Introduction and Specifications
For Intel’s Z270 chipset ECS has a pair of motherboard options, with the ATX Z270-LIGHTSABER and mini-ITX Z270H4-I. We have a look at both of these offerings today.
The Z270-LIGHTSABER tries to live up to that name with customizable LED lighting around the board, which is controlled through the system setup. It boasts a 14-phase power delivery and all solid caps, and offers simplified overclocking through the ECS MIB X interface and Intel XMP 1.2 and 1.3 memory support. Additionally the LIGHTSABER offers comprehensive storage options with a PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot (Intel Optane is supported), U.2 port, and a full complement of SATA III ports. There is also a Killer E2500 NIC, and premium audio with a dedicated TI headphone amp, among the other features.
For its part the Z270H4-I packs many of the same features as its ATX cousin, though this mini-ITX motherboard only provides a 6-phase power design, and does not feature the LED lighting or dedicated headphone amp of the Z270-LIGHTSABER. It does provide the same full PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot with Intel Optane support, and while the Z270H4-I does not have a Killer NIC it replaces this with a pair including an Intel I-219V and Realtek LAN. The Z270H4-I also supports M.2 wireless cards and includes an optional pair of wireless antennae.
I installed my Core i7-7700K in both motherboards and in addition to some baseline benchmarks I tried out some casual overclocking and will provide general usage impressions with both boards.
Subject: Systems | August 30, 2017 - 03:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: linux, xeon, Xeon Gold 6138, dual cpu, LGA-3647, Intel
The core counts and amount of RAM on enthusiast systems is growing quickly, especially with Threadripper, but we won't be seeing a system quite like this one under our desks in the near future. The server which Phoronix tested sports dual Xeon Gold 6138 for a total of 40 physical cores and 80 threads, with each CPU having 48GB of RAM for a total of 96GB of DDR4-2666. Not only did Phoronix run this system through a variety of tests, they did so on eight different Linux distros. Can any benchmark push this thing to its limits? Was there a clear winner for the OS? Find out in the full review.
"While we routinely run various Linux distribution / operating system comparisons at Phoronix, they tend to be done on desktop class hardware and the occasional servers. This is our look at the most interesting enterprise-focused Linux distribution comparison to date as we see how Intel's Xeon Scalable platform compares on different GNU/Linux distributions when using the Tyan GT24E-B7106 paired with two Dual Xeon Gold 6138 processors."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Guru3D Rig of the Month - August 2017
- A Look At The Xeon Gold 6138 + Tyan GT24E-B7106 1U Linux Server Performance @ Phoronix
- Origin Neuron Gaming Desktop @ Techspot
Subject: Processors | August 29, 2017 - 12:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Xeon W, xeon scalable, xeon, workstation, processor, Intel, cpu
Intel has officially announced their new workstation processor lineup, with Xeon Scalable and Xeon W versions aimed at both professional and mainstream workstation systems.
"Workstations powered by Intel Xeon processors meet the most stringent demands for professionals seeking to increase productivity and rapidly bring data to life. Intel today disclosed that the world-record performance of the Intel Xeon Scalable processors is now available for next-generation expert workstations to enable photorealistic design, modeling, artificial intelligence (AI) analytics, and virtual-reality (VR) content creation."
The first part of Intel’s product launch announcement are the new Xeon Scalable processors, first announced in July, and these are dual-socket solutions targeting professional workstations. Versions with up to 56 cores/112 threads are available, and frequencies of up to 4.20 GHz are possible via Turbo Boost. Intel is emphasising the large performance impact of upgrading to these new Xeon processors with a comparison to older equipment (a trend in the industry of late), which is relevant when considering the professional market where upgrades are far slower than the enthusiast desktop segment:
“Expert workstations will experience up to a 2.71x boost in performance compared to a 4-year-old system and up to 1.65x higher performance compared to the previous generation.”
The second part of announcement are new Xeon W processors, which will be part of Intel’s mainstream workstation offering. These are single-socket processors, with up to 18 cores/36 threads and Turbo Boost frequencies up to 4.50 GHz. The performance impact with these new Xeon W CPUs compared to previous generations is not as great as the Xeon Scalable processors above, as Intel offers the same comparison to older hardware with the Xeon W:
“Mainstream workstations will experience up to a 1.87x boost in performance compared to a 4-year-old system4 and up to 1.38x higher performance compared to the previous generation.”
Full PR is available from Intel's newsroom.
Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2017 - 11:24 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: vulkan, vlan, video, samsung galaxy note 8, rx vega, podcast, Linksys WRT32x, kaby lake, Intel, ice lake, htc vive, ECS, Core, asus zenphone 4, acer predator z271t
PC Perspective Podcast #464 - 08/17/17
Join us for continued discussion on RX Vega, Intel 8th Gen Core, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg
Program length: 1:34:56
Week in Review:
0:07:54 Let’s talk about RX Vega!
Different die packages
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Subject: Motherboards | August 24, 2017 - 12:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mining, LGA 1151, Intel, cryptocurrency, b250, asus
Asus recently took the wraps off of a monster ATX form factor motherboard aimed squarely at crypto currency miners. The aptly named Asus B250 Expert Mining motherboard is based on Intel's B250 chipset and features an impressive 19 PCI-E slots! The board is based around Intel's budget chipset and is paired with an LGA 1151 socket for Intel Skylake or Kaby Lake CPUs. There are also two DDR4 memory slots and four SATA 6 Gbps ports.
The B250 Expert Mining motherboard is powered by a single 8-pin CPU power connector driving a 6-phase DIGI+ VRM, three (!) 24-pin ATX12V connectors, and three Molex power connectors. The top 24-pin drives the first seven PCI-E slots (including the single PCI-E x16 slot) while the other two 24-pin connectors are responsible for powering 6 of the remaining PCI-E x1 slots each.
Asus claims that the upcoming motherboard has several mining focused features including a tuned BIOS tweaked to improve mining efficiency, a splash screen at startup that shows the state of each PCI-E slot at-a-glance at each boot (Asus Mining Expert software) as well as voltage stabilization capacitors for each GPU slot.
With this motherboard miners will be able to hook up to 19 graphics cards to each motherboard which reduces the number of complete systems they need to build and maintain improving ROI time, increasing power efficiency, and reducing maintenance costs. At the time of writing there is a bit of hiccup with this plan though as miners will not be able to fully take advantage of all 19 slots for graphics cards. First off, miners will have to use Linux and even then they will be limited to a maximum of eight graphics cards from AMD and eight graphics cards from NVIDIA (if they can even get that working reliably...). Not all hope for an uber mining motherboard is lost though as Anandtech reports that AMD is working on a driver update slated for release later this year that will enable miners to use all 19 slots for their graphics cards.
Asus has not yet released pricing, but I would expect it to come at a hefty premium considering it offers the highest number of PCI-E slots on a standard motherboard so far. Asus has reportedly already begun sampling the B250 Expert Mining board to partners and it should be available at retail soon.
Even if you are not into the crypto currency mining scene, it is intriguing seeing the response to miners from the hardware manufacturers with new focused product lines.
- Let's Talk About Mining - Cryptocurrency Revisited
- Donate to the PC Perspective Mining Pool! A NiceHash How-to
- A Quick Look at the SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 470 Mining Edition
- NVIDIA Partners Launching Mining Focused P106-100 and P104-100 Graphics Cards
- Mining specific cards are real - ASUS and Sapphire GP106 and RX 470 show up
Subject: General Tech | August 23, 2017 - 03:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, coffee lake, asus, acer
DigiTimes have broken the news that Coffee Lake powered laptops will be arriving in September. ASUS and Acer are mentioned by name but you can bet that you will see models released by all major manufacturers. This upgrade will be a refinement of Kaby Lake, both generations will be fabbed on a 14nm process; Cannon Lake will be Intel's first 10nm chip and should be released close to the end of this year. Intel is very hopefully that Coffee Lake will sell well, their representative mentioned a study which found that 450 million PCs still use chips rolled out five years ago. While enthusiasts are unlikely to jump on Coffee Lake, there is a large market for 4k laptops with better battery life among casual users and businesses.
"Leading notebook vendors, such as Taiwan's Asustek Computer and Acer, and many other international brands, will roll out their new 2-in-1 and ultra-thin notebook models utilizing Intel's eighth-generation Coffee Lake mobile CPUs starting September, to grab a larger market pie in the coming peak season, according to industry sources."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Living Logic: Biological Circuits for the Electrically Minded @ Hackaday
- Codename Brainwave: Microsoft reveals tricks and tips for whipping cloud FPGAs into shape @ The Register
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8 official with few surprises in store @ The Inquirer
- Sysadmins told to update their software or risk killing the internet @ The Register
- Google to out its Titan kill-switch protecting its cloud infrastructure @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | August 21, 2017 - 09:03 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: quad core, Intel, gaming laptop, acer, 9th generation core, 2-in-1
Following the reveal of Intel’s “8th Generation Core” refreshed Kaby Lake processors, Acer has announced its upcoming 15.6” Nitro 5 Spin convertible gaming laptop. Sporting a black aluminum shell with red accents the Nitro 5 Spin features a 360-degree hinge with multiple locking positions, a backlit keyboard and large trackpad, front firing speakers with a subwoofer, and a large 15.6” IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Acer claims that the convertible notebook is aimed at casual gaming and the specifications seems to back that up (at least on paper).
Acer has opted for refreshed Kaby Lake processors which means a quad core CPU with HyperThreading at up to 1.9GHz base and 4.2 GHz turbo clocks at the high end with the Intel Core i7-8650U along with Intel “UHD Graphics” which is simply a rebrand of its HD Graphics 620 iGPU. Gamers will be happier to see the inclusion of a dedicated graphics card although it is only a midrange NVIDIA GTX 1050. Storage is handled by a PCI-E SSD up to 512 GB. As far as connectivity goes, the Acer Nitro 5 Spin offers 802.11ac MU-MIMO along with USB 3.0, USB 2.0, SD, HDMI, and a headphone/mic jack.
According to Tech Radar Acer claims that the gaming laptop is rated at up to 10 hours of gaming usage (though that’s probably a casual title with brightness all the way down heh).
Surprisingly, the Nitro 5 Spin will be available as soon as October with a starting price of $999 (though the top end i7-8650U plus 512GB SSD option is obviously going to cost a lot more).
Acer did not weigh in on just how heavy the gaming PC is, but if they can keep the weight down it might be a decent PC for college kids to play games on (I mean, uhm, do homework!) and consume media. What do you think, does a convertible gaming notebook make sense?
Introduction and Design
The ECS LIVA Z Plus is a mini-PC with far more capable processors than the non-Plus variants of the current LIVA family, and we have for review a version with the top-end Intel Core i5-7300U CPU option, along with a 128GB SSD and 4GB of RAM. These specs position the LIVA Z Plus against similarly-powered Intel NUC mini-PCs, and the LIVA has the advantage of being ready to go out of the box (just add an OS).
We recently took a look at the entry-level ECS LIVA mini-PC, which is a fanless device equipped with a low-power Intel Apollo Lake Celeron N3350 in its base configuration (as reviewed). The performance was merely 'okay' for most desktop computing, and that entry-level LIVA Z was more of a need-specific choice, useful for some applications such as a DIY router as it includes dual NICs in addition to the wireless networking on board. But I kept wishing I had more CPU power the entire time I was testing out the base LIVA Z, and the Plus version seemed like the perfect solution. There is just one catch: it isn't fanless. (Gasp!) Was this an issue? Was it even audible? How were thermals with a 15W Intel Core i5 processor inside such a small enclosure, even it is was being actively cooled? Read on to find out!
First, a look at the specs from ECS:
- Intel Kaby Lake Core i5-7300U SOC
- Intel Kaby Lake Core i5-7200U SOC
- Intel Kaby Lake Core i3-7100U SOC
- Intel Kaby Lake Celeron 3965U SOC
- DDR4 Up to 32GB
- 2x SO-DIMM Memory Slots
- Storage Support: 1x M.2 2242 SSD (SATA / PCIE)
- Audio: 1x Combo Jack, 1x Digital Mic
- LAN: 2x Gigabit LAN (1x Intel LAN)
- 3x USB 3.1 Gen1 Ports
- 1x USB 3.0 Type-C port
- Video Output:
- 1x HDMI Port (HDMI 1.4)
- 1x mDP Port
- Wireless: Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.0
- PCB Size: 115 x 111 mm
- Dimension: 117 x 128 x 33 mm
- VESA Support: 75 mm / 100 mm (bracket included)
- Adapter: Input AC 100-240V, Output DC 19V / 3.42A
- OS Support: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Windows 10
- 1x Power adapter
- 1x VESA Bracket
- 6x VESA Mount Screws
- Quick Guide & Driver DVD
- ECS LIVA Z Plus: $489 MSRP
Package contents are identical to that of the non-Plus LIVA, as we are presented with the LIVA Z Plus, power adapter, and VESA mount.
The LIVA Z Plus is externally identical to the LIVA Z, with the same complement of three USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, a USB 3.0 Type-C port, and 3.5 mm audio jack on the front, and dual NICs, HDMI 1.4, and mini DisplayPort on the back.
The side panels are also identical to the passively-cooled LIVA Z, with vented sides that in this case allow for intake and exhaust for the small internal fan.
If you think this LIVA Z Plus looks like the standard LIVA Z, you're right. Externally, the two are identical:
Next we'll take a look inside and then see how it performed with a few benchmarks.
A surprise twist from Intel
Any expectations I had of a slower and less turbulent late summer and fall for the technology and hardware segments is getting shattered today with the beginning stages of Intel’s 8th Generation Core Processors. If you happen to think that this 8th generation is coming hot on the heels of the 7th generation that only just released to the consumer desktop market in January of this year, you’d be on the same page as me. If you are curious how Intel plans to balance Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, and Cannon Lake, all releasing in similar time frames and still use terms like “generation,” then again, we are on the same page.
Today Intel launches the 15-watt version of its 8th Generation Core Processors, based on a refresh of the Kaby Lake CPU design. This not a new architecture nor is this is not a new process node, though Intel does talk about slight changes in design and manufacturing that make it possible. The U-series processors that make up the majority of the thin and light and 2-in-1 designs for consumers and businesses are getting a significant upgrade in performance with this release. The Core i7 and Core i5 processors being announced will all be quad-core, HyperThreaded designs, moving us away from the world of dual-core processors in the 7th generation. Doubling core and thread count, while remaining inside the 15-watt thermal envelope for designs, is an incredible move and will strengthen Intel’s claim to this very important and very profitable segment.
Let’s look at the specifications table first. After all, we’re all geeks here.
|Core i7-8650U||Core i7-8550U||Core i5-8350U||Core i5-8250U||Core i7-7600U||Core i7-7500U|
|Architecture||Kaby Lake Refresh||Kaby Lake Refresh||Kaby Lake Refresh||Kaby Lake Refresh||Kaby Lake||Kaby Lake|
|Base Clock||1.9 GHz||1.8 GHz||1.7 GHz||1.6 GHz||2.8 GHz||2.7 GHz|
|Max Turbo Clock||4.2 GHz||4.0 GHz||3.8 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.9 GHz||3.5 GHz|
|Cache (L4 Cache)||8MB||8MB||6MB||6MB||4MB||4MB|
|System Bus||DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s||DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s||DMI2 - 6.4 GT/s||DMI2 - 5.0 GT/s||DMI2 - 5.0 GT/s||DMI2 - 5.0 GT/s|
|Graphics||UHD Graphics 620||UHD Graphics 620||UHD Graphics 620||UHD Graphics 620||HD Graphics 620||HD Graphics 620|
|Max Graphics Clock||1.15 GHz||1.15 GHz||1.1 GHz||1.1 GHz||1.15 GHz||1.05 GHz|
The only differences between the Core i7 and Core i5 designs will be in cache size (Core i5 has 6MB, Core i7 has 8MB) and the clock speeds of the processors. All of them feature four true Kaby Lake cores with HyperThreading enabled to support 8 simultaneous threads in a notebook. Dual channel memory capable of speeds of 2400 MHz in DDR4 and 2133 MHz in LPDDR3 remain. The integrated graphics portion offers the same performance as the 7th generation designs, though the branding has moved from Intel HD Graphics to Intel UHD Graphics. Because Ultra.
But take a gander at the clock speeds. The base clock on the four new CPUs range from 1.6 GHz to 1.9 GHz, with 100 MHz steps as you go up the SKU ladder. Those are low frequencies for modern processors, no doubt, but Intel has always been very conservative when it comes to setting specs for base frequency. This is the speed that Intel guarantees the processors will run at when the CPU is fully loaded using a 15-watt TDP cooling design. Keeping in mind that we moved from dual-core to quad-core processors, it makes sense that these base frequencies would drop. Intel doesn’t expect users in thin and light machines to utilize all 8 threads for very long, or very often, and instead focuses on shorter use cases for multi-threaded workloads (photo manipulation) that might run at 3.x GHz. If this period of time is short enough, the cooling solution will be able to “catch up” and keep the core within a reasonable range.
Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2017 - 01:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: rumours, Intel, ice lake, coffee lake, 9th generation core
It's Friday so why not engage in some speculation with us about Intel's upcoming new chips? We will start off by confusing the issue with a post detailing Intel's naming conventions that The Inquirer found. It would seem that not only is the "Ice Lake processor family is a successor to the 8th generation Intel Core processor family" but it is also described as an "“8th generation Intel Core Processor Family” and available only to early access users. One can only hope that there is a typo in Intel's decoder ring as the current naming schemes are already confusing enough between AMD and Intel without adding more levels of complexity.
That makes the above a little more interesting than unannounced low power parts usually are. AnandTech recently learned of these two new families of 8th gen chips, the i7-8xxx and i5-8xxx, both of which offer double the amount of cores as their 7th gen processors. The base frequencies are lower than the previous generation, perhaps to remain inside the 15W TDP with double the amount of cores, with the turbo frequencies remaining a mystery for now. With the aforementioned confusion, it is possible these could be Ice Lake based, though it is far more likely that they are indeed caffeinated instead.
The final rumour for you to look at this morning is the above screenshot from Chiphell. You will need to zoom and enhance to get the full story, however there are some interesting reveals in the legible parts of the slide. Enjoy.
"More news from Intel this morning, this time published directly on their website. With the upcoming announcement of the 8th Generation Core next week to which Intel has already posted teasers to the media, it would seem that someone at Intel decided to add processor details and pricing into Intel’s official Price List today."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The Top 5 Worst CPUs of All Time @ [H]ard|OCP
- Nvidia Quadro vDWS brings greater flexibility to virtualized pro graphics @ The Tech Report
- Secret Chips in Replacement Parts Can Completely Hijack Your Phone's Security @ Slashdot
- LG hit with WannaCry after failing to apply security patches @ The Inquirer
- Agh! My eyes! Skype redesign arrives on the desktop for Windows 10 Insiders @ The Inquirer
- Rowhammer RAM attack adapted to hit flash storage @ The Register
- Making money is so DRAM easy for some memory-flingers @ The Register
- Dilution of Whisky -- the Molecular Perspective @ Slashdot