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Micron Launches 5100 Series Enterprise SSDs - 3D TLC up to 8TB!

Subject: Storage | December 5, 2016 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, sata, micron

Today Micron initiated the first of a multi-tier launch of a new SATA Enterprise SSD lineup built around their IMFT 32-layer 3D NAND Flash. It may seem odd for a full enterprise line to use IMFT 3D TLC, as that flash has not been known for the high random IOPS demands of the datacenter, but Micron looks to be making it work, and work well.

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Above is a performance consistency plot of their MAX model. While this does have the highest OP of all of the models, the consistency is surpassing even NVMe models (using a bus *much* faster than SATA). Sure the results are only using 1-second averages and not our Latency Percentile, but we will be able to pick out any single-IO inconsistencies once we get samples in for detailed review.

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Saturated IOPS performance also looks good 'on paper'.

The advantage to operating their flash in TLC mode is that the per die capacity moves from 32GB to 48GB, ultimately driving down the cost/GB of these products and making them an easier sell to enterprise customers. It also enables high capacities - the max capacity of the model with the least overprovisioning (ECO) will reach 8TB in a 2.5" SATA form factor when the last leg of this launch is completed later next year.

The three lines are all using the same controller and base firmware, but with differences in how the dies are laid out with respect to expected performance and endurance.

Below are all of the products being launched. All products use a Marvell 88SS1074 controller at SATA 6Gbit:

  • 5100 ECO
    • 2.5" 7mm: 480, 960, 1920, 3840, 7680 GB
    • M.2 2280: 480, 960, 1920 GB
    • Sequential read/write: 540 / 380-520 MB/s
    • Random read/write: 93k / 9k-31k IOPS
    • Endurance: <=1 DWPD
    • Cost / GB: $0.45 - $0.55
  • 5100 PRO
    • 2.5" 7mm: 240, 480, 960, 1920, 3840 GB
    • M.2 2280: 240, 480, 960, 1920 GB
    • Sequential read/write: 540 / 380-520 MB/s
    • Random read/write: 78 (240GB)-93k / 26k-43k IOPS
    • Endurance: 1-3 DWPD
    • Cost / GB: $0.55 - $0.65
  • 5100 MAX
    • 2.5" 7mm: 240, 480, 960, 1920 GB
    • M.2 2280: (none)
    • Sequential read/write: 540 / 310-520 MB/s
    • Random read/write: 93k / 48k-74k IOPS
    • Endurance: 5 DWPD
    • Cost / GB: $0.65 - $0.75

All models come with Micron 'Flex Capacity', which enables custom *increases* in OverProvisioning. Flex Security enables FIPS 140-2 validated 256-bit AES encryption.

The specs are very good when you consider their performance consistency claims, meaning a 74k IOPS random write rating applies to random writes across the *entire span* of the SSD *at steady state*. Consumer SSD firmware typically chokes with this type of workload, even ones equipped with MLC flash.

We will have more on the 5100 Series from Micron as these products are rolled out and sampled to us for performance review.

Press blast after the break.

Source: Micron

Razer Joins The Khronos Group

Subject: General Tech | December 2, 2016 - 12:58 AM |
Tagged: VR, razer, osvr, Khronos

The Khronos Group is the standards body that maintains OpenGL, Vulkan, OpenCL, along with several other APIs and formats. They are made up of several members, which include companies of various sizes along with educational institutions, with a couple of tiers where members of the higher level, Promoter, get board nomination rights.

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The lower level, Contributor, has just received a new member: Razer. The Khronos Group published a little statement to their front page, but didn’t provide a way to permanently link it and the Read More just directs to Razer’s homepage. Also, Razer didn’t provide a press release on their website, at least by the time this news was published, so I included the statement below to prevent it from getting buried in a few days:

The Khronos Group is proud to announce that Razer has joined as a Contributor Member. Razer is a world leader in connected devices and software for gamers. Its award-winning design and technology span systems, peripherals, audio and wearable technologies. Razer co-founded OSVR, an open-source platform that integrates VR, AR and mixed reality hardware and software APIs that support a universal VR ecosystem.

Based on this, it’s easy to speculate that Razer is looking to have a say and a vote in how graphics APIs evolve, nudging it as needed for OSVR, their co-founded virtual reality platform. Basically every other VR developer worth mentioning is already a member, including Google, Microsoft, Oculus VR, Samsung, Sony, and Valve. Likewise, Vulkan is undergoing rapid development, and the next version, codenamed Vulkan Next, has VR as one of its “top priorities”. It seems like a good time for Razer to get involved.

Otherwise? Not much to speak of here. Razer is a fairly big company that wants to be active in technology development, and it can easily afford the Khronos Group membership fee. I mean, the amount they spent on USB ports with a specific shade of green would cover about twenty years of membership to the Khronos Group, so it seems within their reach.

LibRetro Vulkanizes PlayStation

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2016 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, vulkan, libretro

About half of a year ago, LibRetro added Vulkan support to their Nintendo 64 renderer. This allowed them to do things like emulate the console’s hardware rasterization in software, and do so as an asynchronous shader, circumventing limitations in their OpenGL path trying to emulate the console’s offbeat GPU.

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Image Credit: Universal Interactive via Wikipedia

They have now turned their sights (“for the lulz”) to the original PlayStation, creating a Vulkan back-end for emulators like Beetle PSX.

The fairly long blog post discusses how the PlayStation is designed in detail, making it an interesting read for anyone curious. One point that I found particularly interesting is how the video memory is configured as a single, 1MB, 2D array (1024x512x16-bit). At this time, texture resolution was quite small, and frame buffers were between 256x224 and 640x480, so that’s a lot of room to make a collage out of your frame and all textures in the scene, but it’s still odd to think about a console imposing such restrictions now that we’re spoiled by modern GPUs.

In terms of performance, the developer claims that modern GPUs can handle 8k resolutions with relative ease, and four-digit FPS at lower resolutions.

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

Third annual release

For the past two years, AMD has made a point of releasing one major software update to Radeon users and gamers annually. In 2014 this started with Catalyst Omega, a dramatic jump in performance, compatibility testing and new features were the story. We were told that for the first time in a very long while, and admitting this was the most important aspect to me, AMD was going to focus on building great software with regular and repeated updates. In 2015 we got a rebrand along with the release: Radeon Software Crimson Edition.  AMD totally revamped the visual and user experience of the driver software, bringing into the modern world of style and function. New features and added performance were also the hallmarks of this release, with a stronger promise to produce more frequent drivers to address any performance gaps, stability concerns and to include new features.

For December 2016 and into the new year, AMD is launching the Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition driver. While the name might seem silly, it will make sense as we dive into the new features.

While you may have seen the slides leak out through some other sites over the past 48 hours, I thought it was worth offering my input on the release.

Not a performance focused story

The first thing that should be noted with the ReLive Edition is that AMD isn’t making any claims of substantially improved performance. Instead, the Radeon Technologies Group software team is dedicated to continued and frequent iterations that improve performance gradually over time.

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As you can see in the slide above, AMD is showing modest 4-8% performance gains on the Radeon RX 480 with the Crimson ReLive driver, and even then, its being compared to the launch driver of 16.6.2.  That is significantly lower than the claims made in previous major driver releases. Talking with AMD about this concern, it told us that they don’t foresee any dramatic, single large step increases in performance going forward. The major design changes that were delivered over the last several years, starting with a reconstruction of the CrossFire system thanks to our testing, have been settled. All we should expect going forward is a steady trickle of moderate improvements.

(Obviously, an exception may occur here or there, like with a new game release.)

Radeon ReLive Capture and Streaming Feature

So, what is new? The namesake feature for this driver is the Radeon ReLive application that is built in. ReLive is a capture and streaming tool that will draw obvious comparisons to what NVIDIA has done with GeForce Experience. The ReLive integration is clean and efficient, well designed and seems easy to use in my quick time with it. There are several key capabilities it offers.

First, you can record your gameplay with the press of a hotkey; this includes the ability to record and capture the desktop as well. AMD has included a bevy of settings for your captures to adjust quality, resolution, bitrate, FPS and more.

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ReLive supports resolutions up to 4K30 with the Radeon R9 series of GPUs and up to 1440p30 with the RX 480/470/460. That includes both AVC H.264 and HEVC H.265.

Along with recording is support for background capture, called Instant Replay. This allows the gamer to always record in the background, up to 20 minutes, so you can be sure you capture amazing moments that happen during your latest gaming session. Hitting a hotkey will save the clip permanently to the system.

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Continue reading our overview of the new AMD Radeon Crimson ReLive driver!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: AUKEY

Introduction and First Impressions

Aukey, a prominent seller of mobile accessories on Amazon, has an interesting product for PC enthusiasts: an RGB mechanical gaming keyboard for $59.99. The price is definitely right, but is it any good? We’ll take a look!

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“The AUKEY KM-G3 mechanical keyboard takes the gaming experience to a new level. Tactile, responsive mechanical keys put you in control for an outstanding typing or gaming experience. The KM-G3 offers preloaded multi-color RGB backlit lighting effects and patterns. Ideal for FPS, CF, COD, LOL and Racing games - Just use the Function key to easily switch between gaming presets.”

The KM-G3 keyboard is a standard 104-key design, using blue switches (presumably a generic switch as no brand is listed), and there is RGB lighting which can be cycled between various colors and patterns, or switched off if desired. Aukey is also offering a 2-year warranty on the keyboard, which should help allay any fear about a purchase.

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Continue reading our review of the AUKEY KM-G3 RGB mechanical gaming keyboard!

The X99 Designaire EX, as expensive as the name implies

Subject: Motherboards | December 5, 2016 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Intel X99, designare EX

Gigabyte's Designare EX is even more full of extras and add-ins than the non-EX model, featuring everything but an easily accessible CMOS battery.  Ten SATA ports, although only six are RAID capable, one U.2 and a pair of M.2 ports are available and there is an Avago PEX8747 assuming to help your CPU provide enough PCIe lanes for everything.  The USB Type-C port on the back is Thunderbolt 3 rated and there is a DisplayPort input on the back panel so you can use your graphics card to provide output for that Thunderbolt connection.  The Tech Report loved the look of the board but ran into some hurdles when using and tweaking it, check out the full review for details.

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"Broadwell-E CPUs brought a new wave of X99 motherboards to go with them at price points both high and low. The GA-X99-Designare EX shows what's possible when Gigabyte's motherboard designers get to pull out all the stops. We put this board to the test to see what it's like to live the high life."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

T'is the season to write gift guides, tra la la la la ...

Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2016 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: gift guide, holiday gift guide

Ryan has started cracking the whip but we haven't quite assembled our picks for the Christmas season so for now you can check out what the gang at The Tech Report has on offer.  As you might expect, the HTC Vive appears but you might not have suspected that a pressure cooker and sous-vide machine are on their list.  There is a lot more in the way of recommendations, from a CPU delidder to a projector or a 55" 4K TV with HDR if you are more of a traditionalist.  Hide your credit cards and check out the whole list.

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"The TR staff knows just how hard it can be to find the right gift to please the nerd in your life, so we've compiled a list of the items we've used and enjoyed over the past year. If you're stuck on what to buy for your favorite techie this holiday season, maybe we can help."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Shhh, no input lag, only Dream Machines' DM Pro S

Subject: General Tech | December 1, 2016 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: gaming mouse, input, dream machines, DM Pro S

The Dream Machines DM1 PRO S gaming mouse uses a Pixart PMW 3360 optical sensor, not one commonly utilized in the market.  The DPI of the sensor can be toggled in set increments from 400 up to 12000, with the colour of the light under the logo indicating your current setting; the lack of software precludes manipulation of those presets.  The overall design of the mouse looks ambidextrous, however there are only thumb buttons on the left side of the mouse.  TechPowerUp were very impressed with the performance of the new sensor, as to the rest of the features you will just have to pop over and read them yourself.

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"A few months ago, we reviewed the Dream Machines DM1 PRO, and Dream Machines is now back with the DM1 PRO S. This version has an updated sensor, has been slimmed down to be even lighter, and has a rather nice glossy finish. Improvements, which could be a game changer."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: TechPowerUp

ARM Partners with Xilinx to Accelerate Path to 7nm

Subject: Processors | December 8, 2016 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: Xilinx, TSMC, standard cells, layout, FinFET, EDA, custom cell, arm, 7nm

Today ARM is announcing their partnership with Xilinx to deliver design solutions for their products on TSMC’s upcoming 7nm process node.  ARM has previously partnered with Xilinx on other nodes including 28, 20, and 16nm.  Their partnership extends into design considerations to improve the time to market of complex parts and to rapidly synthesize new designs for cutting edge process nodes.

Xilinx is licensing out the latest ARM Artisan Physical IP platform for TSMC’s 7nm.  Artisan Physical IP is a set of tools to help rapidly roll out complex designs as compared to what previous generations of products faced.  ARM has specialized libraries and tools to help implement these designs on a variety of processes and receive good results even on the shortest possible design times.

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Design relies on two basic methodologies.  There is custom cell and then standard cell designs.  Custom cell design allows for a tremendous amount of flexibility in layout and electrical characteristics, but it requires a lot of man-hours to complete even the simplest logic.  Custom cell designs typically draw less power and provide higher clockspeeds than standard cell design.  Standard cells are like Legos in that the cells can be quickly laid out to create complex logic.  Software called EDA (Electronic Design Automation) can quickly place and route these cells.  GPUs lean heavily on standard cells and EDA software to get highly complex products out to market quickly.

These two basic methods have netted good results over the years, but during that time we have seen implementations of standard cells become more custom in how they behave.  While not achieving full custom performance, we have seen semi-custom type endeavors achieve appreciable gains without requiring the man hours to achieve fully custom.

In this particular case ARM is achieving a solid performance in power and speed through automated design that improves upon standard cells, but without the downsides of a fully custom part.  This provides positive power and speed benefits without the extra power draw of a traditional standard cell.  ARM further improves upon this with the ARM Artisan Power Grid Architect (PGA) which simplifies the development of a complex power grid that services a large and complex chip.

We have seen these types of advancements in the GPU world that NVIDIA and AMD enjoy talking about.  A better power grid allows the ASIC to perform at lower power envelopes due to less impedence.  The GPU guys have also utilized High Density Libraries to pack in the transistors as tight as possible to utilize less space and increase spatial efficiency.  A smaller chip, which requires less power is always a positive development over a larger chip of the same capabilities that requires more power.  ARM looks to be doing their own version of these technologies and are applying them to TSMC’s upcoming 7nm FinFET process.

TSMC is not releasing this process to mass production until at least 2018.  In 1H 2017 we will see some initial test and early production runs for a handful of partners.  Full blown production of 7nm will be in 2018.  Early runs and production are increasingly being used for companies working with low power devices.  We can look back at 20/16/14 nm processes and see that they were initially used by designs that do not require a lot of power and will run at moderate clockspeeds.  We have seen a shift in who uses these new processes with the introduction of sub-28nm process nodes.  The complexity of the design, process steps, materials, and libraries have pushed the higher performance and power hungry parts to a secondary position as the foundries attempt to get these next generation nodes up to speed.  It isn’t until after some many months of these low power parts are pushed through that we see adjustments and improvements in these next generation nodes to handle the higher power and clockspeed needs of products like desktop CPUs and GPUs.

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ARM is certainly being much more aggressive in addressing next generation nodes and pushing their cutting edge products on them to allow for far more powerful mobile products that also exhibit improved battery life.  This step with 7nm and Xilinx will provide a lot of data to ARM and its partners downstream when the time comes to implement new designs.  Artisan will continue to evolve to allow partners to quickly and efficiently introduce new products on new nodes to the market at an accelerated rate as compared to years past.

Click to read the entire ARM post!

Source: ARM