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Updated 2021-08-02 20:45
Google Teases Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro with new "Tensor" SoC
Today Google has teased its new upcoming Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones; in what is likely an attempt to get leaks and the upcoming narrative of the product under control, as opposed to the previous years of quite severe product spoilers several months ahead of the actual official product launches, the company is themselves revealing large important bits about the upcoming new flagship phones.Google reveals that this year’s Pixel phones will be called the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro, two seemingly similarly sized devices in a high-end configuration with some compromises, and one in an all-bells-and-whistles uncompromising device. In a more exclusive prebriefing with The Verge, it’s stated that the new devices will be truly flagship specced phones competing at the highest end of the market, marking an important step away from the mid-range of the last several years. This is a large shift for Google and has been one of our main criticisms over the last few years – a seeming lack of clear direction where Google wants to be with their Pixel phones, at least until now.The first big news and confirmation from Google is the fact that the new Pixel 6 phones will be powered by a custom SoC that Google has dubbed the “Google Tensor”. For a few years now it had been rumoured that Google would be the first customer of Samsung LSI’s new semi-custom SoC business – essentially a design and manufacture for hire service that would allow OEMs to work very closely with SLSI in designing differentiated products. Essentially this would be the exact same business model AMD uses in partnership with the console vendors.What’s interesting here is exactly what’s part Google, and what’s part Samsung LSI and stemming off from the Exynos SoC line-up. The one thing that had been assumed and has been confirmed today is that Google is employing their own AI/ML/NPU IP in the new chip, basically leveraging the company’s experience off their datacentre TPU hardware designs and IP, and integrating it into an SoC. In a sense, this also might be a successor to the Pixel Visual Core, with the large power efficiency and cost savings advantage that Google is now able to integrate it into the primary SoC.In terms of other specifications of the SoC, there were no further details revealed at this time, but generally given the expected fall release date of the devices, it’s generally to be assumed that the chip would feature the same generation IP blocks in terms of CPU and GPU as other 2021 SoCs such as the Exynos 2100. This wouldn’t be a complete move away from past Pixel device’s release schedule not matching the industry’s IP release cadence – I would still expect the Q1 2022 SoCs to vastly out-spec it, but it’s at least a large improvement thanks to the new hardware differentiation.The one large question that remains to see is how things play is in terms of the cellular capabilities – notably the device dropping Qualcomm as the preferred chipset vendor would also mean that this would be the only second other design besides Qualcomm featuring mmWave connectivity, which will be interesting to see. Samsung had noted back in 2019 that they had mmWave modules, and although we didn’t see them in 2020, maybe the new Pixel phones will be the first to feature them.
The GIGABYTE MZ72-HB0 (Rev 3.0) Motherboard Review: Dual Socket 3rd Gen EPYC
Back in March, we reviewed AMD's latest Zen 3 based EPYC 7003 processors, including the 64-core EPYC 7763 and 7713. We've updated the data back in June with a retail motherboard, and it scores much higher, showing how EPYC Milan can be refined more than it was at launch. Putting two 64-core processors into a system requires a more than capable motherboard, and today on the test bench is the GIGABYTE MZ720-HB0 (Revision 3.0), which has plenty of features to boast about. Some of the most important ones include five full-length PCIe 4.0 slots, dual 10 GbE, lots of PCIe 4.0 NVMe and SATA storage options, as well as dual SP3 sockets, and sixteen memory slots with support for up to 4 TB of capacity.
ASUS Unveils ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme Motherboard: Flagship X570
With prices on AMD's Ryzen 5950X 16-core Zen 3 based processor slowly coming back into the realms of MSRP, ASUS is taking advantage of recent events by announcing its latest flagship X570 motherboard, the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme. Overtaking the current ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero as the premier motherboard in the ROG series, the Extreme includes a 20-phase power delivery, dual Thunderbolt 4-capable USB Type-C ports, 10 Gb Ethernet, and support for up to five PCIe 4.0 M.2 drives.In what looks like one of ASUS's last motherboard unveilings for AMD's X570 platform, the ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme is ultimately its most feature-packed Ryzen desktop motherboard so far. While ASUS at the time of writing hasn't unveiled a full list of the specifications, we know many of the board's core features, giving the EATX-sized board an impressive résumé. At the heart of the ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme are dual full-length PCIe 4.0 slots that operate in either x16/x0 or x8/x8 when paired with a Ryzen 5000 or 3000 desktop processor. ASUS also includes a small PCIe 3.0 x1 slot for one more peripheral.The ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme design for X570 follows a black glossy aesthetic, with multiple areas of integrated RGB LED lighting, including along the rear panel cover, chipset heatsink, and even part of the underside of the board. Along with other X570/X570S motherboards recently announced, the Crosshair VIII Extreme will feature a passively cooled chipset.For storage, ASUS includes three onboard PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, with room to add a further two PCIe 4.0 x4 slots via an included DIMM.2 slot located to the right of four memory slots. There are six SATA ports for conventional SATA devices with support for RAID 0, 1, and 10 arrays. ASUS hasn't listed the memory QVL list at the time of writing, but we know this board will support up to 128 GB of DDR4 across four memory slots.Other features include an Intel Thunderbolt 4 controller that's driving a pair of USB Type-C ports, a Marvel AQC1113CS 10 Gb Ethernet controller, and a second Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller. On top of this, there's Intel's latest AX210 Wi-Fi 6E wireless interface, which also supports the latest BT 5.2 devices. Onboard audio is also quite premium, spearheaded by a ROG SupremeFX ALC4082 HD audio codec and is assisted by an ESS Sabre 9018Q2C DAC.With 'Extreme' being this model's moniker and focus, the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII uses a 20-phase power delivery (18+2) with premium 90 A power stages and is likely to be arranged in teamed mode, which is a common theme in its power design across the series. This also includes an LN2 mode dip switch designed for enthusiasts looking to use aggressive sub-zero cooling methods such as liquid nitrogen (LN2) or dry ice (DICE) for the maximum benchmark performance.At the time of writing, ASUS hasn't announced when the ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme will be available to purchase or how much it will cost.Gallery: ASUS Unveils ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme Motherboard, Flagship X570Source: ASUSRelated Reading
Intel Executive Posts Thunderbolt 5 Photo then Deletes It: 80 Gbps and PAM-3
An executive visiting various research divisions across the globe isn’t necessarily new, but with a focus on social media driving named individuals at each company to keep their followers sitting on the edge of their seats means that we get a lot more insights into how these companies operate. The downside of posting to social media is when certain images exposing unreleased information are not vetted by PR or legal, and we get a glimpse into the next generation of technology. That is what happened today.
ASRock Unveils C621A WS Motherboard, Designed for Xeon W-3300 Workstations
On the back of Intel's recent Ice Lake Xeon W-3300 announcement, ASRock has announced one of the first motherboards to support the new processors, the ASRock C621A WS. Some of its core features include four full-length PCIe 4.0 slots, three full-length PCIe 3.0 slots, two M.2 slots, eight memory slots with support for up to 2TB of DDR4 memory, and dual 10 Gb plus dual Gigabit Ethernet on the rear panel.The latest iteration of Intel's 3rd generation Xeon Scalable platform comes via the Xeon W-3300 family, which is essentially Ice Lake for workstations. The top SKU, Xeon W-3375, contains 38 cores (76 threads), with a base frequency of 2.5 GHz, 57 MB of L3 cache, and a maximum TDP of 270 W. All of Intel's Xeon W-3300 family includes 64 PCIe 4.0 lanes, up to eight-channel DDR4, and support for up to 256 GM LRDIMMs with a maximum capacity of up to 4 TB per socket.The ASRock C621A WS motherboard uses a transposed single LGA4189 socket and is flanked by eight horizontally mounted memory slots. There's support for up to DDR4 DIMMs at speeds up to 3200 MT/s, with a maximum capacity of up to 2 TB, with UDIMMs, RDIMMs, and LRDIMMs all supported. Dominating the lower section of the board are four full-length PCIe 4.0 x16 slots and three full-length PCIe 3.0 x8 slots, with one PCIe 3.0 x4/SATA M.2 slot and one PCIe 3.0 x1/SATA M.2 slot. For conventional SATA devices, ASRock includes two SATA ports with one mini-SAS HD connector.As for network connectivity, ASRock includes a pair of 10 GbE that are powered by an Intel X710-ATX Ethernet controller, as well as another pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports driven by a pair of Intel I210 controllers. Other connectivity includes a D-sub video output which allows users to access the board's BMC functionality, which is provided via an ASPEED AST2500 controller, with a dedicated Ethernet port allowing for remote access to the BMC. In terms of USB, there are four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports on the rear panel, with further expansion available through internal headers. This includes room to installed up to four USB 3.2 G2 Type-C ports through front panel headers, one USB 3.2 G1 Type-A header for two ports, and one USB 2.0 header, which also can support another two ports.Although the new Intel Xeon W-3300 family of processors includes native support for Thunderbolt 4 and Intel's Wi-Fi 6E CNVi, ASRock has opted not to use either of these features. Whether this is intentional from ASRock remains to be seen, as it may release more variants later. At the time of writing, ASRock hasn't given pricing information, but we expect the C621A WS to be available in retail channels soon.Gallery: ASRock Unveils C621A WS Motherboard, Designed for WorkstationRelated Reading
The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra Review - Something Surprisingly Different
ZTE is one of the rare vendors active in the US market, which makes the new Axon 30 Ultra a quite interesting device that’s surprisingly viable in the current flagship landscape. At $749 it makes the right compromises.
AMD Announces Radeon RX 6600 XT: Mainstream RDNA2 Lands August 11th For $379
Starting next month, AMD’s Radeon RX 6000 desktop product stack is about to get a little deeper – and a little cheaper – with the addition of the forthcoming Radeon RX 6600 XT. Announced this evening, the Radeon RX 6600 XT is the next step down in the RDNA2-based Radeon lineup, adding a card aimed at mainstream, 1080p gamers. The card will offer 32 CUs’ worth of GPU hardware along with 8GB of GDDR6 memory, and will go on sale on August 11 with prices starting at $379.The addition of the RX 6600 XT to their desktop lineup has been a long-time coming, as even though the company is already 4 cards deep into their product stack – most recently adding the 1440p-focused RX 6700 XT nearly 5 months ago – AMD hasn’t been offering a mainstream-focused RDNA2 desktop video card until now. In fact, AMD’s been pretty absent from the mainstream 1080p gaming market as a whole over the last several months, as the capacity-constrained company has been focusing its GPU manufacturing resources on laptop parts and the high-end RDNA2 chips. But finally, and at last, it’s time for the 1080p market to get a much-needed boost from AMD’s RDNA2 architecture.Underpinning AMD’s new 1080p video card is a GPU we’ve already seen once before: Navi 23. This GPU was first employed back in May as the Radeon RX 6600M, the cornerstone of AMD’s Radeon RX 6000 mobile lineup. Now that the laptop market has had a chance to stock up on Navi 23 hardware, the GPU is making its desktop debut in the aptly named RX 6600 XT. And, unlike the RX 6600M, the RX 6600 XT will feature a fully-enabled version of the chip, giving Navi 23 its first chance to completely show off what it’s capable of.
Intel Launches Xeon W-3300: Ice Lake for Workstations, up to 38 Cores
With the launch earlier this year of Intel’s Ice Lake Xeon Scalable platform, the first Intel enterprise platform based on 10nm, we were always wondering to what extent this silicon would penetrate other markets. Today Intel is answering that question by launching the Xeon W-3300 family, using the same Ice Lake Xeon silicon but in a more focused single socket platform. Xeon W-3300 will offer processors from 12 core up to 38 cores, peaking at 270 W TDP, but offering support for up to 4 TB of memory.
Intel Beast Canyon NUC Review: Desktop Tiger Lake Debuts in SFF Gaming Powerhouse
Intel kick-started a form-factor revolution in the early 2010s with the introduction of the ultra-compact NUCs. The systems were meant to be an alternative to the tower desktops used in many applications where the size, shape, and the system capabilities were mostly unwarranted. The success of the NUCs enabled Intel to start reimagining the build of systems used in a wider range of settings.More recently, the introduction of the Skull Canyon NUC in 2016 was Intel's first effort to make a gaming-focused SFF PC. And desktop-focused Compute Elements (essentially, a motherboard in a PCIe card form-factor) launched in early 2020 meant that full-blown gaming desktops could credibly come under the NUC banner. Also last year, the Ghost Canyon NUC9 – the first NUC Extreme – made a splash in the market with support for a user-replaceable discrete GPU. Ghost Canyon was extremely impressive, but the restrictions on the dGPU size and high-end pricing were dampeners.Thankfully, the introduction of Tiger Lake has enabled Intel to make multiple updates in its Compute Element lineup. Incorporating some tweaks and changes learned from their Ghost Canyon experience, Intel has now put forward its flagship NUC for 2021: Beast Canyon. With a desktop-class CPU and ability to accommodate most discrete GPUs in the market, the Beast Canyon NUC promises a lot. Does it manage to exorcise the ghosts of its predecessor? Read on to find the answer.
JEDEC Publishes LPDDR5X Standard at up to 8533 Mbps
JEDEC and the JC-42.6 Subcommittee for Low Power Memories has announced the publication of the new JESD209-5B standard which now includes improvements to LPDDR5, as well as an extension for the standard in the form of new LPDDR5X.
The SilverStone SX1000 SFX-L 1 kW PSU Review: Big Power for Small Form Factors
Today we are taking a look at the most powerful SFX-L PSU on the planet, the SilverStone SX1000. As its name suggests, the SX1000 can provide up to 1 kW of power, an unprecedented figure for an SFX form factor power supply. But does such a powerful PSU have a place in the market for compact computers?
AMD Reports Q2 2021 Earnings: Company-wide Growth Drives Doubled Revenue
Continuing our Q2 earnings coverage this month, AMD is next out the gate in reporting their earnings. And, has been the story now for most of the last year, AMD is enjoying explosive revenue growth across the company. CPU, GPU, and semi-custom sales are all up, pushing the limits of what AMD can do amidst the current chip crunch, and pushing the company to new levels of profitability in the process.For the second quarter of 2021, AMD reported $3.85B in revenue, making for yet another massive jump over a year-ago quarter for AMD, when the company made just $1.93B in a then-record quarter. Now, half-way through 2021, AMD’s financial trajectory is all about setting (and beating) records for the company, as evidenced by the 99% leap in year-over-year revenue – falling just millions short of outright doubling their revenue.AMD’s big run-up in revenue is also reflected in the company’s other metrics; along with that revenue AMD’s net income has grown by 352% year-over-year, now reaching $710M. And if not for an unusual, one-off tax benefit for AMD’s Q4’2020, this would have been AMD’s most profitable quarter ever – and indeed is on a non-GAAP basis. Meanwhile, as you might expect from such high net income figures, AMD’s gross margin has risen even further and now sits at 48%, up 4 percentage points from the year-ago quarter and 2 points from last quarter.AMD Q2 2021 Financial Results (GAAP)Q2'2021Q2'2020Q1'2021Y/YQ/QRevenue$3.85B$1.93B$3.45B+99%+12%Gross Margin48%44%46%+4pp+2ppOperating Income$831M$173M$662M+380%+26%Net Income$710M$157M$555M+352%+28%Earnings Per Share$0.58$0.13$0.45+346%+29%Breaking down AMD’s results by segment, we start with Computing and Graphics, which encompasses their desktop and notebook CPU sales, as well as their GPU sales. That division booked $2.25B in revenue for the quarter, $883M (65%) more than Q2 2020. Accordingly, the segment’s operating income is (once more) up significantly as well, going from $200M a year ago to $526M this year.As always, AMD doesn’t provide a detailed breakout of information from this segment, but they have provided some selective information on revenue and average selling prices (ASPs). Overall, client CPU sales have remained strong; client CPU ASPs are up on both a quarterly and yearly basis, indicating that AMD has been selling a larger share of high-end (high-margin) parts. According to AMD this is the case for both desktop and laptop sales, and making this the fifth straight quarter of revenue share gains.Meanwhile the company is reporting similarly good news from their GPU business. As with CPUs, ASPs for AMD’s GPU business as up on both a yearly and quarterly basis. According to the company this is being driven by demand for high-end Radeon 6000 video cards, as well as AMD Instinct (data center) sales. AMD began initial shipments of their first CDNA 2 architecture-based Instinct accelerators in Q2, opening the spigot there for data center GPU revenue going into Q3.AMD Q2 2021 Reporting SegmentsQ2'2021Q2'2020Q1'2021Computing and GraphicsRevenue$2250M$1367M$2100MOperating Income$526M$200M$485MEnterprise, Embedded and Semi-CustomRevenue$1600M$565M$1345MOperating Income$398M$33M$277MMoving on, AMD’s Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom segment has once again experienced a quarter of rapid growth, thanks to the success of AMD’s EPYC processors and demand for the 9th generation consoles. This segment of the company booked $1.6B in revenue, $1035M (183%) more than what they pulled in for Q2’20, and 19% ahead of an already impressive Q1’21. The big jump in revenue also means that the segment is even further into the black on an operating income basis, continuing to close the gap with the Computing and Graphics segment even with the all-around growth.Overall, both the enterprise and semi-custom sides of this segment are up on a yearly basis. AMD set another record for server processor revenue this quarter on the strength of EPYC processor sales. Meanwhile semi-custom revenue was up on both a yearly and a quarterly basis, reflecting the continued demand for the latest generation of consoles.Looking forward, AMD’s expectations for the quarter and for the rest of the year have been bumped up once again. For Q3 the company expects to book $4.1B (+/- $100M) in revenue, which if it comes to pass will be 46% growth over Q3’20. Meanwhile AMD’s full year 2021 projection now stands at a 60% year-over-year increase in revenue versus their $9.8B FY2020, which is 10 percentage points higher than their forecast from the end of Q1.Finally, while AMD doesn’t have any major updates on the ongoing Xilinx acquisition, the company has reiterated that it remains on-track. Which means that if all goes according to plan, it will close by the end of the year.
Intel’s First High-Profile IFS Fab Customer: Qualcomm Jumps on Board For 20A Process
Alongside Intel’s sizable announcement today regarding their manufacturing roadmap over the next half-decade, the company is also announcing their first major customer for their third-party foundry service, IFS. And in an example of how Intel’s entry into the contract fab business is going to make for some strange bedfellows, it turns out that major customer is Qualcomm.Per Intel’s announcement, Intel and Qualcomm are partnering up to get Qualcomm products on Intel’s 20A process, one of the company’s most advanced (and farthest-out) process node. The first of Intel’s “Ångström” process nodes, 20A is due in 2024 and will be where Intel first implements Gate-All-Around (GAA) transistors, one of the major manufacturing technology milestones on Intel’s new roadmap.Given that 20A isn’t due out for another three years, neither company is saying much more about the partnership at this point – we’re talking about chip designs that are still in their earliest stages – but even being able to name a major customer like Qualcomm is a big deal for Intel. Not only does it show that another major industry player has a degree of faith in what Intel is trying to accomplish with its silicon lithography technology, but it helps to validate Intel’s efforts to open up into the contract fab business.Meanwhile, an announcement like this opens the door to all kinds of speculation over just what Qualcomm will be building over at Intel. Qualcomm is best known for their mobile SoCs, and the company already has significant experience using multiple fabs as a customer of both TSMC and Samsung. So it may be that Qualcomm is looking to build a mainstream mobile SoC or two at Intel as a way to get experience working with Intel and prove that Intel’s fabs will meet their needs. Alternatively, Qualcomm may be looking to take advantage of Intel’s PC-tuned manufacturing lines to produce Nuvia-infused laptop SoCs – which would mean Intel would be directly producing competing chips.There are a lot of possibilities here over the long-run, though in the short-run it’s likely that Qualcomm is going to play things conservatively. So suffice it to say, it will be interesting to see just what Qualcomm is using their rival’s fabs for in a few years.
Intel's Process Roadmap to 2025: with 4nm, 3nm, 20A and 18A?!
In today’s Intel Accelerated event, the company is driving a stake into the ground regarding where it wants to be by 2025. CEO Pat Gelsinger earlier this year stated that Intel would be returning to product leadership in 2025, but hasn’t yet explained how this is coming about – that is until today, where Intel has disclosed its roadmap for its next five generations of process node technology leading to 2025. Intel believes it can follow an aggressive strategy to match and pass its foundry rivals, while at the same time developing new packaging offerings and starting a foundry business for external customers. On top of all this, Intel has renamed its process nodes.
Best Internal Hard Drives: July 2021
Data storage requirements have kept increasing over the last several years. While SSDs have taken over the role of the primary drive in most computing systems, hard drives continue to be the storage media of choice in areas dealing with large amount of relatively cold data. Hard drives are also suitable for workloads that are largely sequential and not performance sensitive. The $/GB metric for SSDs (particularly with QLC in the picture) is showing a downward trend, but it is still not low enough to match HDDs in that market segment.Since the release of the last HDD guide which was in the midst of the cryptocurrency-fueled storage mania, we have seen the pricing and availability of the HDDs stabilize a bit. With the traditional mid-Q3 HDD capacity updates from the different vendors around the corner, the pricing on the high-capacity models has in fact come down considerably. This makes for an interesting update to our list of recommended hard drives for NAS and desktop usage.
Best Android Phones: July 2021
Much like June, July wasn’t very eventful in terms of smartphone releases, however what does seem to have happened is more substantial pricing changes across the high-end of the spectrum, which shifts things around a bit, especially for global users.
Intel Reports Q2 2021 Earnings: Client Computing Leads the Way
Kicking off another earnings season for the tech industry, we as always start things off with Intel, who is the first big chipmaker out of the gate. Over a year into the coronavirus pandemic – and slowly heading out of it – Intel has seen its ups and downs as product demands have shifted and the company’s ability to execute over the long term has been challenged by fab delays. Following a particularly painful (by Intel standards) first quarter, the company is hoping to put those problems behind them with a stronger second quarter.For the second quarter of 2021, Intel reported $19.6B in revenue, a decline of less than $100M versus Q2’20, and what Intel is calling a flat difference overall. More importantly, perhaps, is that Intel’s profitability has also held quite steady (and significantly improved over Q1), with Intel booking $5.1B in net income for the quarter, a YoY decline of 1%. Overall, with a lone caveat, Intel’s Q2 performance has exceeded their earlier projections.Intel’s famed gross margin has also recovered on both a quarterly and yearly basis. At 57.1% it’s up almost 2 percentage points higher than Q1, and almost 4 percentage points higher than Q2’20. Intel’s gross margin has been subject to greater than usual fluctuations as of late – typically dropping whenever a major new product is ramping – but at least for Q2 it is on the rise as Intel enjoys a very profitable quarter.Intel Q2 2021 Financial Results (GAAP)Q2'2021Q1'2021Q2'2020Revenue$19.6B$19.7B$19.7BOperating Income$5.5B$3.7B$5.7BNet Income$5.1B$3.4B$5.1BGross Margin57.1%55.2%53.3%Client Computing Group Revenue$10.1B-5%+6%Data Center Group Revenue$6.5B+16%-9%Internet of Things Group Revenue$984M+8%+47%Mobileye Revenue$327M-13%+124%Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group$1.1Bflat-34%Programmable Solutions Group$486Mflat-3%Breaking things down on a group basis, there are a couple of major points to immediately take away. The first is that, while still recorded per Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) rules, Intel is all but ready to cut loose its NAND memory business, which it’s in the process of selling to SK hynix. That said, the deal has not been approved and a closing date has not been set, so while Intel is opting to exclude it from their non-GAAP results (and future business projections), they aren’t free of it quite yet.Second, this is the first full quarter that can be used for year-over-year comparisons with the coronavirus pandemic. While Intel’s manufacturing side has long since stabilized there, year-over-year numbers are sometimes in odd places as the demand mix a year ago was very unusual, to put it mildly.For Q2, Intel’s Client Computing Group was once again the biggest winner; that division pulled in $10.1B in revenue, and is up 6% YoY. According to Intel, both laptop and desktop revenue is up, as Intel has surpassed shipping 50 million Tiger Lake processors. That said, these revenue gains are largely volume-driven; ASPs for both desktop and mobile are down, due in part to what Intel is noting to be increased sales of low core count processors. Intel’s improving fab situation has also played a part here – according to the company, 10nm production costs have dropped, helping to improve the division’s operating income.Meanwhile Intel’s Data Center Group is really starting to feel the impact of the increasingly competitive server environment. While revenue was up 16% versus Intel’s tough Q1, it’s still down 6% on a yearly basis. Breaking that down further, both cloud server provider and communication sales are down, buoyed somewhat by an uptick in enterprise and government sales. But with chip volume and ASPs both down a bit, group revenue can only fall. Intel has long wanted to get away from CCG leading the company’s earnings – in big part by growing its server revenues – but for the moment it looks like that won’t be in the cards. Though as Intel continues to ramp up 10nm production (and thus Ice Lake Xeon production) there is some opportunity to recover in future quarters.As previously mentioned, Intel is looking to cut loose its NAND business, which is now the only part of the company’s Non-volatile Solutions Group (Optane is DCG). None the less, for the moment Intel still has to account for the group’s revenue, which is down 34% on a yearly basis. Because Intel is downplaying the group so much, they aren’t offering any meaningful written commentary on why revenues are down, but it would seem to be pandemic-related. NSG recorded a very big bump in revenue a year ago, and things have since fallen back towards the industry baseline.Rounding out Intel’s remaining divisions, both the ioT and Mobileye groups are up significantly on a yearly basis, with revenue jumping 124% in the case of Mobileye. Both groups are benefitting from the post-pandemic recovery, as well as additional design wins in the case of Mobileye. Otherwise, Intel’s final group, Programmable Solutions, saw revenues decline a few percent due to what Intel calls “inventory digestion and supply constraints.”Overall, Q2’2021 marks a better quarter for Intel on both a quarterly basis and a yearly basis. Along with recovering from their tough Q1 three months ago, Intel this year isn’t facing another fab delay, as Intel’s big 7nm delay was first announced as part of their Q2’20 earnings. To be sure, the company is essentially flat on revenue and profit on a yearly basis – while its competition has generally grown – but as Intel gets further into CEO Pat Gelsinger’s tenure, there is increasing confidence that Intel will hit its goals (and a decreasing window to miss them).Looking forward, based on their stronger-than-expected Q2 performance and optimism about Q3 and beyond, Intel is increasing its full-year guidance. The company is now projecting revenue to grow on a yearly basis, while gross margin projections remain unchanged at 56.5%. With that said, Intel’s projections all exclude their NAND business, with the company assuming that the deal will be approved by regulators this year as originally planned.Finally, the next big business update from Intel will come on Monday, when Intel hosts its Intel Accelerated event. That webcast will be focused on Intel’s process and packaging roadmaps, and is a big step in Intel’s efforts to establish their IDM 2.0 strategy. We’re hoping to see more on Intel’s 10nm and 7nm roadmaps there, as well as more on Intel’s next-gen packaging technologies. In the meantime, Intel’s efforts seem to have at least caught the collective ear of Silicon Valley, as the company has revealed today that they’re in talks with 100 potential foundry customers.Gallery: Intel Q2 2021 Earnings Presentation
OnePlus Announces Nord 2 with Dimensity 1200 SoC
Today OnePlus is announcing the 2021 successor to the OnePlus Nord – the company mid-range line-up phone. The new phone takes the hardware platform from the OPPO Reno 5 Pro in that it is now powered by the new MediaTek Dimensity 1200.
Cadence Cerebrus to Enable Chip Design with ML: PPA Optimization in Hours, not Months
The design of most leading edge processors and ASICs rely on steps of optimization, with the three key optimization points being Performance, Power, and Area (and sometimes Cost). Once the architecture of a chip is planned, it comes down to designing the silicon of that chip for a given process node technology, however there are many different ways to lay the design out. Normally this can take a team of engineers several months, even with algorithmic tools and simulation to get a good result, however that role is gradually being taken over with Machine Learning methods. Cadence today is announcing its new Cerebrus integrated ML design tool to assist with PPA optimization – production level silicon is already being made with key partners as the tool directly integrates into Cadence workflows.
Supermicro Ultra SYS-120U-TNR Review: Testing Dual 10nm Ice Lake Xeon in 1U
With the launch of Intel’s Ice Lake Xeon Scalable platform comes a new socket and a range of features that vendors like Supermicro have to design for. The server and enterprise market is so vast that every design can come in a range of configurations and settings, however one of the key elements is managing compute density with memory and accelerator support. The SYS-120U-TNR we are testing today is a dense system with lots of trimmings all within a 1U, to which Supermicro is aiming at virtualization workloads, HPC, Cloud, Software Defined Storage, and 5G. This system can be equipped with upwards of 80 cores, 12 TB of DRAM, and four PCIe 4.0 accelerators, defining a high-end solution from Supermicro.
PlasticArm: Get Your Next CPU, Made Without Silicon
Known for its core design IP that ends up in everything from IoT to smartphones to servers, Arm is now presenting that it has enabled one of its key microcontrollers in a new form factor: rather than using silicon as a base, the company has enabled a processor core in plastic. The technology has been in the works for almost a decade, but Arm has been waiting on the fabrication methods to create a fully working core. Now the company has something working in a tangible medium and the research has been published in Nature.
The SilverStone IceGem AIO Coolers Review: Going Big For Threadripper
Today, we are taking a look at SilverStone's latest family of AIO coolers, the IceGem series. Designed explicitly with Ryzen Threadripper compatibility in mind, the IceGem coolers are meant to fill the hole in SilverStone's AIO cooler lineup, offering a single family of coolers that can be used with any desktop socket, large or small.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Review: Big and Fast, but Inefficient
Today we’re finally taking a deeper look at Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Ultra – the bigger brother of the Mi 11. Featuring the same screen and general design, can the big camera setup warrant double the price over the Mi 11?
GlobalFoundries To Spend Billions: Doubling Fab 8, Creating New Fab in NY
Today at a private GlobalFoundies event, CEO Tom Caulfield accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, announced that the company is set on expansion. At the heart of this new initiative is a doubling of Fab 8, GF’s leading manufacturing facility, at the cost of around $1B. Accompanying this is the disclosure that GF is going to build another manufacturing facility close to Fab 8, in Malta NY, as part of a Private-Public partnership. Details of the new facility were not given.
Testing the New 3DMark CPU Benchmark: For the Boids
A couple of weeks ago, UL (formerly Futuremark) released the latest test in its ongoing 3DMark gaming benchmark suite, CPU Profile. The premise behind this new CPU-specific test is a simulation to measure how processor performance scales with cores and threads. Normally 3DMark tests are designed to measure overall gaming performance – and thus are largely a GPU benchmark – however this one is a little different since it focuses more specifically on CPU performance. So we wanted to take a look at UL's latest test to get a better idea of what exactly it is testing, what exactly it is trying to accomplish, and just how useful it might be.
Russia To Build RISC-V Processors for Laptops: 8-core, 2 GHz, 12nm, 2025
Russian outlet Vedomosti.ru today is reporting that the conglomerate Rostec, a Russian state-backed corporation specializing in investment in technology, has penned a deal with server company Yadro and silicon design company Syntacore to develop RISC-V processors for computers, laptops, and servers. Initial reports are suggesting that Syntacore will develop a powerful enough RISC-V design to power government and education systems by 2025.The cost of the project is reported to be around 30 billion rubles ($400m), with that the organizers of the project plan to sell 60,000 systems based around new processors containing RISC-V cores as the main processing cores. The reports state that the goal is to build an 8-core processor, running at 2 GHz, using a 12-nanometer process, which presumably means GlobalFoundries but at this point it is unclear. Out of the project funding, two-thirds will be provided by ‘anchor customers’ (such as Rostec and subsidiaries), while the final third will come from the federal budget. The systems these processors will go into will operate initially at Russia’s Ministry of Education and Science, as well as the Ministry of Health.Syntacore already develops its own core with the RISC-V architecture, rather than licensing a design. There have been questions as to whether any current RISC-V design is powerful enough to be used in a day-to-day work machine suitable for administrative services, however with the recent news that Canonical is enabling Ubuntu/Linux on some of SiFive’s RISC-V designs, chances are that by 2025 there will be a sufficient number of software options to choose from should the Russian processor adhere to any specifications required. That being said, it is not uncommon for non-standard processors in places like Russia or China to use older customized forks of Linux to suit the needs of the businesses using the hardware. Syntacore's documentation states that their highest performance 64-bit core already supports Linux.
AMD Threadripper Pro Review: An Upgrade Over Regular Threadripper?
Since the launch of AMD’s Threadripper Pro platform, the desire to see what eight channels of memory brings to compute over the regular quad-channel Threadripper has been an intriguing prospect. Threadripper Pro is effectively a faster version of AMD’s EPYC, limited for single CPU workstation use, but also heralds a full 280 W TDP to match the frequencies of the standard Threadripper line. There is a 37% price premium from Threadripper to Threadripper Pro, which allows for ECC memory support, double the PCIe lanes, and double the memory bandwidth. In this review, we’re comparing every member of both platforms that is commercially available.
EVGA Teases an AMD X570 Dark Edition: For Ryzen 5000 Enthusiasts
Legendary overclocker Vince "KINGPIN" Lucido, part of EVGA's in-house design team, posted to his Facebook page an image that has caused a bit of a stir. The post is captioned 'The red pill', with an image of the appears to be the rear of an EVGA Dark series motherboard using AMD's famous Zen logo. This points to a potential AMD Ryzen version of its board, and this would be the first AMD-based EVGA motherboard since back in days of AMD's Athlon 64 processors. Most recently, EVGA has made hardware parts for two primary vendors: motherboards for Intel and graphics cards for NVIDIA. So making something AMD again is quite a shock.EVGA's Dark series of motherboards typically cater towards enthusiasts and overclockers, with premium controller sets and a wide variety of features designed for pushing silicon to the limit. Dissecting the teased image posted by Vince Lucido on Facebook, we can see the EVGA X570 or X570S Dark series motherboard will feature one 24-pin 12 V ATX motherboard power input two 12 V EPS ATX CPU power inputs, and two full-length PCIe 4.0 slots.Looking at what memory support the board might have, the rear of the board looks to only feature two memory slots, which is common on Dark series models, with two or more PCIe 4.0 M.2 slots likely to be a feature. Glancing the rear of the power delivery, there does look to be at least 14 power stages, with given the pedigree and status of EVGA's Dark series models, it could easily be a 16-phase monster.At the moment, EVGA hasn't officially said anything about the launch of the EVGA X570/X570S Dark, but we expect an announcement in due course, hopefully with pricing and expected availability.Related Reading
The Keychron K3 Low Profile Wireless Mechanical Keyboard Review
In today’s review we are having a look at Keychron’s attempt to create a portable wireless mechanical keyboard, the K3. The K3 not only has a very small footprint and a rechargeable battery, but it also features RGB lighting and a Mac-specific mode.
Intel Accelerated Webcast on July 26th: Update on Process Technology and Roadmaps
Earlier this year, new Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger outlined his new ‘IDM 2.0’ vision for Intel. This vision was a three pronged strategy based on improving its own process node technology, mixing in other foundry technology where needed, and also realigning its manufacturing for a new foundry service offering allowing other semiconductor companies to use Intel’s manufacturing expertise. As part of the journey towards Gelsinger’s IDM 2.0 vision, we were told to expect updates at a more regular cadence, and the announcement of ‘Intel Accelerated’ in a couple of weeks is the next event on the calendar.
The SP750 SFX Gold Review: Lian Li's First SFX Power Supply
In today’s review we are having a look at Lian Li’s first SFX PSU, the SP750. Against all odds, Lian Li’s first diversification attempt comes with a very powerful 750W SFX unit rated at 80 Plus Gold, mainly designed for compact high-performance gaming systems.
Samsung: Deployment of 3nm GAE Node on Track for 2022
Samsung Foundry has made some changes to its plans concerning its 3 nm-class process technologies that use gate-all-around (GAA) transistors, or what Samsung calls its multi-bridge channel field-effect transistors (MBCFETs). Based on new information direct from Samsung, it would appear that its first version of 3nm, 3GAE (3nm gate-all-around early), is coming to high volume manufacturing a year later than expected, but also it seems to have removed this technology from its public roadmap, suggesting it may be for internal use only.Meanwhile, 3GAE's successor 3GAP (3nm gate-all-around plus) node is still in the roadmap, it is on track for volume manufacturing in 2023.3GAE on Track for 2022, Maybe Just Not for EveryoneAt its recent 2021 IP & ASIC Design Ecosystem Conference in China, Samsung Foundry presented its updated public technology roadmap which was then republished by bloggers at Baidu and Weibo.On its FinFET technologies, both 5LPP and 4LPP nodes are new to the roadmap, and set for high-volume manufacturing (HVM) in 2021 and 2022, respectively.For GAA technology, 3GAE is absent from the roadmap, but 3GAP is there. We reached out to Samsung and a representative confirmed that the 3GAE technology is still on track for ramp in 2022. From the slide, we can see that MBCFET-based 3GAP will enter its HVM phase sometime in 2023."As for the 3GAE process, we've been in discussion with customers and expect to mass-produce 3GAE in 2022," the spokesperson said.The absence of 3GAE process from the public roadmap may be explained by the fact that it will only be available to Samsung's own LSI division, just like some other (E)arly nodes. That being said, previous generation (E)arly nodes are still mentioned in the slides that the company demonstrated.Samsung originally announced its MBCFET-based 3GAE and 3GAP nodes in May 2019. Back then, the company promised a 35% performance increase, a 50% power consumption reduction, and a 45% area reduction for 3GAE compared to 7LPP. Furthermore, the company announced the availability of v0.1 of its 3nm PDK and at the time said that volume production using 3GAE was set to start in late 2021. With that moving to 2022 based on the latest information, one might interpret this as either a delay or miscalculation based on enabling GAA designs at scale.However on the plus side, Samsung taped out the first 3 nm test chip several weeks ago. It also announced the availability of Synopsys EDA tools compatible with the new fabrication technologies. The use of fabrication processes that rely on brand-new transistors is always a challenge - in addition to new electronic design automation (EDA) tools, chip developers need all-new IP. We look forward to hearing more disclosures on that front.A New 4LPP Node on FinFETsWhile it looks like general customers are not going to use Samsung's 3 nm nodes until 2023, the newly announced 4LPP is set to meet the requirements of the company's clients in 2022. Since 4LPP relies on familiar FinFETs, it will be much easier for Samsung's customers to use this node when compared to any 3nm GAA nodes early in their lifecycle.It is noteworthy that Samsung now considers its 5 nm and 4 nm-class technologies as different node branches on its slides. Previously, the foundry considered its 4LPE as an evolution of its 7LPP process. Perhaps this is because 4 nm is set to offer very tangible PPAc (power, performance, area, cost) advantages over 5 nm, or because there are substantial internal changes (e.g., new materials, significantly higher usage of extreme ultraviolet lithography, etc.).For example, one of Samsung's slides specifically mentions density and performance improvements for 5LPE and 5LPP, but only mentions power and performance improvements for 4LPP. The overlapping technologies will also help to mitigate risks if one of the nodes does not meet certain expectations.Surprisingly, Samsung Foundry is set to ramp production using its 4LPE and 5LPP technologies at around the same time in 2021, which could enable it to offer different PPAc advantages for different chip designs.SummaryWhile Samsung Foundry's GAAFET/MBCFET 3 nm plans appear to have changed and slipped by a year, it is unlikely a big problem for the company as its (E)arly nodes were never widely adopted. To cover that additional year, the company's new 5LPP and 4LPP FinFET-based technologies are set to enable PPA advantages for Samsung Foundry's clients and enable the company to gain more experience with EUV equipment before using it for its 3GAE/3GAP nodes.
ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero Review: Everything for Rocket Lake
On our test bench today is one of ASUS ROG's enthusiast models designed for Intel's Rocket Lake processors. The ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero brings plenty of premium controllers and connectivity to the table including dual 2.5 GbE, dual Thunderbolt 4 Type-C, Wi-Fi 6E, four M.2 slots, and a robust 14-phase power delivery capable of pushing Rocket Lake above its capabilities. We have put the Z590 Hero through its paces to see if it is the champion model in the sub $500 Z590 market.
ASUS Announces "Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders" - A Real Product, or Just A Marketing Showcase?
Today ASUS and Qualcomm are announcing the “Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders” - a ASUS designed phone with extensive Snapdragon branding – a ROG Phone 5 spin-off, or just a pointless marketing exercise?
Intel Hybrid CPU Starts 'End of Life' Process
As I opened my inbox this morning, I was surprised. I keep track of when Intel puts products on End of Life (or starts the process through something called Product Discontinuance), and so I usually see a run of 3-5 year old CPUs or storage or servers pass through without much of a worry. When I opened up my daily brief today however, the headline read ‘Core Processor with Hybrid Technology Discontinued’, which immediately struck me as a bit crazy.Intel announced Lakefield, its only Hybrid CPU on the market, in January 2019. It pairs one of its big cores with four smaller Atom cores in a small 12mm square package. Not only this, Lakefield is one of Intel’s first Foveros packaging processors, with a 10nm compute piece of silicon sitting on top of an IO die, all packaged together with DRAM on top. The goal of the Lakefield design was to produce a processor with a super low idle power, but also have enough performance for hand-held devices. Intel quoted 1.2 mW when in idle, meeting that goal.Lakefield came to market in June 2020 in two products: the Samsung Galaxy Book S 13.3-inch clamshell laptop, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold, a foldable display-based design. Both of these products were premium priced, particularly the Fold with its display, however reported performance was more akin to a quad-core Atom notebook than the $2000 quad-core mobile devices they were aiming for. Battery life sounded good, although we have never tested it at AnandTech due to lack of access to review samples from Samsung, Lenovo, or Intel.The key thing was the Hybrid CPU design. By pairing one of Intel’s big cores with four of its smaller Tremont Atom cores, the goal was to run the device almost exclusively on the Atom cores for efficiency and then call on the big core when anything latency related was required, such as when the user touches the screen or the keyboard. Within 16 milliseconds (or one frame at 60 Hz), the processor would switch over to the big core for the touch screen interaction, do what it needed to do (often in under 16 ms), and then power back down.In principle, the concept is sound and makes a lot of sense, especially if the goal is to save battery. As Intel’s first Hybrid CPU design however, there were some initial teething issues as managing threads between the different performance levels required adjustments to Windows’ scheduler. Microsoft already has experience with this when dealing with Windows on Snapdragon devices using the Arm architecture, however it was a first for x86 and the first implementations were reportedly quite rough.In reality, because of the price of the device, it was compared to hardware that had only big cores. Even if it was compared to Atom based notebooks in the $400 range, because the processor was a low powered device, often lower than the Atom notebooks it was being compared to, it didn’t fall favorably in those benchmarks either. The goal of Lakefield for Intel wasn’t performance, but experience and form factor innovation, which benchmarks never indicate.The note today from Intel indicates that Lakefield is now on the path to End of Life. This means the following milestones:
Intel Continues to Rehire Veterans: At Some Point They’ll Run Out
News on the wire today is that Intel has rehired 28-year veteran Shlomit Weiss into the position of Senior VP and Co-General Manager of Intel’s Design Engineering Group (DEG), a position recently vacated by Uri Frank who left to head up Google’s SoC development. As reported in Tom’s Hardware and confirmed in her own LinkedIn announcement, Weiss will be working at Intel’s Israel design center alongside Sunil Shenoy and is ‘committed to ensure that the company continues to lead in developing chips’. Weiss is the latest in an ever growing list of ‘re-hiring’ Intel veterans, which leads to the problem that at some point Intel will run out of ex-employees to rehire and instead nurture internal talent for those roles.
Examining OnePlus' Performance Behaviour: Optimization or Misrepresentation?
We've discovered weird behaviour on the OnePlus 9 Pro flagship: Popular apps are performance limited, while benchmarks are unaffected. Is this battery optimisation, or misrepresentation of the user experience?
Cristiano Amon Takes over as Qualcomm CEO: Reiterates Focus on Custom CPUs
As of June 30, Qualcomm’s Cristiano Amon has taken over as the company’s CEO, replacing his predecessor Steve Mollenkopf which has now retired. In statements to Reuters, Amon had made comments regarding the company’s future CPU roadmap, which come to further contextualise the company’s completed acquisition of NUVIA last March.
ASUS Launches Zenfone 8 in US: Starting at $599
Following the phone’s initial announcement mid-May, this week ASUS has officially launched their new ZenFone 8 in the US starting at a price of $599. The ZenFone 8 is a bit unusual in the market as it is trying to fit itself in the niche of a small flagship device – at least in terms of performance.
Update: PCI Express 6.0 Draft 0.71 Released, Final Release by End of Year
Update 07/02: Albeit a couple of days later than expected, the PCI-SIG has announced this morning that the PCI Express draft 0.71 specification has been released for member review. Following a minimum 30 day review process, the group will be able to publish the draft 0.9 version of the specficiation, putting them on schedule to release the final version of the spec this year.Originally Published 05/25
Micron Sells Lehi 3D XPoint Fab to Texas Instruments for $900M
Back in March of this year, Micron announced that it would be getting out of the 3D XPoint business entirely, abandoning the technology and putting its sole 3D XPoint fab up for sale. Now a short few months later, Micron has secured a buyer for the fab – and it’s not Intel. Rather it will be Texas Instruments who picks up the fab, buying it off of Micron for $900 million with plans to convert it over to analog and embedded processors.The sale of the Lehi fab is the latest and final chapter in Micron’s years-long efforts to unwind its non-volatile memory joint venture with Intel, IM Flash. Over the last decade Micron has acquired Intel’s share of the business in multiple stages, culminating in acquiring the crown jewel of the former partnership, the Lehi, Utah 3D XPoint fab, in 2018. Since then, Micron decided that it would dissolve its 3D XPoint partnership with Intel entirely, culminating with the company abandoning the technology entirely, leaving Micron with a modern fab that it didn’t have an immediate need for.To that end, Micron put the fab up for sale earlier this year, and has quickly found a buyer amidst the ongoing chip crunch. And while former partner (and current customer) Intel was the most likely candidate, they were not a shoe-in. As our own Billy Tallis put it at the time “Intel is not guaranteed to be the buyer of the Lehi, UT fab. They've doubtless had opportunities to do so before as Intel and Micron unwound their partnership”.Instead, the memory fab will be going to Texas Instruments, who is buying the building – but not all of the tools. Though designed for 3D XPoint production, the Lehi fab is otherwise a modern, 2 million square foot fab that can process 300mm wafers and is readily capable of being converted to other uses; and this is the direction TI will be taking things. The company is currently planning to equip the fab for the production of analog and embedded processors on the 65nm and 45nm nodes, with the ability to take the fab “beyond those nodes as required.” For Texas Instruments this will be their fourth 300mm fab.Meanwhile the remaining memory tools that TI isn’t buying will be further assets for Micron, who will be keeping some of them and selling the rest. According to the company’s press release, some of these tools are getting redeployed to other Micron fabs, some have been sold, and yet other tools are still up for sale. Micron doesn’t mention who the tool buyers are, but given the specialized nature of the equipment, it wouldn’t be too surprising if Intel were among them. Overall, Micron is valuing the tools at $600 million, bringing the total value of the transaction to a cool $1.5 billion.The sale is expected to close at the end of the year, at which point TI will be putting out offers to retain all of the Lehi staff as the fab gets converted over to TI’s analog and logic processes.Finally, for the sole company to actually use 3D XPoint memory, the sale of the Lehi fab calls into question Intel’s own 3D XPoint production plans. Having sold their share of the fab to Micron, Intel transitioned to being a customer of the world’s only 3D XPoint fab in late 2019 – an arrangement that left the fab operating in the red for Micron, as Intel’s 3D XPoint orders weren’t enough to fully utilize the fab. IM Flash jointly developed Intel’s current (second-generation) 3D XPoint memory technology as well, and it’s believed that the Lehi fab has been producing all of that memory for Intel.So it remains to be seen just how Intel will be impacted, as the sale puts a running clock on how much longer they can buy 3D XPoint memory from the third-party fab. Eventually Intel will need to setup their own fab – likely in Rio Rancho, NM, where their 3D XPoint R&D takes place – but so far the company hasn’t announced any such plans.Sources: Texas Instruments, Micron
Update on Intel Sapphire Rapids in 2022: Q1 for Production, Q2 for Ramp, H1 Launch
In the news cycle today, Intel is announcing an update to its planned deployment of its next generation Xeon Scalable platform known as Sapphire Rapids. Sapphire Rapids is the main platform behind the upcoming Aurora supercomputer, and set to feature support for leading edge technologies such as DDR5, PCIe 5.0, CXL, and Advanced Matrix Extensions. The announcement today is Intel reaffirming its commitment to bringing Sapphire Rapids to market for wide availability in the first half of 2022, meanwhile early customers are currently operating with early silicon for testing and optimization.
Netgear Launches WAX630 AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Access Point for SMBs
Netgear has been slowly building up its Wi-Fi 6 business portfolio over the last couple of years. Today, the company is launching its flagship SMB access point in its Insight-managed series - the WAX630. The consumer Wi-Fi market segment has received extra focus over the last year or so with the onset of the pandemic-induced work-from-home (WFH) trend. As businesses move towards reopening in many parts of the world, there is bound to be an investment in upgrading the networking infrastructure of many SMB / microbusinesses to gear up for the increased workloads. Netgear is hoping to ride this upgrade wave to increase the market share of its Insight-based networking equipment in the SMB market.In 2020, Netgear released the Orbi SXK80 and the WAX610 AP to introduce Wi-Fi 6 into their SMB portfolio. The company has been far more busy this year, with the launch of the WAX214 AX1800 and WAX218 AX3600 APs under the Essentials brand, the Orbi SXK30 AX1800 mini and the WAX620 AX3600 Insight-managed AP back in March. Today's WAX630 launch rounds off its launches for the first half of 2021.The WAX630 is the new flagship, and builds upon the 802.3at as well as 2.5GBASE-T support of the WAX610 and WAX620. A second wired LAN port (GbE) is included. It supports up to 600 active clients with 100 concurrent devices. The coverage area is also more, coming it at 3500 sq. ft. compared to 2500 for the WAX610 and 3000 for the WAX620. This tri-band solution (2x 5GHz + 1x 2.4 GHz 4x4) comes under the AX6000 class (1200 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz band and 2 x 2400 Mbps in the 5GHz one), pointing to the use of a Qualcomm chipset. The lack of full 160 MHz support is not a big deal in this market segment, at least not until Wi-Fi 6E becomes more widespread.Almost all SMB and enterprise Wi-Fi solutions are enabled with cloud-management. This greatly simplifies management on-the-go by IT administrators. However, this carries a premium for the additional firmware features and cloud servers maintenance from the vendor's perspective. Netgear's business lineup also includes an 'Essentials' product line that does away with the app and cloud-based management for a lower price point.On the Orbi Pro front, one of the challenges for market acceptance has been the pricing due to its multi-device nature. The SXK80 was introduced last year at $770 for a router and a satellite. Last month, the SXK30 Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6 Mini was introduced at $300 for a pair. To meet this price point, the SXK30 does away with the second 5GHz band and the 2.5GBASE-T port. The coverage area and capacity metrics are also a notch lower than the SXK80.In SMB Wi-Fi, the focus is not on peak throughput - rather, security and reliability are primary concerns. Scalability and ease of management come in a close second. With their current portfolio of products and suggested pricing structure, Netgear is carving a niche for itself in this market segment. While not going head-to-head against the Cisco Merakis and Arubas, it does need to compete against other vendors such as Ubiquiti Networks, Linksys Business, EnGenius, and the like. However, none of these vendors seem to have a product in the market currently to go head-to-head against the WAX630's specifications. It will be interesting to track how the market evolves over the coming months. The WAX630 is priced at $330 and available for purchase today.Gallery: Netgear Launches WAX630 AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Access Point for SMBs
Intel to Launch Next-Gen Sapphire Rapids Xeon with High Bandwidth Memory
As part of today’s International Supercomputing 2021 (ISC) announcements, Intel is showcasing that it will be launching a version of its upcoming Sapphire Rapids (SPR) Xeon Scalable processor with high-bandwidth memory (HBM). This version of SPR-HBM will come later in 2022, after the main launch of Sapphire Rapids, and Intel has stated that it will be part of its general availability offering to all, rather than a vendor-specific implementation.
NVIDIA Unveils PCIe version of 80GB A100 Accelerator: Pushing PCIe to 300 Watts
As part of today’s burst of ISC 2021 trade show announcements, NVIDIA this morning is announcing that they’re bringing the 80GB version of their A100 accelerator to the PCIe form factor. First announced in NVIDIA’s custom SXM form factor last fall, the 80GB version of the A100 was introduced to not only expand the total memory capacity of an A100 accelerator – doubling it from 40GB to 80GB – but it also offered a rare mid-generation spec bump as well, cranking up the memory clockspeeds by a further 33%. Now, after a bit over 6 months, NVIDIA is releasing a PCIe version of the accelerator for customers who need discrete add-in cards.The new 80GB version of the PCIe A100 joins the existing 40GB version, and NVIDIA will continue selling both versions of the card. On the whole, this is a pretty straightforward transfer of the 80GB A100 over to PCIe, with NVIDIA dialing down the TDP of the card and the number of exposed NVLinks to match the capabilities of the form factor. The release of the 80GB PCIe card is designed to give NVIDIA’s traditional PCIe form factor customers a second, higher-performing accelerator option, particularly for those users who need more than 40GB of GPU memory.
Marvell Announces OCTEON 10 DPU Family: First to 5nm with N2 CPUs
It’s been a little over a year since we covered Marvell’s OCTEON TX2 infrastructure processors, and since then, the ecosystem has been evolving in an extremely fast manner – both within Marvell and outside. Today, we’re covering the new generation OCTEON 10 family of DPUs, a whole new family of SoCs, built upon TSMC’s 5nm process node and also for the featuring for the first time Arm’s new Neoverse N2 processors.
Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon 888+ 5G Speed Bin at 3GHz
Today for the first day of Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm is announcing its usual yearly mini-refresh of its flagship Snapdragon SoC in the form of the new Snapdragon 888+. As in the previous few generations, right around the summer period, Qualcomm is taking advantage of the completed spring device cycle and shifting focus onto newer devices in the second half of the year with, and a new SoC that’s slightly boosts performance.
AMD EPYC Milan Review Part 2: Testing 8 to 64 Cores in a Production Platform
It’s been a few months since AMD first announced their new third generation EPYC Milan server CPU line-up. We had initially reviewed the first SKUS back in March, covering the core density optimised 64-core EPYC 7763, EPYC 7713 and the core-performance optimised 32-core EPYC 75F3. Since then, we’ve ben able to get our hands on several new mid and lower end SKUs in the form of the new 24-core EPYC 7443, the 16-core 7343, as well as the very curious 8-core EPYC 72F3 which we’ll be reviewing today.
Seagate Announces FireCuda 530 PCIe 4.0 SSD at SG21
The gaming segment continues to experience rapid growth in the PC market, and we have seen PC component vendors come up with launch events specifically targeting gamers. Seagate's inaugural Virtual Gaming Event (SG21) is the latest in this list, and the company is announcing its latest flagship SSD - the FireCuda 530 at this event. With its PCIe 4.0 x4 interface, there is a significant jump in sequential access speeds (reads up to 7300 MBps). This has has an ideal target market in the gaming segment, with the fast load times making a visible difference in the user experience.The drives in Seagate's FireCuda SSD series have typically been based on Phison controllers using custom firmware (with the company's preferred term being 'Seagate-validated'), and the FireCuda 530 is no different. It is based on Phison's PS5018-E18 using the latest 3D TLC NAND (Micron's B47R 176L). A number of E18-based SSDs have hit the market over the 6 months, and we also reviewed the Inland Performance Plus a few weeks back. It was held back a bit by the use of 96L 3D TLC - an aspect that should be addressed by the latest 176-layer NAND.Similar to other flagship M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSDs, the FireCuda 530 also comes with a heatsink option. Unlike the ridged designs common for this application, Seagate has gone in for a minimalist option designed by EKWB - a finely-textured aluminum block weighing more than the usual finned heatsinks, while still retaining a slim profile for wide compatibility.Seagate FireCuda 530 SSD SpecificationsCapacity500 GB1 TB2 TB4 TBControllerPhison PS5018-E18 (PCIe 4.0 x4)NAND Flash176L 3D TLC NAND (Micron B47R)Form-Factor, InterfaceSingle-Sided M.2-2280, PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.4Double-Sided M.2-2280, PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.4Sequential Read7000 MB/s7300 MB/sSequential Write3000 MB/s6000 MB/s6900 MB/sRandom Read IOPS400K800K1MRandom Write IOPS700K1MPseudo-SLC CachingSupportedTCG Opal EncryptionNoWarranty5 years (with 3 year DRS)Write Endurance640 TB
Using AI to Build Better Processors: Google Was Just the Start, Says Synopsys
In light of the rate of innovation, chip design teams have spent tens of thousands of hours honing their skills over the decades. But getting the best human-designed processor in this fashion can take six months or more, because the number of arrangements possible is equivalent to the number of atoms in the known universe… multiplied by the number of atoms in the known universe. With numbers so large, using computers to brute force the best configuration is impossible. At least, it was thought to be.Synopsys’ CEO Aart de Geus is set to take the keynote presentations at two upcoming technical semiconductor industry events this year and as part of these talks, Aart will discuss what was considered impossible only a few years ago – the path to finding a better and automated way into chip design through the use of machine learning solutions. Within the context of EDA tools, as Google has demonstrated recently, engineers can be assisted in building better processors using machine learning algorithms.
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