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Updated 2018-02-25 19:30
Samsung Announces The Galaxy S9 and S9+
Today Samsung is announcing the Galaxy S9 and S9+. Both devices bring iterative designs over the Galaxy S8 – which is not a bad thing. The camera sees significant upgrades with both a new innovative camera sensor as well as an industry first-adjustable lens that can switch between f/1.5 and f/2.4 apertures. Having the same screen and battery capacities as the S8 might seem like a step sideways, but the one thing where the S9 improves on is with the internals. While the Snapdragon 845 SoC is a conservative generational update, the Exynos 9810 looks to shake up the market with, until now, a unexpected generational jump.
MWC 2018: Samsung Galaxy S9 Press Event Live Blog (5pm UTC, Noon ET)
This is it. The biggest unkept secret in recent tech media, now coming to Mobile World Congress. Samsung's show is busy, and we're sitting as far forward as we were able to get, after queuing for two hours. This is Samsung, let us be your guides.
MWC 2018: Nokia Press Event Live Blog (3pm UTC, 10am ET)
Nokia smartphones, as managed by HMD Global, have a number of announcements this year as part of the Nokia press event. We are sitting here, eagerly awaiting to report on what is going on.
MWC 2018: ZTE Blade v9 Live Blog (3pm UTC, 10am ET)
Whirlwind stop at ZTE as part of the MWC Press Event escapades. ZTE last announced the Axon M, a folding smartphone. We're likely to see the Blade v9 at today's event!
Hands On with the LG V30s ThinQ: Artificial Intelligence
BARCELONA, ESP — At Mobile World Congress this year, LG introduced the V30S ThinQ, the new flagship for the company. The new handset builds upon the V30 launched in October, but has added features, such as the introduction of a version of AI, more memory, more storage, and new color options, but the outward design and most internal specifications stay the same. Some of the software-added functionality, such as AI, is expected to be backported to the original V30, but the new phones will still offer better specs.
Matebook X Pro (2018): Huawei’s Flagship Laptop Upgrade
BARCELONA, ESP – The headline of Huawei’s launch program at Mobile World Congress is not a smartphone, but a laptop. Over the last two years Huawei has introduced itself to the PC market by way of the Matebook line, and the halo product for 2017 was the Huawei Matebook X. For 2018, Huawei is introducing the Matebook X Pro, responding to feedback from its customers and going for a more premium product. Despite the slight change in the name, there are some significant changes under the hood.
New High-End Android Tablets? Huawei MediaPad M5 gets Kirin 960
BARCELONA, ESP – One of the questions we get now and again as AnandTech editors is to suggest what high-end Android tablets a person should buy. The truth of the matter is, aside from the mêlée of Chinese low-end tablets or ones like Alcatel that use quad-A53 processors, there have been no serious updates to this space. Requests are few and far between for something high-end on Android, and the market in the high-end is almost exclusively for iPad devices, especially for a saturated market.Nonetheless, the questions do come, and several times a year. Huawei is now moving on this market for an updated device for 2018: the MediaPad M5. Available in two sizes, an 8.4-inch display and a 10.8-inch display, one of the key features is going to be the SoC. The Kirin 960 is not the latest flagship SoC, but it is at the heart of Huawei’s Mate 9, Honor 8 Pro, and Honor 9 smartphones, the Huawei flagship devices through most of 2017.
MWC 2018: Huawei Press Event Live Blog (1pm UTC, 8am ET)
In a surprising twist of events, Huawei has taken over one of the largest venues in Barcelona for its press event this year. The building we are in has typically been the Samsung venue, but this year it seems Huawei has the contract. We are out-of-cycle for Huawei's expected smartphone launches, with an event in Paris in a few weeks, so it will be interesting to see what the company will be announcing here.
AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.3
This week, AMD released Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.3, a smaller patch bringing support and/or performance optimizations for three new games: Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age (released 2/1), Brass Tactics (released 2/22), and Sea of Thieves (semi-closed beta from 2/23 to 2/25, full release on 3/20). The 18.2.3 driver also resolves a number of longstanding FreeSync and Overlay bugs, as well as brings bugfixes for Fortnite, Middle Earth: Shadow of War, and For Honor.With Sea of Thieves and Final Fantasy, AMD is citing performance gains from their internal testing compared to 18.2.2. On Sea of Thieves, AMD is claiming the Radeon RX Vega 64 is up to 29% faster at 4K, with the Radeon RX 580 is up to 39% faster at 1080p. For Final Fantasy at 1440p, AMD is claiming the Radeon RX Vega 56 is up to 13% faster, and the Radeon RX 580 as up to 20% faster.As far as game specification requirements go, Sea of Thieves developers Rare published a rather thorough chart earlier this month. For AMD GPUs the developers are looking at RX Vega 64 for 4K60 and RX 470 for 1080p60. While the full release is still around a month out, Rare has been conducting various closed betas; this weekend (2/23 to 2/25), the company is holding its second Scale Test, open to Xbox Insiders and those with access to the Closed Beta. Another beta is planned closer to the launch date.Moving on to the bugfixes themselves, 18.2.3 resolves the following issues:
MWC 2018: Intel Press Event Live Blog (10:45am UTC, 5:45am ET)
Today is press event day at Mobile World Congress, and technically the show hasn't even started yet! We're at Intel, patiently waiting for news about how 5G is shaping Intel's strategy in 2019.
Chinese Xi’an UniIC Semiconductors Starts to Sell DDR4 Chips and Modules
Xi’an UniIC Semiconductors, a memory producer based in China, has started to sell DDR4 DRAM chips and modules that were developed and made in-house. This is the first time when a China-based company develops its own DDR4 memory chips. In the meantime, it is completely unclear which process technology Xi’an UniIC uses to manufacture the chips and whether it was developed in-house.
The Future of Silicon: An Exclusive Interview with Dr. Gary Patton, CTO of GlobalFoundries
In our recent trip to GlobalFoundries Fab 8, its leading edge facility, we managed to spend some time with the C-level executive that controls the future of this part of our industry: Dr. Gary Patton. Gary is the Chief Technology Officer, overseeing all of GlobalFoundries research and development, pushing GlobalFoundries towards the next generation of processes for its customers. This includes the current 14nm processes used by AMD and IBM, the new 12nm process for AMD’s 2 generation of Ryzen CPUs, and the future: multiple generations of 7nm, some of which will have EUV for the critical layers. This list covers Fab 8, but Gary also oversees efforts across the company including the FD-SOI programs (22FDX, 12FDX) and RF related technologies.
MWC 2018: Alcatel Press Event Live Blog (6pm GMT, 1pm ET)
We're here at our first press event of Mobile World Congress: Alcatel!
Compulab Passively-Cooled Airtop2 Inferno with GeForce GTX 1080
Compulab has announced its first passively-cooled gaming desktop computer developed using the company’s expertise in fanless SFF systems. The Airtop2 Inferno uses an enhanced version of the Compulab’s proprietary natural air-flow (NAF) cooling system that can handle Intel’s Core i7-7700K processor as well as NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card. The Airtop2 Inferno will only be mass-produced if the company sees interest from the end user towards such systems.Miniature gaming computers are certainly a part of an ongoing trend towards miniaturization of PCs in general — numerous manufacturers offer SFF gaming systems. Passively-cooled gaming PCs represent another category. Numerous companies have attempted to build such systems and/or produce appropriate components (e.g., Calyos, Zalman, etc.), but they were either very expensive, large, or had compromises when it comes to performance. Enter, Compulab. The company has been producing fanless special-purpose SFF PCs since 2007 and has experience with passive cooling. Compulab has been selling its specialized Airtop-branded fanless workstations for over two years now and this month it announces plans to expand its business to gaming systems. The first of such machines will be the Airtop2 Inferno that builds upon the workstation introduced earlier this month, but has an improved cooling system that can handle higher TDPs.The Compulab Airtop2 Inferno relies on a specially-designed Intel C236-based motherboard and will be equipped with Intel’s Core i7-7700K processor as well as NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card. The system can be outfitted with up to 64 GB of DDR4-2400 memory, two M.2 NVMe SSDs and four 2.5”/9.5mm SATA storage devices. When it comes to I/O capabilities, the Airtop Inferno2 will have two USB 3.1 Gen 2 (USB-A and USB-C) ports (enabled by a FACE module), seven USB 3.0 headers, two GbE controllers, optional 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, audio connectors, DisplayPort 1.2 as well as HDMI outputs and so on. Since the Airtop2 Inferno relies on the Airtop2, it has almost the same connectivity capabilities as the fanless workstation, so it supports an optional 4G/LTE modem as well as FACE expansion modules.The key difference between the Airtop2 and the Airtop2 Inferno is the enhanced natural air-flow (NAF) cooling technology capable of removing up to 300 W of heat. As discussed two years ago, the NAF heat-exchange system uses two special side-panels, each of which can dissipate heat. The side-panels are equipped with traditional flat copper heat-pipe arrays (with micro-channels) that take away heat from the hottest components (i.e., the CPU and the GPU) and spread it across the side-panel. The heat from the heat-pipe arrays is removed by the special air-tube panels consisting of 14 tubes with air inside. Once the air gets hot, it starts to rise up, removing heat from the side panels. The Airtop2 Inferno has side panels that feature additional aluminum tubes/heat spreaders that can dissipate more heat than the regular NAF panels and therefore handle TDP of Intel’s Core i7-7700K as well as NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1080. Compulab believes that the maximum TDP rating that the NAF Inferno cooling system can handle is 300 W, enough to keep the aforementioned CPU and GPU cool, but without overclocking.Compulab Airtop2 InfernoGeneral SpecificationsCPUIntel Core i7-7700K (4C/8T, 4.2/4.5 GHz)ChipsetIntel C236
HP’s Snapdragon 835-Based Envy X2 2-in-1 Available for Pre-Order, Starts at $999
HP has started to take pre-orders on its new Envy X2 2-in-1 notebook based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 SoC and Windows 10 S. The 12.3” device is designed as a thin always connected unit, and rated for up to 22 hours on one charge. The price of the new Envy X2 is higher than we imagined when these devices were first announced: it starts at $999.The 2018 HP Envy X2 2-in-1 detachable laptop comes with a 12.3” WUXGA+ touch-enabled display covered with Corning Gorilla Glass. The system runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC equipped with 4 GB of LPDDR4-3733 DRAM and 128 GB of eUFS storage (models with enhanced DRAM and storage are expected to be available later). The PC’s physical interfaces include one physical USB 3.1 Type-C header (with DisplayPort and USB Power Delivery support), a microSD card reader, and a 3.5-mm TRRS audio input. Wireless connectivity capabilities comprise of a 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi module with Bluetooth 5, and the built in Gigabit LTE modem from the SoC. The built-in SoC modem is meant to be one of the key features of the Envy X2 - it makes the device always connected in all areas with 3G and/or 4G networks, which essentially means everywhere in well-developed countries. For imaging, the device uses a 13 MP rear camera and a 5 MP front-facing camera.The new Envy X2 is equipped with a 49.33 Wh battery that is rated to enable up to 19 hours of continuous video playback (at 150 nits brightness) or up to 22 hours of mixed-use workloads (HP does not tell how it tested these).When it comes to portability, the HP Envy X2 is in line with professional tablets and advanced thin-and-light notebooks. The tablet itself it is 6.85 mm (0.27”) thick and weighs 698.5 grams (1.54 lbs), which is comparable to Apple iPad Pro 12.9”. When outfitted with a keyboard, the weight of the new Envy X2 bumps to 1.211 kilograms (2.67 lbs), which is similar to fully-fledged 13”-class laptops.HP lists the S835 as running at 2.2 GHz base and 2.6 GHz turbo, which is typically how we describe an x86 PC, not a smartphone SoC: the S835 has two sets of cores, normally listed as 1.90 GHz on the efficiency cores and 2.45 GHz on the performance cores, neither of which correlates to HPs listing. So either this is a faster Snapdragon S835 bin, or there is miscommunication in the specification sheet. In this form factor there is a better opportunity for more cooling, which would be suitable for a higher frequency bin of SoC. But nonetheless, the 2.2-2.6 GHz listed on HP's website is not telling the whole story.Specifications of the HP Envy X2 (2018)Model 12-e011nrDisplay12.3"
Cat at MWC 2018: S61 Smartphone with FLIR Cam, Laser Distance Measurer, Air Quality Sensor
BARCELONA, ESP — Bullitt Group has announced its new flagship Cat-branded rugged smartphone, which is listed with improved performance and new features over its predecessor. The Cat S61 is aimed at people who work in harsh environments and require special-purpose tools, such as a thermal camera, a laser-assisted measurement tool, or an air quality sensor.Ruggedized smartphones are not uncommon, especially in environments that have harsher condititions than an office. While the latest handsets from the main Android vendors are splash-resistant, and some also enhanced protection against liquids and drops, these are still aimed at the bulk of the professional market that do a lot of sitting down. By contast, there are a number of companies building smartphones for severe environments, so ruggedizing itself is both an additional step up, but no longer a unique differentiator. Users that actually need smartphones with enhanced protection usually have to do work that requires various special-purpose tools.Cat/Bullitt realized this several years ago and decided to build the Swiss-army knife smartphone that would offer more special-purpose capabilities than other ruggedized handsets. The first of this family was the Cat S60, with an integrated FLIR thermal imaging sensor, released in 2016. Apparently, market response was good, so the company decided to enhance feature set of its Cat S61 even further by integrating more special-purpose hardware.The new Cat S61 has FLIR's latest Lepton thermal sensor and software that can measure temperatures from -20°C to 400°C and features an HD resolution. The manufacturer claims that the new sensor not only improves precision/quality, but also enables new use cases. In addition, the Cat S61 comes with an indoor air quality sensor from Sensirion that can detect indoor air pollutants (Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs) and notify users when an unhealthy environment is detected. In addition, this sensor can detect humidity and current temperature. Finally, the Cat S61 also has a laser assisted distance measurement tool.While the advanced sensors that Cat has integrated into its S61 provide valuable capabilities, the combination of these features essentially transforms the smartphone. Just like its predecessor, the Cat S61 is completely dust- and water-proof, and the IP68 rating means it can survive for one hour if it is submerged three meters underwater (the S60 is rated for five meters). It can also be repeatedly dropped from 1.8 meters on concrete without fatal consequences due to reinforced aluminum die-cast frame and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 display protection. Speaking of the LCD, Cat has upgraded it from top-to-bottom: it is now 5.2-inch in size and has a Full-HD (1080p) resolution. It is designed to be operated with wet fingers or while wearing gloves.The smartphone is based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 SoC (four ARM Cortex A53 cores running at 2.2 GHz and four more A53 cores clocked at 1.8 GHz, Adreno 508 graphics, a dual-channel LPDDR4 memory controller, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, an integrated X12 LTE modem with Cat 12/13 baseband capabilities, etc.) that is outfitted with 4 GB of LPDDR4 DRAM and 64 GB of NAND flash storage (expandable using microSD cards). Since we are dealing with the A53 cores, we do not expect the S61 to set records in benchmarks, but because the target audience of this handset hardly uses demanding games or data intensive applications, but rather prefers long battery life, the choice of low-power cores seems logical. In addition, the developer equipped the S61 with a 4500 mAh battery to maximize its life on one charge. As for imaging capabilities, the device comes with a 16 MP rear camera with a dual LED flash as well as an 8 MP front camera. Last but not least, the S61 now uses a USB Type-C interface for charging and connecting to computers.The Cat S61 Ruggedized Smartphones with Special FeaturesSpecificationsSoCQualcomm Snapdragon 630
AUO to Ship 8K UHD TV Panels in Coming Months
AU Optronics this week has announced plans to start shipments of 8K panels for large UHDTVs in the first half of 2018. The panels will enable TV manufacturers to produce “Super UHD” 8K TVs to compete against LG and Samsung later this year.The lineup of panels featuring a 7680×4320 resolution will be aimed at ultra-high-end TVs and sizes will range from 65 to 85 inches, said Liao Wei-Lun, president of AUO’s video products business group, at a press conference. The high-ranking executive did not disclose other specifications of the panels, such as luminance and contrast ratio, but given their positioning, it is logical to expect their characteristics to be comparable to 8K UHDTVs to be offered by LG and Samsung.Multiple TV makers demonstrated various 8K UHDTVs at various trade shows in the recent years, but so far no one has started to sell them. Given the lack of content, it is hard to expect high demand for 8K televisions in the next couple of years, aside from the halo factor - nonetheless, AUO expects 8K panels to account for 10% of its '65-inch and above' panel shipments in 2020. The presumably high-cost of the panels would indicate that in terms of unit shipments this might still be a low-ish number. However, as with 4K displays, someone has to release 8K TVs to stimulate content providers to offer appropriate material. At this year’s CES, Samsung demonstrated its Q9S, its first commercial 8K TV-set, but it did not announce its pricing or availability timeframe. LG and Sony also demonstrated their 8K TVs at CES 2018, but nothing is clear about their plans regarding these products.Since AUO intends to start mass production of the 8K panels for UHDTVs in the coming months, it is highly likely that it has customers willing to use them for their products already. Because we are talking about volume manufacturing, it is likely that AUO’s partners have already developed their UHDTVs based on the early development panels and we are going to see AUO-based 8K UHDTVs later this year.With Samsung, LG, Sony and various AUO partners onboard, it looks like 8K UHDTVs will finally start to be commercialized this year.As for 8K displays for PCs, Dell is currently the only company to offer an 8K monitor (this one is based on a panel from LG, so the latter might introduce its own 8K display at some point). Philips last year promised to start shipments 328P8K monitor in 2018, so expect the product to hit the market in the coming months too.We saw a number of the 8K PC displays last year at various shows:
CEVA Announces PentaG 5G NR Modem IP Platform
Today’s announcement marks a key change for CEVA’s business model, as for the first time we see the introduction of a complete modem platform for licensing. The PentaG platform is not a single piece of IP, but rather a collection of solutions that offer flexibility and time to market advantages for the vendors. The new platform promises key advantages over competing solutions and offer maximum flexibility for vendor’s designs, securing CEVA’s position in the cellular IP business.
Samsung 30.72 TB SSDs: Mass Production of PM1643 Begins
Update 2/21: Adding power consumption figures for the PM1643 drive, new features.Samsung this week announced that it has started mass production of its PM1643-series SSDs. These are monstrous data storage devices, with up to 30.72 TB capacity each. The new drives use Samsung’s 64-layer 512Gb TLC V-NAND memory chips stacked in 1 TB packages. Later this year Samsung plans to expand the PM1643 lineup with SSDs featuring other capacities.Samsung’s PM1643 30.72 TB SSD is the company’s highest-capacity mass-produced drive to date. It is designed primarily for read-intensive workloads, and features an SAS-12 Gbps interface. Samsung rates its PM1643 for one DWPD (drive write per day) throughout five years, which indicates a very high endurance of roughly 56 PB for the drive. The choice of the interface and robust endurance rating naturally suggest that we are dealing with a drive for mission-/business-critical applications. Some of the features of the PM1643 that Samsung is willing to discuss right now (metadata protection, power loss protection, data recovery, end-to-end data protection, encryption, etc.) confirm that the drives are indeed aimed at servers that require advanced reliability.The PM1643 is based on Samsung’s proprietary controller architecture as well as 512 Gb 64-layer TLC V-NAND memory chips - 16 of them are stacked together to create 1 TB packages, over 40 of such packages are used for the 30.72 TB drive, giving sizeable overprovisioning. The new SSDs also carry 40 GB of stacked DDR4 memory (8 Gb DRAM chips interconnected using TSVs), which is in line with the configurations of other drives.When compared to the previous-generation PM1633a SSDs released in 2016, the new PM1643 offers both double the capacity and also considerably on-paper higher performance. Samsung claims that the PM1643 30.72 TB SSD features sequential read and write speeds of up to 2100 MB/s and 1700 MB/s, respectively. As for peak random read/write performance, the new PM1643 drive is rated for 400K and 50K IOPS, respectively. Samsung yet has to announce sustained sequential and random performance numbers, but it is clear that the new SSDs are intended faster than their direct predecessors.The Samsung PM1643 SSDs will come in a 2.5-inch form factor, but at 15mm. The new drives support configurable run-time power consumption options of 9W ~ 13.5W (the lower consumption means lower performance), which allows to choose between power and performance per system and application. Since the drives consume an exact same amount of power as the PM1633a 15.36 TB, it is drop in compatible with systems that use the PM1633-series drives. Furthermore, GB-per-Watt consumption of the new drives is at least two times lower when compared to the PM1633a 15.36 TB model.General Specifications of Samsung PM1643 and PM1633a SSDsPM1643 30.72 TBPM1633a 15.36 TBControllerSamsung proprietary controllerNANDSamsung's 512 Gb
The AnandTech Podcast, Episode 45: GlobalFoundries and Fab 8
In early February, GlobalFoundries did something completely unexpected: for the second time in ten years, they invited a few select press and analysts to visit one of their fabrication plants (‘fabs’), where they make AMD processors, IBM silicon, and ASICs from a variety of companies. We were invited to Fab 8 in upstate New York, GF’s leading edge fab, which will be the site of the company’s 7nm and EUV offerings that will propel the fastest processors over the next three-to-five years.
New EKWB Threadripper X399 Monoblocks for GIGABYTE and MSI
EKWB has announced the release of two new monoblocks made for GIGABYTE and MSI Threadripper X399 motherboards. Both blocks are an all-in-one (CPU and power delivery) cooling solution with a redesigned cold plate and fin area, claimed to cover most of the Ryzen Threadripper surface enabling better thermal transfer. In addition to the CPU itself, the block also cools the power delivery with liquid flowing directly over the necessary components. One could argue that with sufficient cooling, pushing Threadripper CPUs beyond their TDP through overclocking should be easier.The base of both monoblocks is made of nickel-plated electrolytic copper, while the top is made of acrylic glass. The block comes fully assembled with nickel-plated mounting screws and brass screw-in standoffs pre-installed. This is the only style available. EKWB includes Thermal Grizzly Hydronaut (1g) thermal paste, as well as thermal pads for contact with the power delivery modules, in each package. Both blocks use standard G1/4 threading, and barbs are sold separately. The GIGABYTE block (right, below) is compatible on two motherboards, the X399 Aorus Gaming 7 (rev. 1.0) and the X299 Designare EX (rev. 1.0). The MSI block (left, below) is compatible with the X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC and the X399 SLI Plus. The different flow channels are due to each company layout being different.
AnandTech Community Giveaway: Patriot V-Series RGB Gaming Peripherals
One of the biggest drivers in the PC market in recent years is gaming. After we scout out the parts, spend the money, build the PC, and fire it up to crank out the FPS, the next elements on any list are peripherals. There is no headshot if the mouse has a treacle-like, unpredictable response. If upgrading the peripheral experience sounds like something you are looking into, then our awesome community team have something for you: in conjunction with Patriot, our team is holding a giveaway for Patriot's high-profile V-series RGB gaming equipment. One grand price winner from the draw will win the set: a Patriot V370 RGB Gaming Headset, a V570 Blackout RGB Gaming Mouse, and a V770 Mechanical RGB Keyboard.To put your entry in, follow this link to our sweepstakes landing page.The giveaway is running through to March 2nd, and is open to all US and UK residents. You can find the full discussion about the giveaway over on the forums.
TEKQ Rapide Thunderbolt 3 External SSD Review
Flash-based external direct-attached storage (DAS) devices have evolved rapidly over the last few years. Starting with simple thumb drives that could barely saturate USB 2.0 bandwidth, we now have high-performance external SSDs that take advantage of the USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface to saturate the internal SATA bandwidth. Thunderbolt 3 drives up the available bandwidth by a factor of four, and SATA has now been replaced in the high-end by NVMe / PCIe. At CES 2018, we saw plans from multiple manufacturers to introduce mainstream external storage drives using NVMe SSDs with a Thunderbolt 3 interface. Today, we review one such device - the Rapide Thunderbolt 3 SSD from TEKQ.
Passive Compulab Airtop2 SFF Workstation Launched, with Xeon E3 and Quadro
Compulab this week has introduced a new generation of its passively-cooled Airtop workstations. The new updated models, called Airtop 2, use Intel's latest Xeon E3 v6 processors, featuring the Kaby Lake microarchitecture, as well as Pascal-based Quadro graphics cards. The new Airtop2 systems can pack up to six storage devices, drive seven monitors, connect legacy COM/RS232 devices, and support Compulab’s proprietary FACE modules (function and connectivity extension modules) to further enhance functionality and connectivity.Small form-factor (SFF) desktops are considered to be gaining in popularity recently, so virtually all PC makers have appropriate products available. By contrast, SFF workstations are somewhat rare: large OEMs offer them to their clients, but they are hard to find outside of Dell, HP, Lenovo, or similar companies, and require a sizeable order. Compulab is among a handful of PC makers offering SFF Xeon and Quadro-based systems, but the company appears to be at aiming at a couple of different niches to its rivals: its workstations are passively cooled, using the firm’s proprietary natural air-flow (NAF) cooling tech (you can read more about it in our coverage of the original Airtop), and they are also marketed as being very highly integrated, with the idea that there are no compromises when it comes to storage capabilities. Another listed benefit is that these new Airtop2 systems have vast connectivity options that include modern and outdated ports and can be expanded further if needed.
AMD Plans PlayReady 3.0 Support for Polaris and Vega based GPUs in 2018, Vega APUs in Q2
For the recent launch of AMD’s Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G APUs, our review found that AMD raised the low-end integrated graphics bar to a new level. With superior gaming performance at lower cost and power draw compared to competing solutions, the Ryzen 5 2400G has effectively shut down the sub-$100 graphics card market. But outside of gaming, the other major use-case of integrated graphics is for media content playback and streaming, typically related to HTPC use. In recent days, one of the bigger issues is not just hardware encode/decode capabilities but also hardware DRM support, such as HDCP 2.2, or Microsoft’s PlayReady 3.0 that is required for Netflix 4K and HDR streaming on PCs.With this capability, the new APUs and upcoming low-power variants would be fit for higher-end HTPC use, but no AMD discrete or integrated PC GPU is currently PlayReady 3.0 capable. In that vein, AMD stated in the corresponding Ryzen desktop APU Reviewer’s Guide:
The ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe Motherboard Review: Onboard OLED and WiGig
Sitting at the top of ASUS' consumer-focused motherboard line for X299 is the ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe. In the past, ASUS' 'Deluxe' line-up has attempted to emulate the status of the Mercedes S-Class but in motherboard form: showcasing new technology that may eventually filter down into where the bulk of the market sits over the next 3-5 years. The newest X299-Deluxe thus comes with a few of those technological features, such as WiGig and an informational OLED display, but also comes with onboard U.2 and a bundled Thunderbolt 3 add-in card. The Prime X299-Deluxe is the most expensive X299 motherboard we have tested to date.
Intel's 10nm Briefly Appears: Dual Core Cannon Lake in Official Documents
Intel briefly listed two 10nm Cannon Lake processors in a microcode update document this week, confirming that it has shipped such chips, although we expect it to be in small quantities. Intel has since removed the references to them from the public version of the paper.Intel has adjusted its 10nm roadmap multiple times in the recent years. Back in 2013, the company planned to make CPUs produced using its 10nm technology available in 2015. Then, the company pushed them to 2016, but that was a minor change. In mid-2015 the chipmaker delayed its 10 nm products to late 2017. Then in early-2016, Intel switched its “Tick-Tock” cadence to “Process-Architecture-Optimization” model, officially prolonging lifecycles of its manufacturing technology nodes and changing its approach to new product development in general. When it comes to 10 nm products, Intel has not made formal announcements about any product family yet, but said earlier this year in a side-presentation to its CES keynote that it had shipped some of them to customers in 2017.Since the company did not disclose any details about the 10nm CPUs it shipped, it naturally caused further questions on the state of Intel's 10nm process in general and when the Cannon Lake products, expected to be the first on 10nm, were coming. Fortunately, our friends at Tom’s Hardware noticed Cannon Lake processors in the latest version of Intel’s microcode update document earlier this week. After the fact, Intel has since removed the references from the document.The first version of the document, as it appears, suggests that Intel has shipped Cannon Lake-U CPUs in 2+2 and 2+0 configurations to undisclosed customers. The “2+2” denotes that a chip has two processing cores (the first number) as well as GT2-class graphics (the second number), whereas the “2+0” indicates that a dual-core chip has no iGPU at all. Intel’s “U” series parts, aimed at the 15W notebook market, usually feature an integrated chipset in the CPU package. Therefore, the CNL-U 2+2 and CNL-U 2+0 parts are aimed primarily at mobile and low-power applications.It is noteworthy that in the recent years Intel has begun commercial roll-outs of its new CPUs starting with ultra-low-power 4.5W Y-series processors, e.g., Broadwell-Y in 2014, Skylake-Y in 2015, and Kaby Lake-Y in 2016. If Intel is launching its U-series chips with a TDP of 15 W first for 10nm, this would indicate a change in policy. So it is surprising to see that Intel has started shipments of Cannon Lake-U, but not Cannon Lake-Y.A natural question that arises because of the listing is whether Intel has started to ship its CNL-U parts in mass quantities to PC makers. Intel has not disclosed where these parts have been sold, which could be for entry-level low-power laptops, or to certain specific customers and requests with custom/semi-custom CNL products. While a CNL-U 2+2 CPU could be used for inexpensive notebooks, a CNL 2+0 part would fit into applications that either do not require a display controller at all (such as routers, NAS, DAS, etc.), or can use a discrete GPU (a low-end PC with a low-end/outdated dGPU - there are a lot of such machines sold in developing countries, a system for software/hardware development/compatibility tests/etc.). Unfortunately, at this point it is completely unclear where Intel has shipped these 10nm parts.Related Reading
Corsair ONE Gets Caffeinated: Now with Coffee Lake
This week Corsair introduced two new versions of its small form-factor desktop, called the 'ONE'. The new versions upgrade the processor to the latest generation Intel six-core Coffee Lake processors. The end result is more performance, with a corresponding increase in price. The new versions, called the ONE Pro Plus and the ONE Elite, represent the best performance versions of the Corsair One, while the model at the bottom of the stack is discontinued.Corsair’s new ONE Pro Plus and ONE Elite systems are based on Intel’s Core i7-8700K processor, and subsequently get an upgrade to a Z370 based motherboard. The new Corsair ONE PCs come in the familiar 12L aluminum chassis with a custom liquid cooling system, featuring dual liquid cooling loops that are used to cool down the CPU and the GPU separately. For the new units, the GPU is also upgraded, to NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card. Despite packing rather significant compute horsepower then, the use of the liquid cooling loops allows Corsair to promote the ONE Pro Plus and ONE Elite as quiet.As for other components, the new high-end Corsair ONE models are outfitted with 16 GB of Vengeance LPX DDR4-2400 (ONE Plus) or 32 GB of Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 (Elite) memory, a 480 GB M.2 NVMe SSD, and a 2 TB 2.5” 5400-RPM HDD. Since the systems use industry-standard components, they are upgradeable. Technically the CPU and GPU can also be overclocked, as long as cooling performance and 500W PSU are sufficient.Specifications of Early-2018 Corsair ONE Gaming PCsModelONE Pro
AMD Releases Radeon Pro Software Enterprise Edition 18.Q1 WHQL: Adrenalin Comes To Enterprise
This week AMD has released the first quarterly Radeon Pro Software Enterprise Edition driver drop of the year, aptly numbered 18.Q1 WHQL. Coming on the heels of December's major driver update on the consumer side, this is the first enterprise package based on Adrenalin Edition Pro drivers. As such, 18.Q1 incorporates new Adrenalin Pro ReLive enhancements, Pro Overlay, Pro-oriented Connect Tab, and ProRender plugin updates. Likewise, as the first post-Windows 10 Fall Creators Update enterprise driver, 18.Q1 is intended for Fall Creators Update and formally supports Mixed Reality. Rounding out this quarterly release are performance optimizations for professional applications, VDI & graphics virtualization updates, and a number of bug fixes.First things first, AMD is implementing a slight rename from Radeon Pro Software “Enterprise Driver” to “Enterprise Edition,” making it consistent to the overall Radeon Software naming. This streamlining has not been extended, however, to the latest gaming driver now supported by 18.Q1 Driver Options, which remains “Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition for Radeon Pro 18.2.1.”Touching on the highlights of Adrenalin Pro features, AMD referred to new Pro ReLive features like borderless region capture, microphone track separation, and chroma key background transparency, as well as Radeon Pro Overlay for Pro ReLive. This also includes the several ProRender plugin updates introduced with the inaugural Adrenalin Pro 17.12.1 Meanwhile, for performance improvements, AMD is citing year-over-year uplifts compared to 17.Q1 using SPECapc and SPECviewperf testing, notably a 47% improvement in Autodesk 3ds Max and 25% improvement in Siemens NX.Moving on to AMD’s MxGPU, their hardware-based SR-IOV virtualized graphics solution, 18.Q1 is coupled with the January technical preview host driver for Citrix XenServer MxGPU, while production-level XenDesktop and XenApp guest drivers have been updated with 18.Q1 binaries for cloud-deployed 64-bit Windows 10, 7, Server 2016, and Server 2008 R2 platforms. The packages and compatibility notes can be found on AMD’s Citrix Pro Driver page.In a similar vein, their Guest Interface Manager (GIM) open source KVM host OS driver remains available on GitHub as a technical preview, though the guest drivers have not been updated since Adrenalin Pro 17.12.2.Wrapping things up, 18.Q1 comes with a list of bug fixes and documented issues typical of professional and enterprise drivers.Bug Fixes & Resolved Issues
The Intel SSD DC P4510 SSD Review Part 1: Virtual RAID On CPU (VROC) Scalability
Today, Intel is introducing their 64-layer 3D TLC NAND to the enterprise SSD market with the new Intel SSD DC P4510 NVMe drive. They are also finally giving us a chance to test the Virtual RAID On CPU feature introduced with the Skylake-SP and Skylake-X processors last year.
Xiaomi Launches Redmi Note 5 & Redmi Note 5 Pro with 18:9 5.99-Inch LCDs
Xiaomi on Wednesday introduced its new Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro smartphones in India. The key difference between the new phablets and their predecessors is a large 5.99” display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, but there are many other improvements too, including new design, camera, software and so on. The Redmi Note 5 will continue to employ the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, but the Redmi Note 5 Pro will use a more powerful Snapdragon 636. The Redmi Note 5 will be priced below $200, whereas the Redmi Note 5 Pro will address audiences demanding higher performance/improved features and will therefore cost more than $200.New Display & LookDisplays with an 18:9 aspect ratio introduced to the mass market by the LG G6 and the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ last year will become more widespread on higher-end, mainstream and specialized smartphones this year. The new Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro handsets from Xiaomi are outfitted with large 5.99” IPS displays featuring a 1080×2160 resolution and covered by Corning Gorilla Glass for protection.The larger screens naturally have an impact on overall design of the new smartphones, so it is not surprising that the Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro look significantly different than their predecessors. Both phones come in an aluminum unibody chassis with rounded edges and antenna separated from the rest of the back cover using polycarbonate strips that look like metal. When compared to the Redmi Note 4, the tapered back covers of the Redmi Note 5/Note 5 Pro seem to have even more rounded edges and a slightly different texture. Xiaomi says that the new shape is more comfortable to use, but keep in mind that all physical features of all mobile gadgets are very individual.In addition to new design, Xiaomi will also offer a broader choice of colors with the new phablets. The Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro will be available in matte black, matte blue, matte gold and matte rose gold colors in India. The color lineup might be different in other countries, but it is hard to make guesses about what exactly the manufacturer will offer at this point.Under the HoodNow, let’s take a look under the hood. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 is based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, the same model was used for the Redmi Note 4. The chip has eight ARM Cortex-A53 general-purpose cores, the Adreno 506 graphics processor as well as Qualcomm’s X9 LTE modem, its performance and capabilities are well known, so there is nothing new here. It is a bit strange to see one SoC be inside both Redmi Note 4 and Redmi Note 5, but perhaps Xiaomi decided to stick to the chip due to cost reasons in a bid to price the RM5 competitively.By contrast, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro is powered by the Snapdragon 636 featuring Kryo 260 CPU (four semi-custom ARM Cortex A73 cores at 1.8 GHz and four semi-custom ARM Cortex-A53 cores at 1.6 GHz), the Adreno 509 GPU, an LPDDR4X memory controller as well as Qualcomm’s X12 LTE modem. Since A73 cores are among the highest-performing mobile CPU cores today, the Redmi Note 5 Pro will offer significantly higher peak general-purpose performance than the Redmi Note 5. Meanwhile, the S636 will also maintain similar energy efficiency in power saving mode (when compared to the S625) since low-power A53 derivatives are still there; besides, both SoCs are made using Samsung’s 14LPP process technology and therefore their voltages and other physical characteristics are similar.When it comes to DRAM and storage configurations, Xiaomi will offer various versions of the Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro — there will be models with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of NAND flash (the entry-level Note 5), variants with 4 GB of DRAM and 64 GB of storage as well as 6 GB of LPDDR4X with 64 GB of NAND (the flagship Note 5 Pro model). The new Redmi Note 5 smartphones have microSD slots that support cards of up to 128 GB, so it is easy to upgrade internal storage of the new devices (but keep in mind that you are going to need microSD cards with A1 or A2 badges to install software on them).As for operating system, the new Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro will ship with the Android Nougat version 7.1.2 with the MIUI 9 on top.Imaging: New Sensors, Improved Software and LED Flash for SelfiesIn addition to different SoCs, the Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro have vastly different imaging capabilities. The Redmi Note 5 is outfitted with a 12 MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture and a dual-tone LED flash on the back as well as a 5 MP sensor with f/2.0 aperture and a LED flash on the front. Xiaomi claims that the new back-facing camera works better in low light conditions and also has an improved white balance, but one has to test the handset to verify such claims.By contrast, the Redmi Note 5 Pro comes with a ‘dual’ camera on the back that is comprised of a Sony IMX 486 12 MP (f/2.2, 1.25 μm) sensor, a 5 MP (f/2.0, 1.12 μm) depth sensor from Samsung and a dual-tone LED flash. The camera supports electronic image stabilization, phase detection autofocus as well as a variety of capabilities enabled by a depth sensor. Xiaomi says that the Redmi Note 5 Pro rear camera software features machine learning-based enhancements for more accurate edge detection by using semantic segmentation. On the front, the phone has a Sony IMX376 20 MP (f/2.0, 1/2.8”) sensor with a 4500K LED flash. This camera is also outfitted with the same ML-based software for edge detection, but since it does not have a depth sensor, the algorithm probably works a bit differently here. To further improve quality of selfies made by the front camera, Xiaomi also furnished its Redmi Note 5 Pro smartphone with its Beautify 4.0 software enhancement that supports multiple filters to remove various face imperfections. It is noteworthy that the camera software with Beautify 4.0 enhancements was tuned with India in mind and it remains to be seen whether the company introduces region- and/or country-specific camera enhancements in different parts of the world.Connectivity, Battery, SecurityConnectivity is a mixed bag for the Redmi Note 5. The smartphones support 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 and a microUSB 2.0 port for charging. Both 802.11n and microUSB look a tad outdated for 2018 smartphones. Capping Wi-Fi to 802.11n is something that Xiaomi did to the S625-based Redmi Note 4, so it is not completely surprising that the company did the same to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5. Perhaps, Xiaomi will rethink its Wi-Fi support for the Redmi Note 5 aimed at different markets, but only time will tell (frankly, it is something unlikely to happen). Connectivity of the Redmi Note 5 Pro was improved considerably compared to the RN4/RN5. The handset supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0, but it still uses microUSB 2.0 port for charging.As for WWAN connectivity, the Snapdragon 625 and 636 support LTE, WCDMA, CDMA and GSM, but since this was an India-specific announcement, Xiaomi revealed bands fthat are relevant for this country and particular models. In any case, the best thing one can get out of the S625/X9 is 300 Mbps DL and 150 Mbps UL, whereas the S636/X12 supports up to 600 Mbps DL and 150 Mbps UL. Exact capabilities of particular smartphones depend on what manufacturers decide to support.Next up is biometric security, which is a standard capability nowadays. The Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro are equipped with fingerprint readers, but the latter will also support Face Unlock feature after it gets an OTA update in late March. According to Xiaomi, its face recognition mechanism works faster than its fingerprint reader, but at present the company does not go beyond that.Both new smartphones from Xiaomi are equipped with a 4000 mAh battery that enables them to last for at least a day of active usage (based on the manufacturer’s clams). The company is known for using high-capacity batteries in its handsets, so the Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro are not exceptions.Xiaomi Note 5 and Note 5 Pro SmartphonesRedmi Note 5
HP Expands DaaS Offerings: Apple Devices, HP VR Solutions, and Tech Café Market
Today, HP announced a new set of Device as a Service (DaaS) offerings for customers and channel partners. Notably, this includes the reveal of DaaS offerings for Apple devices, where HP will provide support for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and other Apple equipment. Along with expansion through Apple products, HP is also expanding their DaaS services to cover their own VR solutions. This includes the Z4 Workstation and the HP Windows Mixed Reality VR headset. HP aims to cover major customer pain points by unifying diverse fleets of different device types and OSes and free up IT resources.HP DaaS program for Apple will cover dozens of SKU and include multiple versions of each device. Apple coverage includes accidental damage protection as well as next day onsite repair or replacement which can minimize downtime for the user increasing productivity. Part of this plan includes specialized endpoint management. These HP experts are able to deploy applications, provision Wi-Fi access, and set and enforce security policies taking a load off internal IT resources. They are also able to find and protect data on devices that may have been lost or stolen. HP also offers optional services covering the entire device lifecycle from design and planning, as well as configuration and deployment services.HP is also expanding its real-time hardware analytics and proactive device management capabilities. The analytics are able to capture data including health monitoring (device to component level), security status reports as well analytics and reports for IT planning. Monitoring points such as CPU and Memory utilization, temperatures, battery and HDD life, Windows BSOD and software errors, and security policy compliance are some of the items which are monitored and analyzed. Some of the data can be used to proactively fix or update devices when a trend is recognized. HP says they have nearly 40 Million devices reporting non-PII (Personally Identifiable Information) into their analytics. HP is able to use this data to be able to spot trends and more quickly resolve issues with data collected from both the client level and the entire ‘data lake’ as HP called it.In addition to expanding the available devices and how they are managed, HP also introduced the Tech Cafe Market Enhanced. The Tech Café is an end-to-end smart vending and storage solution able to provide end-users immediate access to accessories and peripherals. A 24/7 locker for device swaps is available for quick exchange of devices for repair or new deployment. End users are able to easily access accessories or new devices directly from the lockers without a dedicated IT resource saving time and improving customer experience. HP can also manage ordering, stock replenishment, and reporting for the clients again with an aim to free up IT resources.HP’s DaaS update continues to point the service in the direction of a complete end-to-end solution for commercial environments who would like to reduce expenses by essentially renting hardware, while still getting quality IT support for the ever-increasing amount of devices today's workers have. Customers are able to get everything needed from hardware to lifecycle services intended to improve efficiency and free up IT resources. HP’s key value proposition is to deliver a lower total cost of ownership for getting the right product in the user's hands. The rollout for DaaS programs for Apple is in North America now with plans to expand out to India and the Asia-Pacific region in the coming months. Both the new Z4 workstation and the HP Windows Mixed Reality headset is available now.Related Reading:
Google Announces Cloud TPU v2 Beta Availability for Google Cloud Platform
This week, Google announced Cloud TPU beta availability on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP), accessible through their Compute Engine infrastructure-as-a-service. Using the second generation of Google’s tensor processing units (TPUs), the standard Cloud TPU configuration remains four custom ASICs and 64 GB of HBM2 on a single board, intended for accelerating TensorFlow-based machine learning workloads. With a leased Google Compute Engine VM, Cloud TPU resources can be used alongside current Google Cloud Platform CPU and GPU offerings.First revealed at Google I/O 2016, the original TPU was a PCIe-based accelerator designed for inference workloads, and for the most part, the TPUv1 was used internally. This past summer, Google announced the inference and training oriented successor, the TPUv2, outlining plans to incorporate it into their cloud services. Both were detailed later at Hot Chips 2017 technical presentations.Under the hood, the TPUv2 features a number of changes. Briefly recapping, the second generation TPU ASIC comes with a dual ‘core’ configuration, each having a scalar/vector unit and 128x128 mixed multiply unit capable of 32-bit floating point operations, as opposed to TPUv1’s single core 256x256 MXU and 8-bit integer capability. TPUv2 also improves on the memory bandwidth bottlenecks of its predecessor by using HBM instead of DDR3, with 8GB HBM2 connected to each core for a total of 16 GB per chip.Four of these ASICs form a single Cloud TPU board, ultimately with Google citing up to 180 TFLOPS of unspecified compute performance. As announced earlier, Google is targeting a ‘TPU pod’ setup as one of the end goals, where 64 Cloud TPUs are combined in a dedicated networked array of racks. Google is aiming to offer full TPU Pods on GCP later this year.In practical terms, this capability is catered to developers looking for TPU-suitable machine learning performance for particular TensorFlow workloads, with the benefit of Google’s existing cloud infrastructure-as-a-service offerings. Given that it is a beta, Google has a number of documents and tools up on their site. In many ways, the current TPU capabilities exist as a development pipe-cleaner of sorts for the upcoming TPU pods, with Google alluding to the same thing in their announcement. A number of capabilities are yet to be ironed out for TPUs: for example, model parallelism is not yet supported, not all built-in TensorFlow ops are available, and specific limitations exist for training reinforcement learning models, recurrent neural networks (RNN), or generative adversarial networks (GAN).While select partners have had access to Cloud TPUs for production use, today’s announcement opens the availability to general GCP customers. Google’s Cloud TPUs are available today as purchasable compute time in the US from a Compute Engine provisioned VM, with a $6.50 per TPU per hour rate charged in one-second increments. Interested parties may submit a beta quota request.Related Reading
Intel Adds Mobile Core i3-8130U to Lineup: Increased Cache and Turbo
Intel on Tuesday introduced the Core i3-8130U, its first mobile 8 Generation Core i3 processor. The new chip features two cores operating at a high frequency and supports Turbo Boost 2.0 technology to make them even faster when power and temperatures permit. The CPU also gains an L3 cache size increase over its predecessors, stepping up to 2MB of inclusive L3 cache per core. However, the new processor is listed as only $16 cheaper than one above it in Intel's stack, the quad-core Core i5-8250U, posing questions about its appeal to the end-user.The Core i3-8130UThe Intel Core i3-8130U has two cores with Hyper-Threading, operating at 2.2 GHz base frequency and speeding up to 3.4 GHz in Turbo Boost 2.0 mode; the chip is outfitted with 4 MB of L3 cache and has a 15 W TDP. Previous-generation mobile ULV Core i3 processors came with 3 MB of L3 cache and did not feature Turbo mode, by comparison. The addition of Turbo comes at a different cost, as it would appear that Intel has reduced the base frequency to compensate: the default frequency of the previous generation Core i3-7130U was 2.7 GHz, whereas the new Core i3-8130 is at 2.2 GHz. There is also the added complication that Turbo frequency boosting depends on multiple factors, such as chassis design and cooling performance.When it comes to graphics and memory, the new CPU features the UHD Graphics 620 iGPU (GT2) as well as a dual-channel memory controller supporting LPDDR3-2133 or DDR4-2400. From silicon point of view, we are dealing with a Kaby Lake Refresh 2+2 design, and the main difference with the original Kaby Lake is the addition of native support of HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2, and possible minor fixes.Intel Mobile Core i3 and Core i5 ProcessorsCore i5-8250UCore i3-8130UCore i3-7130UCPU Cores/Threads4/82/4FrequencyBase1.6 GHz2.2 GHz2.7 GHzDual-Core Turbo?3.4 GHz2.7 GHzSingle-Core Turbo3.4 GHz3.4 GHz2.7 GHzTDP (PL1) @ Base Frequency15 WInstantaneous Turbo Power (PL2)44 W?19 WConfigurable TDP-up Freq.1.8 GHz--Configurable TDP-up25 W--L3 Cache6 MB4 MB3 MBGraphicsGPUUHD 620HD 620EUs24 EUsBase Freq.300 MHzTurbo Freq.1.1 GHz1 GHzDRAM SupportLPDDR3-2133
The Latest High-Capacity M.2: The Samsung 860 EVO 2TB SSD, Reviewed
The Samsung 860 EVO is the mainstream side of Samsung's new generation of consumer SATA SSDs, though our 2TB M.2 drive is a bit of a niche product. Like the 860 PRO, the new 860 EVO provides the necessary improvements to keep up with today's competition, but Samsung is still setting prices like they're the only ones with a high-performance TLC drive.
AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.2 & Inaugural Ryzen Desktop APU WHQL Drivers
This week, AMD released Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.2, a smaller patch bringing support for the just-launched Kingdom Come: Deliverance, as well as performance optimizations for Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). Purely game-focused, 18.2.2 documents no new bugfixes or issues. And alongside Monday’s launch of AMD Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G, AMD has put out the inaugural Windows 10 WHQL drivers specific to those two new APUs.Released just yesterday, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a CryEngine-powered first-person single player historical RPG, thematically reminiscent of Mount and Blade and The Witcher. The developers, Warhorse Studios, have stated their desire to focus on realism, story, open-world freedom, and hardcore combat mechanics, the latter of which is not too surprising considering the Operation Flashpoint and ARMA pedigree of Warhorse Studio’s team members.For Kingdom Come: Deliverance, AMD cites their 18.2.2 testing to show up to 3% faster 1440p performance for the Radeon RX Vega 56 and up to 4% faster 1080p performance for the Radeon RX 580 compared to Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.2.1. As it so happens, Warhorse Studios marks down the Radeon RX 580 as the recommended AMD GPU requirement, with the Radeon HD 7870 as the minimum.As for Fortnite and PUBG, AMD compares Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 17.12.1 performance to 18.2.2, claiming 1440p improvements for the Radeon RX Vega 56 up to 3% faster for Fortnite and up to 5% faster for PUBG. Meanwhile, for the Radeon RX 580 at 1080p, AMD cites up to 6% faster performance in Fortnite and up to 7% faster performance in PUBG.Wrapping things up on the 18.2.2 side, there has been no documented bugfixes and the list of open issues remain identical to 18.2.1:
AKiTiO’s Thunder3 10G Adapter Now Available: TB3-to-10GbE for Sub-$300
AKiTiO has quietly begun to sell its Thunderbolt 3 to 10 GbE network adapter, which it first demonstrated at Computex 2017. The device is based on a 10 GbE solution from Tehuti Networks and is compatible with both Macs and Windows PCs. Priced at just under $300, AKiTiO is selling the adapter directly as well as through Amazon.As described back in June, the AKiTiO Thunder3 10G (T3NA-T3LNITY-AKT) network adapter supports five speeds, including 10GBase-T as well as NBase-T, allowing it to work not only with corporate 10 GbE networks, but also with upcoming 2.5GBase-T and 5GBase-T networks primarily aimed at small businesses and consumers, as well as existing 1 GbE and 100 M networks. The device itself is a relatively small rugged box made of aluminum for better heat dissipation and featuring rubber pads on its sides for further protection.The adapter is bus-powered, it only has one 10 GBase-T port, a Thunderbolt 3 header, as well as an opening for a security lock. Unlike many other TB3 devices, this one does not have another TB3 connector to daisy chain it with other TB3 appliances, perhaps to reduce development and BOM costs (more on this later), or address security concerns of certain clients. Theoretically, it should be possible to plug the Thunder 10G network adapter at the end of a Thunderbolt 3 daisy chain after a display and a DAS, but AKiTiO does explicitly list this as supported.The AKiTiO Thunder3 10G (T3NA-T3LNITY-AKT) is based on Tehuti Networks’ TN9710x-TB3 reference design for Thunderbolt 3 to 10GBase-T/NBase-T network adapters. This reference design is intended to minimize the number of chips and components required: it carries Tehuti’s own TN4010 MAC, Marvell’s Alaska X 88X3310P 10 GbE transceiver, Intel’s DSL6340 Thunderbolt 3 controller (which is why daisy chaining is not supported), Texas Instruments’ TPS65983 USB Type-C and Power Delivery (PD) controller, as well as an essential set of power and other ICs (integrated circuits). AKiTiO already uses Tehuti’s designs for its Thunder2 10G network adapter as well as its 5-Speed 10G/NBASE-T PCIe network card, so the decision to go with this partner was logical. Apart from developing chips and reference designs, Tehuti provides unified drivers for them and having one driver for all three products greatly simplifies their support. Speaking of drivers, the Thunder3 10G is compatible with macOS 10.12.5 and above, Windows 7 and Windows 10.AKiTiO’s Thunder3 10G is now available directly from the company as well as from Amazon for $279.99, which is below MSRP of most Intel-based 10GbE add-on cards. Considering the fact that the latter are generally aimed at servers and high-end workstations (and therefore come with appropriate features and software stack), this is not really surprising. In the meantime, it is noteworthy that the Thunder3 10G costs $120 less than the Thunder2 10G ($399.99), a clear indicator that 10 GbE hardware in general is getting more affordable.Buy AKiTiO Thunder3 10G on Amazon.comRelated Reading:
Gen-Z Interconnect Core Specification 1.0 Published
The first major release of the Gen-Z systems interconnect specification is now available. The Gen-Z Consortium was publicly announced in late 2016 and has been developing the technology as an open standard, with several drafts released in 2017 for public comment.Gen-Z is one of several standards that emerged from the long stagnation of the PCI Express standard after the PCIe 3.0 release. Technologies like Gen-Z, CAPI, CCIX and NVLink seek to offer higher throughput, lower latency and the option of cache coherency, in order to enable much higher performance connections between processors, co-processors/accelerators, and fast storage. Gen-Z in particular has very broad ambitions to blur the lines between a memory bus, processor interconnect, peripheral bus and even straying into networking territory.The Core Specification released today primarily addresses connecting processors to memory, with the goal of allowing the memory controllers in processors to be media-agnostic: the details of whether the memory is some type of DRAM (eg. DDR4, GDDR6) or a persistent memory like 3D XPoint are handled by a media controller at the memory end of a Gen-Z link, while the processor itself issues simple and generic read and write commands over the link. In this use case, Gen-Z doesn't completely remove the need for traditional on-die memory controllers or the highest-performance solutions like HBM2, but Gen-Z can enable more scalability and flexibility by allowing new memory types to be supported without altering the processor, and by providing access to more banks of memory than can be directly attached to the processor's own memory controller.At the lowest level, Gen-Z connections look a lot like most other modern high-speed data links: fast serial links, bonding together multiple lanes to increase throughput, and running a packet-oriented protocol. Gen-Z borrows from both PCI Express and IEEE 802.3 Ethernet physical layer (PHY) standards to offer per-lane speeds up to the 56Gb/s raw speed of 50GBASE-KR, and will track the speed increases from future versions of those underlying standards. The PCIe PHY is incorporated more or less as-is, while the Ethernet PHY standards have been modified to allow for lower power operation when used for shorter links within a single system, such as communication between dies on a multi-chip module. Gen-Z allows for asymmetric links with more links and bandwidth in one direction than the other. The Gen-Z protocol supports various connection topologies like basic point to point links, daisy-chaining, and switched fabrics, including multiple paths of connection between endpoints. Daisy-chain links are estimated to add about 5ns of latency per hop, and switch latencies are expected to be on the order of 10ns for a small 8-port switch up to 50-60ns for a 64-port switch, so using Gen-Z for memory access is reasonable, especially where the somewhat slower persistent memory technologies are concerned. The Gen-Z protocol expresses almost everything in memory terms, but with each endpoint performing its own memory mapping and translation rather than attempting to form a unified single address space across a Gen-Z fabric that could scale beyond a single rack in a data center.Wide Industry ParticipationThe Gen-Z Consortium launched with the support of a dozen major technology companies, but its membership has now grown to the point that it is easier to list the big hardware companies who aren't currently involved: Intel and NVidia. Gen-Z has members from every segment necessary to build a viable product ecosystem: semiconductor design and IP (Mentor, Cadence, PLDA), connectors (Molex, Foxconn, Amphenol, TE), processors and accelerators (AMD, ARM, IBM, Cavium, Xilinx), switches and controllers (IDT, Microsemi, Broadcom, Mellanox), every DRAM and NAND flash memory manufacturer except Intel, software vendors (RedHat, VMWare), system vendors (Lenovo, HPE, Dell EMC). It is clear that most of the industry is paying attention to Gen-Z, even if most of them haven't yet committed to bringing Gen-Z products to market.At the SuperComputing17 conference in November, Gen-Z had a multi-vendor demo of four servers sharing access to two pools of memory through a Gen-Z switch. This was implemented with heavy use of FPGAs, but with the Core Specification 1.0 release we will start seeing Gen-Z show up in ASICs. The focus for now is on datacenter use cases with products potentially hitting the market in 2019.In the meantime, it will be interesting to see where industry support concentrates between Gen-Z and competing standards. Many companies are members or supporters of more than one of the new interconnect standards, and there's no clear winner at this time. Nobody is abandoning PCI Express, and it isn't clear which new interconnect will offer the most compelling advantages over the existing ubiquitous standards or over proprietary interconnects. Gen-Z seems to have one of the widest membership bases and the widest target market, but it could still easily be doomed to niche status if it only receives half-hearted support from most of its members.
Panasonic Unveils Let’s Note SV7: 12.1-Inch, Quad-Core CPU, TB3, ODD, 21 Hrs, 2.4 Lbs
Panasonic has upgraded its 12.1-inch series laptops with Intel’s quad-core 8 Generation Core i5/i7 CPUs. The new Panasonic Let’s Note CF-SV7-series notebooks are the only ultra-compact PCs to feature Intel’s latest mobile processors, a Thunderbolt 3 interconnection, an optical drive and an optional LTE modem in a package that weighs from 999 grams to 1.124 kilograms (2.2 – 2.47 pounds).Panasonic is one of a few companies nowadays that offers highly-integrated ultra-compact laptops with optical disc drives. These machines are very light because they are made of plastic (they are still rugged enough and can be dropped from a height of 76 cm) and their weight is about a kilogram, but they are not ultra-thin like modern notebooks from Apple, HP or Lenovo. To a large degree, they are relatively thick because they are designed to offer their owners the best possible connectivity, feature set and battery life, something that we usually see on 14”/15.6” laptops from other manufacturers. In Europe and the U.S. many people nowadays prefer ultra-thin PCs even if they lack replaceable batteries or certain ports (and I am not even talking about laptops with ODDs — they have become exotic). User preferences are different in Japan, which is why Panasonic still offers 12”-class laptops with optical drives, thick replaceable batteries and plenty of connectors.The Panasonic Let’s Note CF-SV7 family of notebooks succeeds the company’s Let’s Note CF-SZ6 lineup that featured a similar appearance, a 12.1” WUXGA (1920×1200) display, comparable weight and dimensions as well as a very long battery life of up to 21 hours (enabled by a removable accumulator). Meanwhile, even though the CF-SV7 continues traditions of the CF-SZ6, it does not mean that Panasonic just installed new quad-core CPUs into an old chassis.The Let’s Note SV7-series based on Intel’s quad-core Core i5/i7 processors actually uses a new chassis that is 24.5 mm thick (down from 25.3 mm in case of the SZ6) and features a new cooling system for its new CPUs. Because of the new cooler, the SV7 PCs are a bit heavier than their predecessors, but even when equipped with a high-capacity “L” battery, their weight does not exceed 1.124 kilograms. Besides the new quad-core 8 Generation Core i5/i7 processors, Panasonic’s latest SV7-series laptops obtained a Thunderbolt 3 port, a rare feature for 12”-class mobile computers.Exact configurations of Panasonic’s Let’s Note CF-SV7 vary greatly. Retail versions of the CF-SV7 are equipped with Intel’s Core i5-8250U or Core i7-8550 CPUs, 8 GB of LPDDR4-1866 memory and a SATA SSD (128 GB – 1 TB). Meanwhile, built-to-order models bought directly from Panasonic can be customized to feature Intel’s Core i5-8350U or Core i7-8650U, 16 GB RAM as well as a 1 TB PCIe SSD. As for connectivity, the systems are outfitted with an 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.1 wireless module, a GbE connector, three USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a D-Sub output, an HDMI 2.0 header (supporting 4Kp60 resolution), a TRRS audio connector and so on. In addition, the systems feature stereo speakers, a microphone, a 720p webcam with an IR sensor compatible with Windows Hello, an SD card reader supporting SDHC/SDXC cards with UHS-II interface as well as a CD/DVD burner/reader or a Blu-ray reader/CD/DVD burner. Some systems come with a 4G/LTE modem, other can be configured to include a 1 TB HDD in addition to a 128 GB SSD. It is noteworthy that the width of a key on SV7’s keyboard is 19 mm, comparable to that of a modern MacBook Pro. Meanwhile, the new SV7 continues to feature Panasonic’s round touchpad that does not look too comfy.Besides high integration, the Let’s Note CF-SV7-series can be proud of its battery life. When equipped with an “S” battery and an SSD, the laptop can work for up to 14 hours, according to Panasonic. Meanwhile, if an “L” accumulator is installed, the system is rated for 21 hours, probably a record for 12”-class PCs in general.General Specifications of Panasonic Let's Note CF-SV7-Series"High-End""Mainstream""Entry"Display12.1" non-glossy
ARM Announces Project Trillium Machine Learning IPs
Today’s Arm announcement is a bit out of the norm for the company, as it’s the first in a series of staggered releases of information. For this first announcement Arm is publicly unveiling “Project Trillium” – a group of software solutions as well IP for object detection and machine learning.Machine learning is indeed the hot new topic in the semiconductor business and has particularly seen a large focus in the mobile world over the last couple of months, with announcements from various IP companies as well as consumer solutions from the likes of Huawei. We’ve most recently had a more in-depth look and exploration of the topic of machine learning and neural network processing in a dedicated section of our review of the Kirin 970.Whilst we had a great amount of noise from many industry players on the topic of machine learning IPs. Arm was conspicuously absent from the news and until now the focus has been on the CPU ISA extensions of Armv8.2, which introduce specialised instructions which simplify and accelerate implementations of neural networks with the help of half-precision floating point and integer dot products.Alongside the CPU improvements we've also seen GPU improvements for machine learning in the G72. While both of these improvements help, they are insufficient in use-cases where maximum performance and efficiency are required. For example, as we’ve seen in the our test of the Kirin 970’s NPU and Qualcomm’s DSP – the efficiency of running inferencing on specialized IPs is above an order of magnitude higher than running it on a CPU.As Arm explains it, the Armv8.2 and GPU improvements were only the first results towards establishing solutions for machine learning, while in parallel they’ve examined the need for dedicated solutions. Industry pressure from partners made it clear that the performance and efficiency requirements made dedicated solutions inevitable and started work on its machine learning (ML) processors.Today’s announcement covers the new ML processors as well as object detection processors (OD). The latter IP is a result of Arm’s Apical acquirement in 2016 which saw the company add solutions for the display and camera pipelines to their IP portfolio.Starting with the ML processor – what we’re talking about here is a dedicated IP for neural network model inferencing acceleration. As we’ve emphasised in our NN related announcements of late, Arm also emphasises that having an architecture which is specifically designed for such workloads can have significant advantages over traditional CPU and GPU architectures. Arm also made a great focus on the need to design an architecture which is able to do optimised memory management of the data that flows through a processor when executing ML workloads. These workloads have high data reusability and minimising the in- and out-bound data through the processor is a key aspect of reaching high performance and high efficiency.Arm’s ML processor promises to reach theoretical throughput of over 4.6TOPs (8-bit integer) at target power envelopes of around 1.5W, advertising up to 3TOPs/W. The power and efficiency estimates are based on a 7nm implementation of the IP.In regards to the performance figures, Arm agrees with me that the TOPs figure alone might not be the best figure to represent performance of an IP; however it’s still useful until the industry can work towards some sort of standardisation for benchmarking on popular neural network models. The ML processor can act as a fully dedicated and standalone IP block with its own ACE-Lite interface for incorporation into a SoC, or it can be integrated within DynamiQ cluster, which is a lot more novel in terms of implementation. Arm wasn’t ready to disclose more architectural information of the processor and reserves that for future announcements.An aspect that seemed confusing is Arm’s naming of the new IP. Indeed Arm doesn’t see that the term “accelerator” is appropriate here as traditionally accelerators for Arm meant things such as packet handling accelerators in the networking space. Instead Arm sees the new ML processor as a more fully-fledged processor and therefore deserving of that naming.The OD processor is a more traditional vision processor and is optimised for the task of object detection. There is still a need for such IP as while the ML processor could do the same task via neural networks, the OD processor can do it faster and more efficiently. This showcases just how far the industry is going to make dedicated IP for extremely specialised tasks to be able to extract the maximum amount of efficiency.Arm envisions use-cases where the OD and ML processors are integrated together, where the OD processor would isolate areas of interest within an image and forward them to the ML processor where more fine-grained processing is executed on. Arm had a slew of fun examples as ideas, but frankly we still don’t know for sure how use-cases in the mobile space will evolve. The same can’t be said about camera and surveillance systems where we see the opportunity and need for continuous use of OD and ML processing.Arm’s first generation of ML processors is targeted at mobile use while variants for other spaces will follow on in the future. The architecture of the IP is said to be scalable both upwards and downwards from the initial mobile release.As part of Project Trillium, Arm also makes available a large amount of software that will help developers implement their neural network models into different NN frameworks. These are going to be available starting today on Arm’s developer website as well as Github.The OD processor is targeted for release to partners in Q1 while the ML processor is said to be ready mid 2018. Again this is highly unusual for Arm as usually public announcements happen far after IP availability to customers. Due to the nature of SoC development we should thus not expect silicon based on the new IP until mid to late 2019 at the earliest, making Arm one of the slow-adopters among the semiconductor IP vendors who offer ML IP.Related Reading
Micron Readies 3D QLC NAND-Based Datacenter SSDs for Nearline Storage
Micron has revealed plans to release datacenter-class SSDs based on 3D QLC NAND memory in an effort to compete in the nearline storage market. Briefly announced at a conference last week, the company is taking aim at applications that currently use 7200 RPM HDDs, the use of which is increasingly common in nearline storage. The manufacturer did not reveal any additional details about the upcoming drive, but demonstrated a wafer with QLC 3D NAND dies.Micron disclosed its plans concerning own-brand SSDs in 2018 at the A3 Technology Live conference in London last week. Among other things, the company intends to introduce a QLC-based SSD with a SATA interface for cloud datacenters this year. The drive will be positioned below the existing 5200-series SSDs and will be aimed primarily at read intensive applications (or the so-called WORM — write once, read many workloads). The QLC-based SSD will have a feature set aimed at hyperscale datacenters and will compete for the place currently occupied by high-capacity 7200 RPM HDDs, reports The Register.The manufacturer did not disclose capacity of the upcoming QLC-based drives and did not reveal whether they will feature in-house developed controllers with enhanced ECC capabilities (developed using IP and engineers the company got when it acquired Tidal Systems several years ago), or third-party enterprise-grade controllers. The company demonstrated a wafer carrying 64 GB (i.e., 512 Gb) 3D QLC NAND chips, indicating that it has the new flash memory at hand already.QLC flash memory stores four bits per cell, thus offering a 33% higher bit density and lower per-bit cost compared to TLC flash commonly used for high-capacity SSDs today. 3D QLC NAND has been formally announced by Toshiba and Western Digital so far, but there are no doubts that all producers of NAND are working on QLC chips too. Increasing the bit density of NAND flash usually comes at the cost of endurance, but Toshiba last year said that it had managed to increase endurance of its 3D QLC NAND flash to 1000 program/erase cycles by using a stronger ECC mechanism, which is comparable to endurance of 3D TLC NAND.QLC’s higher bit densities as well as lower per-bit costs are expected to reduce per-GB prices of high-capacity SSDs further and enable them to compete against existing leading-edge HDDs, such HGST’s Ultrastar with 12 or 14 TB capacity. Two obvious advantages that high-capacity QLC-based SSDs will have when compared to hard drives are lower latencies and higher storage densities. Meanwhile, per-GB costs of HDDs will remain lower when compared to NAND flash for years to come — this is what producers of both HDDs and flash memory agree on. So I'd expect to see that these upcoming 3D QLC NAND-based SSDs will sit between high-capacity HDDs and high-performance SSDs, occupying a tier of their own in hyperscale datacenters.Related Reading:
AMD Readies Ryzen 3 2200GE & Ryzen 5 2400GE APUs with Reduced TDP
AMD is preparing to release low-power versions of its Ryzen APUs with built-in Radeon Vega graphics. The new Ryzen 3 2200GE and Ryzen 5 2400GE chips will have a 35 W TDP and will operate at lower frequencies when compared to the Ryzen 3 2200G and the Ryzen 5 2400G that hit the market this week. ASUS has already added support for the new energy-efficient APUs to BIOS of one of its AM4 motherboards, so the actual launch is imminent.AMD’s Ryzen 3 2200G with Radeon Vega 8 graphics as well as Ryzen 5 2400G with Radeon RX Vega 11 graphics have configurable TDP of 45 - 65 W and enable AMD to compete for mainstream desktops. This market is rather big and it is important to address it with competitive offerings, but sales of traditional desktops are stagnating at best. Meanwhile, demand for small form-factor desktops is growing, so AMD has to offer processors with reduced power consumption to address them. The company already has multiple energy-efficient Excavator-based APU for the AM4 platform in its arsenal and in the coming weeks or months it will release Zen-based APUs for SFF desktops.Initially, AMD plans to offer two energy-efficient Zen-based APUs: the Ryzen 3 2200GE and the Ryzen 5 2400GE. Both APUs feature four Zen cores as well as Radeon Vega graphics, but their exact specs and configs are yet to be disclosed. According to ASUS, the Ryzen 5 2400GE will feature four cores with SMT operating at 3.2 GHz (down from 3.6 GHz of the Ryzen 5 2400G) as well as a 35 W TDP. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 3 2200GE appears to feature four cores without SMT working at 3.2 GHz (down from 3.5 GHz of the 2200G) along with a 35 W TDP*. It remains to be seen whether AMD’s Ryzen 3 2200GE and Ryzen 5 2400GE sustain iGPU configurations of their higher-power brethren (obviously, at reduced clocks) as well as DDR4-2933 support, but at this point base CPU frequencies is all we know about these products.AMD Ryzen 2000-Series APUsRyzen 5
VAIO S Laptops Updated With 8th Gen Core CPUs & TruePerformance to Prolong Turbo Time
VAIO has updated its popular 13-inch VAIO S laptops sold in the U.S. with Intel’s latest 8 Generation Core i5/i7 processors featuring four cores. Besides new CPUs, the systems have also added the company’s new TruePerformance technology, which is designed to maintain a higher turbo boost frequency for longer periods of time. The new VAIO S also feature a fingerprint reader and a TPM 2.0 module, emphasizing their business nature. Meanwhile the 2018 VAIO S retain their “classic” chassis along with a set of connectors, so they do not support modern headers, such as USB Type-C.The new VAIO S laptops are based on Intel’s quad-core Core i5-8250U or Core i7-8550U processors with Intel UHD Graphics 620 accompanied by 8 – 16 GB of LPDDR3-1866 memory and a PCIe SSD featuring 256 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB capacity. One of the key features of the 2018 VAIO S notebooks is the TruePerformance technology that promises to maximize time that a CPU works at increased frequencies, giving VAIO a competitive advantage over other laptops based on the same processor.VAIO’s TruePerformance tech is a combination of VAIO’s increased CPU power limits and a cooling system that can handle the increased heat. For reference, Intel’s Turbo Boost 2.0 technology increases the CPU frequency in increments of 100 MHz when an operating system requests a higher performance state. Typically, the amount of time that a CPU can work at its maximum Turbo Boost 2.0-defined frequency is about 20 to 30 seconds (according to VAIO), then it has to reduce its clocks because of thermals and other factors. VAIO claims that even if it increased the amount of time a processor operates at its TB 2.0-defined peak to 40 seconds, this would not bring many benefits to end users.Instead, engineers from VAIO increased the base TDP limits of Intel CPUs to prolong the amount of time the chips operate at an above-nominal frequency (or frequencies), but below the TB 2.0-defined peak frequency. The company does not say whether it boosted TDP of Intel’s 8 Generation Core i5/i7 CPUs all the way to 25 W from 15 W (an increase allowed by Intel and called configurable TDP-up) which would explain and define higher frequencies. Meawhile, VAIO admits it needed to redesign its CPU VRMs as well as its cooling system to remove the extra heat. The new cooler has a thicker vent (and probably an enlarged radiator) as well as apply a new fan rotation speed control algorithm to ensure that the chips do not overheat.Based on graphs demonstrated by VAIO, its TruePerformance technology can increase a CPU performance in Cinebench by 11% ~ 13% when compared to the same CPU without the tech. Meanwhile, the increased TDP limit can also lift iGPU performance by 4.5% ~ 8.6%. While performance increases are not radical, they add value to VAIO’s new PCs.Now, back to the laptops themselves. This year’s VAIO S systems are outfitted with a 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.1 module, a GbE connector, a 0.92 MP webcam, an SD card reader, a fingerprint reader, a TPM 2.0 module and so on. Configuration of I/O ports remains unchanged from the original (non-Sony) VAIO S model launched in 2016: three USB 3.0 ports (including one always-on USB 3.0 for charging), a TRRS audio connector, an HDMI and a D-Sub output. When it comes to battery life, the new model S can work for approximately 8 hours 45 minutes on one charge, depending on the model and usage, which is in line with previous-gen VAIO S systems, but is hardly impressive when compared to other modern laptops.As for display and physical dimensions, the new VAIO S features a 13.3” screen with a 1920×1080 resolution, it weighs just about a kilogram (2.34 lbs) and is only 15 – 17.8 mm thick. When compared to the 2016 VAIO S, the chassis got ~1.8 mm thicker at its thinnest point and ~0.2 mm thinner at its thickest point, which is hardly a big deal for portability.The VAIO S 2018 at a GlanceVJS132X0611SVJS132X0511SVJS132X0411SVJS132X0311SDisplaySize13.3"TypeIPSResolution1920×1080CPUSKUCore i5-8250UCore i7-8550UCores/Threads4C/8TCache6 MB8 MBFrequencyBase1.6 GHz1.8 GHzcTDP-up1.8 GHz (?)2 GHz (?)Turbo3.4 GHz4 GHzTDPTDP15 WcTDP-up25 W (?)GPUSKUIntel HD Graphics 620 (GT2)
AM4 Motherboard BIOS Updates Released to Support AMD Ryzen APUs
AMD’s Ryzen CPUs made a large impact on the market starting around mid-2017 when they were released. When Ryzen based CPUs hit the scene, performance was on generally on par or better than its Intel counterparts and pricing was notably better for the same thread count. This was a dramatic change from previous generations and brought competition back to the CPU market. Fast forward to today and AMD's new Ryzen-based APUs are being released – the Raven Ridge-based Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G – which merge AMD's Vega GPU architecture along with Ryzen CPU.With this latest release of what AMD is calling their 2000-series processors, existing X370, B350, and A320 based motherboards will require a BIOS update for proper support of the new APUs. As a result, all of the major board partners have released updates for their respective lineups to include AMD's AGESA microcode, allowing existing boards to fully support these new APUs.In accordance with this latest round of updates, we have compiled a list from four major OEMs of all the updated BIOS versions below. Missing is Biostar who did not make any announcements. We checked the website and as of today, they have not released new BIOSes for their AM4 boards which include the AGESA update supporting these APUs.EDITOR'S NOTE: Biostar announced its support list 2/12 after publication. It has been added below.MSIMSI distributed a press release a couple days ago on its website. These can be found at the motherboard's site and the support section.MSI X370 MotherboardsNamePCB VersionBIOS VersionX370 XPower Gaming Titanium1.1E731AMS.1C0X370 Gaming M7 ACK1.1E7A35AMS.150X370 Gaming Pro Carbon AC1.1E7A32AMS.280X370 Gaming Pro Carbon1.1E732AMS.1C0X370 Krait Gaming1.0 / 1.1E7A33AMS.190X370 Gaming Pro2.0 / 2.1E733AMS.480X370 SLI Plus2.0 / 2.1E7A33AMS.390X370 Gaming Plus3.0E7A33AMS.580B350B350 Gaming Pro Carbon1.1E7B00AMS.190B350 Krait Gaming1.0E7B08AMS.180B350 Tomahawk Plus1.2E7B36AMS.180B350 Tomahawk1.0E7A34AMS.1C0B350 Tomahawk Arctic3.0E7A34AMS.HA0B350 Gaming Plus4.0E7A34AMS.M70B350M Mortar1.1E7A37AMS.1B0B350M Mortar Arctic2.1E7A7AMS.AA0B350M Bazooka1.0E7A38AMS.1A0B350M Gaming Pro1.0E7A39AMS.2C0B350 PC Mate2.0E7A34AMS.AA0B350M Pro-VD Plus1.1E7B38AMS.250B350M Pro-VDH2.0E7A38AMS.A90B350I-S011.1E7A40AMS.230B350I Pro AC1.1E7A40AMS.110B350M Pro-VH Plus1.0E7B07AMS.250A320A320M Gaming Pro1.0E7A39AMS.190A320M Bazooka1.0E7A38AMS.280A320M Grenade3.0E7A39AMS.A80A320M Pro-VD/S1.0E7A36AMS.270A320M Pro-VH Plus1.0E7B07AMS.360A320M Pro-VHL1.0E7B07AMS.160A320M Pro-VD Plus1.0E7B38AMS.310A320M Pro-VD Plus1.1E7B38MAS.150 AsusAsus also sent out an official announcement on their new BIOSes. The Asus website lists them as well as instructions on how to update. The X370 Crosshair motherboards are able to flash via BIOS Flashback or EX Flash 3 while the rest of the of the boards will use the more traditional EX Flash 3.Asus X370 MotherboardsNameBIOS VersionROG Crosshair VI Extreme3502ROG Crosshair VI Hero (Wi-Fi AC)3502ROG Crosshair VI Hero3502ROG Strix X370-F Gaming3803ROG Strix X370-I Gaming3803Prime X370-Pro3803Prime X370-A3803B350ROG Strix B350-F Gaming3803ROG Strix B350-I Gaming3803TUF B350M-Plus Gaming3803Prime B350-Plus3803Prime B350M-A3803Prime B350M-E3803Prime B350M-K3803B350M-Dragon3803A320Prime A320M-C R2.03803Prime A320M-A3803Prime A320M-E3803Prime A320M-K3803EX-A320M-Gaming3803 ASRockASRock also made an announcement, however, it was only on their Japanese website or via email to the press. Since that was published, additional BIOSes have already been released and are listed below.ASRock X370 MotherboardsNameBIOS VersionX370 Taichi4.40X370 Killer SLI/AC4.50X370 Killer SLI4.50Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming4.40Fatal1ty X370 Gaming K44.50Fatal1ty X370 Gaming X4.50Fatal1ty X270 Gaming-ITX/AC4.40B350AB350 Pro44.50AB350M Pro44.50AB350M4.40AB350M-HDV4.40Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming-ITX/AC4.40Fatal1ty AB350 Gaming K44.60A320A320M Pro44.50A320M4.40A320M-DGS4.40A320M-HDV4.40 GIGABYTEGIGABYTE did not have an official announcement but are listed on the website for all AM4 motherboards.GIGABYTE X370 MotherboardsNameBIOS VersionGA-AX370M-Gaming 3F20GA-AX370M-DS3HF20GA-AX370-Gaming K7F20GA-AX370-Gaming K5F20GA-AX370-Gaming K3F20GA-AX370-Gaming 5F20GA-AX370-Gaming 3F20GA-AX370-GamingF20B350GA-AB350M-Gaming 3F20GA-AB350N-Gaming WiFiT20hGA-AB350M-DS3HF20GA-AB350M-D3VF20GA-AB350M-HD3F20GA-AB350M-DS2F20GA-AB350-D3HF20GA-AB350-Gaming 3F20GA-AB350-GamingF20A320GA-A320M-S2HF20GA-A320MA-M.2F20GA-A320M-D2PF20GA-A320M-DS2F20GA-A320M-HD2F20GA-A320-DS3F20BiostarBiostar announced their support through the Taiwan website.Biostar X370 MotherboardsNameBIOS VersionRacing X370GT7F12Racing X370GT5F12Racing X370GT3F12Racing X370GTNF12B350Racing B350GT5F12Racing B350GT3F12Racing B350GTNF12Racing B250ET2F12TB350-BTCF12A320TA320-BTCF12A320MH ProF12A320MD ProF12Related Reading:
Samsung Begins Mass Production of 256 GB eUFS Devices for Automotive Applications
Samsung has announced that it has started mass production of eUFS 2.1-compatible storage devices for automotive applications. The new 256 GB devices support select UFS 3.0 features for vehicles, are qualified to operate in extreme temperature ranges and offer performance levels on par with today’s smartphones.Samsung’s new 256 GB eUFS device is based on the company’s planar MLC NAND flash memory produced using a 10 nm-class process technology as well as a proprietary UFS 2.1 controller supporting data refresh and temperature notification capabilities — both technologies are a part of the UFS 3.0 specification introduced last month and both are supported by Samsung’s 64 GB and 128 GB eUFS products for automotive applications as well as by competing devices. The 256 GB eUFS chip is guaranteed to retain data and operate in extreme temperature conditions — between -40°C and 105°C (i.e., they are AEC-Q100 Grade 2 compliant). Such operating ranges ensure that a car’s ADAS and infotainment systems powered by Samsung’s latest eUFS device can survive cold winters (but not extreme ones with temperatures around -50°C) as well as Iran’s Lut desert (where 70°C seems to be common). The storage product has an integrated thermal sensor, so when its temperature hits the maximum level (or any pre-set level), the storage device will notify the host processor, which in turn will regulate its frequency to lower the temperature.Performance of Samsung’s eUFS 256 GB device for automotive applications is at the high-end of the UFS 2.1 spec and can deliver up to 850 MB/s sequential read speed as well as up to 45K random read IOPS. Unfortunately, the manufacturer does not disclose all performance and any endurance specs of its eUFS 256 GB device, but the existing figures are in-line with performance of storage solutions for today’s smartphones as well as with entry-level PCIe SSDs. Meanwhile, Samsung says that its refresh capability that relocates data from cell to cell to keep charges at sufficient levels to extend data retention also has a positive effect on performance as host processors do not have to extensively use read retry operation because of lower amount of read errors.Samsung has already started to ship its 256 GB eUFS 2.1-compliant devices to its partners among automotive manufacturers working on next-generation ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems), infotainment systems, and dashboards. Samsung does not name the respective manufacturers, but claims that the 256 GB UFS 2.1 will first be used for high-end vehicles.Related Reading:
Marrying Vega and Zen: The AMD Ryzen 5 2400G Review
AMD's new launch of APUs hits the apex of the 2017 designs that tend the balance sheet black. After a return to high performance on x86 with the Ryzen CPU product line, and the 'we can't product enough' Vega graphics, AMD has inserted several product lines that combine the two. Today is the launch of the desktop socket edition APUs, with four Zen cores and up to 11 Vega compute units. AMD has historically been aggressive in the low-end desktop space, effectively killing the sub-$100 discrete graphics market. The new APUs now set the bar even higher. In this review we focus on the Ryzen 5 2400G, but also test the Ryzen 3 2200G.
The Snapdragon 845 Performance Preview: Setting the Stage for Flagship Android 2018
In what has become an annual tradition for Qualcomm, the company has once again opened the doors of their San Diego headquarters to the press to take a preview look at the next generation of their flagship mobile platform. These events have been going on for several years now, and have become an integral part of how Qualcomm approaches the public with their wares; preview events not only let them set expectations, but to get the word out to technically-minded audiences in a vendor-neutral manner. Rather than being one part in the next flagship smartphone, preview day means that everything can be about Qualcomm and the platforms that they have created.Late last year Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 845 platform, the successor to 2017’s Snapdragon 835. Implementing a number of important architectural improvements over its predecessor, the Snapdragon 845 gets to follow-up on what ended up being a rather well-received platform in the Snapdragon 835, and to see if Qualcomm can maintain their momentum. Qualcomm used their December event to release a good bit of info on the 845 in advance, so we’ve already had a chance to see what Qualcomm is planning architecturally. And now with the preview event we finally get to see how all of this comes together with a look at the platform as a whole.
The EVGA X299 Micro Motherboard Review: A Smaller Take on X299
The EVGA X299 Micro Motherboard is mid-range microATX offering aiming to please a wide range of users but isn't marketed towards any one function in particular. It supports 2-way multi-GPU, includes a U.2 port, an M.2 slot, and has Wi-Fi connectivity via an included card. It sits as the second smallest commercial X299 motherboard, behind the X299E-ITX.
NVIDIA Announces Record Q4 2018 Results
This afternoon NVIDIA announced yet another record quarter, with revenues of $2.91 billion, which is up 34% from a year ago. Gross margin was 61.9%, and operating income was up 46% to $1.07 billion. Net income for the quarter was $1.12 billion, up 71% from a year ago, which provided diluted earnings per share of $1.78.NVIDIA Q4 2018 Financial Results (GAAP)Q4'2018Q3'2018Q4'2017Q/QY/YRevenue$2911M$2636M$2173M+10%+34%Gross Margin61.9%59.5%60.0%+2.4%+1.9%Operating Income$1073M$895M$733M+20%+46%Net Income$1118M$838M$655M+33%+71%EPS$1.78$1.33$0.99+34%+80%For their 2018 fiscal year, NVIDIA racked up $9.71 billion in revenue, which is up 41% from a year ago. Earnings per share for the year were $4.82, up 88%.NVIDIA has kind of hit a magic sweet spot, where they had been diversifying into growing markets, but have found themselves also swept up in the GPU fed craze of cryptocurrency, feeding their core business as well.Gaming, which is their GeForce lineup, had revenues for the quarter of $1.74 billion, up almost $400 million from a year ago. But for the entire fiscal year, they haven’t even refreshed their lineup, although the Pascal series of GPUs have certainly been strong in terms of performance and efficiency. But you’d be lucky to find any in stock thanks to the copious number of GPUs purchased for mining coins. It’s not been ideal for gamers, but for NVIDIA’s R&D, and their investors, it’s been welcome news.Professional Visualization was also up about 13% to $254 million. Growth here was attributed to the ultra-high-end and high-end desktop workstations, such as the Quadro GP100 launched earlier in the fiscal year.NVIDIA’s foray into the datacenter is also paying off with substantial growth. Datacenter includes Tesla, GRID, and DGX systems, and for the quarter, NVIDIA saw revenues of $606 million, which are up 105% from a year ago.Automotive was up a more modest 3% to $132 million, and we’ve seen NVIDIA get some big design wins with large automotive companies with their DRIVE platforms.Automotive is powered by Tegra, and including the automotive sales, Tegra brought in $450 million this quarter, and the very popular Nintendo Switch is likely a nice chunk of that.OEM and IP was $180 million for the quarter, which is up about 2.2%, and NVIDIA stated their licensing agreement with Intel concluded in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018.NVIDIA Quarterly Revenue Comparison (GAAP)
SK Hynix Announces SSDs with 72-Layer 3D NAND ICs, Own Controllers
SK Hynix this week has said it has completed development of its enterprise-grade SSDs based on its 512 Gb 72-layer 3D TLC NAND chips as well as its own controllers and firmware. The drives will be available with SATA and PCIe interfaces and will target various applications. Select clients of SK Hynix have already received samples of its eSSDs.SK Hynix’s SATA SSDs are based on the company’s 72-layer 3D NAND 512 Gb chips, and are designed to offer up to 4 TB of raw NAND flash memory. These drives are rated to support sequential read and write speeds of up to 560 MB/s and 515 MB/s respectively. When it comes to random performance, these drives are capable of up to 98K random read IOPS and up to 32K random write IOPS (but SK Hynix does not disclose queue depth and other factors).As for SK Hynix’s PCIe-based drives, they come in an M.2 form-factor and offer capacities of 1 TB or higher. The manufacturer declares sequential read performance of up to 2.7 GB/s, sequential write performance of up to 1.1 GB/s, random read performance of up to 230K IOPS as well as random write performance of up to 35K IOPS. SK Hynix does not disclose feature set, but based on their images we can expect them to offer power loss protection.SK Hynix's Enterprise SSDs at a Glance7mm SATAM.2 NVMe