Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Intel has a nasty habit of releasing disruptive technology, especially in the area of computer storage. Among the first of those releases was the X25-M, which was groundbreaking to say the least. At a time where most other SATA SSDs were just stopgap attempts to graft flash memory to a different interface, Intel's SATA SSD was really the first true performer.
With performance in the bag, Intel shifted their attention to reducing the cost of their products. The next few generations of the Intel line was coupled with leadership in die shrinks. This all came together in the form of SSD releases of increasingly reduced cost. Sure the enterprise parts retained a premium, but the consumer parts generally remained competitive.
Now Intel appears to have once again shifted their attention to performance, and we know it has been in the works for a while now. With the SATA bottleneck becoming increasingly apparent, big changes needed to me made. First, SATA, while fine for relatively high latency HDD's, was just never meant for SSD speeds. As SSD performance increased, the latencies involved with the interface overhead (translating memory-based addresses into ATA style commands) becomes more and more of a burden.
The solution is to not only transition to PCIe, but to do so using a completely new software and driver interface, called NVM Express. NVMe has been in the works for a while, and offers some incredible benefits in that it essentially brings the flash memory closer to the CPU. The protocol was engineered for the purpose of accessing flash memory as storage, and doing so as fast and with the least latency as possible. We hadn't seen any true NVMe products hit the market, until today, that is:
Behold the Intel SSD DC P3700!
Subject: Processors | June 3, 2014 - 02:30 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Intel, i7-4790k, devil's canyon, computex 2014, computex, 4790k
Back in March, we learned from Intel that they were planning to release a new Haswell refresh processor targeted at the overclocking and gaming market, code named Devil's Canyon. As we noted then, this new version of the existing processors will include new CPU packaging and the oft-requested improved thermal interface material (TIM). What wasn't known were the final clock speeds and availability time lines.
The new Core i7-4790K processor will ship with a 4.0 GHz base clock with a maximum Turbo clock rate of 4.4 GHz! That is a 500 MHz increase in base clock speed over the Core i7-4770K and should result in a substantial (~10-15%) performance increase. The processor still supports HyperThreading for a total of 8 threads and is fully unlocked for even more clock speed improvements.
All of the other specifications remain the same - HD Graphics 4600, 8MB of L3 cache, 16 lanes of PCI Express, etc.
Intel spent some time on the Devil's Canyon Haswell processors to improve the packaging and thermals for overclockers and enthusiasts. The thermal interface material (TIM) that is between the top of the die and the heat spreader has been updated to a next-generation polymer TIM (NGPTIM). The change should improve cooling performance of all currently shipping cooling solutions (air or liquid) but it is still a question just HOW MUCH this change will actually matter.
You can also tell from the photo comparison above that Intel has added capacitors to the back of the processor to "smooth" power delivery. This, combined with the NGPTIM should enable a bit more headroom for clock speeds with the Core i7-4790K.
In fact, there are two Devil's Canyon processors being launched this month. The Core i7-4790K will sell for $339, the same price as the Core i7-4770K, while the Core i5-4690K will sell for $242. The lower end option is a 3.5 GHz base clock, 3.9 GHz Turbo clock quad-core CPU without HyperThreading. While a nice step over the Core i5-4670K, it's only 100 MHz faster. Clearly the Core i7-4790K is the part everyone is going to be scrambling to buy.
Not to be left out, Intel is offering an unlocked Pentium processor for users on a tighter budget. This dual core CPU runs at 3.2 GHz base frequency and includes not just HD Graphics but support for QuickSync video.
At just $72, the Pentium G3258 will likely be a great choice for gamers that lean towards builds like the one we made for the Titanfall release.
I was hoping to have a processor in hand to run benchmarks and overclocking testing on, but they haven't quite made it to the office yet. The 4.0 GHz clock speed is easily emulated by any 4770K and some BIOS tweaks but the additional overclocking headroom provided by the changed thermal interface is still in question. Honestly, based on conversations with motherboard vendors, Devil's Canyon headroom is only 100-200 MHz over the base Haswell parts, so don't expect to reach 6.0 GHz all of the sudden.
Later in the week we'll have the Core i7-4790K in hand and you can expect a full review shortly thereafter.
In many ways, the Google Nexus 7 has long been the standard of near perfection for an Android tablet. With a modest 7-inch screen, solid performance and low cost, the ASUS-built hardware has stood through one major revision as our top selection. Today though, a new contender in the field makes its way to the front of the pack in the form of the ASUS MeMO Pad 7 (ME176C). At $150, this new 7-inch tablet has almost all the hallmarks to really make an impact in the Android ecosystem. Finally.
The MeMO Pad 7 is not a new product family, though. It has existed with Mediatek processors for quite some time with essentially the same form factor. This new ME176C model makes some decisions that help it break into a new level of performance while maintaining the budget pricing required to really take on the likes of Google. By coupling the MeMO Pad brand with the Intel Bay Trail Atom processor, the two companies firmly believe they have a winner; but do they?
I have to admit that my time with the ASUS MeMO Pad 7 (ME176C) has been short; shorter than I would have liked to offer a truly definitive take on this mobile platform. I prefer to take the time to work the tablet into my daily work and home routines. Reading, browsing, email, etc. This allows me to filter though any software intricacies that might make or break a purchasing decision. Still, I think the ASUS design is going to live up to my expectations and is worth every penny of the $150 price tag.
The ASUS MeMO Pad 7 has a 1280x800 resolution IPS screen. This 7-inch device is powered by the new Intel Atom Z3745 quad-core SoC with 1GB of memory and 16GB of on-board storage. The front facing camera is of the 2MP variety while the rear facing camera is 5MP - but you will likely be as disappointed in the image quality of the photos as I was. Connectivity options include the microUSB port for charging and data transfer along with 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz WiFi (sorry, no 5.0 GHz option here). Bluetooth 4.0 allows for low power data sync with other devices you might have and our model shipped with Android 4.4.2 already pre-installed.
The rear of the ASUS MeMO Pad is a pseudo rubber/plastic type material that is easy to grip while not leaving fingerprints behind - a solid combination. The center mounted camera lens takes decent pictures - but I can't put any more praise on it than that. It was easy to find image quality issues with photos even in full daylight. It's hard to know how disappointed to be considering the price, but the Nexus 7 has better optical hardware.
Subject: General Tech | May 30, 2014 - 10:21 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SoC, linux, internet of things, Intel, automotive, automation, atom
Imagine: You get into the family car and it knows that it’s you, so it adjusts everything just the way you like it. You start driving and your GPS is superimposed over the road in real time from within your windshield, with virtual arrows pointing to your next turn. Kids play games on their touchscreen windows in the back, and everyone travels safely as their cars anticipate accidents...
Sound far-fetched? Work is already being done to make things like these a reality, and Intel has now announced their stake in the future of connected, and eventually autonomous, automobiles.
Ensuring that every device in our lives is always connected seems like the goal of many companies going forward, and the “Internet of Things” is a very real, and rapidly growing, part of the business world. Intel is no exception, and since cars are things (as I’ve been informed) it makes sense to look in this area as well, right? Well, Intel has announced development of their automotive initiative, with the overall goal to create safer - and eventually autonomous - cars. Doug Davis, Corporate VP, Internet of Things Group at Intel, hosted the online event, which began with a video depicting automotive travel in a fully connected world. It doesn’t seem that far away...
"We are combining our breadth of experience in consumer electronics and enterprise IT with a holistic automotive investment across product development, industry partnerships and groundbreaking research efforts,” Davis said. “Our goal is to fuel the evolution from convenience features available in the car today to enhanced safety features of tomorrow and eventually self-driving capabilities.”
So how exactly does this work? The tangible element of Intel’s vision of connected, computer controlled vehicles begins with the In-Vehicle Solutions Platform which provides Intel silicon to automakers. And as it’s an “integrated solution” Intel points out that this should cut time and expense from the current, more complex methods employed in assembling automotive computer systems. Makes sense, since they are delivering a complete Intel Atom based system platform, powered by the E3800 processor. The OS is Tizen IVI ("automotive grade" Linux). A development kit was also announced, and there are already companies creating systems using this platform, according to Intel.
Subject: Processors | May 28, 2014 - 05:09 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: tablet, SoC, Rockchip, mobile, Intel, atom, arm, Android
While details about upcoming Haswell-E processors were reportedly leaking out, an official announcement from Intel was made on Tuesday about another CPU product - and this one isn't a high-end desktop part. The chip giant is partnering with the fabless semiconductor manufacturer Rockchip to create a low-cost SoC for Android devices under the Intel name, reportedly fabricated at TSMC.
We saw almost exactly the opposite of this arrangement last October, when it was announced that Altera would be using Intel to fab ARMv8 chips. Try to digest this: Instead of Intel agreeing to manufacture another company's chip with ARM's architecture in their fabs, they are going through what is said to be China's #1 tablet SoC manufacturer to produce x86 chips...at TSMC? It's a small - no, a strange world we live in!
From Intel's press release: "Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will deliver an Intel-branded mobile SoC platform. The quad-core platform will be based on an Intel® Atom™ processor core integrated with Intel's 3G modem technology."
As this upcoming x86 SoC is aimed at entry-level Android tablets this announcement might not seem to be exciting news at first glance, but it fills a short term need for Intel in their quest for market penetration in the ultramobile space dominated by ARM-based SoCs. The likes of Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, TI, and others (including Rockchip's RK series) currently account for 90% of the market, all using ARM.
As previously noted, this partnership is very interesting from an industry standpoint, as Intel is sharing their Atom IP with Rockchip to make this happen. Though if you think back, the move is isn't unprecedented... I recall something about a little company called Advanced Micro Devices that produced x86 chips for Intel in the past, and everything seemed to work out OK there...
When might we expect these new products in the Intel chip lineup codenamed SoFIA? Intel states "the dual-core 3G version (is) expected to ship in the fourth quarter of this year, the quad-core 3G version...expected to ship in the first half of 2015, and the LTE version, also due in the first half of next year." And again, this SoC will only be available in low-cost Android tablets under this partnership (though we might speculate on, say, an x86 SoC powered Surface or Ultrabook in the future?).
Subject: Processors | May 27, 2014 - 06:58 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: X99, rumors, octocore, lga2011, Intel, Haswell-E, cpu
As with any high-profile release there have been rumors circulating around Intel's upcoming high-end desktop processors for the X99 chipset, and a report today from Chinese site Coolaler claims to have the specs on these new Haswell-E CPU's.
Of particular interest are the core counts, which appear to have been increased compared to the current Ivy Bridge-E products. The lineup will reportedly include a 6-core i7-5820K, 6-core i7-5930K, and 8-core i7-5960X. Yep, not only are we looking at an octo-core desktop part but now even the "entry-level" Extreme part might have 6 cores.
Nothing wrong with more cores (and this will be especially attractive if we see the same MSRP's as Ivy Bridge-E) but there might be one caveat with the i7-5820K, as the reported specs show fewer PCIe lanes on this CPU with 28, compared to the 40 lanes found on the higher Haswell-E parts (and all current Ivy-Bridge-E parts).
Haswell-E would still provide more lanes than the current desktop i7 parts (an i7-4770K has only 16), but the disparity would create an interesting quandary for a potential adopter. Though x8 connections for multi-GPU setups is par for the course already on non-X79 desktop systems, the SATA Express and M.2 standards will put more of a premium on PCIe lane allocation for storage going forward.
Of course no official word from Intel on the matter yet, and only speculation on pricing. This is completely unsubstantiated, but is certainly of interest - particularly as hex-core i7's previously commanded the pricing of a more premium part in each prior iteration.
Subject: Mobile | May 24, 2014 - 11:47 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Windows 8.1, thinkpad 10, Lenovo, ips display, Intel, Bay Trail
Lenovo made the previously-rumored ThinkPad 10 tablet official earlier this month. The business-friendly tablet starts at $599 and will be available in a couple of weeks. Lenovo has packed in quite a bit of hardware into a 10-inch aluminum chassis to create a device capable of up to 10 hours of battery life (productivity not guaranteed).
The official ThinkPad 10 specifications closely match the previous rumors, but we do know a few more finer details. In particular, Lenovo has gone with an aluminum shell hosting a 10.1” 1920x1200 IPS display with 10-point multi-touch (and Gorilla Glass technology), two cameras (2MP webcam and 8MP rear camera), an optional digitizer pen, and a number of docking options.
Fans of handwriting recognition will be pleased with the confirmation of a digitizer while typists will be able to pair the 10-inch tablet with a keyboard dock. Lenovo is also offering a Quickshot cover accessory which is a soft screen cover/case that has a corner that can be easily folded to reveal the camera (and performing this action automatically opens up the camera app).
The tablet dock (which doubles as a charger) is a docking station that adds two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, and one Ethernet port. On the other hand, the keyboard dock has an angled slot for the ThinkPad 10 to sit in (there is no angled hinge here) and features a physical keyboard and small trackpad.
Finally, if you are more into the Microsoft Surface-style touch keyboard, Lenovo offers a case with an included touch-sensitive keyboard (keys with no physical actuation).
Internally, the ThinkPad 10 uses a Bay Trail Atom Z3795 SoC, either 2GB or 4GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of (eMMC 4.5.1) internal storage. Internal radios include 802.11n, Bluetooth, and cellular (3G and 4G LTE). The tablet itself has a micro HDMI video output, micro SD card slot for storage, and a single USB 2.0 port.
All decked out, you are looking at an aluminum-clad tablet weighing less than 1.4 pounds running the full version of Windows 8.1 that starts at $599 for the tablet itself. The four optional accessories (the docks and cases) will cost extra (see below). Note that the touch-sensitive keyboard case and a ruggedized case will be made available later this summer following the June launch of the tablet and other options.
The $599 price ($728 with keyboard) may scare away consumers wanting an entertainment device, but business users and content creators with frequent travel needs (see our own Ryan Shrout) will appreciate the niche features, battery life, and build quality.
For those curious, the accessory costs will break down as follows:
- Ultrabook Keyboard: $129
- Tablet Dock: $119
- Quickshot cover: $59
- Rugged Case: $69 (available later this summer)
- Touch Case: $119 (available later this summer)
Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2014 - 01:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: internet of things, security, Intel
Karen Lomas is Intel's director of the Internet of Things, from smart buildings to fridges and watched and she sat down to discuss the security of these devices and the future of ubiquitous computing. Intel expects that by 2020 there will be 26 billion internet connected devices and if we do not start to think about how to secure them now it will have serious repercussions in the future. There is a balance which needs to be struck so that consumers will not avoid using these devices because of security concerns nor because they are too restrictive to easily be used. As befits a Friday the discussion comes in video form.
"THE INQUIRER and Intel held an Internet of Things (IoT) event in London this week, where we sat down with IT professionals from a range of industry sectors to discuss how the growing thirst for internet-connected devices can be used in business, and how this should be done."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- CastAR and Holographic Print Preview for 3D Printers! @ Hack a Day
- Apple rolls out Safari update with critical security fixes @ The Inquirer
- Redmond won't fix IE 8 zero day, says 'harden up' instead @ The Register
- Graphics card demand drops in 2Q14 partly because of changes in Bitcoin ecosystem @ DigiTimes
- Top 10 Open Source Linux and Android SBCs @ Linux.com
- Forget phones, BlackBerry's new Project Ion is all about THINGS @ The Register/A>
- Samsung joining virtual reality race with Galaxy headset @ The Register
- The Internet of Things needs a security model to protect user data @ The Inquirer
- Intel extends incentives to boost development of Intel-based tablets @ DigiTimes
- What's that crunching noise? Lenovo running over rivals' bones @ The Register
- QuakeCon BYOC Seat Giveaway @ Modders-Inc
- Gigabyte Aorus Press-Event @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | May 22, 2014 - 06:42 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Z97 Gaming 7, z97, xiaomi, video, tegra k1, tegra, SATA Express, podcast, msi, Intel, in win 901, Broadwell, asmedia, amd, 16nm
PC Perspective Podcast #301 - 05/22/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the IN WIN 901 Chassis, MSI Z97 Gaming 7 Motherboard, R9 Price Drops and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Maleventano
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | May 22, 2014 - 04:58 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: tegra k1, nvidia, iris pro, iris, Intel, hd 4000
The Chinese tech site, Evolife, acquired a few benchmarks for the Tegra K1. We do not know exactly where they got the system from, but we know that it has 4GB of RAM and 12 GB of storage. Of course, this is the version with four ARM Cortex-A15 cores (not the upcoming, 64-bit version based on Project Denver). On 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, it was capable of 25737 points, full system.
Image Credit: Evolife.cn
You might remember that our tests with an Intel Core i5-3317U (Ivy Bridge), back in September, achieved a score of 25630 on 3DMark Ice Storm. Of course, that was using the built-in Intel HD 4000 graphics, not a discrete solution, but it still kept up for gaming. This makes sense, though. Intel HD 4000 (GT2) graphics has a theoretical performance of 332.8 GFLOPs, while the Tegra K1 is rated at 364.8 GFLOPs. Earlier, we said that its theoretical performance is roughly on par with the GeForce 9600 GT, although the Tegra K1 supports newer APIs.
Of course, Intel has released better solutions with Haswell. Benchmarks show that Iris Pro is able to play Battlefield 4 on High settings, at 720p, with about 30FPS. The HD 4000 only gets about 12 FPS with the same configuration (and ~30 FPS on Low). This is not to compare Intel to NVIDIA's mobile part, but rather compare Tegra K1 to modern, mainstream laptops and desktops. It is getting fairly close, especially with the first wave of K1 tablets entering at the mid-$200 USD MSRP in China.
As a final note...
There was a time where Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, said that the difference between high-end and low-end PCs "is something like 100x". Scaling a single game between the two performance tiers would be next-to impossible. He noted that ten years earlier, that factor was more "10x".
Now, an original GeForce Titan is about 12x faster than the Tegra K1 and they support the same feature set. In other words, it is easier to develop a game for the PC and high-end tablet than it was to develop an PC game for high-end and low-end machines, back in 2008. PC Gaming is, once again, getting healthier.