP sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, followed by a 16 MP sensor with a f/1.8 aperture, and a dual-LED dual-tone flash (one of the LEDs is a soft light one). As noted above, the camera is designed to be used both for regular and for selfie photos. The latter will clearly benefit from an advanced flash and high-performance sensors, so the Nubia X could become popular among those interested in selfies. Nubia claims that its camera software can detect scenes and environments to adjust settings, but does not elaborate.Next up is connectivity. The smartphone supports modern 4G/LTE networks, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0 on the wireless side of things. As for physical interfaces, the Nubia X has a USB Type-C port for charging, but no 3.5-mm jack for headsets.Nubia will ship the X with Google Android 8.1 OS and its own Nubia 6.0 UI.General Specifications of the Nubia XNubia X
MyDigitalSSD M2X M.2 NVMe SSD Enclosure Review - A PCIe to USB Storage Bridge
Storage bridges come in many varieties within the internal and external market segments. USB has become the de-facto standard when it comes to external mass-market storage enclosures. But while there are plenty of options to bridge SATA devices in different form factors to USB, the rapid rise in popularity of NVMe drives has brought about a different challenge. In the premium market, we have many Thunderbolt 3 external SSDs with M.2 NVMe drives inside. However for various reasons, the development of NVMe-to-USB adapters has been another matter.In fact it's only recently that we've finally seen some progress on this front. JMicron's introduction of a PCIe 3.0 x2 to USB 3.1 Gen 2 bridge chip (JMS583) has enabled Asian OEMs to introduce bus-powered NVMe SSD enclosures with a USB interface, finally enabling relatively cheap USB adapters for NVMe drives. MyDigitalSSD, in turn, is one of the first to bring such a device to the North American market with their M2X External USB 3.1 Gen 2 M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD Enclosure Adapter.
AMD’s Vega Mobile Lives: Vega Pro 20 & 16 in Updated MacBook Pros In November
Buried towards the tail-end of today’s MacBook Air press release from Apple was a second announcement: that they’d be releasing a minor MacBook Pro refresh next month. Though curious in and of itself – the MacBook Pros were just updated in July – more interesting is what they’d be refreshed with: new AMD GPUs. Announced by AMD at the same time, we now have confirmation that AMD’s missing mobile GPU is finally shipping. It will be arriving first as the Radeon Pro Vega 20 and Radeon Pro Vega 16, upgradable graphics options for the 15-inch MacBook Pro set to become available next month.As a bit of background, AMD first announced the Vega Mobile GPU – which we believe is codenamed Vega 12 – at the start of the year at AMD’s CES Tech Day. The company stated the GPU would be coming later this year, and even showed it off. While details were scarce at the time, it was announced that it would be a smaller, lower-power GPU specifically for mobile devices. And of particular note, it would have a z-height of only 1.7mm, the same as AMD’s mobile Polaris 11 GPU, making it suitable for installation in relatively thin laptops.However between CES and today, AMD has been completely silent about the GPU. Even when I reached out to them I couldn’t get a solid answer, and to be perfectly honest, I had given up on seeing the GPU. Sometimes products hit too many problems, or can’t find interested customers; it happens. With everyone (sans Apple) already having their holiday 2018 products on store shelves, it seemed like AMD had all but missed their launch window, and with it, any real chance of adoption.Instead, as we now know, it will be making it to commercial products after all as an upgrade option for the 15-inch MacBook Pro. And while the lack of a shipping date for the new models is not especially confidence-inspiring given everything else that has been going on, none the less I have to admit that I was premature in giving up on AMD.The flip side to this however is that because the first Vega Mobile SKUs are going into Apple products, AMD has limited what they’re saying about the products, as is traditional for Apple suppliers. So while the company is proud to announce the part – they even have a short video showing it off – specific details are a bit thinner. As a result, the following is a mix of details from AMD and some guesses on my part.AMD Radeon GPU ComparisonVega 12Vega 10"Vega M"Polaris 10Polaris 11CUs20
Apple Launches New Mac Mini: Up to 6 Cores, 64 GB RAM, 2 TB SSD, & TB3
Apple on Tuesday introduced its first new small form-factor PC in four years. The new Mac mini is based on Intel’s latest Coffee Lake processors with up to six cores and improves the SFF system in almost all ways possible, making the miniature PC almost as capable as regular desktops. With that said, the considerably higher performance enabled by the new Mac mini also comes at higher price points when compared to the predecessors.Apple’s Mac mini desktops are designed for SOHO market segment as well as everyday workloads that normally do not require very capable hardware. Meanwhile, historically Apple used mobile processors for its Mac mini, which the company found good enough for the market segment. With its 2018 SFF desktops Apple is changing the game here: the company now calls its Mac mini a “workhorse” and therefore uses Intel’s custom 8 Gen Core CPUs with four or six cores operating at 4.6 GHz Turbo Boost frequency. In a bid to cool the processor down, Apple uses a brand-new cooling system featuring a blower.To bring the Mac mini even closer to fully-fledged desktop workstations, the new PCs are outfitted with up to 64 GB of DDR4-2666 memory, up to 2 TB SSD, four Thunderbolt 3 ports to connect an external graphics adapter, a storage system, or an Ultra-HD display, as well as an optional 10 GbE NIC that we expect is based on Aquantia AQtion AQC107 silicon (since there are no other suitable controllers on the market). In addition, the new Apple Mac mini has the company’s T2 security chip for encrypted storage and secure boot. Meanwhile the system also has regular USB 3.0 Type-A ports, an HDMI 2.0 header, and a 3.5-mm audio connector for headphones.Apple’s new Mac mini systems start at $799 for a quad-core Core i3-based model outfitted with 8 GB of DRAM, and 128 GB of storage. Previously Apple’s entry-level Mac mini used to cost $499 - $599, enabling people in budget to tap into Apple’s Mac ecosystem. Meanwhile, once configuration of the new Mac mini is maxed out with 64 GB of DRAM, 2TB of storage, and a hex-core processor, its price skyrockets to $4,199.Apple Mac mini Brief SpecificationsMac mini 2018CPUIntel Core i3
Apple Announces 2018 MacBook Air: Entry-Level Laptop Gets Essential Refresh
This morning at a keynote in New York City, Apple took the wraps off of their latest notebook update, the 2018 MacBook Air. The entry-level member of Apple’s laptop lineup is finally getting a much-anticipated redesign, which is seeing the laptop adopt most of the same design characteristics and technologies as Apple’s other laptops, including TouchID and Apple’s T2 controller. Still coming in with a 13.3-inch screen – and now in Retina – the laptop will be shipping on November 7.
Apple Announces New 11" and 12.9" iPad Pros with A12X SoC
Today at Apple’s Special Event in New York, among other things such as the a new release of a new Macbook Air and a new Mac Mini, Apple has taken the opportunity to do a refresh of its iPad Pro line-up, releasing the successors to 2017’s summer devices.The new iPads succeed both the 2017 10.5” as well as 12.9” models, and Apple describes the new units as the most significant iPad update ever, pushing the envelope of what is possible inside of a tablet device, along with a brand new design.Apple iPad Pro ComparisoniPad Pro 10.5"