ASRock Launches DeskMini A300 Barebones Mini-STX PC Supporting AMD CPUs

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2019 - 02:01 AM |
Tagged: SFF, ryzen, mini-stx, barebones, asrock, APU, amd, AM4

ASRock is launching a new small form factor barebones system later this month that incorporates what the company claims Is the first Mini STX motherboard for AMD’s Zen-based processors (primarily APUs) using the AM4 socket, a tiny case, and optional accessories. The DeskMini A300 and A300W are barebones PCs where you are responsible for adding your own CPU, RAM, and storage. Measuring 155 x 155 x 80mm (approximately 6.1” x 6.1” x 3.15”), the 1.92-liter PCs sit somewhere between an Intel NUC and a Mini ITX build. The DeskMini A300 case is all black with subtle rounded corners, a stylized front panel, and ample square mesh ventilation grills along the top, left side, and back. Up front sits two audio jacks (mic/headphone), one USB 3.1 Type-C, and one USB 3.1 Type-A (both USB 3.1 Gen 1 / 5Gbps) and two USB 2.0 ports can be added via an optional front panel add-on using a header on the motherboard. Around back ASRock’s A300M-STX motherboard offers up one USB 3.1 (5Gbps), one USB 2.0, one Gigabit Ethernet, and three display outputs (one each of HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort). There is also a DC-in jack for power with the kit using a 19V 120W power brick.

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Inside the case the DeskMini A300 uses the ASRock A300M-STM motherboard with measures 5” x 5”. While not the first Mini STX motherboard for AMD processors (Mini STX is generally an Intel form factor), it is reportedly the first for newer AMD chips using the AM4 socket. The board supports up to 65W CPUs and will generally only be used with APUs that have their own integrated graphics as this motherboard lacks a PCI-E x16 slot for installing a dedicated GPU. Granted, an enthusiast might well be able to use a CPU only Ryzen processor and sacrifice a M.2 slot to add in a GPU but then you would need a bigger case and at that point it might be easier to just go Mini ITX (Note that some Mini STX motherboards do support external graphics via MXM slots but those mainly mobile focused GPUs can come at a hefty premium). In any event, the AM4 socket is paired with two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots (up to 2933 MHz), two Ultra M.2 2280 slots for NVMe storage, one M.2 Key E for wireless modules, and two SATA 3 6Gpbs ports (RAID 0 and 1 are supported). ASRock sells an optional 65W CPU cooler, but if you plan to add your own height is limited to 46mm.

Audio is handled by the Realtek ALC233 codec/chipset while networking is handled by the Realtek RTL8111H NIC for wired and the Intel AC-3168 Wi-Fi for wireless (on the A300W SKU).

The DeskMini A300 barebones PC is slated for release later this month starting at $119 which gets you a tiny SFF motherboard, case, and power supply. Tom’s Hardware was able to get a hands-on look at the case and motherboard at CES and took several photos of the kit. It is an interesting product utilizing Mini STX and is nice to see an AMD option in this middle ground form factor.

Looking at the photos, the second M.2 slot as well as the CMOS battery being on the underside of the motherboard may prove to be rather inconvenient (it’s not clear if that case has a motherboard cutout for those areas or not). Using vertical SO-DIMM slots shouldn’t be a problem airflow wise in this case though and should be a bit sturdier than the angled approaches long term. Storage and other I/O seems decent especially considering this system uses the lower-end A300 chipset.

Hopefully reviewers (and modders!) will be able to get their hands on the small form factor hardware soon. What are your thoughts?

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Source: ASRock

The invasion of the nude GPU from Vega

Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2019 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon vii

It's coming up on the release date for AMD's new GPU, which has traditionally become the time at which unboxing videos start to appear.  [H]ard|OCP did take the box apart and reveal the new card, but did not stop there.  Instead they kept on going, removing the shroud to reveal the PCB and components attached to it.  The video offers a little more insight into the new card, for those that like looking under the hood.  Stay tuned for actual results in the near future. 

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"We show you what is inside the new AMD Radeon VII reviewer's kit, and then breakdown the entire video card to show you what is under that sleek new shroud."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD Announces Q4 and 2018 Earnings

Subject: Editorial | January 30, 2019 - 09:19 PM |
Tagged: Vega, ryzen, RX, quarterly earnings, Q4, Intel, EPYC, amd, 7 nm, 2018, 10 nm

Today AMD announced their earnings for Q4 as well as the annual results of 2018. The company had revenue of $6.48 B and a net income of $337 M. This is a pretty significant improvement from 2017 with revenues of $5.25 B and a net loss of $33 M. While Intel’s quarter and annual earnings dwarf what AMD has done, the company has improved its position financially. AMD’s guidance from Q3 earnings indicated that revenue would be down for Q4 as compared to the previous quarter, and results matched those expectations. Q4 revenue came in at $1.42 B with a net income of $38 M. This fell within the range of $1.4 to $1.5 that AMD was expecting. This is compared to the relatively strong Q3 which had revenues of $1.65 B and a net of $102 M.

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Annually this is probably the best overall year since 2011 for AMD. The company looks to be running quite lean and has shown that it can achieve profits even in down quarters. It also helps that AMD has been able to get much better terms from GLOBALFOUNDRIES and has successfully amended their wafer agreement so that AMD can pursue manufacturing products at other foundries at 7nm without penalty or royalty payments to GLOBALFOUNDRIES. While GF’s sub 10nm development is now shuttered, the company will still be producing 12/14nm products which will include the upcoming I/O chiplets for use with the next generation Ryzen series as well as EPYC 2. The amended agreement sets purchase targets through 2021, but the agreement itself lasts through 2024.

The primary revenue driver for the company is of course the CPU and GPU markets. Ryzen has continued to provide strong numbers for AMD and has lead to greater numbers shipped as well as higher ASPs. Years of Bulldozer based parts eroded ASPs to nearly unsustainable numbers, but the introduction of Ryzen nearly two years ago has strengthened the foundation of the company and their revenue stream. AMD has reported no inventory issues with either leftover stock of the first generation Ryzen parts or the latest Ryzen 2000 series. There is some fluidity here as EPYC processors utilize the same dies (though more heavily binned) as well as the HEDT Threadripper CPUs that have become popular in workstation applications. Multiple products at a pretty extreme price range utilizing the same basic die is a pretty good way to avoid excess inventory issues, but it is a little scary if demand picks up in one of those areas and there are not enough chips to supply these multiple product lines.

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GPUs are not in as good of shape as CPUs. The crypto boom was good for the GPU market, but as soon as that dropped then AMD was left with quite a bit of inventory and a much lower demand. This is partially offset by increases in sales of datacenter GPUs, but AMD looks to be trying to get of as much of this inventory before large scale production of Navi based parts goes into full swing. Current Polaris based parts are competitive for their price points and users can expect a very solid product for the market ranges they represent.

Click here to continue reading about AMD Q4 2018 Results!

Source: AMD

Big trouble in little TSMC

Subject: General Tech | January 29, 2019 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: amd, nvidia, TSMC

In case you have yet to hear, TSMC's production line is suffering after ingesting some sub-par chemicals, which has "caused wafers to have lower yield".  It was originally reported that it was the 16n and 14nm process nodes which were effected, used by NVIDIA and MediaTek GPUs as well as AMD's Xbox One X and PS4 APUs.  

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The Inquirer followed up with TSMC who stated the initial reports were incorrect and that it is roughly 10,000 wafers on the 12nm and 16nm nodes at Fab 14B in southern Taiwan which received the bad batch, nodes used by Huawei, MediaTek, and NVIDIA but not AMD. 

TSMC still expects to meet market demands; they have dropped enough from last year that they announced expected Q1 2019 revenue will decline by 22%.  Hopefully this is not the start of another problematic year for TSMC, who had to deal with a WannaCry infection last summer. 

AMD, with their focus on the 7nm node, might have a bit of an opportunity if this does cause any temporary shortages of NVIDIA GPUs on the market. 

Source: The Register

Radeon rumours, take VII

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 29, 2019 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: rumour, amd, radeon vii

We have been seeing a lot of leaks from Twitter users APISAK and Komachi recently, with today being no exception.  Videocardz noticed some new posts which claim to show the performance of Radeon VII in Futuremark and the Final Fantasy 15 canned benchmark.

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The results are very interesting, to say the least, with graphics performance numbers on theFire Strike Performance preset beating an overclocked RTX 2080's 26800 points as well as it's 6430 in Ultra.  This result is very encouraging, assuming the mysterious GPU is indeed the Radeon VII we will soon be able to purchase. 

As for the FFXV benchmark, we have seen odd results in the past, though the discrepancy between the performance is well worth noting.

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In addition to the possible benchmarks is news about the third party cards which will eventually hit the shelves.  It is unlikely we will see the ASRock model in North America, but the others should eventually appear.

Source: Videocardz

Independent G-SYNC Compatibility Testing Begins at Rtings

Subject: Displays | January 21, 2019 - 05:37 PM |
Tagged: vrr, variable refresh rate, rtings, nvidia, monitor, g-sync compatible, g-sync, freesync, display, amd

The staff of Rtings has embarked upon their own in-house testing of G-SYNC compatibility with FreeSync monitors (introduced with GeForce driver 417.71), and have released a video to introduce this new project:

While their choice of NVIDIA's Pendulum demo might be up for debate (since let's face it, any time NVIDIA anything is used to test, well, anything, there will always be a conspiracy theory) they have made some noteworthy observations about their experience vs. an AMD FX 580 with the same monitors. Still, as they point out in the article, "This test is by no means exhaustive, and your results may vary depending on the specific games you are playing, and your specific graphics card."

From RTings:

"We test FreeSync on a custom built PC, with an NVIDIA GTX 1060 6GB. Each monitor is connected via DisplayPort, as NVIDIA's FreeSync implementation does not currently work over HDMI. We use NVIDIA's Pendulum G-SYNC demo to test for tearing, stuttering, screen blanking, and other artifacts. We start at the monitor's standard refresh rate, and gradually decrease the sliders until we could see any issues. From there, we gradually increase the sliders until we start seeing tearing or other issues. The results of both of these tests give us the effective variable refresh rate range. We repeat the test at least twice to confirm our findings.

We use the results of this test to subjectively assign a result, based on how well the monitor supports NVIDIA's FreeSync implementation. The possible results are:

  • Yes, NVIDIA Certified: This is reserved for monitors that are certified by NVIDIA as being compatible with NVIDIA FreeSync.
  • Yes, Native: This is used to differentiate between monitors that support NVIDIA G-SYNC, instead of NVIDIA FreeSync.
  • Yes: These monitors are confirmed by us to support FreeSync with no major issues, but are not certified by NVIDIA.
  • Partial: These monitors at least partially support FreeSync, but we experienced some issues during testing. See the review for details of these issues.
  • No: These monitors either do not support FreeSync at all, or are unusable with FreeSync enabled."

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There are currently 25 test results available to help out with your variable refresh-rate monitor selections for use on NVIDIA hardware.

Source: Rtings

Rumor: AMD Gonzalo APU for Next-Gen Game Consoles Leaks

Subject: General Tech | January 21, 2019 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: Playstation, Navi 10 Lite, navi, leak, Gonzalo, APU, amd, PS5, rumor, xbox, Zen 2, Zen+

What's in a name? Depending on how much you read into it, quite a bit, depending on what you infer from product code 2G16002CE8JA2_32/10/10_13E9. There are some very interesting rumours floating around the net today which suggest AMD might have another big win on their hands.  They provided much of the hardware for the release of the two major consoles way back in 2013 and there have been recent statements they will be inside the next generation of XBox.  Now that NVIDIA is working on supporting Active Sync that benefit is a little less clear in the long term but at least for now they are a little late to the game.

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Image credit: Twitter user @TUM_APISAK

The image, from from a source that has a rather impressive track record, demonstrates the decoding process - and pay close attention to the letter "G", the second character in the string, which presumably indicates that this intended for a game console. The source also suggests that this new chip will be a Zen 2 and Navi based APU called Gonzolo, with eight cores clocking between 1GHz to 3.2GHz with 4MB of L2 cache and 16 MB of L3 cache.  There is less information on the "Navi 10 Lite" GPU, apart from a belief that it's core will be running at a frequency of at least 1GHz.

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Image via Twitter user @KOMACHI_ENSAKA

This is great news for AMD, who have been enjoying the royalties from the sales of consoles and could use the fresh injection of cash as gamers upgrade once the consoles launch.

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Source: The Inquirer

Post-CES Keynote Interview With AMD CEO Lisa Su

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2019 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: Ryzen 3000, radeon vii, lisa su, interview, EPYC, amd

German site PC Games Hardware today posted an interview with AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su. The interview was conducted as part of a roundtable discussion following her CES keynote last week.

Dr. Su addresses questions about the current and future role for Vega for both professionals and consumers, the outlook for Ryzen 3000 and EPYC, ray tracing and FreeSync, AMD’s 2019 product roadmap, and the future of chip design.

Check out the interview over at YouTube or via the player embedded above.

Source: YouTube

Radeon rumourmongering

Subject: General Tech | January 17, 2019 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: amd, rumour, Vega VII

There are several rumours bouncing around the internet about the new GPU from AMD, from overall shortages, to selling short through to the non-existence of custom cards from AIB partners.  As usual AMD is fairly tight lipped about unreleased product but did refute the post from Tweaktown stating there will be a mere 5000 cards available at launch, stating that they expected to be able to meet initial demand; a nice change from the issues that plagued the entire industry in 2018.

There are also allegations that the cost of the 16GB of HBM2 will mean AMD will take a loss on every single card sold at the $700 MSRP, which is honestly ludicrous on the face of it.  However there is one rumour that The Inquirer noticed AMD would not comment on, we still do not have confirmation of third party cards.  That would be an odd move on AMD's part, but as this year we will see Intel auction off a high end chip instead of selling them on the open market perhaps we are in for a strange year.

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"AMD, however, has dismissed that these supply issues exist, and said in a statement that it has enough supply of the 7nm GPU to meet demand."

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Source: The Inquirer

Let us see how you handle my Threadripper's new NUMA Dissociater attack!

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2019 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: amd, NUMA, Threadripper, numa dissociator, coreprio

With Threadripper, AMD introduced something new and different to the market, a HEDT architecture with nonuniform memory access.  This has met with mixed results, as is reasonable to expect from such a different chip design.  There has not been much out of Redmond to adapt Windows to handle this new design compared to the amount of work coming out of the enthusiast community, especially those using Linux.

Phoronix has recently benchmarked a piece of software from CorePrio called NUMA Dissociater on both Windows and Linux.  It was designed to better address some performance issues on the Threadripper 2990WX and 2970WX than AMD's Dynamic Local Mode which can be enabled if you run their Ryzen Master software.  As you can see in the full review the results are not earth shattering, nor do they always increase performance, but the foundation for improvement is fairly solid. 

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"Here are some benchmarks of Windows 10 against Linux while trying out CorePrio's NUMA Dissociater mode to see how much it helps the performance compared to Ubuntu Linux. Additionally, tests are included of Windows Server 2019 to see if that server edition of Windows is able to offer better performance on this AMD HEDT NUMA platform."

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Source: Phoronix