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Updated 2020-04-06 03:15
SK Hynix: We're Planning for DDR5-8400 at 1.1 Volts
Back in November last year, we reported that SK Hynix had developed and deployed its first DDR5 DRAM. Fast forward to the present, and we also know SK Hynix has recently been working on its DDR5-6400 DRAM, but today the company has showcased that it has plans to offer up to DDR5-8400, with on-die ECC, and an operating voltage of just 1.1 Volts.WIth CPU core counts rising with the fierce battle ongoing between Intel and AMD in the desktop, professional, and now mobile markets, the demand to increase throughput performance is high on the agenda. Memory bandwidth by comparison has not been increasing as much, and at some level the beast needs to be fed. Announcing more technical details on its official website, SK Hynix has been working diligently on perfecting its DDR5 chips with capacity for up to 64 Gb per chip.SK Hynix had previously been working on its DDR5-6400 DRAM, which has 16 Gb which is formed of 32 banks, with 8 bank groups, with double the available bandwidth and access potential when compared with DDR4-3200 memory. For reference, DDR4 uses 16 banks with 4 bank groups. The key solution to improve access throughout is the burst length, which has been doubled to 16 when compared with 8 on DDR4. Another element to consider is DDR4 can't by proxy run operations while it's refreshing. DDR5 is using SBRF (same bank refresh function) which allows the system the ability to use other banks while one is refreshing, which in theory improves memory access availability.As we've already mentioned, SK Hynix already has DDR5-6400 in its sights which are built upon its second-generation 10nm class fabrication node. SK Hynix has now listed that it plans to develop up to DDR5-8400. Similar in methodology to its DDR5-6400 DRAM, DDR5-8400 requires much more forethought and application. What's interesting about SK Hynix's DDR5-8400 is the jump in memory banks, with DDR5-8400 using 32 banks, with 8 bank groups.Not just content at increasing overall memory bandwidth and access performance over DDR4, the new DDR5 will run with an operating voltage of 1.1 V. This marks a 9% reduction versus DDR4's operating voltage which is designed to make DDR5 more power-efficient, with SK Hynix reporting that it aims to reduce power consumption per bandwidth by over 20% over DDR4.To improve performance and increase reliability in server scenarios, DDR5-8400 will use on-die ECC (Error Correction) and ECS (Error Check and Scrub) which is a milestone in the production of DDR5. This is expected to reduce overall costs, with ECS recording any defects present and sends the error count to the host. This is designed to improve transparency with the aim of providing enhanced reliability and serviceability within a server system. Also integrated into the design of the DDR5-8400 DRAM is Decision Feedback Equalization (DFE), which is designed to eliminate reflective noise when running at high speeds. SK Hynix notes that this increases the speed per pin by a large amount.In the above image from specification comparison between DDR4 and DDR5 from SK Hynix, one interesting thing to note is that it mentions DRAM chips with density up to 64 gigabit. We already know that the chip size of DDR5 is 65.22mm², with a data rate of 6.4 Gbps per pin, and uses its 1y-nm 4-metal DRAM manufacturing process. It is worth pointing out that the DDR5-5200 RDIMM we reported on back in November 18, uses 16 Gb DRAM chips, with further scope to 32 Gb reported. SK Hynix aims to double this to 64 Gb chips which do double the density, at lower power with 1.1 volts.Head of DRAM Product Planning at SK Hynix, Sungsoo Ryu stated that:
Folding@Home Coronavirus Race, AnandTech vs. Tom’s Hardware: Two Week Check-In
As many of us are stuck at home these days and are slowly quickly going mad, a couple of weeks ago we kicked off a race of sorts with our loyal opposition, Tom’s Hardware. Challenging each other to put an end to the very thing that’s keeping us at home – the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 – we have been racing to see which team can contribute the most work towards the Folding@Home project’s coronavirus distributed computing research efforts. The popular project has already passed an exaFLOP per second in compute performance thanks to Team AnandTech, Tom’s Hardware, and numerous other contributors over the world, and there is still much work to be done for its important research tasks.Meanwhile, as we’re now at just past the half-way point in our four-week race, I wanted to stop and take stock of things. To see how the humble Team Anandech was faring against the boastful brutes that are the Tom’s Hardware team. And after two weeks, it looks like things are coming up great for Team AnandTech.Since the race started on March 18, Team AnandTech has generated 2.45 billion points in work for the Folding@Home project. In the same time period, the Tom’s Hardware team has generated a sizable, but not quite as massive 2 billion points of work. This has put Team AnandTech 445 million points ahead of Tom’s Hardware, or to put this in terms of the ongoing rate, Team AnandTech has been turning in 1.2 points’ worth of work for every point that Tom’s Hardware turns in. Which in the big picture, is actually a rather close race.As such, with two weeks to go, this race is far from over. Our loyal competition could still turn things around, and so Team AnandTech cannot rest on its laurels. That means we still need you! Both to help Team AnandTech cross the finish line, and to hopefully get out of our homes just that much sooner.So please stop by the AnandTech Distributed Computing forum to see how you can download the Folding@Home client and join Team AnandTech.Ultimately this race is for fun, but it’s also for a good cause. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a world-changing event, and, along with the immediate medical risks of the virus, the containment measures it requires are intense. The Folding@Home project is working on several simulations to improve humanity’s understanding of the virus and the disease it causes, with a goal of jump-starting new treatments and to bring the virus under control. It’s a worthy cause, as a result I’d like to encourage everyone to take part in what’s left of our race over the next two weeks.Carousel Image Courtesy of: CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS
Razer Refreshes Blade 15 Series With Intel 10th Gen Comet Lake
Along with many other OEMs in the notebook segment at the moment, Razer has joined in the fray with the launch of two new models of its Blade 15 series of gaming notebooks. Building upon Intel's newly announced 10th generation Comet Lake-H processors, both models also include options for using NVIDIA's new RTX Super mobile GPUs.Starting off with the new flagship Blade 15 Advanced model, Razer claims it to be the world's smallest laptop with with a 15.6" screen, with a weight of just 2.2 Kg. Included in the Advanced model is the new Intel Core i7-10875H eight-core Comet Lake-H processor, with a max turbo of up 5.1 GHz and a base clock of 2.3 GHz. Some of the core features include Intel Thunderbolt 3 Type-C and a USB 3.1 G2 Type-C port supporting USB-C 20 V PD 3.0 charging capabilities. Powering the laptop is a built-in 80 Wh rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery, with a compact 230 W power adapter which is supplied with both models.The advanced model is available with a choice between a 300 Hz HD TFT LCD for hardcore gamers, and a more creator-focused OLED 100% DCI-P3 4K touch panel with a 1 ms response time. Powering the display are NVIDIA's current lineup of notebook GPUs, with the top option being the GeForce RTX 2080 Super with 8 GB of GDDR6 memory. As for storage, Razer has equipped the Blade 15 with a PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSDs, with capacities up to 1 TB. Keeping the components cool in the advanced model is a vapor chamber design, while the base model uses a standard heat pipe design.Meanwhile the base model comes equipped with the six-core Intel Core i7-10750H processor, while the GPU choice goes up NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070, also using Optimus. Also available with two display types, the base model can come with either a 144 Hz Full HD display with a matte screen or with an OLED 100% DCI-P3 panel. Providing power is a slightly lower spec 65 Wh polymer battery, with Intel Thunderbolt 3 Type-C, an HDMI 2.0B video output, and dual USB 3.1 G1 Type-A ports.
The Samsung Galaxy S20+, S20 Ultra Exynos & Snapdragon Review: Megalomania Devices
It’s been a long couple of weeks, but the wait is now finally over. Today we’re ready to go on a deep dive into Samsung’s most important phones of 2020; the new Galaxy S20 series represents a huge jump for the Korean company, and also for the wider smartphone industry. The new devices have a lot of brand-new features premiering for the first time in mainstream flagship devices, and some cutting-edge capabilities that are outright new to the industry as a whole.The S20 series are probably best defined by their picture capturing capabilities, offering a slew of new camera hardware that represents Samsung’s most ambitious smartphone camera update ever. From a “periscope” design telephoto lens with 4x optical magnification and up to a quoted 100x digital magnification, to a new and humongous 108MP main camera sensor with a brand-new pixel array setup, the new Galaxy S20 Ultra is definitely an exotic device when it comes to its photography features. The new Galaxy S20+ also sees some massive new upgrades, ranging from a new, larger main camera sensor, to the innovative use of a 64MP wide-angle module that allows for high magnification hybrid crop-zooming. Overall it too is a big step-up in the camera department and certainly shouldn’t be overshadowed by its Ultra sibling. The phones are not only the first smartphones able to capture 8K video – but they’re also amongst the first consumer grade hardware out on the market with the capability, which is certainly an eye-catching feature.The new S20 series are also among the first devices to come with the latest generation of processors on the market, pioneering the usage of the new Snapdragon 865 as well as the new Exynos 990 SoCs. In recent years, it’s always been a contentious topic for Samsung’s flagship phones as the company continues to dual-source the SoCs powering its devices – with some years the differences between the two variants being larger than one would hope for. We have both chipset variants of the Galaxy S20 Ultra as well as an Exynos variant of the S20+ for today’s review, and we’ll be uncovering all the differences between the models.
ASUS Launches ROG Strix XG27WQ Curved 165Hz Monitor: FreeSync Premium Pro Certified
AMD’s FreeSync Premium Pro certification promises quite a lot when it comes to features and quality, but unfortunately there are less than a dozen of such displays available on the market today. Thankfully, that market will be getting one more entry courtesy of ASUS, who recently announced its second FreeSync Premium Pro monitor, the ROG Strix XG27WQ. Touting support for superior capabilities, the 27-inch monitor is one of the most feature-packed FreeSync Premium Pro monitors to date, and it promises to be less expensive than some of its larger rivals.The ASUS ROG Strix XG27WQ monitor relies on a curved 27-inch VA panel with a 2560×1440 resolution. All together, the monitor offers a peak brightness of 450 nits, a 3000:1 contrast ratio, 178°/178° horizontal/vertical viewing angles, a 1 ms MPRT response time, and a 165 Hz maximum refresh rate. The LCD offers one DisplayPort 1.2 inputs and two HDMI 2.0 to connect to its host and also has a dual-port USB 3.0 hub along with a headphone output.AMD mandates FreeSync Premium Pro (previously FreeSync 2) monitors to support a wide variable refresh rate range (48 – 144 Hz or 48 – 165 Hz in case of the XG27WQ), feature Low Framerate Compensation, be capable of low-latency tone mapping to the monitor’s native color space, meet HDR brightness and and contrast requirements roughly equivalent to DisplayHDR 500, and reproduce at least 90% of the DCI-P3 color gamut (92% in the ROG's case). The capabilities of the ASUS ROG Strix XG27WQ monitor actually exceed AMD’s requirements, which makes it a rather potent choice for gamers.In addition to VESA’s Adaptive-Sync/AMD’s FreeSync VRR, the display also supports ASUS’s Extreme Low Motion Blur (ELMB) that makes fast-paced scenes look sharper even when a variable refresh rate technology is enabled. The ROG Strix XG27WQ also supports a variety of genre-specific game modes, ASUS's Shadow Boost feature to make dark scenes look brighter, and enhancements like crosshair overlay for easier targeting in FPS titles.Since we are dealing with an ASUS ROG-branded monitor, the model Strix XG27WQ not only features a stand that can adjust height, tilt, and swivel, but also one that has Aura Sync addressable RGB lighting as well as a projector that projects a logotype onto the table below.The ASUS ROG Strix XG27WQGeneral SpecificationsPanel27" VANative Resolution2560 × 1440Maximum Refresh Rate165 HzResponse Time1 ms MPRTBrightness450 cd/m² (peak)Contrast3000:1BacklightingLEDViewing Angles178°/178° horizontal/verticalCurvature1500RAspect Ratio16:9Color Gamut125% sRGB/BT.709
NVIDIA Details Dynamic Boost Tech & Advanced Optimus (G-Sync & Optimus At Last)
Alongside this morning’s launch of their new laptop SKUs, NVIDIA is also rolling out a couple of new technologies aimed at high-end laptops. Being placed under their Max-Q banner, the company is unveiling new features to better manage laptop TDP allocations, and for the first time, the ability to have G-Sync in an Optimus-enabled laptop. These new technologies are separate from the new hardware SKUs being launched today – they can technically be built into any future GeForce laptop – so I wanted to touch upon separately from the hardware itself.
NVIDIA’s 2020 Laptop Refresh: Launches GeForce RTX 2080 Super, 2070 Super, & GTX 1650 Ti
With this week marking the launch of AMD’s Ryzen Mobile 4000 APUs and Intel’s Comet Lake-H mobile CPUs, this week is essentially the kick-off point for the next generation of laptops. OEMs and vendors across the spectrum are gearing up to roll out new and updated laptops based on the latest silicon, as they set themselves up for the next year or so of laptop sales.Not one to be left out, NVIDIA is also using this week’s launches to roll out some new laptop graphics adapters, which partners will be pairing with those new Ryzen and Core processors. The company is also unveiling a rather important set of additions to their laptop technology portfolio, introducing new features to better manage laptop TDP allocations, and for the first time, the ability to have G-Sync in an Optimus-enabled laptop. Overall while this week is primarily focused on AMD and Intel, NVIDIA is making sure that they are giving partners (and consumers) something new for this generation of laptops.GeForce RTX 2080 Super & RTX 2070 SuperFirst and foremost, NVIDIA is launching two new mobile graphics adapters this morning. The GeForce RTX 2080 Super and RTX 2070 Super, both of which were launched on the desktop last summer, are now coming to laptops. Like their desktop counterparts, the new adapters are based on NVIDIA’s existing TU104 silicon, so there aren’t any new GPUs to speak of today, but their launch gives OEMs additional options for dGPUs for their high-end gaming laptops.As has been the case for NVIDIA throughout this generation, while the company doesn’t have distinct, mobile-labeled SKUs, the new laptop parts do have their own set of specifications. Specifically, while the mobile parts have the same CUDA core counts and memory support as their desktop brethren, they have different clockspeed and TDP profiles, owing to the limitations of the laptop form factor. All told, the new Super parts are designed for 80W+ laptops, with the flagship RTX 2080 Super approved for 150W (or more) designs, as vendors get the option to push the adapter just about as hard as they think they can get away with in the luggable desktops we commonly see in the broader market for ultra high powered laptops.Otherwise, these are fairly typical GeForce RTX SKUs. Boost clocks will range from 1080MHz to 1560MHz, depending on what laptop vendors opt for in terms of power and performance. The RTX 2080 Super will have a fully-enabled, 3072 CUDA core TU104 GPU, while the RTX 2070 Super gets a 2560 core version of the same GPU.Meanwhile, memory is the only other notable change here: while both adapters come with 8GB of GDDR6 memory, unlike the desktop RTX 2080 Super, the mobile version won’t come with 15.5Gbps GDDR6. Instead, it ships with 14Gbps memory like the rest of the RTX lineup. Overclocked VRAM is rather expensive in terms of power, so it’s not too surprising to see NVIDIA drop it here.NVIDIA is also using this opportunity to roll out some smaller hardware updates to its laptop portfolio. On the memory front once more, the company has confirmed for the first time that it has been working with memory vendors on low voltage GDDR6 memory. Unfortunately the details here are slim – it’s not clear whether the low voltage RAM NVIDIA is using is any different than the 1.25v GDDR6 already offered by memory suppliers – but even 1.25v would be a notable decrease over normal 1.35v memory. NVIDIA pegs VRAM memory consumption at around 20 to 25 watts for their laptop solutions, so being able to shave off even 10% of that is a couple more watts that can be shifted over to the GPU itself for more performance.And keeping with the power efficiency theme, NVIDIA tells us that they’ve also been working with partners to get better VRMs in laptops. This is another area where details are quite slim, but VRMs have been an ongoing focus area for the company. Voltage regulation is a game of efficiency – any power you lose is waste heat that eats into a laptop’s thermal budget – so the goal is always to maximize efficiency. Coupled with NVIDIA’s new Dynamic Boost technology, the need for more efficient VRMs (particularly high wattage solutions) is at an all-time high.GeForce GTX 1650 Ti and GTX 1650 (GDDR6) As WellAlongside their new high-end hardware, NVIDIA is also launching a pair of new low-end SKUs for the mobile space. These are the GeForce GTX 1650 Ti, and a GDDR6 version of the GTX 1650.The GTX 1650 Ti is a particularly interesting matter, as it has no desktop counterpart. Up until now, NVIDIA has been launching desktop parts first, and then having laptop parts launch in-concert with the desktop parts, or at a later time entirely. But for the GTX 1650 Ti, we have a purely mobile part, at least for the time being.The hardware itself shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Here NVIDIA is reusing its TU117 GPU, which is the same GPU that powered the original mobile GTX 1650. The big change here is that the Ti SKU gets much better definition: whereas the regular GTX 1650 has “up to” 1024 CUDA cores and comes with a couple of different memory types, the GTX 1650 Ti is guaranteed to have 1024 CUDA cores as well as GDDR6 memory. Coupled with a slightly higher maximum TDP of 55W, and it should deliver better performance. Though it’s still going to leave a noticeable gap between this fully-enabled TU117 part and the next part up in the stack, the TU116-based mobile GTX 1660 Ti.Joining the GTX 1650 Ti will be another GTX 1650 SKU, the GTX 1650 with GDDR6. As alluded to in the name, this is a mobile GTX 1650 with GDDR6 memory instead of GDDR5. NVIDIA isn’t outlining any performance figures for the new part, so performance expectations will have to be left up to the reader’s imagination, but at otherwise equivalent specifications, this would be a 50% bump in memory bandwidth, from 8Gbps GDDR5 to 12Gbps GDD6.However it’s going to be up to laptop vendors to decide what GTX 1650 configuration they’re using, as well as how to disclose it. The GDDR6 version isn’t getting its own canonical SKU name, so a laptop with it could have anything from an 896 core model with GDDR5 to a 1024 core model with GDDR6. Ultimately the minimum configuration hasn’t changed, but laptop OEMs now have another option for a slightly more powerful configuration. Or one could go with the GTX 1650 Ti and skip the uncertainty entirely.Rebalancing the GeForce Laptop Product StackWith the addition of the new RTX 2080 Super, RTX 2070 Super, GTX 1650 Ti, and GTX 1650 (GDDR6) adapters to its portfolio, NVIDIA is using this week’s launch to rebalance the entire laptop product stack. As a result, some products are being discontinued, and others are being pushed down in price to fill spots previously covered by other parts.First and foremost, like the desktop realm, the regular RTX 2080 is now gone from laptops as well. With the RTX 2080 Super taking up the flagship spot – and not being massively different from the original RTX 2080 – NVIDIA has excised the original entirely. The RTX 2070 Super is instead NVIDIA’s second-tier adapter for laptops.The RTX 2070, on the other hand, is still staying around. Instead, it’s getting pushed down the product stack to the third-tier position. NVIDIA now expects RTX 2070 to start showing up in laptops as cheap as $1199.The RTX 2060 is also along for the ride. And this one is a particularly notable shift, as the RTX 2060 will now be NVIDIA’s anchor SKU for $999 laptops. This spot was previously held by the GTX 1660 Ti, and while NVIDIA does not explicitly discuss laptop part pricing, reading between the lines it’s clear that the company has cut laptop adapter prices to make this new product stack happen. So, as NVIDIA likes to promote, RTX laptops now start at $999.In fact of all the new mobile SKUs being launched today, the now lower-priced RTX 2060 is definitely getting the greatest focus from NVIDIA. The company’s OEM partners are announcing 5 new/updated laptops with the part, and the promise of more to come. As in the desktop space, NVIDIA is eager to dislodge its own legacy parts and entice gamers to upgrade to a laptop with a newer GeForce SKU, and while NVIDIA is certainly delivering the goods there, their case isn’t being helped by the relatively stagnant Intel. Thankfully AMD’s new Zen 2-based APUs have just launched, and while the market isn’t going to shift overnight, it gives the Green Team some new performance opportunities with the Black Team (or is that ex-Green Team?).Finally, the new and updated GeForce GTX 1650 SKUs will be flushing out the low-end of the NVIDIA laptop product stack. The Pascal-based GTX 1050, the last GeForce GTX-branded holdover from the previous generation, is now on its way out. In its place, the GTX 1650 is being shifted down to take over. GTX 1650 laptops, in turn, will be hitting the market for as little as $699. In between that and the RTX 2060 will be the GTX 1660 Ti, as well as the new GTX 1650 Ti. And below $699 we’ll see the usual mismash of last-generation laptops, as well as NVIDIA’s entry-level, non-GTX laptop parts, the GeForce MX3xx series.Wrapping things up, as with this week’s laptop CPU launches, laptops featuring the new and updated GeForce SKUs are set to hit the market shortly. While the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has thrown a spanner into exact release dates, AMD Ryzen Mobile 4000 laptops are already shipping. Meanwhile, Intel Comet Lake-S laptops should be shipping soon. Accordingly, we’re already seeing ASUS Ryzen laptops shipping with GeForce dGPUs, while Comet Lake-H laptops with the new parts should hit the market in a couple of weeks.
MSI Launches New 10th Gen Core Laptops With NVIDIA RTX Super And Mini LED
To coincide with today’s launch of both the latest 10th generation Intel Core H-Series parts, as well as NVIDIA’s launch of their new RTX Super laptop GPUs, MSI is announcing a trio of new models to cover a wide-spectrum of the market, with two gaming-focused models in the GS66 Stealth and GE66 Raider, as well as the content-creator focused Creator 17.MSI 10th Gen Intel Core Launch LineupGS66 StealthGE66 RaiderCreator 17CPUCore i7-10750H
Lenovo Legion Laptop Launch: 10th Gen Intel Core And RTX Super Updates
Lenovo is announcing some updated products today featuring the new 10th generation Intel Core H-Series and NVIDIA RTX Super mobile GPUs, and Lenovo is taking advantage of the new NVIDIA Advanced Optimus as well, allowing better battery life while still providing G-SYNC.The Lenovo Legion 7i and Legion 5i are replacing the Legion Y740 and Y540 models, with the 7i being a 17-inch gaming laptop, and the 5i being a 15-inch version. Both will feature the new NVIDIA Advanced Optimus, which means they will offer G-SYNC on their displays, but be able to switch off the dGPU for battery savings when needed. For those unfamiliar, one of the drawbacks of G-SYNC previously was that it required the dGPU to be directly connected to the display, which removed the capability of using NVIDIA’s Optimus to leverage the iGPU for light-duty tasks to save power. Some manufacturers worked around this by offering a multiplexer, but the added complexity and cost, coupled with the fact that the user would need to reboot the laptop to turn it on or off, meant it was a useful, but niche solution. Lenovo will be one of the first to offer the new dynamic switching of Advanced Optimus which no longer has the reboot requirement, so we should hopefully see more laptops offering this along with G-SYNC.Both laptops will offer 10th generation Intel Core H-Series, meaning the 45-Watt processors, but Lenovo hasn’t indicated what exact models they will be offering. On the GPU side, the 15-inch Legion 5i will have up to a NVIDIA RTX 2060, and the larger 17-inch Legion 7i will go all the way up to the RTX 2080 Super Max-Q.Although details are a bit light at the moment, Lenovo is coming in with some very reasonable pricing for the new laptops which will be coming out later this year. The Legion 5i with RTX 2060 will start at just $999, and the Legion 7i with RTX 2070 starts at $1199.Source: LenovoGallery: Lenovo Legion Laptop Launch: 10th Gen Intel Core And RTX Super Updates
Intel Details 10th Gen Comet Lake-H for 45 W Notebooks: Up to 5.3 GHz*
Two of the big announcements out of CES this year were both mobile related: Intel and AMD announced they would be launching new gaming laptop processors into the market in the first half of this year. 45 W parts, also known as H-series in the business, provide the basis for productivity and gaming notebooks that use additional graphics to give some oomph. These systems span from thin and light with GPU requirements, through ‘luggables’ that are just about portable, all the way up to desktop replacement designs. Intel’s newest 10 Gen H-Series are based on the Comet Lake family, the fifth iteration of Intel’s 14nm Skylake designs, and they’re going all the way up to 5.3 GHz*.
Acer Gaming Laptop Updates: 10th Gen Intel Core And NVIDIA RTX Super
With the announcement of the latest Intel Core H-Series and NVIDIA’s RTX Super lineup, Acer is announcing a refresh today of a couple of their gaming laptop models. Both make the jump to the 10th generation Intel Core lineup of processors, and the Triton 500 also gets the new RTX Super GPUs.Acer Predator Triton 500 UpdatesWe got a chance to review this laptop back in 2019, and it offered quite a bit of performance in a very small and light chassis, with some unique features as well. Today Acer is refreshing the lineup with even more performance with the latest CPUs from Intel, and GPUs up to the NVIDIA RTX 2080 Super Max-Q. But Acer has also added a few new features as well, including an optional 300 Hz IPS display, up from 144 Hz last year, and Wi-Fi 6 thanks to the Killer AX1650i. And as a bonus, the new model offers a per-key RGB backlit keyboard, stepping up from the zoned keyboard backlighting last year.One of the key features of the Predator Triton 500 was its portable design, and luckily Acer hasn’t had to made the device any thicker or heavier. It still weighs just 4.63 lbs, and is only 0.7-inches thick which is the same dimensions as last year. But to help with cooling, Acer has tweaked the cooling with their Vortex Flow design, offering three fans, 4th generation AeroBlade 3D fans with serrated edges, and five heat pipes. Overall, Acer says they are getting 33% better thermal performance than the 2019 model.The updated Triton 500 will be available in May starting at $2199.99 USD.Acer Nitro 5 UpdatesWe’ve also reviewed the Acer Nitro 5 last year, although the AMD powered model, and the Nitro 5 is all the way at the other end of the spectrum compared to Acer’s Triton 500, but still offers great performance in a much less expensive design. For 2020, Acer is adding some nice upgrades which should help address some of the shortcomings of the previous model.On the CPU side, Acer will offer up to a Core i7-10750H, which offers six cores, twelve threads, and up to 5 GHz of frequency. This coupled with the GeForce GTX 1650, 1650 Ti, and RTX 2060, should offer some great gaming performance in this price range. There are two M.2 PCIe slots, as well as a 1 TB HDD offering, and up to 32 GB of DDR4 which is user-replaceable.One key shortcoming of the 2019 model was the display, but the 2020 model is shipping with two new display panels which will hopefully address the color gamut. What it does add is high-refresh, with both 120 Hz and 144 Hz IPS panels at 1920x1080 resolution, which Acer claim are 3 ms and 300 nit capable.Acer has also tweaked the cooling, with a new dual-fan design. There are four heat vents, and overall the new cooling system offers a 25% improvement over the 2019 model, which is not insignificant.The 2020 version also features the Intel AX201 WiFi 6 network card, and Killer E2600 Ethernet.The best part of the Nitro 5 is its price, and for 2020 it continues to be one of the easiest ways into a gaming laptop. The new Nitro 5 will be available in May starting at $749.99.Source: Acer
KINGMAX Joins PCIe 4.0 SSD Club with PX4480 Drives
As AMD’s latest Ryzen 3000/X570 platforms with PCIe 4.0 support become more widespread on the market, SSD vendors are continuing to ramp up the releaes of their matching PCIe 4.0-based SSDs. Joining the party, KINGMAX, a known maker of components for enthusiasts, has revealed its first PCIe 4.0 SSD family, the PX4480.The KINGMAX Zeus PX4480 SSDs are based on the Phison PS5016-E16 controller paired with 3D TLC NAND memory, and are available in 500 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB configurations. A surprising thing about these drives is the fact that unlike most Phison PS5016-E16-based SSDs, KINGMAX’s PX4480 devices are not equipped with a heat sink, but come with a sticker made of a plastic-like material, which improves their phsyical compatibility, but might affect their performance under high loads.Speaking of performance, KINGMAX says that the PX4480 drives are rated for up to 5000 MB/s sequential read speeds, up to 4400 MB/s sequential write speeds (when pSLC caching is enabled), and up to 600K/500K random read/write speeds, which is in-line with competing devices that use the same controller.As far as endurance is concerned, KINGMAX rates its ‘4x4’ SSDs for up to 3600 terabytes to be written (TBW) depending on the exact model. Meanwhile, the drives are backed by a three-year warranty.KINGMAX's PX4480 SSDsCapacity500 GB1 TB2 TBModel Number???ControllerPhison PS5016-E16 (PCIe 4.0 x4)NAND Flash3D TLC NANDForm-Factor, InterfaceM.2-2280, PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.3Sequential Read5000 MB/sSequential Write2500 MB/s4400 MB/sRandom Read IOPS400K600K IOPSRandom Write IOPS500K500K IOPSPseudo-SLC CachingSupportedDRAM Buffer?1 GB2 GBTCG Opal EncryptionNoPower Consumption6.3 W6.5 W7 WWarranty3 yearsMTBF1.7 million hoursTBW850 TB1800 TB3600 TBMSRP$?$?$?Considering that the PX4480 SSDs are powered by a widespread controller and the fact that KINGMAX already lists its PX4480 drives on its website, expect them on the market shortly. Prices should be comparable to similar products from competing suppliers.Related Reading:
Micron to Start Volume Production of 128-Layer 3D NAND with RG Architecture This Quarter
As part of the company's second quarter financial earnings call, Micron has revealed that it is about to start volume production of its 4 Generation 3D NAND memory devices. Based around the company's new replacement gate (RG) architecture, the memory manufacturer is gearing up to begin production in the current fiscal quarter (Q3'FY20), with commercial shipments set to begin in the fourth quarter. Overall, this will mark the start of a major technology transition for the manufacturer.As previously detailed by Micron, the company’s 4 Gen 3D NAND features up to 128 active layers and uses replacement gate (RG) technology, which replaces the traditional floating gate technology that has been used by Intel and Micron for years. The switch is a substantial design change, and an important one going forward, as it's at the core of Micron's long-term technology plans. It also happens to be the company’s first flash memory technology in quite some time that has been designed solely by Micron, and not in conjunction with former partner Intel. Micron hopes that switching to gate replacement will enable it to reduce die sizes, lower costs, improve performance, and enable easier transition to next-generation nodes presumably with more active layers.Micron does not have plans to transit all of its products to its 4 Generation RG-based 3D NAND technology, and it has already warned its investors not to expect a meaningful company-wide cost-per-bit reduction this year as result of this technology transition. Nonetheless, it is tremendously important to kick off volume production as early as possible because learning how to produce replacement gate 3D NAND with decent yields is important for Micron’s subsequent generation 3D NAND that is projected to be deployed broadly in FY2021 (starts in late September, 2020).Micron said that it plans to start shipments of its 128-layer replacement gate-based 3D NAND products in the fourth quarter of its FY2020, which means this summer. Meanwhile, Micron yet has to disclose which products it plans to build using this technology.Sanjay Mehrotra, CEO and president of Micron, said the following:
I Need Speed: MSI Reveals Optix MAG251RX 240Hz IPS Gaming Monitor
MSI has announced its first display that uses a Fast IPS panel, which boasts a 240 Hz refresh rate. Like many gaming LCDs, the Optix MAG251RX is NVIDIA G-Sync compatible as well as VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified. Meanwhile, unlike most gaming monitors, the new product comes with a USB-C input.Based on a 24.5-inch 8-bit+FRC IPS panel, the MSI MAG251RX features a 1920×1080 resolution, 400 nits brightness, a 1000:1 contrast ratio, 178°/178° viewing angles, a 1 ms response time, and a maximum refresh rate of 240 Hz. The monitor supports VESA’s Adaptive-Sync variable refresh rate technology and is NVIDIA G-Sync-compatible certified.The monitor can display 1.07 billion colors and can reproduce 107% of the sRGB as well as 84% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is slightly better color reproduction than most other monitors based on a Fast IPS panel. In addition, the LCD is VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified, so it also supports HDR10 transport. Last but not least, the monitor supports various gaming modes as well as the so-called Night Vision technology that enhances dark scenes.For connectivity, the MSI MAG251RX uses one DisplayPort 1.2a input, two HDMI 2.0 port, and one USB Type-C port. In addition, the monitor has a triple-port USB 2.0 hub and a headphone output.One of the advantages of the MSI MAG251RX advertised by the manufacturer is the company’s Gaming OSD App 2.0, which allows users to easily configure display settings using a keyboard and mouse. Also, the app supports hotkey options to quickly switch settings in-between titles.In a bid to provide users the right viewing angles, the MSI MAG251RX monitor has a stand that can adjust height and tilt. As an added bonus, the backside of the LCD is equipped with addressable RGB LEDs for further customization.The MSI Optix MAG 24.5-Inch IPS LCD with
Intel H81 Chipset EOL'd: Long Lived Haswell Chipset to be Retired
Intel has announced that it will be discontinuing some of its Lynx Point based chipsets which are most commonly associated with its Haswell processors on socket LGA 1150. Along with the long-standing H81 chipset, other Intel Lynx-point chipsets entering the End-of-Life cycle include Q87, C226, QM87, and HM86.Originally introduced to the market back in 2013, Intel's H81 chipset is the latest casualty of Intel's product discontinuance strategy. The H81 chipset along with others entering product discontinuance are all based on its 32 nm lithography. The H81 chipset was built for Intel 4th generation Haswell processors and acted as the budget-conscious version of the Z87 chipset, minus some of its premium features including overclocking support.Intel states that although its product discontinuance program support began on March 30, 2020, customers will still be able to place orders of the H81, Q87, C226, QM87, and HM86 chipsets until March 31, 2021. The last shipment will be distributed on September 30, 2021, while orders not cancelled before March 31, 2021 will become non-cancelable. The H81 chipset is notably a desktop chipset, while C226 is from its server portfolio, and QM87 and HM86 are part of its mobile segment. Both the QM87 and HM86 chipsets were both expected to enter discontinuance in Q4 15 but lasted nearly five years longer than anticipated.Directly related to the above, Intel announced last year that it was resurrecting its previously discontinued Haswell based Intel Pentium G3420 processor which was seemingly due to an increase in customer demand.Customers looking for a low-cost long term chipset are advised to look towards such chipsets as H310 designed for Intel's Coffee Lake CPUs.Related Reading:
Intel Updates ISA Manual: New Instructions for Alder Lake, also BF16 for Sapphire Rapids
As with any processor vendor, having a detailed list of what the processor does and how to optimize for it is important. Helping programmers also plan for what’s coming is also vital. To that end, we often get glimpses of what is coming in future products by keeping track of these updates. Not only does it give detail on the new instructions, but it often verifies code names for products that haven’t ‘officially’ been recognized. Intel’s latest update to its ISA Extensions Reference manual does just this, confirming Alder Lake as a future product, and identifies what new instructions are coming in future platforms. Perhaps the biggest news of this is actually the continuation of BFLOAT16 support, originally supposed to be Cooper Lake only (and bearing in mind, Cooper Lake will have a limited launch), but will now also be included in the upcoming Sapphire Rapids generation, set for deployment in the Aurora supercomputer in late 2021.
Samsung to Cease Traditional LCD Production, Move To Quantum Dot OLEDs
According to a report from Reuters, Samsung Display will cease production of traditional LCD displays by the end of the year. The move comes as the company is apparently turning its full efforts away from traditional liquid crystal displays and towards the company's portfolio of quantum dot technology. Building off of the Reuters report, ZDNet is reporting that Samsung is dropping LCD production entirely – including its quantum dot-enhanced "QLED" LCDs – and that their retooled efforts will focus on QD-enhanced OLED displays. A decision with big ramifications for the traditional LCD market, this means that by the end of the year, the LCD market will be losing one of its bigger (and best-known) manufacturers.As recently as last year, Samsung Display had two LCD production facilities in South Korea and another two LCD plants in China. Back in October, 2019, the company halted production one of the South Korean factories, and now plans to suspend production of LCDs at the remaining three facilities due to the low profitability and oversupply of traditional LCDs.Instead, the company will be turning its attention towards the quantum dot-enhanced OLED displays. A new technology for Samsung, this would be distinct from the company's current QLED displays, which use quantum dots to enhance LCD displays. Samsung previously announced their plans to invest a whopping $11 billion in QD-OLED production, and now those plans are moving one step closer to completion as the company gets ready to wind-down traditional LCD production.To that end, one of the two South Korean LCD lines will be converted to produce displays and TVs featuring quantum dot-enhanced OLED panels. Samsung Display hopes that their sizable investment will pay off as the new technology promises unprecedented image quality and lower cost compared to regular OLED panels. Meanwhile, Samsung’s longer-term plans include building of two QD-OLED lines, though it's unclear for now whether this will include any of the company's Chinese facilities, or what may happen to those lines once they shut down at the end of the year.Overall, Samsung is not the first nor the only LCD panel manufacturer to reduce their production. LG Display has converted as least one of its LCD factories to an OLED facility, whereas Panasonic last year decided to cease LCD manufacturing by 2021.Related Reading:
AKiTiO Launches Node Titan eGFX Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure
AKiTiO has introduced a new Thunderbolt 3 eGFX enclosure that has been designed specifically with professional users in mind. The Node Titan can house power-hungry professional-grade graphics cards due to its 650 W power supply unit.AKiTiO was among the first companies to introduce a TB3 eGFX chassis for video cards back in late 2016. A little over three years later, after learning from its customers about their needs, AKiTiO comes up with its Node Titan that upgrades the original Node in every possible way. The new enclosure is somewhat more compact, yet it can house full-length (32 cm) full-height (17 cm) 2.5-wide (6 cm) graphics cards that consume up to 500 W of power and need two 8-pin PCIe power connectors. In particular, the box can accommodate all the latest video cards from AMD and NVIDIA and is certified for high-end professional boards, including NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000.To ensure that the cards used inside AKiTiO’s Node Titan get enough cooling, the enclosure is equipped with two fans: one is used for the PSU and the other cools down the board itself. Meanwhile, the enclosure has a handle to make it easier to carry it around. As for dimensions, the enclosure measures 35.7 × 13.5 × 26.6 cm (14.06 × 5.31 × 10.47 inches), so it is actually more compact than the predecessor. Still, since the box is made of stainless steel, not aluminum, so it is not exactly lightweight.Comparison of Thunderbolt 3 eGFX ChassisAKiTiO
Maingear Releases New RUSH System With Extremely High-End Specs
The latest among a surprisingly busy week for PC hardware, Maingear has released a new and improved version of its RUSH gaming system. Catering to the high-end gaming market, Maingear is launching models with both Intel and AMD desktop/HEDT processors. Furthermore the company has partnered with ASUS to certify its RGB LED capabilities for better integration and seamless support through the system.The latest RUSH systems are built inside the highly customizable Lian Li PC-011D XL chassis. Maingear is also offering a custom painting services which users can have their RUSH system coated in a luxury automotive paint within its custom workshop. Each custom RUSH system is advertised as being hand-crafted and built by a 'single master craftsman' for a unique take which Maingear state as "One man, one machine".
Ryzen Roundup: A Quick Overview of Ryzen Mobile 4000 Laptops From Acer, ASUS, Dell, & MSI
Originally announced back at CES 2020, AMD this week has finally launched its new "Renoir" Ryzen Mobile 4000 APUs. And with it, AMD's laptop partners have begun rolling out their first wave of Ryzen 4000 laptops.While we're still working on our full review for next Monday, we wanted to take a moment to take stock of the laptop market thus far, and look at the Ryzen Mobile 4000 laptops that have been released this week or are due in the coming weeks. So far, Acer, ASUS, Dell, and MSI have introduced their notebooks, and between the four OEMs, they're aiming for a wide range of the consumer market.Acer’s Swift 3 and Aspire 5 Laptops IntroducedAcer was among the first to introduce its AMD Ryzen Mobile 4000-based laptops earlier this year, and this month, Acer finally started sales of its new notebooks, which are available in 14 and 15-inches.The Acer Swift 3 (SF314-42) is a 14-inch ultraportable laptop that weighs 1.17 kilograms and runs (up to) AMD’s eight-core AMD Ryzen 7 4700U APU that is paired with 8 GB of LPDDR4 memory as well as an SSD. The PC has everything that one comes to expect from a 2020 ultrathin notebook, including Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6, USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, and a fingerprint scanner.The laptop comes with an IPS Full-HD display panel with thin bezels, so it is pretty portable. Since the Swift 3 is designed primarily with roadwarriors in mind, it can work for 11.5 hours on one charge, according to the manufacturer. The Swift 3 SF314-42 will be available this April at a price starting at $629.99Acer’s Aspire 5 (A515-44) is aimed at those looking for something bigger and less portable. This machine is equipped with a Full-HD IPS 15.6-inch LCD and uses AMD’s six-core Ryzen 5 4500U mobile CPU that is accompanied by up to 24 GB of RAM, up to 1 TB PCIe SSD, and a 2 TB hard drive. This system will hit the market in June at an MSRP starting at $519.99.ASUS’s ROG Zephyrus G14: An Ultimate Gaming LaptopAmong gaming notebook vendors, ASUS was the first company to start using AMD’s desktop Ryzen CPUs with eight cores inside its ROG laptop. So it is not surprising that the company is also among the first with its high-end ROG Zephyrus G14 notebook powered by AMD’s Ryzen 9 4900HS and Ryzen 7 4800HS mobile APUs.The eight-core Ryzen Mobile 4000-series processor works together with up to 32 GB of DDR4-3200 RAM, an up to 1 TB M.2 NVMe SSD, and NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 2060 or GTX 1660 Ti discrete graphics processor. The powerful guts are accompanied by rather decent connectivity technologies, including Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1/2 Type-A/Type-C ports, and a DisplayPort 1.4 output.The ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is obviously meant for gamers on the go, and so ASUS has set out to strike a balance between performance and portability. As the name suggests, the laptop comes with a 14-inch display featuring a 2560x1440 or 1920x1080 resolution as well as a 60 Hz or 120 Hz refresh rate with VESA Adaptive-Sync on top. Interestingly, select SKUs even come with Pantone Validated LCDs to appeal to those who want to do color-critical workloads on their Republic of Gamers laptop. The machine weighs 1.7 kilograms and is 1.79 cm – 1.99 cm thick depending on the version.ASUS’s TUF Gaming A15: Ryzen Mobile Gaming in BudgetThe ROG Zephyrus G14 is not ASUS’s only AMD Ryzen Mobile 4000-series-based notebook aimed at gamers and performance-demanding enthusiasts. The company also has lower-tier TUF Gaming A15 machine, which also brings decent specifications and performance.The ASUS TUF Gaming A15 is based on AMD’s Ryzen 7 4800H and Ryzen 5 4600H processors that are paired with NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 2060 or GTX 1660 Ti discrete GPUs, up to 32 GB of DDR4-3200 memory, an SSD up to 1 TB in capacity, and a 1 TB 5400 RPM HDD. On the I/O side of things, the laptop has Wi-Fi 5, USB 3.2 Gen 1/2 Type-A/Type-C, a GbE port, and an HDMI output.As per its name, the TUF Gaming A15 is equipped with a 15.6-inch Full-HD IPS panel with a 60 Hz or a 144 Hz refresh rate that is supported by VESA’s Adaptive-Sync technology.One interesting thing to note about the TUF Gaming A15 laptops is that in addition to being ruggedized, these machines will be available in two different finishes: one Fortress Gray looks minimalistic, whereas another — Bonfire Black — looks futuristic.The ASUS TUF Gaming A15 is already available from retailers like Amazon starting at prices of $999.99.Dell’s G5 15 Special Edition Ryzen: An AMD-Only Gaming LaptopDell introduced its G5 15 SE gaming laptop ahead of all of its rivals back at CES 2020. What is, perhaps, more important is that this machine uses key components only from AMD, so along with a Ryzen 4000 APU it also comes with AMD’s Radeon RX 5600M discrete GPU (Navi architecture). The notebook is currently the only PC that supports AMD’s SmartShift technology that dynamically shift power and thermal headroom between the CPU and the GPU to maximize performance.The 15.6-inch G5 15 Special Edition Ryzen gaming notebook is equipped with a Full-HD panel with a 144Hz maximum refresh rate as well as variable refresh support. Meanwhile, the system comes with DDR4 DRAM, a SSD up to 1TB in size, and a 2 TB 5400 RPM HDD. As far as I/O is concerned, the mobile PC features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GbE, USB-A, USB-C, mDP, HDMI, SD card reader, a 3.5-mm audio jack, and a webcam with IR sensors.Dell’s G5 15 Special Edition Ryzen yet has to make it to the market, but back in January it was said that the notebook is due in early April. As for pricing, it is expected that the machine will cost starting at $799.MSI’s Bravo 15: A Budget Gaming LaptopMSI is a yet another company that uses AMD’s latest six-core Ryzen 5 4600H and eight-core Ryzen 7 4800H APUs paired with the company’s latest Radeon RX 5500M discrete GPU. Though it is unclear whether the latest Bravo 15 notebook actually supports SmartShift technology.MSI’s Bravo 15 laptops that are currently available for pre-order are equipped with 16 GB of DDR4 memory as well as a 512 GB NVMe SSD, which is in line with what we expect from sub-$1000 gaming notebooks. Meanwhile, the systems are equipped with a 15.6-inch Full-HD IPS LCD panel featuring a variable refresh rate of up to 120 Hz with VESA’s Adaptive-Sync on top.Some ThoughtsSo far, PC makers have introduced several higher-end midrange gaming laptops based on AMD’s Ryzen Mobile 4000 processors. And given AMD's ongoing success with the similar Zen 2-based Ryzen 3000 CPUs on the desktop, the company is certainly putting its best foot forward for the mobile space as well. So as supplies ramp up (and Coronavirus ramps down) expect more computer manufacturers introduce Ryzen 4000 notebooks in the coming months.Traditionally, AMD has done well with gamers, so it is likely that at some point we are going to see true desktop replacement notebooks featuring the company’s latest processors paired with top-of-the-range GPUs. Meanwhile, what remains to be seen is how successful will AMD be with ultraportables, which is a traditional Intel stronghold. To date, only Acer has unveiled an ultrathin Ryzen 4000 notebook, and companies like Lenovo should catch up shortly.Related Reading:
Best Motherboards: Q1 2020
Catching up on the state of motherboards for the quarter, the first part of 2020 has been very quiet. Overall, only a handful of new motherboards have been released, and none of which are particularly notable, as motherboard launches are increasingly centered around new platform launches from Intel/AMD. Which isn't to say that Q1 has been a complete snooze; we did see the Threadripper 3990X launch, but those motherboards were already in the market.The upshot, at least, is that Q2 looks to be a busy period. Barring the very real possibility of Coronavirus-related delays, this quarter should see Intel unveil its Z490 chipset for its Comet Lake desktop processors, while AMD will have its more budget-orientated B550 chipset. So Q2 is going to be a busy quarter for motherboard vendors. With that in mind, here are our recommended picks for the Q1 2020 period.
Transcend Launches microSD Cards with SLC Caching
Transcend has unveiled a new series of microSD memory cards that support pseudo-SLC caching to boost burst write speeds. The new USD230I memory cards offer data transfer speeds of up to 100 MB/s as well as random read/write performance of up to 3,400 IOPS.Transcend’s USD230I lineup includes microSD cards featuring 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB capacities. The cards carry the A1 as well as the V30 badges, so they can be used to install Google Android applications and guarantee a minimum write speed of up to 30 MB/s, which is good enough for 4K video shooting.Pseudo-SLC caching was introduced into the standard by the SD Association back in early 2017, but so far no actual memory cards have used this technology. Meanwhile, since Transcend’s USD230I use 3D TLC NAND memory, the only way to boost their writing performance is indeed through pSLC caching. Unfortunately, the manufacturer does not specify the sizes of its pSLC cache.As far as endurance is concerned, the 8 GB model is rated for 36 terabytes to be written (TBW), the 16 GB/32 GB models are speced for 70 TBW, whereas the 64 GB variant is rated for 140 TBW.Related Reading:
TUF Goes FreeSync Premium: ASUS TUF Gaming VG27VH1B 27-Inch 165Hz DCI-P3 Monitor
ASUS brought its TUF Gaming sub-brand to the market a couple of years ago to address needs of mainstream gamers. But as requirements evolve, the company has added premium features to TUF Gaming-branded products every now and then. This time around ASUS has introduced a new TUF-branded 27-inch curved monitor that boasts with AMD’s FreeSync Premium certification, a wider-than-sRGB color gamut, and a 165 Hz refresh rate.The ASUS TUF Gaming VG27VH1B monitor is based on a 27-inch curved VA panel featuring a 1920×1080 resolution, 250 nits luminance, a 3000:1 contrast ratio, 178°/178° viewing angles, a 1 ms MPRT response time, and a 165 Hz maximum refresh rate. The LCD can reproduce 120% of the sRGB as well as 90% of the DCI-P3 color gamuts, which is rather good for a monitor that is supposed to be (at least relatively) inexpensive.One of the key selling points of the TUF Gaming VG27VH1B is that the monitor features a scaler that supports VESA’s Adaptive-Sync variable refresh rate technology. The display is also certified to meet AMD’s FreeSync Premium requirements, which, as you'd expect for a high refresh rate display, means it officially supports low framerate compensation (LFC) mode. All told, the monitor supports refresh rates from 50 Hz up to 165 Hz.As for other technologies, the TUF Gaming VG27VH1B also fully supports ASUS’s ELMB (extreme low motion blur) technology, which is designed to make fast-action scenes look sharper. What is particularly important about this ELMB implementation is that it can work together with Adaptive-Sync/FreeSync, so that it isn't an either/or situation. Other notable capabilities of the new TUF monitor include in-game enhancements techniques like Shadow Boost, GamePlus modes (Crosshair, Timer, FPS Counter, Display Alignment), and GameVisual genre-tailored modes.One interesting thing to note about the TUF Gaming VG27VH1B is its set of inputs that includes one D-Sub connector for legacy PCs as well as two HDMI 2.0 ports to connect modern PCs, but there aren't any DisplayPort inputs. On the audio side of things, the monitor has 2W stereo speakers along with a line-in and a headphone out connector.As for ergonomics, the ASUS VG27VH1B comes with a stand that can adjust tilt and swivel, but not height. Also, the display has VESA 100×100 mounting holes.The ASUS TUF VG27VH1B MonitorTUF Gaming VG27VH1BPanel27" VANative Resolution1920 × 1080
Best Consumer Hard Drives: Q1 2020
Data storage requirements have kept increasing over the last several years. While SSDs have taken over the role of the primary drive in most computing systems, hard drives continue to be the storage media of choice in areas dealing with large amount of relatively cold data. Hard drives are also suitable for workloads that are largely sequential and not performance sensitive. SSDs are yet to achieve the low $/GB metric that makes HDDs attractive in that market segment. From a gaming perspective, install sizes of 100s of GBs are increasingly common for modern games. Despite the falling flash prices, high-capacity SSDs still tend to carry a price premium, making hard drives attractive in this market segment. This guide will help readers choose the appropriate hard drive based on their workload, while also keeping the price factor in mind.
Dell & HPE Issue Updates to Fix 40K Hour Runtime Flaw in Enterprise SSDs
In a second SSD snafu in as many years, Dell and HPE have revealed that the two vendors have shipped enterprise drives with a critical firmware bug, one will eventually cause data loss. The bug, seemingly related to an internal runtime counter in the SSDs, causes them to fail once they reach 40,000 hours runtime, losing all data in the process. As a result, both companies have needed to issue firmware updates for their respective drives, as customers who have been running them 24/7 (or nearly as much) are starting to trigger the bug.Ultimately, both issues, while announced/documented separately, seem to stem from the same basic flaw. HPE and Dell both used the same upstream supplier (believed to be SanDisk) for SSD controllers and firmware for certain, now-legacy, SSDs that the two computer makers sold. And with the oldest of these drives having reached 40,000 hours runtime (4 years, 206 days, and 16 hours), this has led to the discovery of the firmware bug and the need to quickly patch it. To that end, both companies have begun rolling out firmwareAs reported by Blocks & Files, the actual firmware bug seems to be a relatively simple off-by-one error that none the less has a significant repercussion to it.
Gone in 0.5 ms: BenQ Unveils Zowie XL2746S 240 Hz Monitor w/ 0.5 ms Response Time
IPS technology has recently evolved to the point where 240 Hz refresh rates have started enter the territory of displays for hardcore gamers that were previously dominated by TN panels. However, TN technology still has a trick up its sleeve, and that is a very low grey-to-grey response times. Taking advantage of this last technical superiority, BenQ this week introduced its latest gaming display for e-sports professionals, the Zowie XL2746S. As expected from a Zowie monitor, it has a host of features aimed at gamers, going beyond just capabilities of its panel.BenQ’s Zowie XL2746S LCD uses a 27-inch Full-HD TN panel featuring up to 320 nits brightness, a 1000:1 contrast ratio, a 240 Hz maximum refresh rate, and a 0.5 ms GtG response time. Otherwise the TN-type gaming-focused monitor is nothing to write home about with respect to viewing angles, and the backlighting only provides a wide enough gamut to cover the sRGB color space.The Zowie XL2746S monitor supports VESA’s Adaptive-Sync technology and carries AMD’s FreeSync badge. In addition, the display supports DyAc+ technology that makes fast-paced action scenes look less blurry (keep in mind that this cannot co-exist with FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync), Black eQualizer to enhance dark scenes, and Color Vibrance to adjust color tones to make scenes more defined.Designed specifically for hardcore gamers and e-sports athletes, BenQ’s Zowie monitors feature a special hood to reduce distractions and possible light glare, and also provide some protection against prying eyes during tournaments. They also come with a stand that can be adjusted in height, swivel, and tilt; and they are equipped with a hockey puck-shaped controller pad that can activate an appropriate profile quickly.As for connectivity, the Zowie XL2746S has a DisplayPort 1.2a, a DVI-D DL, and two HDMI (2.0 and 1.4) inputs. In addition, the LCD also has audio connectors, as well as a dual-port USB 3.0 hub.BenQ's Display w/ a 240 Hz Refresh & 0.5 ms Response TimeThe Zowie XL2746SPanel27-inch class TNNative Resolution1920 × 1080Maximum Refresh Rate240 HzDynamic RefreshTechAdaptiveSync
Cadence DDR5 Update: Launching at 4800 MT/s, Over 12 DDR5 SoCs in Development
JEDEC still has not published the DDR5 specification officially, yet it looks like DRAM makers and SoC designers are preparing for the DDR5 launch at full steam. Cadence, which was vocal about the new technology back in 2018, and has since released provisional DDR5 IP (the DDR5 controller and PHY) commercially, this week presented some additional information about the upcoming DDR5 market release as well as the technology's progress.DDR5 Platforms Getting ReadyOn the SoC side of matters, we already know that AMD’s EPYC ‘Genoa’ as well as Intel’s Xeon Scalable ‘Sapphire Rapids’ will support DDR5 DRAM when they launch in the 2021 ~ 2022 timeframe. What is noteworthy, is that Cadence’s provisional DDR5 IP has ‘over a dozen design-ins’, so there are over 12 SoCs supporting DDR5 in various stages of development right now. Some of these system-on-chips will come earlier and some will be available later, but it is evident that there is a serious interest towards the technology among developers of SoCs.Cadence is confident that its DDR5 controller and PHY are compliant to the formal JEDEC specification, so SoCs that use its IP will be compatible with upcoming DDR5 memory modules.Cadence's DDR5 testboard with a module on itHere is what Marc Greenberg, director of DRAM IP marketing at Cadence, said:
TeamGroup Announces 32GB T-Force Vulcan Z and Dark Z DDR4 Modules
One of the world's largest DRAM memory manufacturers TeamGroup has unveiled its first DDR4 memory kits featuring 32 GB sticks under its gaming-focused T-Force brand. The T-Force Vulcan Z and T-Force Dark Z will the first from the brand to be offered in 32 GB x 2 kits in dual-channel kits.Starting with its T-Force Vulcan Z range, TeamGroup intends to release two different speeds with its 32 GB single stick options. It will be made available in DDR4-2666 and DDR4-3000 32 GB x 2 kits, which can operate in both single and dual-channel. The T-Force Vulcan Z features an aluminium heat spreader which is available in red or silver, with TeamGroup claiming that it uses selected memory IC chips for stability and performance.
Greenliant Launches 1.92 TB M.2 Industrial SSDs
Greenliant revealed on Wednesday that it has started shipments of its new industrial-grade ArmourDrive M.2 SSDs. The enhanced-durability drives are rated to operate in a much wider range of temperatures than commercial drives and are available in both NVMe and SATA formats, with capacities from 240 GB up to 1.92 TB.Greenliant’s ArmourDrive 88PX-series NVMe M.2-2280/PCIe 3.0 x4 SSDs and ArmourDrive 87PX-series SATA M.2-2280 SSDs are designed to operate in temperatures between -40°C and +85°C. The drives use 3D TLC NAND memory, feature a DRAM cache, and are based on an unknown/unlisted controller that support LDPC-based ECC, end-to-end data protection, dynamic and static wear leveling, AES-256/TCG OPAL encryption, and Secure Erase capabilities.As far as performance is concerned, the Greenliant ArmourDrive 88PX NVMe SSDs are rated for up to 3400 MB/s sequential read speeds as well as up to 1100 MB/s sequential write speeds. Meanwhile, the Greenliant ArmourDrive 87PX SATA SSDs offer up to 550 MB/s sequential read speeds as well as up to 520 MB/s sequential write speeds.Greenliant's ArmourDrive 88PX and 87PX-Series SSDsCapacity240 GB480 GB960 GB1920 GBControllerNVMe 1.3 or AHCI
PowerColor Extends Product Warranty by Three Months Due to Coronavirus
PowerColor this week has announced that it is extending its warranties to existing customers by three months. The second manufacturer this month to extend its existing prodcut warranties, PowerColor is making the extension due to the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus global pandemic and all of the resulting lockdown-related restrictions on non-essential shipping.With the novel Coronavirus affecting many daily aspects of life and industry, provisions of basic necessities are being prioritized over items classified as non-essential. With more emphasis on much of the world focused on remaining at home during these times, PowerColor has announced a three-month warranty extension program for customers whose warranties were due to expire in the next few months (March to June 2020).The brief announcement from PowerColor doesn't specify which products would benefit from this three-month warranty extension, but it is likely to stretch across its entire product portfolio. The most notable products in PowerColor portfolio are its AMD Radeon graphics cards with aftermarket coolers. With delays on shipping likely due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, as well as workplace restrictions in place, this is beneficial to users currently in the process of an RMA.The official statement from PowerColor reads:"With the global crisis of COVID-19, we understand that these are critical times for everyone. This has impacted all aspects of our lives, and we understand that during these times, priorities are placed on more health-concerned matters. Many in the process of RMAs may find difficulty in shipping out cards for repair or service at this time, so we will be adding a 3-month extension to customers with warranties expiring between March through June 2020. PowerColor remains committed to deliver great products and services to our customers, and want to assure that we will continue to do so during these trying times.Wishing health and safety for all The PowerColor team."Related Reading
Xiaomi Globally Launches Mi 10, Mi 10 Pro; Snapdragon 865 & 108MP Cameras
Whilst the Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro haven’t been secret devices, having been launched in China over a month ago, today Xiaomi is catching up on what was originally planned to be a MWC2020 global product reveal and global launch event.The new Mi 10 and Mi 10 Pro represent Xiaomi’s mainline flagship devices for 2020, featuring the latest Snapdragon 865 SoC, as well as a slew of different camera hardware, including the famed HMX 108MP camera sensor that was developed in collaboration between Samsung and Xiaomi.
Micron to Launch HBM2 DRAM This Year: Finally
Bundled in their latest earnings call, Micron has revealed that later this year the company will finally introduce its first HBM DRAM for bandwidth-hungry applications. The move will enable the company to address the market for high-bandwidth devices such as flagship GPUs and network processors, which in the last five years have turned to HBM to meet their ever-growing bandwidth needs. And as the third and final of the "big three" memory manufacturers to enter the HBM market, this means that HBM2 memory will finally be available from all three companies, introducing a new wrinkle of competition into that market.Overall, while Micron has remained on the cutting-edge of memory technologies, the company has been noticeably absent from HBM thus far. Previous efforts have instead focused on GDDR5X, as well as a different take on fast-and-stacked memory with Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC). First announced back in 2011 as a joint effort with Samsung and IBM, HMC was a similar stacked DRAM type for bandwidth hungry applications, which featured a low-width bus & extremely high data rates to offer memory bandwidth that by far exceeded that of then-standard DDR3. As a competing solution to HBM, HMC did see some usage in the market, particularly in products like accelerators and supercomputers. Ultimately, however, HMC lost the battle against more widespread HBM/HBM2 and Micron folded the project in 2018 in favor of GDDR6 and HBM.In the end, is has taken Micron around two years to develop its first HBM2 memory devices, and these will finally become available in 2020. Given the broad, financial nature of the call, Micron isn't disclosing the specifications of its first HBM2 devices at this time, though it is a safe bet that the underlying DRAM cells will be produced using the company’s 2 or 3 Generation 10 nm-class process technologies (1y or 1z). Meanwhile, Micron will obviously do its best to be competitive against Samsung and SK Hynix both in terms of performance and capacity.Sanjay Mehrotra, president and chief executive officer, had the following to say:
Plugable Launches Low-Cost 2.5 GbE USB Dongle: $30 for a Limited Time
Plugable this week has become the latest peripheral manufacturer to start producing 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet dongles, with the release of their own adapter. Designed to add support for faster networking speeds to PCs with USB 3.0 Type-A and Type-C ports, Plugable is pushing the "inexpensive" aspect of the network adapter hard, launching it at just $30.Like most other 2.5GbE adapters we've seen to date, the Plugable 2.5G USB Ethernet Adapter (USBC-E2500) is based on Realtek's RTL8156 controller, which supports 2.5GBASE-T and on down, all over standard Cat5e cabling. The Realtek chip supports such features as 9k Jumbo frame support, auto MDI-X (crossover detection and correction), and IEEE 802.1Q VLAN. Since some of these capabilities require OS support, the dongle comes with drivers for Apple MacOS (10.12 and newer), Microsoft Windows 7/8/10, and Linux (kernel 3.2).Meanwhile, recognizing that the industry as a whole is in the middle of a transition from USB Type-A to USB Type-C, the USB-C native Plugable 2.5G USB Ethernet Adapter comes with a USB-C to USB-A adapter that's conveniently tethered to the dongle's cable. For USB dongles that even bother to account for both port types, we normally see loosely packed adapters, so this is an interesting choice that should make the adapter a lot harder to lose. Otherwise, the device is made of plastic and looks fairly small, so it should be lightweight and plenty easy to carry around.The Plugable 2.5G USB Ethernet Adapter is now available directly from the company as well as from leading retailers. The official MSRP of the device is $39.99, but for a limited time the product will be available for $29.99 from Amazon, either via an instant $10 coupon. The adapter is being released in the US, UK, EU, Australia, Canada, and Japan.With the COVID-19 outbreak and work from home initiatives being enforced around the globe, this might not be the best time to introduce 2.5G Ethernet dongles that are primarily meant for offices. None the less, we're happy to see the continued proliferation of faster Ethernet controllers and dongles – and hope that cheaper network switches will catch up soon.Related Reading:
EIZO Expands Availability of OLED Foris Nova Monitor
EIZO this week expanded the availability of its 21.6-inch 4K OLED Foris Nova display. The display was originally launched back in October as a limited-edition product for the Japanese market. Overall, just 500 units were to be made from that production run. However it would seem that EIZO has modified their plans since then, as according to a press release issued by EIZO China, the Foris Nova is now available globally.The EIZO Foris Nova uses a 21.6-inch printed OLED panel with a 3840×2160 resolution. The display offers a typical/peak brightness range of 132 - 330 nits, a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, and a black-white-black response time of 0.04 ms. The monitor can display 1.07 billion colors, covers 80% of the BT.2020 color space and supports the HDR10 and HLG HDR formats. As for connectivity, the Foris Nova connects to hosts using two HDMI 2.0 inputs, it also has 1 W stereo speakers, one headphone output, and one line out.EIZO is officially positioning the Foris Nova as a personal entertainment display, though its support for HLG and BT.2020 color gamut makes it handy in professional use cases as well.Meanwhile, the company's plans to expand the availability of the monitor are a bit odd. As previously noted, when EIZO first announced the monitor they stated they would only make 500 units; but they've yet to actually announce a change to this cap (the official EIZO website still says '500 units' to be made). None the less, the monitor is set to become available to a much larger audience, with the global launch making it available in China and beyond.EIZO Foris Nova SpecificationsForis NovaPanel21.6" OLEDNative Resolution3840 × 2160Maximum Refresh Rate60 HzResponse Time0.04 ms (black-white-black)Brightnessminimum: 0.0005 cd/m²
Qualcomm to Update Smartphone GPU Driver Every Quarter, Develops GPU Inspector Tool
As part of its Snapdragon Elite Gaming initiative, Qualcomm previously announced its intentions to release quarterly driver updates for its Adreno GPUs. And now at long last, the first update is set to arrive. In addition, the company has developed an Android GPU Inspector tool to help game designers to optimize their applications for better performance.While standalone driver updates are still a new concept to smartphones, they are a tried and true aspect of PCs. As a result of being able to deliver periodic driver updates separate from the OS, PC GPU vendors have been able to boost gaming performance and fix bugs in games at a fairly rapid pace, to the benefit of PC gamers everywhere. Now, as part of their Snapdragon Elite Gaming program, Qualcomm wants to bring those same benefits to smartphones, shipping their own driver regular updates to phones so that these performance and feature updates are more readily available to smartphone gamers.Overall, Qualcomm has stated that it wants to release new drivers for its Snapdragon SoCs every quarter for two to three years after launch. However, it should be noted that the company will not be going around handset vendors in delivering driver updates; the drivers will be sent to smartphone manufacturers, who in turn have to push them to the Google Play Store (or app stores in China). Which means that while Qualcomm hopes that their OEM partners will stick to the quarterly release schedule, it does not have control over what the OEMs ultimately do.The first SoCs to get quarterly GPU driver are the current-generation Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon 765/765G, as well as previous-generation Snapdragon 855. The first smartphones to be updated, in turn, will be the Samsung Galaxy S10, Samsung Galaxy Note 10, and Google’s Pixel 4 series. Meanwhile other handsets will be updated later.In addition to drivers set to be updated quarterly, Qualcomm has also teamed up with Google to create the Android GPU Inspector tool, which promises to help discover performance optimization opportunities. According to Qualcomm, the tool helped Google and an unnamed game developer find an optimization that ‘saved the game 40% in GPU utilization’ on the Pixel 4 XL, which enabled smoother gameplay and longer battery life.And this kind of close collaboration with game designers will not end with the Android GPU Inspector tool. Select game studios will get beta versions of Adreno GPU software driver in a bid to provide feedback to Qualcomm and, possibly, optimize their titles better.Related Reading:
Richard Yu Press Interview: Huawei's CEO on COVID-19 and Huawei Apps
Today Huawei launched its latest generation of photography focused smartphone: the P40 series. This series consists of the P40, the P40 Pro, and the P40 Pro+, starting at €799 for the cheapest going up to €1399 for the high-end model, which features a 40W wireless charge mode, a 6.58-inch OLED 90 Hz display, 10x optical zoom, up to 100x zoom, Wi-Fi 6, and a range of new photography features to get the best shot.After the launch, Huawei’s Consumer Business Group (CBG) CEO Richard Yu invited the press to a group question and answer session. There were two main topics that dominated the session - how the prevalence of COVID-19 is affecting Huawei’s strategy, but also how the continuation of the US ban on Huawei interacting with US companies is affecting users and in particular the available apps on Huawei’s own App Gallery that can’t use Google’s services.
Huawei Announces P40, P40 Pro and P40 Pro+: A New Generation of Cameras
Today, Huawei is doubling down on its efforts to regain western market share, revealing brand-new hardware as well as expanding the company’s AppGallery app store, introducing the new P40, P40 Pro as well as the P40 Pro+.The trio of phones are successors to the company’s photography-focused P series, yet again pushing the envelope in terms of innovative camera hardware, adding to the mix some new exclusive sensors, including a new large 1/1.28” 52MP RYYB unit, as well as coming with an array of various other modules – including an expansive telephoto module selection, and the first ever 10x optical zoom module in the industry.
Folding@Home Reaches Exascale: 1,500,000,000,000,000,000 Operations Per Second for COVID-19
Folding@home has announced that cumulative compute performance of systems participating in the project has exceeded 1.5 ExaFLOPS, or 1,500,000,000,000,000,000 floating point operations per second. The level of performance currently available from Folding@home participants is by an order of magnitude higher than that of the world’s most powerful supercomputer.Right now, cumulative performance of active CPUs and GPUs (which have returned Work Units within the last 50 days) participating in the Folding@home project exceeds 1,5 ExaFLOPS, which is 10 times faster than performance of IBM’s Summit supercomputer benchmarked for 148.6 PetaFLOPS. To get there, Folding@Home had to employ 4.63 million CPU cores as well as nearly 430 thousand GPUs. Considering the nature of distributed computing, not all CPU cores and GPUs are online at all times, so performance available for Folding@home projects varies depending on availability of hardware.Folding@home Active CPUs & GPUs
GSMA Details Refund Packages for MWC20 Attendees & Exhibitors
Following the cancellation earlier this year of the 2020 Mobile World Congress trade show, GSMA, the organizer behind the even, has finally disclosed details regarding the compensation packages that it will provide to attendees and exhibitors who had already paid to attend the show. The organization will refund price of tickets to individual visitors, while exhibitors will have two options, depending on how much they've spent.
OWC Refreshes Mercury Elite Pro DAS: Up to 16 TB over USB 3.2
OWC has announced a new version of its Mercury Elite Pro DAS, the company's entry-level external storage box. The refreshed DAS can house one 3.5-inch hard drive, allowing it to provide capacities of up to 16 TB using today's HDDs.The OWC Mercury Elite Pro DAS is available in 1 TB, 2 TB, 4 TB, 6 TB, 8 TB, 12 TB, 14 TB, and 16 TB versions. The devices can be stacked, so those who need greater capacities can easily get it. All the SKUs are powered by 7200 RPM hard drives, so they offer a rather decent level of performance, up to 283 MB/s, which is good enough for music, videos, photos, and business files. Externally, the DAS has a USB 3.2 Gen 1 interface with up to 5 Gbps throughput.The Mercury Elite Pro DAS comes in a brushed aluminum chassis with venting, so it does not rely on active cooling, making the hard drive inside the only major noise source.OWC’s new entry-level DAS is compatible with Apple macOS X, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Sony PlayStation 4, Xbox consoles, and Smart TVs. In addition, they are support Apple Time Machine and Windows File History backups.OWC has already started sales of the Mercury Elite Pro. Just the enclosure itself is priced at $49, a 2 TB SKU costs $129, whereas the top-of-the-range 16 GB module carries a $579 price tag.Related Reading:
The GIGABYTE MZ31-AR0 Motherboard Review: EPYC with Dual 10G
The workstation and server markets are big business for not only chip manufacturers such as Intel and AMD, but for motherboard vendors too. Since AMD's introduction of its Zen-based EPYC processors, its prosumer market share has been slowly, but surely, creeping back. One example of a single socket solution available on the market is the GIGABYTE MZ31-AR0. With support for AMD's EPYC family of processors, the MZ31-AR0 has some interesting components including its 2 x SFP+ 10 G Ethernet ports powered by a Broadcom BCM57810S controller, and four SlimSAS slots offering up to sixteen SATA ports.
Intel’s new ‘Single Customer’ Ice Lake Mobile CPUs: Are These in the Macbook Air?
It was recently brought to our attention that three new Ice Lake CPUs were listed on Intel’s online ARK database of products: the Core i7-1060NG7, the Core i5-1030NG7, and the Core i3-1000NG4. These differ from the ‘consumer’ released products by having an ‘N’ in them, and specification-wise these CPUs have a slightly higher TDP along with a slightly higher base clock, as well as being in a smaller package. We reached out to Intel, but in the meantime we also noticed that the CPUs line up perfectly with what Apple is providing in its latest Macbook Air.Intel’s Ice Lake family is the first generation of 10nm processors that the company has made widely available. We’ve covered Intel’s ups and downs with the 10nm process, and last year it launched Ice Lake as part of its 10 Generation Core family, focusing more on premium products that need graphics horsepower or AI acceleration. In the initial announcement, Intel stated that there would be nine different Ice Lake processors coming to market, however we learned that the lower-power parts would take longer to arrive.These three new CPUs actually fall under that ‘lower power’ bracket, meaning they were meant to be coming out about this time, but are labelled differently to the processors initially announced. This is because these new CPUs are officially listed as ‘off-roadmap’, which is code for ‘not available to everyone’. Some OEMs, particularly the big ones like Apple, or sometimes HP and others, will make a request to Intel to develop a special version of their products just for them. This product is usually the same silicon as before, but binned differently, often to tighter constraints: it might differ in frequency, TDP, core count, or the way it is packaged. This more often happens in the server space, but can happen for notebooks as well, assuming you can order a larger amount.Intel Ice Lake-Y VariantsAnandTech1060N
Samsung to Produce DDR5 in 2021 (with EUV)
Samsung is on track to start volume production of DDR5 and LPDDR5 memory next year using a manufacturing technology that will take advantage of extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL). In fact, Samsung has been playing with EUV-enabled DRAM fabrication process for a while and has already validated DDR4 memory with select partners.To date, Samsung has produced and shipped a million of DDR4 DRAM modules based on chips made using the company’s D1x process technology that uses EUV lithography. These modules have completed customer evaluations, which proves that Samsung’s 1 Generation EUV DRAM technology enables to build fine circuits. Samsung’s D1x is an experimental EUVL fabrication process that was used to make experimental DDR4 DRAMs, though it will not be used any further, the company said.Instead, to produce DDR5 and LPDDR5 next year, the company will use its D1a, a highly-advanced 14 nm-class process with EUV layers. This technology is expected to double per-wafer productivity (DRAM bit output) when compared to D1x technology, which indicates that it uses thinner geomtries. Samsung did not reveal whether its D1a also uses other innovations (in addition to EUVL), such as pillar cell capacitors and dual work function layers for buried wordline gates, as anticipated by analysts from TechInsights who believe that scaling DRAM cell transistors and capacitor structures offer limited capability to scale further from current levels.Timeline of Samsung DRAM MilestonesDateMilestone20214th-gen 10nm-class (1a) EUV-based
Samsung Reveals All-in-One Power Management ICs for Wireless Earbuds
Samsung has formally announced two new all-in-one power management integrated circuits (PMIC) developed specifically for "True Wireless Stereo" (TWS) devices (a.k.a. earbuds). The highly integrated PMICs are being touted as allowing earbuds to be built with longer battery lives and better ergonomics. And because this is Samsung, the the first earbuds to use the new PMICs are fittingly Samsung’s own Galaxy Buds+.Samsung’s family of PMICs for TWS devices includes the MUA01 designed for charging cases, as well as the MUB01 for the earbuds themselves. Previously, power management solutions for earbuds have used 5 to 10 discrete components (see the image below), including switching chargers and discharge circuits, which take precious space. Samsung says that it has managed to integrate all of these components into one chip, occupying half the space as before, which enables it to save space inside earbuds and charging cases. Ultimately, the goal is to free up space in earbuds to integrate higher-capacity batteries, better speakers, and refine ergonomics.The MUA01 supports both wired as well as wireless charging (and happens to be the industry’s first solution of this kind to support both) and is compatible with the latest Wireless Power Consortium’s Qi 1.2.4 specification. Like other devices of this kind, the MUA01 integrates a microcontroller unit (MCU) with eFlash to enable firmware upgrades. Furthermore, both MUA01 and MUB01 support power line communication (PLC) technology that enables earpices and charging cases to share essential information, such as battery levels.Samsung has already started to mass produce its MUA01 and MUB01 PMICs and uses them inside its recently announced Galaxy Buds+ that are rated for up to 11 hours of operation on one charge.Related Reading:
GOODRAM Announces Entry-Level PX500 SSDs: Bringing NVMe to Budget Drives
As more SSD manufacturers introduce their inexpensive NVMe PCIe drives, the market of entry-level SSDs is slowly but surely moving away from SATA altogether. Case in point this week is GOODRAM, yet another SSD manufacturer who is launching a family of entry-level NVMe SSDs that are priced to compete with their SATA counterparts.GOODRAM’s PX500-series SSDs are based on Silicon Motion’s SM2263XT controller and come with 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB of usable 3D TLC NAND memory. The entry-level drives fully support modern SSD features like the NVMe 1.3a protocol, end-to-end data protection, L1.2 low power mode, and AES-256 encryption. What's also notable is that the manufacturer is specifically designing the M.2 2280 form-factor drives with laptop compatibility in mind; so rather than using a large metal heatsink, the drives are covered by a thin heat spreader made of plastic-like material so that they fit into the tight spaces afforded by laptops.When it comes to performance, GOODRAM rates the new PX500-series SSDs for up to 2050 MB/s sequential read speeds, up to 1650 MB/s sequential write speeds, and up to 240,000/280,000 random read/write IOPS, which is in line with the capabilities of the controller and performance levels offered by competing drives.General Specifications of GOODRAM's PX500 SSDsCapacity256 GB512 GB1 TBModel NumberSSDPR-PX500-256-80SSDPR-PX500-512-80SSDPR-PX500-01T-80ControllerSilicon Motion SM2263XTNAND Flash3D TLC NANDForm-Factor, InterfaceM.2-2280, PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.3aSequential Read1850 MB/s2000 MB/s2050 MB/sSequential Write950 MB/s1600 MB/s1650 MB/sRandom Read IOPS~102K IOPS~173K IOPS~240K IOPSRandom Write IOPS~230K IOPS~140K IOPS~280K IOPSPseudo-SLC CachingSupportedDRAM BufferNoTCG Opal EncryptionNoPower ManagementL1.2 power mode support for ultra-low power consumption
IBM & Partners to Fight COVID-19 with Supercomputers, Forms COVID-19 HPC Consortium
The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted multiple business events as well as high-tech product launches in the recent months and has all the chances to disrupt the world’s economy quite drastically. So in a bid to better better understand the disease and develop treatments as well as potential cures, IBM this week established the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, which will be enlisting the United States' various public and private supercomputers and compute clusters to run research projects related to the disease.Together with IBM, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Department of Energy and others, the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium pools together 16 supercomputers with that together offer a total of over 330 PetaFLOPS of compute power, a combination of 775,000 CPU cores as well as 34,000 GPUs. The systems will be used to run research simulations in epidemiology, bioinformatics, and molecular modeling. All of these virtual experiments are meant to greatly speed up research of the COVID-19 disease as well as possible treatments. Eventually, the knowledge obtained during this work could allow to develop vaccines and other treatments against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus itself. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 HPC Consortium will first prioritize projects that can have ‘the most immediate impact’. Researchers are advised to submit their proposals to the consortium via a special online portal.So far, IBM’s Summit supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory has enabled researchers from ORNL and the University of Tennessee to screen 8,000 compounds to discover those that are most likely to bind to the main “spike” protein of the coronavirus, and thus prevent it from infecting host cells. To date, scientists recommended 77 promising small-molecule mixtures that could now be evaluated experimentally.The pool of supercomputers participating in IBM’s COVID-19 HPC Consortium currently includes machines operated by IBM, Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL), Argonne National Lab (ANL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Sandia National Laboratory (SNL), Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and other technology companies (including Amazon, Google, Cloud, and Microsoft).Related Reading:
Computex 2020 Moved to September In Response to Coronavirus Pandemic
Over the past month and a half, we’ve written about several technology industry trade shows that had been radically transformed, virtualized, or outright canceled due to the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic. And now the epidemic has put the brakes on one of the largest tradeshows yet, with Computex organizer TAITRA officially postponing the show to late September.As one of the biggest IT trade shows in the world, and easily the largest show for PC products period, Computex is a major event for the industry as a whole. The Taiwanese show brings together local vendors from Taiwan, foreign vendors from China, the United States, and beyond, as well as press and buyers from all over. The 2020 show in particular was expected to be a big draw on the PC side of matters, as both AMD and Intel were relatively quiet at CES 2020, instead gearing up to deliver their next generation of products later this year.Unfortunately, despite their best efforts to keep the show on schedule, TAITRA has finally had to bow to the worsening coronavirus situation, and abort their plans to host the show in early June as previously scheduled. Interestingly, the group is not canceling the show outright, and instead has rescheduled it to September 28 through the 30. To date, very few events have successfully been rescheduled to later dates, but then TAITRA is the first to try to move an event to the fall, and citing analyst reports, believes that the coronavirus situation will be under control before the rescheduled show is set to take place.Overall, this marks the second time that Computex has been disrupted due to a coronavirus outbreak. The show was famously delayed in 2003, when the original SARS virus resulted in the show being rescheduled to a similar late-September showing. And although it was significantly reduced in size, the rescheduled show was none the less a small success. So here’s to hoping we’ll be reporting the same thing later this year in September of 2020.
BenQ Unveils SW321C: A 32-Inch Pro Monitor with Wide Color Gamuts & USB-C
BenQ has introduced a new 32-inch professional-grade display designed for photographers and post-production specialists. Dubbed the SW321C, the monitor is for professionals who need wide color spaces like the Adobe RGB and the DCI-P3, as well as HDR transport support. And, like many other contemporary displays, BenQ’s new LCD is equipped with a USB Type-C input.Under the hood, the BenQ AQColor SW321C uses a 10-bit 32-inch IPS panel featuring a 3840×2160 resolution, a 250 nits typical brightness, a 1000:1 contrast ratio, a 5 ms GtG response time, a 60 Hz refresh rate, and 178° viewing angles. The monitor uses a LED backlighting that is tailored to ensure brightness uniformity across the whole surface of the screen.The LCD can display 1.07 billion colors and can reproduce 99% of the Adobe RGB, 95% of the DCI-P3, as well as 100% of the sRGB color gamuts, all of which are widely used by professional photographers as well as video editors and animation designers who do post-production work. Meanwhile, the monitor has a 16-bit 3D LUT (look-up table) and is calibrated to DeltaE ≤ 2 to ensure fine quality of colors and color gradients. The LCD can even display content in different color spaces at the same time side-by-side in PIP/PBP modes.As for HDR support, things aren't quite as stellar there. The monitor supports HDR10 as well as the relatively uncommon HLG transport format. However the monitor doesn't have the kind of strong backlighting required for HDR, let alone a FALD setup necessary to deliver anything approaching pro-grade HDR. So the inclusion of HDR support seems to be largely for compatibility and checking HDR content, rather than doing actual content editing in HDR.As far as connectivity is concerned, the display is comes with one DisplayPort 1.4 input, two HDMI 2.0 ports, and a USB Type-C input. The latter can deliver up to 60 W of power to the host, which is enough most laptops. All the connectors support HDCP 2.2 technology that is required for protected content. In addition, the BenQ SW321C monitor has a dual-port USB hub and an SD card reader that is certainly useful for photographers.Since we are dealing with a professional display, it is naturally equipped with a stand that can adjust height, tilt and swivel as well as work in album mode. In addition, the SW321C comes with BenQ’s hockey puck controller to quickly adjust settings.Specifications of the BenQ AQColor SW321CSW321CPanel32" IPSNative Resolution3840 × 2160Maximum Refresh Rate60 HzResponse Time5 ms GtGBrightness250 cd/m² (typical)Contrast1000:1Viewing Angles178°/178° horizontal/verticalHDRHDR10, HLGBacklightingLEDPixel Pitch0.1845 mm²Pixel Density137 ppiDisplay Colors1.07 billionColor Gamut SupportsRGB: 100%
SMIC Details Its N+1 Process Technology: 7nm Performance in China
SMIC first started volume production of chips using its 14 nm FinFET fabrication process in Q4 2019. Since then, the company has been hard at work developing its next generation major node, which it's calling N+1. The technology has certain features that are comparable to competing 7 nm process technologies, but SMIC wants to make it clear that N+1 is not a 7 nm technology.When compared to SMIC’s 14 nm process technology, N+1 lowers power consumption by 57%, increases performance by 20%, and reduces logic area by up to 63%. While the process enables chip designers to make their SoCs smaller and more power efficient, its modest performance gains do not allow N+1 to compete against competitors' 7 nm technology and derivatives. To that end, SMIC positions its N+1 as a technology for inexpensive chips.A SMIC’s spokesperson said the following:
Apple Now Offering Standalone Afterburner Cards for Mac Pro Upgrades
Aimed at very specific audiences, Apple’s Mac Pro clearly does not come at a price point that seems reasonable for an average person. Nonetheless, the features it has are not present on an average workstation either. When launched back in December, one such exclusive was Apple’s Afterburner accelerator for video decoding, which was only available with a purchase of a new Mac Pro. Recently, however, the company has made the card available for purchase separately.The Apple Afterburner Card is a FPGA-based PCIe 3.0 x16 board that accelerates the decoding of video streams encoded using the ProRes and ProRes RAW video codecs. ProRes is commonly used throughout the Mac video editing ecosystem, including in Final Cut Pro X, QuickTime Player X, and numerous third-party programs. Once installed into Mac Pro’s PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, an Afterburner card can support playback of up to 6 streams of 8K ProRes RAW, or up to 23 streams of 4K ProRes RAW, which, suffice it to say, is incredibly useful in the video post-production industry.Unfortunately, while Apple is making the card freely available for purchase, its system requirements haven't changed. Specifically, it's only officially supported in the 2019 Mac Pro. So officially, at least, 2011 Mac Pro and Hackintosh owners are out of luck. None the less, it'll be interesting to see if hackers can get it to work in other systems, since the true linchpin for support is macOS itself.The Apple Afterburner Card is available directly from Apple for $2,000.Related Reading:
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