Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 25, 2015 - 04:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows phone, windows 10 mobile, Surface Pro, Skylake, microsoft band, microsoft, lumia, Intel
Earlier this month, Microsoft sent out invites to members of the press for an event to be held on October 6th at the Skylight at the Moynihan Station in New York City. Naturally, Microsoft was short on details on what exactly will be covered. The rumor mill on the Internet (surely the most reliable of sources!) is set on the idea that the event will be used to launch a slew of new hardware products and refresh its mobile and wearable product stacks.
The rumored products include at least two new Windows Phone 10 Lumia smartphones, a refreshed Microsoft Band 2, and new Surface Pro 4 tablet.
On the smartphone front, the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL both have fairly generous specifications for Windows Phone devices (running Windows 10 Mobile). The 950 sports a 5.2-inch 2560 x 1440 display, a six core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC, 3GB of internal memory, 32GB of internal storage, and a 3,000 mAh battery pack.
Moving up to the 950XL allegedly gets you a larger 5.7-inch display (though it is still at the same 1440p resolution) and a faster Snapdragon 810 SoC (four Cortex A57 at up to 2GHz and four lower power A53 cores along with the Adreno 430 GPU). Oddly, the battery pack is rumored to be only slightly larger than the Lumia 950 at 3,300 mAh which may result in lower battery life thanks to the larger display and faster processor.
Both phones will also feature a 20 megapixel rear camera, a 5 megapixel front camera, an iris scanner for Windows Hello, Qi wireless charging support, and a USB Type-C port for data and charging purposes.
Further, Microsoft is reported to be launching the Microsoft Band 2, a new (and sleek looking) wearable. The band, powered by an ARM Cortex M4 SoC and two 100 mAh batteries will sport a curved display and improved ergonomic design that can be used to see notifications, track your fitness, and interact with your smartphone using the built in microphone. The Band 2 is said to be compatbile with Windows Phone, iOS, and Android operating systems and connects via Bluetooth 4.0.
Lastly, rumors are pointing towards a new Surface Pro tablet being launched at the event though there has yet to be a consensus on the (alleged) specifications. Some rumors point towards Skylake while others point at Core M (Broadwell) being the processor of choice. Personally, I am leaning towards Microsoft using one of the new mobile Skylake chips for this possible Surface Pro 4 tablet PC. Broadwell with Iris Pro graphics would be nice to see, however...
In any event, I suppose that we will just have to wait and see what comes of this event in two weeks time. I do not have much to say on the smartphone or Surface Pro fronts (except that the tablet will be expensive no matter what the hardware ends up being, heh), but I’m liking the new Microsoft Band -- if they could somehow hit a lower price point I’m sold!
What are your thoughts on the rumors--what new hardware are you expecting to be announced next month?
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
What's better than an 18-channel NVMe PCIe Datacenter SSD controller in a Half Height Half Length (HHHL) package? *TWO* 18-channel NVMe PCIe Datacenter controllers in a HHHL package! I'm sure words to this effect were uttered in an Intel meeting room some time in the past, because such a device now exists, and is called the SSD DC P3608:
The P3608 is essentially a pair of P3600's glued together on a single PCB, much like how some graphics cards merge a pair of GPUs to act with the performance of a pair of cards combined into a single one:
What is immediately impressive here is that Intel has done this same trick within 1/4 of the space (HHHL compared to a typical graphics card). We can only imagine the potential of a pair of P3600 SSDs, so lets get right into the specs, disassembly, and testing!
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | September 18, 2015 - 01:33 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Skylake, kaby lake, iris pro, Intel, edram
Update: Sept 17, 2015 @ 10:30 ET -- To clarify: I'm speaking of socketed desktop Skylake. There will definitely be Iris Pro in the BGA options.
Before I begin, the upstream story has a few disputes that I'm not entirely sure on. The Tech Report published a post in September that cited an Intel spokesperson, who said that Skylake would not be getting a socketed processor with eDRAM (unlike Broadwell did just before Skylake launched). This could be a big deal, because the fast, on-processor cache could be used by the CPU as well as the RAM. It is sometimes called “128MB of L4 cache”.
Later, ITWorld and others posted stories that said Intel killed off a Skylake processor with eDRAM, citing The Tech Report. After, Scott Wasson claimed that a story, which may or may not be ITWorld's one, had some “scrambled facts” but wouldn't elaborate. Comparing the two articles doesn't really illuminate any massive, glaring issues, but I might just be missing something.
Update: Sept 18, 2015 @ 9:45pm -- So I apparently misunderstood the ITWorld article. They were claiming that Broadwell-C was discontinued, while The Tech Report was talking about Socketed Skylake with Iris Pro. I thought they both were talking about the latter. Moreover, Anandtech received word from Intel that Broadwell-C is, in fact, not discontinued. This is odd, because ITWorld said they had confirmation from Intel. My guess is that someone gave them incorrect information. Sorry that it took so long to update.
In the same thread, Ian Cutress of Anandtech asked whether The Tech Report benchmarked the processor after Intel tweaked its FCLK capabilities, which Scott did not (but is interested in doing so). Intel addressed a slight frequency boost between the CPU and PCIe lanes after Skylake shipped, which naturally benefits discrete GPUs. Since the original claim was that Broadwell-C is better than Skylake-K for gaming, giving a 25% boost to GPU performance (or removing a 20% loss, depending on how you look at it) could tilt Skylake back above Broadwell. We won't know until it's benchmarked, though.
Iris Pro and eDRAM, while skipping Skylake, might arrive in future architectures though, such as Kaby Lake. It seems to have been demonstrated that, in some situations, and ones relevant to gamers at that, that this boost in eDRAM can help computation -- without even considering the compute potential of a better secondary GPU. One argument is that cutting the extra die room gives Intel more margins, which is almost definitely true, but I wonder how much attention Kaby Lake will get. Especially with AVX-512 and other features being debatably removed, it almost feels like Intel is treating this Tock like a Tick, since they didn't really get one with Broadwell, and Kaby Lake will be the architecture that will lead us to 10nm. On the other hand, each of these architectures are developed by independent teams, so I might be wrong in comparing them serially.
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2015 - 04:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: security, Intel, hack
Intel is bucking the trend of FUD and overreaction when someone reveals a major flaw in a product that is on the market and are instead rewarding those who find ways to hack their automobiles. As we have seen recently, remotely exploiting onboard software and causing a car to crash is no longer something only possible in the movies and it seems that Intel is far more interested in working towards secure solutions as opposed to the auto manufacturers reliance on lawsuits and security through obscurity. Intel's Automotive Security Review Board is looking for bright minded individuals who will help bring PC style security to cars and is offering a free car (or cash equivalent) to the member who provides the best contribution. Check out the links at The Register if you are interested.
"Intel is getting serious – dead serious, apparently – about car hacking. And nothing says serious like a prize giveaway. If you join Chipzilla's new Automotive Security Review Board and make all the right noises, you can win a free new ride."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Molecular solders help make high-performance FETs @ Nanotechweb
- 8K monitors from Sharp to roll out in October, say report @ DigiTimes
- Implanted Cisco routers are coming after you and your insecurities @ The Inquirer
- Netgear ProSAFE Click 16-Port Ethernet Switch @ techPowerUp
- Epson 4630 Home Printer Review @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: Systems | September 14, 2015 - 08:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ECS, LIVA X2, SFF, Braswell, Intel
The new LIVA X2 ships with a Braswell N3050, either 2GB or 4GB of DDR3 and either 32GB or 64GB eMMC local storage. That new chip brings much better support for peripherals, such as M.2 cards of up to 1TB in size, three USB 3.0 port, HDMI and D-Sub as well as a combo audio port and even internal microphones. For connectivity, you can choose a mix of LAN cable, WiFi a/c and Bluetooth 4.0. You can see the inside of the device as well as performance results over at Mad Shrimps.
"The Braswell-equipped LIVA X2 is a much needed improvement over the original LIVA which brings more USB ports to the table, the ability to install a M.2 SSD up to 1TB for increased storage capacity while keeping a small footprint and very low power consumption (8.8W IDLE, 19.71W Full Load). Despite the new generation SoC, we have seen that its arithmetic performance is very close to the original LIVA, while the 3D one has been increased."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- ECS LIVA X2 Mini PC Review @ OCC
- Nvidia's Shield Android TV @ The Tech Report
- DinoPC Raptor Watercooled System @ Kitguru
- itGuru Complete Guide to Workstations – Part 4
- TechPowerUp $800 Build Guide
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 8, 2015 - 11:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: PSU, nuc, Intel, HDPLEX, Fanless PSU
In an effort to make small form factor PCs even smaller, HDPLEX has created an internal power supply for them. Added benefit: it's fanless and supports up to 80W. This is designed to replace the power bricks that are apparently common for most builds, meaning that you have one less thing to hide behind something else.
The unit takes up 121.5mm x 30mm x 40mm, which works out to 4.8”, 1.2”, and 1.6” for people who like measurement systems without simple decimal shift conversions. This is on par with some external power bricks that I've seen for the NUCs, although those are 65W (the same as Intel's official brick) while this one is 80W. I'm not sure what that extra 15W will get you though, unless you jump into the Thin-ITX form factor, which is also supported.
Subject: General Tech | September 3, 2015 - 08:19 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Z170-A, video, skylake-u, Skylake, r9 nano, podcast, phanteks, Intel, ifa, g-sync, fury x, Fury, Fiji, dx12, async shaders, asus, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #365 - 09/03/2015
Join us this week as we discuss the R9 Nano Preview, Tons of Skylake SKUs, Asynchronous Shaders and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Sebastian Peak
Program length: 1:49:27
Week in Review:
0:48:45 This week’s episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by VideoBlocks
News item of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
That is a lotta SKUs!
The slow, gradual release of information about Intel's Skylake-based product portfolio continues forward. We have already tested and benchmarked the desktop variant flagship Core i7-6700K processor and also have a better understanding of the microarchitectural changes the new design brings forth. But today Intel's 6th Generation Core processors get a major reveal, with all the mobile and desktop CPU variants from 4.5 watts up to 91 watts, getting detailed specifications. Not only that, but it also marks the first day that vendors can announce and begin selling Skylake-based notebooks and systems!
All indications are that vendors like Dell, Lenovo and ASUS are still some weeks away from having any product available, but expect to see your feeds and favorite tech sites flooded with new product announcements. And of course with a new Apple event coming up soon...there should be Skylake in the new MacBooks this month.
Since I have already talked about the architecture and the performance changes from Haswell/Broadwell to Skylake in our 6700K story, today's release is just a bucket of specifications and information surround 46 different 6th Generation Skylake processors.
Intel's 6th Generation Core Processors
At Intel's Developer Forum in August, the media learned quite a bit about the new 6th Generation Core processor family including Intel's stance on how Skylake changes the mobile landscape.
Skylake is being broken up into 4 different line of Intel processors: S-series for desktop DIY users, H-series for mobile gaming machines, U-series for your everyday Ultrabooks and all-in-ones, Y-series for tablets and 2-in-1 detachables. (Side note: Intel does not reference an "Ultrabook" anymore. Huh.)
As you would expect, Intel has some impressive gains to claim with the new 6th Generation processor. However, it is important to put them in context. All of the claims above, including 2.5x performance, 30x graphics improvement and 3x longer battery life, are comparing Skylake-based products to CPUs from 5 years ago. Specifically, Intel is comparing the new Core i5-6200U (a 15 watt part) against the Core i5-520UM (an 18 watt part) from mid-2010.
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | August 27, 2015 - 04:17 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: water cooling, liquid cooling, Intel, ek, AIO
EK (EK Water Blocks) is pouncing on the AIO liquid cooling market with its new EK-Predator series. The new cooler series combines the company's enthusiast parts into pre-filled and pre-assembled loops ready to cool Intel CPUs (AMD socket support is slated for next year). Specifically, EK is offering up the EK-Predator 240 and EK-Predator 360 which are coolers with a 240mm radiator and a 360mm radiator respectively.
The new coolers use copper radiators and EK Supremacy MX CPU blocks the latter of which has a polished copper base so there is no risk associated with using mixed metals in the loop. A 6W DDC pump drives the loop with the pump and a small reservoir attached to one side of the radiator (allegedly using a vibration dampening mounting system). EK ZMT (Zero Maintenance Tubing) 10/16mm tubing connects the CPU block to the pump/radiator/reservoir combo which uses standard G1/4 threaded ports.
EK pairs the radiator with two or three (depending on the model) EK-Vardar high static pressure fans. The fans and pump are PWM controlled and connect to a hub which is then connected to the PC motherboard's CPU fan header over a single cable. Then, a single SATA power cable from the power supply provides the necessary power to drive the pump and fans.
The EK-Predator 360 further adds quick disconnect (QDC) fittings to allow users to expand the loop to include, for example, GPU blocks. EK Water Blocks is reportedly working on compatible GPU blocks which will be available later this year that users will be able to easily tie into the EK-Predator 360 cooling loop.
Available for pre-order now, the EK-Predator 240 will be available September 23rd with an MSRP of $199 while the larger EK-Predator 360 is slated for an October 19th release at $239 MSRP.
If the expected performance is there, these units look to be a decent value that will allow enthusiasts to (pun intended) get their feet wet with liquid cooling with the opportunity to expand the loop as their knowledge and interest in water cooling grows. The EK-Predators are not a unique or new idea (other companies have offered water cooling kits for awhile) but coming pre-assembled and pre-filled makes it dead simple to get started and the parts should be of reputable quality. The one drawback I can see from the outset is that users will need to carefully measure their cases as the pump and reservoir being attached to the radiator means users will need more room than usual to fit the radiator. EK states in the PR that the 240mm rad should fit most cases, and is working with vendors on compatible cases for the 360mm radiator version, for what that's worth. Considering I spent a bit under $300 for my custom water cooling loop used, this new kit doesn't seem like a bad value so long as the parts are up to normal EK quality (barring that whole GPU block flaking thing which I luckily have not run into...).
What do you think about EK's foray into AIO water cooling? Are the new coolers predators or prey? (okay, I'll leave the puns to Scott!).
Subject: Processors | August 26, 2015 - 06:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Skylake, Intel, linux, Godavari
Using the GPU embedded in the vast majority of modern processors is a good way to reduce the price of and entry level system, as indeed is choosing Linux for your OS. Your performance is not going to match that of a system with a discrete GPU but with the newer GPU cores available you will be doing much better than the old days of the IGP. The first portion of Phoronix's review of the Skylake GPU covers the various versions of driver you can choose from while the rest compares Kaveri, Godavari, Haswell and Broadwell to the new HD530 on SkyLake CPUs. Currently the Iris Pro 6200 present on Broadwell is still the best for gaming, though the A10-7870K Godavari performance is also decent. Consider one of those two chips now, or await Iris Pro's possible arrival on a newer socketed processor if you are in no hurry.
"Intel's Core i5 6600K and i7 6700K processors released earlier this month feature HD Graphics 530 as the first Skylake graphics processor. Given that Intel's Open-Source Technology Center has been working on open-source Linux graphics driver support for over a year for Skylake, I've been quite excited to see how the Linux performance compares for Haswell and Broadwell as well as AMD's APUs on Linux."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel Core i5 6600K Skylake Linux CPU Benchmarks @ Phoronix
- Intel Core i7-5775C Review @ Modders-Inc
- Intel Core i7-6700K Review: Inching Toward Extreme @ Modders-Inc
- Intel’s ‘Skylake’ Core i7-6700K: A Performance Look @ Techgage
- Intel Core i7 6700K "Skylake" Processor Review @HiTech Legion
- Intel Core i7-6700K Review @ Neoseeker