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Updated 2018-09-25 00:15
Zhaoxin Displays x86-Compatible KaiXian KX-6000: 8 Cores, 3 GHz, 16 nm FinFET
Zhaoxin, a joint venture between Via Technologies and the Chinese government, this week for the first time displayed its upcoming x86-compatible CPU, the KaiXian KX-6000. The SoC features eight cores running at 3 GHz and increases performance over its predecessor by at least 50%.The KaiXian KX-6000 is a successor to the KX-5000 CPU launched earlier this year. Both chips integrate eight-core x86-64 cores with 8 MB of L2 cache, a DirectX 11.1-capable iGPU with an up-to-date display controller, a dual-channel DDR4-3200 memory controller, contemporary I/O interfaces (PCIe, SATA, USB, etc), and so on. The key differences between the KaiXian KX-5000 and the KaiXian KX-6000 are frequencies and manufacturing technology: the former is produced using TSMC’s 28 nm fabrication process and runs at up to 2 GHz, whereas the latter is made using TSMC’s 16 nm technology and operates at up to 3 GHz. Zhaoxin claims that the Kaixian KX-6000 offers compute performance comparable to that of Intel’s 7 Generation Core i5 processor, which is a quad-core non-Hyper-Threaded CPU. Obviously, performance claims like that have to be verified, yet a 50% performance bump over the direct predecessor already seems beefy enough.As the picture below shows, the thinner manufacturing process enabled Zhaoxin to make the KaiXian KX-6000 die smaller when compared to the predecessor, which will eventually shrink its manufacturing cost. Meanwhile, the two processors use different HFCBGA packaging and therefore cannot use the same motherboards. Meanwhile it is unknown whether the new KaiXian KX-6000 is compatible with Zhaoxin’s USB 3.1 Gen 2-capable ZX-200 chipset.The Zhaoxin KaiXian KX-6000 relies on the LuJiaZui microarchitecture, which is an evolution of the WuDaoKou microarchitecture that powers the KX-5000 processor introduced in early 2018. Based on what we know today, the LuJiaZui is an x86-64-compatible superscalar, multi-issue, out-of-order microarchitecture that supports contemporary instruction sets extensions like SSE 4.2 and AVX along with virtualization and encryption technologies. Zhaoxin has yet to disclose differences between its LuJiaZui and WuDaoKou designs. Therefore, all we can do is speculate that since the microarchitectures are launched within one year from each other they are very similar, but the newer one has minor optimizations that, perhaps, enable higher clocks, improved caching, better memory support, etc.Zhaoxin has not announced when it plans to start commercial shipments of its KaiXian KX-6000 processors, as right now it only displays its picture (which proves that it exists). Based on the previously published roadmap, we'd expect the CPU to hit the market in 2019, though when exactly is anyone's guess.Zhaoxin's Kaixian KX-5000 and KX-6000 CPUsKaixian KX-5000
Acer XZ1-Series Curved Gaming Displays: WQHD, 144 Hz, FreeSync, HDR10
Acer has quietly introduced two new curved gaming monitors that offer premium gaming features such as 144 Hz FreeSync and HDR10 support for relatively affordable prices. Acer’s XZ1-series LCDs share design elements with the company’s aggressively-styled Predator displays and will definitely appeal to those looking for inexpensive monitors with serious gaming capabilities.Acer’s XZ1 family currently consists of two displays: the 27-inch XZ271Ubmijpphzx (XZ271U) and the 31.5-inch XZ321QUbmijpphzx (XZ321QU). Both monitors are based on 16:9 aspect ratio curved VA-type panels featuring a 2560×1440 resolution, 250 - 300-nits brightness, a 3000:1 contrast ratio, 1 ms MPRT response times, and a 144 Hz refresh rate. Acer says that the monitors cover 85% of the NTSC color space, which means that technically they can reproduce more than 100% of the sRGB color gamut (i.e., show more colors than the sRGB covers itself).In a bid to distinguish the XZ1 from its more expensive product families, Acer has to keep its “premium” features at an essential level. The manufacturer advertises three premium gaming features for its XZ1 LCDs (besides, of course, its maximum refresh rate of 144 Hz and a low response time). First up, the monitors support AMD’s FreeSync dynamic refresh rate technology with a 48 – 144 Hz range, which is wide enough to support AMD’s Low Frame Rate (LFC) capability. Secondly, the monitors formally support HDR10 data, yet their peak brightness level is much too low for HDR, so actual experience is something that remains to be seen. Finally, the XZ1 series support Acer’s Black Boost mode that automatically adjusts brightness of dark scenes in games to make it easier for gamers to find their opponents in the dark.Being aimed at gamers who tend to have PCs and consoles, Acer’s XZ1 displays are outfitted with a rather rich set of inputs: one DisplayPort 1.2, one mini DisplayPort 1.2, and two HDMI 2.0 headers. Given the number of inputs, the monitors fully support PiP and PbP for two devices, which is fine for products of this class. In addition, the LCDs are equipped with two 7 W stereo speakers and a headphone jack. Finally, they feature a quad-port USB 3.0 Type-A hub.Just like Acer’s Predator monitors, the XZ1 displays come equipped with highly adjustable stands that can tilt between -5 to 25 degrees, swivel +/- 25 degrees, and provide height adjustments of up to 120 mm.Specifications of Acer's XZ1-Series Gaming DisplaysXZ271UXZ321QUPanel27" VA31.5" VANative Resolution2560 × 1440Maximum Refresh Rate144 HzDynamic RefreshTechAMD FreeSync with LFCRange48 - 144 HzBrightness250 cd/m²300 cd/m²Contrast3000:1Viewing Angles178°/178° horizontal/verticalResponse Time1 ms MPRTPixel Pitch0.2335 mm²0.2724 mm²Pixel Density108 PPI93 PPICurvature1800R (?)Color Gamut SupportsRGB: 100% (?)
The Kingston HyperX Fury RGB SSD Review: Bright Idea, Dimmed Performance
Kingston's HyperX gaming brand is introducing their first SSD with adjustable RGB LED lighting. The LEDs add significantly to the price tag, but internally it's a mid-range SATA SSD. This lighting-first and SSD-second design pays off with no fewer than 75 RGB LEDs to illuminate the drive and surrounding components, but from our performance benchmarks it's clear that Kingston had to make some real sacrifices on the SSD side to bring this drive together.
AMD’s Athlon 200GE Processors Now Available
AMD this week started selling its entry-level Athlon 200GE APUs designed for the most affordable PCs. The Athlon 200GE costs less than $60 at retail and happens to be the cheapest processor carrying AMD’s Zen cores as well as the Radeon Vega iGPU. It also has a 35 W TDP and is therefore compatible with virtually all AM4 motherboards and cooling systems.The AMD Athlon 200GE carries two SMT-enabled Zen cores running at 3.2 GHz frequency, a Radeon iGPU featuring 192 stream processors operating at 1 GHz, 1 MB L2 cache, 4 MB L3 cache, a dual-channel DDR4-2667 memory controller, and so on. The APU can power affordable PCs that do not need a lot of compute horsepower and enables AMD to compete against Intel’s entry-level Celeron and Pentium processors for this market segment using its latest technologies (Zen and Vega).Notably, even with the low price, AMD isn't holding back on feature support here. Since the CPU is drop-in compatible with AMD’s 300 and 400-series platforms, systems based on the CPU will support high-performance NVMe SSDs, USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface, 4Kp60 display output(s) and so on. As an added bonus, AMD’s AM4 platforms also support DRAM overclocking and an upgrade path all the way to eight-core Ryzen 7 CPUs.AMD's Retail StackAnandTechZenCores
ASUS Unveils ROG Ryujin AIO LCSes for AMD’s Ryzen & Ryzen Threadripper
ASUS has released two ROG Ryujin closed-loop liquid coolers designed for AMD’s Ryzen and Ryzen Threadripper processors. Both AIO LCSes feature a square waterblock with an embedded OLED screen that can be used for monitoring or style/personalization purposes. In addition, the waterblock has a small fan to cool down the CPU VRMs.ASUS’ ROG Ryujin 240 and ROG Ryujin 360 closed-loop liquid coolers rely on an ASUS-designed proprietary waterblock, and which is compatible only with AMD’s CPUs in AM4 and TR4 packaging (for now, AMD only supplies mounting brackets for contemporary AMD CPUs). ASUS does not describe design of its pump/waterblock beyond the fact that it is large, square, features an embedded 1.77-inch OLED display, as well as a microfan that can cool down surrounding components by up to 20°C, according to the maker. Meanwhile, the relatively large dimensions may indicate that the block can cover 100% of the TR4 CPU IHS (integrated heat spreader), which means efficient cooling for AMD’s latest multi-core Threadripper 2 processors for "extreme" workstations. The manufacturer does not specify the maximum amount of thermal energy its ROG Ryujin LCSes can dissipate, but good large closed-loop liquid coolers can remove upwards of 500 W of heat.As the names of the ROG Ryujin 240 and ROG Ryujin 360 LCSes imply, they are equipped with radiators carrying two or three 120-mm fans. For its top-of-the-range coolers ASUS uses premium Noctua IndustrialPPC-2000 PWM fans, which are rated for 2000 RPM with noise levels up to 29.7 dBA, to ensure their reliable and quiet operation over prolonged periods of time. Speaking of reliability, it is also worth mentioning that the LCSes are equipped with reinforced sleeve tubing that promises to be very durable.Like most ASUS ROG components introduced in the last couple of years, the ROG Ryujin AIO liquid coolers are built not only to perform, but to too look strikingly distinctive. Besides the aforementioned 1.77-inch OLED screen, the waterblock features Aura Sync RGB LEDs. It is noteworthy that the display, the RGB LEDs, and the fans can be controlled using the ASUS Vortex software, which greatly simplifies the process.ASUS currently lists its ROG Ryujin 240 and ROG Ryujin 360 closed-loop liquid coolers on its global website, so expect the products to become available shortly. MSRPs of the products are unknown at this point.Related Reading:
Vietnamese Retailer Leaks Some Intel 9000-Series Coffee Lake Refresh CPUs
We’ve spoken here at AnandTech several times on the upcoming Z390 chipset and also a few words on new processors for those motherboards. Intel has promised a new consumer-grade launch this year, so we are patiently waiting for more information. As it turns out, some retailers get that itch early – in this case, a Vietnamese retailer has listed five processors for sale.
Lenovo Launches 12.5-Inch ThinkPad A285 with AMD Ryzen PRO APUs
Lenovo Japan on Thursday said that it would begin selling its ThinkPad A285 laptop on September 21. The mobile PC is one of the thinnest and lightest notebooks based on AMD’s Ryzen PRO introduced thus far. Besides being very compact, the ThinkPad A285 is among the first Ryzen PRO-based laptops to feature a suite of business and enterprise-oriented features from AMD and Lenovo.Lenovo’s ThinkPad A285 notebooks will be available in a variety of configurations aimed at various price points. Different configs will be based on AMD’s Ryzen 7 PRO 2700U with Radeon Vega 10, Ryzen 5 PRO 2500U with Radeon Vega 8, or Ryzen 3 PRO 2200U with Radeon Vega 3 APUs. Other options will include 8 or 16 GB of soldered-down DDR4-2400 memory, and depending on exact model they will be equipped with a PCIe/NVMe SSD (up to 512 GB) with OPAL 2.0-encrypted options available to interested parties.Besides different internal hardware options, Lenovo intends to offer its ThinkPad A285 laptops with two 12.5-inch display options: lower-end machines will come with a 1366×768 display, whereas higher-end models will be equipped with a 1920×1080 panel and 10-point multitouch capabilities. Meanwhile, Lenovo Japan plans to offer an A285 with a non-touch Full-HD screen.Next up is connectivity. On the wireless side of things, the Lenovo ThinkPad A285 features a 2×2 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.2 controller, which is a standard feature for today’s business notebooks. As for physical connectors, the notebook is equipped with a GbE port that requires a dongle, two USB 3.1 Type-C ports (used for data, power, display, and docking connectivity), two USB Type-A (3.0 and 2.0) ports, an HDMI 1.4 output, a micro SD card reader, a 720p webcam, a TRRS audio jack for headsets, Dolby Audio Premium-certified speakers, a microphone array, and so on.As noted above, since we are dealing with a Lenovo ThinkPad based on AMD’s Ryzen PRO APU, all A285 models are outfitted with a match-in-sensor fingerprint reader, a Windows Hello-compatible webcam with ThinkShutter cover, a dTPM 2.0 chip, AMD’s Transparent Secure Memory Encryption (TSME), DASH remote management, and so on. Lenovo is the first notebook vendor to offer Ryzen PRO-based mobile PCs pervasively featuring all of the aforementioned security and management features. Lenovo also notes that all A285 machines comply with 12 military-grade requirements to ensure that they can work in extreme conditions.Moving on to dimensions and weight. Since Lenovo plans to offer ThinkPad A285 with two display options and with and without multitouch capabilities, the resulting dimensions and weights differ between the variants. Non-touch SKUs weigh 1.13 kg and are 17.4-mm thick. By contrast, touch-enabled models weigh 1.26 kg and are 17.8-mm thick. To put these numbers into perspective, Lenovo’s own IdeaPad 720S comes in a 13.6-mm thick aluminum chassis and weighs around 1.14 kilograms. The consumer laptop lacks numerous features that the ThinkPad A285 has (e.g., toughness, biometric security, TrackPoint, docking capabilities, just to name a few), but its indisputable trumps are the 13.3-inch LCD (there is even a 4K option) as well as portability.Buy Lenovo Ideapad 720S: 13.3-inch, AMD Ryzen 5 2500U, 8 GB DDR4, 256 GB PCIe SSD on Amazon.comTime to talk about battery life of Lenovo’s ThinkPad A285 laptops. Evidently, 12.5-inch notebooks are used by road warriors because of their dimensions and such customers need to work autonomously for prolonged periods of time. Lenovo in turn would appear to be using a 45 Wh battery pack with all of the ThinkPad A285 SKUs. This battery can last for 7.4 – 10.9 hours, depending on display panel/APU configuration (see the table below for details), which is not bad, but which is well below what the company’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon offers with its 57 Wh battery (i.e. 12 hours with a WQHD display, 15 hours with a Full-HD LCD).General Specifications of Lenovo's ThinkPad A285 LaptopsThinkPad A285
Intel Expands Optane 905P SSDs To 1.5TB
Intel has officially launched the next wave of Optane SSDs, continuing a gradual rollout of higher density drives as their production of 3D XPoint memory catches up with demand. Intel's flagship consumer SSD family is still split between the Optane SSD 900P and 905P, with the more recent 905P filling out the higher capacities while bringing modestly improved performance and power efficiency. This week's releases are the 1.5TB 905P add-in card and 960GB and 1.5TB 905P U.2 drives, bringing the consumer lineup and the enterprise P4800X line both up to the same maximum capacity.The larger capacity options don't bring any more performance improvements because they are still using the same controller, and even the smallest 280GB 900P had enough 3D XPoint dies to keep every channel of the controller busy. The bigger drives do have higher power consumption, with the 1.5TB 905P add-in card rated for up to 17.7 W for write operations.We have probably reached the end of the line for capacity increases while Intel is still using first-generation 3D XPoint memory for their consumer Optane products, because Intel is still charging well over $1/GB and that means even the 1.5TB 905P will cost more than a well-equipped gaming PC. However, interesting things are happening at the lower capacities.Intel Optane Product Lineup (High-End)Consumer/EnthusiastEnterprise ProductsCapacity900P905PP4800X/P4801X100 GBP4801X (U.2)280 GB900P (AIC, U.2)
The i-Rocks Pilot K70E Capacitive Gaming Keyboard Review: Our First Capacitive Keyboard
In today's keyboard review we are taking a look at the first capacitive keyboard that found its way into our labs, the i-Rocks Pilot K70E. The Taiwanese company managed to design and market a capacitive keyboard while keeping the price tag relatively affordable. Today we'll find out how this keyboard feels and if it is a threat to the already well-established mechanical keyboard market.
Team Group's Quick Memory: T-Force Xtreem DDR4-4300 / DDR4-4500 CL18
Team Group has introduced its new dual-channel DDR4 memory kits for overclockers - the new T-Force Xtreem kits operate at 4300 MT/s and 4500 MT/s data transfer rates.Team Group’s latest T-Force Xtreem DDR4-4300 and DDR4-4500 dual-channel kits feature a 16 GB capacity (8 GB × 2), CL18 20-20-44 timings, and 1.45 V supply. The modules use specially-designed 10-layer PCBs as well as cherry-picked Samsung’s 8 Gb B-die DRAM chips that can run at extreme speeds. The voltages are a step above the standard 1.4 V for high-end kits.As usual, the high-performance memory modules support XMP 2.0 SPD profiles for easier setup of DRAM sub-timings. Furthermore, to ensure efficient cooling for DDR4 chips and grant its modules a unique look, Team Group equips its T-Force Xtreem DIMMs with aluminum heat spreaders.The key advantage of the new T-Force Xtreem DDR4-4300 and DDR4-4500 dual-channel kits versus their competitors from other makers available today are their CL18 timings. By contrast, DRAM module suppliers usually set CL19 timings on everything higher than DDR4-4000, So these kits should have an advantage.Team Group's T-Force Xtreem DDR4-4000+ Memory KitsSpeedCL TimingVoltageKit
Philips 328P6VU Professional 4K Display: DisplayHDR 600, USB-C, GbE
Philips this week announced availability of its 328P6VU display formally introduced about a year ago. The new prosumer-grade P-line monitor brings together an Ultra-HD resolution, enhanced color accuracy, a USB Type-C interconnection with docking capabilities, an integrated 1 GbE controller, and a plethora of various features that are important for professionals in the SOHO (small office/home office) market segment.The Philips Brilliance 328P6VUBREB (328P6VU) is based on a 10-bit VA panel that can reproduce 1.07 billion colors and features a 3840×2160 resolution at 60 Hz. The monitor also supports a 400 nits typical brightness, 600 nits peak brightness, 3000:1 static contrast ratio, 4 ms GtG response time, 178º/178º horizontal/vertical viewing angles, and other features one would expect from a high-quality VA panel.The manufacturer does not disclose whether it uses a 10-bit VA panel, or an 8-bit + FRC VA panel, but claims that the monitor supports a 12-bit internal processing for additional accuracy. Speaking of accuracy, the display is factory calibrated to Delta E < 2 precision, which is typical for prosumer-class LCDs. As for color spaces, the Philips 328P6VU reports to cover 100% of the sRGB, 98% of the DCI-P3, as well as 116% of the NTSC gamuts. Furthermore, Brilliance 328P6VU is DisplayHDR 600-certfied, which means that it also supports HDR10, which is important for those who will use the display for gaming and entertainment.Moving on to connectivity of the Brilliance 328P6VU as this is one of its key selling points. The monitor is outfitted with a DisplayPort 1.4, two HDMI 2.0, and a USB Type-C inputs. The latter fully supports DisplayPort alternate mode for USB-C, serves as an upstream port for four USB 3.0 Type-A headers and a GbE connector, as well as can deliver up to 60 W of power to the laptop, eliminating the need to use a notebook power brick while using the LCD. Furthermore, ultra-thin laptops also get a GbE connectivity because of the integrated docking, something important for corporate clients. Besides, the monitor also has two stereo speakers and a headphone jack.Being aimed at professionals, the Philips Brilliance 328P6VUBREB comes with the same versatile stand as its counterparts from the P6-line. The stand can tilt the display between -5 to 20 degrees, swivel +/- 170 degrees, pivot +/- 90 degrees (i.e., it can be rotated into a vertical orientation), and provide height adjustments of up to 180 mm (7.1 inch).Specifications of Philips P6-Series 32" 4K Ultra-HD DisplayBrilliance 328P6VUBREBPanel31.5" VA 10-bitNative Resolution3840 × 2160Maximum Refresh Rate60 HzBrightnessTypical: 400 cd/m²
Toshiba Memory and Western Digital Open Fab 6 and New Memory R&D Center
Toshiba Memory and Western Digital on Wednesday officially opened up their new Fab 6 and Memory R&D Center. Both facilities are located at their Yokkaichi operations site that now hosts three major NAND flash production fabs and produces a significant share of the global NAND memory output. The new Fab 6 is already operational, a bit ahead of the original plan.Toshiba started construction of the Fab 6 in February 2017, and completed the building several months ago, then started to move in deposition and etching equipment required to produce 3D NAND memory. Earlier this month Toshiba and Western Digital started to mass produce their jointly-developed 96-layer 3D NAND memory at the fab, though it is likely that the two companies are still installing tools that will be needed to ramp up the fab to its planned capacity.Fab 6 will be the third production facility making 3D NAND memory for Toshiba and Western Digital. So far, the two companies have produced 3D NAND at Fab 2 and Fab 5. Meanwhile, Fab 3 and Fab 4 are used to make other kinds of products.Toshiba and Western Digital do not disclose target production capacity of their Fab 6 in terms of wafer starts per month, yet judging by its dimensions from above, it should be on par with other fabs at the Yokkaichi operations in terms of cleanroom area. Meanwhile, since Fab 6 will use the latest and most advanced equipment, its NAND flash bit output will be higher when compared to other fabs once the fab is fully ramped. At the same time, like all makers of memory, Toshiba and Western Digital balance their output in accordance with market demand so not to overproduce and ruin pricing.In addition to their Fab 6 production facility, the two companies also officially opened their new joint Memory R&D Center located adjacent to the new factory. As the name implies, the center will be used for joint research and development activities by Toshiba and Western Digital. In fact, this facility has been working since March, so it is safe to say that it is fully operational now. Furthermore, establishment of a joint R&D center indicates that the two companies will continue to jointly develop and produce memory products.Buy WD Black 500 GB SSD on Amazon.comRelated Reading
GIGABYTE Launches M.2 PCIe SSDs: Phison PS5008-E8T, Up to 512 GB
GIGABYTE this week expanded its lineup of SSDs with its new M.2 PCIe drives. The company keeps its cautious approach to the storage market and for now continues to aim at the entry level segment. The new drives are based on Phison’s reference design and controller, and the new drives show that GIGABYTE is going to stick to its partnership with this vendor.GIGABYTE’s M.2 PCIe SSDs will be available in 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB configurations, which are popular capacities for entry-level gaming PC-graded SSDs. The drives are based on Phison’s PS5008-E8T controller and Micron's or Toshiba’s 3D TLC NAND memory. This controller is one of Phison’s cheapest PCIe solutions: it supports NVMe 1.2 interface, it has four NAND channels, it does not support a DRAM buffer, and it uses a PCIe 3.0 x2 interface, which means that the new drives clearly outperform low-end SATA SSDs, but are considerably behind higher-end PCIe 3.0 x4 drives.Speaking of performance, GIGABYTE claims that its M.2 PCIe 256 GB offers up to 1200 MB/s sequential read speed as well as up to 800 MB/s sequential write speed (with pSLC enabled). As for random performance the maker rates the drive for up to 80K/150K read/write IOPS. The lower-capacity M.2 PCIe 128 GB is capable of up to 1100 MB/s sequential read speed, up to 500 MB/s sequential read speed, as well as up to 90K/100K read/write random IOPS. It is noteworthy that sequential performance numbers that GIGABYTE publishes for its M.2 PCIe SSDs are considerably lower when compared to official performance numbers Phison declares for its PS5008-E8T controller. At the same time, its random performance numbers are actually higher than what Phison expects from its chip. Perhaps, GIGABYTE decided to tune its M.2 PCIe SSDs somehow, or maybe use a custom firmware from Phison.GIGABYTE already lists 128 GB and 256 GB M.2 PCIe SSDs on its website, so expect the drives to show up in retail shortly with 512 GB version following up a bit later. All the drives are rated for a 1.5 million-hour MTBF and are covered by a three-year warranty or the maximum TBW rating (whichever comes first).GIGABYTE M.2 PCIe SSDs SpecificationsCapacity128 GB256 GB512 GBModel NumberGP-GSM2NE8128GNTDGP-GSM2NE8128GNTDGP-GSM2NE8512GNTDControllerPhison PS5008-E8TNAND FlashSpectek/Micron B17
A Quick Look at the Subor Z+ Console/PC Hybrid: A Custom AMD SoC Called FireFlight
One of the most interesting things in August (there were a lot) was that a company in China invested the best part of 400 million RMB / $60 million USD in a custom processor for its upcoming console and PC hybrid system. This processor comes from AMD’s Semi-Custom Division, and uses four Zen cores paired with 24 Vega compute units, making a beefy APU for a console system and a sizeable performer as a PC. One of the unique parts about the chip is that it uses GDDR5 for both CPU and GPU, which will be critical to its performance.
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti & RTX 2080 Founders Edition Review: Foundations For A Ray Traced Future
While it was roughly 2 years from Maxwell 2 to Pascal, the journey to Turing has felt much longer despite a similar 2 year gap. But finally, at Gamescom 2018, NVIDIA announced the GeForce RTX 20 series, built on TSMC’s 12nm “FFN” process and powered by the Turing GPU architecture. Launching today with full general availability is just the GeForce RTX 2080, as the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti was delayed a week to the 27th, while the GeForce RTX 2070 is due in October. So up for review today is the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and GeForce RTX 2080.But a standard new generation of gaming GPUs this is not. The “GeForce RTX” brand, ousting the long-lived “GeForce GTX” moniker in favor of their announced “RTX technology” for real time ray tracing, aptly underlines NVIDIA’s new vision for the video card future. Like we saw last Friday, Turing and the GeForce RTX 20 series are designed around a set of specialized low-level hardware features and an intertwined ecosystem of supporting software currently in development. The central goal is a long-held dream of computer graphics researchers and engineers alike – real time ray tracing – and NVIDIA is aiming to bring that to gamers with their new cards, and willing to break some traditions on the way. But naturally we'll see how closely they keep the biggest one: traditional performance in current gaming.
Sony's $100 PlayStation Classic: Available December 2018 with 20 Games
Sony’s PlayStation game console made a strong influence on the entertainment industry when it was launched in 1994. Having been sold in quantities of over 104 million units globally, the original PlayStation introduced video games to many people by offering them titles and even genres that have since become iconic. In an attempt to bring back good memories to owners of the first-gen PlayStation, Sony intends to release its PlayStation Classic console later this year that will be compatible with select PlayStation titles.The Sony PlayStation Classic (SCPH-1000R) will look like the original PlayStation, but will come in a miniature package and will consume just around 5 W of power. The console will feature an HDMI port capable of 720p and 480p video output that will also be used to output linear PCM audio. Also, the device will have a USB Micro-B port for power delivery, similar to the other 'mini' consoles that have entered the market recently. The PlayStation Classic will be equipped with two controllers that look similar to Sony’s original controllers but have different plug in methods. The only things missing will be actually playing a CD, or putting in a memory card.Sony intends to preload 20 games originally developed for its PlayStation in the 1990s, including Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash!, R4 Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms (Ian: Wild Arms? Sold!). Sony notes that the title lineup other than the said five games will be different for various regions. Furthermore, the PlayStation Classic will not be able to add any more games via download or any other way, so the number of supported titles will always remain at 20 games. Meanwhile, although this is not the first time when Sony and its partners re-release titles for the original PlayStation, the collection of 20 games seems to be the most comprehensive one made available so far.Sony does not disclose hardware that powers its PlayStation Classic device. Considering the fact that we are dealing with a very low-power device that will be compatible with select titles only, it is highly likely that Sony will use an SoC and an emulation layer to run the games, just like it did previously (and like Nintendo makes select PS1 and PS2 titles run on its Switch).Sony PlayStation ClassicSCPH-1000RSoCUnknownVideo Output720p, 480pAudio OutputLineup PCMInput/OOutputHDMI
Cadence Announces The Tensilica DNA 100 IP: Bigger Artificial Intelligence
Cadence is an industry player we don’t mention nearly enough as much as we should - they make a lot of IP and specialises in accelerator blocks which augment camera and vision capabilities. The company’s Tensilica IP offerings are still quite notable and are present in popular SoCs such as HiSilicon’s Kirin lineup or MediaTek’s chipsets. This week they have announced more “AI” centric product offerings which promise to accelerate neural network inferencing on edge devices.
PNY Elite microSDXC UHS-I 512GB Memory Card Capsule Review
High-capacity microSDXC cards have started to appear in the market, thanks to the advent of 3D NAND. In August 2017, the 400GB SanDisk Ultra microSDXC UHS-I card was introduced. At the 2018 Computex, we saw multiple vendors (ADATA, PNY, and Team Group) demonstrating 512GB microSDXC cards. Read on for our evaluation of the PNY Elite microSDXC UHS-I 512GB card.
Sharp Aquos D10 Smartphone: Mid-Range with ‘Wide Color Gamut’ Display
In the back of my mind I guess I had always assumed Sharp made some sort of smart device, but I was still taken aback at their booth at IFA, where the Sharp Aquos D10 smartphone was on display. This device is very much an attempt at a focused mid-range product, but it was the display panel that was attracting the most attention.Aquos. Ak-wos? A-cue-os?Truth be told, I’m not a fan of the Aquos name. I’m not even sure I pronounce it correctly. However Sharp has built the Aquos brand through its displays, and now has a good opportunity to bring innovate display technology to the smartphone industry, either through its own devices or through other OEMs. With a large part of IFA focused on 4K and 8K TVs, I had half hoped I had stumbled across another 4K smartphone, but instead Sharp’s new device states two interesting tid-bits of information.The focus is on the panel: a 5.99-inch 2160x1080 FFD LCD with a supposed 91% screen to body ratio. The device has a notch and a sizable bottom chin, so I’m not sure if that 91% holds up. Sharp also lists the display with a WCGP, a ‘Wide Color Gamut Panel’, but fails to elaborate as to what this means, although likely some high coverage of AdobeRGB or DCI-P3. This isn’t seen that often on a mid-range device, so it will be interesting to see if the display is also calibrated out of the factory.5.99-inch is still sizable for a mid-range phone, and for example here it is next to the 6.3-inch Honor Play with an 89% screen to body ratio:Under the hood of the Aquos D10 is a Snapdragon 630 SoC, which runs a quad Cortex-A53 (2.6 GHz) plus quad Cortex-A53 (1.8 GHz) configuration, and is paired with 4GB of DRAM and 64GB of storage. The device will ship with Android 8.0, however with ‘Sharp UI’ enhancements on top. On the back is a dual rear camera, listed as a 12MP+13MP combination, while the front camera is rated at 16MP. The fingerprint sensor is on the rear.The battery is a little smaller than I had hoped, only coming in at 2900 mAh, but Sharp lists over 20 hours of talk time with this. Dual nano-SIM is supported, along with a microSD card at 128GB (it isn’t stated if the microSD takes one of the SIM slots). Connectivity comes through the intergrated Qualcomm modem, which in this case is only Cat 4 (150 Mbps), but the Wi-Fi is 802.11ac dual band. It uses a USB Type-C connection also.The D10 is set to come to Europe in September, priced around 400 Euro.Related Reading
LR-Link Launches Intel X550-Based 10 GbE NICs: Starting at $155
LR-Link, a maker of networking solutions from China, has introduced two new 10 GbE NICs based on an Intel controller. The cards are priced about 30% below similar products by Intel and other makers, yet they are aimed primarily at entry-level servers.LR-Link’s single-port LREC9811BT and dual-port LREC9812BT network adapters are powered by Intel’s X550AT2 controller and feature a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. The cards feature one or two RJ-45 connectors and support supports 100M, 1G, and 10G speeds using Cat5e/Cat6/Cat6A copper cabling. Intel does not explicitly deny that the X550 works with 2.5G or 5G routers/switchers, yet the company does not validate the controller with such equpment (at least officially), so nothing is guaranteed.Intel’s X550 controller ships with drivers for all server and desktop/workstation-grade operating systems from Microsoft, VMware as well as numerous Linux distributives. Meanwhile, just like Intel, LR-Link positions its LREC9811BT and LREC9812BT network cards mainly for servers.LR-Link's Intel X550-Based NICsLREC9811BTLREC9812BTControllerIntel X550AT2100BASE-TYes1000BASE-TYes2.5GBASE-T-5GBASE-T-10GBASE-TYes (over Cat6A cables)Ports12OS CompatibilityApple--MicrosoftWindows 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10 or later
ZTE is Back: The Axon 9 Pro at IFA 2018
ZTE's troubles as of late have been well documented. Following a substantial fine and a complete removal of the senior staff from SVP and above, the company is now allowed to continue selling in the US and receiving US technology, meaning it can once again focus on its product portfolio. With the upheaval, new and exciting devices from R&D like the dual-screen Axon M are getting put on the back burner, while the company focuses on more mainstream devices like its new Axon 9 Pro that was launched at IFA.We were told by our rep that ZTE was aiming to be one of the first vendors with an S845 device in market, but the situation caused a big delay. The company then subsequently waited another six weeks after the resolution to launch the Axon 9 Pro. This way, we were told, the story would focus more on the device than the other issues if they had announced it immediately.Axon 9 ProPrior to the issues with the US, ZTE was a company proud of its ability to implement new features and technology into its devices. Two years ago at IFA, for example, smartphone OIS stability was a key feature in a lot of booths, including ZTE. This year, with the Axon 9 Pro, the focal points are on the display, the audio, and the video playback capabilities.The device uses an OLED display, supplemented with a Pixelworks chip designed to enhance the color depth of content as well as automatically interpolate video to 60 FPS. For color, an additional RGB sensor is on the front of the device to help examine the environment and adjust the picture for the best clarity. ZTE knows this is not new – our representative states that features like this have been in TVs for a while, however it's never been in smartphones (we’ve seen it in some tablets). This means that any video that is 25/30 FPS will automatically be ‘upscaled’ to 50/60 FPS without the user having to do anything. Games stuck at 30 FPS will also get the treatment, although the requirements are a bit stricter for this. Also present is Dolby Atmos certified audio, which ZTE is keen to promote.The Axon 9 Pro has a 6.21-inch 2248x1080 OLED display, and is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 SoC. It will only be offered in one combination of 6 GB of DRAM and 128 GB of storage, and comes with a 4000 mAh battery. It has two rear cameras (20MP+12MP) with OIS, and a front camera (20MP). The fingerprint sensor is on the rear, and it is worth noting that there is no 3.5mm jack. It will be shipping with Android 8.x Oreo. The device is also rated to IP68.From a hands-on level, the device is certainly designed to feel good to hold, and from the specifications ZTE is aiming squarely at the high-end with this device. The combination of a large OLED display, high-end SoC, lots of DRAM and Storage, a large battery, and the Pixelworks technology are reflected in the price: 649 Euro for Germany, coming at the end of September. Other markets in the EU and Asia will be following shortly after.ZTE in 5GThere was also a display regarding 5G at the ZTE booth. These were simply mockups about 5G-like devices, such as home and business access points, but ZTE were keen to state that they have a deep commitment to 5G and the infrastructure.ZTE stated that they are primarily partnering with Qualcomm for 5G.Related Reading
AMD Launches Ryzen 7 2800H & Ryzen 5 2600H APUs for High-Performance Laptops
AMD has quietly added two new APUs into its lineup of products. Based on AMD's existing Raven Ridge silicon, the new Ryzen 7 2800H and Ryzen 5 2600H chips with integrated Radeon graphics consume up to 45 W and are aimed at high-performance laptops.AMD’s Ryzen 5 2600H and Ryzen 7 2800H APUs pack four Zen cores with SMT enable, and run at 3.2 and 3.3 GHz base frequency (respectively). Meanwhile graphics is provided by the integrated Radeon RX Vega 8 or Vega 11 iGPU. The new APUs clock their general-purpose cores significantly higher (1 GHz+) when compared to AMD’s lower-power Ryzen 5 2500U and Ryzen 7 2700U APUs that were introduced last year, but at the cost of a 3x higher TDP. Meanwhile, the new chips feature exactly the same integrated graphics, featuring 512 or 704 stream processors and clocked at 1.1 GHz and 1.3 GHz.AMD’s latest H-series APUs use with a 45 W default TDP can be configured down or up to support 35 W or 54 W TDPs, giving AMD's customers a range of options for balancing performance with energy efficiency. As for form-factors, the Ryzen 5 2600H and Ryzen 7 2800H chips use the FP5 packaging, the same as used by other mobile processors from AMD. One thing to keep in mind is that since the new APUs are considerably more power hungry than their U-series counterparts, laptop makers will still have to install them into an appropriate chassis.AMD Ryzen 2000 H-Series APUsRyzen 5
MyDigitalSSD Introduces M2X USB Enclosure For M.2 NVMe SSDs
MyDigitalSSD is now shipping one of the first USB enclosures for M.2 NVMe SSDs. The new M2X enclosure is based on the JMicron JMS583 USB 3.1 Gen 2 to PCIe 3.1 x2 bridge chip. This bridge translates the SSD's NVMe storage protocol into standard USB Mass Storage protocol or USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP), allowing for a portable SSD with much higher performance than the majority of portable SSDs that use SATA SSDs internally, while also offering much broader compatibility than Thunderbolt enclosures and portable SSDs like the Samsung X5.The MyDigitalSSD M2X is a DIY kit for assembling a portable SSD with the user's choice of M.2 NVMe SSD. (M.2 SATA drives and M.2 PCIe drives that use AHCI instead of NVMe are not supported, but there are already plenty of enclosures for the former.) The bottleneck for sequential transfers will be the 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen 2 host interface, which allows for around 1GB/s throughput. The JMS583 bridge chip is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and the M2X is supplied with USB Type-C and Type-A cables, so the M2X will be plug and play with basically everything out there.On the other side of the bridge chip is a PCIe 3 x2 link, so there's little reason to put a high-end NVMe SSD inside the M2X instead of a cheaper two-lane SSD such as the MyDigitalSSD SBX or the Kingston A1000, both based on the Phison E8 controller. There's no mention of NVMe Host Memory Buffer (HMB) support in the JMS583 documentation so DRAMless NVMe SSDs like the Toshiba RC100 used in the M2X will tend to have much worse random access performance than with a direct PCIe or Thunderbolt connection to the host, even before taking into account the NVMe to USB translation overhead.The MyDigitalSSD M2X is bus powered and includes a thermal pad to help conduct heat from the M.2 SSD to the aluminum case. There doesn't appear to be a similar pad for the JMS583 bridge chip, which is rated to consume 700mW under load so its 8mm package will likely be the hottest component inside the M2X. Since USB ports usually only deliver 4.5W total, this leaves about 3.8W for the SSD itself. Most NVMe SSDs stay well below this when limited to 1GB/s, but sustained sequential writes could push some drives beyond this and lead to trouble. It's not clear if the JMS583 supports putting NVMe drives into a lower-power active state so that they throttle themselves before drawing too much power.The MyDigitalSSD M2X is now available from Amazon for $39.99 or through MyDigitalDiscount for $36.14.The JMS583 bridge chip debuted at Computex earlier this year. At the same show, ASMedia introduced their competing ASM2363 USB 3.1 to PCIe 3 x2 bridge, but products based on the ASMedia bridge have not yet made it to market.Buy MyDigitalSSD M2X SSD Enclosure on Amazon.com
BlackBerry Key2 LE: A Competitive Android Offering
As a person who works on my phone during my commutes to write news and stories, I have always batted around the idea of picking up a BlackBerry with a keyboard. The BlackBerry name is synonymous with devices that offer a fully functional physical keyboard with the display, something that is very unique in this era of touchscreen-everything. But for multiple reasons, it has never worked out.Slowly but surely, however, the company is finally starting to meet those requests. Does anyone else want a fully functional up-to-date Android device, with a keyboard, and a device that is nice to hold? If so, then the Key2 LE may catch your eye.So to start, I did have some hands-on time with the KEYone last year. It was a sizeable device, but it didn’t fit quite right in my hands. BlackBerry then released its new flagship, the Key2, in June 2018, and in the process refined it from many angles, both with regard to design and internals. Most recently, BlackBerry this month announced the Key2 LE, a cheaper variant of its Key2 that is even thinner and lighter (see the details in the table below). Meanwhile its keyboard has a slight indented angle to the center, allowing users familiar with the layout to find their position easily.The highlight of the Key2 LE is certainly its design, in particular the Atomic Red color version and its red frets across the keyboard. Rather than being a single piece of chassis, the frets look separate and really bring the look together. BlackBerry is known for its business-focused devices and security, so while most business users will be going after the ‘Slate’ color, most of the press at IFA this year were fixated on the Champagne and Atomic Red designs.In terms of software, the device a full-fledged Android phone, with the Play Store and BlackBerry-specific applications such as BBM. Even though my thoughts go back to the BB executive whom once said ‘we have the Google’, for anyone that had qualms about using Android on BlackBerry, the integration appears to be solid. The Key2 LE will ship with Oreo 8.1 as its base, with Pie 9.0 coming at a later date.What users from non-BB devices might not get used to is the screen size. Having a physical keyboard eats up some of that real-estate, and the BlackBerry KEY-series phones only have a 4.5-inch display as a result. The with that said, the 1080x1620 resolution hides an extremely respectable pixel density of 432 pixels per inch, similar to most flagships, and that resolution is actually a 3:2 aspect ratio (or 2:3 because the vertical is longer). By equipping all three KEY phones - the KEYone, the Key2, and the Key2 LE - with essentilly the same LCD, BlackBerry ensures that they all provide a similar user experience and eliminates any need to customize its BBM software for particular KEY models.The new Key2 and Key2 LE smartphones are based the Snapdragon 660 and 636 SoCs (respectively), featuring four high-performance Kryo Gold cores and four low-power Kryo Silver cores. This provides considerably higher performance than their predecessor, the KEYone, which was powered by the Snapdragon 625 SoC and its eight low-power Cortex-A53 cores. The more expensive Key2 comes with 6 GB of LPDDR4 and 64 or 128 GB of storage, whereas the Key2 LE is equipped with 4 GB of DRAM (already better than the default KEYone) as well as 32 or 64 GB of NAND. A microSD card slot is present, and dual SIM models will be available.
Renesas to Buy IDT, Expand Product Portfolio
Renesas this month has announced plans to acquire IDT, making the move as part of a larger bid to expand its product portfolio with IDT's analog mixed-signal capabilities. The takeover will enable Renesas to strenghten its positions in the automotive applications market while also entering brand new markets from where it traditionally has been absent. The transaction has been approved by boards of directors of both companies and is expected to be completed within the first half of 2019, following approval by shareholders and regulators.Gallery: Renesas to Buy IDT to Expand Product PortfolioRenesas, which over the has years absorbed semiconductor assets from Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric, and NEC, is a leading supplier of chips for various embedded solutions. Today the company is the largest supplier of SoCs, microcontrollers, and other chips for automotive applications, which has become a cornerstone of its business. Meanwhile, with the arrival of electric and autonomous vehicles the automotive market is evolving rapidly these days, and Renesas believes that in order to maintain and strengthen its hand going forward, it will need to offer solutions featuring a higher level of integration than the company’s products offer today. Furthermore, Renesas wants to take advantage of growing demand for semiconductors aimed at datacenters, industrial, communication infrastructure, and general IoT (the markets that are set to grow partly because of the revolution that is happening on the market of automotive applications). In a bid to enhance its product portfolio and gain the IP required to build new platforms for old and new markets alike, Renesas has been on an acquisition spree in the last couple of years.In early 2017 the company took over Intersil, a maker of power management-related analog devices. This time around, the company wants to take over IDT, which will grant it access to a portfolio of devices that includes solutions for RF, high performance timing, memory interfaces, real-time and optical interconnects, wireless power delivery, and advanced sensors. As a result, the combination of IP developed by Renesas, ex-Intersil, IDT, will open up doors to a host of new opportunities for the “new Renesas”.While product lines of Renesas and IDT sometimes overlap, in general they complement each other rather than compete. Therefore, Renesas expects the takeover to have an immediate positive effect on its revenue and margins. In particular, the compbined company will have an annual revenue of around $8 billion, an annual EBITDA of $2.117 billion, and a gross margin of 48.3%.Under the terms of the agreement between Renesas and IDT, shareholders of the latter will sell their stock at a price of $49 per share, for an aggregate equity value of roughly $6.7 billion (about ¥733.0 billion at an exchange rate of 110 yen to the USD). Renesas will use internal cash reserves and a $6.071 billion (¥679 billion) loan from major banks to finance the transaction. Meanwhile, in a bid to acquire IDT, Renesas will establish a wholly owned subsidiary in Delaware that will merge with IDT after shareholders of the latter will receive their cash. As a result, IDT will become a fully-owned subsidiary of Renesas based in Delaware.Related Reading:
CUBOT's New 6000 mAh Smartphones: Who Calls a Smartphone King Kong?
Readers may remember that back in 2015, I wrote a review about a $150 smartphone I picked up from Amazon called the Cubot H1. This unit was a cheap Chinese phone, running a low-end quad core SoC and paired with a low resolution screen, which was designed to excel in a single area: battery life. Having a smartphone that could last almost a week was great. Since then, I had never come across the brand at a show, until this year at IFA, where they had a small booth to try and expand into Europe with their new devices.There were two main devices on display: the Power, which is somewhat of a successor to the H1, and the King Kong 3.King Kong 3Unfortunately Cubot did not have this device on display, but this is going to be their new flagship: a high-end Mediatek MT6763T processor (8xA53), IP68-rated device with a 6000 mAh battery and simultaneous dual 4G LTE. This builds on their first generation King Kong (for some reason there isn’t a King Kong 2), with a ruggedized design focusing on the ability for construction workers to drop the phone and for it still to work, hence the King Kong name.Here are some images of the King Kong (1), as they did have that on display. The King Kong 3 is expected to have a similar design.If we head on over to the Cubot website, you’ll notice that the webpage for the King Kong line is full of standard King Kong imagery – in actual fact, what looks like direct imagery from the King Kong movie from 2005, just flipped left to right. Now the name is a bit odd (I guess it kind of fits with a durable phone) but it was my understanding that someone holds the license for the King Kong brand? I’d be highly surprised if Cubot was licensing the brand with those rights owners.Buy CUBOT King Kong on Amazon.comCubot Power: POWWWERRRRRSo here’s a device that’s more up my street. It looks like a high-end smartphone, with a 6-inch full-screen display running at 2160x1080. It uses the same MT6763T SoC as the King Kong 3, but it offers a 6 GB DRAM and 128 GB storage. It also mirrors the KK3 in that it has a 6000 mAh battery, but it's without the rugged design, so it is actually easier to hold and use on a day-to-day basis.There is a bit of a sneaky design on the rear, as it looks like it has two cameras, but one of those spots is just the LED flash. The rear camera is a 20MP unit, while the front camera is 13MP. The device does support two SIM cards, although only one can be in 4G mode. Meanwhile there is also a microSD card slot that can support another 256 GB of storage.The Power is set to hit the street at around $260, which is considerably more than the H1 I purchased back in the day. At the minute I carry around my LG V30, which handily has wireless charging, and an Honor phone for its AI camera, but both of them struggle to get through a full day of my ‘active’ use without charging. I wonder if I can make do with a high-capacity mid-range phone again without all those bells and whistles?Related Reading
SilverStone Launches SST-ECM23 Riser Card for M.2 SSDs
SilverStone has introduced its new PCIe x16 riser card for M.2 SSDs. The SST-ECM23 risers are aimed at those who want to maximize the efficiency of their SSD cooling, or just install more SSDs into spare PCIe x16 slots.As SSDs have transitioned from 2.5-inch drives to M.2 sticks, cooling high-end drives has been a sometimes uneasy prospect. The M.2 form factor along with NAND die stacking allows for a rather dense collection of electronics, and as high-end SSD controllers get more sophisticated, their heat dissipation has been increasing as well. To that end a number of companies (including ADATA, Cryorig, EKWB, and SilverStone, just to name a few) have released heat spreaders and even active cooling systems for M.2 drives over the past few quarters, and now SilverStone is ready with a yet another solution that promises to be more efficient than usual passive coolers for modular SSDs.SilverStone's SST-ECM23 riser card can house a single PCIe M.2- 2230, 2242, 2260, or 2280 drive. The adapter come with two heat spreaders, a thermal pad, and is outfitted with two LEDs to monitor activity of an installed SSD. It is noteworthy that PCB design of the adapter is optimized for heat dissipation, as it has an additional copper mesh just to transfer heat form the back of an SSD to the rear heat spreader. As for specified thermal conductivity, SilverStone says it is around 1.5 W/mK.An added benefit of SilverStone’s ECM23 riser card for owners of AMD X399 and Intel X299-based HEDT platforms is ability to install a larger number of M.2 SSDs into their systems. For those who need a high-capacity high-performance storage subsystem, such adapters may make a great sense.Finally, it's worth pointing out that since the SST-ECM23 adapter is designed for PCIe x16 slots, it can only be used with AHCI or NVMe SSDs that use a PCIe bus, as it doesn't offer a means to support SATA M.2 drives.SilverStone did not announce ETA and MSRP of the upcoming SST-ECM23 riser card.Buy Samsung 970 PRO 512 GB on Amazon.comRelated Reading:
SHIELD TV Now Supports 120 Hz Refresh, Ups Wi-Fi Bandwidth for GeForce NOW
NVIDIA has released its SHIELD Experience Upgrade 7.1, adding numerous new features and fixing bugs with their popular STB. Among the new capabilities are added support for a 120 Hz refresh rate on appropriate TVs and monitors, as well as compatibility with non-QWERTY keyboards. The update also mproves mouse movement accuracy and increases Wi-Fi bandwidth significantly for GeForce NOW.The key feature that has made it to headlines is of course added support for 120 Hz refresh rates at sub-4K resolutions, at least on televisions and displays that support it. Specifically, the HDMI 2.0 spec supports 1080p120 resolution with 4:4:4 subsampling as well as 1440p120 resolution with 4:2:2 subsampling, so the set-top-box should technically be able to support both now (it is more likely that only 1080p120 is supported though). With that said, it's worth pointing out that 120 Hz video content is very rare, so I suspect the target audience is gamers who will stream games from a local GeForce GTX-based PC or NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW service.Speaking of gamers, it is noteworthy that the SHIELD Experience Upgrade 7.1 also brings support for non-QWERTY keyboards (e.g., AZERTY, etc.) and improves accuracy of mouse movements in GeForce NOW by disabling Android mouse acceleration. Both features should benefit gamers who use keyboards and mice with the SHIELD TV STB.Meanwhile, there is a particularly important bug fix that improves the usability of NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW service with the SHIELD TV platform. The SHIELD EU 7.1 resolves a Wi-Fi bug that was limiting the available bandwidth to the GeForce NOW app; according to NVIDIA fixing this bug means they've been able to increase bandwidth to the game streaming app by upwards of 5x.While the enhancements brought by the SHIELD Experience Upgrade 7.1 are not exactly breakthrough per se, they show that NVIDIA is going to continue to tailoring its SHIELD TV and GeForce NOW services not only to casual users, but to demanding gamers as well.Buy NVIDIA SHIELD TV Gaming Edition on Amazon.comRelated Reading:
The ASRock B360M-ITX/ac Motherboard Review: Tiny Take on B360, Sub $100
Everyone likes a good analysis of a Mini-ITX sized board, but this time we're looking at a B360 chipset version. This chipset offers users the ability to jump into Coffee-Lake based CPUs who do not plan on overclocking. The ASRock B360M-ITX/ac we have on the test bench is a fully featured board with a single M.2 slot, Intel Networking (LAN and Wi-Fi), along with USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) ports.
NVIDIA Delays GeForce RTX 2080 Ti General Availability By A Week To September 27
Since yesterday’s reveal of the full Turing architecture, NVIDIA has set the stage for next week’s launch of GeForce RTX. Later that day, however, NVIDIA quietly announced that general availability of the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti will be delayed by a week, from September 20 to September 27. Preorders have also been affected, and those units will arrive between the 20 and 27.So for the launch of GeForce RTX, the GeForce RTX 2080 is left as the only card set for full availability, with the RTX 2070 slated to arrive in October. To recap, the RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition is priced at $1199, while non-Founders Edition cards will be $999. The RTX 2080 FE will come in at $799, with non-Founders Edition cards at $699. As always with new video card releases, expect prices to be inflated for weeks, if not months, after launch day; the recent cryptomining craze and knock-on inventory effects only makes the situation more complicated.With launch day sell-outs becoming the norm for new video cards, this leans towards more of a inventory cause than anything else, as some preorders may still arrive on the 20th. Regardless, only the RTX 2080 remains listed and in-stock for preorder on NVIDIA's site. Stay tuned for next week's GeForce RTX review!Buy EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 XC Ultra Gaming on Amazon.com
Nubia’s Red Magic: An RGB Gaming Phone
‘Ian, when are we going to see smartphones with RGB?’ is a question I am never asked. The PC space has figuratively jumped in a barrel and fallen over Niagara Falls with its love of RGB and gaming, but the same excitement and thrill has not (yet) made it to the smartphone area. We saw ASUS’ ROG Phone earlier this year with some RGB, and earlier in the year Nubia launched the Red Magic. I got some hands on time at IFA 2018.Nubia Red Magic: GameBoost and BlingThe obvious point to address first is the bling. On the rear of the Red Magic is an RGB LED strip, similar to those found in modern PCs, that can respond to how the system is being used. When enabled, it can pulse, rainbow, or respond to music being played on the device.In order to accommodate this, plus some extra cooling, the rear of the smartphone is rounded, with the red ‘X’ style vents in the corners of the rear to help with cooling. Also on the rear is a camera and a fingerprint sensor.The LED strip reacts when the phone is in ‘GameBoost’ mode. We spoke with an engineer from Nubia while at IFA about this technology, and it does pretty much what you might expect: disables notifications, and allows the smartphone to boost to higher power states. If that sounds similar to a recent issue we covered, Nubia’s offering actually allows the user to select when the phone is in this mode. More than that, there’s a button on the side of the phone which enables the mode.In this case, the ‘boost’ isn’t so much for peak performance but sustained performance. By reducing the effect of the throttling, an intense game (or benchmark) is able to keep its top performance mode for longer.Under The HoodFor a gaming phone, we would expect the best of the best. For whatever reason this means that Nubia went for last generation’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, but paired it up with a 6.01-inch FHD display with 8 GB of DRAM and 128 GB of storage. The battery is also listed as 3800 mAh, which is a sizable amount.In this picture, it states that the phone has ‘four cooling hi-tech’, by which it means the four vents. It also states it has ‘AI lighting effect’, which is actually just translating the audio being played to sound – a technology present on cold-cathode tubes back in the early 2000s, certainly no artificial intelligence required.A Gaming Phone: The ProblemBuilding a custom PC for gaming is straightforward: there are a range of components to choose from in the mid-range and high-end market segments – for both CPUs and GPUs – and customization options are almost limitless. Games are also developed with minimum and recommended specifications, and these can be adjusted.This can’t happen in the smartphone space. Everyone (except Huawei) uses a high-end SoC from Qualcomm for its flagship, so if a company wants to build a gaming smartphone there is little room to manoeuvre on performance. Because of the large install base of S845 devices in the market running 60 Hz displays, game developers optimize for this scenario – a ‘one-quality fits all’, with no option for devices to turn down the quality. This is more what we see in the console space, because everyone has the same hardware.There are still areas that gaming phones can focus on: cooling, battery, and audio. Offering sustained performance over long periods of time with an immersive experience can be good additions. However, as we saw with the Razor phone that had all of these plus the 120 Hz display, the ‘phone’ part was a bit of a brick and severely lacked in the camera department. I’m not saying it’s easy to balance the gaming aspect with the phone aspect, as we’ve had very few attempts at a proper gaming smartphone.Nubia’s Red Magic: It Felt GoodRegardless of the specifications, the feel of the device is often a very immediate make-or-break scenario. If it doesn’t feel right when you hold it, it is unlikely to be a device that you purchase. Credit goes to Nubia on this, as due to the extra rounding on the back of the device as well as good chamfering on the edges, the Red Magic felt super comfortable both in single-handed portrait mode and two-handed landscape. There have been several phones of late that I have disliked purely based on feel, even with a multitude of features under the hood.An extra note about the stencilling on the rear – as a gaming phone, this is a good idea. I really like how Nubia played with the shades of grey, white lines, and red accents. It is a step above the Honor Play, Players Edition, which also has similar accents but is not quite as obvious.The Nubia Red Magic is already available in certain markets, priced around 400 Euro.Related Reading
KLEVV Launches NEO N500 SSDs Based on SK Hynix’s 72-Layer 3D NAND
SK Hynix’s subsidiary KLEVV has introduced its new client SSDs based on the manufacturer’s 72-layer 3D NAND flash. The KLEVV NEO N500 drives are aimed at entry-level desktops and laptops that accept SATA drives. As entry-level products, the SSDs are priced low, and in fact are already available at retail.The KLEVV NEO N500 family consists of three models featuring 120 GB, 240 GB, and 480 GB capacities, which are popular configurations for inexpensive SSDs these days. The drives come in a 2.5-inch/7-mm form-factor and use a SATA 6 Gbps interface, which makes them drop-in compatible with existing desktops and laptops that use DFF storage. The NEO N500 are based on Silicon Motion’s SM2258XT controller as well as SK Hynix’s 72-layer 3D TLC NAND memory. The SM2258XT controller has been available for some time now and its features and capabilities are well known: it has four NAND flash channels, LDPC ECC technology, and it supports pseudo-SLC (pSLC) caching in order to maximize SSD performance.It's noteworthy that while we've seen the SM2258XT controller time and time again, the NAND itself is relatively new. So there may be some significance to the fact that the official performance specifications of KLEVV’s NEO N500 drives puts them below other drives using the same controller with other 3D NAND. According to the manufacturer, the drives are able to hit up to 520 MB/s sequential read speeds and up to 500 MB/s sequential write speeds. As for random performance, KLEVV does not disclose exact specs, but the SM2258/SM2258XT controllers are rated for up to 90,000 read IOPS and up to 80,000 write IOPS. Evidently, high-capacity drives offer higher sequential and random performance than their lower-capacity counterparts.KLEVV NEO N500 SSD SpecificationsCapacity120 GB240 GB480 GBModel NumberD120GAA-N500D240GAA-N500D480GAA-N500ControllerSilicon Motion SM2258XTNAND FlashSK Hynix 72-Layer 3D TLC NANDSequential Read520 MB/sSequential Write470 MB/s500 MB/sRandom Read IOPS???Random Write IOPS???Pseudo-SLC CachingSupportedDRAM BufferNoTCG Opal EncryptionNoPower ManagementDevSleepWarranty3 yearsMTBF?The KLEVV NEO N500-series SSDs are positioned below the company’s own NEO N600-series drives based on the SM2256 and planar TLC memory, which is not surprising as the new drives offer lower performance. What is a bit surprising is that unlike other suppliers of SSDs, KLEVV decided not to build high-performance drives based on 3D NAND using controllers from a third party or SK Hynix’s own silicon.The new NEO N500 SSDs from KLEVV are covered by a three-year warranty. All versions of the drives are already available in Europe. Based on data from Geizhals.at, the 120 GB version costs €33 ($39), the 240 GB model is priced at €58 ($69), whereas the 480 GB SKU is available for €105 ($123).Related Reading:
YouTube, Netflix Publish First Videos Transcoded Using AV1
UPDATE: 9/14 5 PM ET: Adding information regarding Netflix videos transcoded using AV1.
The NVIDIA Turing GPU Architecture Deep Dive: Prelude to GeForce RTX
It’s been roughly a month since NVIDIA's Turing architecture was revealed, and if the GeForce RTX 20-series announcement a few weeks ago has clued us in on anything, is that real time raytracing was important enough for NVIDIA to drop “GeForce GTX” for “GeForce RTX” and completely change the tenor of how they talk about gaming video cards. Since then, it’s become clear that Turing and the GeForce RTX 20-series have a lot of moving parts: RT Cores, real time raytracing, Tensor Cores, AI features (i.e. DLSS), raytracing APIs. All of it coming together for a future direction of both game development and GeForce cards.In a significant departure from past launches, NVIDIA has broken up the embargos around the unveiling of their latest cards into two parts: architecture and performance. For the first part, today NVIDIA has finally lifted the veil on much of the Turing architecture details, and there are many. So many that there are some interesting aspects that have yet to be explained, and some that we’ll need to dig into alongside objective data. But it also gives us an opportunity to pick apart the namesake of GeForce RTX: raytracing.
Qualcomm Launches Snapdragon Wear 3100 Platform for Smartwatches
Qualcomm this week introduced its new platform designed for smartwatches based on Google’s Wear OS. The long anticipated Snapdragon Wear 3100 packs four general-purpose processing cores as well a special co-processor for low-power operations designed to prolong battery life of upcoming wearables. Communication capabilities of the platform include GPS, Wi-Fi+Bluetooth, as well as 4G/LTE, which is in line with features supported by direct predecessor.Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 (MSM8909w) is the company’s most powerful SoC for wearables that the company has released to date. Just like the Snapdragon Wear 2100 introduced in 2016, the new chip packs four ARM Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.2 GHz. Meanwhile, the latest SoC also integrates the company’s QCC1110 co-processor designed specifically for tasks that do not require serious compute horsepower, such as sensor processing in new modes to be supported by the upcoming version of Wear OS. The co-processor also has a deep learning engine for custom workloads like detection of keywords.Besides general-purpose cores and the co-processor, the SoC integrates Qualcomm’s Adreno 304 GPU that supports resolutions up to 640x×480 at 60 Hz as well as a high-performance DSP. As for communication capabilities, the Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform can support Qualcomm’s WCN3620 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth controller, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X5 4G/LTE modem, and GPS capabilities. Meanwhile, the company will offer three versions of the SW3100 targeting smartwatches with different comm features.Qualcomm says that it works closely with developers of Google’s Wear OS, so all the capabilities of the new Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform will be used by software eventually. In particular, the SW3100 will support three modes that will be a part of next-gen watches running the Wear OS, including the Enhanced Ambient Mode, Dedicated Sports Experiences, and Traditional Watch Mode. In all three cases the SW3100 will offload display and sensor processing from the Cortex-A7 and Adreno cores to the ultra-low-power co-processor, but will still be able to perform typical tasks for each mode (e.g., GPS and heart rate sensing for the sports mode).Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear SoCsSnapdragon Wear 1200Snapdragon Wear 1100Snapdragon Wear 2100Snapdragon Wear 3100SoCCortex-A7 @ 1.3GHz
AOC Unveils Cheap G1-Series Curved Displays with 144 Hz & FreeSync: Starting at $280
AOC this month formally introduced its G1-series of curved gaming displays, which offer premium features like 144 Hz FreeSync support at affordable prices. The new monitors start at $230 for a 24-inch model and top out at $400 for a 31.5-inch version, making these among the cheapest high refresh rate FreeSync monitors on the market.AOC’s G1 family will initially consist of four models: a 24-inch display, a 27-inch display, and two 32-inch displays. All four are based on 16:9 aspect ratio curved VA-type panels, and all of which similar specifications such as 250-nits peak brightness, a 3000:1 contrast ratio, 1 ms MPRT response times, and a 144 Hz refresh rate. The C24G1, C27G1, and C32G1 all run at a Full-HD (1920x1080) resolution, while the CQ32G1 goes one step further with WQHD (2560x1440).The key selling points for all of AOC’s G1 monitors are their ultra-low motion picture response time (keep in mind that MPRT response time is a different thing than GtG response time usually mentioned by display makers though), AMD’s FreeSync dynamic refresh rate technology, as well as a 144 Hz maximum refresh rate. AOC has yet to disclose the FreeSync ranges of the displays and whether they're wide enough to support AMD’s Low Frame Rate (LFC) capability; however it would be rather odd to see a 144Hz display that couldn't meet the relaively modest 2x range requirement. Meanwhile, the company’s previous-gen entry-level gaming monitors, which launched last year, supported LFC and had a very decent FreeSync range from 30 to 144 Hz.Meanwhile in order to bring in these gaming features to entry-level monitors, AOC did have to make some tradeoffs. In particular, they're using panels with relatively modest brightness ranges and pixel densities. For hardcore gamers after a fast monitor this isn't likely to be an issue, however someone with a more mixed gaming/productivity workload may find it's balanced towards the former and not the latter.When it comes to connectivity, all of AOC's G1 displays have three display inputs – a DisplayPort and two HDMI headers (to connect a PC and two game consoles) – as well as a 3.5-mm headphone jack, essentially keeping the number of connectors at a minimum. The manufacturer decided not to equip its G1 monitors with speakers or a USB hub since neither will be truly appreciated by the target audience.Specifications of AOC's G1 Series Gaming DisplaysC24G1C27G1C32G1CQ32G1Panel24" VA27" VA31.5" VA31.5" VANative Resolution1920 × 10802560 × 1440Maximum Refresh Rate144 HzDynamic RefreshTechAMD FreeSync (LFC is not confirmed)Range30 - 144 Hz (?)Brightness250 cd/m²?Contrast3000:1?Viewing Angles178°/178° horizontal/verticalResponse Time1 ms MPRTPixel Pitch0.27156 mm²0.3114 mm²0.3637 mm²0.2724 mm²Pixel Density90 PPI81 PPI70 PPI93 PPICurvature1500R1800RColor Gamut SupportsRGBInputs1 × DisplayPort 1.2
Hyper Juice: 99Wh Battery Pack with 100W Charging for ~$400
Even though IFA has passed, one interesting element I still want to highlight is this little gadget that caught my eye. A company called Hyper Juice, which specialises in battery packs and other things, was showing off their latest un-named project: a super large but still carry-on-luggage-allowed battery capable of recharging a MacBook twice.This unit boasts some impressive specifications. To combat the carry-on flight limit of 100 Wh, this unit fits in at 99.16 watt-hours / 27000 mAh of capacity, and can peak at 130 Watts of power delivery between its three connectors. It offers a Type-C port that can do up to 100W, a second Type-C good for 60W, and a Type-A that supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 at up to 18W. The unit is charged through the 100W Type-C port, and the rep on hand expected a 100W wall charger to be supplied with the unit.The design is meant to emulate the products from a famous fruit company (no, not Blackberry) and this is exactly what I was told about the market: they are explicitly going after professional MacBook users. Hyper Juice states the unit is good for two full charges for the standard MacBook and just over a full charge on a MacBook Pro 15.6-inch.The company doesn’t have a name for its halo product, partly because it has never named any of its previous products. I suggested something like this needs a good name to go into the market. I was told that it will be sold for around 399 Euro, and be available in November in at least Germany; though it should eventually be available worldwide as well.Buy Apple MacBook Pro 15.6-Inch: 6-Core Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD MR942LL/A on Amazon.comRelated Reading
Samsung’s One Invisible Connection: 75 Gbps and 230W in a Ultra Thin Cable
This perhaps isn’t news, but there was something super amazing that I saw on the show floor at IFA this year that I wanted to write about. Despite writing about the technology industry for nearly ten years, I still like to pace around a show floor to find new and exciting things. After bypassing room upon room of ovens and carbon-fibre fridges, I was stunned to be introduced to Samsung’s One Invisible Connection. This is a tiny thin cable that seems to do everything.Everyone dislikes cables. If we could transmit data wirelessly, and transmit power wirelessly, I’m sure I speak for most people and say that our lives would be far less cluttered if we could do away with cable messes. Samsung’s One Invisible Connection, in turn, aims to simplify everything. In one small cable they are able to power a full-sized 4K display (up to 230W) as well as transmit 4K video (75 Gbps). A picture says a thousand words:A cable supporting that much data and that much power, to me, seems crazy. Apparently Samsung is shipping this on all their high-end QLED displays already, and it connects to a host box which deals with power and the video inputs, such as a Blu-Ray player, console, or cable TV. (ed: for anyone wondering, the cable appears to be an optical cable with additional wires for carrying high voltage DC power)
Toshiba’s Portégé X30T: An Uncanny Mix of Clamshell and Tablet
Back at the IFA event in Germany, I noticed that Toshiba had announced a new laptop. However the headline didn’t quite grab my eye. It was only by chance that while walking through the show floor, I stumbled into the Toshiba booth where the device, called the Portégé X30T, was on display. When I say it is an uncanny mix of clamshell and tablet, this is not an exaggeration: trying to tap into that Thinkpad market is difficult, and Toshiba thinks this new device is one to fit into the bill.Toshiba lists the Portégé X30T as ‘a business companion that’s built to move’. And if you take a quick glance at the fully-assembled device, then you'd say it looks like any other laptop, with a large high quality screen, a keyboard with ports, a hinge, and that should be the lot. However the Portégé X30T is more like a conventional 2-in-1: the keyboard – with houses the USB ports, VGA output, HDMI output, and Ethernet port – detaches.The unit physically detaches with two metallic hooks to reveal a USB-C connection between the keyboard and the screen, but all the internals are housed in the screen. Those internals include a 15W class Intel processor with integrated graphics, storage and memory, but also a back hinge for the device to stand up like most 2-in-1 devices when the slim keyboard is used.The full-fat keyboard, with an extra battery and ports, makes the system stable enough to be a clamshell; but users can invest in a light weight keyboard for the device to be more portable. The slim keyboard by contrast uses a simple pogo-pin type interface. But that being said, even with the full-fat keyboard, I felt the overall design was still fairly light – it was actually the first thing I said to the rep when they handed me the unit.Inside the screen is an 8 generation U-series processor, a 13.3-inch FHD touchscreen display with active pen support, the built-in kickstand, both front-facing and rear-facing cameras, and Toshiba states that it is around 0.9 inches thick and weighs under 1kg. The base tablet mode should be good for eight hours of battery life, but the full-fat keyboard bumps that up to 14-15 hours. Toshiba is offering a 3-year warranty for the laptop, and it is built to the MIL-STD-810G standard for durability.Compared to the previous generation, it would appear that the in-keyboard trackpoint is now an optional extra (for business users that prefer it), and Toshiba has bumped the device up from a 5W Core M to a 15W U-series processor, which requires additional vents in the tablet part of the device.Toshiba is set to make the newest Portégé X30T available in October, starting at $1550.To be honest, my main critique with 2-in-1 devices is that I use my main portable notebook in clamshell mode at critical parts of my job – either on tiny tables on airplanes, or on my lap during keynotes. This is where the 2-in-1 model falls apart: it requires an additional ‘stand’ which takes more room that I don’t have. By having a weighty keyboard that also adds a lot of battery life, Toshiba has a good thing going here. If I know I’m going to be doing desk work, I can potentially use the lightweight keyboard at all other times.Related Reading
ADATA Unveils IUSP33F BGA SSDs: Up to 1.2 GB/s Throughput
ADATA has announced its first SSDs in a BGA form-factor. The IUSP33F drives are designed for devices that require a storage solution with a minimal footprint, such as thin-and-light laptops, convertible notebooks, or tablets. Meanwhile, the performance of ADATA’s BGA SSDs is higher than that of mainstream SATA SSDs.ADATA’s IUSP33F drives offer capacities of 128 GB and 256 GB and come in an industry standard Type 1113-X (11.5×13 mm) package, which is further attached to the host via a PCIe 3.0 x2 interface. The SSDs are based on Silicon Motion’s SM2263XT DRAM-less controller with HMB support and are paired with Micron's 3D NAND memory. The solution fully supports the NVMe 1.3 protocol, SMI’s NANDXtend LDPC ECC engine, an end-to-end data path protection as well as embedded programmable RAID to further improve reliability and durability of SSDs.Looking at performance specifications, we see up to 1195 MB/s sequential read speeds as well as up to 940 MB/s sequential write speeds, which is in line with inexpensive PCIe 3.0 x2 SSDs in M.2 form-factors. As for random performance, the IUSP33F can hit up to 140,000 read IOPS and up to 114,000 write IOPS.ADATA did not disclose when it plans to make its IUSP33F BGA drives available in volume, but since such products are aimed at PC OEMs, it is likely that either the manufacturer has already delivered the first batch, or is actively searching for interested customers. As for pricing, it will depend on volumes and other factors.ADATA IUSP33F SpecificationsCapacity128 GB256 GBModel Number??ControllerSilicon Motion SM2263XT ControllerNAND FlashMicron B16A 64-layer 3D TLC NANDForm-Factor, InterfaceBGA Type-1113-X, PCIe 3.0 x2Sequential Readup to 1195 MB/sSequential Writeup to 940 MB/sRandom Read IOPSup to 140K IOPSRandom Write IOPSup to 114K IOPSPseudo-SLC CachingSupportedDRAM BufferNoEncryptionThe controller supports TCG OPAL 2.0, but it is unknown whether the technology is enabled by ADATAPower ManagementActive: ?
The MSI GT75 Titan Laptop Review: Hex-Core DTR
The gaming laptop segment is one of the most profitable around, and MSI has focused their laptops almost exclusively on this market for the last couple of years. Today we are taking a look at the MSI GT75 Titan, otherwise affectionately known as the GT75 Titan-093. The GT lineup is the top of the range for MSI, and the GT75 Titan offers all the accoutrements you’d be expecting in a gaming laptop.
Apple Announces The Apple Watch 4: Fully Custom SiP
Today alongside the new iPhone XS, XS Max and the XR, Apple first introduced the new Apple Watch Series 4. The fourth generation of the watch sees a major revamp in its specifications and the most visible external design change to date.Inside the new Apple Watch 4, we see Apple transition to a new SiP (Silicon in Package) design with a new S4 SoC containing for the first time a custom Apple designed CPU and GPU. We don’t have much information on the specifications here other than the new dual-CPU is 64-bit capable and is promised to perform twice as fast as it’s predecessors – which used Arm’s Cortex A7.It’s to be noted that the 64-bit part of the new CPU might not be as clear as one might think, as there’s been some evidence (Credit @KhaosT) that the Watch might be running in ARM64_32 mode, which would be a 32-bit submode of AArch64 that allows for 32-bit pointers while retaining the ISA advantages of AArch64. Such a mode would be most optimal for a low-memory device such as smartwatch.Prior generations of the Apple watch used a variation of an Imagination SGX core. For the S4 again Apple claims it’s a new custom GPU – again we don’t have any details here other than what Apple talked about in the presentation.Finally the new S4 SiP includes new accelerometer and gyroscope functionality that has 2x the dynamic range in terms of measurable values, as well as able to sample data at 8x the speed. What this allows Apple to do is to collect a lot more data at higher accuracy and try to determine the scenario that you’re in. For example Apple claims the new watch is able to discern between falling, tripping and slipping just based on the movements that the person makes – whose detection is now enables by the new hardware sensor capabilities.The new watch comes in 40 and 44mm sizes, and is fully compatible with prior generation Watch bands.The core new characteristic of the new watch is the larger screen which now achieves a higher screen-to-body ratio on the watch. This is actually a pretty great improvement as the new screen feels a lot more pronounced.To emphasize the new screen, Apple provides new watch faces with configurable information. Here the new watch allows for up to 8 complications which are at the disposal of the user. There’s also several new animated wallpapers available – these are pre-recorded videos that just play back on the watch face.The new watch has also lost some of its thickness as it’s now 10.7mm versus the series 3’s 11.4mm. Here I’m still hoping one day we can see even thinner models, as it’s my personal least favourite aspect of smartwatches in general. Even though its thickness got reduced and it offers more performance and features, the new watch is said to maintain the same battery life longevity as its predecessors.The sides of the watch have also changed quite a bit. On the left side we now have a larger speaker grill; Apple promises the new speaker to be a lot louder and surprisingly so for a watch. Unfortunately during the loud hands-on this was quite hard to evaluate.On the right side we see the microphone being relocated between the button and the crown dial. The reasoning here is to reduce echo effects from the new more powerful speaker. The crown has been improved and now gives haptic feedback, trying to mimick the “clicking wheel” feel such as in more mechanical dials, or more aptly, the clicking of a mouse wheel when you scroll with it. The haptics here are enabled not by the crown itself, but by a vibration motor inside the watch.On the back of the watch we don’t see much visible changes, however we now find a new improved optical heartrate sensor which is able to detect the heart rhythm.What’s actually the most interesting in terms of the health monitoring capabilities of the new watch is that it actually includes for the first time ever a ECG (electrocardiogram) functionality in an over the counter consumer device. Here all you have to do while wearing the watch is to touch the crown – which serves as an anode and closes the loop created across your arms and heart.Apple was very proud to be the first consumer device to enable this and had even received approval by the US FDA. It’s to be noted that this will beg some questions on how the feature will be implemented in other regions, as using and advertising such medical monitoring features might be disallowed if you don’t have regulatory approval.Apple definitely is leading the smartwatch sector by a significant margin, and the company was even keen to point out that the Apple Watch is the most popular watch overall as well (Though that’s just because there’s no one dominating classic watch in a similar position).The new Apple watch with GPS is available for $399 and the LTE variant comes in at $499 and are both available starting September 17, with preorders starting this Friday the 14. Overall I found the new Apple Watch 4 a lot more attractive than its predecessors – though it’s still a quite steep price point.
The iPhone XS, XS Max, XR and Apple Watch 4 Hands-On
Today at Apples iPhone launch event, we saw the unveiling of three new iPhones as well as the Apple Watch Series 4. We go into more detail about the specifications of the new phones in our separate announcement article. Least to say, the new phones are a major upgrade in terms of their hardware capabilities, and also mark the across-the-board adoption of the iPhone X design for the entire iPhone product line.I had a bit of hands-on time with the new phones at the event, and I was able to come away with a few impressions of the new models.
Apple Announces the 2018 iPhones: iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, & iPhone XR
Today at their 2018 “Gather Round” iPhone & watch event, Apple announced the 2018 iPhone family. The latest and greatest iPhones build off of the industrial design and feature set first rolled out last year with the iPhone X, with all three phones announced today being iPhone X decedents in some form. Along with unifying the current-generation phones behind a single design, this latest update to the iPhone family also means that the iPhone X has essentially been split into three models, covering a range of prices and sizes.The core of the new family is the iPhone XS, which like Apple iPhones before it, has received a mid-generation “S" upgrade. Apple’s big focus this year is on photography, along with an ever-faster SoC at the heart of the phone. The iPhone XS is joined by the even larger iPhone XS Max, which offers the same features with a bigger screen and bigger battery. Meanwhile as a pseudo-replacement for the iPhone 8 family, the iPhone XR is a slightly pared down XS, incorporating many of the same features but dropping the telephoto camera and using an LCD display instead of OLED.
IBASE Launches SI-614 SFF PC with NVIDIA’s MXM Graphics
IBASE Technology, a supplier of embedded, industrial, and special-purpose PCs, this week introduced its compact desktop that uses NVIDIA GeForce graphics adapters in MXM Type-B form-factor. Officially, the SI-614 is called a digital signage player and comes with appropriate software. Meanwhile nothing can stop from using it as a gaming machine, assuming you can get one.The IBASE SI-614 comes in a neat SFF chassis measuring 256 × 160 × 69 mm and weighing around three kilograms (6.6 lbs). The system is based on the MBD614 motherboard featuring Intel’s H110 chipset and supporting Skylake and Kaby Lake processors, two DDR4-2133 SO-DIMMs (32 GB max), up to NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1080 graphics adapter in MXM Type-B form-factor (with four DisplayPort connectors, and one HDMI 1.4 for console LCD), one M.2-2280 for an SSD, one M.2-3042 for a 4G/LTE modem, two SATA connectors for 2.5-inch SSDs/HDDs, one mini-PCIe slot for a Wi-Fi + Bluetooth card, a GbE port, four USB 3.0 Type-A headers, audio jacks, and so on.The SI-614 officially supports only GeForce GTX 10-series graphics cards starting from the low-cost GeForce GTX 1030 and all the way up to the high-end GeForce GTX 1080. One of the key reasons the company is launching a digital signage player with a discrete GPU is the system’s ability to drive four 4Kp60 displays or one 8Kp60 monitor. Meanwhile it looks like the limitations are conditioned IBASE’s proprietary software for remote management and the GPU cooling system.IBASE is not the first company in the recent couple of years to use MXM cards inside desktops. ASRock has been offering its Micro-STX DeskMini systems with MXM support for well over a year now and Eurocom has been selling special MXM3-to-PCIe riser cards along with appropriate graphics adapters for SFF desktops since mid-2017.The company will offer a standard version of its SI-610M with Intel’s Core i5-7500 CPU, NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1050 GPU with 4 GB DDR5, 16 GB of DDR4 memory, and a 128 GB SATA SSD. Besides, the company will ship the SI-610M system with a 270 W external power brick (featuring a four-pin connector), but without CPU and GPU. Therefore, actual system integrators will have to carefully configure their PCs in order not to exceed power budget of the SI-614. Meanwhile, being an OEM/ODM specialist, IBASE does not sell products to end users and does not list prices. Meanwhile, those who can buy from B2B channels will be able to get an SI-614 for their gaming needs.IBASE Digital Signage Player with NVIDIA MXM Graphics CardsModelSI-614SI-614
The Apple 2018 iPhone Event Live Blog
With fall quickly approaching, it's that time of year again in the tech industry as well: iPhone season. To that end, kicking off in a few hours for Apple's annual iPhone event, with this year's event being branded as "Gather Round".Apple's event is once again taking place at the Steve Jobs theater on the Apple Park campus. And while the company isn't giving up anything in advance, it's a foregone conclusion that we'll once again be seeing multiple iPhones, along with potentially some other iOS devices. How will Apple iterate on the iPhone X design? What's happening to Apple's cheaper, traditional phone models? What will be this year's "notch"? We'll find out here in a few hours.
Biostar’s iMiner A578X8D Crypto Mining Machine Now Available
Just in time for this week's dive in cryptocurrency prices, Biostar has started selling its specially designed all-in-one rig for mining. The iMiner A578X8D is a complete black box crypto mining solution for eight GPUs, and notably does not use any riser cards. As a result, the fully-integrated miner is touted as being extra-durable to ensure stable 24/7 operation and an equally stable hash rate.The Biostar iMiner A578X8D is based on the company’s TB250-BTC D+ motherboard featuring Intel’s Celeron G3930 processor (two cores, 2.9 GHz, 51 W TDP), 4 GB of DDR4-2400 memory, and a 120 GB SSD. The system is equipped with eight AMD Radeon RX 570 graphics cards and a 1600 W PSU to provide these GPUs a stable supply of power. The crypto mining rig supports ETH, ETC, XMR, and ZEC currencies out of the box, which greatly simplifies its deployment. According to the manufacturer, one iMiner A578X8D can deliver ETH hash rate of 220 MH/s (+/- 5%).The mining rig is outfitted with seven fans to ensure sufficient cooling. In addition, the TB250-BTC D+ motherboard has a PCIe slot state detection that can check the state of each GPU and discover whether everything works properly. If the iMiner detects an error, it automatically sends an email notification to enable remote management of the rig.The all-in-one mining farm is now available from Newegg for $3,499. Later on the company is expected to start selling other AIO mining rigs that will pack six and 12 GPUs, thus offering a bit lower and higher performance.Biostar iMinerA564X12A578X6A578XDMotherboardTB250-BTC ProTB250-BTC D+CPUIntel Celeron G3930
Seagate Unveils 14 TB Consumer HDDs: BarraCuda Pro, SkyHawk, IronWolf, & IronWolf Pro
Seagate on Monday introduced a portfolio of consumer-oriented 14 TB hard drives. The new HDDs belong to the BarraCuda Pro, SkyHawk, IronWolf Pro, and IronWolf series, and rely on the same helium-filled platform that powers the datacenter-oriented Exos 14 TB HDD introduced earlier this year.As our review of the BarraCuda Pro 14 TB published earlier this week describes, all the new drives are based on Seagate’s helium-filled platform featuring eight 1.75-TB PMR platters with a 1077 Gb/in areal density coupled with two-dimensional magnetic recording (TDMR) heads. The HDDs also feature a 7200 RPM spindle speed as well as 256 MB of multi-segmented cache. Despite increase of areal density, the new desktop hard drives offer exactly the same sequential data transfer rate (250 MB/s) as their 12 TB predecessors. Meanwhile, like all helium-filled hard drives, the new 14 TB HDDs are very energy-efficient and consume just 6.9 W in operating mode, which is in line with previous-gen 12 TB drives.While the new BarraCuda Pro, SkyHawk, IronWolf Pro, and IronWolf hard drives featuring 14 TB capacity use the same platters, heads and other components, they are still very different products aimed at different applications.The BarraCuda Pro HDDs are designed for desktops, which is why they are rated for a 300 TB/year workload, but do not feature extensive protection against vibrations (unlike server-grade HDDs), yet they come with Seagate’s Rescue data recovery services.By contrast, the Skyhawk drives are aimed at surveillance systems that usually employ multiple HDDs, which is why the HDDs feature advance protection again vibration. As such, these drives are optimized to work for 24/7 and can record data from up to 64 HD cameras. Seagate rates Skyhawk HDDs for 550 TB/year workloads.Moving on to IronWolf 14 TB and IronWolf Pro 14 TB hard drives for NAS. Both models are outfitted with rotational vibration sensors and feature the IronWolf health management technology. Meanwhile the IronWolf Pro version aimed at enterprise NAS, also has top-and-bottom attached motor, and comes with a five-year warranty. Besides, the IronWolf Pro is also considerably faster than the IronWolf when it comes to maximum sustained transfer rate (250 MB/s vs 210 MB/s).Brief Specifications of Seagate's 14 TB HDDsBarraCuda ProSkyHawkIronWolf ProIronWolfP/NST14000DM001ST14000NE0008ST14000VN0008Platters8Heads16Recording TechnologyPerpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) / ConventionalRPM7200 RPMInterfaceSATA 6 GbpsMulti-Segmented Cache256 MBHelium-FillingYesSequential Data Transfer Rate (host to/from drive)250 MB/s210 MB/sMTBF?1 million hours1.2 million hours1 million hoursRated Annual Workload300 TB180 TB300 TB180 TBRV SensorNoYesRotational Vibration @ 10-1500 Hz (rad/s2)??12.5?Dual-Plane Balance??YesError Recovery Control??YesHot Plug SupportNoYesNoApplicationDesktopsNAS with 8+ BaysNAS with 24 BaysNAS with 8 BaysAcoustics (Seek)unknown2.8 belsPower ConsumptionOperating6.9 W7.9 WIdle4.9 W5.3 WWarranty5 Years3 years5 years3 YearsSeagate plans to start shipping the new hard drives today. The desktop-graded BarraCuda Pro 14 TB is priced at $580. The IronWolf and IronWolf Pro 14 TB for NAS cost $530 and $600 respectively. Meanwhile, the SkyHawk 14 TB carries an MSRP of $510. In addition, Seagate disclosed pricing of its datacenter Exos X14 drive, which is $615 when purchased at retail.Related Reading:
The MSI Z370-A Pro Motherboard Review: Entry Level Business (And Pleasure)
The MSI Z370-A Pro is an inexpensive motherboard from MSI's 'Pro' series of boards. The Pro series boards are designed for content creators and professionals who can use the horsepower of the high-end Coffee-Lake CPUs and require reliability and performance. The Z370-A Pro in this review strives to accomplish fitting in here with its complement of features, as well as supporting overclocking to get the most out of the installed processor.
NVIDIA Releases 399.24 WHQL Driver, NVIDIA SHIELD TV Mobile App
Today, NVIDIA released driver version 399.24 WHQL, a more minor update focused on zero-day game support. Headlining the Game Ready titles is the Shadow of the Tomb Raider (9/14), essentially a GeForce RTX flagship title along with Battlefield 1 and Metro Exodus. Otherwise, 399.24 also brings support for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Blackout open beta and Assetto Corsa Competizione early access, both of which also support select GeForce RTX technologies.Additionally, NVIDIA has quietly released the new SHIELD TV App and the corresponding SHIELD Experience 7.1 system update. The former allows for remote control capability, including Android TV buttons. The latter also brings GeForce NOW and wireless mouse/keyboard support, as well as in-game microphone via the SHIELD controller's internal microphone or wired headset.Releasing this Friday, the much-anticipated Shadow of the Tomb Raider was earlier showcased in a hands-on RTX real-time raytracing demo during the GeForce RTX 20-series reveal. While the game is the first to release ahead of the upcoming Battlefield V (10/19/18) and Metro Exodus (2/22/19), because real-time raytracing effects are built on the Microsoft DirectX Raytracing API that has yet to release in full, the timeline is not clear. Specifically for this driver, 399.24 understandably does not support the RTX 20-series, which also have yet to release.NVIDIA RTX Support for Games