Intel Has Started Shipping Optane Memory Modules

Subject: Memory | February 3, 2017 - 08:42 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, server, Optane, Intel Optane, Intel, big data

Last week Hexus reported that Intel has begun shipping Optane memory modules to its partners for testing. This year should see the launch of both these enterprise products designed for servers as well as tiny application accelerator M.2 solid state drives based on the Intel and Micron joint 3D memory venture. The modules that Intel is shipping are the former type of Optane memory and will be able to replace DDR4 DIMMs (RAM) with a memory solution that is not as fast but is cheaper and has much larger storage capacities. The Optane modules are designed to slot into DDR4 type memory slots on server boards. The benefit for such a product lies in big data and scientific workloads where massive datasets will be able to be held in primary memory and the processor(s) will be able to access the data sets at much lower latencies than if it had to reach out to mass storage on spinning rust or even SAS or PCI-E solid state drives. Being able to hold all the data being worked on in one pool of memory will be cheaper with Optane as well as it is allegedly priced closer to NAND than RAM and the cost of RAM adds up extremely quickly when you need many terabytes of it (or more!). Various technologies attempting to bring higher capacity non volatile and/or flash-based storage in memory module form have been theorized or in the works in various forms for years now, but it appears that Intel will be the first ones to roll out actual products.

Intel Optane Memory Module.JPG

It will likely be years before the technology trickles down to consumer desktops and notebooks, so slapping what would effectively be a cheap RAM disk into your PC is still a ways out. Consumers will get a small taste of the Optane memory in the form of tiny storage drives that were rumored for a first quarter 2017 release following its Kaby Lake Z270 motherboards. Previous leaks suggest that the Intel Optane Memory 8000P would come in 16 GB and 32 GB capacities in a M.2 form factor. With a single 128-bit (16 GB) die Intel is able to hit speeds that current NAND flash based SSDs can only hit with multiple dies. Specifically the 16GB Optane application accelerator drive is allegedly capable of 285,000 random 4K IOPS, 70,000 random write 4K IOPS, Sequential 128K reads of 1400 MB/s, and sequential 128K writes of 300 MB/s. The 32GB Optane drive is a bit faster at 300,000 4K IOPS, 120,000 4K IOPS, 1600 MB/s, and 500 MB/s respectively.

Unfortunately, I do not have any numbers on how fast the Optane memory that will slot into the DDR4 slots will be, but seeing as two dies already max out the x2 PCI-E link they use in the M.2 Optane SSD, a dual sided memory module packed with rows of Optane dies on the significantly wider memory bus is very promising. It should lie somewhere closer to (but slower than) DDR4 but much faster than NAND flash while still being non volatile (it doesn't need constant power to retain the data).

I am interested to see what the final numbers are for Intel's Optane RAM and Optane storage drives. The company has certainly dialed down the hype for the technology as it approached fruition though that may be more to do with what they are able to do right now versus what the 3D XPoint memory technology itself is potentially capable of enabling. I look forward to what it will enable in the HPC market and eventually what will be possible for the desktop and gaming markets.

What are your thoughts on Intel and Micron's 3D XPoint memory and Intel's Optane implementation (Micron's implementation is QuantX)?

Also read:

Source: Hexus

Intel Announces Compute Card To Power Smart Devices

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | January 7, 2017 - 10:38 PM |
Tagged: vpro, SFF, kaby lake, iot, Intel, compute stick

Intel announced the Compute Card today, a modular small form factor compute system for smart appliances, home automation, industrial applications, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The Compute Card is a full PC in a card slightly longer than credit card at 95 x 55 x 5mm with an Intel SoC, memory, storage, wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), and standardized I/O built in. The compute card is designed the fit into an internal or external slot where it locks into place. According to Intel, the idea is to standardize the compute aspect of these smart devices so that manufacturers can reduce time to market and design costs as well as make them easier to repair. Manufacturers would design their devices with a slot for an Intel Compute Card and then choose a card that meets their performance and price requirements as the brains of the smart device whether that is your toaster, virtual assistant, IoT gateway, or security system. Outside of the home, Intel wants to sell cards to makers of digital signage, kiosks, and industrial control systems for machinery and factories.

compute-card-side-angled.png

One of the first things that came to mind for me was its usage in smart TVs and that may happen but the hope of an upgrade-able model where I could just slap a new Compute Card in to get new features and better performance I fear will never happen if only because while that model would be good for Intel the TV manufacturers that want to sell you new TVs every year would never go for it heh.

Unfortunately, Intel has not released full specifications on the Compute Card, only saying that they would utilize 7th Generation Core vPro processors. Looking around on their website, I would make an educated guess that Intel plans to use the 4.5 watt "7th Generation Intel® Core™ vPro™ Processors" intended for mobile devices. These chips range from 1.1 GHz to 1.3 GHz and are two core / four thread processors paired with Intel HD Graphics (515, 615, or 630). There are also 15W vPro processors with faster clockspeeds but they may not do well in such a small form factor where there is not guaranteed cooling. Still, even the lower power models should offer up quite a bit of computing power for connected devices that do basic tasks.

Intel expects to release its Compute Cards in mid-2017 and has partnered with Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Sharp as well as regional partners Seneca, DTx, InFocus, tabletkiosk, and Pasuntech. I notice that Samsung is missing from this list but would be a good partner to have if only because of their appliance line. The chip giant is said to be expanding that partner list though so we may yet see more appliance and home automation manufacturers pop up on there. I think that standardizing the brains of IoT is a good plan and smart on Intel's part but I am a bit skeptical whether or not it will catch on and how well it will be adopted in the targeted markets.

What are your thoughts on Intel's Compute Card?

Source: Intel

CES 2017: EVGA Announces a Trio of Intel Z270 Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards, Chipsets | January 6, 2017 - 05:24 PM |
Tagged: stinger, motherboard, mini-itx, kaby lake, intel z270, Intel Optane, Intel, FTW K, eatx, Classified K, CES 2017, CES, atx

EVGA has introduced three new motherboards based on the new Intel Z270 chipset, with new versions of their Classified K, FTW K, and Stinger designs.

EVGA_Z270.jpg

We'll start with the Z270 Classified K, an EATX form-factor board with all of the storage support bases covered (M.2, U.2, and Intel Optane Memory ready), Killer E2500 and Intel i219 NICs, Creative Sound Core3D audio, along with "a newly-designed VRM and hardware design built for cutting-edge performance and overclockability".

EVGA Z270 Classified K features:

  • Highly-Efficient 13 Phase Digital VRM
  • Onboard Power, Reset and Clear CMOS
  • EVGA E-LEET X Tuning Utility
  • Triple BIOS Support
  • M.2 NVMe PCI-E SSD Support
  • U.2 NVMe SSD Support
  • Intel Optane Memory Ready
  • Intel Thunderbolt Support
  • Switchable DC / PWM Fan Control
  • Onboard CPU Temperature Monitor
  • 300% Increase in CPU Gold Content

EVGA_mobos.jpg

Next there is Z270 FTW K, a standard ATX form-factor option that offers the same storage flexibility as the larger Classified K including Intel Optane Memory support, Killer E2400 and Intel i219 NICs, and 11-Phase Digital VRM power delivery (among other things).

EVGA Z270 FTW K features:

  • Highly-Efficient 11 Phase Digital VRM
  • Onboard Power, Reset and Clear CMOS
  • EVGA E-LEET X Tuning Utility
  • M.2 NVMe PCI-E SSD Support
  • U.2 NVMe SSD Support
  • Intel Optane Memory Ready
  • Switchable DC / PWM Fan Control
  • Onboard CPU Temperature Monitor
  • 150% Increase in CPU Gold Content

EVGA_stinger.jpg

Finally, there is the mini-ITX Z270 Stinger, which packs a surprising number of features into a 6.7-inch square, including 802.11ac dual band Wi-Fi, an Intel i219 NIC, M.2, U.2, and Intel Optane support:

  • Highly-Efficient 6 Phase VRM
  • Onboard Clear CMOS
  • EVGA E-LEET X Tuning Utility
  • M.2 NVMe PCI-E SSD Support
  • U.2 NVMe SSD Support
  • Intel Optane Memory Ready
  • Switchable DC / PWM Fan Control
  • 150% Increase in CPU Gold Content

Pricing and availablity information is not yet available.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!

Source: EVGA

Intel's Cannon ball dropping in the Lake before the end of the year

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2017 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: Intel, cannon lake

Intel will be waiting for the water to warm up a bit before jumping in but they have promised that Cannon Lake will arrive before the end of 2017.  Unfortunately, The Inquirer were not able to pull out much more from Brian Krzanich, we still do not have a firm date nor any more details on the specifications.  Intel is showing off a device using the 10nm based CPU and tout a 25% reduction in power usage and will use a Qualcomm Adreno 540 GPU.  It is also compatible with Qualcomm's octa-core Kryo 280 CPU and Hexagon 682 DSP so we should see some interesting products come with the release of the new processor.

81720.jpg

"At CES in Las Vegas, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich confirmed that the Kaby Lake successor was still on track for a release this year and showed off the first 2-in-1 PC based on the 10nm architecture. "

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Put down the snacks and grab some meat! The Z270 reviews are here!

Subject: Motherboards | January 4, 2017 - 04:52 PM |
Tagged: intel z270, Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon, msi, Intel

Press releases and previews of nifty kit you can't buy yet are great fun but occasionally you want to take a break and read a review with some substance.  The Tech Report has just such content on offer, a review of the new MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard.  The design of the board is reminiscent of the previous generation as the socket remains the same, however this particular design is quite crowded around the socket which can limit the available cooling options.  As you should expect, the board has RGB LEDs controlled by Mystic Light and the BIOS has updated versions of both Command Center and Gamming App utilities.  The benchmarks back up the predictions we have made, the Z270 is a more polished version of the Z170 but there are no huge performance differences to be noted.  Read on for the full story.

00-whole_board.jpg

"MSI's Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard serves up the Z270 platform with a gaming bent and a lot of RGB LED lighting. We put this board through its paces to see whether MSI stuck the landing for its next generation of mainstream motherboards."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Three Kaby Lakes for three Z270s; it's an overclocking menage a trois

Subject: Processors | January 3, 2017 - 03:54 PM |
Tagged: z270, overclocking, kaby lake, Intel, i7-7700k, core i7-7700k, 7th generation core, 7700k, 14nm

Having already familiarized yourself with Intel's new Kaby Lake architecture and the i7-7700k processor in Ryan's review you may now be wondering how well the new CPU overclocks for others.  [H]ard|OCP received three i7-7700k's and three different Z270 motherboards for testing and they set about overclocking these in combination to see what frequency they could reach.  Only one of the chips was ever stable at 5GHz, and it is reassuring that it managed that on all three motherboards, the remaining two would only hit 4.8GHz which is still not a bad result.  Drop by to see their settings in full detail.

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"After having a few weeks to play around with Intel's new Kaby Lake architecture Core i7-7700K processors, we finally have some results that we want to discuss when it comes to overclocking and the magic 5GHz many of us are looking for, and what we think your chances are of getting there yourself."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

Architectural Background

It probably doesn't surprise any of our readers that there has been a tepid response to the leaks and reviews that have come out about the new Core i7-7700K CPU ahead of the scheduled launch of Kaby Lake-S from Intel. Replacing the Skylake-based 6700K part as the new "flagship" consumer enthusiast CPU, the 7700K has quite a bit stacked against it. We know that Kaby Lake is the first in the new sequence of tick-tock-optimize, and thus there are few architectural changes to any portion of the chip. However, that does not mean that the 7700K and Kaby Lake in general don't offer new capabilities (HEVC) or performance (clock speed). 

The Core i7-7700K is in an interesting spot as well with regard to motherboards and platforms. Nearly all motherboards that run the Z170 chipset will be able to run the new Kaby Lake parts without requiring an upgrade to the newly released Z270 chipset. However, the likelihood that any user on a Z170 platform today using a Skylake processor will feel the NEED to upgrade to Kaby Lake is minimal, to say the least. The Z270 chipset only offers a couple of new features compared to last generation, so the upgrade path is again somewhat limited in excitement.

Let's start by taking a look at the Core i7-7700K and how it compares to the previous top-end parts from the consumer processor line and then touch on the changes that Kaby Lake brings to the table.

slides06.jpg

With the beginning of CES just days away (as I write this), Intel is taking the wrapping paper off of its first gift of 2017 to the industry. As you can see from the slide above, more than just the Kaby Lake-S consumer socketed processors are launching today, but other components including Iris Plus graphics implementations and quad-core notebook implementations will need to wait for another day.

slides10.jpg

For DIY builders and OEMs, Kaby Lake-S, now known as the 7th Generation Core Processor family, offer some changes and additions. First, we will get a dual-core HyperThreaded processor with an unlocked designation in the Core i3-7350K. Other than the aforementioned Z270 chipset, Kaby Lake will be the first platform compatible with Intel Optane memory. (To be extra clear, I was told that previous processors will NOT be able to utilize Optane in its M.2 form factor.)

slides11.jpg

Though we have already witnessed Lenovo announcing products using Optane, this is the first official Intel discussion about it. Optane memory will be available in M.2 modules that can be installed on Z270 motherboards, improving snappiness and responsiveness. It seems this will be launched later in the quarter as we don't have any performance numbers or benchmarks to point to demonstrating the advantages that Intel touts. I know both Allyn and I are very excited to see how this differs from previous Intel caching technologies.

  Core i7-7700K Core i7-6700K Core i7-5775C Core i7-4790K Core i7-4770K Core i7-3770K
Architecture Kaby Lake Skylake Broadwell Haswell Haswell Ivy Bridge
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm 14nm 22nm 22nm 22nm
Socket LGA 1151 LGA 1151 LGA 1150 LGA 1150 LGA 1150 LGA 1155
Cores/Threads 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8
Base Clock 4.2 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.3 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.5 GHz 3.5 GHz
Max Turbo Clock 4.5 GHz 4.2 GHz 3.7 GHz 4.4 GHz 3.9 GHz 3.9 GHz
Memory Tech DDR4 DDR4 DDR3 DDR3 DDR3 DDR3
Memory Speeds Up to 2400 MHz Up to 2133 MHz Up to 1600 MHz Up to 1600 MHz Up to 1600 MHz Up to 1600 MHz
Cache (L4 Cache) 8MB 8MB 6MB (128MB) 8MB 8MB 8MB
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 HD Graphics 630 HD Graphics 530 Iris Pro 6200 HD Graphics  4600 HD Graphics 4600 HD Graphics  4000
Max Graphics Clock 1.15 GHz 1.15 GHz 1.15 GHz 1.25 GHz 1.25 GHz 1.15 GHz
TDP 91W 91W 65W 88W 84W 77W
MSRP $339 $339 $366 $339 $339 $332

Continue reading our review of the Intel Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake processor!!

Intel Allegedly Working to Replace Sandy Bridge

Subject: Processors | January 2, 2017 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: sandy bridge, Intel

OC3D is claiming that Intel is working on a significantly new architecture, targeting somewhere around the 2019 or 2020 time frame. Like AMD’s Bulldozer, while there were several architectures after the initial release, they were all based around a set of the same basic assumptions with tweaks for better IPC, reducing bottlenecks, and so forth. Intel has also been using the same fundamentals since Sandy Bridge, albeit theirs aligned much better with how x86 applications were being developed.

Intel-logo.png

According to the report, Intel’s new architecture is expected to remove some old instructions, which will make it less compatible with applications that use these commands. This is actually very similar to what AMD was attempting to do with Bulldozer... to a point. AMD projected that applications would scale well to multiple cores, and use GPUs for floating-point operations; as such, they designed cores in pairs, and decided to eliminate redundant parts, such as half of the floating-point units. Hindsight being 20/20, we now know that developers didn’t change their habits (and earlier Bulldozer parts were allegedly overzealous with cutting out elements in a few areas, too).

In Intel’s case, from what we hear about at the moment, their cuts should be less broad than AMD’s. Rather than projecting a radical shift in programming, they’re just going to cut the fat of their existing instruction set, unless there’s bigger changes planned for the next couple years of development. As for the unlucky applications that use these instructions, OC3D speculates that either Intel or the host operating systems will provide some emulation method, likely in software.

If the things they cut haven’t been used in several years, then you can probably get acceptable performance in the applications that require them via emulation. On the other hand, a bad decision could choke the processor in the same way that Bulldozer, especially the early variants, did for AMD. On the other-other hand, Intel has something that AMD didn’t: the market-share to push (desktop) developers in a given direction. On the fourth hand, which I’ll return to its rightful owner, I promise, we don’t know how much the “(desktop)” clause will translate to overall software in two years.

Right now, it seems like x86 is successfully holding off ARM in performance-critical, consumer applications. If that continues, then Intel might be able to push x86 software development, even if they get a little aggressive like AMD did five-plus-development-time years ago.

Source: OC3D

Lenovo Announces Updated ThinkPad Lineup Ahead of CES

Subject: Mobile | December 28, 2016 - 12:01 AM |
Tagged: yoga, update, Thinkpad, Refresh, notebook, Lenovo, laptop, kaby lake, Intel, convertible, CES 2017, CES, 7th generation, 2-in-1

Lenovo has unveiled their new ThinkPad notebook lineup ahead of the upcoming CES 2017, with refreshed models featuring the new 7th-generation Intel (“Kaby Lake”) processors, among other new features.

Yoga 370.jpg

ThinkPad Yoga 370 (Image credit: Lenovo)

New models include the newly-designed ThinkPad Yoga 370 2-in-1 convertible, refreshed T Series (T470, T570, T470s, and T470p) and L Series (L470 and L570) models, the new X270, and an updated version of the ThinkPad 13.

Thinkpad_13.jpg

ThinkPad 13 (Image credit: Lenovo)

In addition to the move to 7th-generation Intel CPUs, there are number of features across the board with the new ThinkPads, including:

  • Microsoft Signature: All ThinkPads comes loaded out of the box with the Microsoft Signature Image (clean install, no bloatware)
  • Precision TouchPad: Microsoft’s PTP standard supported across all devices
  • USB-C “Anti-Fry” Protection: Systems with USB-C have equipped with protection circuit to protect from improperly designed/malfunctioning USB-C power supplies
  • dTPM 2.0 security support: Universal implementation of discrete TPM 2.0
  • ThinkPad Intelligent diagnostic codes: Intelligent Diagnostics with musical tones from notebook interpreted by companion smartphone app
  • Intel Optane Performance: Non-volatile storage medium in the PCIe M.2 format for significant improvements in endurance, performance, and power consumption

Thinkpad X270.jpg

ThinkPad X270 (Image credit: Lenovo)

** Edit by Allyn **

Digging further into the model options / specs, it appears that some of these models will have an optional 16GB (smaller of the two) variant of Optane storage installed as a Storage Accelerator. This accelerator appears to be configurable with either an NVMe (NAND) SSD *or* a HDD. Intel will most likely overlay this cache using their RST Driver, as that infrastructure was put in place way back in 2011 when they introduced Z68 RST Caching. The 2011 version of this caching was an attempt to overlay a small SATA SSD onto a HDD, and while it was effective, the rapid adoption and sales of low-cost MLC SSDs quickly outweighed the need for such a cache as a boot volume.

intel-optane-memory-8000p.jpg

XPoint should offer enough of a performance boost (particularly for very small random access) to make for effective performance gains even over NVMe SSDs. Depending on how Intel tunes their RST driver to employ XPoint, we might see some impressive benefits, especially if the non-volatility is taken advantage of. Near instant wake from hibernates if the hiberfile is mostly cached on wake/boot, as an example.

Something else worth considering, that is not present in the above leaked specs, is that Optane will very likely be able to handle <4KB random accesses extremely well (XPoint is byte / word randomly writable / addressable). The key question is if that is possible in its first generation implementation, which we should know more about shortly after CES.

** End edit **

We won’t have detailed information about hardware (specific CPU models, etc.) until CES, so stay tuned!

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo

High frequency RAM on Kaby Lake

Subject: Memory | December 23, 2016 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: Vengeance LPX, kaby lake, Intel, DDR4-3600, corsair, core i7 7700k

[H]ard|OCP had a chance to try out Corsair's upcoming Vengeance LPX 3600MHz DDR4 on a Kaby Lake based system.  The XMP settings for this DDR4 were 3600MHz with timings @ 18-19-19-39-2T and the system booted with no problems at these defaults, an improvement from some scenarios with Skylake based systems.  Running Prime95 for over a day posed no problem for the system, however Memtest86 did until the RAM voltage was bumped up to 1.41v from the default 1.36v at which point it could pass the tests with no problems.  This shows some promise for overclocking addicts planning on upgrading to the refreshed Intel chip.

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"We were lucky enough to get our hands on a new set of Corsair Vengeance LPX 3600MHz RAM this week and we immediately put it work with the new Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7700K processor that is to be launched next month."

Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:

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Source: [H]ard|OCP