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Updated 2017-04-23 08:00
Lenovo Launches 2-in-1 Flex 11 Chromebook: Quad-Core SoC, 4 GB RAM, from $279
Lenovo has announced its first 2-in-1 Chromebook designed specifically for consumers. The Flex 11 laptop is powered by an SoC with four ARM cores, features a 360° hinge, a battery that can last for 10 hours and an anti-spill keyboard, a rare feature on inexpensive PCs. The computer will initially ship without the Google Play Store, but the manufacturer promises that Android apps will be coming to the Flex 11 “soon.” Lenovo plans to start selling the new notebook already this month for a price below $300.Lenovo was not among the first wave Chromebook manufacturers back in 2011, but released its first laptop running Google’s Chrome OS nearly two years later. Since then the company has been gradually expanding its lineup of Chromebooks targeting different audiences. At first, Lenovo only aimed its ThinkPad X131e Chromebook at students in 2013, then it moved on to business users with the ThinkPad Chromebook 13 in mid-2016. Such approach is perfectly logical because students and road warriors use a relatively limited set of applications. With the Flex 11, the company finally releases a Chrome OS-based computer for general consumers, whose needs are very diverse. One of the reasons why Lenovo can target wide audiences with its Chromebooks is because the Chrome OS now supports Android apps and end users can use a wide range of programs they might need. Keep in mind though that there are not a lot of Android applications developed specifically for tablets or 2-in-1s.Since the Lenovo Flex 11 Chromebook was designed with Android software in mind, it is not surprising that the manufacturer decided to go with the 2-in-1 form-factor and an 11.6” touchscreen display with a 1366×768 resolution. The 360° hinge of the Flex 11 supports four dynamic modes (watch, tent, laptop, and tablet) to better handle different activities. Lenovo claims that the Flex 11 comes in a drop-resistant enclosure made of plastic with an anti-spill keyboard (can handle up to 330 ml of liquid) and “reinforced” ports (whatever that means). The rugged casing made of thick plastic affected dimensions and weight of the Flex 11: it is 21.2 mm thick and weighs 1.35 kilograms, which means that Lenovo traded portability for lower weight, which is logical as the 2-in-1 has a tablet mode (the lower the better).When it comes to the CPU, the Lenovo Flex 11 is based on an SoC featuring four ARM cores running at 2.1 GHz. The manufacturer does not elaborate which SoC it uses, but since the notebook looks strikingly similar to the N23 Yoga Chromebook quietly launched earlier this year, it is logical to assume that the two computers use the same processor, the MediaTek MT8173C (also found inside the Acer R13). The MT8173 has two ARM Cortex-A72, two ARM Cortex-A53 general-purpose cores, an LPDDR3 memory controller as well as the PowerVR GX6250 (2 clusters) GPU. The chip was originally released in Q1 2015 and today it can be considered as an entry-level solution, something you expect from a sub-$300 computer.As for other hardware, the Lenovo Flex 11 is equipped with 4 GB of LPDDR3 memory, 32 GB of eMMC storage (it is possible that higher-end model(s) will include more NAND flash), an 802.11ac Wi-Fi module (no word on Bluetooth, but technically the MT8173 supports it) and a 720p webcam. The laptop also features a USB Type-C port for data and charging, a USB 3.0 header, an HDMI output, an SD card reader as well as a TRRS audio connector for headphones and mic.Lenovo Flex 11 ChromebookEntry Level ModelScreen Resolution1366×768CPUMediaTek 8173C (?)
EIZO Announces ColorEdge Prominence CG3145: 4096x2160, 98% P3 and HDR10
EIZO this week announced its new ColorEdge Prominence CG3145 reference monitor with a DCI-4K resolution and a display covering 98% of the DCI-P3 color space. The monitor is claimed to be designed for professionals working with HDR post-production, particularly for TV and home video industries. The display offers a very high brightness level and contrast ratio, but the key feature of the screen that EIZO mentions is the ability of its IPS panel to display both deep blacks and very bright colors at the same time without artefacts caused by the peculiarities of competing displays.The EIZO ColorEdge Prominence CG3145 monitor is based on a 10-bit IPS panel that can reproduce 1.07 billion colors and features a 4096×2160 resolution at 60 Hz. The manufacturer says that the display has a 1000 nits typical brightness (as well as a 1,000,000 static contrast ratio). The ColorEdge Prominence CG3145 covers 98% of the DCI-P3, 99% of the Adobe RGB, as well as 80% of the Rec. 2020 color spaces (but these numbers may change as the product is being tuned up now). This comes with a 24-bit 3D LUT (look-up table) for HDR color gradations. As for connectivity, the display will have one DisplayPort capable of DCI-4K with 4:4:4 chroma subsampling at 50/60 Hz, as well as two HDMI 2.0 inputs capable of DCI-4K with 4:2:2 at 50/60 Hz. Since the monitor is aimed primarily at post production video professionals, EIZO has not currently disclosed support of sRGB and also does not disclose specs like response time or power consumption.The key feature of the ColorEdge Prominence CG3145 display is its ability to properly reproduce both very bright and very dark areas on the scene without artefacts caused by local dimming (used on many IPS-based televisions and on some monitors) or an auto brightness limiter. EIZO does not reveal many details about the IPS panel it uses for the CG3145, but it claims that it has control of backlight intensity in every pixel. The latter means that the company either uses Panasonic’s IPS panels with a special layer of light-modulating cells that enable pixel-by-pixel control of backlight intensity, or a similar technology it has developed in-house.In both cases, the pixel-by-pixel control of the backlight sets the ColorEdge Prominence CG3145 display apart from the rivals which use IPS panels with local dimming. Another feature that the monitor has is its 24-bit 3D LUT, which has a potential to produce more accurate colors than the 14-bit 3D LUTs supported by other HDR monitors. Speaking of HDR, it is noteworthy that the CG3145 supports both HLG (hybrid log-gamma) and PQ (perceptual quantization) gamma curves. The HLG is suitable for live TV broadcasting as it has a peak luminance of 1000 nits, whereas the PQ supports considerably higher luminance (up to 10,000 nits) and is suitable for recorded content. The combination of these features means that EIZO has positioned the ColorEdge Prominence CG3145 as a reference monitor for HDR content.Specifications of the EIZO ColorEdge Prominence Reference HDR DisplayCG3145Panel31.1" IPSNative Resolution4096 × 2160Maximum Refresh Rate60 HzResponse TimeunknownBrightness1000 cd/m² (typical)Contrast'1,000,000:1'Viewing Angles178°/178° horizontal/verticalHDRHDR10 with 24-bit LUTDynamic Refresh RatenonePixel Pitch0.170 mm²Pixel Density149 ppiDisplay Colors1.07 billionColor Gamut SupportDCI-P3: 98%
First Look: Samsung Galaxy S8
We first saw Samsung’s new 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 and 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+ at its Unpacked event a few weeks ago. During the event, we saw demos of its new virtual assistant, Bixby, and its DeX docking station, which allows the Galaxy S8 to provide a desktop-like experience by connecting to an external monitor and peripherals, but we didn’t have much time with the phones to do much more than take some pictures and try a couple of the new features. After receiving a Galaxy S8 earlier this week, we wanted to give you some feedback about its design and biometric features, as well as, an initial performance and battery life assessment before we dive into our usual in-depth testing.My biggest complaint about the design is the location of the fingerprint sensor, which I discuss in the video above. It has been relocated to the back next to the camera, making it difficult to reach and use. The new face unlock feature, the second of the S8’s three biometric authentication options, is flawed too. Despite my best efforts, I was not able to get face unlock to work, not even once. The feature, which relies solely on the front-facing camera for identification, also is not very secure, assuming it works at all. It has already been shown that simply holding a picture in front of the camera is enough to fool it into unlocking the phone. The camera really needs to be augmented with an infrared camera to detect a face’s heat signature as a liveness test, or a second, depth-sensing camera to at least detect a face in three dimensions. So far the iris scanner, which I also demo in the video above, has proven to be the easiest and most reliable biometric option.Samsung Galaxy S8 SeriesSamsung Galaxy S8Samsung Galaxy S8+SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 835 (US, China, Japan)
Toshiba Launches N300 HDDs for NAS: Up to 8 TB, Up to 240 MB/s
Toshiba this week launched its new lineup of high-reliability hard drives for NAS units. The drives offer up to 8 TB of capacity and are based on enterprise-grade platforms. According to Toshiba's specifications, these and are among the highest-performing 3.5” HDDs on the planet.The Toshiba N300 family of hard drives consists of three models with 4 TB, 6 TB and 8 TB capacities, a SATA 6 Gb/s interface, a 7200 RPM spindle speed and a 128 MB buffer. All three HDDs are based on a high-reliability platform that attaches a spindle to both sides of a drive (to curb system-induced vibration), has rotational vibration (RV) sensors, shock sensors and temperature sensors as well as supporting error recovery features. The new HDDs are designed for 24/7 availability, 1 million hours MTBF and have a 180 TB/year workload rating, which is in line with other hard drives for NAS devices with 8 bays and is considerably higher than the workload rating of typical desktop HDDs.Toshiba’s N300 HDDs resemble the company’s MN05-series drives introduced in February (which are also designed for enterprise-class NASes) and are likely based on the same PMR platters (perpendicular magnetic recording) with up to 1.33 TB capacity per platter (the 8 TB version features six of such discs). In addition to the same platters, the N300 drives also have the same power consumption as the MN05 HDDs, but offer slightly different performance, according to the specifications.Toshiba N300-Series HDDsHDWN180XZSTAHDWN160XZSTAHDWQ140XZSTACapacity8 TB6 TB4 TBRPM7200 RPMInterfaceSATA 6 GbpsDRAM Cache128 MBData Transfer Speed
Dell Announces UP2718Q HDR Display, And Two InfinityEdge Displays
Right now, the National Association of Broadcasters conference is on, and Dell is using it to launch their latest UltraSharp display. The Dell UltraSharp UP2718Q is the company’s first display to support HDR10, in addition to its UHD 3840x2160 resolution, and it’s backed by the UHD Alliance Premium Certification.Dell has been in the UHD display game for some time, and the UltraSharp U2715Q and U2415Q have been solid displays for the company for some time, but the latest model takes Dell to a new level. The UP2718Q offers a very wide color gamut, supporting up to 97.7% of DCI-P3 (76.9% Rec 2020), and each display comes factory calibrated. The monitor has an adjustable internal lookup-table as well, so it should be able to be further tuned accurately if necessary.HDR, or High Dynamic Range, requires much brighter backlighting than is typical in a desktop display, and the UP2718Q is stated to hit up to 1000 nits, and while not listed in Dell's brief press release, this is very likely being driven by full-array backlighting.This display is targeted directly at professionals, and it has a price tag to go along with that, with availability scheduled for May 23 at $1999.99.
The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X (375GB) Review: Testing 3D XPoint Performance
Intel's new 3D XPoint non-volatile memory technology, which has been on the cards publically for the last couple of years, is finally hitting the market as the storage medium for Intel's new flagship enterprise storage platform. The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X is a PCIe SSD using the standard NVMe protocol, but the use of 3D XPoint memory instead of NAND flash memory allows it to deliver great throughput and much lower access latency than any other NVMe SSD. In this review, we go deep to see if it really works as it should.
Giveaway: OCZ RD400 & VX500 SSDs
In the mood for some free hardware? Well then you're in luck: our awesome community team in conjuction with OCZ is holding a giveaway for a trio of SSDs. The prizes include the 512GB and 256GB PCIe (M.2 w/adapter) versions of OCZ's top-tier M.2 SSD, the M.2-based RD400, along with the 512GB version of their VX500 SATA SSD.Toshiba OCZ Giveaway Prize SpecificationsCapacityRD400
Xiaomi Announces Mi 6: 5.15-inch, Snapdragon 835 SoC, 6GB LPDDR4x
At an event today in Beijing, Xiaomi revealed its latest flagship phone, the Mi 6. Like the Mi 5s it’s replacing, the Mi 6 comes with a 5.15-inch 1080p IPS LCD display and benefits from Xiaomi’s attention to design. The Mi 6 will be sold exclusively in China initially, but will find its way to select global markets at a later date.Style is just as important to Xiaomi as performance, so it’s no surprise it spent most of the event talking about the Mi 6’s updated design and materials. This generation moves back to edge-to-edge glass on the front and back like the older Mi 5, but the frame is now stainless steel rather than aluminum, which should give it a solid, rigid feel. The sides of the glass back are curved like previous models, but Xiaomi has taken the next step with the Mi 6 by curving the top and bottom edges to match. The curved edges flow smoothly into the polished, rounded metal frame, giving the phone a smooth in-hand feel. The Mi 6 does not use a curved display, but the 2.5D front glass compliments the rounded sides and back.The standard Mi 6 comes in three different colors: Black with matching black front and sides, White with a white front and silver sides, and Blue with a blue front and gold sides. There are also two special edition models; the Silver color still uses a glass back, but the black model with 18K gold accents comes with a ceramic back. All of the colors are polished and highly reflective (and fingerprint magnets) similar to the HTC U Ultra, which is particularly obvious with the Blue and Silver colors that look like shiny chrome. Matching reflective colors are used on the front too, giving the Mi 6 a cohesive design.The power button is on the right side just below the single-piece volume rocker, which lines up perfectly with the dual NanoSIM tray on the left side. The USB Type-C port on the bottom supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 fast charging technology and is flanked by a symmetrical series of holes that hide a microphone and a downward-firing speaker. Like the HTC 10, the Mi 6 also uses the earpiece speaker to complement the primary speaker in a pseudo-stereo arrangement. There appears to be an IrLED blaster on the top edge, but you will not find a 3.5mm headphone jack; the Mi 6 joins the growing list of phones omitting the analog port.The front of the splash resistant but not IP68 rated Mi 6 has relatively large bezels at the top and bottom. The lower bezel has a recessed, non-clickable, pill-shaped fingerprint sensor mounted below the cover glass similar to Huawei’s P10. Xiaomi opted for a balanced look by making the upper bezel the same size as the lower. This design choice also provided enough space to mount the dual rear camera module above the display rather than behind it, allowing Xiaomi to reduce thickness by 0.8 mm to 7.45 mm and increase battery capacity by 5% to 3350 mAh relative to the Mi 5s. The battery boost gives the Mi 6 an advantage over the Huawei P10 (3200 mAh) along with the HTC 10 and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S8, all of which come with 3000 mAh batteries and similar sized displays.The Mi 6’s 5.15-inch 1080p IPS LCD panel reaches a peak brightness of 600 nits, the same as the Mi 5s, according to Xiaomi. It’s not clear, however, if the Mi 6 is also using 16 LEDs in the backlight assembly like the Mi 5s to boost brightness and improve power efficiency, or if it’s using 12 to 14 LEDs like most edge-lit IPS displays of this size. With 4096 brightness levels, instead of the usual 256, display brightness can be adjusted more accurately all the way down to just 1 nit. The extended color gamut panel will show vivid, saturated colors, but Xiaomi generally includes an sRGB mode for people who prefer more accurate colors too.Xiaomi Mi 6Xiaomi Mi 5sSoCQualcomm Snapdragon 835
AMD Announces the Radeon RX 500 Series: Polaris Refreshed, Starting Today
This morning AMD is taking the wraps off of their next line of video cards, the Radeon RX 500 series. Like past video card lineup refreshes, the RX 500 series is based on AMD’s existing GPU architecture, Polaris, but shipping in new configurations and at new prices in order to boost AMD’s GPU performance and their competitiveness. This gives AMD and its partners something new to sell for 2017, while at the same time also giving them something even faster to tempt current 300/200 series owners into upgrading to Polaris. Adding an extra wrinkle into all of this, there’s even a new Polaris GPU joining the family, albeit at the low end.
Dell To Offer Toshiba HK4 SATA SSDs In PowerEdge Servers
Toshiba is announcing today that Dell will begin offering Toshiba HK4 series enterprise SATA SSDs as a storage option for Dell's PowerEdge servers. Dell currently offers a wide range of SATA and SAS SSD options and a few NVMe options. Samsung, Intel, HGST and Toshiba are the current SSD suppliers, but from Toshiba only the PX04 and PX05 SAS SSDs have been available in PowerEdge servers.Toshiba's HK4 series stands out as the first self-encrypting drive (SED) model of SATA SSD Dell is offering in their servers. The HK4 series is available in 1 DWPD or 3 DWPD endurance tiers with capacities ranging from 120GB to 2TB and using Toshiba's 15nm MLC NAND flash. Dell will be offering the Toshiba HK4 series SSDs in both 2.5" and 1.8" form factors. The latter form factor is almost unheard of in the client space but still has a niche in the enterprise space: a 1U server like the Dell PowerEdge R630 can support up to 24 1.8" SATA SSDs. The Toshiba HK4 series has not previously been sold in a 1.8" version.Toshiba's HK4 series is not new and has actually been on the market for over a year. Aside from the self-encrypting drive option, the HK4 series does not offer any features that have not already been available for PowerEdge servers using SSDs from competing vendors, and pricing through Dell has not been announced so it's hard to say how attractive the non-SED models will be. However, qualifying the HK4 series with the #2 server vendor should help Toshiba continue the strong growth of their SSD business. (IDC's rankings from February put Toshiba as the fourth-largest SSD vendor but the fastest growing, with SSD revenue more than doubling last year.) Perhaps more importantly, this partnership sets the stage for a much quicker qualification and availability when Toshiba's next generation of enterprise SSDs launches later this year based on their 64-layer BiCS3 3D NAND. Toshiba's earlier 3D NAND generations have had minimal impact on the SSD market, but by shipping 64-layer 3D NAND SSDs this year Toshiba has the chance to catch up to Samsung, Intel and Micron in the 3D NAND transition.
The AMD Radeon RX 580 & RX 570 Review: A Second Path to Polaris
Launching today is AMD’s new Radeon RX 500 series. As we’re covering in our companion launch article, the RX 500 series is a refresh of Polaris, bringing about newer, faster SKUs based on the existing Polaris 10 and 11 GPUs. Also joining the family is a newer, smaller GPU, Polaris 12, which will be the basis of the Radeon RX 550. AMD is using an updated revision of Polaris for all of these products, so there are some minor clockspeed improvements and a new memory state that have been baked into the RX 500 family that is not present in the RX 400 family, which makes the new RX 500 parts a bit more interesting.The first Radeon RX 500 cards out of the gate are the Radeon RX 580 and the Radeon 570, which we’re reviewing today. These SKUs are pretty straightforward: take the new Polaris 10 GPU revision, plug it into more powerful boards, turn up the clockspeeds a bit, and you have a new SKU. AMD hasn’t done anything wild here – the configurations haven’t changed, and in fact TBPs have gone up – so relative to the RX 480 and RX 470, at the end of the day it’s a set of slightly more powerful cards for the same price as before.
ADATA Launches Premier ONE UHS-II SD Cards: 3D MLC, Up to 290 MB/s, V90 Labels
After previously demonstrating them back at CES, ADATA has officially launched its SD cards based on 3D MLC NAND. The new Premier ONE UHS-II cards offer capacities up to 256 GB, sequential read speed of up to 290 MB/s and extended temperature ranges. The new cards are also the first products from ADATA that are compliant with the V90 requirements for SD devices aimed at UHD and 360° video capture. In addition, ADATA has added Premier UHS-I Class 10 series of microSD cards with up to 128 GB capacity and mainstream performance levels to its product line.The ADATA Premier ONE UHS-II cards will be available in 64 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB configurations in SDXC and microSDXC form-factors. The new memory cards are rated for up 275/290 MB/s sequential read speed as well as up to 155/260 MB/s sequential write speed, depending on the capacity and form-factor (the microSDXCs are a slower). The Premier ONE UHS-II cards are also compliant with Video Speed Class V90 specification, which mandates minimum write speed of 90 MB/s to smooth recording of UHD and 360° video. The enhanced performance of the new SD products by ADATA is enabled by 3D MLC NAND memory with large block and page sizes as well as a new controller (which I suspect uses some kind of pSLC technique to ensure fast writes, but that has not been confirmed by ADATA). In addition to performance-related improvements, the controller also supports write-in protection as well as ECC. To take full advantage of the new cards, one will need a device that fully supports the UHS-II interface and has the extra pins the wider bus requires. Still, the cards are compatible with all types of SD-supporting devices (cameras, card readers, etc.) albeit at lower speeds.Another important selling point of the ADATA Premier ONE UHS-II cards is their rugged design. The SDs are explicitly adverised as being both waterproof and dust-proof. Meanwhile, the cards are also rated to work at extended temperature range between -25°C to 85°C, which makes them suitable for industrial applications.ADATA Premier ONE UHS-II and Premier UHS-I Class 10 SD CardsPremier ONE UHS-IIPremier UHS-I Class 1064 GB128 GB256 GB64 GB128 GB256 GB16/32/64/128 GBForm-FactorSDXCMicroSDXCMicroSDHC/MicroSDXCNAND Type3D MLCunknownRead Speed290 MB/s275 MB/s85 MB/sWrite Speed260 MB/s155MB/s25 MB/sMinimum Sequential Write Speed90 MB/s10 MB/sInterfaceUHS-IIUHS-IAvailabilitySpring 2017SDA LabelsUHS-II, Class 10, U3, V90UHS-I, U1, Class 10As for the Premier UHS-I Class 10 series of microSD cards, ADATA will offer them in 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB configurations, with up to 85 MB/s and up to 25 MB/s sequential read/write speeds. The cards also feature built-in ECC and are also protected against water and dust, but do not support extended temperature ranges.ADATA has not announced recommended prices for its Premier ONE UHS-II SD and microSD cards. Since the devices offer a rather strong combination of features (high performance, V90-compliancy, extended temperature ranges, 3D MLC), they will naturally belong to the highest end of the SD spectrum. As for the Premier UHS-I Class 10 cards, expect them to be priced competitively against direct rivals.Related Reading:
Intel Discontinues the Intel Developer Forum; IDF17 Cancelled
In a bit of breaking news this morning, it appears that Intel has decided to cancel their Intel Developer Forum tradeshow going forward, including this summer’s expected IDF17.In an announcement posted on the IDF website, Intel has announced that IDF is no more, and that the entire IDF program is ending.
Upcoming LGA3647 Skylake Xeons: A 2P Skylake-SP Motherboard Leaked
The next generation of high-performance Intel Xeons will be the second stage of Intel rearranging its professional stack. Stage one was separating chipset requirements of low core count Xeons from the consumer counterparts, but stage two to occur later this year will be something to wrap your head around. We still haven’t confirmed most of the salient details, such as significant changes in the naming and strategy when it comes to socket and die differentiators, but what we do know is that the large E5-class Xeons (some of which may or may not get a name change from –EP to –SP) will be in the LGA3647 socket, which is exactly where the current generation of Xeon Phi, Knights Landing (KNL), also sits as they will be pin compatible. So for the most part, E5 CPUs will move from the current LGA2011-3 sockets up to a much larger design, and rather than go into the details of what that means, this news post is more about seeing motherboards that support them in the wild. We expect to hear more about the new Skylake-SP Xeon platform in the summer, probably at IDF in August, but for now we get to gaze on accidental leaks like this one.An Intel enterprise system integrator accidentally posted up details regarding a pair of upcoming motherboards from a well-known Intel enterprise motherboard manufacturer. These motherboards use a pair of LGA3647 sockets on the top of the board, with the DRAM slots above and below to assist with airflow through a server. As with some of the 2P motherboards we see today, the sockets are slightly staggered due to connectors and trace layouts, but both sockets exhibit a full six channels of DRAM with one DIMM per channel (1 DPC, we expect Skylake-SP Xeons to support 2DPC or 3DPC depending on the model).While the image is small, and low quality, some determinations can be made. The specification list was fully listed on the SI website as well.Motherboard SpecificationsServer SKUWorkstation SKUCPU SupportIntel Xeon Scalable Processor Family
G.Skill Announces 16 GB DDR4-4333 Memory Kit for Intel Kaby Lake CPUs
G.Skill on Friday announced its new top-of-the-range DDR4 memory kit for dual-channel PCs running Intel’s Kaby Lake processors. The new Trident Z kit for operates at 4333 MT/s (DDR4-4333), though it requires a bit of extra voltage to get there. In addition, the company said that it was working on even faster DDR4 DIMMs.The new G.Skill Trident Z memory modules are based on Samsung’s 8 Gb DRAM ICs (B-die, 20 nm), which also power other high-end DIMMs from the company. The 16 GB kit (F4-4333C19) consists of two 8 GB modules rated for DDR4-4333 operation with CL19 19-19-39 timings at 1.4 V, which is above the standard high-performance voltage setting for DDR4 (1.35 V) and is considerably higher than JEDEC-specification of 1.2 V. Just like the rest members of the Trident Z family, the new DDR4-4333 kit comes with aluminum heat spreaders (so, no RGB LEDs just yet) as well as SPDs with XMP 2.0 settings.G.Skill is the Trident Z DDR4-4333 kit for use with Intel’s Z270 platforms and Kaby Lake processors. So far, G.Skill has only validated its F4-4333C19-8GTZ modules on the ASUS ROG Maximus IX Apex motherboard and the Intel Core i5-7600K processor, but expect the list of compatible mainboards to expand over time.In addition to announcing the new DDR4-4333 kit, G.Skill also teased DDR4-4400 (F4-4400C19-8GTZ) and even DDR4-4500 (F4-4500C19-8GTZ) 8 GB memory modules working in dual-channel mode. The company is still working on such DIMMs and finalizing their specifications (timings, voltages, etc.), so do not expect them on the shelves for a bit.It should be noted however that this week's announcement is just that: an announcement. The actual product release will come later. G.Skill has not yet announced when that will be; presumably the company is still binning chips and building up a launch supply. We'd also expect the retail price of the kit to be announced at that time. At present, a dual-channel 16 GB DDR4-4266 kit costs around $250, so it's reasonable to assume the new DDR4-4333 kit will be priced above that.Gallery: G.Skill Announced 16 GB DDR4-4333 Memory Kit for Intel Kaby Lake CPUsRelated Reading:
AMD Acquires 60 GHz Wireless IP and Staff from Nitero
AMD on Tuesday announced that it had acquired millimeter wave radio-related intellectual property and key engineers from Nitero. Nitero specialized in radio technology for the 60 GHz range, which is expected to be the basis of a number of short range wireless standards.AMD indicated that they purchased Nitero in order to focus on developing the necessary technology to wirelessly connect AR and VR headsets to host PCs, thus improving AR/VR experience. Though more broadly speaking, Nitero’s low-latency 60 GHz wireless interface in general can be used in various ways to connect different devices, and owning such an IP may be important for AMD’s patent portfolio.Current-generation VR headsets connect to PCs using HDMI interface, which is very convenient, but which naturally reduces freedom of movements and sometimes adds certain complications. Since VR headsets are just head-mounted displays with audio, usage of HDMI is just natural because the interface has enough bandwidth for high-resolution high-framerate graphics and because the software stack is already here — OSes, drivers, applications “understand” what HDMI is. Moreover, with 10.2 Gbps raw throughput (8.1 Gbps with 8b/10b overhead removed), the HDMI 1.4 provides enough bandwidth for 2160×1200 at 90 Hz resolution offered by the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift.Meanwhile cables sometimes negatively affect VR/AR experiences and even usage models. A number of companies (DisplayLink, TPCast, Nitero etc.) have been trying to use the millimeter wave radio technology to build wireless VR headsets and some of them even demonstrated their devices at MWC 2017 earlier this year. It is not completely clear whether the 60 GHz radio used by the three aforementioned companies is compliant with the WiGig (802.11ad) specification, but Nitero is known for its WiGig chips for mobiles.At present, WiGig is used for wireless docking stations and provides ~7 Gbps of bandwidth, which is enough for transmission of documents or files, but is barely enough even for current-gen VR headsets (not to mention input lag). Nonetheless, it is important to start from something and it appears that AMD is betting on Nitero’s technologies. Just to add perspective, the WirelessHD 1.1 standard designed by Silicon Image supports up to 28 Gbps data transmission rate — that is comparable to DP 1.4 and is enough for 4Kp120 with compression (or 8Kp60), so 60 GHz radios can scale very well.AMD said that Nitero had created a phased-array beamforming millimeter wave chip that can enable “multi-gigabit transmit performance with low latency” for VR headsets without line-of-sight requirements associated with some other implementations of millimeter wave radio technologies, which suits wearables very well. AMD is not disclosing exactly what they intend to do with the IP beyond further developing it for VR/AR, so it's not clear at this time whether they intend develop their own products from it. AMD could further develop the IP and then license it out for partners to build the final products, or design the chips themselves and sell that to partners as part of a reference kit. There's also the possibility of integrating the IP into their other products, though the extreme short range nature of 60 GHz wireless does pose some unique challenges to applications that aren't line-of-sight.So far, wireless display technologies (apart from Miracast) have not really taken off due to various reasons. But since so many companies are working on such technologies based on 60 GHz radio, the prospects of its millimeter wave radio IP here may be considerably more promising for AMD if it manages to popularize the standard first among developers of VR headsets and then among makers of displays.Putting our speculations aside, the only thing that AMD shares now is that the Nitero acquisition is a long-term investment that could enable the company to create more immersive computing experiences.Related Reading:
Display Report: Huawei P10 and P10 Plus
Huawei recently added the P10 and P10 Plus to its lineup, which focus on fashion and photography like other P-series phones. The Huawei P10 has a 5.1-inch IPS LCD panel with a typical 1920x1080 resolution (431ppi) and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The P10 Plus, as its name implies, is an upscaled version of the P10, with a larger 5.5-inch IPS LCD panel. It also bumps resolution to 2560x1440 (534ppi), which is not really necessary for an IPS panel at this size. Both panels are covered with Gorilla Glass 5 and come with a plastic screen protector pre-applied. Some people may appreciate the extra protection included out of the box, but the cheap protector does not allow your finger to slide smoothly across the screen and gets gunked up with skin oil very quickly. The glass underneath does not appear to have an oleophobic coating either, which is an odd omission for a flagship phone.A well-calibrated, quality display would be a nice compliment to the dual rear cameras on both phones, allowing you to view the captured photos accurately. Previous Huawei phones have suffered from poor calibration, however, so we’ll take some measurements to see if there’s any improvement with the new P10s. As always, we use an X-Rite i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer for color measurements and an i1Display Pro colorimeter for luminance measurements, profiling it with SpectraCal's CalMAN software.Both the P10 and P10 Plus exceed 500 nits at peak brightness, a little shy of the 600+ nits a few phones can achieve, including Huawei’s Mate 9, and a little less than last year’s P9. It’s not clear if the P10’s backlight is using 20 LEDs like the P9 or if it has gone back to using 16 LEDs, which is more common for a 5-inch class display.The values in the chart above were measured by setting the brightness manually. Many phones, especially those with OLED displays, can temporarily boost brightness to increase visibility in extreme cases such as direct sunlight when using the auto-brightness mode. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, for example, hit 706 and 618 nits, respectively, and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 hits 532 nits using this boost mode. The P10s do not have this auto-brightness boost feature; however, their peak brightness is still sufficient for outdoor use. At the other extreme, brightness drops all the way down to 2-3 nits at the minimum setting, making the P10s easy to use in a completely dark room.Black level and contrast ratio are measured at the panel’s maximum brightness. Because black level increases with brightness, the numbers in the chart above are not directly comparable; however, after accounting for this effect, black levels for the iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7 Plus, Mi MIX, and both P10s are comparable, so the P10 displays are likely using photo-aligned crystals to improve black level and contrast ratio.The phones with OLED panels are not shown in these charts because they are able to achieve a black level of zero and a mathematically infinite contrast ratio by being able to completely turn off individual pixels.P10:P10 Plus:
NZXT Releases Kraken G12 Liquid Cooler GPU Mounting Kit
NZXT has announced its Kraken G12 mounting kit, which is designed to allow video cards to mount a closed-loop liquid cooler. In junctionwith a cooler, the adapter can significantly decrease GPU temperatures and improve cooling of VRMs; it is compatible with various coolers and cards.Closed-loop liquid cooling systems (LCSes) for CPUs have gained popularity among enthusiasts in the recent years due to high efficiency amid relatively small dimensions. But while high-performance GPUs have higher TDPs (and therefore greater heat generation) than advanced CPUs, few LCSes can be attached to graphics cards out of the box. Some companies (e.g., Corsair) offer special adapters (brackets) to make their liquid coolers compatible with popular graphics boards, but NZXT is the one of a few vendors to offer mounting kits that are designed to be compatible not only with the company’s own LCS, but with other popular liquid coolers as well.The NZXT Kraken G12 is a relatively simple device that consists of bracket compatible with various waterblocks from NZXT, Corsair, Thermaltake, Antec, and Zalman as well as multiple reference and non-reference graphics cards based on AMD or NVIDIA GPUs (see the table). The Kraken G12 is equipped with a 92-mm fan with up to 1500 RPM speed that can cool down the various video card components that aren't covered by the LCS, such as DRAM chips and VRM components (inductors, MOSFETs, capacitors, etc.). All of which is important, especially as the latter get very hot under high load.NZXT Kraken G12Matte White
SK Hynix Launches 72-Layer 256 Gb 3D TLC NAND with Increased Performance
SK Hynix has formally introduced its fourth-generation 3D NAND memory chips with 72 layers. Initially, the 3D TLC flash chips will be offered in 256 Gb configurations, but by the end of the year the manufacturer plans to introduce 72-layer 3D TLC NAND devices with 512 Gb capacities. All of SK Hynix’s fourth-gen 3D NAND chips will feature a larger block size, a lower programming time and a faster interface, which is expected to result in higher performance levels compared to the company's third-gen ICs.As reported previously, 72-layer 3D NAND is a very important product lineup for SK Hynix because the company plans to offer such memory for a wide range of applications, and because such memory allows it to use its production facilities more efficiently (at least, according to the manufacturer). The company has been experimenting with 3D NAND for quite a while and launched its first commercial 36-layer 128 Gb 3D MLC NAND (which it calls 3D-V2) chips in 2015. The 3D-V2 ICs were primarily used for removable storage devices, but the 256 Gb 48-layer 3D TLC NAND (3D-V3) ICs that hit mass production in late 2016 are used for removables, embedded storage and will be used for SSDs in the coming months.The initial 72-layer 3D TLC NAND (3D-V4) chips do not increase capacity versus their direct predecessors, but decrease their die size by approximately 30%, allowing SK Hynix to fit more of such chips on a single wafer. Unfortunately it is hard to estimate how the 50% increase of the number of layers affects the length of SK Hynix’s manufacturing cycle and costs, as SK Hynix naturally does not make any additional disclosures. Moreover, the company does not reveal whether it uses string stacking technique and stacks two 36-layer wafers together, or uses etching and produces 72 layers “natively.”In addition to being smaller, the 72-layer 256 Gb 3D TLC NAND flash memory ICs also feature higher performance due to a 20% higher Toggle 2.0 interface data rate, a 50% larger block size compared to 48-layer 3D TLC chips (13.5 MB vs 9 MB) as well as a lower page programming time. SK Hynix does not disclose exact numbers for the interface and the tPROG, but it is logical to suspect that the new chips support 667 MT/s and, perhaps, 800 MT/s interface speed, just like some of the competing ICs. In any case, with increased block size and a lower tPROG (which SK Hynix calls 2x faster “internal operation speed”), any increase of the external interface speed from 533 MT/s of mainstream NAND today is more than welcome.SK Hynix said it would start mass production of its 72-layer 256 Gb 3D TLC NAND (3D-V4) ICs in the second quarter of the year and such flash memory chips would be used for various storage devices (including those for mobile applications (e.g., smartphones)) in Q3 2017. The company’s product catalogue for Q1 2017 already lists 256 Gb 3D-V4 chips as well as multi-chip packages with 512 Gb – 4096 Gb (64 GB – 512 GB) capacities due to be available in Q2 2017 (such MCPs are used for mobiles). SSDs based on the new chips will be available after SK Hynix itself and its partners validate them, so, expect drives featuring the 48-layer 3D TLC NAND from the company to arrive first.From SK Hynix’s Q1 2017 product catalogue we also know that later this year SK Hynix also plans to roll out 72-layer 512 Gb 3D TLC NAND chips (64 GB), which are expected to be available in Q4. It is crucially important for SK Hynix to increase the interface speed of its upcoming 3D-V4 ICs to 800 MT/s to reduce the performance penalty that comes from consolidating more flash onto fewer independent chips (and to stay competitive with Samsung’s 64-layer 512 Gb components). The upcoming ICs will enable the company as well as its partners to build higher-capacity storage solutions. For example, the SK Hynix’s catalogue lists a 8096 Gb (1 TB) MCPs based on the 512 Gb devices.Related Reading:
GALAX and KFA2 Katana: Single-Slot GTX 1070 GPUs Coming Soon
GALAX and KFA2 have added single-slot GeForce GTX 1070 Katana video cards to their lineups, which is usually an indicator that the graphics adapters are going to hit the market shortly. The add-in-boards (AIBs) will be the only thin GTX 1070 high-end graphics cards on the market and will join a few other single-slot adapters in GALAX's lineup.As discussed before, when GALAX first demonstrated a prototype of its single-slot GeForce GTX 1070 Katana graphics card, single-slot gaming AIBs are uncommon these days because GPU developers and hardware makers use dual-slot coolers for everything with a TDP of 75 W and higher. While most of gaming desktops can accommodate at least one double-wide graphics adapter, there are systems equipped with extra add-in-boards (audio, SSD, additional SATA or Thunderbolt 3 controllers, etc.) that may require slim single-slot components as there is simply not enough space inside. For this reason, single-slot graphics cards from ELSA and now GALAX and KFA2 will find their buyers.The GeForce GTX 1070 Katana graphics cards from GALAX and KFA2 are produced by Palit Microsystems, the owner of the two brands. To make the boards thinner than their counterparts, the manufacturer had to develop a custom PCB design with a 4+1-phase VRM moved towards display outputs. Such design ensures that cool air takes heat away from the GPU first and only then the air is applied to inductors, MOSFETs and capacitors of the VRM (which are sturdier). The GeForce GTX 1070 Katana graphics adapters run their GPUs at 1518/1708 MHz (base/boost), which is very close to NVIDIA-recommended frequencies and thus the cards only require one 8-pin PCIe auxiliary power connector.Another key element of the adapters is their single-slot cooling system that relies on a copper radiator with a vapor chamber and a high-pressure blower. The lid of the radiator has special openings above the VRM that exhausts part of the hot air and helps to better cool-down inductors and MOSFETs. In addition, there are exhaust holes on the bracket, therefore, at least part of the hot air is blown away outside of the PC. Palit does not disclose the maximum noise level produced by its cooling system, but it is logical to expect it to be noisier than their large brethren with multiple fans and doublewide radiators.Since the GeForce GTX 1070 Katana cards are thin, the manufacturer had to sacrifice two out of five display connectors offered by most of the GP104-based designs. The graphics adapters feature a DisplayPort 1.4, a DVI-D output and an HDMI 2.0b connector. On the other hand, as most gamers use only one monitor, three different headers will be enough for vast majority of the target audience.GALAX and KFA2 have not announced MSRPs of their GeForce GTX 1070 Katana graphics cards for their respective regions. Since the boards are unique, it is likely that they will be sold at a premium. Typically these cards are difficult to source outside of China or Japan, so it is worth letting these companies know if you want them in other regions.Gallery: GALAX and KFA2 Launch Single-Slot GeForce GTX 1070 Katana Graphics CardsRelated Reading:
Western Digital Expands Purple Lineup with a 10 TB Helium-Filled HDD
Western Digital has expanded its Purple lineup of hard drives, aimed at video surveillance applications, with a 10 TB helium-filled HDD. The drive is optimized for write-intensive workloads and supports various technologies that minimize the number of potential errors due to the high-number of incoming data streams. The new WD Purple is also the company’s first 10 TB HDD with a 5400 RPM spindle speed and a large cache.The WD Purple 10 TB drive (WD100PURZ) is based on the HelioSeal platform featuring seven PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) platters with ~1.4 TB capacity apiece, which it inherited from last year’s top-of-the-range HDDs. The increased areal density of the platters allowed the hard drive to increase its sustained transfer speed from host to drive to 210 MB/s, or by ~18% compared to the previous-generation helium-sealed WD Purple 8 TB HDD (WD80PUZX, 178 MB/s). This is at the same 5400 RPM spindle speed and at a slightly lower power consumption (up to 6.2 W vs up to 6.4 W). Just like other hard drives with a 10 TB capacity, the new WD Purple is equipped with a 256 MB DRAM buffer, which may further increase the real-world performance of the HDD against its predecessors.Comparison of Western Digital's WD Purple HDDsWD100PURZWD80PUZXWD60PURXWD50PURXCapacity10 TB8 TB6 TB5 TBRPM5400 RPMInterfaceSATA 6 GbpsDRAM Cache256 MB128 MB64 MBHelium-FillingYesNoData Transfer Rate (host to/from drive)210 MB/s178 MB/s170 MB/s150 MB/sMTBFunknown1 million hoursRated Workload (read and write)180 TB/yearAcoustics (Seek)29 dBA26 dBAPower ConsumptionSequential read/write6.2 W6.4 W5.3 WIdle5 W5.7 W4.9 WSleep0.5 W0.7 W0.4 WWarranty3 YearsPrice (as of April 2017)$399.99$281.99$214$200$0.04 per GB$0.035 per GB$0.035 per GB$0.04 per GB25 GB per $28.39 GB per $28.03 GB per $25 GB per $Since the WD Purple hard drives are purpose-built for video surveillance applications, they support the ATA streaming extension of the SATA standard as well as a number of WD proprietary technologies, including AllFrame 4K cache policy management and firmware enhancements to optimize data flows during playback and writing. All WD Purple drives can work with up to 64 cameras and are rated for a 180 TB/year workload. In addition, high-capacity WD Purple HDDs are optimized for operation in NVRs and DVRs with more than eight drives and support time-limited error recovery technology (TLER), which prevents drive fallout caused by extended HDD error recovery processes.Western Digital claims that the new WD Purple 10 TB is compatible with new and existing video surveillance systems (including chassis, chipsets, etc.) and thus can be used for new and current deployments (except those that require drives with 512B/512e sectors – the new WD Purple only support 4Kn sectors). The manufacturer has already started to ship the new hard drives to its partners and they will be available shortly for $399.99.While the addition of a 10 TB HDD into the WD Purple series is a significant event, the fact that Western Digital began to roll out 10 TB helium-filled hard drives with a 5400 RPM spindle speed is even more important (until recently, WD used to offer only 8 TB helium-filled 5K HDDs). With the introduction of a 10 TB product with a reduced spindle speed, Western Digital can launch WD Red and WD My Book hard drives of the same capacity in the coming weeks or months. Meanwhile, it is interesting to note that recently Western Digital cut down the price of its WD Purple 8 TB HDD by 30% and it can now be acquired for $281.99 from Amazon.Gallery: Western Digital Expands Purple Lineup with a 10 TB Helium-Filled HDDRelated Reading:
GIGABYTE Lists GA-J3455N-D3H: Apollo Lake with COM, LPT, PS/2, D-Sub and PCI
GIGABYTE has added its first Intel Apollo Lake-based desktop motherboard to its product list. The platform is designed primarily for low-power entry-level PCs, but the manufacturer decided to tailor its J3455N-D3H also for customers who need various legacy I/O technologies, indicating that this board was perhaps orignally designed for a specific customer but is now being released to the wider public. The mainboard is equipped with a host of older interfaces, including COM, LPT, PS/2, D-Sub and PCI.Just like the name suggests, the GIGABYTE GA-J3455N-D3H is based on the the Intel Celeron J3455 processor (four Goldmont cores clocked at 1.5/2.3 GHz, 2 MB cache, dual-channel DRAM controller, HD Graphics 500, 10W TDP) that feature Intel’s ninth-generation graphics architecture (Gen9) as well as a refined media playback engine with hardware-accelerated playback of 4K video encoded using HEVC and VP9 codecs. The Mini-ITX motherboard is equipped with two DDR3L SO-DIMM slots (supporting up to 16 GB of DDR3L-1866), two Realtek GbE controllers, four SATA connectors (two controlled by the ASMedia ASM1061), one HDMI 1.4 output (up to 3840×2160 at 30 Hz), a connector for a TPM module, USB 3.0 headers (additional USB 2.0 ports are supported using the internal header and a Genesys Logic USB 2.0 hub) and so on.In addition to the aforementioned regular I/O capabilities of a modern PC, the GIGABYTE GA-J3455N-D3H also features a number of legacy interfaces. The latter includes two COM ports, an LPT port header, PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse, a D-Sub output for displays, as well as a PCI slot for various add-on cards (and such cards may carry additional legacy interfaces, such as PATA, etc.). While the presence of the connectors makes the motherboard a viable candidate for a system running legacy applications, it should be noted that Intel’s Apollo Lake is not supported by Windows 7, 8, Vista or XP. Windows 10 does support legacy hardware, including COM, PCI and other interfaces, but the problem is those old software applications that use COM ports or PCI cards might not work in Windows 10, or require VMs and abstraction to do so. Therefore, to use them, one will need to install Windows 7 or XP on a virtual machine, which is not always convenient. Failing this, a Linux distribution might be a preferred option.GIGABYTE's Intel Apollo Lake MotherboardGA-J3455N-D3HCPUIntel Celeron J3455
The MSI GT83VR Titan Review: 1080 Times 3
About two years ago, we looked at the latest creation from the minds of MSI. The GT80 Titan was their boldest move yet, and set the bar for performance, featured the world’s first fully mechanical keyboard on a gaming laptop, and packed in one of the largest displays available, with the 18.4-inch FHD panel. This was the only Broadwell quad-core laptop we tested, since the mobile quad-cores were very short lived, and were quickly replaced by Skylake. It featured two NVIDIA GTX 980M graphics cards in SLI, and sat atop our Notebook Bench with the highest performance we’d seen, at least until NVIDIA’s Pascal came along.
Dell’s Ultrasharp 30-inch 4K OLED Now On Sale: UP3017Q for $3500
One of the biggest bits of news to come out of CES 2016, over a year ago, was Dell announcing a new beacon in OLED monitors: a 3840x2160 panel measuring 30-inch diagonal using an OLED display was set to come to market. When we reported on it back at CES, they stated a $4999 price point for March 31. What happened over the next 12 months was interesting: some journalists doing ‘hands-on’ reviews at tech shows, but nothing coming to retail, followed by plenty of CES 2017 news that the display had been shelved due to image quality issues. Well roll around another quarter, and it seems that Dell is ready to sell it, and shipping for this $3499 beast is only 1-2 weeks away.Specifications of the Dell Ultrasharp UP3017QUP3017QPanel76.19cm (30-inch)Native Resolution3840 × 2160Maximum Refresh Rate60 HzResponse Time0.1 ms (black to white)Brightness300 cd/m² (typical)
ECS LIVA Z Plus Kaby Lake vPro UCFF PC Review
Ultra-compact form factor PCs for business deployments have become popular in the recent past. Compared to traditional UCFF PCs, these business use-cases require ease of management and administration by IT staff. Intel supplies a set of features under the vPro tag for this purpose. This is enabled on select CPU SKUs. OEMs also have limited options for certain components such as the LAN controller. ECS launched the LIVA Z Plus earlier this year, and it was one of the first UCFF Kaby Lake PCs to come with a vPro SKU. Read on for a performance evaluation of the system as well as a discussion of some unique features of the LIVA Z Plus platform.
HighPoint RocketStor 6618 Thunderbolt 3 DAS: 8-Bays, Up to 96 TB, 2.7 GB/s, $999
HighPoint has started to ship its RocketStor 6600-series Thunderbolt 3 RAID enclosures that can accommodate up to eight storage devices. The enclosures support all popular RAID levels and can enable up to 1.6 GB/s throughput with HDDs or up to 2.7 GB/s throughput with SSDs, which is in line with other 8-bay TB3 storage boxes. Meanwhile, one of the key characteristics of the RocketStor 6618T enclosure is its $999 price point.The HighPoint RocketStor 6600-series family consists of three models: the RocketStor 6618A tower enclosure with hardware RAID and 8 bays, the RocketStor 6618T tower enclosure with software RAID and 8 bays as well as the RocketStor 6674T rackmount enclosure with software RAID and 16 bays. The DAS boxes support hot swapping of 2.5”/3.5” storage devices, RAID in 0, 1, 5, 6, 10 and 50 modes, intelligent fan control, audible alarms, and come with HighPoint’s storage management and monitoring software for Apple’s macOS and Microsoft Windows. The manufacturer ships its RocketStor 6600-series enclosures unpopulated and provides a list of compatible drives: the boxes support a wide range of enterprise and NAS-class devices, including 12 TB HDDs as well as up to 4 TB SSDs from various makers, including HGST, Seagate and Samsung.As for performance, the HighPoint RocketStor 6600-series are designed for various professional applications and are aimed to support simultaneous streaming, editing, and backup of UHD video or other data. When an 8-bay RocketStor 6618A enclosure us populated with HDDs, its maximum sequential read performance is rated at up to 2000 MB/s, with SSDs, its performance as listed increases to 2700 MB/s. The RocketStor 6618T (with software RAID) is a bit slower, offering up to 1800 MB/s throughput with HDDs and up to 2400 MB/s with SSDs. At present, HighPoint does not reveal performance numbers for the rackmount 16-bay RocketStor 6674T.The HighPoint RocketStor 6600-Series DAS with Thunderbolt 3RocketStor 6618ARocketStor 6618TRocketStor 6674TNumber of Bays8 hot-swappable bays for 2.5" or 3.5" HDDs or SSDs16 hot-swappable baysHDD/SSD InterfaceSAS/SATASATASAS/SATAList of Compatible HDDs/SSDsLink (PDF)CapacityHDDRAID 0: 96 TB (8 × 12 TB)
ASUS Launches GeForce GTX 1080 & GTX 1060 Models With Faster RAM
ASUS has released graphics cards based on NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1060 and 1080 GPUs that are equipped with faster memory. The new add-in-boards (AIBs) are designed to offer greater performance in high resolutions than reference designs and enable ASUS to charge a premium for the higher FPS.Back in February when NVIDIA cut the price on the GTX 1080, the company also announced that they would be working with partners to sell factory overclocked cards with higher speed grades of memory. At launch the fastest grades available for the GTX 1080 and GTX 1060 were 10Gbps GDDR5X and 8Gbps GDDR5 respectively; however in the last year, 11Gbps GDDR5X and 9Gbps GDDR5 have become available. Now those faster memory grades are being made available to their partners for use in factory overclocked cards, giving partners more configuration options for their factory overclocked SKUs.For partners, this marks their first real opportunity to sell cards with memory overclocks. While NVIDIA’s GPUs have been able to support these higher speeds, the stock configurations for the GTX 1080 and GTX 1060 were already pushing their respective RAM types to their limit, leaving partners no real headroom for the kind of stable and consistent overclocks required for factory overclocking.At a hardware level, things are pretty straightforward for GTX 1080 cards; vendors can now grab Micron’s 11Gbps GDDR5X chips and use them in the place of 10Gbps chips. Things are a bit less clear on the source of the GDDR5 however. The only manufacturer with an official 9Gbps part listed is Samsung, whose K4G41325FE is still at the "Customer Sample" phase. More importantly however, that chip is only offered in a 4Gb density, whereas NVIDIA has used 8Gb chips for both the GTX 1080 and GTX 1060 6GB. So it will be interesting to see just how 9Gbps GTX 1060s are equipped.Now, back to ASUS’ GeForce GTX 10 cards with faster memory. At present, the company offers two of such boards: the ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 OC Edition 8 GB 11 Gbps as well as the ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 OC Edition 6 GB 9 Gbps. The two AIBs belong to different classes of products, but in both cases ASUS did something more than just soldered faster memory chips to PCBs.The ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 OC Edition 11 Gbps GDDR5X is based on the company’s proprietary PCB design with an 8+2 phase VRM, one 6-pin and one 8-pin PCIe power connectors. The enhanced power supply circuitry and an additional power connector enable ASUS to increase GPU and memory frequencies from those recommended by NVIDIA and ensure some additional headroom for end-user overclocking. Meanwhile, ASUS does not disclose exact GPU clock rates of its flagship GeForce GTX 1080, which means that the company is still finalizing them.To ensure proper cooling of the GPU, VRM and memory, ASUS equips its ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 OC Edition 11 Gbps with a 2.5-wide cooling system featuring six heat pipes and three fans (which stop rotating at low GPU temperatures). As an added bonus, the cooler features ASUS’ user-controllable Aura Sync RGB lighting.Gallery: ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 OC Edition 11 Gbps GDDR5XThe ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 OC Edition 6 GB 9 Gbps also uses ASUS’ own PCB as well as the company’s DirectCU II cooling system with four heatpipes and two fans. Obviously, since this is an OC Edition AIB, its GPU frequency is higher than that on reference cards, but ASUS does not publish it. The card does not belong to the ROG or the Strix families, it is not the top-of-the-range GeForce GTX 1060 from ASUS, so expect company to offer something faster based on the GP106 GPU over time.Gallery: ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 OC Edition 6 GB 9 GbpsSpecifications of ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 11 Gbps and GTX 1060 9 GbpsASUS
CyberLink Launches PowerDVD 17 with UHD Blu-ray and VR HMD Support
CyberLink has been regularly updating their multimedia playback software / PC DVD & Blu-ray players. While ArcSoft dropped out of the software Blu-ray player market a few years back, the only other legal (i.e, one that includes licenses for all required codecs) player - Corel's WinDVD Pro, receives fairly spaced out upgrades. As the HTPC market shifts from a local media-heavy scenario to one where OTT (over-the-top) content like YouTube and Netflix form the main part of the experience, it has become important for commercial software media players to evolve. CyberLink realized this early, with a mobile-centric experience getting introduced in PowerDVD 12. With PowerDVD 14, the technology updates (such as inclusion of HEVC support) were accompanied by a shift in the marketing message from a 'software Blu-ray and DVD player' to a 'media player for power users'.CyberLink is launching PowerDVD 17 today. Similar to the focus on mobile devices in PowerDVD 12, the time is ripe for them to focus on the next big content consumption device - the virtual reality head-mounted displays (HMDs). PowerDVD 17 Ultra has a special VR mode that works with the HTC Vive as well as the Oculus Rift for an immersive media experience.PowerDVD 17 is also the fist certified software Blu-ray player capable of playing back Ultra HD (4K) Blu-rays on a PC. The hardware requirements are quite stringent, though. In addition to the two GIGABYTE boards mentioned below, the ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming-ITX/ac is also an option for a UHD Blu-ray playback-capable HTPC. Pioneer is currently the only choice for PC-compatible UHD Blu-ray optical drives.Coming back to the new features in PowerDVD 17, UHD Blu-ray playback support includes HDR10 capabilities also. The player can also upconvert SDR content to HDR using some proprietary algorithms as part of the TrueTheater feature set. As mentioned earlier, HMD support is available for playback of 360 videos. The UI and navigation is also optimized for HMDs in the VR mode. There is also some additional support for YouTube playback, particularly with respect to 360 and 4K videos.The introduction of VR HMD support enables CyberLink to be an end-to-end media player irrespective of the device used for consuming the content.It is no secret that the onerous DRM requirements have made Blu-rays a pain for HTPC enthusiasts. PowerDVD 17 requires an active Internet connection for the first time playback of an Ultra HD Blu-ray movie. Consumers who appreciate the extra video and audio quality from local discs have to put up with these annoyances. In addition to UHD Blu-ray playback, some of the other features such as the TrueTheater effects are not yet matched in a user-friendly manner by excellent open source media players like Kodi. That said, many users appreciate Kodi's open source background, its flexibility, and, obviously the fact that it is free.That brings us to the final aspect - pricing. PowerDVD 17 is available in four flavors ranging in price from $60 to $100.CyberLink also has a subscription-based offering - PowerDVD Live. It has the same feature set as that of PowerDVD Ultra, but, is priced at $15 / $45 on a quarterly / annual basis. The gallery below also includes a detailed comparison of the features available in each version.Gallery: CyberLink Launches PowerDVD 17 with UHD Blu-ray and VR HMD Support
The AMD Ryzen 5 1600X vs Core i5 Review: Twelve Threads vs Four at $250
Since the announcement of AMD’s mid-range offerings, it was clear that Ryzen 5 is going to have some major advantages over its direct price competition. For $250, the top Ryzen 5 1600X gives six cores and twelve threads of AMD’s latest microarchitecture. For the same price from Intel with a Core i5, you get four cores and no extra threads. Even though the Intel Core i5 based on Kaby Lake will have an instructions-per-clock advantage, it’s a hard hill to climb when the competition has 50% more cores and 200% more threads. In this review, we take the Ryzen 5 1600X and see if it smashes the market wide open.
Western Digital Announces My Passport SSD: Up to 1 TB, AES-256, USB-C
Western Digital has announced its first external SSDs to be sold under the WD brand. The My Passport SSDs are shock resistant, support hardware-based AES-256 encryption, use USB 3.1 Type-C at 10 Gb/s and promise to offer up to 515 MB/s transfer rates.Western Digital does not disclose too many details about its WD My Passport external SSDs, but only says that the family includes models with 256 GB, 512 GB and 1 TB capacities. From the rated performance point of view, the WD My Passport seems to be faster than many other external SSDs that typically come rated for ~450 MB/s read speed, but real-world performance will need to be tested.WD My Passport SSD Specifications256 GB512 GB1 TBSpeedUp to 550 MB/sInterfaceUSB 3.1 Type-C (10 Gbps), USB-C => USB-A adapter includedColorGrey and BlackDimensionsHeight: 10 mm (0.39 in)
Qualcomm Countersues Apple, Accuses Company of Launching Global Attack Against Qualcomm
For better or worse, this decade has marked an explosion of mobile-related lawsuits and anti-trust actions across the globe. Now, that trend is reaching what may be its apex, with Qualcomm filing a countersuit against their increasingly distant customer, Apple.This latest suit comes in response to Apple taking action against Qualcomm earlier this year in multiple forms. At the regulatory level, Apple has been levying complaints against Qualcomm for some time, providing evidence and testimony that is being used in anti-trust suits against Qualcomm, particularly the most-recent suit by the US FTC in January of this year. The crux of the regulatory suits has been over Qualcomm’s patent and technology licensing business, and whether the company was refusing to follow FRAND policies while charging unreasonably high royalties. Meanwhile at the business level, in the same month Apple also sued Qualcomm directly over many of the same issues, along with accusing the company of withholding a billion dollars in rebates.Qualcomm’s countersuit, which was all but expected, forms the backbone of the company’s response to Apple’s own suit and involvement in regulatory actions. In a short press release, the company noted that they intend to “vigorously defend” their business model, while laying out a case for why they believe Apple is in the wrong and why Apple should owe them damages.A big part of Qualcomm’s countersuit, unsurprisingly, is focused around Apple’s hand in various regulatory suits, accusing the company of “misrepresenting facts and making false statements.” Qualcomm is also accusing Apple of generally mischaracterizing their business interactions with Qualcomm, and interfering with Qualcomm’s business relationships with the third-party firms that actually manufacture Apple’s iOS devices. All told, Qualcomm is accusing Apple of taking several steps to force them to agree to lower licensing rates, and that in doing so Apple violated FRAND principles.However the most interesting points from Qualcomm’s countersuit involves the iPhone 7, which is the first phone from Apple in several years to offer models without a Qualcomm modem. Here, Qualcomm is specifically accusing Apple of not utilizing the full performance of the Qualcomm modems in those models, while also threatening Qualcomm to prevent them from publicly touting the performance of the Qualcomm-powered models.Both of these points are almost certainly related to Apple’s configuration choices with the various iPhone 7 models. While the Snapdragon X12 used in the Qualcomm-powered iPhones is capable of LTE Category 12 features, the Intel XMM 7360 modem used in the other models is only capable of LTE Category 10. Presumably to ensure the phones’ abilities were consistent, Apple opted not to enable many Cat 12 features on the Qualcomm models, such as 4x4 MIMO and 256-QAM, essentially limiting it to the same 450Mbps down speed as the Intel models.In any case, at this point the gloves have come off and Qualcomm is not holding back on their increasingly distant customer. Qualcomm’s countersuit isn’t asking for any specific compensation at this time, but the company is looking to be awarded both compensatory and punitive damages from Apple. And with two of the biggest technology companies in the US now locked into mutual legal combat, it’s likely that this series of lawsuits will go the distance.
Pre-Orders for LG’s 32UD99 Display Available: 4K, DCI-P3, HDR10, FreeSync for $999
LG and its partners recently disclosed the complete specifications as well as the price of the LG 32UD99 flagship consumer display. The 32-inch display will feature a 4K (UHD) resolution, support for HDR10, a 95% DCI-P3 color gamut, and support for AMD’s FreeSync that the manufacturer announced in December. Multiple retailers in the U.S. are now taking orders on the monitor with ETA in April or May. The price of the display is in line with other high-end consumer products, clearly emphasizing its positioning for enthusiasts and prosumers.As reported, the LG 32UD99 is based on an IPS panel with a native 3840×2160 resolution that can reproduce 1.07 billion colors and cover over 95% of the DCI-P3 color space as well as 100% of the sRGB color gamut. The display supports HDR10 capabilities (LG does not disclose information about 3D LUT (look-up tables)) and comes factory-calibrated. The panel features 350 nits typical brightness, 5 ms response time, a 60 Hz refresh rate and 178° viewing angles. The display also supports AMD’s FreeSync technology that works in the range between 40 and 60 Hz via DisplayPort.Specifications of the LG32UD99 Display32UD99-WPanel31.5" IPSNative Resolution3840 × 2160Maximum Refresh Rate60 HzResponse Time5 msBrightness350 cd/m² (typical)
Toshiba Launches MG05ACA Enterprise HDDs: 8 TB, 7200 RPM, NAND Cache
Toshiba recently introduced its new generation of enterprise-class nearline HDDs for servers, surveillance, and higher-end NAS systems. The new MG05ACA-series hard drives offer up to 8 TB of capacity and 12% higher performance than their direct predecessors, but one of their key selling points is Toshiba’s NAND flash-based cache technology for data protection in case of power-loss events that was originally designed for mission-critical HDDs.Toshiba’s MG05ACA-series HDDs are currently available only in 8 TB configurations and are based on multiple PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) platters with either 4Kn or 512e sectors. The hard drives use a SATA 6 Gbps interface, feature a 7200 RPM spindle speed, a 128 MB cache buffer, and Toshiba’s persistent write cache (PWC) with power loss protection (PLP) that stores data that is not yet written to the HDD media. When it comes to performance, Toshiba declares up to 230 MB/s sustained host to media transfer speed as well as 4.17 ms average latency. As for power consumption, the MG05ACA-series hard drives are rated to consume up to 11.4 W during random reads and 6.2 W in active idle mode.The Toshiba MG05-series HDDs are designed for nearline applications (i.e. somewhere between rapid access and cold storage) that operate for 24/7. The model is rated for 550 TB/year annual workload (read and write) as well as for 2 million hours MTBF. Typ enterprise-class hard drives are based on special platforms with improved endurance prone to operate under high vibration conditions (i.e., in rack servers) due to rotational vibration compensation technology as well as special spindle mounting mechanism.Toshiba MG05ACA-Series HDDsMG05ACA800AMG05ACA800ECapacity8 TBRPM7200 RPMInterfaceSATA 6 GbpsDRAM Cache128 MBData Transfer Speed
G.Skill Announces Trident Z RGB DDR4 Kits with 16 GB Modules, Up to 128 GB
G.Skill has recently launched new Trident Z RGB memory kits, this time aimed at Intel X99 platforms, and following the RGB trend they give owners of high-end desktops an opportunity to customize the look of DRAM inside their machines. This is also the launch where the company introduces its first 16 GB memory modules with programmable LED lighting.The Trident Z RGB memory modules feature programmable LED lightbars and can change their colors in accordance with user’s demands (G.Skill offers special software to customize lighting effects), providing the ability to modify the look of a PC on the fly. G.Skill first announced its Trident Z RGB memory modules in late 2016 and started to sell them early in 2017. Initially, G.Skill’s Trident Z RGB dual-channel kits were only focused on Intel’s Z270-based platforms and contained 8 GB DIMMs running at up to DDR4-3866 MT/s. Going forward, G.Skill will offer 16 GB Trident Z RGB modules in both dual-channel and quad-channel kits.Just like the Trident Z RGB 8 GB modules, the Trident Z RGB 16 GB DIMMs are based on Samsung’s 8 Gb B-die memory chips made using 20 nm process technology. The 16 GB modules will run at DDR4-2400 to DDR4-3866 with CL14-18 latencies at 1.2 V or 1.35 V, depending on the kit performance. The Trident Z RGB fully support Intel’s XMP 2.0 as well.G.Skill’s fastest dual-channel Trident Z RGB 32 GB (2×16 GB) kit will run at 3866 MT/s with CL18 18-18-38 timings. RGB commands a premium, so while the company’s fastest DDR4 kits (rated for DDR4-4266) are not RGB, the new modules are still a very high data rate for 16 GB modules. As for the fastest quad-channel kits, G.Skill now offers the Trident Z RGB 64 GB (4×16 GB) rated to operate at 3600 MT/s with CL17 19-19-39 latency settings as well as the Trident Z RGB 128 GB (8×16 GB) DDR4-3333 kit with CL16 18-18-38 timings.G.Skill's New Trident Z RGB Memory for Intel's X99 and Z270 PlatformsSpeedCL TimingVoltageKit ConfigurationKit CapacityDDR4-2400CL15 15-15-351.2 V2×16 GB
ADATA Announces The XPG SX7000 Series SSDs: Up to 1 TB, M.2, PCIe 3.0 x4
ADATA has announced its new lineup of SSDs designed to combine high-performance with 3D TLC flash memory. The new XPG SX7000 is positioned below ADATA’s flagship XPG SX8000 series, but for those looking for something more powerful than a typical SATA drive, but not ready to invest in a super high-end SSD, this is the market ADATA is aiming for.The ADATA XPG SX7000 series lineup comes in an M.2-2280 form-factor, uses PCIe 3.0 x4 and features 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB as well as 1 TB capacities. Worth noting, however, that traditionally for ADATA the highest-capacity drives will be available at a later date. Just like the higher-end XPG SX8000, the new SSDs are powered by Silicon Motion’s SM2260 controller but has 3D TLC NAND (presumably from Micron).The SM2260 is a controller we're starting to see a lot more of - as a controller it has two ARM Cortex cores, features eight NAND flash channels, LDPC ECC technology, 256-bit AES support and so on, although different drives may have different features enabled/disabled.From a performance point of view, the ADATA XPG SX7000 drives are very different from each other due to the level of parallelism afforded by the controller/NAND combinations. For the 512 GB version, it is rated for sequential read speed up to 1750 MB/s as well as for sequential write speed up to 860 MB/s when pseudo-SLC caching is used. As for random performance, the 512 GB drive can offer up to 130K/140K 4 KB read/write IOPS. When it comes to the XPG SX7000 128 GB, the lowest capacity of the set, we are dealing with a drive capable of up to 660/450 MB/s sequential read/write performance as well as 35K/95K read/write IOPS. The drive is slightly faster than SATA SSDs based on TLC NAND, but it should offer higher endurance because 3D TLC NAND is made using larger process technologies and can account for voltage drift better.Speaking of endurance, the XPG SX7000 come with a five-year limited warranty and are rated for 2 million hours MTBF. As for the TBW rating, the 128 GB SSD is rated for 80 TB, whereas the 512 GB version is capable of 320 TBW, which equals to around 0.3 DWPD (drive writes per day) across the warranty lifetime.ADATA XPG SX7000 SpecificationsCapacity128 GB256 GB512 GB1 TBModel NumberASX7000NP-
Xiaomi Mi MIX: A Closer Look at the Design and Display
Xiaomi’s Mi MIX gives us a glimpse of the future. A pseudo-concept phone that’s being produced in limited quantities and sold in China, it combines the latest technology with innovative design, resulting in a forward-looking phone with virtually no bezels on three sides of the screen and an amazing screen-to-body ratio.
Chuwi Announces The LapBook 12.3 With 3:2 267 PPI Display
Chuwi is a relatively unknown company in the PC space, but only about a month ago we took a look at the Chuwi LapBook 14.1, and came away very impressed. They are shaking up the low-cost segment of the PC market with some low cost, but well featured devices. The LapBook 14.1, for instance, ships with a 1920x1080 IPS display, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of storage, all for less than $300 USD. Normally when you see notebooks around these price points, they come with several serious compromises which really detract from the experience, but the LapBook 14.1 made some great trade-offs to offer a good machine for a low price.Today Chuwi reached out with some news that they are going to be releasing the LapBook 12.3 at the end of April. It features the same CPU as the LapBook 14.1, with an Intel Celeron N3450, which is a quad-core Apollo Lake. Performance is not as good as a Core based laptop, but the experience is reasonable for less demanding tasks. Chuwi is pairing this with 6 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of eMMC flash storage, so the experience should be similar to the LapBook 14.1, but with more RAM so you can multitask a bit more. They are also keeping the 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which is probably the same 1x1 card found in the larger LapBook.Probably the most interesting part of the LapBook 12.3 is that it is shipping with a 2736x1824 3:2 display at 12.3-inches. That gives a density of 267 pixels per inch, and eagle-eyed readers might have noticed that this is the same resolution and size as the display in the Surface Pro 4, so it is likely the same panel that Microsoft is using in their tablet. Chuwi didn’t confirm if it was an IPS display, but it most likely is. It's similar to their Hi 13 2-in-1 which uses a 3000x2000 13.5-inch display, so they are clearly using Microsoft's influence to source components which is great to see.Chuwi LapBook 12.3CPUIntel Celeron N3450
The Seasonic PRIME Titanium PSU (650W, 750W, 850W) Review: Mythical Performance
In this review we are having a look at Seasonic’s new flagship series, the PRIME Titanium 650W, 750W and 850W PSUs. These three units are 80Plus Titanium certified, come with a 12-year warranty, and even then we were stunned to see the almost mythical results.
NVIDIA to Release Pascal Drivers for macOS
Capping off a crazy week for Apple-related GPU news, we have one more important development for the week. Buried in their announcement of the NVIDIA Titan Xp, NVIDIA has also made a rather surprising revelation: that they will be releasing macOS drivers for their Pascal architecture GPUs. This comes despite the fact that Apple hasn’t sold a Mac Pro that can officially accept a PCIe video card in almost half a decade.When Apple released the trash can shaped and highly customized Mac Pro design in 2013 – one, coincidentally enough, they’ll be walking away from for the next iteration – Apple also sealed the fate for end-user video card upgrades on the Macintosh platform. Every Mac now uses a customized, integrated video card of some kind, from the soldered-on MacBook Pro up to the custom format cards of the Mac Pro. This has meant that as the old, Westmere-based Mac Pro towers have aged into retirement, so has the market for Mac video card upgrades.For NVIDIA, this is a bit of a double-whammy. NVIDIA owns the bulk of the discrete video card market, and at the same time, Apple hasn’t integrated an NVIDIA GPU in some time now; the last NVIDIA-equipped Mac was the 2014 MacBook Pro, which included an NVIDIA Kepler GPU. As a result, NVIDIA has been locked out of the Mac video card market entirely for the last couple of years, and consequently makes NVIDIA’s announcement so surprising.So why is NVIDIA releasing a Mac driver to a market that, officially speaking, is essentially dead? It’s telling that this is a question NVIDIA doesn’t even bother to address, simply stating that they’re “making the new TITAN Xp open to the Mac community with new Pascal drivers” in order to give “Mac users access to the immense horsepower delivered by our award-winning Pascal-powered GPUs.” At best, the official market is the remaining handful of Mac Pro Tower owners.Instead it’s the off-label use that makes this announcement interesting, and indeed gives NVIDIA any reason whatsoever to make a Pascal driver release. Within the Mac community there are small but none the less vocal user groups based around both unsupported external GPUs and not-even-Apple-hardware Hackintoshes. In the case of the former, while macOS doesn’t support external GPUs (and isn’t certified as eGFX complaint by Intel), it’s possible to use Macs with Thunderbolt eGFX chassis with a bit of OS patching. Meanwhile with a bit more hacking, it’s entirely possible to get macOS running on a custom-built PC, leading to the now long-running Hackintosh space.The fact of the matter is that neither of these groups is very big relative to the much bigger Mac user base – who wants to do real professional work on an unsupported video card setup? – but they are vocal, and they do need increasingly powerful video cards, like the rest of the PC market. But more to the point, given Apple’s announcement that they’re going to eventually fix the Mac Pro’s GPU woes, but not for at least another year, this is a chance for NVIDIA to take a low-risk pot shot at Apple for their dGPU follies. At a minimum, it’s a nice gesture to Mac users (whom tend to spend big on hardware), and perhaps, it makes for the start of a grassroots campaign to get an NVIDIA GPU in the next iMac or Mac Pro. And while only NVIDIA knows for sure if they planned this before this week’s Mac Pro announcement or they just got lucky, it comes across as a clever move by the company.Otherwise, from a technical perspective, there’s little reason for NVIDIA not to do this. The company needs to keep Mac driver development for new architectures alive regardless so that they can compete for future GPU contracts, meaning NVIDIA already has the drivers in-house, though perhaps not in an end-user ready state. Given how the whole endeavor is essentially unsupported from the Apple side of matters, this may make for a bumpy ride at the start. But I think it will be interesting to see where the NV-GPU equipped Mac user base stands in a year or two when Apple readies their next Mac Pro, and if NVIDIA’s gesture has any real impact on the number of NVIDIA users out there.
NVIDIA Announces NVIDIA Titan Xp Video Card: Fully Enabled GP102 for $1200
If you’ve followed NVIDIA’s video card launches over the last few years, then there’s a pretty clear pattern to the company’s release schedule. If the company starts things off with a cut-down Titan, as they did with the Kepler and Pascal generations, then a full-fledged Titan is sure to follow. And sure enough, with the recent launch of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti – which effectively put the original Titan X Pascal out to pasture – NVIDIA is back again to launch their full-fledged Titan for this generation: the NVIDIA Titan Xp.As a sort of mid-cycle replacement for the original NVIDIA Titan X (Pascal), this is a bit more of a low-key launch for the company. There’s nothing new to talk about as far as the design goes, the market positioning, etc. Instead what we have is simply a fully-enabled GP102 GPU coming to an NVIDIA prosumer card, making it the most powerful video card NVIDIA offers.NVIDIA GPU Specification ComparisonNVIDIA Titan XpGTX 1080 TiNVIDIA Titan X
Microsoft’s Project Scorpio: More Hardware Details Revealed
This news piece contains speculation, and suggests silicon implementation based on released products and roadmaps. The only elements confirmed for Project Scorpio are the eight x86 cores, 6 TFLOPs, 326 GB/s, it's built by AMD, and it is coming in 2017. If anyone wants to officially correct any speculation, please get in touch.One of the critical points of contention with consoles, especially when viewed through the lens of the PC enthusiast, is the hardware specifications. Consoles have long development cycles, and are thus already behind the curve at launch – and that gap only grows over time as the life-cycle of the console is anywhere from five to seven years. The trade-off is usually that the console is an optimized platform, particularly for software: performance is a known quantity and it is much easier to optimize for.For ten months or so now, Microsoft has been teasing its next generation console. Aside from launching the Xbox One S as a minor mid-season revision to the Xbox One, the next-generation ‘Project Scorpio’ aims to be the most powerful console available. While this is a commendable aspiration (one that would look odd if it wasn’t achieved), the meat and potatoes of the hardware discussion has still been relatively unknown. Well, some of the details have come to the surface through a PR reveal with Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry.We know the aim with Project Scorpio is to support 4K playback (4K UHD Blu-Ray), as well as a substantial part of 4K gaming. With recent introductions in the PC space of ‘VR’ capable hardware coming down in price, Microsoft is able to carefully navigate what hardware it can source. It is expected that this generation will still rely on AMD’s semi-custom foundry business, given that high-end consoles are now on x86 technologies and Intel’s custom foundry business is still in the process of being enabled (Intel’s custom foundry is also expected to be expensive). Of course, pairing an AMD CPU and AMD GPU would be the sensible choice here, with AMD launching a new GPU architecture last year in Polaris.Here’s a table of what the reveal is:Microsoft Console Specification ComparisonXbox 360Xbox OneProject ScorpioCPU Cores/Threads3/68/88 / ?CPU Frequency3.2 GHz1.75 GHz2.3 GHzCPU µArchIBM PowerPCAMD JaguarAMD JaguarShared L2 Cache1MB2 x 2MB2 x 2MB ?GPU Cores16 CUs
Samsung Investing in 3840x1080 and 3840x1200 Curved Displays at 144 Hz
One of the interesting elements in the new wave of monitor technologies is the types of ideas that panel manufacturers are coming up with. In the enterprise space, custom display configurations occur more frequently than we might expect, but for consumers there tends to be a line of standardization. Samsung, being vertically integrated, gives them the opportunity to experiment more than most. Even then, as a reviewer in the industry, one develops certain expectations of what might be coming in the future. Consider me stumped, as TFTCentral has delved into Samsung’s upcoming roadmaps and panel production schedules to pull out one or two surprises.49-inch 3840x1080, or ‘Double Full-HD / DFHD’For readers on the leading-edge of monitor configurations, ultra-wide displays in the 21:9 aspect ratio have been on the radar for about two years. These are monitors that have a 2560x1080 display, stretching the horizontal dimension of a standard 1920x1080 Full-HD monitor and make it easier to display modern cinema widescreen format content with less black bars. They are also claimed to assist with peripheral vision when gaming beyond a standard 1920x1080 display, or when curved, help with immersive content.So chalk up some surprise when we hear that Samsung has an even wider format panel in the works. 3840x1080 represents a 32:9 aspect ratio, and the report states that this will be a VA panel with 1800R curvature and a 3-side frameless design. Putting that many pixels in a large display gives a relatively low 81.41 PPI. This panel will be part of Samsung’s ‘Grand Circle’ format, and by supporting up to 144 Hz it is expected that variants of this panel will be included with FreeSync/GSYNC technologies. One figure to note would be the contrast ratio – 5000:1 (static), which TFTCentral states is higher than current Samsung VA panels.44-inch 3840x1200This panel is the equivalent two 24.7-inch 1920x1200 screens put side-by-side, and indicates which market Samsung would be aiming for. The specifications seem to be almost identical to the 3840x1080 panel, such as 1800R curvature, but in a 29:9 aspect ratio with 60 Hz and 144 Hz variants. Pixel density is slightly higher than the other panel too, given the higher resolution and lower diagonal, which gives 91.41 PPI. TFTCentral is listing these panels as having an 8-bit color depth (no word on FRC), and likely to be qualified on some amount of sRGB. Other numbers, such as brightness and response time, are still unknown.An amusing aside, for any users looking for a 16:10 display, something like two of these stacked on top of each other might be suitable (albeit massive) if these panels also offer a 3-side borderless configuration. I know Ryan has been after a decent 3840x2400 display, but given our discussions with monitor manufacturers, there seems to be no 16:10 demand from consumers.
AMD Releases Radeon Software ReLive Crimson Edition 17.4.1
The game releases trickle this time of year, but the progression of technology marches on. More specifically VR is still a developing phenomenon, and 8K is just cresting the Horizon. Today’s AMD driver provides its fixes and steps us a little further along and prepares us for things to come.This week’s AMD Radeon Software Crimson 17.4.1 release brings us Display Driver version 17.10.1061 (Windows Driver Store Version and comes with multiple bug fixes, including a fix for Radeon Settings becoming unresponsive during a driver upgrade, a fix for display flicker when running windowed borderless applications on an AMD FreeSync display, and some improvement of Multi GPU scaling while playing Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. Additionally, a sudden unplugging of AMD XConnect after installation of Radeon Software will no longer cause a system hang.Meanwhile As the VR agenda continues to move forward, support for the ecosystem continues to improve. First on the list, this AMD driver release enables support for Oculus’ Asynchronous Spacewarp technology, the company's latest frame extrapolation feature, on more AMD cards. Async Spacewarp support launched on AMD's RX 400 series (Polaris) cards last year, and as of this driver update, the Radeon R9 Fury (Fiji), Radeon R9 390, and Radeon R9 290 series (Hawaii) cards have been added to the list. On a similar note, support for Valve's functionally similar SteamVR Asynchronous Reprojection technology has been added to AMD's drivers. However also like Spacewarp, AMD is starting slow in adding support for Reprojection; only the Radeon RX 480 and Radeon RX 470 cards on Windows 10 get support for Reprojection today.On the video interface front, AMD has finally formally enabled DisplayPort 1.4 HBR3 support. The Polaris hardware has been able to support this feature since the start, however as displays are still catching up, AMD is only now finally enabling it. This opens display possibilities requiring much more bandwidth, and listed on the release notes are 8K 30Hz on a single cable and 8K 60Hz on two cables. 8K monitors are slim pickings right now but it’s great for video card vendors to be prepared.As always, those interested in reading more or installing the updated hotfix drivers for AMD’s desktop, mobile, and integrated GPUs can find them either under the driver update section in Radeon Settings or on AMDs Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition download page.
Honor Announces The Honor 8 Pro: Kirin 960, 5.7-inch QHD
Huawei added another phone to its Honor lineup today. The Honor 8 Pro is the international version of the Honor V9 that was launched in China earlier this year. The Honor 8, which was released last summer, and the new Honor 8 Pro are similar in name only, with the new Pro model sporting a larger screen, a new SoC, different materials, and an updated design.The Honor 8 Pro’s all-aluminum chassis has traditional color-matched, plastic antenna lines running across the back, giving it a premium albeit familiar look. Its dual rear camera module and dual-color LED flash are flush mounted inline with the upper antenna line, which makes it look more like a racing stripe accent than a necessary RF concession. There’s also a circular, recessed fingerprint sensor mounted on the back.The new device will have the newest Kirin 960 chipset, featuring 4x ARM Cortex-A73 and 4x ARM Cortex-A53 as well as the latest Mali-G71MP8 graphics, as we've seen on Huawei devices over the last six months. This will be paired with 6GB of LPDDR4 and 64GB of UFS 2.1 storage. The display moves up from the 5.2-inch Full-HD on the Honor 8 to a 5.7-inch QHD (2560x1440), and a combination of all these features means that Honor is promoting the Honor 8 Pro as a gaming and VR device, although there's no word on DayDream VR support, but the device will have some bundled VR software and support Google Cardboard. The display will target some form of DCI-P3, although the level of which has not been publicized as of yet.Honor 8 SeriesHonor 8 Pro
ASUS Launches VG245Q 'Console' Gaming Monitor: 1080p with FreeSync, $200
ASUS has introduced another monitor positioned specifically for console gaming that allows console owners to take their games out of the living room. The new display offers Full-HD resolution and uses an inexpensive TN panel with a fast response time, supporting a refresh rate of 40Hz to 75Hz. It features AMD’s FreeSync technology as well as a DisplayPort port, so while this is aimed at more console type gaming, in order to use Freesync it essentially has to be a 'console' PC rather than an actual console.The ASUS VG245Q display uses a 24” TN panel with 1920×1080 resolution, and the general specifications are typical for budget devices: 250 nits brightness, 170°/160° viewing angles, a 1 ms response time (grey-to-grey) and so on. The monitor comes with two 2 W speakers and has two HDMI (so to connect to two consoles), one DisplayPort and one D-Sub connector. The VG245Q can adjust its height, swivel, and pivot. One of the important selling points of the ASUS VG245-series monitors is support for AMD’s FreeSync dynamic framerate technology that works at refresh rates ranging from 40 to 75 Hz.In fact, ASUS’ VG245 family of displays, aimed at 'console' gaming, now includes three models: the VG245Q (introduced this month), the VG245H, and the VG245HE, with the latter two launched last fall. All the monitors use the same panel and have slightly different feature sets. The VG245H uses the same chassis as the VG245Q, but lacks DisplayPort. Meanwhile, the VG245HE is the most simplistic in the lineup, as it does not have swivel, pivot or height adjustments.ASUS VG245-Series Console Gaming MonitorsASUS
Transcend Launches New PCIe M.2 SSDs: The MTE850 Series
Transcend has announced its first SSDs based on 3D MLC NAND flash memory. The MTE850-series drives are aimed at the higher-end of the market and promise up to 2.5 GB/s sequential read speed along with endurance-related advantages of 3D NAND.Transcend does not disclose exact specifications of all its new MTE850 series SSDs, but only shows their pictures as well as performance numbers for the flagship 512 GB model. The images reveal a controller covered with an aluminum heat spreader, and the only contemporary controller that supports 3D NAND and comes with such a heat spreader is Silicon Motion’s SM2260 (which uses two ARM Cortex cores and has eight NAND flash channels) Technically the SM2260 can support LDPC ECC technology and 256-bit AES although this has to be enabled in firmware. At present, only Micron sells SSD-graded 3D MLC NAND to some of its partners, so it is logical to assume that the MTE850 drives use Micron. Transcend is the third company to offer an SSD family featuring 3D MLC and SM2260 after ADATA and Mushkin, so the drives are going to have rivals that offer similar performance and functionality.Transcend’s MTE850 family consists of three models with 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB capacities that come in M.2-2280 form-factor and use a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. The manufacturer rates MTE850’s sequential read performance at up to 2.5 GB/s and its write performance at up to 1.1 GB/s when pseudo-SLC caching is used. When it comes to random performance, Transcend does not publish any numbers at all, but we know that the SM2260 controller is officially capable of up to 120K/140K 4KB read/write IOPS, although the final value for these drives will be firmware dependent.Transcend MTE850 SpecificationsCapacity128 GB256 GB512 GBModel NumberTS128GMTE850TS256GMTE850TS512GMTE850ControllerSilicon Motion SM2260NAND Flash3D MLC NANDForm-Factor, InterfaceM.2-2280, PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.2Sequential Read??2.5 GB/sSequential Write??1.1 GB/sRandom Read IOPS???Random Write IOPS???Pseudo-SLC CachingSupportedDRAM BufferYes, capacity unknownTCG Opal EncryptionNoPower ManagementDevSleep, SlumberWarranty3 yearsThe MTE850 SSDs are expected to follow performance trends (the drives are somewhat comparable to Samsung’s 950 Pro released in 2H2015), and it is noteworthy that Transcend became the fourth independent SSD supplier after ADATA, Mushkin and Palit to introduce 3D NAND-based SSDs. We are still a few months away from a wide availability of 3D NAND-powered drives from independent vendors, but such products are getting announced today - we expect to hear more at Computex in June.Transcend did not disclose MSRPs for its MTE850 drives, but since the SSDs have direct competitors based on the same memory and controller (ADATA’s XPG SX8000-series at $90-$242), it is highly likely that Transcend’s SSDs will be offered at similar price points. The MTE850 drives will be covered by the manufacturer's three-year warranty.Related Reading:
Apple to Redesign Mac Pro, Comments That GPU Cooling Was A Roadblock
In what’s turning out to be an oddly GPU-centric week for Apple, this morning the company has revealed that they will finally be giving the long-neglected Mac Pro a major update in the 2018+ timeframe. Apple’s pro users have been increasingly unhappy by the lack of updates to the company’s flagship desktop computer, and once released, this update would be its first in what will be over 4 years.Getting to the heart of matters, Apple invited a small contingent of press – including John Gruber and TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino – out to one of their labs to discuss the future of the Mac Pro and pro users in general. The message out of Apple is an odd one: they acknowledge that they erred in both the design and handling of the Mac Pro (as much as Apple can make such an acknowledgement, at least), and that they will do better for the next Mac Pro. However that Mac Pro won’t be ready until 2018 or later, and in the meantime Apple still needs to assuage their pro users, to prove to them that they are still committed to the Mac desktop and still committed to professional use cases.Both of these articles are very well written, and rather than regurgitate them, I’d encourage you to read them. It’s extremely rare to see Apple talk about their future plans – even if it’s a bit vague at times – so this underscores the seriousness of Apple’s situation. As John Gruber puts it, Apple has opted to “bite the bullet and tell the world what your plans are, even though it’s your decades-long tradition — a fundamental part of the company’s culture — to let actual shipping products, not promises of future products, tell your story.”However neither story spends too much time on what I feel is the core technical issue, Apple’s GPU options, so I’d like to spill a bit of ink on the subject, if only to provide some context to Apple’s decisions.Analysis: GPUs Find Their Sweet Spot at 250 WattsFrom a GPU perspective, the Mac Pro has been an oddball device from day-one. When Apple launched it, they turned to long-time partner AMD to provide the GPUs for the machine. What AMD provided them with was their Graphics Core Next (GCN) 1.0 family of GPUs: Pitcairn and Tahiti. These chips were the basis of AMD’s Radeon HD 7800 and HD 7900 series cards launched in early 2012. And by the time the Mac Pro launched in late 2013, they were already somewhat outdated, with AMD’s newer Hawaii GPU (based on the revised GCN 1.1 architecture) having taken the lead a few months earlier.Ultimately Apple got pinched by timing: they would need to have chips well in advance for R&D and production stockpiling, and that’s a problem for high-end GPU launches. These products just have slow ramp-ups.Complicating matters is the fact that the Mac Pro is a complicated device. Apple favored space efficiency and low-noise over standard form-factors, so instead of using PC-standard PCIe video cards for the Mac Pro, they needed to design their own cards. And while the Mac Pro is modular to a degree, this ultimately meant that Apple would need to design a new such card for each generation of GPUs. This isn’t a daunting task, but it limits their flexibility in a way they weren’t limited with the previous tower-style Mac Pros.
ASUS Launches the Zen AiO ZN270IE: A 27-inch Full HD Core i7 All-In-One
ASUS has expanded its Zen AiO lineup of all-in-one PCs for 2017 with new 27” models. The company’s largest AIOs will fit into the current lineup of Intel Kaby Lake-based systems and offer bigger displays and higher performance than models featuring 22” and 24” screens due to desktop-class CPUs being installed.ASUS introduced its first AIO PCs with 22” and 24” monitors at Computex 2015 nearly two years ago. Since then the company has been gradually expanding its lineup of all-in-one desktop computers: first, it introduced more affordable Vivo AiO systems, and then it launched ASUS PRO AIOs for business users. Earlier this year the company began to add premium models into the Zen AiO family, targeting consumers who need better screens and/or higher performance. Back in January ASUS announced its Zen AiO Pro Z240IE, that is based on Intel’s 35W quad-core CPUs and 4K displays. In late March, ASUS added the Zen AiO ZN270IE into the lineup with a bigger 27” FHD display.Just like the premium models introduced in January, the ASUS Zen AiO ZN270IE is based on Intel’s Core i7-T processors. However, similarities with the Zen AiO Pro Z240IE seem to end here. The Zen AiO ZN270IE comes with NVIDIA’s low-end GeForce 940MX GPU with 2 GB of DRAM (cheap versions of the ZN270IE use Intel’s iGPU, but this particular dGPU is barely faster than modern iGPUs), from 4 to 16 GB of DDR4 memory, up to a 512 GB SSD as well as 1 or 2 TB HDD storage, 802.11ac, a GbE controller and so on. The PC is equipped with an audio sub-system featuring four 3W speakers co-developed with harman/kardon, a 1 MP webcam (a premium version features Intel’s RealSense camera array with RGB and IR sensors), six USB Type-A ports, an SD/MMC card reader as well as HDMI connectors.ASUS 27" Zen AiO PC SpecificationsZen AiO ZN270IEDisplay27" IPS with 1920 × 1080 resolution
A New Challenger Appears: Palit's Own-Brand UVS and GFS SSDs Announced
Palit has announced two families of SSDs that it plans to sell under its own brand. The new drives are aimed at entry-level and mainstream gaming PCs, and will be based on controllers from Phison using 3D MLC or 3D TLC NAND flash memory from Micron depending on which drive you pick up. The Palit SSDs will be among the first drives on the market that will use a combination of a Phison controller and 3D NAND memory ICs from Micron, but we expect this combination to spread across several SSD vendors in due course.Palit Microsystems is one of the world’s largest producers of graphics cards, but it is not entirely new to SSDs too. Palit’s GALAX and KFA2 brands have offered Phison-based SSDs for quite a while, but their lineups have never been large and the whole effort looked more like a brand development rather than an attempt to compete against much of the market. This time, Palit has announced two families of SSDs under its own trademark and with seven drives in total, it plans to address entry-level and mainstream gaming PCs. We do not know Palit’s plans in regards of higher-end drives in M.2 or add-in-card form-factors, but such products are available from other brands that Palit owns and it should not be a problem for the company to expand its own lineup if it needs to.Palit will initially offer two families of SSDs: First is the Palit UVS family, featuring the Phison S3111-S11 controller and 3D TLC memory for entry-level gaming systems. Then second is the Palit GFS family, based on the same Phison S3111-S11 controller but with 3D MLC NAND flash.Phison PS3111-S11 Controller SpecificationsPS3111-S11InterfaceSATA 3.2NAND Channels2CE Targets16DRAM CacheSupportedECCLDPCSupported CapacitiesMLCUp to 1 TBTLC128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TBSupported NANDToshiba 15 nm MLC/TLC
JEDEC: DDR5 to Double Bandwidth Over DDR4, NVDIMM-P Specification Due Next Year
JEDEC made two important announcements about the future of DRAM and non-volatile DIMMs for servers last week. Development of both is proceeding as planned and JEDEC intends to preview them in the middle of this year and publish the final specifications sometimes in 2018.Traditionally each new successive DRAM memory standard aims for consistent jumps: doubling the bandwidth per pin, reducing power consumption by dropping Vdd/Vddq voltage, and increasing the maximum capacity of memory ICs (integrated circuits). DDR5 will follow this trend and JEDEC last week confirmed that it would double the bandwidth and density over DDR4, improve performance, and power efficiency.Given that official DDR4 standard covers chips with up to 16 Gb capacity and with up to 2133-3200 MT/s data rate per pin, doubling that means 32 Gb ICs with up to 4266-6400 MT/s data rate per pin. If DDR5 sustains 64-bit interface for memory modules, we will see single-sided 32 GB DDR5-6400 DIMMs with 51.2 GB/s bandwidth in the DDR5 era. Speaking of modules, it is interesting to note that among other things DDR5 promises “a more user-friendly interface”, which probably means a new retention mechanism or increased design configurability.