I loaded sixteen gigs of HBM2 ...

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 7, 2019 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: VRAM, video card, Vega 20, Vega, radeon vii, radeon, pcie, opencl, HBM2, graphics card, gaming, compute, amd, 7nm, 16GB

While enjoying the pictures and tests Sebastian ran on the new AMD Radeon VII, was there a game that we missed that is near and dear to your heart?  Then perhaps one of these reviews below will solve that, the list even includes Linux performance for those on that side of the silicon.  For instance, over at The Tech Report you can check out Monster Hunter: World, Forza Horizon 4 and the impressive results that the new 7nm card offers in Battlefield V. 

Check those results here.

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"AMD's Radeon VII is the first gaming graphics card powered by a 7 nm GPU: Vega 20. This hopped-up Vega chip comes linked up with 16 GB of HBM2 RAM good for 1 TB/s of memory bandwidth. We put this potent combination to the test to see if it can beat out Nvidia's GeForce RTX 2080."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

 

Manufacturer: AMD

Overview and Specifications

After a month-long wait following its announcement during the AMD keynote at CES, the Radeon VII is finally here. By now you probably know that this is the world’s first 7nm gaming GPU, and it is launching today at a price equal to NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 2080 at $699.

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The AMD Radeon VII in action on the test bench

More than a gaming card, the Radeon VII is being positioned as a card for content creators as well by AMD, with its 16GB of fast HBM2 memory and enhanced compute capabilities complimenting what should be significantly improved gaming performance compared to the RX Vega 64.

Vega at 7nm

At the heart of the Radeon VII is the Vega 20 GPU, introduced with the Radeon Instinct MI60 and MI50 compute cards for the professional market back in November. The move to 7nm brings a reduction in die size from 495 mm2 with Vega 10 to 331 mm2 with Vega 20, but this new GPU is more than a die shrink with the most notable improvement by way of memory throughput, as this is significantly higher with Vega 20.

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Double the HBM2, more than double the bandwidth

While effective memory speeds have been improved only slightly from 1.89 Gbps to 2.0 Gbps, far more impactful is the addition of two 4GB HBM2 stacks which not only increase the total memory to 16GB, but bring with them two additional memory controllers which double the interface width from 2048-bit to 4096-bit. This provides a whopping 1TB (1024 GB/s) of memory bandwidth, up from 483.8 GB/s with the RX Vega 64.

Continue reading our review of the AMD Radeon VII graphics card!

EVGA Introduces Nu Audio for Life Like Sound from your PC

Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2019 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: sound card, pcie, evga, DAC, ces 2019, CES, Audio Note, audio, amp, AK4493

EVGA has announced a brand new product offering for enthusiasts, but this PCI Express device is not a graphics card - it's a premium sound card. And yes, I know that many people have written off audio boards in the era of ubiquitous motherboard audio, but if you are at all interested in quality audio and have ever looked into external DACs and headphone amps the Nu Audio card is shaping up to be a fantastic alternative to external component solutions.

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The product is a result of a partnership with UK-based Audio Note, a high-end audio equipment manufacturer that emphasizes technology and internal component quality in their designs, and the design of the Nu Audio card was made to those standards. EVGA says that is the pursuit of life-like sound that inspired this card, and their efforts have resulted in something that would be completely at home in an audiophile setting, RGB effects notwithstanding (yes, it has RGB!).

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Ok, so what is this exactly, and why is it any different from other PCIe sound cards? This is not your typical DSP-driven surround audio solution, and truly the emphasis is on 2-channel stereo audio reproduction. Reading over the specs this begins to look more like an audiophile product, with native DSD support and PCM audio up to 24-bit 384 kHz - and dual clock generators for native 44.1 and 48 kHz-based sample rates. Component choices were made to improve audio quality through the signal chain and to the output, with some impressive specs:

Premium Components:

  • DAC: AKM AK4493
  • ADC: AKM AK5572
  • OP-AMP (Headphone): ADI OP275
  • OP-AMP (Line Out): ADI AD8056
  • Capacitors: WIMA, Audio Note(UK), Nichicon
  • Power Regulators: Texas Instruments TPS7A47/TPS7A33 ultralow-noise power solution

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The demo in the EVGA suite featured a nice setup featuring some of the entry-level Audio Note components, showcasing hi-fi music playback from lossless files on a PC. It was quite impressive considering the sound card was fed directly into the integrated amp, and on display were also such features as separate analog control of the volume output (the internal amp can be controlled independently of the sound level in Windows), and the integrated RGB lighting that dynamically respond to music playback.

The Nu Audio sound card will retail for $249 when it launches, specifics on release date to follow.

Source: EVGA

Don't envy early NVMe adopters, turns out they are Windows 10's enemy

Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2018 - 02:07 PM |
Tagged: SM2260, ssd, pcie, NVMe, M.2 2280, M.2, Intel, 600p

Intel's 600p was on our review bench almost two years ago and offered a relatively inexpensive entry into NVMe drives.  It turns out that the Silicon Motion controller Intel used may have been a bit too proprietary as the Win10 April Update is not compatible with it.  According to The Register this is a known incompatibility caused by a fix to resolve previous issues with Samsung made NVMe SSDs.  They are working on a solution, with no release date announced as of yet.

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"The issue is an unspecified "known incompatibility" between the operating system and the SSDs, which were launched in 2016. Both the 600p and Pro 6000p SSDs share the same SM2260 chipset and feature a PCIe NVMe 3.0 x4 interface."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction

Today Corsair launched their first ever HHHL form factor SSD, the NX500:

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Just from the looks of this part, it is clear they were pulling out all the stops with respect to product design. This is certainly one of the most impressive looking SSDs we have seen come through our lab, and it will certainly be the type of thing enthusiasts would show off in their system builds. The NX500 is also likely to be the best showcase of Phison's new E7 controller. I'm just as eager to see if this SSD performs as well as it looks, so let's get to the review!

Specifications

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The specifications here are in line what we would expect for a modern day NVMe SSD. Note that ratings are identical for the 400GB and 800GB models, aside from a doubling of endurance due to the corresponding doubling of flash. There were some additional details in our press kit:

Extreme Performance
The Phison PS5007-E7
Description: PS5007-E7 is Phison’s first NVMe controller designed for high performance application. Supporting up to 8-channels in its NAND Flash interface.
Extreme Reliability
Multiple features are built into the PS5007-E7 to ensure stability and reliability.
SmartECC™ – Reconstructs defective/faulty pages when regular ECC fails
SmartRefresh™ – Monitors block ECC health status and refreshes blocks periodically to improve data retention
SmartFlush™ – Minimizes time data spends in cache to ensure data retention in the event of power loss
Extreme Control
The Neutron NX500 SSD with Phison PS5007-E7 controller works with CORSAIR SSD Toolbox.
Drive monitoring – Monitor the health of your Force Series
Secure wipe – For security purposes, completely clear the drive of any recoverable data
Firmware update – Install updated firmware as needed

As the Phison E7 is a new controller, it's worth taking a look at the internals:

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Highlights from above are 8 channels to the flash, ONFI 3.2 and Toggle 2.0 support (covering most flash memory types), along with support for all modes (SLC/MLC/TLC).

Packaging

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I haven't seen SSD packaging this nice since the FusionIO ioDrive, and those parts were far more expensive. Great touch here by Corsair.

Continue reading our full review of the Corsair NX500!

FMS 2017: Intel's EDSFF 'Ruler' SSD Form Factor Details Emerge - 1 Petabyte in a 1U Chassis!

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 9, 2017 - 09:19 PM |
Tagged: FMS 2017, ssd, S4600, S4500, ruler, pcie, NVMe, Intel, EDSFF

Yesterday we saw Samsung introduce their 'NGSFF' form factor during yesterday's keynote. Intel has been at work on a similar standard, this one named EDSFF (Enterprise & Datacenter Storage Form Factor), with the simpler working name as 'Ruler', mainly because it bears a resemblance:

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Note that the etching states P4500 Series. P4500 was launched a couple of days ago and is Intel's next generation NVMe PCIe Datacenter SSD. It's available in the typical form factors (U.2, HHHL), but this new Ruler form factor contains the exact same 12 channel controller and flash counts, only arranged differently.

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SFF-TA-1002 connector (aka 'Gen-Z'), shown next to an AA battery for scale. This connector spec is electrically rated for speeds up to 4th and 5th generation PCIe, so future proofing was definitely a consideration here. In short, this is a beefed up M.2 style connector that can handle more throughput and also has a few additional pins to support remote power and power-loss-protection (capacitors outside the Ruler), as well as support for activity LEDs, etc.

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Here is a slide showing the layout of the Ruler. 36 flash packages can be installed, with the possibility of pushing that figure to 42.

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Thermals were a main consideration in the design, and the increased surface area compared to U.2 designs (with stacked PCBs) make for far cooler operation.

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Intel's play here is fitting as much flash as possible into a 1U chassis. 1PB in a 1U is definitely a bold claim, but absolutely doable in the near future.

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I'll leave you with the quick sniper shot I grabbed of their demo system. I'll be posting more details on the P4500 and P4600 series products later this week (remember, same guts as the Ruler), so stay tuned!

FMS 2017: Micron Launches 9200 Series Enterprise Lineup with 3D TLC NAND, x8 PCIe

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 8, 2017 - 12:02 PM |
Tagged: U.2, pcie, NVMe, micron, HHHL, FMS 2017, 9200, 3d nand

We were extremely impressed with the Micron 9100 Enterprise SSDs. They are still the fastest NAND flash SSDs we've tested to date, but they were built on planar NAND, and we know everyone is replacing their flat flash with more cost efficient 3D NAND. Same goes for the 9200:

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Highlights for the new models are IMFT 3D NAND running in TLC mode and a new controller capable of PCIe 3.0 x8 (HHHL form factor only - U.2 is only a x4 interface). Here are the detailed specs:

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Improvements for the x4 models are marginal upgrades over the 9100, but the x8 variants bump up the maximum performance to 900,000 IOPS and 5.5GB/s! These should be shipping by the end of the month, and we will review them as they come in.

Press blast after the break

ADATA Announces XPG SX7000 Line of NVMe PCIe SSDs

Subject: Storage | April 10, 2017 - 04:15 PM |
Tagged: adata, pcie, M.2, NVMe

ADATA has added another line of M.2 PCIe SSDs to their catalog with the XPG SX7000. These drives support NVMe and claim up to 1800 MB/s sequential read performance and 850 MB/s sequential write performance, with both tests measured on CrystalDiskMark at a queue depth of 32. Interestingly enough, their ATTO sequential write results, 860 MB/s, exceed their claimed maximum. Again, each of these numbers are provided by ADATA, so it’s still up to third-parties (like us) to verify. That said, ADATA provided a lot of information in their performance chart, which is nice to see.

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The spec sheet (pdf) provides performance results for three SKUs: 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. A fourth model (if you guessed 1TB, then you would be right) is also acknowledged, but not elaborated upon. These are all based on 3D TLC flash, with some undefined amount of SLC cache.

Pricing and availability are TBD, but it will come with a 5 year warranty.

Source: ADATA

CES 2017: Western Digital Launches WD Black NVMe PCIe SSD

Subject: Storage | January 5, 2017 - 05:32 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, ssd, pcie, NVMe, CES 2017, CES, Black

Following up on their Blue and Green SSDs launched back in October, Western Digital has now launched a Black series SSD:

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Unlike the Green and Blue which are SATA products available in 2.5" and M.2 (SATA) form factors, the Black is a pure M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 product. These were rumored to have a Marvell controller, but the samples I saw floating around CES appeared to have SanDisk branding. Flash will very likely be SanDisk 15nm TLC (with SLC cache). Specs are as follows:

  • 256GB / 512GB
  • $109 / $199 ($0.42 / $0.39 / GB)
  • Random read: 170k
  • Random write: 130k/134k
  • Sequential read: 2.05 GB/s
  • Sequential write: 700 / 800 MB/s
  • Endurance 80 / 160 TBW
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • Power: 5.5 mW idle / 8.25 W peak

Pricing looks very competitive for an NVMe SSD, but we will have to see how the performance shakes out when compared against other budget SSDs. The WD Blue 1TB performed very well in our new test suite, so here's hoping the Black is equally surprising.

WD's press blast appears after the break.

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!

*Updated* Samsung 960 PRO and 960 EVO Announced - Details and Specifications Inside

Subject: Storage | September 21, 2016 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, pcie, NVMe, M.2, 960 PRO, 960 EVO

I'm currently running around at the various briefings and events here at Samsung's Global SSD Summit, but we did get some details on the 960 PRO and EVO that I've set to go live at the NDA time of 1 PM Seoul time.

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Here is a distilled version of the specs, capacities, and prices of the 960 PRO and EVO:

960 PRO

  • 512GB, 1TB, 2TB capacities
  • Sequential: 3.5 GB/s reads / 2.1 GB/s writes
  • 4K random (IOPS): 440,000 read / 360,000 write
  • Dynamic Thermal Guard (new version of their overtemperature protection - details below)
  • 5 year warranty, endurace peaks at 1.2PBW for the 2TB model
  • 512GB model = $329.99 ($0.64/GB)

960 EVO

  • 250GB, 500GB, 1TB capacities
  • Sequential: 3.2 GB/s reads / 1.9 GB/s writes (write speed is for TurboWrite SLC cache)
  • 4K random (IOPS): 380,000 read / 360,000 write
  • Dynamic Thermal Guard
  • 3 year warranty, endurance up to 400TBW for the 1TB model
  • 250GB = $129.99 ($0.52/GB)

I would certainly like to see Samsung push the 960 EVO capacities upwards of 4TB, and with competing M.2 NVMe products shipping at a lower cost, those prices use some tweaking as well.

More information and pics to follow later today (tonight for you USA folks)!

**UPDATE** - since everyone is in bed and hasn't read any of this yet, I'm just going to add the information from the presentation here.

First, some of you may be wondering about the inverted capacity difference between the PRO and EVO. Historically, Samsung has shipped their EVO line in higher capacities than the PRO line. The 850 EVO currently ships in capacities up to 4TB, while the 850 PRO remains limited to 2TB. If you look closely at the photos above, you'll note that there are four flash packages on the PRO, while there are only two on the EVO. The cause for this difference is that the DRAM package (visible on the EVO) is integrated within the controller package on the PRO model. This is similar to what Samsung has done with their PM971-NVMe SSD, which has not only the controller and DRAM, but the flash itself all stacked within a *single* package. Samsung calls this package-on-package (PoP):

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During the Q&A, Samsung's Unsoo Kim indicated that future 960 EVO's may also shift to the PoP design in order to shift to 4 packages, and therefore double (or quadruple) the capacity on that line in the future.

Samsung also tackled thermal throttling head-on with what they call Dynamic Thermal Guard. This is a combination of a few things. First is the reduced power consumption - the new controller draws ~10% less power despite moving to a 5-core design (up from a 3-core on the 950 PRO). Second, and perhaps more interesting, is a new heat spreading label:

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This new label contains a copper layer that helps spread heat across more of the surface area of the M.2 part. Samsung gets bonus points for outside the box thinking there. The combination of the reduced power draw and the heat spreader help to make thermal throttling even more impossible under typical use:

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While the above chart was for reads (writes produce more heat), that's still a very good improvement, and being able to move potentially the full drive capacity before throttling is pretty good, especially considering the new models are moving data at a much faster speed. About those faster speeds, here are some increased details on the per-capacity specs:

960 PRO

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960 EVO

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Take the 960 EVO write specs with a grain of salt - those are assuming writes are going into the SLC cache area but never fear because TurboWrite is getting a boost as well:

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This new 'Intelligent TurboWrite' increases the SLC cache area significantly over that of the 850 EVO we are all used to, with up to a 42GB area on the 1TB model! This should make it easier to swallow those boastful write performance claims, as there's a really good chance that all writes any typical user applies to the new EVO will go straight into that new larger cache. 

Apologies for the odd cutoffs on these pictures. They were corrected for parallax prior to posting. I also couldn't do anything about the presenter being in the way of the data :). I've requested slides from Samsung and will replace these here if/when they are provided.

Last but not least was a newly announced '2.0' version of the Samsung proprietary NVMe driver, which should help enable these increased speeds, as the Windows InBox driver is certainly not optimized to handle them. With the driver comes a new ground-up redesign of Samsung's Magician software, which added support for file-specific secure erasure and a special 'Magic Vault' secure encrypted area of the SSD that can be invisible to the host OS when locked.

This appears to be the bulk of what is to be announced at the Summit, so for now, I leave you with the endurance ratings and (MSRP) pricing for all capacities / models:

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Full press blast after the break.