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Western Digital MAMR Tech Pushes Future HDDs Beyond 40TB

Subject: Storage | October 11, 2017 - 11:16 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, STO, Spin Torque Oscillator, SMR, PMR, Microwave Assisted Magnetic Recording, microwave, MAMR, HAMR, FMR

Today Western Digital made a rather significant announcement in the field of HDD technology. We’ve previously talked about upcoming ways to increase the density of HDD storage, with the seeming vaporware Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) forever looming on the horizon, just out of reach.

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WD, like others, have been researching HAMR as a possible way of increasing platter densities moving forward. They were even showing off prototypes of the technology back in 2013, but a prototype is a far cry from a production ready, fully reliable product. Seagate had been making stronger promises of HAMR, but since we are already 5 years into their 10-year prediction of 60TB HAMR HDDs (followed by further delays), it's not looking like we will see a production ready HAMR HDD model any time soon.

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Ok, so HAMR is not viable for now, but what can we do? Seems WD has figured it out, and it's a technology they have been kicking around their labs for nearly a decade. Above we see the PMR limit of ~1.1 Terabits/square inch. SMR pushes that figure to 1.4, but we are running up against the so-called 'writeability limit', which is the point at which the write head / magnetic field is too small to overcome the paramagnetic threshold of the smaller magnetic domains of higher density media. We are used to hearing that the only way to raise that limit was to heat the media with a laser while writing (HAMR), but there is a different / better way - Microwave Assisted Magnetic Recording, or MAMR for short.

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Don't let the 'microwave' part of the term fool you - we are not microwaving the media with sufficient energy to actually heat it. Instead, we are doing something *way* cooler. The slide above shows how smaller grain size (higher density) requires a stronger write field to reach sufficient energy levels to reliably store a bit of data. Now check out the next slide:

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This is a lot to grasp but allow me to paraphrase greatly. Imagine a magnet with a north and south pole. If you came along with a stronger magnet and attempted to reverse its polarity by directly opposing the currently stored state, it's generally difficult to do so. Current HDD tech relies on the field being strong enough to overcome the stored polarity, but MAMR employs a Spin Torque Oscillator, which operates at a high enough frequency (20-40 GHz) to match the ferromagnetic resonance of the media. This causes a precession of the stored field (like a gyroscope) and tilts it about its vertical axis. This resonance adds the extra energy (in addition to the write field) needed to flip the field to the desired direction. What's amazing about this whole process is that thanks to the resonance effects, the STO can increase the effectiveness of the write field 3-4x while only consuming ~1/100th of the power compared to that needed to generate the write field. This reduction in the damping constant of the media is what will enable smaller magnetic domains, therefore higher platter densities in future MAMR-equipped HDDs.

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One of the best things about this new tech is that it is just a simple addition to all of other technologies already in place today. Western Digital was already making their drive heads with an advanced 'damascene' process, silently introduced about three years ago. To oversimplify the description, damascene is a process that enables greater physical precision in the shape of the head, which helps increase density. What makes this process a bigger deal now is that it more easily enables integration of the Spin Torque Oscillator into the head assembly. Aside from this head-level change and another pair of leads to provide a very small drive current (~1-2mA), every other aspect of the drive is identical to what we have today. When it comes to a relatively radical change to how the writing can be accomplished at these upcoming higher densities, doing so without needing to change any of the other fundamental technologies of the drive is a good thing. By no change, I really mean no change - MAMR can be employed on current helium-filled drives. Even SMR.

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Western Digital also slipped in another announcement, which is the shift from the older style 'nested actuator' (introduced with 2TB HDDs back in 2009), to a newer 'micro-actuator'. The newer actuator moves the articulation point much closer to the head compared to the previous technology, enabling even finer head tracking, ultimately resulting in increased track pitch. WD currently sits somewhere around 400 tracks per inch (TPI), but they hope to reach 1 million (!) thanks to this new tracking combined with MAMR and improved media chemistry.

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Now this doesn't mean we will see a sudden influx of 40TB HDDs hitting the market next week. WD still has to scale up production of STO-enabled heads, and even after that is complete, the media technology still needs to catch up to the maximum capabilities of what MAMR can achieve (creating smaller magnetic domains on the disk surface, etc). Still, it's nice to know that there is a far simpler way to flip those stored bits around without having to resort to HAMR, which seems to be perpetually years away from production. Speaking of which, I'll leave you with WD's reliability comparison between their own HAMR and MAMR technologies. Which would you choose?

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Oh yeah, and about that supposed SSD vs. HDD cost/GB crossover point. It may not be as soon as we previously thought:

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Full press blast appears after the break.

MechWarrior returns

Subject: General Tech | October 11, 2017 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: gaming, mechwarrior 5, unreal engine 4

There will still be a long wait for a new mech game, but at least now we are waiting on a definite product or two.  Piranha Games have started showing off gameplay of MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries and those who have tried it have been quite impressed.  MechWarrior Online has been somewhat satisfying but there are many that have missed a campaign based single player game.  This new game will share the DNA of previous Mercenary releases, putting you in complete charge of a mercenary lance of mechs, searching for contracts that bring in enough money to keep your mechs repaired and provide your pilots salaries.  PC Gamer had some hands on time with the new game as well as a discussion with the developers.  Head on over to take a peek.

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"To that end, MechWarrior 5 will feature an unprecedented number of mechs to choose from. "Most MechWarrior games have had maybe 12 to 15 different mech chassis," Bullock explains. “We’re looking at having upwards of 60 chassis with 300 to 400 variants. You could probably play the game multiple times within just one Great House’s space and see different combinations on the free market.""

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: PC Gamer

Making HEDT great again

Subject: General Tech | October 11, 2017 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: X399, x299, Threadripper, skylake-x, ryzen, Intel, amd

Over at [H]ard|OCP is a look at the current market and the resurgence of competition which we are currently enjoying.  As opposed to several pages of detailed benchmarks, the article focuses on the various feature sets that AMD and Intel currently offer and the effect it has on your current system choices.  They consider a wide variety of aspects, from the quality and quantity of PCIe lanes offered on X399 and X299 platforms through to the very different choices the companies have made when it comes to PCIe storage and RAID.  It has been quite a while since we have seen the competition between AMD and Intel heat up to these levels and it is wonderful to see. 

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"I’ve spent quite a bit of time with AMD’s Threadripper and X399 chipset and I thought I’d give our readers my impression of it and talk about the platform as well as giving interested consumers a general overview of the platform and what it has to offer. We compare it to Intel’s HEDT platform and give our take on this match up."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

How hot is your Coffee?

Subject: Processors | October 10, 2017 - 06:35 PM |
Tagged: Intel, coffee lake, i7 8700k

The Tech Report addresses two questions about Intel's i7-8700K in their latest review, how to keep it running cool and how the multi-core enhancement feature changes that answer.  Multi-core enhancement is a BIOS level overclocking feature which allows all cores on Coffee Lake processors to hit the full boost clock instead of only a single core.  In this example, a single core could hit 4.7 GHz while the other cores are being limited to 4.3GHz, however with multi-core enhancement enabled that limit is removed and all cores can hit 4.7GHz simultaneously.  As with any type of overclock this produces significantly more heat and requires more cooling.

This enhancement means there are two answers to the question about cooling your Coffee.  With the enhancement feature disabled you should be just fine with a CM Hyper 212 Evo or equivalent heatsink, however with MCE enabled even a Corsair H115i shows a 90° C package temperature with core temps between 84-90C.  Keep this in mind when shopping for parts; it is nice to have all cores running at their full Boost Clock but you will need to be able to cool them or else see throttling as the chip sense Tjunction temps in excess of 100C.

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"Intel's Core i7-8700K proved an exceptionally well-rounded chip in our testing, but the company's choice of thermal interface material has left many wondering whether the Coffee Lake flagship will prove a challenge to keep cool. We establish a handy baseline for what might make a chip "difficult" to cool and see whether the Core i7-8700K falls on the wrong side of the line."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

How a ThinkPad is born

During Lenovo's recent ThinkPad 25th Anniversary Event in Yokohama, Japan, we were given an opportunity to learn a lot about the evolution of the ThinkPad brand over the years.

One of the most significant sources of pride mentioned by the Lenovo executives in charge of the ThinkPad division during this event was the team's Yamato Laboratory. Formerly located in Yamato City (hence the name) and relocated to Yokohama in 2011, the Yamato Labs have been responsible for every ThinkPad product, dating back to the IBM days and the original ThinkPad 700C.

This continuity from the earliest days of ThinkPad has helped provide a standard of quality and education passed down from engineer to engineer over the last 25 years of the ThinkPad brand. In fact, some of the original engineers from 1987 are still with the company and working on the latest and greatest ThinkPad innovations. It's impressive to see such continuity and pride in the Japanese development team considering Lenovo's acquisition of the brand back in 2005.

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One of the most exciting things was a peek at some of the tests that every device bearing the ThinkPad name must go through, including non-notebook devices like the X1 Tablet.

Click here to continue reading our article about ThinkPad testing

Cooler Master releases the MasterCase H500P and MasterBox MB600L

Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 10, 2017 - 03:25 PM |
Tagged: MasterBox MB600L, MasterCase H500P, cooler master

Today CoolerMaster announced two cases, the MasterCase H500P and MasterBox MB600L and there are already some reviews of the MasterCase posted, which you can see below.  The MasterBox MB600L is larger and less flamboyant than the MasterCase and is a better choice for those of us who prefer less RGBs in their lives.

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The MB600L will accommodate GPUs of up to 400mm, heatsinks 160mm in height or radiators of 360mm if you prefer watercooling.  You can get the MB600L in red, blue and gunmetal exteriors and there will be models with an optical bay if you do still use DVDs.  The case will sell for $50 and is available now.

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The MasterCase H500P is for those who want a case that stands out, the front panel shows off two 200mm RGB fans which can be controlled from compatible motherboards and there is space for two more to be installed on the top.  If you prefer watercooling, you can replace the fans in both positions with up to a 360mm radiator.  There are two PCI slots at the rear of the H500P so you can vertically mount your GPU to show it off, without needing additional brackets. 

You can see some reviews of the MasterCase below.

CASES & COOLING

Source: CoolerMaster

The unofficial launch of the GTX 1070 Ti

Subject: General Tech | October 10, 2017 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, leak, gtx 1070 ti

Over at TechARP is a compilation of all the information which has leaked out about NVIDIA's upcoming GTX 1070 Ti.  Perhaps the two most important pieces of data were the scheduled launch date of October 26th and the MSRP of $429; though considering the current state of the GPU market supplies will dry up and the price shoot up very quickly.  The card is closer to a GTX 1080, sporting the same base frequency but a boost clock of 1683 MHz which is 50MHz less than a stock GTX 1080.  The card will have fewer CUDA cores, a total of 2432 along with 64 ROPs.  The 8GB of memory will provide 256 GB/s of memory bandwidth, somewhat short of the 320 GB/s a GTX 1080 offers.  Pop by TechARP for more leaked details.

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"As mentioned above, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Ti is expected to have a launch price of US$ 429. Of course, the actual street prices will be somewhat higher, and there will be different overclocked versions offered at higher prices."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: TechARP

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 387.92 Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 9, 2017 - 09:28 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

NVIDIA gave their graphics drivers a decent version bump today, from 385.69 to 387.92. When the first number jumps, it seems to mean that we are on a new feature branch, rather than just adding bug fixes and game-specific improvements to an existing branch. (Sometimes they just ran out of the second set of numbers, though. You can tell the difference because the release notes will typically state the old number. For example, 385.69’s release notes, which is the previous driver release, state “Release 384 Graphics Drivers for Windows, Version 385.69”.)

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There’s a bunch of new features this time, including OpenGL 4.6 support (assuming the driver passes conformance), HDR in NVIDIA GameStream, Fast Sync in SLI mode, 32-bit optimizations for Vulkan, and support for DXIL. This last one is kind-of interesting for two reasons: first, it allows shaders to be written in LLVM bytecode, like Vulkan’s SPIR-V and, second, it introduces Shader Model 6.0. This isn’t as big as the jumps that we saw in the DirectX 9 era, but it allows operations that cross between shader threads, like wave ballots and reduction.

In this release, NVIDIA has also added game-specific optimizations for Arktika.1, The Evil Within 2, Forza Motorsport 7, and tomorrow’s Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. The following games were also given a new SLI profile: Earthfall, Lawbreakers, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Nex Machina, ReCore, RiME, Snake Pass, Tekken 7, The Evil Within 2, and We Happy Few.

Pick it up from GeForce Experience or NVIDIA’s website.

Source: NVIDIA
Author:
Manufacturer: FSP Group

Introduction and Features

Introduction

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FSP’s new Hydro PTM lineup is part of their top-tier Premium Series and currently includes three models: 750W, 650W, and 550W. We will be taking a detailed look at the 750W Platinum model in this review. FSP Group Inc. has been designing and building PC power supplies under their own brand since 2003. Not only do they market power supplies under their own FSP name but they are the OEM for many other big name brands. Now you might be thinking “Hydro” refers to water-cooling but like we saw last year with the Hydro G series power supplies, the Platinum Series all use conventional air cooling. The Hydro apparently refers to the “Hydro Dynamic Bearing” used in the cooling fan (more commonly referred to as a FDB – Fluid Dynamic Bearing).

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FSP developed the Hydro Platinum Series with an advanced thermal layout design. The units come with all modular cables and are certified to comply with the 80 Plus Platinum efficiency criteria. The power supplies are designed to deliver tight voltage regulation with excellent AC ripple and noise suppression. All Hydro PTM Series power supplies incorporate a quiet 135mm cooling fan and they come backed with a 10-year warranty!

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FSP Hydro PTM Series PSU Key Features:

•    550W, 650W or 750W continuous DC output @ 50°C
•    High efficiency, 80 PLUS Platinum certified ≥92%
•    Complies with newest ATX12V v2.4 & EPS12 v2.92 standards
•    100% Japanese made electrolytic capacitors
•    Quiet 135mm Fluid Dynamic Bearing fan
•    Powerful single +12V rail design
•    Advanced thermal layout design
•    Fully modular with flat ribbon-style cables
•    SLI, Crossfire, and VR ready
•    Protections: OVP, UVP, OCP, OPP, SCP and OTP
•    10-Year Manufacturer’s warranty
•    $124.99 USD (Amazon.com, Oct. 2017)

Please continue reading our review of the FSP Hydro PTM 750W PSU!!!

MSI Announces X399 SLI PLUS Motherboard for AMD Threadripper

Subject: Motherboards | October 9, 2017 - 03:20 PM |
Tagged: msi, amd, Threadripper, X399, X399 SLI Plus, motherboard, workstation

MSI has announced a new X399 workstation motherboard for AMD Threadripper processors with the X399 SLI PLUS, a performance-oriented option with a full compliment of the company's premium motherboard features.

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"Perfect for content creators who are looking for a great performer with plenty of connectivity options, MSI’s new X399 SLI PLUS is an optimized workstation motherboard, built for designers. Featuring heavy plated heatsinks, Military Class V components and numerous unique and patented performance enhancing features, this motherboard is the best choice for professionals looking for speed and stability."

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MSI's feature list includes:

  • Supports AMD RYZEN THREADRIPPER Series Processors
  • Support 8 DIMMs, Quad Channel DDR4 3600+ (OC)
  • DDR4 Boost: Advanced technology provided by MSI OC lab to ensure maximum compatibility for overclocking performance.
  • AUDIO BOOST 4: Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality for the most immersive audio experience
  • Mystic Light and Mystic Light Sync: Personalize your PC with 16.8 million colors / 17 effects controlled in one click with the Mystic Light APP or a mobile device.
  • Professional IO cover & heatsink: Stunning looks, protecting the I/O ports
  • EZ Debug LED: Easiest way to troubleshoot
  • Lightning Fast Game experience: 3 x Turbo M.2 , 1 x M.2 Shield, and Lightning USB 3.1 Gen2
  • Lightning USB: Double bandwidth, supports USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A + Type C
  • PCI-E Steel Armor: Protecting VGA cards against bending and EMI
  • X-Boost: Great tool to boost your USB & Storage performance
  • Double ESD Protection: Double layer grounding motherboard mounting holes
  • Military Class 6, Guard-Pro: Latest evolution in high quality components for best protection and efficiency
  • Click BIOS 5: Award-winning BIOS with high resolution scalable font, favorites and search function
  • VR Ready: Best virtual reality game experience without latency, reduces motion sickness

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The cost and actual release date were not provided by MSI, but it should be listed for sale soon at the usual places.

Source: MSI

Microsoft Once Again Backs Away from Windows 10 Mobile

Subject: Mobile | October 8, 2017 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10 mobile, windows 10

Windows 10 Mobile has been in a holding pattern for a couple of years now. Microsoft has not really announced any new hardware initiatives, but they were also saying, consistently, that the platform would get revisited in some other year. Likewise, they were keeping the mobile OS up-to-date, even tying Insider builds roughly in lockstep with PC build releases. If you were also paying attention to the Windows on ARM announcements, you could assume that Microsoft was waiting for several pieces to fall into place before pushing, once more, with all of their weight.

 

 

Today, Joe Belfiore of Microsoft has tweeted that features and hardware “aren’t the focus”. Windows Central goes on to note that some enterprises have already adopted Windows 10 Mobile.

 

 

He also goes on to discuss initiatives that they’ve attempted to attract app developers. They commissioned works, and even built apps to get third-parties started. They didn’t take off because there wasn’t enough users. (Personally, I was scared off by development requirements and restrictions back in the Windows 8 Developer Preview days, which is an ongoing issue with UWP. That said, the developers that Joe Belfiore is talking about are the type who would publish on iOS, so that’s not an issue for them.)

But let’s think about this for a second. Microsoft still seems to be pushing Windows 10 for ARM, and it’s ever-less likely to be for an upcoming mobile initiative. So, why are they doing that? I can see how they would be concerned that Intel and AMD, in the future, repeat the mistakes of ~2007-2010 and fail to keep up with ARM vendors on an important market segment (which was tablets and mobile phones at the time, but might not be going forward). It could be a good opportunity to make this big change while the rest of the company is struggling with many other big changes, rather than waiting for the dust to settle to try again (although that’s already happened a few time over the last several years). Also, there are some implications for the server market, although I always assumed things like x86 emulation was for the consumer and enterprise markets.

It’s also possible that they don’t really have a cohesive plan. Some of these ideas could be running on momentum alone, until they gradually come to a stop.

Extreme Overclockers Fill Coffee Lake With Liquid Nitrogen

Subject: Processors | October 6, 2017 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: Extreme Overclocking Competition, overclocking, liquid nitrogen, coffee lake, i7 8700k

A new CPU means new overclocking challenges and with it comes a new batch of refreshed Z370 motherboards. At the high end, the current frequency record for the Core i7 8700K is 7,405.1 MHz obtained by Hovan Yang using a MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming motherboard.

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He’s not the only one testing the limits of Intel’s new six core processors though. Asus held an overclocking event a few weeks ago where renowned overclockers Alex@ro, elmor, der8auer, Rsannino, and shamino battled it out. Der8auer got a pre-release crack at the i7 8700K at the event and after de-lidding and replacing the TIM with liberal amounts of Kryonaut thermal paste managed to achieve 6.8 GHz using 1.8 volts and a 68x multiplier (and bumping the cache speed up to 6.3 GHz). With these settings on the monster Maximus X Apex motherboard, he scored 299 in single threaded and 2253 in multithreaded in Cinebench R15. Der8auer compared this benchmark result to Skylake X at 5.5 GHz scoring 237 in the single threaded test. Following the benchmark run, he went for the highest CPU-z validated clockspeed he could hit and managed to push the chip to 7300 MHz (100MHzx73). From there overclocker Alex from Romania was able to overclock his i7 8700K to 6844 MHz and scored 2306 in Cinebench R15.

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The overclockers broke 10 new records in the six core CPU category and also managed to break a DDR4 clockspeed record by pushing a single 8GB G.Skill DIMM to 5529.2 MHz at 24-31-31-63-3 timings!

Also of note is that Coffee Lake does not depend of FIVR so overclockers are able to use a full pot of liquid nitrogen (or liquid helium) to cool the processor down to much lower temperatures so that they can crank up the voltage and achieve much higher clockspeeds than Skylake-X which cannot boot if temperatures are too low.

While the ASUS team does not hold the clockspeed record anymore (though they might regain it with some Liquid Helium), der8auer has an interesting video and Asus has a blog post with photos talking about the process, setup, and everything that goes into these extreme overclocking sessions including pre-binning the chips, preparing the IHS and motherboard for the super cold (-185°C to -190°C) temperatures, and keeping the processors and motherboards running. For example, and Josh will be interested in this, part of the process of preparing the motherboard involves slathering it in Vaseline!

If you are interested in this extreme overclocking stuff it gives a bit of insight into all the fun to be had!

Source: Asus

Now that's a waterblock! Cooling ThreadRipper with Enermax's Liqtech AIOs

Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 6, 2017 - 03:16 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, Threadripper, AIO, watercooler, enermax, Liqtech, TR4 240, TR4 360

As you can see in the picture, Enermax's Liqtech coolers are large enough to completely cover AMD's supersized new processors.  [H]ard|OCP found that the installation process "could not be much simpler", with great contact and an saw an even distribution of thermal compound when they checked.  As you might expect, the model numbers refer to the size of the radiator, the 240 sports a pair of 120mm fans while the 360 sports three for those systems which can accommodate the larger size.  The coolers were not able to keep a 1950X stable at 4GHz but kept the temperatures well below 80C at 3.9GHz; this along with the prices of $130 and $150 respectively show that these coolers are aimed at those on a budget who are not planning on overclocking.  You can see the full results here.

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"Enermax brings to us the first All-in-One coolers that are purpose-built for AMD's Ryzen Threadripper CPUs. We review both the Liqtech TR4 240 and the Liqtech TR4 360 using our overclocked 1950X Threadripper system and compare these to our XSPC RayStorm custom cooling loop. Yes, we are setting the bar high."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Everyone panic, AIM is shutting down!

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2017 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: aol, aim, ancient

You heard right, AOL Instant Messenger is actually still running and there are people still using it who will find this news distressing.  You have until December 15th to download any files you might have stored there, though your buddy list will not make it unless someone out there designs a third party tool.  We lost Geocities in 2009; what's next, MySpace? 

Pop over to Slashdot to make a few cracks or head here to reset your password if you actually remember your username.

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"However, AIM couldn't make the seamless transition to mobile, where most users rely on instant messaging services. Users will be able to manually download any images or files on AIM before the service shuts down. However, users won't be able to export or save their Buddy List, the group of contacts available on AIM."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

PCPer Mailbag #12 - 10/6/2017

Subject: Editorial | October 6, 2017 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: video, Ryan Shrout, pcper mailbag, pcper

It's Friday, which means it's time for PC Perspective's weekly mailbag, our video show where Ryan and team answer your questions about the tech industry, the latest and greatest hardware, the process of running a tech review website, and more!

Here's what you'll find on today's show:

00:32 - Where are the Ryzen X370 mATX motherboards?
02:41 - Testing air coolers vs. AIO water coolers?
05:35 - Consumers' right to know GPU memory manufacturer?
07:46 - Resolution vs. refresh rate?
09:11 - Guest hosts on the PCPer podcast?
10:31 - Why is VEGA a power hog?
12:06 - High Performance Windows power plan for low-end CPUs?
13:59 - What is asynchronous compute and why is AMD better at it?
16:51 - Why do game devs use NVIDIA SKDs when consoles run AMD?
19:00 - CPUs: soldered vs. TIM
20:12 - Ryan's parenting time management?

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel to make sure you never miss our weekly reviews and podcasts, and please consider supporting PC Perspective via Patreon to help us keep videos like our weekly mailbag coming!

Source: YouTube

Leaked Update Shows Intel Launching New 300-Series Chipsets In 2018

Subject: Motherboards | October 5, 2017 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: Z390, Z370, Q370, Q360, leaks, Intel, H370, H310, coffee lake, chipsets, B360

Thanks to a leaked Intel Launch Update document we now know that Intel is planning to launch a slew of new 300-series chipsets early next year. Reportedly vetted by Gamer's Nexus, the leaked roadmap mentions H310, H370, and B360 on the consumer side, Q370 and Q360 for the business market. There is also a tease of a Z390 chipset that is set to replace Z370 as the high-end motherboard platform of choice.

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As if things were not already confusing enough in the _370 chipset space (with Intel's Z370 and AMD's X370), Intel plans to add a H370 chipset to the mix which should be a bit cheaper and have less overclocking, PCI-E slots, and M.2 ports. Intel has also had to tweak the name for its B series chipset to B360 as well so as to not confuse itself with AMD's B350 chipset offering. Finally, there will be a H310 chipset for budget options. These three consumer chipsets are slated for launch in Q1 2018.

For its business customers, Intel plans to launch Q370 and Q360 chipsets in Q2 2018.

Finally, Intel is rumored to launch a Z390 chipset sometime in the second half of next year (2H 2018). According to Gamer's Nexus, industry sources have indicated that Z370 is more of a "stop gap" solution that Intel used to quickly roll out its Coffee Lake processors. Z370 is intended to only support Coffee Lake and while engineering boards were able to support Kaby Lake-R and Coffee Lake CPUs, this functionality has been disabled in firmware. Z370 based motherboards reportedly have tweaked PCB trace optimizations and power delivery needed to support the new processors. Z390 meanwhile will be the successor to Z370 in 2018 and will offically support the entire range of consumer level Coffee Lake processors as well as rumored 8 core (16 thread) processors of undetermined architecture (maybe 14nm++ Coffee Lake but would be a rather big but not unheard of die at ~176mm^2 so rumors also speculate that these 8 core parts could be based on 10nm Ice Lake instead).

Beyond the existence of these chipsets, the ILU did not go into details on the features they would offer or things like price points for motherboards based on them, naturally. As usual you should take these types of leaks with a teaspoon of salt, but it is interesting that Intel may be stepping up their game in rolling out new products faster and moving more cores to the mainstream chips--finally!

Also read:

Comcast Launches New Xfinity Instant TV Streaming Service

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2017 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: xfinity, streaming tv, iptv, data caps, cord cutting, Comcast

Comcast is hoping to entice its internet only customers to add cable TV and its current cable TV customers to not fully cut the cord with its new Xfinity Instant TV. The new streaming TV service starts at $18 (plus those darn broadcast/TV fees Comcast loves so much) and will soon be available to all current Comcast broadband subscribers. The base package includes access to local broadcast channels, a video on demand library, and a cloud DVR with 20 hours of storage. Users can stream live and on demand TV and movies using the Xfinity Stream application on mobile devices and Rokus, the browser-based website on desktops, or TV Everywhere logins at the individual networks' websites or apps (e.g. HBO Go).

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For those looking for a bit more TV than what they can get over the air with an antenna, Comcast is offering three add-on packages for additional monthly fees as well as allowing users to add HBO and Starz for the standard rates ($15 for HBO). The tiers are laid out as follows:

Limited Basic (base package)

Popular broadcast channels (vary by market) including ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, NBC, PBS, Telemundo, Unimas, Univision, C-SPAN, and other public, education, and government (PEG) channels.

  • Entertainment (+ $15/month):
    • A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, BET, Bravo, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, E!, Food Network, FX, FXX, Hallmark Channel, History, HGTV, Lifetime, OWN, SyFy, TBS, TNT, TV One, USA, and VHI
  • Kids and Family (+ $10/month):
    • Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, MTV, National Geographic Channel, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, NickToons, Universal Kids, TeenNick, and TLC
  • Sports and News (+ $30/month):
    • CNBC, CNN, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN News, ESPNU, Fox Business, Fox News, Fox Sports 1, Golf Channel, MSNBC, NBC Sports, NFL Network, and regional sports that vary on market

Comcast has broken its channels into three main add-on packages that allow potential cord cutters to pick and choose what they want to pay for (though it's not full a la carte yet). Those packages are a bit pricey though if you only want some of the channels in the package, particularly the Sports and News package at $30 a month (and likely having to also pay the Sports broadcast fee regular cable customers have to pay whether they watch sports or not) which would be better broken out as separate packages and even the sports package could have regional channels broken out to its own add-on.

In another interesting twist though, Comcast announced that its new Xfinity Instant TV service will not count against users' data caps giving the service a marked advantage over IPTV competitors like YouTube TV, Hulu Live, PlayStation Vue, and others. If you live in a capped market, Instant TV starts to look a bit better price wise if you are a heavy data user as you could avoid data cap overage charges as a result of TV viewing.

On the other hand caveats include a limited DVR (though you can watch On Demand usually the next day) that can only record two shows simultaneously and live TV is, for the most part, limited to your own in-home network. When you are outside of your home network you will be limited to on demand streaming and recordings depending on licensing rights.

I think Comcast is hoping that the new service will entice cable TV holdouts wanting cheaper bills to stay in some fashion as well as entice internet only users and users that have cut the cord already to use Instant TV as a sort of gateway drug to traditional cable. Since they ahve to pay the same TV fees (though no fees for boxes), they might as well upgrade to X1 for a bit more and get more channels and more DVR--or at least that's the idea. I'm not convinced that plan will work though with the current pricing though. I suppose we will just have to wait and see!

What are your thoughts on Xfinity Instant TV? If you are interested in the service, you can check availability in your market (and Internet only customers can get a free 30-day trial) at www.xfinity.com/instant-tv.

Meet EVGA's Z370 Series Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | October 5, 2017 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: Z370, Intel, evga, coffee lake

EVGA offers a trio of boards to pour your Coffee into, the EVGA Z370 Classified K, Z370 FTW and an mATX Z370 Micro.  You can take a peek at the differences between the boards below, however there are quite a few things they all have in common.  The motherboard power connectors have been positioned to make it easier to work in confined spaces, on the mATX model they opted for a 90 degree angle with a cut out that should fit in even the tiniest of cases.  All will have at least a pair of Optane compatible M.2 ports, support for memory frequencies up to DDR4-4133MHz and perhaps even higher and reinforced PCIe and memory slots.

Take a look at the specifications below (click to zoom and enhance) as well as the highlighted features in the PR.

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October 5th, 2017 - Introducing the EVGA Z370 motherboards, based on Intel's Z370 Express Chipset and 8th Gen. CPUs. These motherboards are built to take mainstream performance to the next level...and beyond. This lineup includes not only the most commonly used ports, slots, and components, but also many surprises. All EVGA Z370 boards include cable cutouts to make tight fits and cabling a concern of the past. These boards also feature metal-reinforced PCIe and DIMM slots, 2-Way SLI Support, multiple RGB headers*, M.2 slots, Intel or Killer Gigabit NICs, and switchable dual-BIOS. Your ears will appreciate Realtek's upgraded 7.1 Channel audio or Creative's Sound Core 3D Audio for superior listening and gaming performance. No EVGA motherboard series would be complete without overclocking support: the Z370 Classified K and Micro are both designed with an 8-Phase VCore design and an external clock gen. to provide more power and stability to your everyday life. Make an EVGA Z370 motherboard part of your next PC and find out just how powerful your system can be - starting from the core.

Features
Intel 8th Generation Core i7/i5/i3 Coffee Lake-S Processors - Discover the power of a 6 Core/12 Thread processor for the first time on an Intel Z-Series motherboard!

Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready - Accelerate your PC with Intel’s latest solutions for blistering fast boot times and increased performance for gaming and everyday tasks.

Reinforced PCIe and DIMM slots - Use today's latest, greatest...and heaviest graphics cards and memory and still have Peace of Mind Gaming.

Dual BIOS chips on all EVGA Z370 motherboards - Easily switch between BIOS configurations to use a custom BIOS, troubleshoot a problem, or fix a failed BIOS update!
Optimized power connector layout for cable management - All EVGA Z370 motherboards feature a new layout for some power connectors to avoid compatibility issues with cases and tight spaces.

Killer DoubleShot™ Pro* - Killer DoubleShot™ Pro helps you maintain your network performance while gaming or streaming, so you won't miss any part of the action.

Integrated HDMI 2.0* - The EVGA Z370 Classified K features an HDMI 2.0 port to allow 4K gaming or streaming at 60fps with supported Intel HD Graphics.

External Clock Generator** - The EVGA Z370 Classified K and Micro feature an external clock generator to improve overclocking stability and increase your overall performance.

 

Source: EVGA

Google Announces High-End Convertible Pixelbook Running Chrome OS

Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2017 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: pixelbook, google, convertible tablet, Chromebook, chrome os

Google is dipping its Chrome toes into high end Chromebook territory again with the launch of a new thin and light convertible tablet called the Google Pixelbook. The 12.3” notebook is constructed of premium aluminum and glass components and packs 8th Generation refreshed Kaby Lake CPUs, up to 16 GB of RAM, and up to 512 GB of solid state storage. The Pixelbook has a Yoga-style folding multi-touch display and measures less than half an inch think (10.3mm) and weighs a smidge over 2 pounds (1.1kg).

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The Pixelbook has a classy two tone metal and glass design with straight lines and flat edges save for the front edge that has rounded corners. On the inside, the top half is dominated by a 12.3” touchscreen with a resolution of 2400x1600 (Google did not reveal the panel type but did note that it has enough brightness to be used outdoors), paired with a webcam. The display and Wi-Fi antenna area are covered with glass. The bottom half features a backlit keyboard and trackpad that uses almost all the available space of the 12.3” Chromebook.

Internally, the Pixelbook is powered by an Intel Kaby Lake (refresh) processor (in i5 or i7 SKUs), from 8 GB to 16 GB of RAM, and 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB of SSD storage depending on the model you purchase. Google has set up the Pixelbook so that it can automatically pair with a Pixel smartphone for tethered data on the go. The battery in the Pixelbook is rated for 10 hours and has a quick charge feature that offers up to 2 hours of usage on a 15-minute charge.

The display is multi-touch, and users can optionally purchase the new (Wacom developed) active electrostatic Pixelbook Pen for $99 and use the AI-powered handwriting recognition and Google Assistant functionality with the stylus. Google claims the pen has 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity and 60-degrees of angular recognition, and thanks to machine learning, 10ms response time.

Speaking of Google Assistant, the Pixelbook features a Google Assistant key on the keyboard where the Windows key normally resides. The pen can be used to highlight text and interact with the AI assistant as well.

The Google Pixelbook is available for pre-order now at the Google Web Store and Best Buy and will be up for purchase by October 31st. The base model with an i5, 8GB of RAM, and 128 GB of SSD storage is $999. Moving to 256 GB of storage gets you to $1199 and upgrading all the specs to an i7, 16 GB RAM, and 512 GB NVMe SSD pushes the price to $1699.

The high-end Chromebook is a bit of an odd market, but the primarily web application-based Chrome OS continues to inch towards being able to take advantage of the local processing power with the ability to run apps not only from the Chrome Web Store but also run Android applications and store and run more stuff (like media and document creation) when offline. No doubt the Pixelbook looks classy, but it is putting itself in the same territory as iPad Pros and Surface products (Surface Books and Surface Pro tablets) as well as most of the premium ultrabook and thin and light laptop and tablets running full versions of Windows.

What are your thoughts on the new Pixelbook? Would you buy one? 

Source: Google

ASUS ROG Launches Maximus X and Strix Z370 Series

Subject: Motherboards | October 5, 2017 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: coffee lake, Z370, ASUS ROG, maximus x, strix z370

We don't have any Z370 reviews for you just yet but we do have announcements about the boards from the manufacturers.  ASUS will be releasing two main families initially, the first comprised of the Maximus X Apex, Maximus X Hero, Maximus X Code and Maximus X Formula.  The second family will feature the full sized Strix Z370-E, Z370-F Gaming and Z370-H Gaming along with the mATX Strix Z370-G Gaming and Mini-ITX Strix Z370-I Gaming.

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All the boards, including the SFF models will have at least two NVMe SSD slots compatible with SSDs as well as Optane, Intel Gigabit Ethernet controllers and some will even offer MU-MIMO support.  You can get a breakdown of the features specific to each motherboard over at ASUS, as well as take a peek at the PR below.

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Fremont, CA (October 5, 2017) — The new Intel® 8th Generation Core™ processors are the best desktop CPUs for gaming on the market. With up to six cores and 12 threads, these Coffee Lake chips also have huge potential for enthusiasts and power users who do more with their PCs. Their exceptional performance, unmatched versatility, and considerable overclocking potential are a natural fit for Republic of Gamers (ROG), so we’ve developed a diverse collection of Z370 gaming motherboards for a range of priorities and budgets.

Our latest lineup reinforces ROG’s role as both a breeding ground for innovative features and a proving ground where we test the absolute limits of performance. It includes standouts like the Maximus X Apex, a hardcore gaming and overclocking board designed to break performance records; the Maximus X Hero, which blends leading performance with premium extras; the Maximus X Code that redefines the performance essentials for gamers and enthusiasts; and the Maximus X Formula, which is brimming with cutting-edge features fit for showcase PCs.

While the Maximus series covers the higher end of the spectrum, the Strix family opens the Republic of Gamers to a wider audience. It provides everything you need in a gaming motherboard but excludes some of our more indulgent extras to hit affordable price points. Full-sized ATX options include closely matched contenders for the sweet spot, the Strix Z370-E and Z370-F Gaming, and an unexpected retro revival, the Strix Z370-H Gaming. Smaller form factors are served by the mATX Strix Z370-G Gaming and Mini-ITX Strix Z370-I Gaming.

Defined by gamers, powered by innovation, discover the all-new ROG Z370 lineup at ASUS ROG.

Setting the Benchmark for Records
Lots of motherboard makers claim the best performance, but we’ve got the results to prove it. Much of the credit goes to the Apex, an overclocking savant purpose-built for taking new CPUs to the ragged edge at sub-zero temperatures. Apex boards were introduced earlier this year with the Maximus IX series, and they’ve already claimed multiple world records and top scores with Intel’s Z270 and X299 platforms. Now, our internal overclocking team has continued that streak with the new Maximus X Apex, setting the highest 8th Generation Core i7-8700K frequency record by reaching 7.3GHz on all 6-cores and 12-threads. In addition, the highest DDR4 memory frequency record with a top speed of 5529.2MHz. For the complete story on Z370 overclocking please visit our article at ASUS ROG.

 

Source: ASUS