Subject: Motherboards | March 30, 2015 - 03:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, Z97X Gaming 7, z97, Intel
The Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 7 motherboard offers a nice balance between price and performance, at $172 it is a bit pricey but when on sale for around the $150 mark it is a great deal. The onboard audio provided by Realtek's ALC1150 produced very good sound and while the Qualcomm Killer NIC E2201 doesn't offer benefits over a more generic NIC there are those who prefer the software which comes with it. The board overclocked very well for [H] manually, providing noticeable boosts with solid performance, however the EasyTune software provided them with some issues. Check out the full review right here.
"GIGABYTE's Z97X Gaming 7 promises solid overclocking and performance. The feature list for the Z97X Gaming 7 is long and includes gamer focused features like a dedicated audio amplifier, Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 support and more. We've had mixed results with the GIGABYTE lately, so the real question is; does it work?"
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- Gigabyte X99 SOC Champion Overclocking Motherboard Review @ Hardware Asylum
- igabyte X99 SOC Champion, Budget Overclocker? @ Bjorn3d
- ASRock X99 WS-E @ The SSD Review
- Asus X99 Deluxe Redux, Battle Of the BIOS! @ Bjorn3d
- MSI 970 GAMING @ Modders-Inc
Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2015 - 02:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Xeon Phi, silvermont, knights landing, Intel
Today a bit more information about Intel's upcoming Knights Landing platform appeared at The Register. The 60 core and 240 thread figure is quoted once again though now we know there is over 8 billion transistors on the chip, which does not include the 16 GB of near memory also present on the package. The processor will support six memory channel, three each in two memory controllers on the die, with a total of 384 GB of far memory. The terms near and far are new, representing onboard and external memory respectively. There is a lot more information you can dig into by following the link on The Register to this long article posted at The Platform.
"Intel has set some rumours to rest, giving a media and analyst briefing outlining details of its coming 60-plus core Knights Landing Xeon Phi chip."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Silent server monitoring: A neat little cure that doesn't kill the patient @ The Register
- Qualcomm, MediaTek shifting some 28nm chip orders away from TSMC @ DigiTimes
- Quebec Plans To Require Website Blocking, Studies New Internet Access Tax @ Slashdot
- Intel and Micron team up on 3D NAND flash memory for 10TB SSDs @ The Inquirer
- Toshiba and Sandisk announce BiCS as the first 48-layer 3D flash chip @ The Inquirer
Subject: Storage | March 26, 2015 - 02:12 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: storage, ssd, planar, nand, micron, M.2, Intel, imft, floating-gate, 3d nand
Intel and Micron are jointly announcing new 3D NAND technology that will radically increase solid-storage capacity going forward. The companies have indicated that moving to this technology will allow for the type of rapid increases in capacity that are consistent with Moore’s Law.
The way Intel and Micron are approaching 3D NAND is very different from existing 3D technologies from Samsung and now Toshiba. The implementation of floating-gate technology and “unique design choices” has produced startling densities of 256 Gb MLC, and a whopping 384 Gb with TLC. The choice to base this new 3D NAND on floating-gate technology allows development with a well-known entity, and benefits from the knowledge base that Intel and Micron have working with this technology on planar NAND over their long partnership.
What does this mean for consumers? This new 3D NAND enables greater than 10TB capacity on a standard 2.5” SSD, and 3.5TB on M.2 form-factor drives. These capacities are possible with the industry’s highest density 3D NAND, as the >3.5TB M.2 capacity can be achieved with just 5 packages of 16 stacked dies with 384 Gb TLC.
A 3D NAND cross section from Allyn's Samsung 850 Pro review
While such high density might suggest reliance on ever-shrinking process technology (and the inherent loss of durability thus associated) Intel is likely using a larger process for this NAND. Though they would not comment on this, Intel could be using something roughly equivalent to 50nm flash with this new 3D NAND. In the past die shrinks have been used to increase capacity per die (and yields) such as IMFT's move to 20nm back in 2011, but with the ability to achieve greater capacity vertically using 3D cell technology a smaller process is not necessary to achieve greater density. Additionally, working with a larger process would allow for better endurance as, for example, 50nm MLC was on the order of 10,000 program/erase cycles. Samsung similarly moved to a larger process with with their initial 3D NAND, moving from their existing 20nm technology back to 30nm with 3D production.
This announcement is also interesting considering Toshiba has just entered this space as well having announced 48-layer 128 Gb density 3D NAND, and like Samsung, they are moving away from floating-gate and using their own charge-trap implementation they are calling BiCS (Bit Cost Scaling). However with this Intel/Micron announcement the emphasis is on the ability to offer a 3x increase in capacity using the venerable floating-gate technology from planar NAND, which gives Intel / Micron an attractive position in the market - depending on price/performance of course. And while these very large capacity drives seem destined to be expensive at first, the cost structure is likely to be similar to current NAND. All of this remains to be seen, but this is indeed promising news for the future of flash storage as it will now scale up to (and beyond) spinning media capacity - unless 3D tech is implemented in hard drive production, that is.
So when will Intel and Micron’s new technology enter the consumer market? It could be later this year as Intel and Micron have already begun sampling the new NAND to manufacturers. Manufacturing has started in Singapore, plus ground has also been broken at the IMFT fab in Utah to support production here in the United States.
Subject: Processors, Mobile | March 25, 2015 - 09:51 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, core m, atom, surface, Surface 2, Windows 8.1, windows 10
The stack of Microsoft tablet devices had high-end Intel Core processors hovering over ARM SoCs, the two separated by a simple “Pro” label (and Windows 8.x versus Windows RT). While the Pro line has been kept reasonably up to date, the lower tier has been stagnant for a while. That is apparently going to change. WinBeta believes that a new, non-Pro Surface will be announced soon, at or before BUILD 2015. Unlike previous Surface models, it will be powered by an x86 processor from Intel, either an Atom or a Core M.
This also means it will run Windows 8.1.
The article claims, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that Windows RT is dead. No. But still, the device should be eligible for a Windows 10 upgrade when it launches, unlike the RT-based Surfaces. Whether that is a surprise depends on the direction you view it from. I would find it silly for Microsoft to release a new Surface device, months before an OS update, but design it to be incompatible with it. On the other hand, it would be the first non-Pro Surface to do so. Either way, it was reported.
The “Surface 3”, whatever it will be called, is expected to be a fanless design. VR-Zone expects that it will be similar to the 10.6-inch, 1080p form factor of the Surface 2, but that seems to be their speculation. That is about all that we know thus far.
The perfect laptop; it is every manufacturer’s goal. Obviously no one has gotten there yet (or we would have all stopped writing reviews of them). At CES this past January, we got our first glimpse of a new flagship Ultrabook from Dell: the XPS 13. It got immediate attention for some of the physical characteristics it included, like an ultra-thin bezel and a 13-in screen in the body of a typical 11-in laptop, all while being built in a sleek thin and light design. It’s not a gaming machine, despite what you might remember from the XPS line, but the Intel Core-series Broadwell-U processor keeps performance speedy in standard computing tasks.
As a frequent traveler that tends to err on the side of thin and light designs, as opposed to high performance notebooks with discrete graphics, the Dell XPS 13 is immediately compelling on a personal level as well. I have long been known as a fan of what Lenovo builds for this space, trusting my work machine requirements to the ThinkPad line for years and year. Dell’s new XPS 13 is a strong contender to take away that top spot for me and perhaps force me down the path of an upgrade of my own. So, you might consider this review as my personal thesis on the viability of said change.
The Dell XPS 13 Specifications
First, make sure as you hunt around the web for information on the XPS 13 that you are focusing on the new 2015 model. Much like we see from Apple, Dell reuses model names and that can cause confusion unless you know what specifications to look for or exactly what sub-model you need. Trust me, the new XPS 13 is much better than anything that existed before.
Subject: Motherboards | March 20, 2015 - 06:31 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, x99-soc champion, Intel, X99
Relatively new to the market is the $360ish Gigabyte X-99-SOC Champion, expensive compared to previous Intel boards but a decent price for an X99 board. It has four PCIe 16x slots of which two can only run at 8x maximum as well as three PCIe 1x slots, a single M.2 and a single SEx connector as well as a half dozen SATA 6Gbps ports which can run in RAID and another 4 which are only able to run in AHCI mode. There are no C-type connectors but there are a plethora of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports as well as a Thunderbolt header. This is definitely a board for power users and manual overclockers as you can see in Hardware Canucks review here.
You can also expect to see Morry's review of this Gigabyte board in the very near future.
"GIGABYTE's X99-SOC Champion seems to have everything it takes to become a legendary motherboard. It has high end overclocking built into its bones and a low price but will that lead to success?"
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASUS X99-A Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- EVGA X99 Classified @ Modders-Inc
- Asus TUF Sabertooth X99 @ Kitguru
- ECS Z97-MACHINE Review @ OCC
Subject: General Tech | March 19, 2015 - 06:12 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Xeon D, X99, windows 10, video, usb 3.1, titan x, podcast, nvidia, msi, Intel, HSA 1.0, gtx titan x, gtc 2015, digits devbox, DIGITS, asrock
Join us this week as we the NVIDIA GTX TITAN X, News from GTC2015, Mini-ITX X99 motherboard 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: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Teitelman
Program length: 1:16:27
Subject: Processors | March 17, 2015 - 03:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Ivy Bridge-E, Intel, i7-4970K, i7-4960X, i7-4770k, Haswell-E
TechPowerUp has put together a quick overview of the differences of Intel's current offerings for your reference when purchasing a new machine or considering an upgrade. The older i7-4770K would run you $310 as compared to $338 for the i7-4790K or $385 for an i7-5820K while the i7-4960X would set you back $1025. Is it worth upgrading your machine if you have an older Haswell, or going full hog to pick up the $1000 flagship model? The results are presented in a handy format and while perhaps not an in depth review the results are quite striking, especially the performance while gaming.
"We review the Haswell-E lineup by pitting all its processors against each other and the Ivy Bridge-E Intel Core i7-4960X, Haswell Refresh Intel Core i7-4970K, and Haswell Intel Core i7-4770K. If you are looking to build a high-end gaming PC, or are looking to upgrade, then look no further: This review will tell you which CPU you will want to get to cover your needs."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- A6-6400K vs. Pentium G3220 CPU Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Core i7-5960X CPU Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Intel Core i5 4690K - the 5GHz project @ HardwareOverclock
Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2015 - 12:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Q1, Intel, earnings, billions
Earlier in the week came distressing news from many manufacturers of PC components and now Intel has made their financial state a little clearer. The Register has posted the numbers, predicted earnings for Q1 of this year have dropped from USD13.7 billion +/- $500 million, down to USD12.8bn +/- $300 million. Losing about a billion dollars in profit is going to hurt anyone, even the mighty Intel. The drop in the PC market comes from a variety of sources but two of the most likely candidates are the lack of cash in consumers pockets to upgrade and a lack of competition driving an urge to upgrade. Once many gamers would willing live on ramen noodles for a time so that they could afford the next GPU or CPU upgrade thanks to the impressive performance increases the next generation offered. Now new releases tend to offer a small incremental performance increase and occasionally new features which are impressive but nowhere near what an upgrade 10 years ago offered. Certainly part of the issue is the difficult of coaxing a bit more performance out of silicon and with the reduced competition it is less financially attractive to fund expensive and risky R&D projects than it is to work on small incremental increases in efficiency and performance.
Here's hoping for a change to this market in the coming years.
"Intel has lowered its revenue forecast for the first quarter of its fiscal 2015 by nearly a billion dollars, citing a weaker than expected PC market."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- IBM Reported To Be Developing Blockchain-Based Currency Transaction System @ Slashdot
- Linksys EA9200 Tri-Band Router Review @ Hardware Canucks
- This isn't Net Neutrality. This is Net Google. This is Net Netflix – the FCC's new masters @ The Register
Subject: Editorial, Processors | March 12, 2015 - 08:29 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Xeon D, xeon, servers, opinion, microserver, Intel
Intel dealt a blow to AMD and ARM this week with the introduction of the Xeon Processor D Product Family of low power server SoCs. The new Xeon D chips use Intel’s latest 14nm process and top out at 45W. The chips are aimed at low power high density servers for general web hosting, storage clusters, web caches, and networking hardware.
Currently, Intel has announced two Xeon D chips, the Xeon D-1540 and Xeon D-1520. Both chips are comprised of two dies inside a single package. The main die uses a 14nm process and holds the CPU cores, L3 cache, DDR3 and DDR4 memory controllers, networking controller, PCI-E 3.0, and USB 3.0 while a secondary die using a larger (but easier to implement) manufacturing process hosts the higher latency I/O that would traditionally sit on the southbridge including SATA, PCI-E 2.0, and USB 2.0.
In all, a fairly typical SoC setup from Intel. The specifics are where things get interesting, however. At the top end, Xeon D offers eight Broadwell-based CPU cores (with Hyper-Threading for 16 total threads) clocked at 2.0 GHz base and 2.5 GHz max all-core Turbo (2.6 GHz on a single core). The cores are slightly more efficient than Haswell, especially in this low power setup. The eight cores can tap into 12MB of L3 cache as well as up to 128GB of registered ECC memory (or 64GB unbuffered and/or SODIMMs) in DDR3 1600 MHz or DDR4 2133 MHz flavors. Xeon D also features 24 PCI-E 3.0 lanes (which can be broken up to as small as six PCI-E 3.0 x4 lanes or in a x16+x8 configuration among others), eight PCI-E 2.0 lanes, two 10GbE connections, six SATA III 6.0 Gbps channels, four USB 3.0 ports, and four USB 2.0 ports.
All of this hardware is rolled into a part with a 45W TDP. Needless to say, this is a new level of efficiency for Xeons! Intel chose to compare the new chips to its Atom C2000 “Avoton” (Silvermont-based) SoCs which were also aimed at low power servers and related devices. According to the company, Xeon D offers up to 3.4-times the performance and 1.7-times the performance-per-watt of the top end Atom C2750 processor. Keeping in mind that Xeon D uses approximately twice the power as Atom C2000, it is still looking good for Intel since you are getting more than twice the performance and a more power efficient part. Further, while the TDPs are much higher,
Intel has packed Xeon D with a slew of power management technology including Integrated Voltage Regulation (IVR), an energy efficient turbo mode that will analyze whether increased frequencies actually help get work done faster (and if not will reduce turbo to allow extra power to be used elsewhere on the chip or to simply reduce wasted energy), and optional “hardware power management” that allows the processor itself to determine the appropriate power and sleep states independently from the OS.
Being server parts, Xeon D supports ECC, PCI-E Non-Transparent Bridging, memory and PCI-E Checksums, and corrected (errata-free) TSX instructions.
Ars Technica notes that Xeon D is strictly single socket and that Intel has reserved multi-socket servers for its higher end and more expensive Xeons (Haswell-EP). Where does the “high density” I mentioned come from then? Well, by cramming as many Xeon D SoCs on small motherboards with their own RAM and IO into rack mounted cases as possible, of course! It is hard to say just how many Xeon Ds will fit in a 1U, 2U, or even 4U rack mounted system without seeing associated motherboards and networking hardware needed but Xeon D should fare better than Avoton in this case since we are looking at higher bandwidth networking links and more PCI-E lanes, but AMD with SeaMicro’s Freedom Fabric and head start on low power x86 and ARM-based Opteron chip research as well as other ARM-based companies like AppliedMicro (X-Gene) will have a slight density advantage (though the Intel chips will be faster per chip).
Which brings me to my final point. Xeon D truly appears like a shot across both ARM and AMD’s bow. It seems like Intel is not content with it’s dominant position in the overall server market and is putting its weight into a move to take over the low power server market as well, a niche that ARM and AMD in particular have been actively pursuing. Intel is not quite to the low power levels that AMD and other ARM-based companies are, but bringing Xeon down to 45W (with Atom-based solutions going upwards performance wise), the Intel juggernaut is closing in and I’m interested to see how it all plays out.
Right now, ARM still has the TDP and customization advantage (where customers can create custom chips and cores to suit their exact needs) and AMD will be able to leverage its GPU expertise by including processor graphics for a leg up on highly multi-threaded GPGPU workloads. On the other hand, Intel has the better manufacturing process and engineering budget. Xeon D seems to be the first step towards going after a market that they have in the past not really focused on.
With Intel pushing its weight around, where will that leave the little guys that I have been rooting for in this low power high density server space?