Subject: Storage | August 16, 2016 - 02:00 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: XPoint, Testbed, Optane, Intel, IDF 2016, idf
IDF 2016 is up and running, and Intel will no doubt be announcing and presenting on a few items of interest. Of note for this Storage Editor are multiple announcements pertaining to upcoming Intel Optane technology products.
Optane is Intel’s branding of their joint XPoint venture with Micron. Intel launched this branding at last year's IDF, and while the base technology is as high as 1000x faster than NAND flash memory, full solutions wrapped around an NVMe capable controller have shown to sit at roughly a 10x improvement over NAND. That’s still nothing to sneeze at, and XPoint settles nicely into the performance gap seen between NAND and DRAM.
Since modern M.2 NVMe SSDs are encroaching on the point of diminishing returns for consumer products, Intel’s initial Optane push will be into the enterprise sector. There are plenty of use cases for a persistent storage tier faster than NAND, but most enterprise software is not currently equipped to take full advantage of the gains seen from such a disruptive technology.
XPoint die. 128Gbit of storage at a ~20nm process.
In an effort to accelerate the development and adoption of 3D XPoint optimized software, Intel will be offering enterprise customers access to an Optane Testbed. This will allow for performance testing and tuning of customers’ software and applications ahead of the shipment of Optane hardware.
I did note something interesting in Micron's FMS 2016 presentation. QD=1 random performance appears to start at ~320,000 IOPS, while the Intel demo from a year ago (first photo in this post) showed a prototype running at only 76,600 IOPS. Using that QD=1 example, it appears that as controller technology improves to handle the large performance gains of raw XPoint, so does performance. Given a NAND-based SSD only turns in 10-20k IOPS at that same queue depth, we're seeing something more along the lines of 16-32x performance gains with the Micron prototype. Those with a realistic understanding of how queues work will realize that the type of gains seen at such low queue depths will have a significant impact in real-world performance of these products.
The speed of 3D XPoint immediately shifts the bottleneck back to the controller, PCIe bus, and OS/software. True 1000x performance gains will not be realized until second generation XPoint DIMMs are directly linked to the CPU.
The raw die 1000x performance gains simply can't be fully realized when there is a storage stack in place (even an NVMe one). That's not to say XPoint will be slow, and based on what I've seen so far, I suspect XPoint haters will still end up burying their heads in the sand once we get a look at the performance results of production parts.
Leaked roadmap including upcoming Optane products
Intel is expected to show a demo of their own more recent Optane prototype, and we suspect similar performance gains there as their controller tech has likely matured. We'll keep an eye out and fill you in once we've seen Intel's newer Optane goodness it in action!
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Displays, Shows and Expos | August 16, 2016 - 01:50 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: VR, virtual reality, project alloy, Intel, augmented reality, AR
At the opening keynote to this summer’s Intel Developer Forum, CEO Brian Krzanich announced a new initiative to enable a completely untether VR platform called Project Alloy. Using Intel processors and sensors the goal of Project Alloy is to move all of the necessary compute into the headset itself, including enough battery to power the device for a typical session, removing the need for a high powered PC and a truly cordless experience.
This is indeed the obvious end-game for VR and AR, though Intel isn’t the first to demonstrate a working prototype. AMD showed the Sulon Q, an AMD FX-based system that was a wireless VR headset. It had real specs too, including a 2560x1440 OLED 90Hz display, 8GB of DDR3 memory, an AMD FX-8800P APU with R7 graphics embedded. Intel’s Project Alloy is currently using unknown hardware and won’t have a true prototype release until the second half of 2017.
There is one key advantage that Intel has implemented with Alloy: RealSense cameras. The idea is simple but the implications are powerful. Intel demonstrated using your hands and even other real-world items to interact with the virtual world. RealSense cameras use depth sensing to tracking hands and fingers very accurately and with a device integrated into the headset and pointed out and down, Project Alloy prototypes will be able to “see” and track your hands, integrating them into the game and VR world in real-time.
The demo that Intel put on during the keynote definitely showed the promise, but the implementation was clunky and less than what I expected from the company. Real hands just showed up in the game, rather than representing the hands with rendered hands that track accurately, and it definitely put a schism in the experience. Obviously it’s up to the application developer to determine how your hands would actually be represented, but it would have been better to show case that capability in the live demo.
Better than just tracking your hands, Project Alloy was able to track a dollar bill (why not a Benjamin Intel??!?) and use it to interact with a spinning lathe in the VR world. It interacted very accurately and with minimal latency – the potential for this kind of AR integration is expansive.
Those same RealSense cameras and data is used to map the space around you, preventing you from running into things or people or cats in the room. This enables the first “multi-room” tracking capability, giving VR/AR users a new range of flexibility and usability.
Though I did not get hands on with the Alloy prototype itself, the unit on-stage looked pretty heavy, pretty bulky. Comfort will obviously be important for any kind of head mounted display, and Intel has plenty of time to iterate on the design for the next year to get it right. Both AMD and NVIDIA have been talking up the importance of GPU compute to provide high quality VR experiences, so Intel has an uphill battle to prove that its solution, without the need for external power or additional processing, can truly provide the untethered experience we all desire.
Subject: Systems | August 16, 2016 - 08:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, nvidia, Lenovo, Killer Networking, Intel, IdeaCentre Y710 Cube, GTX 1080, gaming, gamescom, cube
Lenovo has announced the IdeaCentre Y710 Cube; a small form-factor system designed for gaming regardless of available space, and it can be configured with some very high-end desktop components for serious performance.
"Ideal for gamers who want to stay competitive no matter where they play, the IdeaCentre Y710 Cube comes with a built-in carry handle for easy transport between gaming stations. Housed sleekly within a new, compact cube form factor, it features NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX graphics and 6th Gen Intel Core processors to handle today’s most resource-intensive releases."
The Y710 Cube offers NVIDIA GeForce graphics up to the GTX 1080, and up to a 6th-generation Core i7 processor. (Though a specific processor number was not mentioned, this is likely the non-K Core i7-6700 CPU given the 65W cooler specified below).
Lenovo offers a pre-installed XBox One controller receiver with the Y710 Cube to position the small desktop as a console alternative, and the machines are configured with SSD storage and feature Killer Double Shot Pro networking (where the NIC and wireless card are combined for better performance).
- Processor: Up to 6th Generation Intel Core i7 Processor
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home
- Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080; 8 GB
- Memory: Up to 32 GB DDR4
- Storage: Up to 2 TB HDD + 256 GB SSD
- Cooling: 65 W
- Networking: Killer LAN / WiFi 10/100/1000M
- Video: 1x HDMI, 1x VGA
- Rear Ports: 1x USB 2.0 1x USB 3.0
- Front Ports: 2x USB 3.0
- Dimensions (L x D x H): 393.3 x 252.3 x 314.5 mm (15.48 x 9.93 x 12.38 inches)
- Weight: Starting at 16.3 lbs (7.4 kg)
- Carry Handle: Yes
- Accessory: Xbox One Wireless Controller/Receiver (optional)
The IdeaCentre Y710 Cube is part of Lenovo's Gamescom 2016 annoucement, and will be available for purchase starting in October. Pricing starts at $1,299.99 for a version with the GTX 1070.
Subject: General Tech | August 12, 2016 - 01:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: 3D XPoint, Intel, FMS 2016
You might have caught our reference to this on the podcast, XPoint is amazingly fast but the marketing clams were an order or magnitude or two off of the real performance levels. Al took some very nice pictures at FMS and covered what Micron had to say about their new QuantX drives. The Register also dropped by and offers a tidbit on the pricing, roughly four to five times as much as current flash or about half the cost of an equivalent amount of RAM. They also compare the stated endurance of 25 complete drive writes per day to existing flash which offers between 10 to 17 depending on the technology used.
The question they ask at the end is one many data centre managers will also be asking, is the actual speed boost worth the cost of upgrading or will other less expensive alternatives be more economical?
"XPoint will substantially undershoot the 1,000-times-faster and 1,000-times-longer-lived-than-flash claims made by Intel when it was first announced – with just a 10-times speed boost and 2.5-times longer endurance in reality."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Thieves can wirelessly unlock up to 100 million Volkswagens, each at the press of a button @ The Register
- McAfee outs malware dev firm with scores of Download.com installs @ The Register
- Creator of Chatbot that Beat 160K Parking Fines Now Tackling Homelessness @ Slashdot
- New Air-Gap Jumper Covertly Transmits Data in Hard-Drive Sounds @ Slashdot
- Galaxy Note 7 to get Android 7.0 Nougat in 'two to three months' @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2016 - 02:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: XPoint, Samsung, Intel, HybriDIMM
Bit of a correction folks, Netlist developed the HybriDIMMs using Samsung DRAM and NAND, united using their own proprietary interface. This, and my confusion, is in part to do some nasty and very costly IP litigation behind the scenes which lead to Samsung getting more credit for this than they deserved.
Netlist and Diablo Technologies worked together for a while and then parted ways. Soon after the split Diablo licensed SMART to produce ULLtraDIMMs and a court case was born. Not long afterwards SanDisk grabbed the IP from Diablo and now WD is buying SanDisk, making this an utter nightmare for a smaller company. Samsung invested $23m in Netdisk and offered a source of chips, albeit likely with strings, which has allowed Netdisk to develop HybriDIMMs.
Samsung Netlist has developed HybriDIMMs, replacing some of the DRAM on a memory module with NAND. This allows you to significantly increase the amount of memory available on a DIMM and reduces the price dramatically at the same time. The drawback is that NAND is significantly slower than DRAM; they intend to overcome that with the use of predictive algorithms they have called PreSight to pre-fetch data from the NAND and stage it in DRAM. This will compete with Intel's Optane XPoint DIMMs once they are released and will mean the DRAM market will split into two, the DRAM we are currently used to and these hybrid NAND DIMMs. Check out more details over at The Register.
"Gold plate can give a durable and affordable alloy a 24-carat veneer finish, adding value to cheap metal. DRAM gives Samsung-Netlist Hybrid DIMMs a cache veneer, providing what looks like DRAM to applications but is really persistent NAND underneath, cheaper than DRAM and lots of it."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Linux subsystem could cause Windows 10 Anniversary Update to eat itself @ The Inquirer
- Google study shows unwanted software is a bigger headache than malware @ The Inquirer
- Save Up To 70% On Steamcrate Subscriptions: Get 10 New Games Each Month @ Gizmodo
- Hacker Uses Fake Boarding Pass App To Get Into Fancy Airline Lounges @ Slashdot
Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2016 - 05:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xiaomi, ultraportable, ultrabook, thin and light, Intel, core m3, core i5
According to the guys over at The Tech Report, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is jumping into the notebook game with two new Mi Notebook Air ultrabooks. The all aluminum notebooks are sleek looking and priced very competitively for their specifications. They are set to release on August 2nd in China.
The new Mi Notebook Air notebooks come in 13.3" and 12.5" versions. Both models use all aluminum bodies with edge to edge glass displays (1080p though unknown what type of panel), backlit keyboards, and dual AKG speakers. Users can choose from gold or silver colors for the body and keyboard (Xiaomi uses a logo-less design which is nice).
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air via Ars Technica.
Both models sport a single USB Type C port (which is also used for charging), two USB 3.0 Type A ports, one HDMI video output, and a headphone jack. The Xiaomi website shows an USB Type C adapter that adds extra ports as well. Internally, they have a M.2 slot for storage expansion but the notebooks do not appear to be user serviceable (though iFixit may rectify that...). Also shared is support for the company's Mi Sync software and Mi fitness band which can be used to unlock the computer when the user is in proximity.
The smaller 12.5" Mi Notebook Air is 0.51" thick and weighs just over 2.3 pounds. It is powered by an Intel Core M3 processor and Xiaomi claims that this model can hit 11.5 hours ouf battery life. Other specifications include 4 GB of RAM, a 128 GB SATA SSD, and 802.11ac wireless.
If you need a bit more computing power, the 13.3" notebook is slightly bulkier at 0.58" thick and 2.8 pounds with the tradeoff in size giving users a larger display, keyboard, and dedicated graphics card. Specifically, the 13.3" ultrabook features an Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia Geforce 940MX GPU, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, a 256GB NVMe PCI-E SSD, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. This laptop is a bit heavier but I think the extra horsepower is worth it for those that need or want it.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about what many will see as an Apple MacBook Air clone is the pricing. The 12.5" laptop will MSRP for RMB 3499 while that 13.3" notebook will cost RMB 4999. That translates to approximately $525 and $750 USD respectively which is a great value for the specifications and size and seemingly will give Apple a run for its money in China. That's the bad news: Xiaomi does not appear to be bringing these slick looking notebooks to the US anytime soon which is unfortunate.
Subject: Processors | July 28, 2016 - 02:47 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: kaby lake, Intel, gt3e, coffee lake, 14nm
Intel will allegedly be releasing another 14nm processor following Kaby Lake (which is itself a 14nm successor to Skylake) in 2018. The new processors are code named "Coffee Lake" and will be released alongside low power runs of 10nm Cannon Lake chips.
Not much information is known about Coffee Lake outside of leaked slides and rumors, but the first processors slated to launch in 2018 will be mainstream mobile chips that will come in U and HQ mobile flavors which are 15W to 28W and 35W to 45W TDP chips respectively. Of course, these processors will be built on a very mature 14nm process with the usual small performance and efficiency gains beyond Skylake and Kaby Lake. The chips should have a better graphics unit, but perhaps more interesting is that the slides suggest that Coffee Lake will be the first architecture where Intel will bring "hexacore" (6 core) processors into mainstream consumer chips! The HQ-class Coffee Lake processors will reportedly come in two, four, and six core variants with Intel GT3e class GPUs. Meanwhile the lower power U-class chips top out at dual cores with GT3e class graphics. This is interesting because Intel has previous held back the six core CPUs for its more expensive and higher margin HEDT and Xeon platforms.
Of course 2018 is also the year for Cannon Lake which would have been the "tock" in Intel's old tick-tock schedule (which is no more) as the chips will move to a smaller process node and then Intel would improve on the 10nm process from there in future architectures. Cannon Lake is supposed to be built on the tiny 10nm node, and it appears that the first chips on this node will be ultra low power versions for laptops and tablets. Occupying the ULV platform's U-class (15W) and Y-class (4.5W), Cannon Lake CPUs will be dual cores with GT2 graphics. These chips should sip power while giving comparable performance to Kaby and Coffee Lake perhaps even matching the performance of the Coffee Lake U processors!
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information!
Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2016 - 12:21 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Wraith, Volta, video, time spy, softbank, riotoro, retroarch, podcast, nvidia, new, kaby lake, Intel, gtx 1060, geforce, asynchronous compute, async compute, arm, apollo lake, amd, 3dmark, 10nm, 1070m, 1060m
PC Perspective Podcast #409 - 07/21/2016
Join us this week as we discuss the GTX 1060 review, controversy surrounding the async compute of 3DMark Time Spy and more!!
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This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Casper!
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Josh Walrath
Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2016 - 12:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: iot, security, amazon, Intel
The Register brings up the issue of IoT security once again today, this time looking at the logistics of patching and updating a fleet of IoT devices. Amazon is focusing on dumb devices with a smart core, the physical device having the sensors required and a connection to the net to send all data to be processed in large database which would be much easier to maintain but does offer other security issues. Intel on the other hand unsurprisingly prefers end devices with some smarts, such as their Curie and Edison modules, with a smarter gateway device sitting between those end devices and the same sort of large server based computing as Amazon.
Intel's implementation may be more effective in certain enviroments than Amazons, El Reg uses the example of an oil rig, but would be more expensive to purchase and maintain. Take a look at the article for a deeper look, or just imagine the horrors of pushing out a critical patch to 1000's of devices in an unknown state when you go live.
"Internet of Things (IoT) hype focuses on the riches that will rain from the sky once humanity connects the planet, but mostly ignores what it will take to build and operate fleets of things.
And the operational side of things could be hell."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Skype Finalizes Its Move To the Cloud; To Kill Older Clients -- Remains Tight Lipped About Privacy @ Slashdot
- Apple kills eavesdrop bug in FaceTime @ The Register
- BlackBerry CEO: Android 'lags behind' BB10 in terms of security @ The Inquirer
- Android Nougat security features could leave modders with something to chew on @ The Register
- Microsoft Azure doubles up to $800m a quarter – and is wiped out by dying phone sales @ The Register
- Lexar Professional Workflow HR2 Hub, SR2 Reader, CFR1 Reader, DD256 Portable SSD @ Custom PC Review
Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2016 - 05:07 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nuc, kaby lake, iris, Intel, baby canyon, arches canyon, apollo lake
According to Olivier over at FanlessTech, Intel will be launching two new small form factor NUC PCs later this year. The new NUCs are code named Baby Canyon and Arches Canyon and will be powered by Intel’s Kaby Lake-U and Apollo Lake processors respectively. Baby Canyon will occupy the high end while Arches Canyon is aimed at low power and budget markets.
Left: Intel NUC Roadmap. Middle: Intel Baby Canyon NUC. Right: Intel Arches Canyon NUC.
First up is the “Baby Canyon” NUC which will come in five SKUs. Featuring aluminum enclosures, the Baby Canyon NUCs measure 115 x 111 x 51mm for models with a SATA drive (models without SATA drive support are shorter at 35mm tall). The PCs will be powered by Intel’s Kaby Lake-U processors up to a 28W quad core i7 chip with Iris graphics. There will also be 15W Core i5 and i3 models. Kaby Lake is the 14nm successor to Skylake and features native support for USB 3.1, HDCP 2.2, and HEVC. Further, Kaby Lake chips will reportedly utilize an improved graphics architecture. While Kaby Lake chips in general will be available with TDPs up to 95W, the models used in Baby Canyon NUCs top out at 28W and are the Kaby Lake-U mobile variants.
Baby Canyon NUCs will pair the Kaby Lake-U CPUs with dual channel DDR4 SODIMMs (up to 32GB), a M.2 SSD, and SATA hard drive (on some models). Networking is handled by a soldered down Intel’s Wireless AC + BT 4.2 WiFI NIC and an Intel Gigabit Ethernet NIC.
Connectivity includes two USB 3.0 ports (one charging), a Micro SDXC card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, and an IR port on the front. Rear IO is made up of two more USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 2.0 video output, Gigabit Ethernet port, and a USB 3.1 (Gen1 5Gbps) Type-C port with support for DisplayPort 1.2 (DisplayPort Alt Mode). Finally, users can get access two USB 2.0 ports via an internal header.
Arches Canyon will be the new budget NUC option in 2017 and will be powered by Intel’s Apollo Lake SoC. Arches Canyon is the same 115 x 111 x 51mm size as the higher end Baby Canyon NUC, but the reference Intel chassis will be primarily made of plastic to reduce cost. Moving to the lower end platform, users will lose out on the USB 3.1 Type-C port, M.2 slot, and DDR4 support. Instead, the Arches Canyon NUCs will use dual channel DDR3L (up to 8GB) and come in two models: one with 32GB of built-in eMMC storage and one without. Both models will support adding in a SATA SSD or hard drive though.
External IO includes four USB 3.0 ports (two front, two rear, one charging), two 3.5mm audio jacks (the rear port supports TOSLINK), one Micro SDXC slot, one HDMI 2.0 video output, a VGA video out, and a Gigabit Ethernet port.
Internally, Arches Canyon is powered by Celeron branded Apollo Lake SoCs which are the successor to Braswell and feature Goldmont CPU cores paired with Gen 9 HD Graphics. Intel has not announced the specific chip yet, but the chip used in these budget NUCs will allegedly be a quad core model with a 10W TDP. Apollo Lake in general is said to offer up to 30% more CPU and GPU performance along with 15% better battery life over current Braswell designs. The battery savings are not really relevant in a NUC, but the performance improvements should certainly help!
One interesting contradiction in these Intel slides is that the Baby Canyon slide mentions Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) and USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) support for the USB Type-C connector but in the connectivity section limits the USB 3.1 Type-C port to Gen 1 (5Gbps) and no mention of Thunderbolt support at all. I guess we will just have to wait and see if TB3 will end up making the cut!
The new NUCs look promising in that they should replace the older models at their current price points (for the most part) while offering better performance which will be especially important on the low end Arches Canyon SKUs! Being NUCs, users will be able to buy them as barebones kits or as systems pre-loaded with Windows 10.
If the chart is accurate, both Baby Canyon and Arches Canyon will be launched towards the end of the year with availability sometime in early to mid 2017. There is no word on exact pricing, naturally.
Are you still interested in Intel’s NUC platform? Stay tuned for more information as it comes in closer to launch!
- Intel officially ends the era of "tick-tock" processor production
- Low Cost Braswell NUC Incoming - Intel NUC NUC5CPYH for $129
- Intel NUC D54250WYK SFF System Review - Haswell Update