Subject: Graphics Cards | June 5, 2018 - 11:58 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Vega, machine learning, instinct, HBM2, gpu, computex 2018, computex, amd, 7nm
AMD showed off its first 7nm GPU in the form of the expected AMD Radeon Instinct RX Vega graphics product and RX Vega GPU with 32GB of HBM2 memory. The new GPU uses the Vega architecture along with the open source ecosystem built by AMD to enable both graphics and GPGPU workloads. AMD demonstrated using the 7nm RX Vega GPU for ray tracing in a cool demo that showed realistic reflections and shadows being rendered on a per pixel basis in a model. Granted, we are still a long way away from seeing that kind of detail in real time gaming, but is still cool to see glimpses of that ray traced future.
According to AMD, the 32GB of HBM2 memory will greatly benefit creators and enterprise clients that need to work with large datasets and be able to quickly make changes and updates to models before doing a final render. The larger memory buffer will also help in HPC applications with more big data databases being able to be kept close to the GPU for processing using the wide HBM2 memory bus. Further, HBM2 has physical size and energy efficiency benefits which will pique the interest of datacenters focused on maximizing TCO numbers.
Dr. Lisa Su came on state towards the end of the 7nm Vega demonstration to show off the GPU in person, and you can see that it is rather tiny for the compute power it provides! It is shorter than the two stacks of HBM2 dies on either side, for example.
Of course AMD did not disclose all the nitty-gritty specifications of the new machine learning graphics card that enthusiasts want to know. We will have to wait a bit longer for that information unfortunately!
As for other 7nm offerings? As Ryan talked about during CES in January, 2018 will primarily be the year for the machine learning-focused Radeon Instinct RX Vega 7nm GPU, with other consumer-focused GPUs using the smaller process node likely coming out in 2019. Whether those 7nm GPUs in 2019 will be a refreshed Vega or the new Navi is still up for debate, however AMD's graphics roadmap certainly doesn't rule out Navi as a possibility. In any case, AMD did state during the livestream that it intends to release a new GPU every year with the GPUs alternating between new architecture and new process node.
What are your thoughts on AMD's graphics roadmap and its first 7nm Vega GPU?
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | June 5, 2018 - 07:42 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: phase change, overclocking, der8auer, computex 2018, computex, closed loop cooling
Famed overclocker Der8auer and Berlin-based online retailer CaseKing showed off a prototype phase change cooler at Computex 2018. The new cooler is a pressurized and closed system that places a block over the processor and uses a vertical tube to connect to a holding tank and a condenser that is cooled by a copper fin stack and two 90mm fans. While phase change cooling is nothing new, what is interesting about this prototype is that the team plans to bring what they call a Phase Shift Cooler to market as a commercial product like an AIO liquid cooler sometime before the end of the year.
The system uses a 3M Novec-like fluid (it is not Novec, however, according to Gamer's Nexus in speaking with CaseKing at Computex) with a low boiling point. The system is pressurized, and the boiling point can be changed by adjusting the pressure of the cooling “loop”. As the processor heats up, the liquid begins boiling off and gas rises up the tube to the condenser where it cools and changes back into a liquid which then flows back into the CPU block with the help of gravity (which does limit placement of the condenser to vertical case orientations above the CPU. The copper fins of the condenser plate are cooled using two fans that do not need to spin at high RPMs.
According to Gamer’s Nexus, Der8auer and CaseKing plan to reduce the size of the cooler and hydralic tubing to make it more in line with a typical 240mm or 360mm AIO liquid cooler and it would be comparable in performance with them without the need for a pump and its associated noise, size, and risk of failure. The Phase Shift Cooler should also be quieter as well, with the planned cooler moving from 90mm to 120mm fans on the final product and the fans not needing to spin up as fast as those high-pressure fans used with water cooling radiators. I have to say that it is an interesting proposition and I am looking forward to more information on this cooler as it progresses!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 5, 2018 - 01:02 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: asus, ASUS ROG, gaming, mobile gaming, game streaming, Gigabit LTE, computex 2018, computex
In addition to the usual Republic of Gamers branded gear, ASUS unveiled the new ROG Phone at Computex which is a high-end Android device aimed at gamers that extends the ROG brand to mobile devices. The new ROG Phone packs a ton of hardware into a six-inch smartphone that can double as a portable gaming machine and is complete with the requisite aggressive ROG aesthetics especially around back where, yes, there is even configurable RGB.
ASUS’ new smartphone measures 158.8mm x 76.2mm x 8.6mm (6.25”x3”x0.34”) and weighs in at 200g (0.44 lbs). The device is black with white accents drawing aggressive angles on back along with vents for cooling and both Republic of Gamers branding and a configurable RGB ROG logo. The front of the phone looks fairly standard with a large 6” 18:9 AMOLED display taking up most of the front face and surrounded by dual front facing SmartAmp speakers that can reportedly get quite loud according to the various hands on videos online. The display has a resolution of 2160 x 1080, a refresh rate of 90 Hz, a 1ms response time, 10,000:1 contrast ratio, and is rated at 108.6% of the DCI-P3 color space. A dedicated image processing chip handles HDR support and the ability of the display to boost the local contrast of certain areas of the display.
As for cameras, there is an 8MP camera in front and dual cameras around back with a main 12MP camera and a 8MP 120-degree wide angle camera.
One interesting thing as far as I/O is that the phone has two USB-C ports with one in the usual spot on the bottom edge and one on the left edge to make using it in landscape mode easier. The included AeroActive cooler can plug into this port and blow air onto the back of the phone to help cool it and your fingertips while also breaking the USB-C port out into a USB-C and 3.5mm headphone jack. As far as audio, ASUS’ ROG Phone supports Dolby DTS Headphone 7.1 virtual surround sound and Qualcomm aptX for wired and Bluetooth headphones respectively.
Asus has also placed ultrasonic buttons around the edges with two on the left edge corners and one on the bottom right edge that can be used as triggers while in landscape mode for gaming or to do usual Android stuff like taking photos or launching an app.
As far as internal specifications, Asus managed to work out a deal with Qualcomm for binned Snapdragon 845 chips that can run all eight Kryo 385 CPU cores at 2.96 GHz (+160 MHz over stock). The Snapdragon 845 processor also contains the Adreno 630 GPU, Hexagon 685 DSP, Spectra 280 ISP, Qualcomm SPU, Aqstic audio, Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, and 802.11ad Wi-Fi. The chip also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4 though I’m not sure which level Asus has enabled as Asus is calling it HyperCharge (up to 20W with the charging IC in the adapter to reduce phone temps). The SD845 is paired with 8GB of LPDDR4X memory and either 128GB or 512GB of UFS 2.1 internal storage. The ROG Phone is powered by a 4,000 mAh battery that can be charged to 60% in 33 minutes or 85% in an hour with the included charger. The USB-C ports reportedly only support USB 2.0, however so no USB 3 speeds when transferring files – I suppose Asus needs to at least try to keep the pricing in check! Wireless I/O includes 802.11ad 60GHz Wi-Fi, 802.11ac 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz 2x2 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and Gigabit LTE.
ASUS is using a copper heat spreader as well as a 3D vapor chamber to keep the phone cool while gaming and to keep the Snapdragon 845’s CPU and GPU clocked as high as possible for as long as possible. For the serious mobile gamer wanting to keep the frame rates up there is also the clip on AeroActive cooler or “enhanced cooling” in the TwinView dock.
Speaking of docks, ASUS wants gamers to be able to get serious with the ROG Phone by plugging it into docks that will be sold separately. The TwinView dock adds a second display (that is reportedly identical to the AMOLED on the phone itself), physical trigger buttons, and a 6,000 mAh battery while the Mobile Desktop Dock turns the ROG Phone into a portable computer by allowing you to hook it up to a 4K display, keyboard and mouse, Gigabit Ethernet, 5.1 channel speakers, and other USB peripherals. For those wanting to game on the big screen to share games with friends there is also a WiGig dock and compatibility with the third-party Game Vice controller that turns the ROG Phone into something resembling the Nintendo Switch with joystick and physical buttons on either side.
The ROG Phone is packed with enough hardware to make it competitive with other high-end smartphones as well as the other gaming-focused phone offerings from Razer, Xiaomi, and other entrants to this market. At launch Asus has the docks and accessories down, but pricing is going to be a major concern as the phone itself is not going to be cheap and after adding the docks it might be equivalent to a budget DIY PC build (well before the GPU and RAM price spikes I guess)! On the other hand, it would be a powerful mobile device for running emulators and Fortnite and PUBG are on mobile now (heh) so maybe there is a market serious enough about mobile gaming willing to pay a premium for the ROG Phone.
What do you think? Will you be picking up the ROG Phone?
The ROG Phone is slated for release later this summer with specific pricing not yet available.
Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2017 - 07:02 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vpro, SFF, sbc, modular computer, Intel, computex, compute card
Launched earlier this year at CES, Intel’s credit card sized Compute Cards will begin shipping in August. Intel and its partners used Computex to show off the Compute Card itself along with prototype and concept devices based around the new platform.
techtechtech opened up the Core M3-7Y30 equipped Compute Card at Computex.
As a quick refresher, the Compute Card is a full PC in a small card shaped form factor measuring 95mm x 55mm x 5mm that features an Intel SoC, DDR3 RAM, solid state storage, wireless connectivity, and standardized I/O (one USB-C and a proprietary Intel connector sit side by side on one edge of the card). The small cards are designed to slot into devices that will use the Compute Card as their brains for smart home automation, appliances, industrial applications, smart whiteboards, and consumer products such as tablets, notebooks, and smart TVs.
At its Computex press events, Intel revealed details on specifications. The initial launch will include four Compute Card SKUs with two lower end and two higher end models. All four of the cards are equipped with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and either 64GB of eMMC or 128GB SSD storage. The two lower end SKUs use Intel Wireless-AC 7265 while the more expensive models have Intel Wireless-AC 8265 (both are 2x2 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2). Processor options from top to bottom include the 7th generation Intel i5-7Y57, Core m3-7Y30, Pentium N4200, and Celeron N3450. Enterprise customers will appreciate the TPM support and security features. Reportedly, the Compute Cards will start at $199 for the low-end model and go up to $499+ for the higher end cards.
Intel partners Dell, HP, and Lenovo were reportedly not ready to show off any devices but will launch Compute Card compatible devices at some point. ECS, Foxconn, LG Display, NexDock, Sharp, and others did have prototype devices at Computex and have announced their support for the platform. The Compute Card concept devices shown off include tablets, laptops, All In Ones, digital signage, kiosks, and a monitor stand dock that lets the user add their own monitor and have an AIO powered by a Compute Card. Other uses include ATMs, smart whiteboards, mini PCs for desktop and HTCP uses, and docks that would allow business user sand students to have a single PC with storage that they could take anywhere and get work done. Students could plug their Compute Card into a laptop shell, computer lab PC, whiteboard for presentations, their home dock, and other devices..
(My opinions follow:)
It is an interesting concept that has been tried before with smartphones (and Samsung is currently trying with its S8 and docks) but never really caught on. The promise and idea of being able to easily upgrade a smart TV, computer, smart appliance, home security system, ect without having to replace the entire unit (just upgrading the brains) is a great one, but thus far has not really gained traction. Similarly, the idea of a single PC that you carry everywhere in your pocket and use whatever display you have handy has been promised before but never delivered. Perhaps Intel can drive this modular PC idea home and we could finally see it come to fruition. Unexpectedly absent from the list of partners is Asus and Samsung. Samsung I can understand since they are trying to do their own thing with the S8 but I was a bit surprised to see Asus was not out front with a Compute Card support as they were Intel's partner with its Zenfone and they seem like a company with a good balance of R&D and manufacturing power but nimble enough to test out new markets. The other big PC guys (Dell, HP, and Lenovo) aren't ready with their devices yet either though so I guess we will just have to see what happens in terms of support and adoption. The other thing that could hold the Compute Card back is that Intel will reportedly allow manufacturer lock-in where devices and Compute Cards can be made to only work with hardware from the same manufacturer. Restricting interoperability might hurt the platform, but it might aslo creat less confusion for consumers with the onus being on each manufacturer to actually support an upgrade path I guess.
What are your thoughts on the Compute Card?
Subject: General Tech | June 8, 2017 - 11:22 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: X399, x370, x299, wwdc, video, shield, podcast, plex, pixel, macbook, Mac Pro, Logitech G413, Lian-Li, gigabyte, computex, asus, asrock, apollo lake, 3D XPoint
PC Perspective Podcast #453 - 06/07/17
Join us for talk about continued Computex 2017 coverage, WWDC '17, and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
1:10:50 Honey, I shrunk the silicon
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Subject: Memory | June 7, 2017 - 08:49 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: G.Skill, overclocking, ddr4, x299, liquid nitrogen, computex
Amidst the flood of new product announcements at Computex, G.Skill was busy hosting an overclocking competition where its memory was used to in a record breaking overclock that saw DDR4 memory clocked at an impressive 5,500 MHz. Professional overclocker Toppc broke his 5,000 MHz record from last year with the new overclock that was accomplished on Intel’s X299 platform.
Toppc used a MSI X299 Gaming Pro Carbon AC motherboard, Intel Core X-series processor, G.Skill DDR4 memory built using Samsung 8Gb ICs, and, of course, copious amounts of liquid nitrogen! Looking at the HWBot page, it appears Toppc specifically used an Intel Core i7-7740K (Kaby Lake X) processor and 8GB G.Skill Trident Z RGB RAM (CL 14-14-14-14 stock). Both the CPU and memory modules were cooled with liquid nitrogen for the overclock. The CPU-Z screenshot shows the processor running 1 cores / 2 threads with a 133.06 bus speed. It also shows an 8x multiplier and core speed of 1064.46 but I am questioning whether or not it is accurately reading the Kaby Lake X part correctly as running at those speeds wouldn’t need such exotic cooling – perhaps it is needed to run at the 133.06 bus speed and to keep the memory controller from overheating (or melting hehe).
G.Skill is currently pushing the envelope on standard air cooled DIMMs with a prototype kit hitting 4,800 MHz. The company's CVP Tequila Huang stated in a press release:
“We are seeing amazing overclocking potential for these newly released hardware and we believe that more overclocking benchmark records will be achieved very soon by professional overclockers worldwide."
I am interested to see if it will have any additional headroom in the memory overclocking department and if so how long the 5.5 GHz world record will stand.
Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2017 - 02:35 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: msi, SFF, barebones, nuc, kaby lake, Intel, Optane, computex
MSI recently introduced a new member of its Cubi small form factor barebones PC lineup. The Cubi 3 is a fanless PC that is build around Intel’s Kaby Lake-U processors and will arrive sometime this fall.
The Cubi 3 is a bit larger than its predecessors, but with the larger enclosure MSI was able to achieve a fanless design for up to (U series) Core i7 processors. The SFF PC sports a brushed aluminum case that shows off the top of the CPU heatsink through vents that run around the top edge of the case. There are two flat antennas for Wi-Fi and Bluetooh integrated into the left and right sides of the case.
FanlessTech reports that the MSI Cubi 3 will sport 15W Kaby Lake-U processors from low end Celerons up to Core i7 models. These parts are dual core parts with HyperThreading (2c/4t) with 3 MB or 4 MB of L3 cache and either HD (615 or 620) or Iris Plus (640 or 650) integrated graphics. The processor is paired with two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots for up to 32 GB of 2133 MHz memory, an M.2 2280 SSD (there is even Intel Optane support), and a single 2.5” drive.
The Cubi 3 has an audio jack and two USB 3.0 ports up front, and what appears to be two USB 2.0 ports on the left side. Rear I/O includes one HDMI, one DisplayPort, two more USB 3.0, two Gigabit Ethernet, two COM ports, and one power jack for the 65W AC power adapter.
There is no word on pricing yet, but it is slated to begin production in August with availability this fall.
It is always nice to see more competition in this niche fanless SFF space, and the little box would not look out of place on a desk or even in the living room. What are your thoughts?
Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | June 6, 2017 - 06:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: hdr, sdr, nvidia, computex
Dmitry Novoselov of Hardware Canucks saw an NVIDIA SDR vs HDR demo, presumably at Computex based on timing and the intro bumper, and noticed that the SDR monitor looked flat. According to his post in the YouTube comments, he asked NVIDIA to gain access to the monitor settings, and they let him... and he found that the brightness, contrast, and gamma settings were way off. He then performed a factory reset, to test how the manufacturer defaults hold up in the comparison, and did his video based on those results.
I should note that video footage of HDR monitors will not correctly describe what you can see in person. Not only is the camera not HDR, and thus not capable of showing the full range of what the monitor is displaying, but also who knows what the camera’s (and later video processing) exposure and color grading will actually correspond to. That said, he was there and saw it in person, so his eyewitness testimony is definitely valid, but it may or may not focus on qualities that you care about.
Anywho, the test was Mass Effect: Andromeda, which has a native HDR profile. To his taste, he apparently prefers the SDR content in a lot of ways, particularly how the blown out areas behave. He claims that he’s concerned about game-to-game quality, because there will be inconsistency between how one color grading professional chooses to process a scene versus another, but I take issue with that. Even in standard color range, there will always be an art director that decides what looks good and what doesn’t.
They are now given another knob, and it’s an adjustment that the industry is still learning how to deal with, but that’s not a downside to HDR.
Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2017 - 05:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tr4, Threadripper, computex, asrock, amd
In case you need just a bit more Computex news, ASRock is jumping into the high-end AMD desktop platform with two new X399 motherboards using the massive TR4 socket for AMD Threadripper. The new premium motherboards are part of the company’s Professional Gaming and Taichi series and are packed with workstation friendly features.
HardwareCanucks spotted the new boards on the show floor.
Both motherboards arare clad in black and silver colors with the professional gaming having some red accents and the Taichi having a stylized gear shaped chipset heatsink. The ASRock X399 Professional Gaming and X399 Taichi both feature eight DDR4 DIMM slots supporting quad channel memory, four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, one PCI-E x1 slot, three Ultra M.2 (x4 PCI-E or SATA drives), one U.2 port, and eight SATA 6Gbps ports. The boards are powered by a 24-pin ATX, 8-pin and 4-pin EPS12V and a 6-pin PCI-E power connector to provide stable slot power to PCI-E devices like graphics cards. The Professional Gaming reportedly has a 10+2 power phase feeing the CPU and memory, and while there is no confirmation that the Taichi also has this it should be close if not the same power phase design.
In addition to aesthetic design choices, the boards differ in networking and audio with the ASRock X399 Professional Gaming sporting Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 3 and the X399 Taichi have Purity Sound 4. The Threadripper motherboards both support Wi-Fi and two Intel Gigabit Ethernet ports. The X399 Professional Gaming adds a 10 Gigabit Ethernet interface that is not present on the Taichi, however.
Rear I/O on the TR4 X399 motherboards include eight USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, three USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (including one Type-C), dual (Intel) Gigabit Ethernet, six audio connections (5 analog, one digital), two Wi-Fi antenna connectors, and a single PS/2 port. The X399 Professional Gaming also has 10GbE port.
Unfortunately, no word on pricing or availability.
We will have to wait for reviews to know for sure, but it appears that while ASRock did not go quite as crazy with the power input as Asus and it’s ROG Zenith Extreme, the company has some nice-looking motherboards. Hopefully they perform as well as they look and enable enthusiasts to push the envelope in terms of hardware and clockspeeds when overclocking. If you are interested in these motherboards, Computerbase.de has several more photos of them on their site.
If you are looking for something a "bit" smaller, ASRock also unveiled the Mini ITX X370 Gaming-ITX/ac that uses the X370 chipset on the AM4 (Ryzen) platform.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | June 3, 2017 - 11:16 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: computex, bitfenix, mid tower, E-ATX Case, RGB LED, gaming, tempered glass
BitFenix had several new PC cases on display at its Computex booth, but the one that caught my eye was the sub-$100 Enso mid-tower that has some premium features including a large tempered glass side panel, RGB LED and fan controllers, removable filters, and various cable management features. The BitFenix Enso has a clean design that out of the box limits the RGB to a nice looking front panel while allowing enthusiasts to go crazy with aftermarket LED strips and LED fans if they wish.
The BitFenix Enso mid-tower (Image credit: KitGuru)
The new Enso chassis measures 8.2" x 19.2" x 14.4" (209 x 487 x 442mm).and is clad in all black with clean lines and edges that strikes a balance between boxy and gaudy (heh). The front is a smooth panel that slightly angles out (no external drive support here) with RGB LEDs in all four corners. The front I/O is up top with two USB 3.0, two audio, and power and reset buttons. The left side is almost entirely comprised of a tempered glass side panel that is held on by black thumbscrews.
The top has a mesh grill with support for two 120mm fans along with a removable magnetic fan filter. There is also room for a 120mm fan in the back and two 120mm fans up front (where there is also a removable filter that pulls out from the left side of the front panel). There is not enough room up top for a water cooling radiator up top, but there is plenty of room for up to a 240mm radiator in the front.
The bottom of the case has a compartment for the bottom mounted up to 220mm power supply (which also has a removable dust filter) and two 3.5” drives along with space to hide excess cables. This area is covered by a simple black shroud that should make cable management easier.
Dropping support for external drive bays and extra 3.5” bays, BitFenix is able to support E-ATX motherboards, long graphics cards (up to 320mm, their demo used an Asus Strix GTX 1080), and water cooling radiators in a compact mid-tower case. BitFenix states it is possible to mount a 360mm radiator in the front, but it the specifications suggest if you would be limited to two fans with matching vents.
Lots of tie downs and space to hide cables! (Image credit: Bitwit Kyle)
The right side panel is blank, and removing it reveals the back of the motherboard tray. There is room for three 2.5” SSDs with one behind the motherboard and two behind the front fans. The motherboard tray has a large CPU cutout, lots of spots to tie up cables, and rubber grommets for passing cables through to the motherboard and graphics card. Having move of the components sitting behind the motherboard tray means that making a clean looking build will be a bit easier (no drive power cables to hide).
The front panel RGB LEDs are “addressable” which is to say that they can be controlled via the controller at the back or via software where BitFenix is working with Asus to allow its RGB LEDs to be controlled with its Aurora software. There is also a fan controller that looks to accept PWM and control 3-pin fans from that signal. The case is also compatible with LED fans and LEDs strips (the BitFenix demo used strips from Asus that could be controlled with the Asus software). As far as the front panel, you can choose a color or activate a gentle pulsing color change mode that cycles through the colors of the rainbow.
(Image credit: Bitwit Kyle)
Out of the box, the BitFenix Enso will have the front panel LEDs and controllers, but users will need to purchase fans and/or LED strips separately. This is not necessarily bad news though because it allows enthusiasts to pick the fans and LEDs they want (or don’t want), and it also allows the case to hit the budget sub-$100 market with lots of nice DIY-friendly features.
According to a BitFenix representative, the BitFenix Enso will arrive around the end of Q3 2017 or towards the beginning of Q4 with an MSRP of $79.
It looks like an impressive budget case, and if they can hit that $79 target it should be a great value that will let you show off your DIY build without breaking the bank! From the videos at Computex, I am really liking the design as well. What are your thoughts?