CES 2018: Gigabyte Shows Off AORUS X470 Gaming 7 WiFi

Subject: Motherboards | January 11, 2018 - 01:18 AM |
Tagged: Zen+, x470, ryzen, gigabyte, CES 2018, CES, aorus gaming 7, aorus, amd, AM4

Gigabyte had several motherboards on display at CES including an AMD AM4 motherboard with an unreleased AMD 400-series Promontory chipset! The stealthily displayed AORUS branded motherboard was spotted by Steven Burke over at Gamer’s Nexus who then jumped at the opportunity and started taking it apart! The AORUS X470 Gaming 7 WiFi appears to check all the boxes for a high-end gaming focused motherboard and should allow enthusiasts eyeing a Ryzen or Zen+ (Ryzen 2000 series) processor to push it as far as possible.

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We went hands-on with the AORUS X470 Gaming 7 WiFi

The X470-based motherboard features a six layer PCB and improved CPU power delivery in the form of a 10+2 power phase (doubled 5-phase for CPU plus 2 phases for memory) with VRMs that are cooled by a hefty copper heat-pipe and aluminum fin stack. Gamer’s Nexus reports that Gigabyte is using hardware from International Rectifier in the form of IR 3599 drivers, IR 3553 MOSFETs, and a IR 35201 PWM controller. For those interested in how motherboard VRMs and power phases works, Buildzoid has several great introductory videos on Youtube that are worth watching.

Other overclocking friendly features include an external clock generator, diagnostic LED readout, power and clear CMOS buttons on the rear IO panel, dual BIOSes, and various hybrid fan headers for air and water cooling. Gigabyte reportedly rates the motherboard at 4,000+ MHz memory overclocking which is good news for Ryzen and Ryzen 2 users since memory speeds have a big impact on performance.

The AORUS X470 Gaming 7 WiFi feeds the AM4 socket with both an 8-pin and 4-pin ATX power connectors. To the right of the processor socket sits four DDR4 DIMM slots and the accent LED along the right edge. Expansion is handled by three PCI-E x16 slots (two are wired to the CPU for graphics), two PCI-E x1 slots, and two M.2 slots that sit under black head spreaders. There are six SATA ports in the right corner. While the heatsink is covering the audio chipset, whichever solution they are using (likely Realtek as it does not appear this is a Killer-equipped board) has high end WIMA and Nichicon caps and also supports USB DAC-UP technology.

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Rear I/O includes two antenna connectors for the built in Wi-Fi chipset, power and clear CMOS buttons, four USB 3.0 ports plus two more USB 3.0 ports that support USB DAC-UP, two USB 3.1 ports (one Type-C and one Type-A), a RJ45 connector (likely Gigabit Ethernet), and six audio outputs (one S/PDIF and five 3.5mm analog outputs).

It is interesting to finally see a 400-series motherboard and for Gigabyte to give AMD its Gaming 7 treatment. Also comforting is that while the new 400-series boards will offer slight connectivity benefits, users that bought into Summit Ridge and X370/B350/A320 boards aren’t missing out on too much and may actually get multiple CPUs out of one motherboard for a change. The 400-series chipsets allegedly enable a bit more bandwidth for devices hanging off of the chipset thanks to the upgrade from PCI-E 2.0 (5GT/s) to PCI-E 3.0. With this upgrade, a M.2 drive connected through the chipset would be able to hit its full speeds. While the chipset’s eight PCI-E 3.0 lanes could in theory support two nearly full speed M.2 NVMe drives, the PCI-E 3.0 x4 link between the chipset and processor would ultimately bottleneck things. At least a single drive can hit its full speeds though and bring Ryzen systems up to three total PCI-E M.2 drives running at full speed.

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Oh, and did I mention there is RGB? Yep, Gigabyte has hooked the X470 Gaming 7 WIFI up with RGB LEDs around the PCI-E x16 slots, DIMM slots, over the chipset, and under the accent overlay in the top right corner. All things considered, the RGB is pretty tame in this model, which isn’t a bad thing in my opinion.

What are your thoughts on Gigabyte’s upcoming motherboard and on the 400-series motherboards in general? Are you ready for Pinnacle Ridge? 

CES 2018: AMD Drops Ryzen CPU Prices By Up to 30 Percent

Subject: Processors | January 8, 2018 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: Threadripper, ryzen, processor, price cut, cpu, CES 2018, CES, amd

AMD announced today a price drop for most of its Ryzen processor lineup, making the company's multi-core-focused parts even more competitive to Intel in terms of cost-to-performance. While not every Ryzen and Threadripper processor is seeing a price reduction, many parts are being reduced by up to 30 percent.

Processor Cores/Threads Previous SEP New SEP Percent Reduction
Threadripper 1950X 16/32 $999 $999 N/A
Threadripper 1920X 12/24 $799 $799 N/A
Threadripper 1900X 8/16 $549 $449 -18.2%
Ryzen 7 1800X 8/16 $499 $349 -30.1%
Ryzen 7 1700X 8/16 $399 $309 -22.5%
Ryzen 7 1700 8/16 $329 $299 -9.1%
Ryzen 5 1600X 6/12 $249 $219 -12.0%
Ryzen 5 1600 6/12 $219 $189 -13.7%
Ryzen 5 1500X 4/8 $189 $174 -7.9%
Ryzen 5 2400G 4/8   $169 N/A
Ryzen 3 1300X 4/4 $129 $129 N/A
Ryzen 3 2200G 4/4   $99 N/A

Note also in the price chart the new "G" series Ryzen APUs with integrated Radeon Vega graphics. Check pcper.com for more info on this new part.

Some of the new prices are already reflected, and in some cases reduced further, at retailers like Amazon.

To determine the new prices, AMD performed comparative price testing with its online retail partners last quarter, and determined that these new prices were the best balance between performance and value.

With second generation Ryzen processors not scheduled to launch until later this spring, the price drop not only helps AMD move existing inventory, it also keeps the company at the top of enthusiasts' minds in the midst of the fallout around the recent processor security issues, one of which primarily affects Intel processors.

Source:

CES 2018: AMD Announces 2nd Generation Ryzen CPUs for April, Threadripper for 2H 2018

Subject: Processors | January 8, 2018 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: Zen+, Zen, ryzen 2000, ryzen, CES 2018, CES, amd

During AMD’s CES 2018 Tech Day, CEO Lisa Su announced the plans for the second-generation Ryzen processor roll-out in April. This is the revised design that has been rumored for months, with a process technology change and slight tweaks to features.

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Details are expectantly short, but what we know is that these parts will move from a 14nm process technology to 12nm from GlobalFoundries. AMD is calling the design “Zen+” and this is NOT Zen 2 – that is coming next year. You should expect higher clocks for Ryzen 2000-series processors and improvements to Precision Boost that will enable more consistent and gradual clock speed shifts in workloads of interesting like gaming.

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Also on the roadmap now are updated Threadripper processors with the same “Zen+” enhancements, coming out in 2H of 2018.

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The great news for enthusiasts that have already bought into AMD’s current generation platform is existing motherboards will support this processor update, as long as you have the associated BIOS. Motherboards are already being updated today for the channel (to support the Ryzen APU launch) so there should be little concern with compatibility come April.

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However, there IS a new chipset coming with “Zen+”, the AMD X470. Information on it is also slim, but it includes some optimizations and fixes. AMD had growing pains with the initial set of motherboard releases including power concerns and routing issues, both of which are addressed with the new design.

That’s all we know for now, but I am excited to get my hands on the Ryzen second-generation processors this spring to see how much performance and behavior has changed. Intel has definitely changed the landscape since Ryzen’s first release in March of 2017, so enthusiasts should welcome the back and forth competition cycle once again.

Source: PCPer

CES 2018: AMD Ryzen Desktop CPU with Vega Graphics Coming Feb 12

Subject: Processors | January 8, 2018 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: Zen, Vega, ryzen, CES 2018, CES, APU, amd, 2400G, 2200G

Though AMD might not use the term APU anymore, that’s what we are looking at today. The Ryzen + Vega processor (single die implementation, to be clear) for desktop solutions will begin shipping February 12 and will bring high-performance integrated graphics to low cost PCs. Fully titled the “AMD Ryzen Desktop Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics”, this new processor will utilize the same AM4 socket and motherboards that have been shipping since March of 2017. Finally, a good use for those display outputs!

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Though enthusiasts might have little interest in these parts, it is an important step for AMD. Building a low-cost PC with a Ryzen CPU has been difficult due to the requirement of a discrete graphics card. Nearly all of Intel’s processors have integrated graphics, and though we might complain about the performance it provides in games, the truth is that the value of not needing another component is crucial for reducing costs.

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Without an APU that had both graphics and the company’s greatly improved Zen CPU architecture, AMD was leaving a lot of potential sales on the table. Also, the market for entry-level gaming in small form factor designs is significant.

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Two models will be launching: the Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G. Clock speeds are higher than what exists on the Ryzen 5 1400 and Ryzen 3 1200 and match the core and thread count. The 2400G includes 11 Compute Units (704 stream processors) and the 2200G has 8 CUs (512 stream processors). The TDP of both is 65 watts.

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The pricing configuration gives AMD some impressive placement. The $169 Ryzen 5 2400G will offer much better graphics performance than the $30 more expensive Core i5-8400 (based on current pricing) and has equivalent performance to the $100+ higher Core i5-8400 and NVIDIA GT 1030 discrete solution.

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When looking at CPU performance, the new Ryzen processors offer higher scores than the units they are replacing. They do this while adding Vega graphics capability and matching or lower prices.

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AMD even went as far to show the overclocking headroom that the Ryzen APU can offer. During an on-site demo we saw the Ryzen 5 2400G improve its 3DMark score by 39% with memory frequency and GPU clock speed increases. Moving the GPU clock from ~1100 MHz to 1675 MHz will mean a significant increase in power consumption, and I do question the size of the audience that wants to overclock an APU. Still – cool to see!

The Ryzen CPU with Vega graphics is a product we all expected to see, it’s the first perfect marriage of AMD’s revitalized CPU division and its considerable advantage in integrated graphics. It has been a long time since one of AMD’s APUs appeared interesting to me and stoked my desire to build a low-cost, mainstream gaming build. Looks for reviews in just a few short weeks!

Source: PCPer

Meet MSI's new Mini-ITX B350I PRO AC for tiny Ryzen

Subject: Motherboards | January 5, 2018 - 03:54 PM |
Tagged: amd, mini-itx, msi, ryzen, B350I PRO AC, AM4

While it is not as impressive as it would be if this were a mini-ITX Threadripper board, building a motherboard that is over 50% socket may be asking a bit too much.  Instead the B350I PRO AC is designed for Socket AM4 Ryzen chips.

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The board is designed with 9-phase PWM design (6+2+1), which will ensure great stability along with an electrically isolated Realtek ALC887 codec and Steel Armour protecting that lone PCIe 16x slot.  Memory of up to 32GB of DDR4-3200+ is supported, important to get the most out of your Ryzen processor.  There are two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports on the back as well as HDMI out, so you could use this as an unobtrusive VR box with the right GPU installed; WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity will also come in hand for that.

Check out the full specifications here, while we await availability.

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Source: MSI

Existing AM4 Motherboards Will Support Upcoming Raven Ridge Desktop APUs With BIOS Update

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | November 30, 2017 - 06:48 PM |
Tagged: asus, AM4, ryzen, Vega, ryzen mobile, APU, raven ridge

ASUS recently made new BIOS updates available for several of its motherboards that suggest desktop Raven Ridge APUs are coming soon. The BIOS updates contain AGESA! V9 RavenPi-FPS-AM4 1.0.7.1 along with Raven Generic VBIOS to add support for the Zen-based Raven Ridge CPU cores and Vega-based graphics.

Desktop Raven Ridge APUs have been promised in AMD roadmaps for awhile now, but details are still scarce. These desktop parts have the same four CPU cores as Ryzen Mobile Ryzen 5 2500U and Ryzen 7 2700U, but will run with higher TDPs (up to 65W) and higher clockspeeds along with a much larger GPU with up to 11 CUs (704 Vega cores). As of this writing the rumors of a HBM-equipped APU is still just that, a rumor. The first desktop Raven Ridge parts are sure to use standard DDR4, however.

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Speculation over at [H] suggests that ASUS may have jumped the gun a bit on making the BIOS updates available by a few days which suggests that AMD is planning a December launch for the desktop parts (likely a soft launch though hopefully not as terribly long as Bristol Ridge!) and BIOS updates coming from other manufacturers at that time.

Guru3D has a list of links to the BIOS updates currently available from ASUS covering 13 of their motherboards including X370, B350, and A320 PRIME series motherboards and X370 and B350 ROG STRIX motherboards. Missing from the AMD AM4 lineup are the EX-A320M-GAMING, PRIME A320M-C and -C R2.0, and ROG CROSSHAIR VI Hero and Extreme boards.

Interestingly, desktop Raven Ridge is the second APU generation to work with the AM4 socket, and is is allegedly not the last. AMD has stated previously that it intends to support the AM4 socket for quite a while and their own roadmaps list support for at least two more Ryzen CPU generations and one more generation of APUs. Specifically, AMD plans to support Bristol Ridge, Raven Ridge, and Picasso (which is essentially the Zen+ APU generation) APUs along with Summit Ridge (Zen), Pinnacle Ridge (“12nm” Zen+), and Matisse (“7nm” Zen 2) CPUs on the same AM4 socket which is refreshing to see. Of course, AMD is introducing new chipsets (e.g. X400 series with Pinnacle Ridge) with each new generation, but it is nice to know that at least there is an upgrade path if you want it and don’t need whatever new I/O the new motherboards offer.

Source: Guru3d
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The GIGABYTE AX370-Gaming 5 board features a matte black PCB with with a white armor overlay protecting the rear panel and audio components. In line with their AORUS Intel boards, GIGABYTE spread RGB LEDs throughout the board's surface, configurable via the UEFI or the windows app. The board supports the AMD Ryzen processor line and Dual Channel DDR4 memory via the AMD X370 chipset. The AX370-Gaming 5 motherboard can be found at most retailers with an MRSP of $194.99

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The following features have been integrated into the board: four SATA III 6Gbps ports; two SATA-Express ports; an M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 32Gbps capable port; a U.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 32Gbps capable port; dual RJ-45 ports featuring an Intel I211-AT Gigabit NIC and a Rivet Networks Killer E2500 NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots; three PCI-Express x1 slots; dual Realtek audio CODECs; an integrated HDMI video port; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

To power the board, GIGABYTE integrated integrated a 10-phase (6+4) digital power delivery system into the AX370-Gaming 5 board's design. The digital power system was designed with IR digital power controllers and PowIRstage ICs, Server Level Chokes, and Durable Black capacitors. The power components used are the same as those used to great effect on their AORUS Intel boards.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE integrated a variety of fan headers and temperature sensors into the board They integrated temperature sensors into the CPU socket, VRMs, and chipset. Additionally, there are monitored fan headers spread throughout the board's surface, all supporting high current devices (fans or water pumps), rated for up to 24W (2A at 12V).

Continue reading our preview of the GIGABYTE AX370-Gaming 5 motherboard!

Author:
Subject: Processors, Mobile
Manufacturer: AMD

A potential game changer?

I thought we were going to be able to make it through the rest of 2017 without seeing AMD launch another family of products. But I was wrong. And that’s a good thing. Today AMD is launching the not-so-cleverly-named Ryzen Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics product line that will bring the new Zen processor architecture and Vega graphics architecture onto a single die for the ultrathin mobile notebook platforms. This is no minor move for them – just as we discussed with the AMD EPYC processor launch, this is a segment that has been utterly dominated by Intel. After all, Intel created the term Ultrabook to target these designs, and though that brand is gone, the thin and light mindset continues to this day.

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The claims AMD makes about its Ryzen mobile APU (combination CPU+GPU accelerated processing unit, to use an older AMD term) are not to be made lightly. Right up front in our discussion I was told this is going to be the “world’s fastest for ultrathin” machines. Considering that AMD had previously been unable to even enter those markets with previous products, both due to some technological and business roadblocks, AMD is taking a risk by painting this launch in such a light. Thanks to its ability combine CPU and GPU technology on a single die though, AMD has some flexibility today that simply did not have access to previously.

From the days that AMD first announced the acquisition of ATI graphics, the company has touted the long-term benefits of owning both a high-performance processor and graphics division. By combining the architectures on a single die, they could become greater than the sum of the parts, leveraging new software directions and the oft-discussed HSA (heterogenous systems architecture) that AMD helped create a foundation for. Though the first rounds of APUs were able to hit modest sales, the truth was that AMD’s advantage over Intel’s on the graphics technology front was often overshadowed by the performance and power efficiency advantages that Intel held on the CPU front.

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But with the introduction of the first products based on Zen earlier this year, AMD has finally made good on the promises of catching up to Intel in many of the areas where it matters the most. The new from-the-ground-up design resulted in greater than 50% IPC gains, improved area efficiency compared to Intel’s latest Kaby Lake core design, and enormous gains in power efficiency compared to the previous CPU designs. When looking at the new Ryzen-based APU products with Vega built-in, AMD claims that they tower over the 7th generation APUs with up to 200% more CPU performance, 128% more GPU performance, and 58% lower power consumption. Again, these are bold claims, but it gives AMD confidence that it can now target premium designs and form factors with a solution that will meet consumer demands.

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AMD is hoping that the release of the Ryzen 7 2700U and Ryzen 5 2500U can finally help turn the tides in the ultrathin notebook market.

  Core i7-8650U Core i7-8550U Core i5-8350U Core i5-8250U Ryzen 7 2700U Ryzen 5 2500U
Architecture Kaby Lake Refresh Kaby Lake Refresh Kaby Lake Refresh Kaby Lake Refresh Zen+Vega Zen+Vega
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm 14nm
Socket BGA1356 BGA1356 BGA1356 BGA1356 ? ?
Cores/Threads 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8
Base Clock 1.9 GHz 1.8 GHz 1.7 GHz 1.6 GHz 2.2 GHz 2.0 GHz
Max Turbo Clock 4.2 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.6 GHz
Memory Tech DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4 DDR4
Memory Speeds 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400 2400
Cache 8MB 8MB 6MB 6MB 6MB 6MB
System Bus DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s DMI2 - 6.4 GT/s DMI2 - 5.0 GT/s N/A N/A
Graphics UHD Graphics 620 UHD Graphics 620 UHD Graphics 620 UHD Graphics 620 Vega (10 CUs) Vega (8 CUs)
Max Graphics Clock 1.15 GHz 1.15 GHz 1.1 GHz 1.1 GHz 1.3 GHz 1.1 GHz
TDP 15W 15W 15W 15W 12-25W
15W Nominal
12-25W
15W Nominal
MSRP $409 $409 $297 $297 ? ?

The Ryzen 7 2700U will run 200 MHz higher on the base and boost clocks for the CPU and 200 MHz higher on the peak GPU core clock. Though both systems have 4-cores and 8-threads, the GPU on the 2700U will have two additional CUs / compute units.

Continue reading our preview of the new AMD Ryzen Mobile Processor!

AMD Q3 2017 Earnings: A Pleasant Surprise

Subject: Editorial | October 25, 2017 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: Vega, Threadripper, sony, ryzen, Q3, microsoft, EPYC, earnings, amd, 2017

Expectations for AMD’s Q3 earnings were not exactly sky high, but they were trending towards the positive.  It seems that AMD exceeded those expectations.  The company announced revenue of $1.64 billion, up significantly from the expected $1.52 billion that was the consensus on The Street.

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The company also showed a $71 million (GAAP), $110 million (non-GAAP) net for the quarter, which is a 300% increase from a year ago.  The reasons for this strong quarter are pretty obvious.  Ryzen has been performing well on the desktop since its introduction last Spring and sales have been steady with a marked increase in ASPs.  The latest Vega GPUs are competitive in the marketplace, but it does not seem as though AMD has been able to provide as many of these products as they would like.  Add into that the coin mining effect on prices and stocks of these latest AMD graphics units.  Perhaps a bigger boost to the bottom line is the introduction of the Epyc and Threadripper CPUs to the mix.

Part of this good news is the bittersweet royalties from the console manufacturers.  Both Sony and Microsoft have refreshed their consoles in the past year, and Microsoft is about to release the new Xbox One X to consumers shortly.  This has provided a strong boost to AMD’s semi-custom business, but these boosts are also strongly seasonal.  The downside to this boost is of course when orders trail off and royalty checks take a severe beating.  Consoles have a longer ramp up due to system costs and integration as compared to standalone CPUs or video cards.  Microsoft and Sony ordered production of these new parts several quarters ago, so revenue from those royalties typically show up a quarter sooner than when actual product starts shipping.  So the lion’s share of royalties are paid up in Q3 so that there is adequate supply of consoles in the strong Q4/Holiday season.  Since Q1 of the next year is typically the softest quarter, the amount of parts ordered by Sony/Microsoft is slashed significantly to make sure that as much of the Holiday orders are sold and not left in inventory.

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Ryzen continues to be strong due to multiple factors.  It has competitive single and multi-core performance in a large variety of applications as compared to Intel’s latest.  It has a much smaller die size than previous AMD parts such as Bulldozer/Piledriver/Phenom II, so they can fit more chips on a wafer and thereby lower overall costs while maximizing margins.  Their product mix is very good from the Ryzen 3 to the Ryzen 7 parts, but is of course still missing the integrated graphics Ryzen parts that are expected either late this year or early next.  Overall Ryzen has made AMD far more competitive and the marketplace has rewarded the company.

Vega is in an interesting spot.  There have been many rumors about how the manufacturing costs of the chip (GPU and HBM) along with board implementations are actually being sold for a small loss.  I find that hard to believe, but my gut here does not feel like AMD is making good margins on the product either.  This could account for what is generally seen as lower than expected units in the market as well as correspondingly higher prices than expected.  The Vega products are competitive with NVIDIA’s 1070 and 1080 products, but in those products we are finally seeing them start to settle down closer to MSRP with adequate supplies available for purchase.  HBM is an interesting technology with some very acute advantages over standard GDDR-5/X.  However, it seems that both the cost and implementation of HBM at this point in time is still not competitive with having gone the more traditional route with memory.

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There is no doubt that AMD has done very well this quarter due to its wide variety of parts that are available to consumers.  The news is not all great though and AMD expects to see Q4 revenues down around 15%.  This is not exactly unexpected due to the seasonal nature of console sales and the resulting loss of royalties in what should be a strong quarter.  We can still expect AMD to ship plenty of Ryzen parts as well as Vega GPUs.  We can also surmise that we will see a limited impact of the integrated Ryzen/Vega APUs and any potential mobile parts based on those products as well.

 Q3 was a surprise for many, and a pleasant one at that.  While the drop in Q4 is not unexpected, it does sour a bit of the news that AMD has done so well.  The share price of AMD has taken a hit due to this news, but we will start to see a clearer picture of how AMD is competing in their core spaces as well as what kind of uptick we can expect from richer Epyc sales throughout the quarter.  Vega is still a big question for many, but Holiday season demand will likely keep those products limited and higher in price.

AMD’s outlook overall is quite positive and we can expect a refresh of Zen desktop parts sometime in 1H 2018 due to the introduction of GLOBALFOUNDRIES 12nm process which should give a clock and power uplift to the Zen design.  There should be a little bit of cleanup in the Zen design much as Piledriver was optimized from Bulldozer.  Add in the advantages of the new process and we should see AMD more adequately compete with Coffee Lake products from Intel which should be very common by then.

 

Source: AMD

ASUS Announces ROG Strix X370-I and B350-I Gaming Mini-ITX Motherboards for AMD Ryzen

Subject: Motherboards | October 20, 2017 - 12:25 AM |
Tagged: X370-I Gaming, strix, small form factor, SFF, ryzen, motherboard, mITX, mini-itx, gaming, B350-I Gaming, amd, AM4

While Intel users have long enjoyed the option of a premium ASUS ROG mini-ITX experience, AMD Ryzen owners are now on equal footing with the annoucement of a pair of mITX gaming boards with premium features. ASUS has apparently been working on these for a while now, and they think they will be worth the wait.

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"Mini-ITX boards are among the most difficult to produce. Their diminutive 6.7” x 6.7” dimensions leave little real estate for slots and ports, let alone the extra features that make ROG unique. We’re not willing to compromise your experience for a compact footprint, so it takes some time and creativity to make everything fit. But it’s worth the effort, because our new Strix X370-I Gaming and Strix B350-I Gaming motherboards for Socket AM4 raise the bar for small-form-factor Ryzen builds. They match the cutting-edge features of their full-sized siblings, including liquid-ready cooling and addressable RGB lighting, and they combine an M.2 SSD heatsink and amped-up audio on an innovative riser card."

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The motherboards both feature a 6-phase VRM design, which ASUS says is the same as their full-sized AM4 motherboards, with memory support of up to DDR4-3600. One-click overclocking is provided via the ASUS "5-Way Optimization technology", which can calibrate fan curves in addition to tuning CPU speeds. Speaking of fans, there are three PWM fan headers, one of which is configured by default for a liquid cooling pump.

An interesting design choice was made in the interest of space, as the sound card (S1220A codec) and an M.2 slot (PCIe Gen 3 x4) are part of a shared riser card:

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"The Republic of Gamers has a history of working around Mini-ITX limitations by building up with additional circuit boards. Our Maximus Impact series made room for upgraded audio with a dedicated riser, and the Strix X370-I and B350-I Gaming go one step further with an M.2 Audio Combo card that contains both SupremeFX sound and M.2 storage. This small PCB is sandwiched between isolated heatsinks for an M.2 drive and the platform chipset, ensuring effective cooling without taking up too much space."

ASUS Aura Sync RGB lighting effects are on board, as is an 802.11ac Wi-Fi solution with 2x2 antenna and integrated Bluetooth. Connectivity includes a pair of USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports and four USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, Gigabit LAN, and multi-channel audio on the rear panel, with 4x SATA ports, dual M.2 slots (one on the rear as well as the riser card), and headers for both USB 3.0 and 2.0 onboard.

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The ASUS ROG Strix X370-I and B350-I Gaming motherboards will "be available starting late-October in the United States with pricing to be released in the coming weeks" according to ASUS.

Source: ASUS