Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

It’s been two long years since we first heard about 3D XPoint Technology. Intel and Micron serenaded us with tales of ultra-low latency and very high endurance, but when would we have this new media in our hot little hands? We got a taste of things with Optane Memory (caching) back in April, and later that same month we got a much bigger, albeit remotely-tested taste in the form of the P4800X. Since April all was quiet, with all of us storage freaks waiting for a consumer version of Optane with enough capacity to act as a system drive. Sure we’ve played around with Optane Memory parts in various forms of RAID, but as we found in our testing, Optane’s strongest benefits are the very performance traits that do not effectively scale with additional drives added to an array. The preferred route is to just get a larger single SSD with more 3D XPoint memory installed on it, and we have that very thing today (and in two separate capacities)!

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Rumor Central:

You might have seen various rumors centered around the 900P lately. The first is that the 900P was to supposedly support PCIe 4.0. This is not true, and after digging back a bit appears to be a foreign vendor mistaking / confusing PCIe X4 (4 lanes) with the recently drafted PCIe 4.0 specification. Another set of rumors centered around pre-order listings and potential pricing for the 280 and 480 GB variants of the 900P. We are happy to report that those prices (at the time of this writing) are way higher than Intel’s stated MSRP's for these new models. I’ll even go as far as to say that the 480GB model can be had for less than what the 280GB model is currently listed for! More on that later in the review.

Specifications:

Performance specs are one place where the rumors were all true, but since all the folks had to go on was a leaked Intel press deck slide listing figures identical to the P4800X, we’re not really surprised here.

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Lots of technical stuff above, but the high points are <10us typical latency (‘regular’ SSDs run between 60-100us), 2.5/2.0 GB/s sequential reads/writes, and 550k/500k random read/write performance. Yes I know, don’t tell me, you’ve seen higher sequentials on smaller form factor devices. I agree, and we’ve even seen higher maximum performance from unreleased 3D XPoint-equipped parts from Micron, but Intel has done what they needed to do in order to make this a viable shipping retail product, which likely means sacrificing the ‘megapixel race’ figures in favor of offering the lowest possible latencies and best possible endurance at this price point.

Packaging:

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Packaging is among the nicest we’ve seen from an Intel SSD. It actually reminds me of how the Fusion-io ioDrives used to come.

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Also included with the 900P is a Star Citizen ship. The Sabre Raven has been a topic of gossip and speculation for months now, and it appears to be a pretty sweet looking fighter. For those unaware, Star Citizen is a space-based MMO, and with a ‘ship purchase’ also comes a license to play the game. The Sabre Raven counts as such a purchase and apparently comes with lifetime insurance, meaning it will always be tied to your account in case it gets blown up doing data runs. Long story short, you get the game for free with the purchase of a 900P.

Read on for our full review of the Intel Optane SSD 900P (in both capacities)!

Flipping the lid on the i5-8600K

Subject: Processors | October 23, 2017 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: i5-8600K, Intel, delidding, coffee lake

[H]ard|OCP have once again voided a warranty in the goal of better overclocking.  The past several generations of Intel chips have sparked debate on the effectiveness of their thermal solutions, prompting numerous users to delid their processor to replace the thermal compound inside to improve cooling performance.  With the results of the tests it is clear that the TIM in Coffee Lake is limiting the processor, temperatures decreased by 10C or more at stock and [H] could reach higher stable overclocks once they replaced the TIM that Intel used.  Delidding is not for the faint of heart however, many a CPU has met its death during the process so do be aware of that.  Let us hope this trend does not continue for much longer.

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"We've gotten to spend some quality time with our Intel Core i5-8600K Coffee Lake CPU, and of course we have spent our time finding out just how far we could push the processor's clock under both Air Cooling and Water Cooling. We relid and delid as well. The results look to be very promising for the overclocking enthusiast and gamer."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Studying the effect of frequency and timing for Coffee

Subject: Memory | October 18, 2017 - 04:20 PM |
Tagged: coffee lake, i7 8700k, Intel

The performance of AMD's Ryzen chips depend heavily on the frequency of the RAM installed thanks to how Infinity Fabric works.  TechPowerUp decided to see how sensitive Intel's Coffee Lake processors are, testing the performance with RAM speeds from 2133MHz up to 4000MHz as well as modifying the timings.  Not to spoil the results for you, we can reveal something else their tests revealed, G.SKILL's Trident Z DDR4-3866 16GB kit is impressively flexible, they were stable at 15 different combinations of timings and frequencies.  Check out the full results to discover the sweet spot.

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"We take a close look at memory speeds, latencies and command rate on Intel's latest Core i7-8700K with Z370. Scenarios tested include fail-safe 2133 MHz, the platform default of 2666 MHz and overclocked memory speeds from 3000 MHz to 4000 MHz - at various timings."

Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:

Memory

 

Source: TechPowerUp

The World's Only X299 Mini-ITX Motherboard: ASRock X299E-ITX/ac

Subject: Motherboards | October 17, 2017 - 04:56 PM |
Tagged: X299E-ITX ac, m-ITX, Intel, cute, asrock

ASRock have done something very impressive, created a mini-ITX X299 motherboard.

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The tight confines of this board have not stopped them from including numerous features.  There are dual Intel NICs in addition to dual band 2.4/5GHz 802.11ac WiFi connectivity on this board.  USB3.1 Gen2 Type A and C connectors are found on the back along with four USB 3.1 Gen 1; the audio outputs include optical, the Realtek ALC1220 behind them supports 7.1 audio. 

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ASRock fit three M.2 slots on this board, one on the front running along the back panel that supports both PCIe and SATA and another two PCIe 3.0 4x hidden on the back.  There are an additional six SATA 6Gb/s ports for more traditional storage. The motherboard supports quad-channel memory of up to 64GB of DDR4-4000, with DIMM slots above and below the CPU socket.  The single PCIe 3.0 16x slot is at the very bottom, with strong reinforcement to hold up a GPU that will outweigh the rest of the system.

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You could choose to try to cool this with a standard cooler, but that is not your only choice.  ASRock worked with Bitspower to create a custom waterblock as you can see above.  That will ensure a perfect fit as well as proper cooling. 

Drop by for the full specs here and keep your eye out for availability and pricing on NewEgg.

 

Source: ASRock

Gourmet Coffee, Gigabyte's Z370 Aorus Gaming 7

Subject: Motherboards | October 13, 2017 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: gigabye, Z370, aorus gaming 7, coffee lake, Intel

Gigabyte's Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 is the most feature filled example of this chipset that The Tech Report have yet reviewed and at $250 it costs significantly less than the flagship models of previous generations.  There are three each of PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, PCIe 3.0 x1 slots and M.2 ports as well as six SATA ports; a beautiful array of options which utilize more PCIe lanes than are available on this platform so you will need to do some planning before purchasing your storage devices.  Audio is handled by Realtec's S1220 with help from an ESS Sabre 9018Q2C DAC installed in way which isolates it from interference from other components.  The back panel features HDMI 1.4, DP 1.2 and a USB 3.1 Type C port as well as numerous other earlier generation USB ports and even an old PS/2 for those that need it.  The list of features and high end components present on this board is much longer than this, check out the full review to reveal them all.

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"Gigabyte's Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 motherboard offers the highest-end power-delivery circuitry, the fanciest onboard audio, and the blingiest RGB LED lighting available in the company's Z370 lineup so far. We put this board to the test to see how high it lets our Core i7-8700K fly."

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Motherboards

 

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

 

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:

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

Grab a cuppa, you may be looking at the Lake for a while

Subject: Processors | October 5, 2017 - 12:47 PM |
Tagged: Intel, core i5, coffee lake, 8600K, i5-7600K, ryzen 7

[H]ard|OCP had an opportunity to try a different Coffee Lake CPU than Ryan, who provided our initial results on the i7-8700K and Core i5-8400.  In this review, they took a Core i5-8600K and immediately overclocked the chip to 5GHz so they could directly compare Coffee Lake to a Kaby Lake i5-7600K clock for clock, if not for core.  The tests show both CPUs at 5GHz locked clocks, 3600MHz RAM clocks with the exact same timings of 18-19-19-39@2T; they do not show a major improvement in performance between the two chips although it is there.  What it does illustrate is that the performance increased you see on Coffee Lake are from higher clock speeds, which are a good thing.  There will be many who feel the lack of IPC improvement speaks poorly of the new chipset and incompatible socket and they do have a point.   There is fun for AMD fans in this review as well, the Ryzen 7 takes top spot even when running at a mere 4GHz, so start with this one and then take a gander through the rest.

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"If you were waiting for huge IPC gains out of the new Coffee Lake CPU from Intel, you might be waiting for a very long time. We take the Intel Coffee Lake Core i5-8600K CPU and match it up GHz to GHz with the Intel Core i5-7600K Kaby Lake processor. And we throw in a Ryzen 7 at 4GHz just for fun."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

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Source: [H]ard|OCP