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Updated 2017-05-27 08:00
Lenovo’s Legion Gets Bigger with Y920: 17-inch G-SYNC, Core i7-K, GTX 1070, TB3
Lenovo has expanded its lineup of Legion-branded gaming laptops with a model that features a 17” display, powerful audio, a mechanical keyboard, and an overclocking-capable Intel Core i7 microprocessor. The company positions its new gaming notebook for those who need maximum performance in a portable form-factor and will want to perform additional performance tuning.For the better part of its history, Lenovo has focused primarily on mainstream and business PCs in a bid to drive volume and become one of the largest suppliers of computers in the world. However, as sales of PCs stagnated or dropped in the recent years, Lenovo has had to find a new source for its growth. One angle to this is when the company started to build gamers-friendly machines. At first they were released under the Y-series, such as the Y-700, but earlier this year Lenovo introduced its gaming PC brand: the Legion. So far, the Legion lineup has included only two 15.6” laptop models — the Legion Y520 and the Legion Y720. This month, the company is rolling out a considerably more powerful addition to the series, the Legion Y920 with a larger screen and better hardware, targeting the higher-end segment of the gaming laptop market. The Legion Y920 may not be addressing the ultra-premium part of the market, but the machine demonstrates a clear trend where Lenovo is going with its gaming notebooks.The Lenovo Legion Y920 is equipped with a 17” FHD display with NVIDIA’s G-Sync and is powered by Intel’s Core i7-7820HK or Core i7-7700HQ processor (depending on exact SKU). The former processor features unlocked multiplier and thus can be overclocked rather easily as long as it has sufficient cooling. The laptop comes with 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, it uses NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1070 graphics adapter with 8 GB of GDDR5 memory as well as a 512 GB PCIe SSD and/or a 1 TB 2.5” HDD. As for connectivity, the Legion Y920 is equipped with one Thunderbolt 3 port, Rivet Networks’ Killer 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi and GbE, four USB 3.0 Type-A headers, a card reader, an HDMI header as well as a DisplayPort.Meanwhile, two features of the Y920 that Lenovo is especially proud of are the audio sub-system featuring two JBL speakers and a subwoofer that carries the Dolby Home Theatre badge as well as an RGB LED-backlit mechanical keyboard.Lenovo Legion Y920i7-7700HQi7-7820KDisplay17.3" IPS panel with 1920×1080 resolution and 75 Hz refreshCPUCore i7-7700HQ (4C/8T, 6 MB, 2.8/3.8GHz)Core i7-7820HK (4C/8T, 8 MB, 2.9/3.9GHz)GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 with G-Sync supportRAM16 GB DDR4StorageUp to 512 GB SATA SSD
NVIDIA Announces GeForce MX150: Entry-Level Pascal for Laptops, Just in Time for Computex
This morning NVIDIA has taken the wraps off of a new video card for laptops, the GeForce MX150. Aimed at the entry-level market for discrete GPUs – that is, laptops that need performance only a bit above an integrated GPU – the MX150 is NVIDIA’s Pascal-based successor to the previous 930M/940M series of laptop adapters that have been in computers over the last couple of years. Today’s reveal is undoubtedly tied to next week’s Computex trade show, so we should expect to see a number of laptops using the new adapter announced in the coming days.From a technical perspective, details on the GeForce MX150 are very limited. Traditionally NVIDIA does not publish much in the way of details on their low-end laptop parts, and unfortunately the MX150’s launch isn’t any different. We’re still in the process of shaking down NVIDIA for more information, but what usually happens in these cases is that these low-end products don’t have strictly defined specifications. At a minimum, OEMs are allowed to dial in clockspeeds to meet their TDP and performance needs. However in prior generations we’ve also seen NVIDIA and OEMs use multiple GPUs under the same product name – mixing in GM107 and GM108, for example – so there’s also a strong possibility that will happen here as well.Officially, all NVIDIA says about the new video card is that it uses GDDR5 and that it offers around 33% better performance than the GeForce 940MX, a (typically) GM108-based product. Based on the market segment and NVIDIA’s recent activities in the desktop space, the “baseline” MX150 is without a doubt GP108, NVIDIA’s entry-level GPU that was just recently launched in the GeForce GT 1030 for desktops. Information about this chip is limited, but here’s my best guess for baseline MX150 specifications.Best Guess: NVIDIA Laptop Video Card Specification ComparisonTypical MX150Typical 940MXCUDA Cores384?384ROPs168Boost ClockVariableVariableMemory TypeGDDR5GDDR5/DDR3Memory Bus Width64-bit?64-bitVRAM<=2GB<=2GBGPUGP108?GM108Manufacturing ProcessTSMC 16nmTSMC 28nmLaunch Date05/26/201703/2016The limited 33% performance improvement over the existing 940MX comes as a bit of a surprise, but it makes sense within the context of the specifications. Relative to a GDDR5 940MX, the MX150 does not have a significant specification advantage over the aforementioned 940MX, with the same number of CUDA cores and similar memory bandwidth. The one stand-out here is ROP throughput, which doubles thanks to GP108’s higher ROP count.Ultimately what this means is that most of MX150’s performance advantage over the 940MX comes from clockspeed improvements, with a smaller uptick from architectural gains. The counterpoint to that is that these are entry-level laptop parts that are frequently going to be paired with 15W Intel U-series CPUs, so vendors are going to play it safe on clockspeeds in order to maximize energy efficiency. NVIDIA does advertise these GPUs as offering multiple times the performance of Intel’s HD 620 iGPU, however given the higher power consumption of the GPU, I’m more curious how things would compare against Intel’s 28W Iris Plus 650 configurations.Owing to OEM configurability and general NVIDIA secrecy, NVIDIA does not publish official TDPs for these parts. But it’s interesting to note that while performance has only gone up 33%, NVIDIA is claiming that power efficiency/perf-per-watt has tripled. This strongly implies that NVIDIA’s baseline specifications for the product are favoring TDP over significant clockspeed gains, so I’m very interested to see what the real-world TDPs are going to be like. 940MX was a 20-30W part (depending on who you asked and what GPU they used), so with the jump from 28nm to 16nm, NVIDIA should have a good bit of room for drawing down TDPs. Though ultimately what this may mean is that MX150 is closer to a 930M(X) replacement than a 940M(X) replacement if we’re framing things in terms of power consumption.Otherwise, as a GP108 part this is the Pascal architecture we’ve all come to know and love. Relative to NVIDIA’s desktop parts, this is actually a more substantial upgrade, as the previous 930M/940M parts were based on NVIDIA’s Maxwell 1-generation GM108 GPUs, and not the newer Maxwell 2 GM2xx series. The difference being that these earlier parts lacked the DirectX feature level 12_1, HDMI 2.0, and low-level performance optimizations (e.g. newer color compress) that we better know the Maxwell family for. So while MX150 isn’t meant for serious gaming laptops, it has a much richer feature set to draw from for both rendering and media tasks. CUDA road coders will likely also appreciate the fact that the newer part will offer CUDA compute capabilities much closer to NVIDIA’s current-generation server hardware, such as fine-grained preemption.Finally, like its predecessor, expect to see the GeForce MX150 frequently paired up with Intel’s U-series CPUs in ultrabooks. While this SKU isn’t strictly limited to slim form factors – and someone will probably put it into a larger device for good measure – it’s definitely how NVIDIA is positioning the part, as the GTX 1050 series is for larger devices. Also expect to see most (if not all) MX150 parts running in Optimus mode, which continues to be a strong selling point for encouraging OEMs to include a dGPU.With Computex kicking off next week, we should see a flurry of laptop announcements. Though not all of the relevant laptop announcements have gone out yet, NVIDIA’s announcement names Acer, Asus, Clevo, MSI, and HP as laptop vendors who will all be shipping MX150-equipped laptops. NVIDIA and their various partners will in turn hit the ground running here, as NVIDIA’s announcement notes that MX150-equipped laptops will begin shipping next month.
AMD Announces Ryzen AGESA Update: Enables Memory Clocks Up To DDR4-4000
Demonstrating their commitment to keep improving the AM4 platform, AMD has just published a suite of details about their upcoming AGESA firmware. Of particular interest here, the latest firmware is going to enhance memory overclocking and compability, as well as add a much needed virtualization-related feature.AGESA is an acronym for “AMD Generic Encapsulated System Architecture", and it is essentially the foundational code on which BIOS files for AM4 motherboards are built. When the Ryzen AM4 platform was launched back in March, the early AGESA versions lacked a lot of the core capabilities and settings that we have come to expect from a modern platform. As a result, motherboard manufacturers did not have a lot to work with when it came to creating feature-rich custom BIOSes for their own motherboards. Since then AMD has been pretty vocal and proactive about fixing any bugs, opening up new BIOS features, and improving overclocking.With this new AGESA version, AMD has added 26 new memory-related parameters. The most dramatic improvement is the significant expansion of memory speed options. If we exclude base block overclocking - which relatively few motherboards support - the AM4 platform has thus far been effectively limited to memory speeds of DDR4-3200. Not only that, but the supported range of options from DDR4-1866 to DDR4-3200 was in large 266MT/s increments. With AGESA, memory frequencies have not only been expanded all the way up to DDR4-4000, but between DDR4-2667 and DDR4-4000 the increments have been reduced to 133MT/s. Not only does this mean that more memory kits will be able to be run at their rated speed - and not get kicked down to the nearest supported speed - but it also significantly reduces the high-speed memory gap that the AM4 platform had with Intel's mainstream LGA1151 platform.The other important announcement is the unlocking of about two dozen memory timings. Up until now, only five primary memory timings have been adjustable and there wasn't even a command rate option, which was natively locked to the most aggressive 1T setting. All of this should help improve overclocking and most importantly compatibility with the large swathe of DDR4 memory kits that have largely been engineered with Intel platforms in mind.The last addition should excite those interested in virtualization. AMD has announced "fresh support" for PCI Express Access Control Services (ACS), which enables the ability to manually assign PCIe graphics cards within IOMMU groups. This should be a breath of fresh air to those who have previously tried to dedicate a GPU to a virtual machine on a Ryzen system, since it is a task that has thus far been fraught with difficulties.AMD has already distributed the AGESA to its motherboard partners, so BIOS updates should be available starting in mid to late June. Having said that, there are apparently beta versions currently available for the ASUS Crosshair VI and GIGABYTE GA-AX370-Gaming 5.Related Reading
Fractal Design Unveils Focus G Series Cases
Fractal Design has just launched two new cases under the banner of the new Focus G series. The Focus G is a standard ATX mid-tower, while the Focus G Mini features a more compact footprint and is intended for Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX builds. While both models will be offered in black, the larger Focus G will also be offered in white and a brand new choice of Gunmetal Gray, Mystic Red, and Petrol Blue. This multiple color option is a first for Fractal Design.The Focus G series is manufactured using a combination of steel and plastic as you would expect from a cost-conscious case series. What you wouldn't necessarily expect in 2017 are the two external 5.25” drive bays. Size and color differences aside, these two models are effectively twins and they share numerous key features.Both cases have a large side panel window, removeable and vibration dampened storage drive bays, 18mm to 25mm of cable routing room behind the motherboard tray, and a front I/O panel that includes one USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, and two audio jacks. When it comes to fans, both models have a total of six 120mm fan mounts, four of which can also hold 140mm fans (three on the Focus G Mini). There are removable dust filters everywhere but the rear. Fractal Design has included two front-mounted Silent Series LL 120mm LED fans that glow white light through the front mesh.Fractal Design Focus G SeriesFocus GFocus G MiniMotherboard SizeATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITXMicro-ATX, Mini-ITXDrive BaysExternal--Internal2 × 2.5" or 3.5" and 1 × 2.5"2 × 2.5" or 3.5" and 1 × 2.5"AIB BaysInternal7, up to 380 mm cards are supported4, up to 380 mm cards are supportedCoolingFront2 × 120 mm or 2 × 140 mm2 × 120 mm or 1 × 140 mmRear1 × 120 mm1 × 120 mmTop2 × 120 mm or 2 × 140 mm2 × 120 mm or 2 × 140 mmMiddle--Bottom1 × 120 mm1 × 120 mmRadiator SupportFront1 × 120/240 mm or 140/280 mm1 × 120/240 mm or 140 mmRear1 × 120 mm1 × 120 mmTop1 × 240 mm1 × 240 mmMiddle--Bottom--I/O Port1 × USB 2.0
Lian Li Launches PC-T70 Test Bench
Lian Li has been one of the few large case manufacturers to consistently offer test benches over the years, and they have now launched their newest model, the PC-T70. First unveiled at CES 2017, this new test bench was developed with feedback from PC hardware reviewers and it has been designed with an eye towards easy access and simple hardware swapping. There is also an optional accessory kit that encloses the test bench with an acrylic cover, which simulates a closed-air environment and allows for testing conditions that more closely match a regular closed case. For those who would rather have the whole kit from the start, Lian Li will also be offering the PC-T70FX, which comes with the acrylic cover and side panels included.Starting off with the fundamentals, the PC-T70 is manufactured from both aluminium and steel and it is available in both black and white. It can handle motherboards ranging from Micro-ATX to E-ATX, and it has eight expansion slots that support cards up to 330mm in length, though longer cards should be fine as well if you don't install the acrylic cover. There is one small and six large pass-through ports that are used to cleanly route cables to the lower half. The bottom chamber can handle one ATX power supply up to 330mm in length, and it is also where you can install your choice of either five 2.5” and one 3.5” storage drives or one 2.5” and two 3.5” storage drives. There is also mounting space for some liquid cooling hardware, namely an up to 360mm radiator, a reservoir, and a pump. The front of the test bench features a small I/O area consisting of a 3.5mm audio input, a 3.5mm audio output, two USB 3.0 ports, and both power and reset buttons.If you have more advanced cooling needs, or if you're a reviewer that wants to be able to simulate a closed-air case environment, the T70-1 option kit is an accessory ​that is going to be of great interest:As mentioned above, the optional T70-1 upgrade kit encloses the test bench with an acrylic cover and side panels that serve as radiator mounts. The idea is that by enclosing the motherboard and other heat-generating components, reviewers will be able to simulate closed-air case environments that are more representative of the insides of regular PC cases. This should ensure more accurate testing of both thermals and acoustics. It should be mentioned that with the cover installed, CPU cooler height is reduced from an effectively unlimited height down to 180mm. Magnetic strips help secure the cover and keep it closed during transport.Also helping to secure the cover are the panels that enclose the side and back of the test bench. The aluminium side panels feature large cutouts with removable dust filters, and that is because each side panel can hold two 120-140mm fans or a single 240-280mm radiator. The rear panel has mounting holes for one additional 120mm or 140mm fan.The PC-T70FX model, which includes the T70-1 option kit, is available right now at Newegg.com for $180 USD. It is unclear if the solo PC-T70 will be available for sale in the future, though we suspect that it will because it has its own product page on Lian Li's website.Gallery: Lian Li PC-T70 Test BenchRelated Reading
MSI Announces the Z270 GODLIKE GAMING Motherboard
MSI has been teasing this new motherboard for a number of weeks, and today they have finally announced the Z270 GODLIKE GAMING. This subtly named model is the new flagship Intel Z270-based motherboard in MSI's Gaming series, and thus displaces the well-reviewed Z270 Gaming M7.Though now officially unveiled, MSI did not provide an extensive specifications breakdown for this new model. However, certain elements can be deduced just by looking at the motherboard itself. First and foremost, given its unusually large width, this is clearly an Extended ATX form factor model. This is most evident if you look at the amount of PCB space between the DDR4 memory slots and the edge of the motherboard. In that top-right corner you will also notice a debug LED, power and reset buttons, and the familiar MSI Game Boost Knob.The Z270 GODLIKE appears to have good storage connectivity, with one U.2 port, six SATA 6Gb/s ports, one USB 3.1 Gen2 header, two USB 3.0 headers, and three USB 2.0 headers. The triple M.2 slots with M.2 Shields are obviously one of the defining features of this new model. There are four steel-reinforced mechanical PCIe x16 slots, as well as a single PCIe x1 slot. The onboard audio duties are handled by the new AUDIO BOOST 4 XTREME implementation, which features fully isolated audio circuitry, an ESS DAC, and two audio CODECs that will allow gamers the option of using headphones and speakers at the same time.As you would expect on a gaming motherboard released in 2017, MSI's Mystic Light RGB LED lightning feature has clearly found its way to the Z270 GODLIKE GAMING. There are fifteen RGB LEDs spread throughout the motherboard, all of which can be independently controlled, along with a 4-pin header that can power an LED light strip. Thanks to the Mystic Light Sync integration, the included Phanteks Rainbow Strip can be made to match the colors and effects of the onboard RGB LEDs. This same sync concept applies to any future Mystic Light Sync compatible products.One interesting development is that the Z270 GODLIKE Gaming is going to be first motherboard to utilize the brand new ASMedia ASM3142 USB 3.1 Gen2 host controller. While we don't know much about the new controller, it is the clear successor to the ASM2142, which was the first USB 3.1 Gen2 controller connected with two PCIe 3.0 lanes and thus capable of handling up to 16Gb/s. ASMedia claims that the new ASM3142 controller will not only improve performance, but consume at least 50% less power than previous USB controllers. The performance claims are interesting, since the ASM2142 already had a pretty solid performance advantage over the Intel Alpine Ridge controllers.Another industry first - and apparently an exclusive feature - is the inclusion of Rivet's new Killer xTend technology. By combining the network capabilities of three Killer E2500 LAN controllers and an onboard Killer Wireless-AC 1535 WiFi module, Killer xTend essentially turns the motherboard into both a network switch and a Wi-Fi extender. How these network expansion capabilities work for a wired setup is that one of the three ethernet ports act as a WAN port - in other words the internet input - while the other two act as conventional LAN ports to which you can connect other PCs or even gaming consoles. The Wi-Fi module can be used to wirelessly connect the primary gaming PC to the internet, or as a 867Mbps wireless link to the other PCs/connected devices when using a wired internet connection, or it can even handle both wireless connections when acting as a Wi-Fi range extender. This removes the need to purchase additional networking hardware, simplifies configuration, and of course prioritizes traffic to the Killer-powered gaming PC over that of other connected devices.We have no word with regard to pricing or availability, but we definitely expect additional information at Computex 2017.
NVMe 1.3 Specification Published With New Features For Client And Enterprise SSDs
The first major update to the NVMe storage interface specification in almost two and a half years has been published, standardizing many new features and helping set the course for the SSD market. Version 1.2 of the NVMe specification was ratified in November 2014 and since then there have been numerous corrections and clarifications but the only significant new feature added were the enterprise-oriented NVMe over Fabrics and NVMe Management Interface specifications. The NVMe 1.3 specification ratified last month and published earlier this month brings many new features for both client and server use cases. As with previous updates to the standard, most of the new features are optional but will probably see widespread adoption in their relevant market segments over the next few years. Several of the new NVMe features are based on existing features of other storage interfaces and protocol such as eMMC and ATA. Here are some of the most interesting new features:Device Self TestsMuch like the SMART self-test capabilities found on ATA drives, NVMe now defines an optional interface for the host system to instruct the drive to perform a self test. The details of what is tested are left up to the drive vendor, but drives should implement both short (no more than two minutes) and extended self tests that may include reading and writing to all or part of the storage media but must preserve user data and the drive must remain operational during the test (either by performing the test in the background or by pausing the test to service other IO requests). For the extended test, drives must offer an estimate of how long the test will take and provide a progress indicator during the test.Boot PartitionsBorrowing a feature from eMMC, NVMe 1.3 introduces support for boot partitions that can be accessed using a minimal subset of the NVMe protocol, without requiring the host to allocate and configure the admin or command queues. Boot Partitions are intended to reduce or eliminate the need for the host system to include another storage device such as a SPI flash to store the boot firmware (such as a UEFI implementation). Drives implementing the Boot Partition feature will include a pair of boot partitions to allow for safe firmware updates that write to the secondary partition and verify the data before swapping which partition is active.The boot partition feature is unlikely to be useful or ever implemented on user-upgradable drives, but it provides an opportunity for cost savings in embedded systems like smartphones and tablets, which are increasingly turning to NVMe BGA SSDs for high-performance storage. The boot partitions can also be made tamper resistant using the Replay Protected Memory Block feature that was introduced in NVMe 1.2.SanitizeThe new optional Sanitize feature set is another import from other storage standards; it is already available for SATA and SAS drives. The Sanitize command is an alternative to existing secure erase capabilities that makes stronger guarantees about data security by ensuring that user data is not only removed from the drive's media but from all of its caches, and the Controller Memory Buffer (if supported) is also wiped. The Sanitize command also lets the host be more explicit in specifying how the data is destroyed: through block erase operations, overwriting, or destroying the encryption key. (Drives may not support all three methods.) Current NVMe SSDs offer secure erase functionality through the Format NVM command, which exists primarily to support switching the block format from eg. 512 byte sectors to 4kB sectors, but can also optionally perform a secure erase in the process. While the Format NVM command's scope can be restricted to a particular namespace attached to the NVMe controller, the Sanitize command is always global and wipes the entire drive (save for boot partitions and the replay protected memory block, if implemented).VirtualizationPrevious versions of the NVMe specification allowed for controllers to support virtualization through Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) but left the implementation details unspecified. Version 1.3 introduces a standard virtualization feature set that defines how SR-IOV capabilities can be configured and used. NVMe SSDs supporting the new virtualization enhancements will expose a primary controller as a SR-IOV physical function and one or more secondary controllers as SR-IOV virtual functions that can be assigned to virtual machines. (Strictly speaking, drives could implement the NVMe virtualization enhancements without supporting SR-IOV, but this is unlikely to happen.) The SSDs will have a pool of flexible resources (completion queues, submission queues and MSI-X interrupt vectors) that can be allocated to the drive's primary or secondary controllers.The NVMe virtualization enhancements greatly expand the usefulness of the existing NVMe namespace management features. So far, drives supporting multiple namespaces have been quite rare so the namespace features have mostly applied to multipath and NVMe over Fabrics use cases. Now, a single drive can use multiple namespaces to partition its storage among several virtual controllers assigned to different VMs, with the potential for namespaces to be exclusive or shared among VMs, all without requiring any changes to the NVMe drivers in the guest operating systems and without requiring the hypervisor to implement its own volume management layer.Namespace Optimal IO BoundaryNVMe allows SSDs to support multiple sector sizes through the Format NVM command. Most SSDs default to 512-byte logical blocks but also support 4kB logical blocks, often with better performance. However, for flash-based SSDs, neither common sector size reflects the real page or block sizes of the underlying flash memory. Nobody is particularly interested in switching to the 16kB or larger sector sizes that would be necessary to match page sizes of modern 3D NAND flash, but there is potential for better performance if operating systems align I/O to the real page size. NVMe 1.3 introduces a Namespace Optimal IO Boundary field that provides exactly this performance hint to the host system, expressed as a multiple of the sector size (eg. 512B or 4kB).Directives and StreamsThe new feature that may prove to have the biggest long-term impact is NVMe's Directives support, a generic framework for the controller and host system to exchange extra metadata in the headers of ordinary NVMe commands. For now, the only type of directive supported for ordinary IO commands is the Streams directive. Defined only for write commands, the streams directive allows the host to tag operations as related, such as originating from the same process or virtual machine. This serves as a hint to the controller about how to store that data on a physical level. For example, if multiple streams are actively writing simultaneously, the controller would probably want to write data from each stream contiguously rather than interleave writes from multiple streams into writes to the same physical page erase block. This can lead to more consistent write performance for multithreaded workloads, better prefetching for reads, and lower write amplification.Non-Operational Power State Permissive ModeNVMe power management is far more flexible than what SATA drives support. NVMe drives can declare several different power states including multiple operational and non-operational idle states. The drive can provide the host with information about the maximum power draw in each state, the latency to enter and leave each state, and the relative performance of the various operational power states. For drives supporting the optional Autonomous Power State Transitions feature (APST) introduced in NVMe 1.1, the host system can in turn provide the drive with rules about how long it should wait before descending to the next lower power state. NVMe 1.3 provides two significant enhancements to power management. The first is a very simple but crucial switch controlling whether a drive in an idle state may exceed the idle power limits to perform background processing like garbage collection. Battery-powered devices seeking to maximize standby time would likely want to disable this permissive mode. Systems that are not operating under strict power limits and are merely trying to minimize unnecessary power use without prohibiting garbage collection would likely want to enable permissive mode rather than leave the drive in a low-power operational state.Host Controlled Thermal ManagementThe second major addition to the NVMe power management feature set is Host Controlled Thermal Management. Until now, the temperatures at which NVMe SSDs engage thermal throttling have been entirely model-specific and are not exposed to the host system. The new host controlled thermal management feature allows the host system to specify two temperature thresholds at which the drive should perform light and heavy throttling to reduce the drive's temperature. Most of the details of thermal throttling are still left up to the vendor, including how the drive's various temperature sensors are combined to form the Composite Temperature that the thresholds apply to, and the hysteresis of the throttling (how far below the threshold the temperature must fall before throttling ceases). Drives will continue to include their own built-in temperature limits to prevent damage, but now compact machines like smartphones, tablets and ultrabooks can prevent their SSD from raising other components to undesirable temperatures.
A 15.6-inch USB-C Monitor: The ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC Ready To Launch
After we wrote a news post on the AOC I1659FWUX USB monitor, many of the commenters lamented the fact that the AOC was both thick and heavy, while others said that they wished that it used a more modern connector for power and video transmission, like USB Type-C. As luck would have it, one such product is about to hit the market. Although unveiled all the way back at IFA 2016, the ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC looks to be ready for release and it is still very appealing in many respects.The MB16AC is a 15.6-inch USB monitor with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a conventional refresh rate of 60Hz. It features an IPS panel without an anti-glare coating, a brightness of 220 cd/m2, and a contrast ratio of 800:1. We have no information with regard to response time or viewing angles, but given the IPS panel and the intended usage the viewing angles should be pretty decent.Since this product is designed to be highly portable, there has clearly been a lot of focus on keeping the dimensions as compact as possible. For starters, thanks to a sturdy metal rear cover with a concentric circle finish, ASUS has been able to make the MB16AC remarkably thin at only 8.0mm. The metal construction also allowed them to reduce the bezels surrounding the display to a relatively narrow 6.5mm. The overall effect of the compact dimensions is that this is also a very lightweight USB monitor, weighing in at svelte 780 grams.The included synthetic leather ASUS Smart Case is 1mm thick and not only helps protect the monitor from dust and scratches, but is claimed to be ergonomically designed to hold the MB16AC in both landscape and portrait orientation. If you don't want to use the case, the display can also be propped up in either orientation by simply inserting the included ZenScreen pen or any pen into the little hole in the corner of the monitor. The built-in auto-rotation feature should eliminate the need for any manual intervention.Like many other portable monitors, the ZenScreen MB16AC only requires a single USB connection for both power and video transmission. However, this model features a hybrid USB Type-C port that not only supports DisplayPort over USB-C, but is also fully compatible with USB 3.0 Type-A ports thanks to an included USB-C to USB-A cable and a driver. Power consumption is listed as 8W or less on average, which is fine for a USB Type-C port, but that load will probably need to be split across two USB 3.0 Type-A ports.ASUS ZenScreen MB16ACProduct PageLinkPanel15.6" IPSNative Resolution1920 × 1080 (16:9)Maximum Refresh Rate60 HzResponse TimeN/ABrightness220 cd/m²Contrast800:1Viewing AnglesN/APixel Density141 pixels per inchDisplay ColorsN/AStandN/AInputs1 × USB Type-C (USB-C or USB 3.0 signal)Dimensions359.7mm x 226.4mm x 8.0mm (WxHxD)Weight0.78 kgPriceN/AThere is also a host of screen overlay functions, like a crosshair, timer, alignment grid, and photo modes. Last but not least, there is the ASUS Eye Care technology that is designed to combine flicker reduction and a blue light filter to reduce eye fatigue.We have no firm details with regard to pricing or availability, but Netherlands-based online retailer Redable.nl expects stock as early as May 29th, while US-based B&H Photo Video lists expected availability on July, 2017. There is also a product listing on Amazon.com that says "Temporarily out of stock".Gallery: ASUS ZenScreen MB16AC Related Reading
The 140mm Slim Tower CPU Cooler Roundup: Thin & Light Done Just Right
In today's review we are having a look at four popular “slim” type 140 mm tower coolers from Noctua, Phanteks, Thermalright and Be Quiet! How do their thermal and acoustics performance compare to both their larger dual-tower counterparts, and against low-cost and stock coolers? Let's find out!
Microsoft Announces The New Surface Pro: Refined with Kaby Lake
This morning in Shanghai, China, Microsoft announced the latest generation of their Surface Pro tablet. The numbering system is gone, and it’s back to just Surface Pro, but the latest generation is a long way from the original Surface Pro that came out in 2013, and it’s a design that they’ve now morphed into its fifth incarnation. Clearly they are pretty happy with the form factor, since Surface Pro hasn’t had a huge change in design since the Surface Pro 3 launched with the 3:2 display. Microsoft has had a lot of success with Surface Pro, but the previous generation Surface Pro 4 launched way back in October 2015, so this new model has been anticipated for a while.Despite the Surface Pro still offering the same 12.3-inch PixelSense display as its predecessor, Microsoft says that there are over 800 new custom parts inside, and they’ve managed to use up 99% of the interior of the tablet to pack it with new cooling, battery, and performance. The Surface Pro 4, despite being launched 580 days ago on October 21, 2015, was still the tablet to beat in this space, with a fantastic display, impressive performance, solid battery life, a great keyboard, pen support, and a brilliant design. It felt long in the tooth because it was, but what was available was still a solid system. The issue any company offering a system like this is that people know there will be a new version, it’s only a matter of when, so once Kaby Lake was launched, it would have been tough to recommend someone run out and buy a Surface Pro 4 since there had to be a new model coming soon. Well, it didn’t exactly come soon, but it’s here now, so let’s look at what’s new.Microsoft Surface ProProcessorIntel Core m3-7Y30 (2C/4T, 1.0-2.6GHz, 4MB L3, 14nm, 4.5w)
Corsair Unveils T1 RACE Gaming Chair: Five Colors, $350
Over the years, Corsair has managed to carve a niche for itself as a purveyor of just about every PC gaming-related peripheral imaginable. That product line expands a little more with the announcement of their first gaming chair, the T1 RACE. Said to be inspired by racing seats, and placing an emphasis on comfort and durability, this new model comes with a visual flair thanks to a choice of five different color accents.The T1 RACE is manufactured with a steel frame and dense foam cushions that are highly contoured, which should provide ample padding and support. Included are some removable neck and lumbar pillows to help during long gaming sessions. All the seating surfaces are covered in a synthetic PU leather, and as mentioned above there is a choice of either black, blue, red, white, and yellow accents and matching stitching.The textured armrests provide four levels of adjustment, and the user can move them up or down, left or right, forwards or backwards, or even swivel them to the most comfortable position.The T1 RACE features a powerful steel class 4 gas lift for height adjustments, while the seat itself tilts up to 10° and can recline up to 180°, which means that the user can lie completely flat. The chair itself sits on a five wheel base, and the caster wheels are made from nylon should ensure smooth movement and scratch protection on just about any floor surface. On the back of headrest is an embroidered and lightly embossed CORSAIR logo.The goal behind gaming chairs is one with many accessories: do you spend $60 on a gaming mouse, or a headset? Do you spend $110 on a gaming keyboard or gaming glasses? Do you spend $350 on a gaming monitor or a gaming chair? The accessories market is one element that gaming focused vendors like on tying users in to living and breathing a particular brand.The T1 RACE Gaming Chair is available worldwide, and has a suggested retail price of $350 USD and a two-year warranty.Gallery: CORSAIR T1 RACE Gaming ChairRelated Reading
Western Digital Seeks To Intervene In Toshiba's Sale Of Memory Business
Western Digital, through its SanDisk subsidiary, is seeking arbitration to prevent Toshiba from selling off its stake in their flash memory joint venture without the consent of Western Digital. Toshiba has been suffering financially due to crippling losses incurred by its nuclear power division, and to offset those losses Toshiba has been working to sell off its memory business. Toshiba's memory business is one of the most successful parts of the company and the Toshiba-SanDisk flash memory joint venture is one of the four major manufacturers of NAND flash memory.When Toshiba announced in March their intentions to raise cash by selling a stake in their memory business, a bidding war emerged. Western Digital, Micron and SK Hynix all sought to expand their share of the NAND flash market, but Toshiba was reluctant to sell to a competitor, hoping to avoid a prolonged anti-trust regulatory approval process. The Japanese government also does not want to see the NAND flash business sold to a Chinese-controlled company. This left private equity firms as the bidders Toshiba was most receptive to, but other technology companies like Broadcom and Foxconn are bidding.After failing to meet their goal of selling a 20% stake by the end of March, and as revised estimates made it clear that 20% would not cover Toshiba's nuclear losses, Toshiba's plans shifted toward a complete spin-off and sale of their Toshiba Memory division. As of February, Toshiba valued this unit at around $18B. In late March it was reported that Broadcom and Silver Lake Partners had jointly bid to buy Toshiba Memory for about that amount, then in early April Foxconn reportedly offered $27B. Broadcom has since increased their bid to $28B. SK Hynix and Bain Capital are reported to be jointly bidding up to $13.5B for a majority stake in Toshiba Memory.The bids for Toshiba Memory have reached prices that are difficult but not necessarily impossible for Western Digital to match. Western Digital would need to fund an acquisition with significant debt, and other analysts have speculated that it may be better for Western Digital to pursue acquiring a majority stake in Toshiba Memory rather than a complete acquisition.Western Digital does have leverage in their preexisting relationship with Toshiba as co-owner of their flash memory joint venture. Western Digital is alleging that Toshiba is required to obtain Western Digital's consent before spinning off or selling Toshiba Memory, and that Toshiba's actions so far have violated their agreements with Western Digital. Western Digital has initiated arbitration proceedings against Toshiba, seeking to block further action without Western Digital's consent and to reverse the Toshiba Memory spin-off.These arbitration proceedings are undoubtedly a major frustration to Toshiba, who badly want to close a deal two months ago. Instead, they are now faced with complicated litigation over the terms of at least three joint venture agreements with SanDisk that are now controlled by Western Digital. So far, Toshiba does not appear to have responded to the arbitration demand and Western Digital claims that Toshiba has indicated they have no intention to obtain consent before selling Toshiba Memory to the highest bidder. It is not clear how long this dispute could take to settle, but there is an initial 30-day window for Toshiba to respond before the conflict escalates. If Toshiba does agree to Western Digital's arbitration request, estimates range from six months to two years for that process to resolve.By stalling or blocking competing bids, Western Digital seems to be running out the clock on Toshiba with the goal of forcing them to accept a bid from Western Digital that would not be able to win in an open auction. The longer Western Digital can prevent Toshiba from closing a deal, the more desperate Toshiba will get to raise enough cash to keep the company as a whole afloat. Western Digital has not said whether they will file for an injunction if Toshiba does not agree to participate in arbitration, so there is still a lot of uncertainty about how severe this dispute will get and how long it will last. Analysts at J.P. Morgan are optimistic about Western Digital's prospects in this dispute and are among several analysts to have upgraded their ratings of Western Digital in recent months.Despite the dispute over corporate ownership rights, the day to day operations of the Toshiba/Western Digital NAND joint venture have been largely unaffected. Both Toshiba and Western Digital are in the process of bringing products to market using their 64-layer 3D NAND flash, which has a lower cost per bit and much higher density than their 15nm planar NAND. Western Digital predicts that 40% of their wafer output this year will be 3D NAND and 75% of that will be the 64-layer generation. Due to the ongoing industry-wide NAND flash shortage, all of the NAND produced by Toshiba and Western Digital is quite profitable and the companies are being judicious in allocating supply to the most lucrative market segments. There has been some speculation that as the dispute escalates Toshiba might deny Western Digital employees access to their fabs in Yokkaichi, Japan, but Western Digital says Toshiba has not taken any such action and Western Digital employees are continuing to work alongside Toshiba employees in research and development, manufacturing, and testing.
Acer Predator Z35P Available for Order: Curved 35" with 3440×1440@120 Hz and G-Sync
Acer has quietly launched yet another curved ultra-wide Predator display for gamers seeking a large diagonal, a high resolution and an ultra-high refresh rate. The Predator Z35P resembles its predecessor launched a couple of years ago, but has a higher resolution and a better contrast ratio. The new monitor is available for pre-orders now.Acer’s Predator Z35 was one of the first large ultra-wide curved displays featuring a very high refresh rate when it was introduced in mid-2015. Its large dimensions, along with a 144-200 Hz refresh rate, and accompanied by NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology, made it well known among demanding gamers - but its resolution of 2560×1080 was not high enough. The relatively low resolution was justified by the fact that in 2015 only ultra-high-end graphics cards could hit 200 fps in demanding titles at 2560×1080. In the mean time, graphics cards have come a long way in two years and it is time for Acer’s large curved ultra-wide monitor to get a resolution upgrade.The new Acer Predator Z35P is based on a 35” VA panel offering a 3440×1440 resolution (2.39:1 aspect ratio), a maximum brightness of 300 nits, a 2500:1 contrast ratio, a 100 Hz refresh rate, 178°/178° viewing angles, a 4 ms response time, and 1800R curvature. According to TFT Central, the refresh rate of the panel can be overclocked from 100 Hz to 120 Hz, which is not as high as the 200 Hz possible on the original Z35, but which is well beyond what non-gaming monitors can offer.When it comes to connectivity, the Acer Predator Z35P monitor has one HDMI 1.4 port, a DisplayPort 1.2 port, four USB Type-A headers (with one USB-B input) and a 3.5-mm audio jack to drive two 9 W integrated speakers.Acer Predator Z35P SpecificationsZ35P bmiphz
AT20 Giveaway Day 20: Toshiba OCZ Remembers Why MLC SSDs Rock
After 19 days and 30 giveaways, the end is finally upon us. That’s right, today’s the 20 and final day of our 20 day giveaway celebration of AnandTech’s 20 anniversary. So if you haven’t already won something, today is your last chance to get a prize.Closing out our epic giveaway is the crew over at Toshiba OCZ. The prolific SSD vendor has had their ups and downs, and with recent products they’re definitely on an upswing. Meanwhile all the better for today’s lucky winners, thanks to the NAND flash shortage, good SSDs are now a hot commodity. To that end, for today’s giveaway we have OCZ’s top SATA and M.2 SSDs: a 1TB RD400, and a 512GB VX500.
Huawei Launches the MateBook E 2-in-1: The Next Generation
Today we’re in Berlin to cover Huawei’s launch of the new MateBook series. For this second generation, Huawei has on offer a 13-inch clamshell aimed at premium users, a 15.6-inch device for education and office use, and their next generation 2-in-1 called the MateBook E, aimed squarely at improving the design on their first attempt back in 2016. Perhaps somewhat ironically, because I left my main laptop charger at home, I’m writing this news on that 2016 model which I carry as my backup work device.The MateBook E: Surface Says Whaaaaat?When Huawei launched the 2016 MateBook, for a first attempt, it hit the market where it needed to. Much like other vendors when making their 2-in-1s, there was some design choices that seemed a little strange but Huawei had at least nailed the quintessential Huawei look, transferring the design ID from their top of the line Mate series smartphones, into a portable PC device. It was also Huawei’s first venture using Intel CPUs in a consumer device.What the MateBook E does, as the second-generation product, is fix those questionable points and bring everything up to the latest hardware. That means using the latest Kaby Lake-Y processors, adjusting what configurations sold the best, and giving a keyboard and hinge that users actually want. It’s a good step up from the 2016 MateBook for sure.Huawei Matebook ESize12-inchDisplay2160 x 1440
Huawei Launching Two New Clamshell Laptops: The MateBook X and the MateBook D
On the back of the launch of the MateBook last year, Huawei is launching a new generation using the latest hardware and diversifying the brand. As an upgrade from a single model last year, Huawei is expanding the MateBook like into three products. The MateBook X is a 13-inch ultraportable clamshell with a focus on style, thin bezels, and packing enough hardware underneath to go deep into the market. The MateBook E is the second generation 2-in-1, following on from the MateBook launched in 2016, with improvements all round, such as an adjustable hinge, a spill-proof keyboard, and bundled accessories. The third element is the MateBook D, a 15.6-inch clamshell aimed squarely at the student and business markets, featuring dual storage options and a discrete NVIDIA GPU but also going with the narrow bezel design similar to the MateBook X.Primarily seen as a smartphone company for most of us, last year we saw the launch of the MateBook: a 12-inch 2-in-1 device with Huawei’s design ID in a thin and light form factor, but crucially a mark into the PC space. At the time, it was exciting to see a new entrant, especially one with the potential clout of Huawei: if you sell 106m+ smartphones a year, then putting some resources into a mobile PC should be something really interesting to watch. The 2016 MateBook was a good start – the visual aspect of the unit fit in neatly with the market, although there were a few hiccups for a first-generation product, such as the limited stand options, the tendency for the magnetic cover to put the device to sleep when in tablet mode, and the fact that the peak configurations were over $2000. Feedback was sought, about how Huawei should improve the products and how it should tackle this market better, and here are the results. This news covers the two laptops: the MateBook X and the MateBook D.MateBook X: The Premium ClamshellA common feature for technology journalists in this space, especially when discussing products with Chinese companies, is how the discussion usually comes to Apple’s success in the laptop market. They are in awe of the design, the utility, and the avid fanboyism that follows their products. As a result, some of the Chinese companies aim to compete in the same space – having a small slice of a large pie is still a large amount, even if it is a carrot cake. So when a user spots the MateBook X, thoughts instantly turn to if it is a Macbook Air/Macbook clone. Not quite, but it arguably looks like a premium competitor for users who want the Macbook form factor but in a Windows/PC environment.The start of it is the aluminium clamshell, tapering to an almost point, with both the screen and the keyboard designed to try and take as much space as possible. One of the things Huawei wanted to emulate here is the thin bezel strategy, similar to the Dell XPS range, and coming in at 88% screen-to-body ratio is rather nice. There’s still a camera at the top, negating one of the issues with the XPS where the camera is pointing at your chin. The display is a 2160x1440 IPS panel (manufacturer not specified), with a 3:2 aspect ratio, wide viewing angles, and rated up to 1000:1 and 350 nits. Huawei also adds in 100% sRGB for good measure.Huawei Matebook XSize13-inchDisplay2160 x 1440 IPS
Huawei Matebook 2017 Launch Live Blog: Starts 2pm CEST (8am ET)
We're in Berlin today to cover the launch of Huawei's next generation of Matebook. Come back to this page at 8am ET for the Live Blog!
Lian Li Launches PC-O12 Mid-Tower: Three Chambers, E-ATX, LCS-Focused
Lian Li has started to sell its new PC-O12 chassis for high-performance gaming desktops. The new mid-tower computer case from the company has an unorthodox construction that allows fitting in motherboards that are in the E-ATX form-factor, as well as two vertically mounted graphics cards and up to eight storage devices in a 2.5-inch form-factor. Despite the focus on the premium aspect of the design, a peculiarity of the PC-O12 case design is that liquid cooling is designed to only be used on the CPU, and it supports no more than two add-in cards.Following the latest trends in PC building, the Lian Li PC-O12 has multiple compartments for different kinds of components as well as multiple windows made of tempered glass for everyone to see what is inside. With its new chassis, Lian Li decided to go above and beyond with the number of chambers: one houses the motherboard, another accommodates up to two vertically mounted graphics cards and the third one is where the PSU (up to 230 mm) and up to eight storage devices live. Three compartments in case of the Lian Li PC-O12 help to spread out multiple heat sources across the chassis, which somewhat simplifies cooling. What is important is that despite the triple-chamber design, the mid-tower case is not too wide for tall CPU coolers.Like many contemporary PC cases, the PC-O12 can accommodate motherboards in the Micro-ATX, ATX and E-ATX form-factors. Meanwhile, graphics cards have to be installed vertically using riser cables into a different compartment simply because there is no space for add-in boards in the primary one. A good news is that length of the graphics cards does not matter for the PC-O12 — everything up to 340 mm (and possibly longer) is supported, but this configuration naturally poses a challenge for users who use add-in cards besides graphics adapters. Moreover, if two video cards are used, it is impossible to install a high-end audio board or any other card - only two AIBs can be installed into the PC-O12.Yet another challenge presented by the relatively thin dual/triple-compartment design is cooling. The maximum height of the CPU cooler supported by the Lian Li PC-O12 is 75 mm, which means that for CPUs from the higher end of the product stack only liquid cooling can be used since all advanced air coolers are higher than 100 mm (Scythe’s Big Shuriken 2 is an exception, but it is unclear how well it is going to handle chips with TDP of well over 100 W). Meanwhile, there is a special compartment for a 360-mm LCS radiator on top of the chassis (which can also be used to install three 120-mm fans) as well as frames to install two 120-/140-mm fans for air intake on the front panel.Lian Li PC-O12Motherboard SizeATX, E-ATX, Micro-ATXDrive BaysExternal-Internal4 × 3.5" and 4 × 2.5"AIB BaysInternal2, up to 340 mm cards are supportedCoolingFront2 × 120 mm or 2 × 140 mmRear-Top3 × 120 mmMiddle-Bottom-Radiator SupportFront-Rear-Top1 × 360 mmMiddle-Bottom-I/O Port1 × USB-C 3.1
AT20 Giveaway Day 19.5: NZXT Pumps It Up
Taking us into our final AT20 afternoon giveaway is NZXT. The case, cooling, and peripherals company has made a name for themselves with their high-end gear, and this afternoon we’ll be giving some of it away. Altogether we have two prizes: the company’s S340 Elite case, and their 140mm Kraken X42 closed loop liquid cooler.
WD Adds Helium-Filled 10 TB NAS HDDs to WD Red, WD Red Pro Lineups
Western Digital has announced two new helium-filled hard drives targeting consumer and business NAS applications. The new WD Red and WD Red Pro HDDs increase capacity of WD’s NAS drives to 10 TB, boost their performance and also reduce their power consumption. Therefore, the new drives enable makers of NAS units to increase capacities of their products to 80 TB (or 160TB) while increasing speeds and cutting down power.After introducing its first hermetically sealed helium-filled NAS and video-surveillance HDDs with 8 TB capacity and six platters last year, Western Digital is refreshing its Red and Purple lineups with more advanced drives offering 10 TB capacity and using seven 1.42 TB platters. The new WD Red and WD Red Pro with 10 TB capacity are based on revamped 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM HelioSeal platforms that can support a higher number of platters. The drives also feature increased areal density and 256 MB of cache, enabling ~17% higher sequential read/write performance compared to its predecessors, as well as a lower power consumption compared to previous-gen helium WD Red hard drives. Other than that, Western Digital does not really disclose the feature set of its platform for helium-filled HDDs for NAS applications.The WD Pro 10 TB drive is engineered for personal or small business NAS systems with up to eight bays, is optimized for mixed workloads and has a 5400 RPM spindle speed. By contrast, the WD Red Pro 10 TB is aimed at medium business and enterprise-class NAS systems up to 16 bays, which is why the HDD features additional protection against vibrations as well as improved random read performance due to both 7200 RPM spindle speed and firmware tuning. Just like their predecessors, the new WD Red/WD Red Pro hard drives come with SATA 6 Gbps interface.Comparison of Western Digital's Helium-Filled NAS HDDsWD Red
Western Digital Launches HGST Ultrastar SS300 SSDs: 3D NAND for Data Centers
Western Digital has officially introduced its first data center-class SSDs using 3D NAND flash. The new HGST Ultrastar SS300 SSDs are designed for SAS applications with mixed workloads that demand drives with endurance but are not the highest performance possible. The new drives were co-developed with Intel, so they do not have various proprietary SanDisk technologies, such as the Guardian (as some previous-gen Ultrastar SS), but support numerous new features instead.The Ultrastar SS300 drives use Western Digital’s 64-layer 512/384 Gb 3D TLC/MLC NAND memory as well as a proprietary controller that was presumably co-designed with Intel. HGST does not disclose many details regarding the chip, but it might be the same controller that powers the recently launched Intel SSD DC P4500 and P4600 drives, albeit featuring a different configuration and a different firmware. From the feature set, the Ultrastar SS300 controller supports extended error correction code (ECC with a 1x10^-17 bit error rate) to enable higher performance and data integrity, exclusive-OR (XOR) parity (in case a whole NAND die fails) as well as parity-checked internal data paths. In addition, the Ultrastar SS300 complies with the T10 Data Integrity Field (DIF) standard, which requires all interconnect buses to have parity protection (on the system level), as well as a special power loss data management feature that does not use supercapacitors. Western Digital will offer various Ultrastar SS300 models with features like TCG encryption, TCG+FIPS, and instant secure erase to comply with different security requirements.The HGST Ultrastar SS300 SSDs are aimed at various market segments, including financial transactions, e-commerce, virtualization, database analytics, etc. that generate read-intensive and mixed-use workloads and thus need both performance and reliability. The new SSDs come in a 2.5”/15 mm form-factor with SAS 12 Gb/s interface and are drop-in compatible with existing servers. Meanwhile, when compared to direct predecessors, the Ultrastar SS200, the new SS300 offer similar capacities — from 400 GB to 7.68 TB, but the new drives excel the ancestors in most possible metrics (endurance, performance, power, etc.).When it comes to performance, the HGST Ultrastar SS300 features sequential read speeds of up to 2100 MB/s (+20% vs. the SS200) as well as sequential write speeds of up to 2050 MB/s (3D MLC, +105%) or 1250 MB/s (3D TLC, +25%). Random read performance of the Ultrastar SS300 is up to 400K (+60%), while random write performance is rated at 170-200K for 3D MLC-based performance/endurance-optimized models as well as 115K-130K for capacity-optimized 3D TLC-powered drives. Interestingly, in addition to 9 W and 11 W power envelopes supported by the predecessor, the SS300 also supports a 14 W mode that unlocks “additional performance capabilities” (i.e., IOPS) as well as an ultra-low power setting.HGST Ultrastar SS300 Series Specifications3D MLC NAND-Based3D TLC NAND-BasedCapacities400 GB
AT20 Giveaway Day 19: EVGA Is Never Board with Power
Good morning everyone. The AT20 giveaway series is nearly at an end. With today being day 19 of our 20 day giveaway celebration of AnandTech’s 20 anniversary, that means we only have 3 giveaways left! So let’s get down to business.For this morning’s giveaways, we have a pair of prizes from the always-excellent EVGA. The company is admittedly known best for their NVIDIA video cards, but for a number of years now the company has bene offering other products as part of a general effort to broaden their market, and those efforts are increasingly gaining traction. So for today’s giveaway we have an EVGA X99 FTW K motherboard, along with their SuperNOVA 850W G3 power supply.
Panasonic Recalls 280,000 Tablet Battery Packs Due to Fire Hazard
Panasonic this week announced a voluntary recall of batteries due to fire and burn hazards. The battery packs being recalled were used in one of its rugged tablets. In total, the company is recalling 280 thousand battery packs, after over a dozen of them encountered critical failures.Panasonic has discovered that some of the hot-swappable battery packs used in some of its rugged Toughpad FZ-G1 tablets (Mk1, Mk2 and Mk3-series) can short circuit after a prolonged use in extreme temperatures. The company said it had received 16 reports of combusted battery packs between March 2017 and April 2017, including 12 from customers in North America, one from a client in Japan and one owner from Australia. Panasonic plans to provide a free replacement battery to owners of affected tablets.Panasonic recommends owners of the Toughpad FZ-G1 systems (Mk1/2/3 versions only) to first identify whether they have a potentially affected tablet SKU (find the list here) by checking the backside of their tablets. If the SKU is affected, owners are asked to remove the battery and see whether this is indeed one of the models affected (FZ-VZSU84U, FZ-VZSU89U or FZ-VZSU96U) by removing the accumulator and checking its reverse side.Owners of systems featuring the battery packs are advised to download a firmware utility from Panasonic’s website that reduces charging from 4.2 to 4.0 volts and lowers the peak operating settings of the accumulator. After the new firmware is applied, customers are asked to contact Panasonic using a special email address or by phone, which will then arrange them a new battery (no need to return the old one).As makers of portable electronics are trying to make their products thinner and lighter while increasing capacity of their batteries to prolong their autonomous life, the number of problems with batteries has increased in the recent years. Since exploding, overheating or combusting batteries can damage property and/or cause injuries, manufacturers of notebooks, tablets and smartphones take them very seriously and recall hundreds of thousands of battery packs every year.Related Reading:
SK Hynix Advances Graphics DRAM: GDDR6 Added to Catalogue, GDDR5 Gets Faster
SK Hynix has added GDDR6 memory chips to its product catalogue, revealing their general specifications and launch timeframe sometimes in Q4 2017. As expected, the new GDDR6 ICs will be available late this year and will run at speeds not achievable by GDDR5. GDDR5 is not really going away as SK Hynix has added several new SKUs into the catalogue, targeting forthcoming applications.SK Hynix formally announced plans to produce GDDR6 in late April, so the addition of appropriate chips to the company’s databook does not really come as a surprise. The initial GDDR6 chips from SK Hynix will have an 8 Gb capacity and will feature 12 and 14 GT/s data transfer rates at 1.35 V. The new memory ICs will have a dual-channel 256Mx32 organization, which may indicate that GDDR6 chips will keep using 32-bit physical interface, but that I/O will operate as two 16-bit interfaces at all times to increase effective utilization of the bus (but this is a speculation at this point). The ICs will use 180-ball FCBGA packages and will thus be incompatible with existing GDDR5 and GDDR5X applications that use 170-ball and 190-ball form-factors, respectively.Specifications of SK Hynix's Upcoming
Western Digital Ships Client SSDs Based on 512 Gb 3D TLC NAND Chips
Last week Toshiba demonstrated the operation of its XG-series SSDs NVMe PCIe SSD based on the company’s 64-layer 512 Gb 3D NAND chips. What was left unnoticed is that Western Digital made several other important announcements regarding these ICs. First, WD said that it has started to ship both client and datacenter SSDs based on these chips commercially. Second, WD said that the vast majority of 3D NAND flash it produces this year would be 64-layer 3D NAND.64-Layer 3D NAND Is HereAs reported, both Western Digital and Toshiba started to ship samples of their co-developed 64-layer BiCS 512 Gb 3D TLC NAND chips to their customers earlier this year. The two companies did not formally announce any details about these chips except the most basic ones, so we still do not have any official information regarding the interface speed.Western Digital’s presentation at the ISSCC reveals that the 512 Gb 3D TLC NAND IC is a dual-plane design with a 132 mm die size. From density standpoint, Western Digital’s 512 Gb 3D TLC NAND IC is a little bit behind Samsung’s 64-layer 512 Gb 3D TLC flash chip (which has a die size of 128.5 mm, according to the company’s presentation at the same conference) that is also a dual-plane IC. Die size and density is one of the important metrics when it comes to the cost of any IC (others are yield, process technology, architecture, etc.) and for many reasons manufacturers do not openly publish it.Meanwhile, the difference between die sizes of 512 Gb 3D TLC NAND chips from Samsung and Toshiba/Western Digital is so small that it is not going to have a significant impact on costs.3D NAND Die Size ComparisonIMFTSamsungWD/Toshiba1st Gen2nd Gen1st Gen2nd Gen3rd Gen4th
AT20 Giveaway Day 18: NVIDIA SHIELDs You from the GeForces
Happy Friday everyone. We’re now on day 18 of our 20 day giveaway celebration of AnandTech’s 20 anniversary, making this our last Friday giveaway.Taking us into the weekend is the 800lb gorilla of the GPU world, NVIDIA. The currently uncontested holder of the GPU performance crown, for our giveaway the company has sent over a collection of their fastest Founders Edition cards. This includes two GeForce GTX 1060s, a GeForce GTX 1070, and the king of GeForces, the GTX 1080 Ti. Meanwhile not to be overshadowed, NVIDIA’s mobile division has sent over a prize of their own: the 2017 SHIELD TV Pro.
HP Launches Elite x2 1012 G2 2-in-1: 12.3-Inch Display, Kaby Lake, 1 TB SSD, 16 GB LPDDR3, TB3
HP has announced the second generation of its Elite x2 1012 2-in-1 detachable PC designed for commercial applications. The next-gen system not only gets more powerful Kaby Lake SoCs, but has also seen improvements across the board compared to its predecessor: it now has a larger display with a higher resolution and brightness, two times more DRAM, up to a 1 TB SSD, Thunderbolt 3, a higher-capacity battery, enhanced security features, and other advancements. Despite all the upgrades, HP has managed to maintain thin profile and low weight of the Elite x2 1012 G1.When it comes to Elite x2 systems, HP shares the “power of a notebook, flexibility of a tablet” philosophy and acts accordingly — equipping them with powerful hardware, but minding portability and keeping the weight of the tablet itself at around 800 grams. The company is positioning the Elite x2 1012 G2 as a fully-fledged replacement for executive laptops, so the new units feature notebook-class Core i5/i7 7000U-series CPUs and can be equipped with virtually every modern technology found in mobile PCs, including 4G LTE, WiGig, a fingerprint reader, Thunderbolt 3, an audio sub-system co-developed with Harman Kardon, and so on to make them suitable for various use cases. Moreover, the Elite x2 1012 G2 can be serviced quite easily — a benefit for experienced users and IT departments.At the same time, the Elite x2 is not designed for every possible application that is out there. For example, the systems lack smart card readers, which are required by some government agencies; they are also not equipped with NFC modules that various retailers may use. For those specific users, there's HP’s existing Pro x2, which was launched earlier this year. Furthermore, being equipped with Intel Core i5/i7-Y (KBL-Y) SoCs, the Pro x2 has no fans, whereas the Elite x2 G2 runs notebook SoCs with higher frequencies and improved iGPUs, which is why it's not a sealed systemInternally, the HP Elite x2 G2 is based on Intel’s Core i5/i7 7000U-series SoCs, which feature the Kaby Lake microarchitecture along with the HD Graphics 620 (16 EUs, Gen 9) iGPU. This is a clear improvement over the Elite x2 G1 that run SoCs with lower frequencies and with an iGPU with fewer EUs (12 EUs). The Elite x2 system comes with 16 GB of dual-channel LPDDR3 memory (not upgradeable) and an M.2 SSD with a SATA or PCIe interface and capacities ranging from 128 GB to 1 GB. When it comes to communication capabilities, the Elite x2 can be equipped with a selection of wireless controllers, from a “basic” 802.11ac 2×2 Wi-Fi + BT 4.2 controller to something more powerful with WiGig and/or 4G LTE. Among external ports, the Elite x2 G2 offers one Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) header for data, charging, external displays, etc.; one USB 3.0 Type-A; a microSD slot as well as a TRRS connector for headsets.Specifications of the Second Generation HP Elite x2HP Elite x2
The Microsoft Build 2017 Recap: What To Expect When You’re Expecting Windows
Microsoft’s Build conference is one of their most important shows of the year, with a developer focused discussion that provides some guidance on the direction of Microsoft and its platforms. Over the last couple of years, the platforms have been some of the bigger talking points as well, with Microsoft diversifying across new technologies and markets to try and stay ahead of the curve. Microsoft has predominantly been a platform company over the years, and it’s a rare product they release that doesn’t end up as a platform of some kind. Over the years, the focus on some platforms has had to adjust in order to keep up with the times, and that’s not always an easy goal to accomplish when your original platform, Windows, has been so successful since its inception.
AT20 Giveaway Day 17.5: Need Help With a New Build? FSP is on the Case
As we near the end of the week, for this evening’s giveaway the fine folks over at PC components company FSP are on the case. Three times over, in fact. For today’s prizes are a trio of computer cases: the company’s CMT210 mid-tower case.
AT20 Giveaway Day 17: Motorola Keeps You Mobile With Moto Zs
Good morning everyone. We’re now on day 17 of our 20 day giveaway celebration of AnandTech’s 20 anniversary, so the end is quickly approaching.This morning’s prizes come from the mobile masters over at Motorola. The long-time supplier of smartphones and smartwatches has sent over a trio of their latest Moto Z phones, so if you need an updated phone, this is the giveaway for you. Altogether we have the Moto Z Force (Droid Edition), Moto Z (Droid Edition), and Moto Z Play (Droid Edition) to give away.
Google I/O 2017: Google Assistant Gets Smarter, Google Home Gets Free Calling & More
More and more people are using the phrase “Ok Google” to start a conversation to find information or perform actions using the Google Assistant. Launched last fall, the new assistant is already available on over 100 million devices and is rapidly evolving. Today at Google I/O, its creator took the stage to discuss how Google Assistant is expanding its capabilities and reach on smartphones and Google Home.
Google I/O 2017: New AR/VR Experiences
Today at its annual developer conference, Google made several announcements about what augmented and virtual reality projects it and its partners have been working on. Google just launched its Daydream VR platform 6 months ago, but already there are over 150 VR apps on Google Play and a small selection of Daydream phones, including the Google Pixel/Pixel XL, Huawei Mate 9 Pro, Moto Z/Moto Z Force, and ZTE Axon 7. We’ll be able to add a few more phones to this list later this summer, because Google revealed that Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+ will receive a software update making them Daydream compatible. LG’s next flagship, likely the LG V30 that launches in the second half of the year, will also be Daydream ready.Back in October, Google launched the Daydream View, a smartphone-powered VR headset, alongside its Pixel phones as part of its Daydream platform. The fabric-covered headset was designed to be comfortable to wear and serve as an affordable entry point for VR. Today during its opening keynote presentation, Google added a new device category to Daydream: standalone VR headsets. These standalone head-mounted displays (HMDs) are self contained and do not require a PC or smartphone and are completely wireless. Google worked with Qualcomm to create a reference design for partners, which means these products will likely be using a Snapdragon 835 SoC. The first Daydream HMDs will be an unnamed product from Lenovo and a new HTC Vive, both of which will arrive “later this year” and support Google’s WorldSense positional tracking, a new Daydream technology that’s derived from Project Tango.Speaking of Tango, Google has used the technology’s ability to track motion, measure distance, and establish its position within an environment to enable its new Visual Positioning Service (VPS) that allows you to map indoor locations. While GPS establishes your location outdoors and guides you to a destination (a store, for example), VPS does the same thing indoors, guiding you to a specific location or even a specific product within the store. This AR experience uses cameras to recognize objects and landmarks within the environment and provides directions to your destination. VPS currently works in select museums and Lowe’s home improvement stores, and will require mapping and product/feature location information before the service is available in other indoor locations. It will also require a Tango-compatible device, like the ASUS ZenFone AR that will be available this summer.Google also announced that it’s bringing Tango into the classroom with Expeditions AR. It said that over 2 million students have already taken virtual field trips using Expeditions VR with Google Cardboard over the past 2 years. Now with a Tango-enabled device, students can collectively experience and interact with virtual objects, perhaps a strand of DNA, anatomical models, or an internal combustion engine, within their environment. Expeditions AR lessons will be coming to schools this fall through a Pioneer Program.
HTC Announces New Standalone Vive VR Headset with Google Daydream Support
Today at Google I/O 2017, Google and HTC announced a new Daydream VR compatible Vive headset. This new device in the Vive family is a standalone unit that does not require a PC or a smartphone to power the experience and is completely wireless. HTC says that this will be one of the first standalone headsets to support Google’s Daydream platform, which implies other headsets are coming too.HTC is not revealing much about its new Vive right now. The hardware configuration is unknown, but Qualcomm has been hinting at several standalone VR headsets coming this year that will be using its Snapdragon 835 SoC, which would seem to be a good fit for the Vive. Battery size was not specified either, but without the need to carry an entire smartphone in the headset it should be able to put that volume and weight savings towards a battery that’s larger than typically found in a 5.5-inch phone. It will support the new Daydream WorldSense motion tracking, though.The standalone Vive will be available “later this year” for an unspecified price.
AT20 Giveaway Day 16.5: Gigabyte Provides Your Next Z170 Motherboard
Looking to build a new Intel system? Well then this afternoon’s giveaway should be just what you need. Today Gigabyte is providing a trio of their Z170 gaming motherboards: the Z170X-Ultra Gaming, the Z170X-Gaming 5, and the Z170X-Gaming. As an added kicker, they’ve also thrown in some swag: Gigabyte motherboard-themed building block kits.
The Google I/O 2017 Keynote Live Blog
Taking place today is Google's annual I/O developer conference. Starting things off as always is the keynote, where we should receive updates on several Google technologies, initiaitves, and other Google-centric projects.
AT20 Giveaway Day 16: ADATA Supplies the Storage & the RAM
Kicking things off today is day 16 of our 20 day giveaway celebration of AnandTech’s 20 anniversary. We’ve now in the final stretch of our giveaway, and over the next week we’ll be giving away the last of our prizes, so good luck to everyone.This morning’s prizes come from ADATA, one of the long-time vendors in the DRAM and flash memory storage market. To that end, the company has sent over a selection of prizes for both storage and RAM, including the SU800 SSD, SV620 external SSD, and two XPG Z1 DDR4-2133 16GB memory kits.
AMD Updates GPU Architecture Roadmap: After Navi Comes “Next Gen”
While the big GPU-related announcement out of today’s AMD Financial Analyst day was the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition, as part of his presentation, AMD’s CTO Mark Papermaster also offered a brief update of AMD’s GPU architecture roadmap.The admittedly high-level overview doesn’t significantly expand on AMD’s last roadmap from 2016, but it does offer a fresh look at AMD’s timeline, while confirming that yes, as you’d expect, they are indeed working on a post-Navi architecture.The most useful aspect of the new roadmap is that it helps to illustrate which process nodes which architectures will be on. We’ve known for some time now that there are multiple Vega GPUs, but it hasn’t been clear how they’re organized – if it’s a big/little pair like Polaris 10 and 11 – or something else entirely. This latest roadmap strongly hints at the latter, noting that AMD is making both 14nm and “14nm+” chips, the latter presumably being our second Vega.14nm+ is not an official GlobalFoundries designation at this time, but it is not surprising to see AMD planning for multiple generations of 14nm. As progress on new manufacturing nodes slows and costs continue to rise, all of the major foundries have begun offering multiple generations of leading-edge processes, to allow them to iterate on a process over multiple years and further improve it. Until 7nm is ready, an enhanced 14nm process will help AMD continue to improve their products over the next year or so.Speaking of 7nm, the updated roadmap also confirms that Navi will be produced on a 7nm process. AMD’s partner and former in-house fab group GlobalFoundries has been pushing hard to bring up 7nm, and they are the most likely fab for AMD to use. Besides the use of 7nm, we also know from previous AMD roadmaps that the company is looking into both scalability and next-generation memory for their future architecture.Finally, beyond Navi we have the unnamed “Next Gen” architecture for the last segment of AMD’s 3 year roadmap. This latest update confirms that AMD is indeed working on a 3 GPU architecture, and that it will be built upon a refined 7nm process. Besides that, AMD isn’t saying anything about what it might feature at this time.Meanwhile, it’s interesting to note that AMD is continuing to produce new GPU architecture roadmaps – even if they are at a high level – while rival NVIDIA has curtailed them entirely. This is an interesting inversion of the status quo; for the longest time it was NVIDIA who laid out long roadmaps while AMD kept their cards close. So for the first time in a long time, we have a better idea of what AMD is planning than their competition.
AMD Unveils the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition: Vega Starts in the Pros
It feels like the build-up to Vega has been just shy of forever. And in a way it has been: AMD first announced the architecture back in March of 2016, and we’ve known for almost as long that Polaris would be a volume play, not a play for the high performance market. It would be Vega that would be AMD’s next high-end GPU, and true successor to 2015’s unique (if mistimed) Fiji GPU.Since then AMD has slowly been releasing details on the Vega architecture. Bits and pieces related to the Playstation 4 Pro, which incorporated some Vega features, and then a much more significant information dump at the start of this year with their Vega teaser, closely aligned with their associated announcement of the Radeon Instinct accelerator, which set some pretty specific guidelines for what kind of performance AMD was aiming for. Until today all we’ve known for sure is that Vega would be ambitious, but not unrealistic, and that AMD wanted to launch it by the end of June.So for today’s AMD Financial Analyst Day, AMD has released a little bit more information as part of the next step of their campaign. The first Vega product to be released has a name, it has a design, and it has performance figures. Critically, it even has a release date. I hesitate to call this a full announcement in the typical sense – AMD is still holding some information back until closer to the launch – but we now finally have a clear picture of where the Vega generation kicks off for AMD.Say hello to the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition.
CORSAIR Unveils Dominator Platinum Special Edition Torque 32GB DDR4 Memory Kits
Corsair has just launched a flamboyant new addition to its flagship Dominator Platinum memory series in the form of two 32GB DDR4 kits that have apparently been designed to reproduce the aesthetic of high-performance automotive engines.Dubbed the Dominator Platinum Special Edition Torque, this new model's key feature is clearly the unique top bar, which has been given a heat-treated effect in order to mimic the patina that is often found on the exhaust manifolds of high-performance engines. The top bar also has integrated white LEDs, which we are a bit surprised aren't RGB LED (if only due to their ubiquity). The black aluminium heatsinks have been given a brushed finish, while the cooling fins and much of labelling is in an eye-catching shade of orange. As per the model name, these are a special edition modules that will be available in limited quantities, with each kit being individually numbered..Designed for Intel X99 and 200-series motherboards, the two 32GB Dominator Platinum Special Edition Torque memory kits are available as both a 2x16GB kit and a 4x8GB kit, each with otherwise identical specifications. The CMD32GX4M2C3200C14T model is a dual-channel kit consisting of two 16GB memory modules rated to run at DDR4-3200 with CL14-16-16-36 timings at 1.35 volts. The CMD32GX4M4C3200C14T model is quad-channel memory kit consisting of four 8GB memory modules rated to run at DDR4-3200 with CL14-16-16-36 timings at 1.35V. They are both manufactured with Corsair's custom 10-layer PCB, and feature Samsung B-die ICs that have been binned to ensure that they can be safely overclocked to at least DDR4-3600. Both kits also support XMP 2.0, which should eliminate any of the hassle that is often associated with trying to manually overclock memory.Corsair Dominator Platinum Special Edition Torque KitsData rateLatencyKit CapacityModulesVoltagePart NumberLaunch Price3200 MT/sCL14 16-16-3632 GB2x16GB1.35 VCMD32GX4M2C3200C14T$399.9932 GB4x8GBCMD32GX4M4C3200C14T$449.99The new Corsair Dominator Platinum Special Edition Torque series is available immediately on Corsair's website. The 2x16GB kit is priced at $399.99 USD, while the 4x8GB version is a little pricier at $449.99 USD. They are both covered by Corsair's lifetime warranty.Gallery: DOMINATOR PLATINUM Special Edition TorqueRelated Reading
AT20 Giveaway Day 15.5: SilverStone Sends a Smorgasbord of PC Hardware
Taking us into this afternoon’s AT20 giveaway is SilverStone. The prolific maker of computer hardware offers a large number of computer peripherals, running the gauntlet from computer cases and coolers to power supplies, bay adapters, and other peripherals. So for their giveaway it’s only fitting that the company has sent an extensive selection of their products, giving you guys a chance to win a wide variety of prizes.
AT20 Giveaway Day 15: ARM Connects You with Chromebooks
With a warm welcome to Tuesday, we’re now on day 15 of our 20 day giveaway celebration of AnandTech’s 20 anniversary.Today’s prizes come courtesy of ARM. While not a product manufacturer in and of themselves – ARM’s business is all about IP and architecture licensing – the 800lb gorilla of the mobile world has their hands in a multitude of products thanks to the ubiquity and performance of the ARM CPU architecture and their own Cortex-A CPU designs. So for our giveaway, the company has sent over a pair of Samsung’s Chromebook Pluses, which are among the most popular of the ARM-powered Chromebooks on the market right now.
ZOTAC Announces GeForce GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm Liquid-Cooled Graphics Card
Following what seems to be an industry pattern at the moment, ZOTAC has just announced their very own highly customized and liquid-cooled GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. Out of the box, this new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm model does not appear to be trying to compete for the title of highest-performing graphics card on the market, but it has the prerequisites to be a highly competitive product.Starting off with the basics, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm ships with an out of the box core clock of 1506 MHz, a boost clock of 1620 Mhz, and 11GB of GDDR5X memory clocked at 11Gbps. Connectivity is quite good with the video output selection consisting of three DisplayPort 1.4, one dual-link DVI-D, and one HDMI 2.0b.While 1506/1620 MHz (base/boost) is a fairly mild factory overclock for a custom card, ZOTAC have clearly designed this model to be manually overclocked. It has a beefy 16+2-phase VRM, two rear-mounted Power Boost 2.0 capacitors, and dual 8-pin PCIe power connectors.In fact, this new ArcticStorm model shares all the same power components as the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP Extreme Edition, which has much higher factory clock speeds despite being air-cooled. On that model, the default core clock is 1645 MHz, the boost Clock is 1759 Mhz, and even the memory has been pushed up to 11.2 Ghz.The key selling point of this ArcticStorm model is clearly the full-coverage water block. While the primary material is not listed, the top of the water block is made of a translucent acrylic, it has copper contact plate to maximize heat transfer, and 0.3mm micro-channels to increase surface area and cooling performance. The block features G 1/4 threaded fittings to make it compatible with most third-party liquid cooling solutions, and a pair of barbs supporting 10mm ID tubing are included. Since it is the feature of the year, the water block inevitably has built-in RGB LED lightning - which ZOTAC calls Spectra - and it is controlled with the included FireStorm utility. For aesthetic and durability reasons, this model also a metal wraparound backplate.Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti CardsZOTAC
Welcome to the Smartphone Squeeze: HTC Launches the U11
The history of HTC flagships has been a tale of ups and downs. In all the reviews of smartphones we’ve ever done at AnandTech, only two have ever held an AnandTech Gold Award: the iPhone 6S and the HTC M7. At the time, the M7 offered a great camera and specifications for its price, and ever since we’ve been waiting for HTC to return to former glory. Today’s announcement is for the latest flagship, HTC’s U11.The headline feature for the HTC U11 is its new method of interaction: Squeezing. If you’ve encountered any of the marketing material on the device, it’s all about the squeeze. HTC’s new philosophy is that smartphones are stagnating: every generation is just a spec update to the previous model, and the only thing that drives the industry is related to new interaction methods and ways of streamlining the use of a device. Hence the squeeze: by holding the U11 naturally and squeezing between the thumb and the other side of the hand, the squeeze action will do a number of things.When the smartphone is turned on, the device will offer a calibration tool consisting of a few minigames (such as squeezing a balloon) in order to set the standard squeeze pressure. The mechanism supports two levels of squeeze based on time, and the calibration is done in order to determine a squeeze compared to a standard grip, which is one of the initial queries we had on the device. We are told that the squeeze is determined by an internal low-power ultrasound generator and detector. After the device is calibrated, it uses the phase of the reflected ultrasound waves for detection. When the device is squeezed, the internal shape will change enough to push the ultrasound wave out of phase, which can be detected as an activation. Software then determines if it’s a short or long squeeze, and carries out the required action. We’re awaiting internal images to determine what IC is being used and how this method is implemented inside the phone. HTC offered a number of possible options for the squeeze: squeeze to selfie, squeeze to take a photo, squeeze to push to talk, squeeze to load Google Assistant, squeeze to launch any app, squeeze to open the camera, long squeeze to change to front camera, etc. The squeeze methodology will be enabled in two stages; at launch, a number of stock apps will be preconfigured with squeeze actions, and some of these will be configurable at the system level. Then later in the year (we are told July) software will be made available that will allow users to configure any app to take advantage of the squeeze: it will detect which app is loaded, and the user can define the squeeze as if they were tapping the screen or long pressing on a button. HTC says Squeeze actions also work with gloves, so you can push to talk without removing your gloves to tap the screen.Edit: in the press event, we were told that the U11 uses eight super thin strain gauges to make the pressure measurement.In addition to the new squeeze actions, the HTC U11 will also support voice interaction. It will ship with Google Assistant and receive Amazon Alexa support in July (at least in the US, UK and Germany). Having two different voice agents on the phone could get confusing, but HTC claims it will provide an easy method for using the correct one. HTC sees a world with many assistants working independently instead of a single all-powerful assistant, which is why the HTC U11 includes both, with another assistant to be named during the official launch in Taiwan.HTC U11HTC U11HTC 10SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 835
HTC Squeeze Live Blog (Starts 2am ET)
We're here in Taiwan for the launch of HTC's newest Flagship smartphone! Live Blog away!
AT20 Giveaway Day 14.5: Zalman Provides Power Supplies, Cases, and Peripherals
Taking us into our afternoon giveaway on this busy Monday is Zalman. The long-time vendor of PC components ranging from cases and PSUs to coolers and peripherals has sent over a real smorgasbord of products for us to giveaway this afternoon. Altogether we have a pair of Z9 Neo cases, a pair of K900M keyboards, a pair of ZM750-EBT power supplies, and finally four of the company’s ZM-GM4 mouse.
AT20 Giveaway Day 14: PowerColor Unleashes the Red Devil RX 570 Video Card
Good morning everyone on what is now day 14 of our 20 day giveaway celebration of AnandTech’s 20 anniversary. This is our last full week of giveaways, so let’s get started!Kicking off this week we have PowerColor. Principally known for their graphics products, PowerColor is one of AMD’s long-time exclusive partners. To that end, the company has sent over a pair of their recently launched Red Devil Radeon RX 570 cards, which are the company’s highest-performance RX 570 cards. So for those of you looking for a solid 1080p gaming card, today’s your day.
Aquantia Launch AQtion 5G/2.5G/1G Multi-Gigabit Ethernet Cards (NICs) for PCIe
Late last year, Aquantia launched their range of multi-gigabit Ethernet controllers. These were controllers that could enable 1G, 2.5G and 5G connections over standard RJ45 connectors and Cat5e cabling. At the time, the two launched controllers were offered to OEMs to add into their custom motherboard builds, such as enterprise focused machines with a 5G office network in place. We have also seen motherboard manufacturers pick up the mantle, with consumer motherboards such as the ASRock Z270 SuperCarrier and the ASRock X370 Gaming, using the 5G Aquantia AQtion AQC108 chip.Today's announcement cements Aquantia's lead in the multi-gigabit Ethernet space, despite already having an apparent 2 year lead over other rivals in this space (it helps that Aquantia helped define a major part of the 2.5G/5G specifications in the NBASE-T Alliance). Aquantia is launching two PCIe-based single-port network cards using their AQC108 and AQC107 controllers.Aquantia AQtion Multi-Gigabit NICsCardAQN-107AQN-108ControllerAQC-107AQC-108100BASE-TYesYes1000BASE-TYesYes2.5GBASE-TYesYes5GBASE-TYesYes10GBASE-TYesNoPorts11Price (from Aquantia)$127$99Release DateSoonSoonPotential ResellersASUS
Western Digital: Sales of Helium-Filled HDDs Accelerating, 15M Sold So Far
Western Digital recently announced that it had sold 15 million helium-filled hard drives, indicating that sales of such HDDs are accelerating. Since the launch of the HGST HelioSeal platform about 3.5 years ago, it has enabled HGST to make a number of technological improvements to its hard drives in terms of their capacities. It is noteworthy that while Western Digital is expanding usage of helium, it has not announced plans to expand usage of shingled-magnetic recording (SMR).HGST, a subsidiary of Western Digital, started volume shipments of its first-generation helium-filled Ultrastar He-series hard drives in November 2013. HGST sold about a million HelioSeal HDDs in the first 1.5 years on the market, but once numerous operators of large cloud datacenters qualified such drives, their sales started to accelerate. For example, HGST supplied 1.1 million of helium-filled HDDs in Q3 2015 — more than in their first six quarters on the market. Meanwhile back in October of last year, Western Digital said it had sold 10 million HelioSeal hard drives. As it appears from the recent comments made by the company, in just a couple of quarters it has managed to sell another five million helium HDDs with cumulative shipments of such drives topping 15 million units since late 2013.“I am pleased to note that we have now shipped approximately 15 million helium hard drives cumulatively since the platform's launch four years ago,” said Michael D. Cordano, president of Western Digital, during a conference call with investors and analysts.There are multiple reasons why sales of HelioSeal-based HDDs are accelerating. First, the demand for datacenter hard drives is growing, and operators have finally qualified helium-filled HDDs for new deployments. Second, with the systematic increase of drive capacities (a new capacity point is launched every 12 – 18 months), Western Digital can gradually increase shipments of helium-filled drives to existing and new deployments. Third, Western Digital is expanding usage of helium beyond datacenter-class drives to NAS and even consumer HDDs.From technology standpoint, HelioSeal has made quite a bit of progress in the recent 3.5 years. Initially, it enabled HGST to place seven platters into a single 3.5” HDD and offer a 6 TB drive, which in turn had lower power consumption and higher performance than various competitors. Installation of seven platters into one drive required HGST to redesign some of the internal HDD components, and this is always a challenge. Moreover, late last year HGST introduced an even denser hard drive, the Ultrastar He12 with eight platters, which again required the company to redevelop internal architecture of the HDD.When it comes to practical progress, the helium-filled Ultrastar drives doubled their capacity from 6 TB in Q4 2013 to 12 TB in Q1 2017. By contrast, conventional air-filled PMR-based drives have not yet made it past 8 TB, increasing their capacity by 33% from 6 TB in Q1 2014. Meanwhile, if we take the SMR-based Ultrastar He12 with 14 TB capacity into account, then the progress will seem quite impressive as well (a 75% increase from 8 TB in August 2013 to 14 TB in 2H 2017).Speaking of SMR, it does not look like Western Digital is eager to share its plans regarding usage of the technology.“Shingle [magnetic recording] has been a little bit more limited in terms of the applications because of some of the performance implications of that and that sort of thing,” said Stephen Milligan, CEO of Western Digital. “We feel comfortable with where we are at in terms of SMR transition and the applicability and the drives that we are providing to our customers.”Unlike drive-managed SMR HDDs from Seagate, SMR HDDs from Western Digital should be managed by hosts and are therefore used only for active archive/deep-archive applications that can support it. This reduces their addressable market, but the company still sells plenty of them: 20 – 35% of data stored today belongs to the two aforementioned categories. Meanwhile, Seagate offers drive-managed SMR-based HDDs for both consumers and datacenters, something that Western Digital does not. For the time being at least, it looks like the company is not planning on disclosing any kind of roadmap for drive-managed SMR devices.Related Reading:
Lian Li Launches ASUS ROG-Inspired PC-O11WGX Case: Two Chambers, E-ATX, USB-C
Lian Li has introduced its new chassis for advanced desktops, the PC-O11WGX. The company's latest case has two chambers for more efficient cooling, is compatible with motherboards in the E-ATX form-factor, can fit in nine storage devices in drive form-factor, three 360-mm radiators and has a USB 3.1 Type-C header on its front panel. Stylistically, the case comes with a front panel featuring ASUS ROG stylings, which means incorporating Mayan patterns. Being aimed at modders and overclockers, the Lian Li PC-O11WGX is everything but affordable.The Lian Li PC-O11 WGX chassis follows the latest trends in PC building and is designed to be suitable for highly-modded systems while also being very efficient in terms of cooling and compatibility. On the outside, the case has two panels made of tempered glass, exposing the key components of the computer. Inside, like many other contemporary PC cases, the PC-O11WGX uses a two-chamber design: one of the compartments housing the motherboard, graphics card, memory, and cooling, another accommodating the power supply, cables, along with nine HDDs and/or SSDs.The new case from Lian Li can fit in a motherboard in ATX, E-ATX, Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX form-factors with up to eight add-in cards. Moreover, for those who like to see/expose their graphics cards, Lian Li supplies a special riser cable to install the graphics card vertically. The maximum length of the graphics card is 430 mm, so, not only single-GPU, but dual-GPU boards are supported with plenty of space left. Meanwhile, the maximum height of the CPU cooling system is 150 mm, so not all mega-coolers can fit in (e.g., Thermalright’s Archon IB-E X2 cannot).Speaking of cooling, Lian Li built the PC-O11 WGX primarily with liquid cooling in mind: the chassis has space for three 360-mm radiators for closed-loop or custom liquid coolers, enabling its owner to build a gaming system with a HEDT CPU, a couple of graphics cards, and then cool each of those components using its own LCS (or build one LCS with three radiators if necessary). To provide enough power for everything, the case can accommodate a PSU that is up to 430 mm long.Since we are talking about a high-end chassis, the PSU and HDD/SSD mounts are equipped with rubber vibration dampers, whereas the top and bottom panels are equipped with mesh dust filters (unclear whether they are removable though).Lian Li PC-O11WGXMotherboard SizeATX, E-ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITXDrive BaysExternal-Internal4 × 3.5" and 4 × 2.5"CoolingFront3 × 120 mm/1 × 360 mmRear2 × 80 mmTop2 × 120 mmMiddle-Bottom3 × 120 mmRadiator SupportFront-Rear-Top1 × 360 mmMiddle2 × 360 mmBottom-I/O Port1 × USB-c 3.1, 2 × USB 3.0, 1 × Headphone, 1 × MicPower Supply SizeUp to 430 mmDimensionsW: 277 mm × H: 506 mm × D: 457 mmColorsGreyFeaturesGlass front and side panelsPrice$319Lian Li says that ASUS has certified the case, guaranteeing that all the ROG-family components will fit in and will work flawlessly. This is not the first ROG-certified chassis from Lian Li - and arguably it's more of a co-branding exercise than any kind of stringent technical qualification - but the additional styling and verification from ASUS engineers never hurts.The Lian Li PC-O11WGX computer chassis will be available in North America in mid-May for $319. The price of the case is rather high, but since we are dealing with a top-of-the-range product aimed at modders and performance enthusiasts, it is not surprising.Gallery: Lian Li PC-O11WGXRelated Reading:
Fractal Design Launches New S24 and S36 Celsius AIO Liquid Coolers
Fractal Design has just unveiled a different take on a new line of all-in-one liquid coolers, called the Celsius series. Unlike conventional AIOs, these new models are not actually closed-loop: they have threaded fittings on the radiator side in order to allow for expansion possibilities with common DIY liquid cooling components.The two units being launched are the Celsius S24 and Celsius S36, which feature 240mm and 360mm radiators respectively. The radiators feature aluminium housings and fins, and they are both around 30mm thick. As mentioned above, it is the fittings that are the really interesting part of this new product line. While the CPU block fittings are non-removable, the radiator fittings are knurled metal and feature a standard G 1/4" thread. Since the G 1/4" fitting is so common in the custom liquid cooling market, the expansion options are vast. As long as you add additional coolant, you could loop in a second waterblock, a second radiator, or even a reservoir. As a result, you cannot consider these Celsius models to be strictly closed-loop coolers (CLCs), but instead something of a new hybrid.There is an integrated fan hub located between the radiator's inlet and output ports, with two free 4-pin fan headers on the S24 model and three unoccupied 4-pin fan headers on the S36 model. Surprisingly, these fan headers are actually attached to a hardware fan controller that is built into the CPU block. Fractal Design has been incredibly clever and slipped the cable in between the sleeving and the rubber tubing, and they have run it the entire 400mm tubing length to the CPU block/pump/fan controller unit.Gallery: Celsius S24The fan controller has two user-selectable modes, either "auto" (which is based on the liquid temperature and handled by the cooler itself), or a "PWM" mode (which gives control to the motherboard and is based on the actual CPU temperature). In either mode, both the pump and the fan speeds will be increased/decreased since they are all PWM capable.Speaking of fans, these Celsius coolers come with either two or three of the high-quality Dynamic X2 GP-12 PWM fans that Fractal Design launched last summer. They have rotational speeds of between 500-2000 RPM, and use "LLS" bearings, with a claimed 32.2 dB(A) full speed noise levels, a stated airflow of 87.6 CFM, 2.30mm H2O of static pressure, and they are rated for up to 100,000 hours of use.The pump, which is built into the CPU block housing, has a rotational speed of between 1950-3150 RPM, and a full speed noise level of 20.0 dB(A). This gives it a 50,000 hour MTBF (or 5.7 years full use). Total power consumption for the Celsius S36 is listed at 9.0W, while the smaller S24 clocks in at 6.6W. All of this is powered from a single fan header on your motherboard, so a dedicated water pump header with high amperage capabilities is probably a good thing. The CPU block has a copper base and features sound-dampening materials in order to reduce operating noise output. High thermal conductivity thermal paste is pre-applied.These liquid coolers support all modern CPU sockets, including the latest AMD AM4 platform. We have no word on availability, but the Fractal Design Celsius S24 will retail for $109 USD and the larger Fractal Design Celsius S36 for $119 USD. Both of these units are covered by a five-year warranty.Gallery: Celsius S36Related Reading