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Updated 2021-10-21 23:30
Intel Reports Q3 2021 Earnings: Client Down, Data Center and IoT Up
Kicking off another earnings season, Intel is once again leading the pack of semiconductor companies in reporting their earnings for the most recent quarter. As the company gets ready to go into the holiday quarter, they are coming off what’s largely been a quiet quarter for the chip maker, as Intel didn’t launch any major products in Q3. Instead, Intel’s most recent quarter has been driven by ongoing sales of existing products, with most of Intel’s business segments seeing broad recoveries or other forms of growth in the last year.For the third quarter of 2021, Intel reported $19.2B in revenue, a $900M improvement over the year-ago quarter. Intel’s profitability has also continued to grow – even faster than overall revenues – with Intel booking $6.8B in net income for the quarter, dwarfing Q3’2020’s “mere” $4.3B. Unsurprisingly, that net income growth has been fueled in part by higher gross margins; Intel’s overall gross margin for the quarter was 56%, up nearly 3 percentage points from last year.Intel Q3 2021 Financial Results (GAAP)Q3'2021Q2'2021Q3'2020Revenue$19.2B$19.7B$18.3BOperating Income$5.2B$5.7B$5.1BNet Income$6.8B$5.1B$4.3BGross Margin56.0%53.3%53.1%Client Computing Group Revenue$9.7B-4%-2%Data Center Group Revenue$6.5Bflat+10%Internet of Things Group Revenue$1.0B+2%+54%Mobileye Revenue$326Mflat+39%Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group$1.1Bflat-4%Programmable Solutions Group$478M-2%+16%Breaking things down by Intel’s individual business groups, most of Intel’s groups have enjoyed significant growth over the year-ago quarter. The only groups not to report gains are Intel’s Client Computing Group (though this is their largest group) and their Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group, which Intel is in the process of selling to SK Hynix.Starting with the CCG then, Intel’s core group is unfortunately also the only one struggling to grow right now. With $9.7B in revenue, it’s down just 2% from Q3’2020, but that’s something that stands out when Intel’s other groups are doing so well. Further breaking down the numbers, platform revenue overall is actually up 2% on the year, but non-platform revenue – “adjacencies” as Intel terms them, such as their modem and wireless communications product lines – are down significantly. On the whole this isn’t too surprising since Intel is in the process of winding down its modem business anyhow as part of that sale to Apple, but it’s an extra drag that Intel could do without.The bigger thorn in Intel’s side at the moment, according to the company, is the ongoing chip crunch, which has limited laptop sales. With Intel’s OEM partners unable to source enough components to build as many laptops as they’d like, it has the knock-on effect of reducing their CPU orders, even though Intel itself doesn’t seem to be having production issues. The upshot, at least, is that desktop sales are up significantly versus the year-ago quarter, and that average selling prices (ASPs) for both desktop and notebook chips are up.Meanwhile, Intel’s Data Center Group is enjoying a recovery in enterprise spending, pushing revenues higher. DCG’s revenue grew 10% year-over-year, with both sales volume and ASPs increasing by several percent on the back of their Ice Lake Xeon processors. A bit more surprising here is that Intel believes they could be doing even better if not for the chip crunch; higher margin products like servers are typically not impacted as much by these sorts of shortages, since server makers have the means to pay for priority.Unfortunately, unlike Q2 Intel isn’t providing a quarter-over-quarter (i.e. vs the previous quarter) figures for their earnings presentation. So while overall DCG revenue is flat on a quarterly basis, it sounds like Intel hasn’t really recovered from the hit they took in Q2. Meanwhile, commerntary on Intel's earnings call suggests the sales of the largest (XCC) Ice Lake Xeons has been softer than Intel first expected, which has kept ASP growth down in an otherwise DCG-centric quarter.The third quarter was also kind to Intel’s IoT groups and their Programmable Solutions Group. All three groups are up by double-digit percentages on a YoY basis, particularly the Internet of Things Group (IoTG), which is up 54%. According to Intel, that IOTG growth is largely due to businesses recovering from the pandemic, with a similar story for the Mobileye group thanks to automotive production having ramped back up versus its 2020 lows.Otherwise, Intel’s final group, the Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group, was the other declining group for the quarter. At this point Intel has officially excised the group’s figures from their non-GAAP reporting, and while they’re still required to report those figures in GAAP reports, they aren’t further commenting on a business that will soon no longer be theirs.Finally, tucked inside Intel’s presentation deck is an interesting note: Intel Foundry Services (IFS) has shipped its first revenue wafers. Intel is, of course, betting heavily on IFS becoming a cornerstone of its overall chip-making business in the future as part of its IDM 2.0 strategy, so shipping customers’ chips for revenue is an important first step in that process. Intel has laid out a very aggressive process roadmap leading up to 20A in 2024, and IFS’s success will hinge on whether they can hit those manufacture ring technology targets.For Intel, Q3’2021 was overall a decent quarter for the group – though what’s decent is relative. With the DCG, IOTG, and Mobileye groups all setting revenue records for the quarter (and for IOTG, overall records), Intel continues to grow. On the flip side, however, Intel missed their own revenue projections for the quarter by around $100M, so in that respect they’ve come in below where they intended to be. And judging from the 7% drop in the stock price during after-hours trading, investors are taking note.Looking forward, Intel is going into the all-important Q4 holiday sales period, typically their biggest quarter of the year. At this point the company is projecting that it will book $18.3B in non-GAAP revenue (excluding NSG), which would be a decline of 5% versus Q4’2020. Similarly, the company is expecting gross margins to come back down a bit, forecasting a 53.5% margin for the quarter. On the product front, Q4 will see the launch of the company’s Alder Lake family of processors, though initial CPU launches and their relatively low volumes tend not to move the needle too much.On that note, Intel’s Innovation event is scheduled to take place next week, on the 27 and 28. The two day event is a successor-of-sorts to Intel’s IDF program, and we should find out more about the Alder Lake architecture and Intel’s specific product plans at that time.Gallery: Intel Q3 2021 Earnings Presentation
Intel Reaffirms: Our Discrete GPUs Will Be On Shelves in Q1 2022
Today is when Intel does its third-quarter 2021 financial disclosures, and there’s one little tidbit in the earnings presentation about its upcoming new discrete GPU offerings. The earnings are usually a chance to wave the flag of innovation about what’s to come, and this time around Intel is confirming that its first-generation discrete graphics with the Xe-HPG architecture will be on shelves in Q1 2022.Intel has slowly been disclosing the features for its discrete gaming graphics offerings. Earlier this year, the company announced the branding for its next-gen graphics, called Arc, and with that the first four generations of products: Alchemist, Battlemage, Celestial, and Druid. It’s easy to see that we’re going ABCD here. Technically at that disclosure, in August 2021, Intel did state that Alchemist will be coming in Q1, the reaffirmation of the date today in the financial disclosures indicates that they’re staying as close to this date as possible.Intel has previously confirmed that Alchemist will be fully DirectX 12 Ultimate compliant – meaning that alongside RT, it will offer variable-rate shading, mesh shaders, and sampler feedback. This will make it comparable in core graphics features to current-generation AMD and NVIDIA hardware. Although it has taken a few years now to come to fruition, Intel has made it clear for a while now that the company has intended to become a viable third player in the discrete graphics space. Intel’s odyssey, as previous marketing efforts have dubbed it, has been driven primarily by developing the Xe family of GPU microarchitectures, as well as the GPUs based on those architectures. Xe-LP was the first out the door last year, as part of the Tiger Lake family of CPUs and the DG1 discrete GPU. Other Xe family architectures include Xe-HP for servers and Xe-HPC for supercomputers and other high-performance compute environments.The fundamental building block of Alchemist is the Xe Core. For manufacturing, Intel is turning to TSMC’s N6 process to do it. Given Intel’s Q1’22 release timeframe, Intel’s Alchemist GPUs will almost certainly be the most advanced consumer GPUs on the market with respect to manufacturing technology. Alchemist will be going up against AMD’s Navi 2x chips built on N7, and NVIDIA’s Ampere GA10x chips built on Samsung 8LPP. That said, as AMD can attest to, there’s more to being competitive in the consumer GPU market than just having a better process node. In conjunction with the use of TSMC’s N6 process, Intel is reporting that they’ve improved both their power efficiency (performance-per-watt) and their clockspeeds at a given voltage by 50% compared to Xe-LP. Note that this is the sum total of all of their improvements – process, logic, circuit, and architecture – so it’s not clear how much of this comes from the jump to TSMC N6 from Intel 10SF, and how much comes from other optimizations.Exactly what performance level and pricing Intel will be pitching its discrete graphics to is currently unknown. The Q1 launch window puts CES (held the first week of January) as a good spot to say something more.Related Reading
SK Hynix Announces Its First HBM3 Memory: 24GB Stacks, Clocked at up to 6.4Gbps
Though the formal specification has yet to be ratified by JEDEC, the memory industry as a whole is already gearing up for the upcoming launch of the next generation of High Bandwidth Memory, HBM3. Following announcements earlier this summer from controller IP vendors like Synopsys and Rambus, this morning SK Hynix is announcing that it has finished development of its HBM3 memory technology – and according to the company, becoming the first memory vendor to do so. With controller IP and now the memory itself nearing or at completion, the stage is being set for formal ratification of the standard, and eventually for HBM3-equipped devices to start rolling out later in 2022.Overall, the relatively lightweight press release from SK Hynix is roughly equal parts technical details and boasting. While there are only 3 memory vendors producing HJBM – Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron – it’s still a technically competitive field due to the challenges involved in making deep-stacked and TSV-connected high-speed memory work, and thus there’s a fair bit of pride in being first. At the same time, HBM commands significant price premiums even with its high production costs, so memory vendors are also eager to be first to market to cash in on their technologies.In any case, both IP and memory vendors have taken to announcing some of their HBM wares even before the relevant specifications have been announced. We saw both parties get an early start with HBM2E, and now once again with HBM3. This leaves some of the details of HBM3 shrouded in a bit of mystery – mainly that we don’t know what the final, official bandwidth rates are going to be – but announcements like SK Hynix’s help narrow things down. Still, these sorts of early announcements should be taken with a small grain of salt, as memory vendors are fond of quoting in-lab data rates that may be faster than what the spec itself defines (e.g. SK Hynix’s HBM2E).Getting into the technical details, according to SK Hynix their HBM3 memory will be able to run as fast as 6.4Gbps/pin. This would be double the data rate of today’s HBM2E, which formally tops out at 3.2Gbps/pin, or 78% faster than the company's off-spec 3.6Gbps/pin HBM2E SKUs. SK Hynix’s announcement also indirectly confirms that the basic bus widths for HBM3 remain unchanged, meaning that a single stack of memory is 1024-bits wide. At Hynix’s claimed data rates, this means a single stack of HBM3 will be able to deliver 819GB/second worth of memory bandwidth.SK Hynix HBM Memory ComparisonHBM3HBM2EHBM2Max Capacity24 GB16 GB8 GBMax Bandwidth Per Pin6.4 Gb/s3.6 Gb/s2.0 Gb/sNumber of DRAM ICs per Stack1288Effective Bus Width1024-bitVoltage?1.2 V1.2 VBandwidth per Stack819.2 GB/s460.8 GB/s256 GB/sSK Hynix will be offering their memory in two capacities: 16GB and 24GB. This aligns with 8-Hi and 12-Hi stacks respectively, and means that at least for SK Hynix, their first generation of HBM3 memory is still the same density as their latest-generation HBM2E memory. This means that device vendors looking to increase their total memory capacities for their next-generation parts (e.g. AMD and NVIDIA) will need to use memory with 12 dies/layers, up from the 8 layer stacks they typically use today.What will be interesting to see in the final version of the HBM3 specification is whether JEDEC sets any height limits for 12-Hi stacks of HBM3. The group punted on the matter with HBM2E, where 8-Hi stacks had a maximum height but 12-Hi stacks did not. That in turn impeded the adoption of 12-Hi stacked HBM2E, since it wasn’t guaranteed to fit in the same space as 8-Hi stacks – or indeed any common size at all.On that matter, the SK Hynix press release notably calls out the efforts the company put into minimizing the size of their 12-Hi (24GB) HBM3 stacks. According to the company, the dies used in a 12-Hi stack – and apparently just the 12-Hi stack – have been ground to a thickness of just 30 micrometers, minimizing their thickness and allowing SK Hynix to properly place them within the sizable stack. Minimizing stack height is beneficial regardless of standards, but if this means that HBM3 will require 12-Hi stacks to be shorter – and ideally, the same height as 8-Hi stacks for physical compatibility purposes – then all the better for customers, who would be able to more easily offer products with multiple memory capacities.Past that, the press release also confirms that one of HBM’s core features, integrated ECC support, will be returning. The standard has offered ECC since the very beginning, allowing device manufacturers to get ECC memory “for free”, as opposed to having to lay down extra chips with (G)DDR or using soft-ECC methods.Finally, it looks like SK Hynix will be going after the same general customer base for HBM3 as they already are for HBM2E. That is to say high-end server products, where the additional bandwidth of HBM3 is essential, as is the density. HBM has of course made a name for itself in server GPUs such as NVIDIA’s A100 and AMD’s M100, but it’s also frequently tapped for high-end machine learning accelerators, and even networking gear.We’ll have more on this story in the near future once JEDEC formally approves the HBM3 standard. In the meantime, it’s sounding like the first HBM3 products should begin landing in customers’ hands in the later part of next year.
Best Internal Hard Drives: October 2021
Data storage requirements have kept increasing over the last several years. While SSDs have taken over the role of the primary drive in most computing systems, hard drives continue to be the storage media of choice in areas dealing with large amount of relatively cold data. Hard drives are also suitable for workloads that are largely sequential and not performance sensitive. The $/GB metric for SSDs (particularly with QLC in the picture) is showing a downward trend, but it is still not low enough to match HDDs in that market segment.In terms of recent product introductions, we have retail availability of Toshiba's 16TB N300 and X300 drives. The 18TB drives using FC-MAMR are also scheduled to make a retail appearance later this year. Seagate had launched the Ironwolf Pro and Exos 18TB drives last year, and no new capacity updates have been announced for this season yet. The same is the case with Western Digital - the 16TB and 18TB WD Red Pro models were introduced last September. The company did make the OptiNAND announcement in August 2021 - promising the integration of UFS storage in their 20TB+ HDDs in order to improve performance and reliability. With the HDD supply chain seeing some improvements, prices have largely stabilized. Some high-capacity models in the WD Gold line are currently running 15-20% lower than launch MSRPs.
The Huawei MateBook 16 Review, Powered by AMD Ryzen 7 5800H: Ecosystem Plus
Having very recently reviewed the Matebook X Pro 2021 (13.9-inch), our local PR in the UK offered me a last-minute chance to examine the newest element to their laptop portfolio. The Huawei MateBook 16, on paper at least, comes across as a workhorse machine designed for office and on the go. A powerful CPU that can go into a high-performance mode when plugged in, and sip power when it needs to. No discrete graphics to get in the way, and a massive 84 Wh battery is designed for an all-day workflow. It comes with a color-accurate large 3:2 display, and with direct screen share with a Huawei smartphone/tablet/monitor, it means if you buy into the ecosystem there’s a lot of potential. The question remains – is it any good?
Google Announces Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro: The New Real Flagship Pixels
Today, after many weeks, even months of leaks and teasers, Google has finally announced the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro – their new flagship line-up of phones for 2021 and carrying them over into next year. The two phones had been teased quite on numerous occasions and have probably one of the worst leak records of any phone ever, and today’s event revealed little unknowns, but yet still Google manages to put on the table a pair of very interesting phones, if not, the most interesting Pixel phones the company has ever managed to release.
The Arm DevSummit 2021 Keynote Live Blog: 8am PT (15:00 UTC)
This week seems to be Arm's week across the tech industry. Following yesterday's Arm SoC announcements from Apple, today sees Arm kick off their 2021 developer's summit, aptly named DevSummit. As always, the show is opening up with a keynote being delivered by Arm CEO Simon Segars, who will be using the opportunity to lay out Arm's vision of the future.Arm chips are already in everything from toasters to PCs – and Arm isn't stopping there. So be sure to join us at 8am PT (15:00 UTC) for our live blog coverage of Arm's keynote.
Apple Announces M1 Pro & M1 Max: Giant New Arm SoCs with All-Out Performance
Today’s Apple Mac keynote has been very eventful, with the company announcing a new line-up of MacBook Pro devices, powered by two different new SoCs in Apple’s Silicon line-up: the new M1 Pro and the M1 Max.The M1 Pro and Max both follow-up on last year’s M1, Apple’s first generation Mac silicon that ushered in the beginning of Apple’s journey to replace x86 based chips with their own in-house designs. The M1 had been widely successful for Apple, showcasing fantastic performance at never-before-seen power efficiency in the laptop market. Although the M1 was fast, it was still a somewhat smaller SoC – still powering devices such as the iPad Pro line-up, and a corresponding lower TDP, naturally still losing out to larger more power-hungry chips from the competition.Today’s two new chips look to change that situation, with Apple going all-out for performance, with more CPU cores, more GPU cores, much more silicon investment, and Apple now also increasing their power budget far past anything they’ve ever done in the smartphone or tablet space.
The Apple 2021 Fall Mac Event Live Blog 10am PT (17:00 UTC)
Following last month’s announcement event of Apple’s newest iPhone and iPad line-ups, today we’re seeing Apple hold its second fall event, where we expect the company to talk about all new things Mac. Last year’s event was a historic one, with Apple introducing the M1 chip and new powered Mac devices, marking the company’s move away from x86 chips from Intel, taking instead their own future in their hands with their own custom Arm silicon. This year, we’re expecting more chips and more devices, with even more performance to be release. Stay tuned as we cover tonight’s show.
TSMC Roadmap Update: 3nm in Q1 2023, 3nm Enhanced in 2024, 2nm in 2025
TSMC has introduced a brand-new manufacturing technology roughly every two years over the past decade. Yet as the complexity of developing new fabrication processes is compounding, it is getting increasingly difficult to maintain such a cadence. The company has previously acknowledged that it will start producing chips using its N3 (3 nm) node about four months later than the industry is used to (i.e., Q2), and in a recent conference call with analysts, TSMC revealed additional details about its latest process technology roadmap, focusing on their N3, N3E, and N2 (2 nm) technologies.N3 in 2023TSMC's N3 technology will provide full node scaling compared to N5, so its adopters will get all performance (10% - 15%), power (-25% ~ -30%), and area (1.7x higher for logic) enhancements that they come to expect from a new node in this day and age. But these advantages will come at a cost. The fabrication process will rely extensively on extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, and while the exact number of EUV layers is unknown, it will be a greater number of layers than the 14 used in N5. The extreme complexity of the technology will further add to the number of process steps – bringing it toto well over 1000 – which will further increase cycle times.As a result, while mass production of the first chips using TSMC's N3 node will begin in the second half of 2022, the company will only be shipping them to an undisclosed client for revenue in the first quarter of 2023. Many observers, however, expected these chips to ship in late 2022."N3 risk production is scheduled in 2021, and production will start in second half of 2022," said C.C. Wei, CEO of TSMC. "So second half of 2022 will be our mass production, but you can expect that revenue will be seen in first quarter of 2023 because it takes long — it takes cycle time to have all those wafer out."N3E in 2024Traditionally, TSMC offers performance-enhanced and application-specific process technologies based on its leading-edge nodes several quarters after their introduction. With N3, the company will be changing their tactics somewhat, and will introduce a node called N3E, which can be considered as an enhanced version of N3.This process node will introduce an improved process window with performance, power, and yield enhancements. It is unclear whether N3 meets TSMC's expectations for PPA and yield, but the very fact that the foundry is talking about improving yields indicates that there is a way to improve it beyond traditional yield boosting methods."We also introduced N3E as an extension of our N3 family," said Wei. "N3E will feature improved manufacturing process window with better performance, power and yield. Volume production of N3E is scheduled for one year after N3."TSMC has not commented on whether N3E will be compatible with N3's design rules, design infrastructure, and IPs. Meanwhile, since N3E will serve customers a year after N3 (i.e., in 2024), there will be quite some time for chip designers to prepare for the new node.N2 in 2025TSMC's N2 fabrication process has largely been a mystery so far. The company has confirmed that it was considering gate-all-around field-effect transistors (GAAFETs) for this node, but has never said that the decision was final. Furthermore, it has never previously disclosed a schedule for N2.But as N2 gets closer, TSMC is slowly locking down some additional details. Particularly, the company is now formally confirming that the N2 node is scheduled for 2025. Though they are not elaborating on whether this means HVM in 2025, or shipments in 2025."I can share with you that in our 2-nm technology, the density and performance, will be the most competitive in 2025," said Wei.
TSMC to Build Japan's Most Advanced Semiconductor Fab
Fabs are well-known for being an expensive business to be in, so any time a new fab is slated for construction, it tends to be a big deal – especially amidst the current chip crunch. To that end, TSMC this week has announced plans to build a new, semi-specialized fab in Japan to meet the needs of its local customers. The semiconductor manufacturing facility will focus on mature and specialty fabrication technologies that are used to make chips with long lifecycles for automakers and consumer electronics. The fab will be Japan's most advanced fab for logic when it becomes operational in late 2024 and if the rumors about planned investments are correct, it could also be Japan's largest fab for logic chips."After conducting due diligence, we announce our intention to build a specialty technology fab in Japan, subject to our board of directors approval," announced CC Wei, chief executive officer of TSMC, during a conference call with investors and financial analysts. "We have received a strong commitment to support this project from both our customers and the Japanese government."Comes Online in Late 2024TSMC's fab in Japan will process 300-mm wafers using a variety of specialty and mature nodes, including a number of 28 nm technologies as well as 22ULP process for ultra-low-power devices. These nodes are not used to make leading-edge ASICs and SoCs, but they are widely used by automotive and consumer electronics industries and will continue to be used for years to come not only for existing chips, but for upcoming solutions as well."This fab will utilize 20 nm to 28 nm technology for semiconductor wafer fabrication," Wei added. "Fab construction is scheduled to begin in 2022 and production is targeted to begin in late 2024, further details will be provided subject to the board approval."While TSMC disclosed the specialized nature of the fab, its schedule, and the fact that it gained support from clients and the Japanese government, the company is not revealing anything beyond that. In fact, while it confirmed that the cost of the semiconductor production facility is not included in its $100 billion three-year CapEx plan, it refused to give any estimates about its planned investments in the project.Meanwhile, there are many things that make this fab special for TSMC, Japan, and the industry.The Most Advanced Logic Fab in JapanIt was late 2005, AMD and Intel started to ship their first dual-core processors and the CPU frequency battle was officially over. Intel was getting ready to introduce its first 65nm chips in early 2006 and all of a sudden Panasonic said that it had started volume production of the world's first application processors using a 65 nm technology, which it co-developed with Renesas, putting Panasonic a couple of months ahead of mighty Intel. In mid-2007, Panasonic again beat Intel to punch by several months with its 45 nm fabrication process.But with their 32 nm node, Panasonic was 9 – 10 months behind Intel. And while the company did a half-node shrink of this process, it ultimately pulled the plug on 22nm following other Japanese conglomerates that opted out from the process technology race even earlier. By now, all Japanese automotive and electronics companies outsource their advanced chips to foundries, who in turn, build the majority of them outside of Japan.By bringing a 22ULP/28nm-capable fab to Japan, TSMC's plans will not only brings advanced logic manufacturing back to the country, but it would also amount to the most advanced fab in Japan. TSMC is also constructing an R&D center in Japan and cooperates with the University of Tokyo on various matters, so its presence in the country is growing, which is good news for the local semiconductor industry.Previously TSMC concentrated its fabs and R&D facilities in Taiwan, but it looks like its rapid growth fueled by surging demand for semiconductors as well as geopolitical matters are compelling the foundry to diversify its production and R&D locations.What is particularly interesting is that according to a Nikkei report, the Japanese production facility will be co-funded by TSMC, the Japanese government, and Sony. This marks another major strategy shift for TSMC, which tends to fully own its fabs. In fact, if the Nikkei report is to be believed, the whole project will cost around $7 billion (though it is not said whether this is the cost of first phase of the fab, or a potential multi-year investment).To put the number into context, SMIC recently announced plans to spend around $8.87 billion on a fab with planned capacity of around 100,000 300-mm wafer starts per month (WSPM). TSMC's facility will presumably cost less and will be built in a country with higher operating costs, so it may well not be a GigaFab-level facility (which have capacity of ~100K WSPM). But still, we are talking about a sizable fab that could have a capacity of tens of thousands of wafer starts per month, which would make it Japan's biggest 300-mm logic facility ever. Just for comparison, the former Panasonic fab in Uozo (now controlled by Tower Semiconductor and Nuvoton) has a capacity of around 8,000 WSPM.TSMC has not formally confirmed any numbers about its Japanese fab, but the company tends to build rather large production facilities that can be expanded if needed. Meanwhile, a fab in Japan that will serve the needs of local automotive and electronics conglomerates promises to help them to avoid shortages of chips in the future. This would also leave TSMC free to assign its 28nmTaiwanese and Chinese production lines to other applications, including PCs, which is important for the whole industry.
G.Skill Unveils Premium Trident Z5 and Z5 RGB DDR5 Memory, Up To DDR5-6400 CL36
With memory manufacturers clamoring over themselves to push out DDR5 in time for the upcoming launch of Intel's Alder Lake processors, G.Skill has unveiled its latest premium Trident Z5 kits. The latest Trident kits are based on Samsung's new DDR5 memory chips and range in speed from DDR5-5600 to DDR5-6400, with latencies of either CL36 or CL40. Meanwhile, G.Skill has also opted to use this opportunity to undertake a complete design overhaul from its previous DDR4 memory, with a fresh new look and plenty of integrated RGB.G.Skill Trident Z5 DDR5 Memory SpecificationsSpeedLatenciesVoltageCapacityDDR5-640036-36-36-76
The EVGA Z590 Dark Motherboard Review: For Extreme Enthusiasts
Getting the most out of Intel's Core i9-11900K primarily relies on two main factors: premium cooling for the chip itself, and a solid motherboard acting as the foundation. And while motherboard manufacturers such as EVGA can't do anything about the former, they have quite a bit of experience with the latter.Today we're taking a look at EVGA's Z590 Dark motherboard, which is putting EVGA's experience to the test as one of a small handful of LGA1200 motherboards geared for extreme overclocking. A niche market within a niche market, few people really have the need (or the means) to overclock a processor within an inch of its life. But for those that do, EVGA has developed a well-earned reputation with its Dark series boards for pulling out all of the stops in helping overclockers get the most out of their chips. And even for the rest of us who will never see a Rocket Lake chip pass 6GHz, it's interesting to see just what it takes with regards to motherboard design and construction to get the job done.
The Be Quiet! Pure Loop 280mm AIO Cooler Review: Quiet Without Compromise
Today we're taking our first look at German manufacturer Be Quiet's all-in-one (AIO) CPU liquid coolers, with a review of their Pure Loop 280mm cooler. True to their design ethos, Be Quiet! has built the Pure Loop to operate with as little noise as is reasonably possible, making for a record-quiet cooler that also hits a great balance between overall performance, an elegant appearance, and price.
AMD Launches Radeon RX 6600: More Mainstream Gaming For $329
AMD this morning is once again expanding its Radeon RX 6000 family of video cards, this time with the addition of a second, cheaper mainstream offering: the Radeon RX 6600. Being announced and launched this morning, the Radeon RX 6600 is aimed at the mainstream 1080p gaming market, taking its place as a second, cheaper alternative to AMD’s already-released Radeon RX 6600 XT. Based on the same Navi 23 GPU as its sibling, the Radeon RX 6600 comes with 28 CUs’ worth of graphics hardware, 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM, and a 32MB Infinity Cache, with prices starting at $329.
Netgear Updates Orbi Lineup with RBKE960 Wi-Fi 6E Quad-Band Mesh System
Mesh networking kits / Wi-Fi systems have become quite popular over the last few years. Despite competition from startups such as eero (now part of Amazon) and Plume (with forced subscriptions), as well as big companies like Google (Google Wi-Fi and Nest Wi-Fi), Netgear's Orbi continues to enjoy popularity in the market. Orbi's use of a dedicated backhaul provides tangible benefit over other Wi-Fi systems using shared backhauls. However, the costs associated with the additional radio have meant that the Orbi Wi-Fi systems have always carried a premium compared to the average market offerings in the space.Netgear introduced their first Wi-Fi 6E router - the Nighthawk RAXE500 - at the 2021 CES. Priced at $600, the router utilized a Broadcom platform (BCM4908 network processing SoC + BCM46384 4-stream 802.11an/ac/ax radio). Today, the company is updating the Orbi lineup with a Wi-Fi 6E offering belonging to the AXE11000 class. Based on Qualcomm's Networking Pro Series 1610 (which integrates the IPQ8074 WiSoC and QCN9074 radios) platform, the company is touting their RBKE960 Orbi series to be the world's first quad-band Wi-Fi 6E mesh system.Netgear's high-end Orbi kits have traditionally been tri-band solutions, with a second 5 GHz channel as a dedicated backhaul. With Wi-Fi 6E, a tri-band solution is mandated - 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz support are all needed for certification. The 6 GHz channel, as discussed previously, opens up multiple 160 MHz channels that are free of interference. The RBKE960 series supports the three mandated bands, and also retains a dedicated 5 GHz backhaul, making it a quad-band solution with combined Wi-Fi speeds of up to 10.8 Gbps across all four considered together.Netgear has opted to retain 5 GHz for the backhaul in order to maximize range. While the 6 GHz band is interference-free, the power restrictions prevent the communication in those channels from having as much range as the existing 5 GHz ones. Having a dedicated backhaul ensures that all the 'fronthaul' channels are available for client devices (shared backhauls result in a 50% reduction in speeds available for client devices for each additional node / satellite). The benefits of Wi-Fi 6E and what consumers can expect from the 6GHz band have already been covered in detail in our Nighthawk RAXE500 launch piece. The Orbi RBKE960 series supports up to seven 160 MHz channels, allowing for interference-free operation even in dense apartments with multiple neighbors.The RBKE960 supports 16 Wi-Fi streams, making for an extremely complex antenna design. Netgear has made improvements based on past experience to the extent that the new Orbi RBKE960 performs better than the Orbi RBK850 even for 5GHz communication (the larger size of the unit also plays a part in this).In terms of hardware features, the router sports a 10G WAN port, 3x 1GbE, and 1x 2.5GBASE-T ports. The satellite doesn't have the WAN port, but retains the other three. The 2.5GBASE-T port can be used to create an Ethernet backhaul between the router and the satellite. On the software side, the new Orbi creates four separate Wi-Fi networks for different use-cases.The reduced range in the 6GHz band means that large homes might require multiple satellites to blanket the whole area with 6GHz coverage.Installation and management is via the Orbi app. Netgear also includes the NETGEAR Armor cyber-security suite with integrated parental controls - some features in Armor are subscription-based.Netgear is also introducing an 'Orbi Black Edition' available exclusively on Netgear's own website. With the RAXE500 setting the stage with its $600 price point, it is no surprise that the RBSE960 satellite costs the same (trading the WAN port and other features for an extra 4x4 radio). A kit with a router and a single satellite (RBKE962) is priced at $1100, while the RBKE963 (an additional satellite) bumps up the price tag to $1500. With home Wi-Fi becoming indispensable thanks to the work-from-home trend among other things, Netgear believes consumers will be ready to fork out what is essentially the price of a high-end smartphone or notebook for a reliable and future-proof Wi-Fi solution.
SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE SSD and ArmorLock SSD Review
Western Digital introduced the SanDisk Professional branding in May 2021 for its G-Technology products targeting the content-capture market. The company has taken the opportunity to update some of the hardware in the process of transitioning from G-Technology to the new branding. The G-DRIVE family represents the lineup of single-disk direct-attached storage units from SanDisk Professional. Today's review takes a look at the G-DRIVE SSD and G-DRIVE ArmorLock SSD - two bus-powered portable SSDs with a USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface that target very different use-cases.
Apple's iPhone 13 Series Screen Power, Battery Life Report - Long Lasting Devices
Following our last week’s preview into the new iPhone 13 series’ A15 chip, which impressed us tremendously due to its efficiency gains, we promised next to have a closer look at the new phone’s battery life and how the new display generation and screen efficiency ties in with the SoC efficiency and increased battery capacities this generation.
The EVGA X570 Dark Motherboard Review: A Dark Beast For Ryzen
Quite a few of the motherboards we have reviewed over the last month have been aimed at enthusiasts with a penchant for extreme overclocking. Today's review focuses on the EVGA X570 Dark that is more than the usual desktop AM4 motherboard. It's EVGA's first entry into the market for AMD's Ryzen processors, focusing on performance and overclocking more than most other X570/X570S boards currently available. Some of the EVGA X570 Dark's most notable features include two memory slots with support for DDR4-4800, dual PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2, eight SATA, dual 2.5 GbE, and support for Wi-Fi 6. Is EVGA, which had previously been an Intel and NVIDIA only deal until now, enough to tempt you to the 'DARK' side? Time to take a look and see if the X570 Dark has enough about it to justify the combination of an unconventional design and premium price tag.
Seagate Updates Game Drive SSD for Xbox with New Look and Internals
Seagate has been maintaining a line of Xbox-certified external SSDs since late 2016. The current Game Drive for Xbox SSD is based on the Seagate Fast SSD's internals and industrial design. With the USB 3.2 Gen 1 (BarraCuda) Fast SSD reaching EOL (that market segment has since moved on to USB 3.2 Gen 2), the time has now come for Seagate to revamp the internals of the Game Drive for Xbox SSD and give it a new look.The company is introducing a new Game Drive for Xbox SSD that takes inspiration from the currently available HDD equivalent - sporting a sleek all-black look with a green LED bar. The 96mm x 50mm x 11mm bus-powered portable SSD weighs just 51g, and sports a USB 3.2 Gen 1 micro-Binterface. It is compatible with Xbox Series X, Series S, and all generations of Xbox One. The package includes a 46cm USB 3.0 cable (micro-B to Type-A).Seagate is planning to launch only a single SKU of the new product - a 1TB version (STLD1000400) for $170. Interestingly, the 3-year warranty is also accompanied by data-loss protection using Seagate's Rescue Data Recovery Services. Availability is slated for later this month, well in time for the holiday season.The article will be updated with additional information once we hear back from Seagate regarding details of the SSD's internals.
The Ampere Altra Max Review: Pushing it to 128 Cores per Socket
Following last year’s 80-core Altra, Ampere is now delivering the new Altra Max server processor with up to 128 cores, double that of the competition, and with a focus on Cloud and hyperscale deployments, we’ve had a look on the new chip.
Samsung Foundry: 2nm Silicon in 2025
One of the key semiconductor technologies beyond 3D FinFET transistors are Gate-All-Around transistors, which show promise to help extend the ability to drive processors and components to higher performance and lower power. Samsung has always announced that its first generation GAA technology will align with its ‘3nm’ nodes, with its 3GAE and 3GAP processes. As part of the Samsung Foundry Forum today, some more insight was put into the timeline for the rollout, as well as talk of its 2nm process.
Samsung Foundry’s New 17nm Node: 17LPV brings FinFET to 28nm
Despite most discussion about chip manufacturing focusing on the leading edge and blazingly fast and complex side of the industry, the demand for the ‘legacy’ process technologies is also higher than ever, but also by volume a lot bigger than the latest and greatest. These legacy processes form the backbone of most modern electronics, and so being able to offer equivalent technology at lower cost/power is often a win-win for manufacturers and chip designers alike. To that end, Samsung is announcing a new 17nm process node, designed for customers still using a planar 28nm process, but want to take advantage of 14nm FinFET technology.
Samsung Foundry to Almost Double Output by 2026
It’s hard not to notice that we’re in the middle of a semiconductor crunch right now. Factories are running at full steam, but pinch points in the supply chain are causing chaos and bottlenecks – whether that means not enough packaging materials, the cost of shipping has increased 10x, or additional tariffs, it’s causing various industries that rely on semiconductors to wait for supply and then pay over expected prices. Nonetheless, everything that is made is being sold, and so all of the big foundries are driving more investment into their supply chain ecosystem as well as raw manufacturing, and Samsung is no different.
Best CPUs for Gaming: October 2021
Sometimes choosing a CPU is hard. So we've got you covered. In our CPU Guides, we give you our pick of some of the best processors available, supplying data from our reviews. Our Best CPUs for Gaming guide targets most of the common system-build price points that typically pair a beefy graphics card with a capable processor, with the best models being suitable for streaming and encoding on the fly.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio Review: Dynamic Design
Microsoft’s Surface team has produced some amazing designs over the years, taking to focusing on convertible devices to highlight the adaptability of Windows. That being said, over the last several years the design team has been largely held in check, as Microsoft has opted to focus on further refining their convertible designs. Thankfully, for 2021 the team is back to innovation as well as refinement with their latest device, the Surface Laptop Studio. With its dynamic woven hinge, the Laptop Studio is a true convertible device, as well as the spiritual successor to the now-defunct Surface Book.
What to Expect with Windows 11: A Day One Hands-On
Tomorrow, Microsoft is officially launching Windows 11, the next installment of their operating system which underpins the majority of PCs in use today. Windows 10 has an install base of over 1 billion devices, and Windows 11 comes into existence in a much different place than its predecessor. After the much-maligned Windows 8 there was a sense of urgency and necessity which ushered Windows 10 into the world. Windows 11, on the other hand, comes into a market where most people are happy with Windows 10. So it raises the question: Why now?
ASUS GeForce RTX 3070 Noctua Edition Announced
One thing Noctua is famed for, other than its high-end design and engineering team delivering top quality air-cooling products, is the brown/beige color scheme. Some users may detest the off-key and non-conventional color, which rarely goes with other colors inside their PC, and so they have to shun Noctua and look elsewhere. Others swear by the design, and ASUS has gone one step further by teaming up with Noctua to create an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card. The ASUS GeForce RTX 3070 Noctua Edition features two NF-A12x25 PWM cooling fans with a semi-passive design and aims to be one of the coolest and quietest air-cooled RTX 3070 on the market.ASUS x Noctua: The Start of Something Bigger?In August, Twitter user @KOMACHI_ENSAKA spotted that an ASUS and Noctua collaboration may have been in the works via a listing on the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) website. Putting the rumors to rest, ASUS and Noctua have announced their collaboration today, and they both present the ASUS GeForce RTX 3070 Noctua Edition, with a slightly higher clocked OC version too.The most striking thing visually with the ASUS GeForce RTX 3070 Noctua Edition models is the dual beige Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM cooling fans attached to a custom heatsink design with multiple fins and heat pipes behind the beige. Noctua and ASUS have opted for an extensive cooling design as the RTX 3070 Noctua Edition and OC version take up 4.3 slots worth of space and measure in at 12.2 inches in length.Both the regular and OC models operate with a semi-passive design which means that whenever the temperature drops below 50°C, the fans will switch off. Both models have a standard I/O, including dual HDMI 2.1 and three DisplayPort 1.4a video outputs. Providing power to the graphics cards is a pair of 8-pin PCIe power inputs and comes with a recommendation that users install a 750 W power supply or greater.
ASRock Rack Lists WRX80D8-2T Motherboard For Ryzen Threadripper Pro
ASRock Rack has listed a new motherboard on its website supporting AMD's latest Ryzen Threadripper Pro 3000WX series of processors. The ASRock Rack WRX80D8-2T is currently under 'preliminary' status and features eight memory slots, seven full-length PCIe 4.0 x16 slots, as well as twelve SATA ports and support for two PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 drives. It also includes dual 10 GbE and is supported by an ASPEED BMC controller with a dedicated management LAN port and D-sub video output.In terms of design, the ASRock Rack WRX80D8-2T follows a basic green design with blue memory slots and black PCIe slots, and power connectors. Surrounding a transposed sTRX4 (WRX80) socket is eight memory slots with support up to 2TB of capacity, with ECC and non-ECC UDIMM, RDIMM, LRDIMM, and RDIMM3DS memory types supported. Providing power to the motherboard is a 24-pin 12 V ATX power input, while CPU power comes from a pair of 8-pin 12 V ATX CPU power inputs, all of which are located in the top right-hand corner.Dominating the lower half of the board are seven full-length PCIe 4.0 x16 slots, which are designed to maximize 112 of the supported 120 PCIe lanes from the Zen 2 based Ryzen Threadripper Pro 3000WX processors. Focusing on storage, the WRX80D8-2T has support for twelve SATA ports from the WRX80 chipset with two OCuLink ports, including four regular 7-pin SATA ports. Users can add U.2 storage with two OCuLink ports at PCIe 4.0 x4 or use these for an additional four SATA ports apiece. Other storage options include two PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots with support for form factors up to 22110 M.2. Cooling options consist of seven 6-pin fan headers.On the rear panel are two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports, with a dedicated Realtek RTL8211E Gigabit management LAN port and D-Sub video output powered by an ASPEED AST2500 BMC controller, which adds IPMI support. Users looking to add more USB ports can do so via front panel headers, including one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C header and one USB 3.2 G1 Type-A header for an additional two ports. Networking includes two RJ45 ports, which an Intel X550-AT2 10 GbE controller powers. Finishing off the rear panel is a Serial port, and a small UID identification LED button.At the time of writing, we don't have any information on either the pricing or availability of the ASRock Rack WRX80D8-2T.Source: ASRock RackGallery: ASRock Rack Lists WRX80D8-2T For Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000WX ProcessorsRelated Reading
The Apple A15 SoC Performance Review: Faster & More Efficient
In preparation for our full iPhone device review, we’re having a dedicated look at the new A15 SoC from Apple – following quite vague performance claims, how does the new chip stand up against its predecessor & competition?
Western Digital Updates WD Blue Series with SN570 DRAM-less NVMe SSD
Western Digital is unveiling its latest addition to the WD Blue family today - the SN570 NVMe SSD. A DRAM-less PCIe 3.0 x4 drive, it brings in performance improvements over the current lead product in the line - the SN550. In order to better appeal to the content creators market, WD is also bundling a free month of membership to Adobe Creative Cloud.Similar to the SN550, the SN570 is also available in three capacities - 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB. All drives are single-sided, come with a 5-year warranty, and carry a 0.3 DWPD rating. The key performance improvement over the SN550 is the increase in sequential read speeds from 2400 MBps to 3500 MBps. Though Western Digital wouldn't officially confirm, we believe this is likely due to the move from BiCS 4 96L 3D TLC to BiCS 5 112L 3D TLC. We did obtain confirmation that these drives are set to be equipped with 3D TLC over their complete lifetime, and will not move to QLC.Western Digital SN570 SSD SpecificationsCapacity250 GB500 GB1 TBControllerWD In-House?NAND FlashWestern Digital / Kioxia BiCS 5 112L 3D TLC NAND?Form-Factor, InterfaceSingle-Sided M.2-2280, PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.4Sequential Read3300 MB/s3500 MB/sSequential Write1200 MB/s2300 MB/s3000 MB/sRandom Read IOPS190K360K460KRandom Write IOPS210K390K450KSLC CachingYesTCG Opal EncryptionNoWarranty5 yearsWrite Endurance150 TBW
ASUS PN50 mini-PC Review: A Zen 2 Business NUC
Ultra-compact form-factor (UCFF) machines have been one of the major drivers in the resurgence of the PC market. The trend was kickstarted by Intel's NUCs in the early 2010s. These PCs have usually relied on low-power processors with compelling performance per watt metrics. AMD was largely absent in this market till the introduction of the Ryzen processors. While ASRock Industrial was one of the first to release a UCFF mini-PC based on the first-generation Ryzen embedded processors, multiple OEMs have lined up to utilize the second-generation AMD processors in their own high-performance mini-PC lineups. Today, we are looking at the performance and value proposition of the ASUS PN50 - a high-end UCFF system based on the AMD Ryzen 7 4800U SoC.
An Interview with Intel Lab’s Mike Davies: The Next Generation of Neuromorphic Research
As part of the launch of the new Loihi 2 chip, built on a pre-production version of Intel’s 4 process node, the Intel Labs team behind its Neuromorphic efforts reached out for a chance to speak to Mike Davies, the Director of the project. Now it is perhaps no shock that Intel’s neuromorphic efforts have been on my radar for a number of years – as a new paradigm of computing compared to the traditional von Neumann architecture, and one that is meant to mimic brains and take advantages of such designs, if it works well then it has the potential to shake up specific areas of the industry, as well as Intel’s bottom line. Also, given that we’ve never really covered Neuromorphic computing in any serious detail here on AnandTech, it would be a great opportunity to get details on this area of research, as well as the newest hardware, direct from the source.
Intel Rolls Out New Loihi 2 Neuromorphic Chip: Built on Early Intel 4 Process
We’ve been keeping light tabs on Intel’s Neuromorphic efforts ever since it launched its first dedicated 14nm silicon for Neuromorphic Computing, called Loihi, back in early 2018. In an interview with Intel Lab’s Director Dr. Richard Uhlig back in March 2021, I asked about the development of the hardware, and when we might see a second generation. Today is that day, and the group is announcing Loihi 2, a substantial upgrade over the first generation that addresses a lot of the low-hanging fruit from the first design. What is perhaps just as interesting is the process node used: Intel is communicating that Loihi 2 is being built, in silicon today, using a pre-production version of Intel’s first EUV process node, Intel 4.
Kingston DataTraveler Max UFD Review: NVMe Performance in a USB Thumb Drive
Rapid advancements in flash technology and continued improvements in high-speed interfaces have driven the growth of small, bus-powered portable SSDs. Kingston introduced the DataTraveler Max in August 2021 as a USB-C flash drive capable (UFD) of hitting 1GBps speeds. Its uniqueness lies in the form-factor. In fact, it is the first device in a thumb drive form-factor to hit such performance numbers. These numbers are achieved while keeping the UFD light enough to sport an integrated USB-C male connector. Read on for our analysis of the drive's performance and a detailed look at the technology enabling this unique product.
Huawei MateBook X Pro (2021) Review: A Sleek and Vibrant Notebook
As a laptop vendor, Huawei is entering its fourth year. Relying on x86 silicon and a GPU here and there, one thing Huawei does well is the quality of the design. The company has transferred the knowhow developed over a decade of smartphones into something bigger, with a keyboard, running Windows. The latest MateBook X Pro 2021 edition we’re testing today equips an Intel 11 Gen Core i7 with one of the physically largest displays you can fit into a 14-inch device, and a brushed aluminium chassis that’s very smooth to the touch and an Emerald Green finish that really stands out.
Western Digital Introduces WD Red SN700: PCIe 3.0 M.2 NVMe SSDs for NAS Systems
Western Digital's Red series of drives for network-attached storage systems has a significant share in various NAS market segments. The series started off with a focus on hard drives, and more recently WD Red SSDs were introduced in Q4 2019, a few years after the SanDisk acquisition. These SATA SSDs (in both 2.5" and M.2 form-factors) were based on Marvell 88SS1074 controllers and targeted caching applications.The increasing popularity of tiered storage, coupled with the deployment of NVMe (in the form of add-in cards, and now, natively in NAS boards) has prompted Western Digital to create a new member in the WD Red family. The new WD Red SN700 comes in 5 capacities ranging from 250GB to 4TB.WD Red SN700 NVMe SSDs for NASCapacity250 GB500 GB1 TB2 TB4 TBModel NumberWDS250G1R0CWDS500G1R0CWDS100T1R0CWDS200T1R0CWDS400T1R0CControllerSanDisk In-House?NAND Flash3D TLC NANDForm-Factor
Best Android Phones: September 2021
We’re now full into the fall season and most devices for the year have been released, with vendors now focusing on some newer second half of the year releases. While we’re still awaiting notable phones such as the Pixel 6 on the high-end spectrum, the mid-range and low-end recommendations will mostly be affected by their current pricing and availabilities.
Best Intel Motherboards: September 2021
As we get closer to the launch of Intel's Alder Lake, built on the Intel 7 process node, users looking to upgrade or build a new system might elect to wait another couple of months. While playing the waiting game can be frustrating, it will depend on how much stock Intel puts to the market, and if you're in the queue at the right time. Alternatively, Intel does have its Rocket Lake (11th gen) or Comet Lake (10th gen) processors available to purchase today. This includes many different LGA1200 motherboard options to select from across many different price points, chipsets, with many different levels of features on offer. We've make our picks for September 2021 for Intel-based options in our latest Intel motherboard buyers guide.
EVGA Releases the X570 Dark: First Ryzen Motherboard from EVGA, Built for OC
Back in July, we reported that EVGA was teasing its first AMD-based motherboard since the AM2+ days. Fast forward to now, and that dream of an EVGA model for AMD's Ryzen processors led by in-house engineer and extreme overclocker Vince 'KINGPIN' Lucido is now a reality. The EVGA X570 Dark benefits from a large premium 17-phase power delivery (14+2+1) designed for pushing Ryzen 5000 to its limits and support for up to DDR4-4800 out of the box across two memory slots to minimize latency.The EVGA X570 Dark, as expected, is primarily suited to extreme overclockers, with a variety of performance-enhancing features across the large E-ATX sized PCB. One of the most notable design characteristics includes a transposed AM4 CPU socket for better support when mounting an LN2 (liquid nitrogen) pot, and an empty CPU socket area to minimize risks when insulating for sub-ambient cooling. All the major power connectors are also at right angles, to be less of an issue when extreme overclocking for records.EVGA uses a 16-phase power delivery organized into a 14+2 configuration, with fourteen premium 90 A power stages for the CPU section. It's a slightly different design to accommodate the transposed socket as it stretches around the bottom of the AM4 socket. It is using active VRM cooling with two cooling fans and uses a 10-layer PCB design. The 17th power stage is for the memory. Providing power to the CPU is a pair of 8-pin 12 V ATX CPU power inputs. Some of the most notable features of the EVGA X570 Dark include voltage monitoring points at the top of the board, as well as a variety of switches to enable/disable features that might be critical to sub-zero overclocking stability.For end-users wanting to have a daily system, there are dual PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, eight SATA ports with support for RAID 0, 1, and 10 arrays, as well as 2.5 GbE wired and Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking. Looking at PCIe support, EVGA includes two full-length PCIe 4.0 slots operating at x16 and x8/x8, with a half-length PCIe 3.0 x4 slot. Other features include a Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec backed by EVGA's NU audio solution, eight 4-pin cooling headers, a passively cooled chipset heatsink, and two USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C port on the rear panel.The EVGA X570 Dark is currently available to purchase directly from the EVGA website for $690. This isn't a cheap motherboard, but overclocking-focused motherboards such as this come at a hefty premium. Although it has plenty of features for a daily Ryzen 5000 based system, the hope is that it provides the substance for extreme overclockers looking to push Ryzen 5000 silicon to its limits.Our review of the EVGA X570 Dark will be coming very soon - it arrived a couple of days ago and is currently on our testbed!Gallery: EVGA Releases X570 Dark Motherboard, Overclocking Flagship For AMD Ryzen 5000Related Reading
Samsung's new 200MP HP1 Sensor: Sensible, or Marketing?
This week, Samsung LSI announced a new camera sensor that seemingly is pushing the limits of resolution within a mobile phone. The new S5KHP1, or simply HP1 sensor, pushes the resolution above 200 megapixels, almost doubling that of what’s currently being deployed in contemporary hardware in today’s phones.
Plugable TBT4-HUB3C Thunderbolt 4 Hub Capsule Review
Plugable is introducing its Thunderbolt 4 product lineup today, with the TBT4-HUB3C Thunderbolt 4 Hub leading the pack. Joining it are two Thunderbolt 4 cables - the 2m. long TBT4-40G2M, and the 1m. long TBT4-40G1M.Intel had provided detailed updates on Thunderbolt 4 in mid-2020 before releasing it in Tiger Lake-based products. As peak bandwidth (40Gbps) didn't get an upgrade over Thunderbolt 3, many consumers just considered it a branding update. In fact, under the hood, the specifications were being fine-tuned to bring in some features from the USB world. It is these new features that Plugable is focusing on:
Hands On With the Honor 50: One Vlog to Rule Them All
Prior to the Huawei/Honor split, I had my hands on almost every model or flagship that Honor made. The co-design with Huawei, along with a good high-middle market for those flagships, made them competitive products. However, Honor was sold to essentially run standalone, which meant it was no longer under the US entity list bans, and could leverage Google services again. The Honor 50 is one of these devices, offering a full Google experience, and opting to pair a 700-series Snapdragon SoC with a 108 MP camera and a 6.57-inch OLED display. We had some hands-on with the Honor 50 ahead of the launch next month in October.
Surface Laptop Studio, Surface 8 Pro Lead Microsoft's New Surface 2021 Lineup
In anticipation of the upcoming Windows 11 launch, Microsoft is introducing an almost complete top to bottom refresh of their Surface device lineup. Ranging from the brand-new Surface Laptop studio to refreshed devices like the Surface Pro X, Microsoft's 2021 Surface lineup covers the entire spectrum, with some devices getting some minor tweaks while other devices are completely new. As tends to be the case, all of them feature quirks which are distinctively Surface.
Akasa M.2 SSD Enclosures Reviewed: Giving Spare Drives a New Lease of Life
The internal storage device market segment has seen rapid evolution over the last decade after the introduction of flash-based disk drives. Beginning with 2.5-inch SSDs in early 2010s, the market moved to mSATA units while the SATA-to-NVMe transition started to gather steam. With the PCIe 4.0 transition set in motion, many users are finding themselves with spare M.2 SSDs.A common re-purposing method has been to place the SSD in a USB enclosure. Akasa is one of the few manufacturers to possess a SSD enclosure lineup catering to almost all possible scenarios in this market segment. Read on for our review of their M.2 SSD enclosures lineup - the Akasa AK-ENU3M2-02 (SATA), AK-ENU3M2-03 (NVMe), and the AK-ENU3M2-04 (SATA / NVMe).
Editor's Note: Updated Results and Conclusion for Xiaomi 11T Review
After a new firmware update, we've updated our original review of the Xiaomi 11T, showcasing better battery life results, and a more positive conclusion to the device.
Seagate Introduces IronWolf 525 PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVMe SSDs for NAS Systems
Seagate's IronWolf series of drives for network-attached storage systems has gained significant traction in its market segments. One of the primary reasons has been the breadth of offerings - high-capacity HDDs targeting different applications, as well as SATA and NVMe SSDs. In fact, Seagate was one of the first vendors to introduce SSDs targeting the prosumer / SMB / SME NAS markets with the IronWolf SSD 110 series at the 2019 CES. This 2.5" SATA SSD family was complemented by the announcement of the IronWolf 510 NVMe SSD family in Q1 2020. The SSD family, based on the Phison E12DC Enterprise SSD Controller, sported a 1DWPD rating that was not available in other SSDs targeting the prosumer / SMB NAS market.Seagate is continuing their leadership march today with the launch of the IronWolf 525 NVMe SSDs. Based on the Phison E16 (PS5016-E16-32) PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD controller, the product appears to dial back to consumer roots with a 0.7 DWPD rating. Currently, there are no commercial off-the-shelf NAS offerings from the major vendors (Synology, QNAP, Asustor, etc.) with native PCIe 4.0 capability. The IronWolf 525 is backwards compatible with PCIe 3.0 and can slot into the same places where the IronWolf 510 is currently being used. Key confirmed specifications are captured in the table below.The Seagate IronWolf 525 SSDs for NASCapacity500 GB1 TB2TBModel NumberZP500NM30002ZP1000NM30002ZP2000NM30002ControllerPhison E16NAND FlashKioxia BiCS 4 96L 3D TLC NANDForm-Factor, InterfaceM.2-2280, PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.3Double-Sided
The OnLogic Helix HX500 Review: A Rugged Fanless 35W mini-PC
The emergence of edge computing as a paradigm has expanded the market for industrial PCs over the last few years. Traditionally an 'industrial PC' was built with a focus on reliable operation in a rugged environment - the emphasis on computing performance being secondary to the utility. This has changed recently with the need to process more data at the edge.OnLogic (formerly, Logic Supply) has been servicing the embedded / industrial PC market with pre-configured small form-factor (SFF) systems since 2003. Their Helix line of fanless industrial PCs is based on Intel's Elkhart Lake (300-series) and Comet Lake (500 and 600-series) processors, catering to the increased demand for processing power in edge computing. Read on for a detailed look at the performance and value proposition of a high-end Helix HX500 configuration based on the 35W Intel Core i7-10700T.
Cerebras In The Cloud: Get Your Wafer Scale in an Instance
To date, most of the new AI hardware entering the market has been a ‘purchase necessary’ involvement. For any business looking to go down the route of using specialized AI hardware, they need to get hold of a test system, see how easy it is to migrate their workflow, then compute the cost/work/future of going down that route, if feasible. Most AI startups are flush with VC funding that they’re willing to put the leg work in for it, hoping to snag a big customer at some point to make that business profitable. One simple answer would be to offer the hardware in the cloud, but it takes a lot for a Cloud Service Provider (CSP) to bite and offer that hardware as an option to their customers. Today’s announcement between Cerebras and Cirrascale is that as a CSP, Cirrascale will begin to offer wafer-scale instances based on Cerebras’ WSE2.
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Portable SSDs Go Native: The Silicon Motion SM2320 UFD Controller Preview
The external storage market has experienced rapid growth over the last few years, particularly in the retail consumer segment. It has been fueled in part by advancements in bus-powered flash-based storage devices.Thunderbolt SSDs are at the top in terms of both performance and price, but the last few years have seen various high-end portable SSDs with a USB interface. The USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20Gbps) ecosystem has been slowly gaining traction, with Kingston's XS2000 portable SSD being the latest to join the device lineup. Based on Silicon Motion's new SM232x family of UFD (USB flash drive) controllers, the product family offers full Gen 2x2 performance while consuming a fraction of the power needed by similar solutions currently in the market.Silicon Motion sent across the bare reference board used inside the Kingston XS2000 to put through our rigorous direct-attached storage testing routine. Read on for our evaluation report of the SM2320XT reference design.