Samsung SZ985 Z-NAND SSD - Upcoming Competition for Intel's P4800X?

Subject: Storage | November 20, 2017 - 10:56 PM |
Tagged: Z-NAND, SZ985, slc, Samsung, P4800X, nand, Intel, flash

We haven't heard much about Samsung's 'XPoint Killer' Z-NAND since Flash Memory Summit 2017, but now we have a bit more to go on:

z-nand specs.png

Yes, actual specs. In print. Not bad either, considering the Samsung SZ985 appears to offer a bus-saturating 3.2GB/s for reads and writes. The 30 DWPD figure matches Intel's P4800X, which is impressive given Samsung's part operates on flash derived from their V-NAND line (but operating in a different mode). The most important figures here are latency, so let's focus there for a bit:

bridging the gap samsung z-nand.png

While the SZ985 runs at ~1/3rd the latency of Samsung's own NAND SSDs, it has roughly double the latency of the P4800X. For the moment that is actually not as bad as it seems as it takes a fair amount of platform optimization to see the full performance benefits of optane, and operating slightly higher on the latency spectrum helps negate the negative impacts of incorrectly optimized platforms:

02 - IRQ service time penalty.png

Source: Shrout Research

As you can see above, operating at slightly higher latencies, while netting lower overall performance, does lessen the sting of platform induced IRQ latency penalties.

170808-120245.jpg

Now to discuss costs. While we don't have any hard figures, we do have the above slide from FMS 2017, where Samsung stressed that they are trying to get the costs of Z-NAND down while keeping latencies as low as possible.

z-nand.jpg

Image Source: ExtremeTech

Samsung backed up their performance claims with a Technology Brief (available here), which showed decent performance gains and cited use cases paralleling those we've seen used by Intel. The takeaway here is that Samsung *may* be able to compete with the Intel P4800X in a similar performance bracket - not matching the performance but perhaps beating it on cost. The big gotcha is that we have yet to see a single Samsung NVMe Enterprise SSD come through our labs for testing, or anywhere on the market for that matter, so take these sorts of announcements with a grain of salt until we see these products gain broader adoption/distribution.

Source: Samsung

Intel Z390 Chipset Spotted on Upcoming SuperMicro Motherboard

Subject: General Tech, Chipsets | November 16, 2017 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Z390, coffee lake, thunderbolt 3

Last month a leaked roadmap appeared online teasing several upcoming Intel chipsets slated for release early next year. The new chipsets were optimized for Coffee Lake processors and include H370, B360, and H310 in the first quarter and Q370 and Q360 (for enterprise customers) in Q2 2018. The most interesting chipset however is Z390 which was mentioned in the roadmap but with hardly any details at all about it. Thanks to a SiSoft database listing and a couple recent leaks there is now slightly bit more information on the upcoming chipset.

Sisoft-Supermicro_Intel Z390.png

Specifically, the Intel Z390 chipset was spotted in a SuperMicro C7Z390-PGW motherboard along with an undetected 92W Coffee Lake 6 core / 12 thread processor (perhaps SiSoft is simply incorrectly reading a 8700K or it’s an unreleased slightly more power efficient SKU). More interesting though is the continuing tease of possible 8 core (16 thread) consumer Core processors being released for these new Z390 chipset-based motherboards. The rumor mill is going all in on salt futures on this one it seems. What we still don’t know is what architecture these rumored 8 core chips will use, whether Coffee Lake or Cannon Lake (I’m leaning towards CNL but an 8 core Coffee Lake chip, while large, is not out of the question.)

The Z390 chipset will reportedly add a SoundWire digital audio interface with quad core DSP, integrated Intel Wireless AC (Wi-fi + BT CNVi), integrated SDXC 3.0, and Thunderbolt 3.0 with DisplayPort 1.4 support (using the Titan Ridge controller). The chipset further supports C10 and S0ix

In the last bit of Intel chipset rumors for today, rumors are also spreading suggesting that Intel may be moving up the launch of the Z390 chipset to the first quarter of next year to better compete with AMD and its Pinnacle Ridge (Ryzen 2000 / Zen+) processors and Promontory X400 series chipsets (e.g. X470 and B450) which are allegedly coming in January. Basically, it’s going to be a crazy CES for motherboard and processor soft launches and product teases / announcements!

What are your thoughts on Z390 being spotted in the wild this early?

Source: Videocardz

Podcast #475 - Intel with AMD graphics, Raja's move to Intel, and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 9, 2017 - 02:38 PM |
Tagged: video, titan xp, teleport, starcraft 2, raja koduri, radeon, qualcomm, podcast, nvidia, Intel, centriq, amplifi, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #475 - 11/09/17

Join us for discussion on Intel with AMD graphics, Raja's move to Intel, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Jim Tanous

Program length: 1:29:42

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:35:30 CASPER
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:13:40 Allyn: Relatively cheap Samsung 82” (!!!) 4K TV
    2. 1:23:45 Josh: 1800X for $399!!!!!
    3. 1:24:50 Ken: The Void Wallet
  5. Closing/outro

Source:

Rumor: Hades Canyon NUC with AMD Graphics Spotted

Subject: General Tech, Processors | November 9, 2017 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: Skull Canyon, nuc, kaby lake-g, Intel, Hades Canyon VR, Hades Canyon, EMIL, amd

Hot on the heels of Intel's announcement of new mobile-focused CPUs integrating AMD Radeon graphics, we have our first glimpse at a real-world design using this new chip.

HadesCanyon.jpg

Posted on the infamous Chinese tech forum, Chiphell earlier today, this photo appears to be a small form factor PC design integrating the new Kaby Lake-G CPU and GPU solution.

Looking at the standard size components on the board like the Samsung M.2 SSD and the DDR4 SODIMM memory modules, we can start to get a better idea of the actual size of the Kaby Lake-G module.

Additionally, we get our first look at the type of power delivery infrastructure that devices with Kaby Lake-G are going to require. It's impressive how small the motherboard is taking into account all of the power phases needed to feed the CPU, GPU, and HBM 2 memory. 

NUC_roadmap.png

Looking back at the leaked NUC roadmap from September, the picture starts to become more clear. While the "Hades Canyon" NUCs on this roadmap threw us for a loop when we first saw it months ago, it's now clear that they are referencing the new Kaby Lake-G line of products. The plethora of IO options from the roadmap, including dual Gigabit Ethernet and 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports also seem to match closely with the leaked NUC photo above.

Using this information we also now have a better idea of the thermal and power requirements for Kaby Lake-G. The base "Hades Canyon" NUC is listed with a 65W processor, while the "Hades Canyon VR" is listed with as a 100W part. This means that devices retain the same levels of CPU performance from the existing Kaby Lake-H Quad Core mobile CPUs which clock in at 35W, plus roughly 30 or 65W of graphics performance.

core-radeon-leak.png

These leaked 3DMark scores might give us an idea of the performance of the Hades Canyon VR NUC.

One thing is clear; Hades Canyon will be the highest power NUC Intel has ever produced, surpassing the 45W Skull Canyon. Considering the already unusual for a NUC footprint of Skull Canyon, I'm interested to see the final form of Hades Canyon as well as the performance it brings! 

With what looks to be a first half  2018 release date on the roadmap, it seems likely that we could see this NUC or other similar devices being shown off at CES in January. Stay tuned for more continuing coverage of Intel's Kaby Lake-G and upcoming devices featuring it!

Source: Chiphell
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction and Specifications

Back in April, we finally got our mitts on some actual 3D XPoint to test, but there was a catch. We had to do so remotely. The initial round of XPoint testing done (by all review sites) on a set of machines located on the Intel campus. Intel had their reasons for this unorthodox review method, but we were satisfied that everything was done above board. Intel even went as far as walking me over to the very server that we would be remoting into for testing. Despite this, there were still a few skeptics out there, and today we can put all of that to bed.

DSC01136.jpg

This is a 750GB Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X - in the flesh and this time on *our* turf. I'll be putting it through the same initial round of tests we conducted remotely back in April. I intend to follow up at a later date with additional testing depth, as well as evaluating kernel response times across Windows and Linux (IRQ, Polling, Hybrid Polling, etc), but for now, we're here to confirm the results on our own testbed as well as evaluate if the higher capacity point takes any sort of hit to performance. We may actually see a performance increase in some areas as Intel has had several months to further tune the P4800X.

This video is for the earlier 375GB model launch, but all points apply here
(except that the 900P has now already launched)

Specifications:

specs.png

The baseline specs remain the same as they were back in April with a few significant notable exceptions:

The endurance figure for the 375GB capacity has nearly doubled to 20.5 PBW (PetaBytes Written), with the 750GB capacity logically following suit at 41 PBW. These figures are based on a 30 DWPD (Drive Write Per Day) rating spanned across a 5-year period. The original product brief is located here, but do note that it may be out of date.

We now have official sequential throughput ratings: 2.0 GB/s writes and 2.4 GB/s reads.

We also have been provided detailed QoS figures and those will be noted as we cover the results throughout the review.

Read on for our review of the 750GB P4800X!

Intel Releases 15.60.0.4849 Graphics Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 8, 2017 - 09:29 PM |
Tagged: Intel, graphics drivers

When we report on graphics drivers, it’s almost always for AMD or NVIDIA. It’s Intel’s turn this time, however, with their latest 15.60 release. This version supports HDR playback on NetFlix and YouTube, and it adds Windows Mixed Reality for Intel HD 620 and higher.

inteltf2.jpg

I should note that this driver only supports Skylake-, Kaby Lake-, and Coffee Lake-based parts. I’m not sure whether this means that Haswell-and-earlier have been deprecated, but it looks like the latest ones that support those chips are from May.

In terms of game-specific optimizations? Intel has some to speak of. This driver focuses on The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Pro Evolution Soccer 2018, Call of Duty: WWII, Destiny 2, and Divinity: Original Sin 2. All of these name-drops are alongside Iris Pro, so I'm not sure how low you can go for any given title. Thankfully, many game distribution sites allow refunds for this very reason, although you still want to do a little research ahead-of-time.

That's all beside the point, though: Intel's advertising game-specific optimizations.

If you have a new Intel GPU, pick up the new drivers from Intel's website.

Source: Intel
Author:
Manufacturer: Intel

The Expected Unexpected

Last night we first received word that Raja had resigned from AMD (during a sabbatical) after they had launched Vega.  The initial statement was that Raja would come back to resume his position at AMD in a December/January timeframe.  During this time there was some doubt as to if Raja would in fact come back to AMD, as “sabbaticals” in the tech world would often lead the individual to take stock of their situation and move on to what they would consider to be greener pastures.

raja_ryan.JPG

Raja has dropped by the PCPer offices in the past.

Initially it was thought that Raja would take the time off and then eventually jump to another company and tackle the issues there.  This behavior is quite common in Silicon Valley and Raja is no stranger to this.  Raja cut his teeth on 3D graphics at S3, but in 2001 he moved to ATI.  While there he worked on a variety of programs including the original Radeon, the industry changing Radeon 9700 series, and finishing up with the strong HD 4000 series of parts.  During this time ATI was acquired by AMD and he became one of the top graphics guru at that company.  In 2009 he quit AMD and moved on to Apple.  He was Director of Graphics Architecture at Apple, but little is known about what he actually did.  During that time Apple utilized AMD GPUs and licensed Imagination Technologies graphics technology.  Apple could have been working on developing their own architecture at this point, which has recently showed up in the latest iPhone products.

In 2013 Raja rejoined AMD and became a corporate VP of Visual Computing, but in 2015 he was promoted to leading the Radeon Technology Group after Lisu Su became CEO of the company. While there Raja worked to get AMD back on an even footing under pretty strained conditions. AMD had not had the greatest of years and had seen their primary moneymakers start taking on water.  AMD had competitive graphics for the most part, and the Radeon technology integrated into AMD’s APUs truly was class leading.  On the discrete side AMD was able to compare favorably to NVIDIA with the HD 7000 and later R9 200 series of cards.  After NVIDIA released their Maxwell based chips, AMD had a hard time keeping up.  The general consensus here is that the RTG group saw its headcount decreased by the company-wide cuts as well as a decrease in R&D funds.

Continue reading about Raja Koduri joinging Intel...

Intel Announces New CPUs Integrating AMD Radeon Graphics

Subject: Processors | November 6, 2017 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: radeon, Polaris, mobile, kaby lake, interposer, Intel, HBM2, gaming, EMIB, apple, amd, 8th generation core

In what is probably considered one of the worst kept secrets in the industry, Intel has announced a new CPU line for the mobile market that integrates AMD’s Radeon graphics.  For the past year or so rumors of such a partnership were freely flowing, but now we finally get confirmation as to how this will be implemented and marketed.

Intel’s record on designing GPUs has been rather pedestrian.  While they have kept up with the competition, a slew of small issues and incompatibilities have plagued each generation.  Performance is also an issue when trying to compete with AMD’s APUs as well as discrete mobile graphics offerings from both AMD and NVIDIA.  Software and driver support is another area where Intel has been unable to compete due largely to economics and the competitions’ decades of experience in this area.

intel-8th-gen-cpu-discrete-graphics-2.jpg

There are many significant issues that have been solved in one fell swoop.  Intel has partnered with AMD’s Semi-Custom Group to develop a modern and competent GPU that can be closely connected to the Intel CPU all the while utilizing HBM2 memory to improve overall performance.  The packaging of this product utilizes Intel’s EMIB (Embedded Multi-die Interconnect Bridge) tech.

EMIB is an interposer-like technology that integrates silicon bridges into the PCB instead of relying upon a large interposer.  This allows a bit more flexibility in layout of the chips as well as lowers the Z height of the package as there is not a large interposer sitting between the chips and the PCB.  Just as interposer technology allows the use of chips from different process technologies to work seamlessly together, EMIB provides that same flexibility.

The GPU looks to be based on the Polaris architecture which is a slight step back from AMD’s cutting edge Vega architecture.  Polaris does not implement the Infinity Fabric component that Vega does.  It is more conventional in terms of data communication.  It is a step beyond what AMD has provided for Sony and Microsoft, who each utilize a semi-custom design for the latest console chips.  AMD is able to integrate the HBM2 controller that is featured in Vega.  Using HBM2 provides a tremendous amount of bandwidth along with power savings as compared to traditional GDDR-5 memory modules.  It also saves dramatically on PCB space allowing for smaller form factors.

intel_tech_manu_embedded_multi_die_interconnect_bridge-100715607-orig.jpg

EMIB provides nearly all of the advantages of the interposer while keeping the optimal z-height of the standard PCB substrate.

Intel did have to do quite a bit of extra work on the power side of the equation.  AMD utilizes their latest Infinity Fabric for fine grained power control in their upcoming Raven Ridge based Ryzen APUs.  Intel had to modify their current hardware to be able to do much the same work with 3rd party silicon.  This is no easy task as the CPU needs to monitor and continually adjust for GPU usage in a variety of scenarios.  This type of work takes time and a lot of testing to fine tune as well as the inevitable hardware revisions to get thing to work correctly.  This then needs to be balanced by the GPU driver stack which also tends to take control of power usage in mobile scenarios.

This combination of EMIB, Intel Kaby Lake CPU, HBM2, and a current AMD GPU make this a very interesting combination for the mobile and small form factor markets.  The EMIB form factor provides very fast interconnect speeds and a smaller footprint due to the integration of HBM2 memory.  The mature AMD Radeon software stack for both Windows and macOS environments provides Intel with another feature in which to sell their parts in areas where previously they were not considered.  The 8th Gen Kaby Lake CPU provides the very latest CPU design on the new 14nm++ process for greater performance and better power efficiency.

This is one of those rare instances where such cooperation between intense rivals actually improves the situation for both.  AMD gets a financial shot in the arm by signing a large and important customer for their Semi-Custom division.  The royalty income from this partnership should be more consistent as compared to the console manufacturers due to the seasonality of the console product.  This will have a very material effect on AMD’s bottom line for years to come.  Intel gets a solid silicon solution with higher performance than they can offer, as well as aforementioned mature software stack for multiple OS.  Finally throw in the HBM2 memory support for better power efficiency and a smaller form factor, and it is a clear win for all parties involved.

intel-8th-gen-cpu-discrete-graphics.jpg

The PCB savings plus faster interconnects will allow these chips to power smaller form factors with better performance and battery life.

One of the unknowns here is what process node the GPU portion will be manufactured on.  We do not know which foundry Intel will use, or if they will stay in-house.  Currently TSMC manufactures the latest console SoCs while GLOBALFOUNDRIES handles the latest GPUS from AMD.  Initially one would expect Intel to build the GPU in house, but the current rumor is that AMD will work to produce the chips with one of their traditional foundry partners.  Once the chip is manufactured then it is sent to Intel to be integrated into their product.

Apple is one of the obvious candidates for this particular form factor and combination of parts.  Apple has a long history with Intel on the CPU side and AMD on the GPU side.  This product provides all of the solutions Apple needs to manufacture high performance products in smaller form factors.  Gaming laptops also get a boost from such a combination that will offer relatively high performance with minimal power increases as well as the smaller form factor.

core-radeon-leak.png

The potential (leaked) performance of the 8th Gen Intel CPU with Radeon Graphics.

The data above could very well be wrong about the potential performance of this combination.  What we see is pretty compelling though.  The Intel/AMD product performs like a higher end CPU with discrete GPU combo.  It is faster than a NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti and trails the GTX 1060.  It also is significantly faster than a desktop AMD RX 560 part.  We can also see that it is going to be much faster than the flagship 15 watt TDP AMD Ryzen 7 2700U.  We do not yet know how it compares to the rumored 65 watt TDP Raven Ridge based APUs from AMD that will likely be released next year.  What will be fascinating here is how much power the new Intel combination will draw as compared to the discrete solutions utilizing NVIDIA graphics.

To reiterate, this is Intel as a customer for AMD’s Semi-Custom group rather than a licensing agreement between the two companies.  They are working hand in hand in developing this solution and then both profiting from it.  AMD getting royalties from every Intel package sold that features this technology will have a very positive effect on earnings.  Intel gets a cutting edge and competent graphics solution along with the improved software and driver support such a package includes.

Update: We have been informed that AMD is producing the chips and selling them directly to Intel for integration into these new SKUs. There are no royalties or licensing, but the Semi-Custom division should still receive the revenue for these specialized products made only for Intel.

Source: Intel
Author:
Manufacturer: Intel

Overview and CPU Performance

When Intel announced their quad-core mobile 8th Generation Core processors in August, I was immediately interested. As a user who gravitates towards "Ultrabook" form-factor notebooks, it seemed like a no-brainer—gaining two additional CPU cores with no power draw increase.

badge.jpg

However, the hardware reviewer in me was skeptical. Could this "Kaby Lake Refresh" CPU provide the headroom to fit two more physical cores on a die while maintaining the same 15W TDP? Would this mean that the processor fans would have to run out of control? What about battery life?

Now that we have our hands on our first two notebooks with the i7-8550U in, it's time to take a more in-depth look at Intel's first mobile offerings of the 8th Generation Core family.

IMG_4938.JPG

Click here to continue reading our look at performance with Intel 8th Generation mobile processors!

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)!

DSC01118.jpg

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.

specs.png

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:

DSC05837.jpg

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.

RSI Star Citizen Sabre Raven Ship.jpg

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)!