Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Today Samsung released an update to their EVO+ microSD card line. The new model is the 'EVO Plus'. Yes, I know, it's confusing to me as well, especially when trying to research the new vs. old iterations for this mini-review. Here's a few quick visual comparisons between both models:

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On the left, we have the 'older' version of the Plus (I mean the '+'), while on the right we have the new plus, designated as a '2017 model' on the Samsung site. Note the rating differences between the two. The '+' on the left is rated at UHS-I U1 (10 MB/s minimum write speed), while the newer 'Plus' version is rated at UHS-I U3 (30 MB/s minimum write speed). I also ran across what looked like the older version packaging.

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The packaging on the right is what we had in hand for this review. The image on the left was found at the Samsung website, and confuses things even further, as the 'Plus' on the package does not match the markings on the card itself ('+'). It looks as if Samsung may have silently updated the specs of the 256GB '+' model at some point in the recent past, as that model claims significantly faster write speeds (90 MB/s) than the older/other '+' models previously claimed (~20 MB/s). With that confusion out of the way, let's dig into the specs of this newest EVO Plus:

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For clarification on the Speed Class and Grade, I direct you to our previous article covering those aspects in detail. For here I'll briefly state that the interface can handle 104 MB/s while the media itself is required to sustain a minimum of 30 MB/s of typical streaming recorded content. The specs go on to claim 100MB/s reads and 90 MB/s writes (60 MB/s for the 64GB model). Doing some quick checks, here's what I saw with some simple file copies to and from a 128GB EVO Plus:

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Our figures didn't exceed the specified performance, but they came close, which more than satisfies their 'up to' claim, with over 80 MB/s writes and 93 MB/s reads. I was able to separately confirm 85-89 MB/s writes and 99 MB/s reads with Iometer accessing with 128KB sequential transfers.

Pricing (MSRP)

Pricing seems to be running a bit high on these, with pricing running close to double of the previous version of this very same part (the EVO+ 128GB can be found for $50 at the time of this writing). Sure you are getting a U3 rated card with over four times the achievable write speed, but the reads are very similar, and if your camera only requires U1 speeds, the price premium does not seem to be worthwhile. It is also worth noting that even faster UHS-II spec cards that transfer at 150 MB/s can be had and even come with a reader at a lower cost.

In summary, the Samsung EVO Plus microSD cards look to be decent performers, but the pricing needs to come down some to be truly competitive in this space. I'd also like to see the product labeling and marketing a bit more clear between the '+' and the 'Plus' models, as they can easily confuse those not so familiar with SD card classes and grades. It also makes searching for them rather difficult, as most search engines parse 'Plus' interchangeably with '+', adding to the potential confusion.

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Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

What Makes Ryzen Tick

We have been exposed to details about the Zen architecture for the past several Hot Chips conventions as well as other points of information directly from AMD.  Zen was a clean sheet design that borrowed some of the best features from the Bulldozer and Jaguar architectures, as well as integrating many new ideas that had not been executed in AMD processors before.  The fusion of ideas from higher performance cores, lower power cores, and experience gained in APU/GPU design have all come together in a very impressive package that is the Ryzen CPU.

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It is well known that AMD brought back Jim Keller to head the CPU group after the slow downward spiral that AMD entered in CPU design.  While the Athlon 64 was a tremendous part for the time, the subsequent CPUs being offered by the company did not retain that leadership position.  The original Phenom had problems right off the bat and could not compete well with Intel’s latest dual and quad cores.  The Phenom II shored up their position a bit, but in the end could not keep pace with the products that Intel continued to introduce with their newly minted “tic-toc” cycle.  Bulldozer had issues  out of the gate and did not have performance numbers that were significantly greater than the previous generation “Thuban” 6 core Phenom II product, much less the latest Intel Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge products that it would compete with.

AMD attempted to stop the bleeding by iterating and evolving the Bulldozer architecture with Piledriver, Steamroller, and Excavator.  The final products based on this design arc seemed to do fine for the markets they were aimed at, but certainly did not regain any marketshare with AMD’s shrinking desktop numbers.  No matter what AMD did, the base architecture just could not overcome some of the basic properties that impeded strong IPC performance.

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The primary goal of this new architecture is to increase IPC to a level consistent to what Intel has to offer.  AMD aimed to increase IPC per clock by at least 40% over the previous Excavator core.  This is a pretty aggressive goal considering where AMD was with the Bulldozer architecture that was focused on good multi-threaded performance and high clock speeds.  AMD claims that it has in fact increased IPC by an impressive 54% from the previous Excavator based core.  Not only has AMD seemingly hit its performance goals, but it exceeded them.  AMD also plans on using the Zen architecture to power products from mobile products to the highest TDP parts offered.

 

The Zen Core

The basis for Ryzen are the CCX modules.  These modules contain four Zen cores along with 8 MB of shared L3 cache.  Each core has 64 KB of L1 I-cache and 32 KB of D-cache.  There is a total of 512 KB of L2 cache.  These caches are inclusive.  The L3 cache acts as a victim cache which partially copies what is in L1 and L2 caches.  AMD has improved the performance of their caches to a very large degree as compared to previous architectures.  The arrangement here allows the individual cores to quickly snoop any changes in the caches of the others for shared workloads.  So if a cache line is changed on one core, other cores requiring that data can quickly snoop into the shared L3 and read it.  Doing this allows the CPU doing the actual work to not be interrupted by cache read requests from other cores.

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Each core can handle two threads, but unlike Bulldozer has a single integer core.  Bulldozer modules featured two integer units and a shared FPU/SIMD.  Zen gets rid of CMT for good and we have a single integer and FPU units for each core.  The core can address two threads by utilizing AMD’s version of SMT (symmetric multi-threading).  There is a primary thread that gets higher priority while the second thread has to wait until resources are freed up.  This works far better in the real world than in how I explained it as resources are constantly being shuffled about and the primary thread will not monopolize all resources within the core.

Click here to read more about AMD's Zen architecture in Ryzen!

Are you sure that's wise? Samsung is shrinking the Note 7's battery so they can sell refurbs

Subject: General Tech | February 22, 2017 - 11:27 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, note 7

From what Slashdot is reporting we are unlikely to see refurbished Note 7s in North America but they will be appearing in markets on the far side of the Pacific.  The battery was determined to be the cause of the rather spectacular failure of Samsung's latest tablet and so they will be installing a battery with a smaller capacity in the refurbished models.  One hopes it is physically smaller or more carfeully manufactured, as it was the expansion and puncturing of the battery which caused them to burst into flames.  It is understandable that Samsung would like to recoup some losses, this seems like a very risky move to undertake.

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"Samsung is said to be swapping the Note 7's 3,500 mAh batteries with a "3,000 to 3,200 mAh" batteries, according to The Korean Economic Daily's sources, predominately for sale in emerging markets such as India and Vietnam."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Slashdot

NVIDIA Announces Q4 2017 Results

Subject: Editorial | February 9, 2017 - 06:59 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, Samsung, Results, quadro, Q4, nvidia, Intel, geforce, Drive PX2, amd, 2017, 2016

It is most definitely quarterly reports time for our favorite tech firms.  NVIDIA’s is unique with their fiscal vs. calendar year as compared to how AMD and Intel report.  This has to do when NVIDIA had their first public offering and set the fiscal quarters ahead quite a few months from the actual calendar.  So when NVIDIA announces Q4 2017, it is actually reflecting the Q4 period in 2016.  Clear as mud?

Semantics aside, NVIDIA had a record quarter.  Gross revenue was an impressive $2.173 billion US.  This is up slightly more than $700 million from the previous Q4.  NVIDIA has shown amazing growth during this time attributed to several factors.  Net income (GAAP) is at $655 million.  This again is a tremendous amount of profit for a company that came in just over $2 billion in revenue.  We can compare this to AMD’s results two weeks ago that hit $1.11 billion in revenue and a loss of $51 million for the quarter.  Consider that AMD provides CPUs, chipsets, and GPUs to the market and is the #2 x86 manufacturer in the world.

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The yearly results were just as impressive.  FY 2017 featured record revenue and net income.  Revenue was $6.91 billion as compare to FY 2016 at $5 billion.  Net income for the year was $1.666 billion with comparison to $614 million for FY 2016.  The growth for the entire year is astounding, and certainly the company had not seen an expansion like this since the early 2000s.

The core strength of the company continues to be gaming.  Gaming GPUs and products provided $1.348 billion in revenue by themselves.  Since the manufacturing industry was unable to provide a usable 20 nm planar product for large, complex ASICs companies such as NVIDIA and AMD were forced to innovate in design to create new products with greater feature sets and performance, all the while still using the same 28 nm process as previous products.  Typically process shrinks accounted for the majority of improvements (more transistors packed into a smaller area with corresponding switching speed increases).  Many users kept cards that were several years old due to there not being a huge impetus to upgrade.  With the arrival of the 14 nm and 16 nm processes from Samsung and TSMC respectively, users suddenly had a very significant reason to upgrade.  NVIDIA was able to address the entire market from high to low with their latest GTX 10x0 series of products.  AMD on the other hand only had new products that hit the midrange and budget markets.

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The next biggest area for NVIDIA is that of the datacenter.  This has seen tremendous growth as compared to the other markets (except of course gaming) that NVIDIA covers.  It has gone from around $97 million in Q4 2016 up to $296 million this last quarter.  Tripling revenue in any one area is rare.  Gaming “only” about doubled during this same time period.  Deep learning and AI are two areas that required this type of compute power and NVIDIA was able to deliver a comprehensive software stack, as well as strategic partnerships that provided turnkey solutions for end users.

After datacenter we still have the visualization market based on the Quadro products.  This area has not seen the dramatic growth as other aspects of the company, but it remains a solid foundation and a good money maker for the firm.  The Quadro products continue to be improved upon and software support grows.

One area that promises to really explode in the next three to four years is the automotive sector.  The Drive PX2 system is being integrated into a variety of cars and NVIDIA is focused on providing a solid and feature packed solution for manufacturers.  Auto-pilot and “co-pilot” modes will become more and more important in upcoming models and should reach wide availability by 2020, if not a little sooner.  NVIDIA is working with some of the biggest names in the industry from both automakers and parts suppliers.  BMW should release a fully automated driving system later this year with their i8 series.  Audi also has higher end cars in the works that will utilize NVIDIA hardware and fully automated operation.  If NVIDIA continues to expand here, eventually it could become as significant a source of income as gaming is today.

There was one bit of bad news from the company.  Their OEM & IP division has seen several drops over the past several quarters.  NVIDIA announced that the IP licensing to Intel would be discontinued this quarter and would not be renewed.  We know that AMD has entered into an agreement with Intel to provide graphics IP to the company in future parts and to cover Intel in potential licensing litigation.  This was a fair amount of money per quarter for NVIDIA, but their other divisions more than made up for the loss of this particular income.

NVIDIA certainly seems to be hitting on all cylinders and is growing into markets that previously were unavailable as of five to ten years ago.  They are spreading out their financial base so as to avoid boom and bust cycles of any one industry.  Next quarter NVIDIA expects revenue to be down seasonally into the $1.9 billion range.  Even though that number is down, it would still represent the 3rd highest quarterly revenue.

Source: NVIDIA

AMD Details Zen at ISSCC

Subject: Processors | February 8, 2017 - 09:38 PM |
Tagged: Zen, Skylake, Samsung, ryzen, kaby lake, ISSCC, Intel, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, amd, AM4, 14 nm FinFET

Yesterday EE Times posted some interesting information that they had gleaned at ISSCC.  AMD released a paper describing the design process and advances they were able to achieve with the Zen architecture manufactured on Samsung’s/GF’s 14nm FinFETT process.  AMD went over some of the basic measurements at the transistor scale and how it compares to what Intel currently has on their latest 14nm process.

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The first thing that jumps out is that AMD claimes that their 4 core/8 thread x86 core is about 10% smaller than what Intel has with one of their latest CPUs.  We assume it is either Kaby Lake or Skylake.  AMD did not exactly go over exactly what they were counting when looking at the cores because there are some significant differences between the two architectures.  We are not sure if that 44mm sq. figure includes the L3 cache or the L2 caches.  My guess is that it probably includes L2 cache but not L3.  I could be easily wrong here.

Going down the table we see that AMD and Samsung/GF are able to get their SRAM sizes down smaller than what Intel is able to do.  AMD has double the amount of L2 cache per core, but it is only about 60% larger than Intel’s 256 KB L2.  AMD also has a much smaller L3 cache as well than Intel.  Both are 8 MB units but AMD comes in at 16 mm sq. while Intel is at 19.1 mm sq.  There will be differences in how AMD and Intel set up these caches, and until we see L3 performance comparisons we cannot assume too much.

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(Image courtesy of ISSCC)

In some of the basic measurements of the different processes we see that Intel has advantages throughout.  This is not surprising as Intel has been well known to push process technology beyond what others are able to do.  In theory their products will have denser logic throughout, including the SRAM cells.  When looking at this information we wonder how AMD has been able to make their cores and caches smaller.  Part of that is due to the likely setup of cache control and access.

One of the most likely culprits of this smaller size is that the less advanced FPU/SSE/AVX units that AMD has in Zen.  They support AVX-256, but it has to be done in double the cycles.  They can do single cycle AVX-128, but Intel’s throughput is much higher than what AMD can achieve.  AVX is not the end-all, be-all but it is gaining in importance in high performance computing and editing applications.  David Kanter in his article covering the architecture explicitly said that AMD made this decision to lower the die size and power constraints for this product.

Ryzen will undoubtedly be a pretty large chip overall once both modules and 16 MB of L3 cache are put together.  My guess would be in the 220 mm sq. range, but again that is only a guess once all is said and done (northbridge, southbridge, PCI-E controllers, etc.).  What is perhaps most interesting of it all is that AMD has a part that on the surface is very close to the Broadwell-E based Intel i7 chips.  The i7-6900K runs at 3.2 to 3.7 GHz, features 8 cores and 16 threads, and around 20 MB of L2/L3 cache.  AMD’s top end looks to run at 3.6 GHz, features the same number of cores and threads, and has 20 MB of L2/L3 cache.  The Intel part is rated at 140 watts TDP while the AMD part will have a max of 95 watts TDP.

If Ryzen is truly competitive in this top end space (with a price to undercut Intel, yet not destroy their own margins) then AMD is going to be in a good position for the rest of this year.  We will find out exactly what is coming our way next month, but all indications point to Ryzen being competitive in overall performance while being able to undercut Intel in TDPs for comparable cores/threads.  We are counting down the days...

Source: AMD
Author:
Subject: Processors, Mobile
Manufacturer: Qualcomm

Semi-custom CPU

With the near comes a new push for performance, efficiency and feature leadership from Qualcomm and its Snapdragon line of mobile SoCs. The Snapdragon 835 was officially announced in November of last year when the partnership with Samsung on 10nm process technology was announced, but we now have the freedom to share more of the details on this new part and how it changes Qualcomm’s position in the ultra-device market. Though devices with the new 835 part won’t be on the market for several more months, with announcements likely coming at CES this year.

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Qualcomm frames the story around the Snapdragon 835 processor with what they call the “five pillars” – five different aspects of mobile processor design that they have addressed with updates and technologies. Qualcomm lists them as battery life (efficiency), immersion (performance), connectivity, and security.

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Starting where they start, on battery life and efficiency, the SD 835 has a unique focus that might surprise many. Rather than talking up the improvements in performance of the new processor cores, or the power of the new Adreno GPU, Qualcomm is firmly planted on looking at Snapdragon through the lens of battery life. Snapdragon 835 uses half of the power of Snapdragon 801.

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The company touts usage claims of 1+ day of talk time, 5+ days of music playback, 11 hours of 4K video playback, 3 hours of 4K video capture and 2+ hours of sustained VR gaming. These sound impressive, but as we must always do in this market, you must wait for consumer devices from Qualcomm partners to really measure how well this platform will do. Going through a typical power user comparison of a device built on the Snapdragon 835 to one use the 820, Qualcomm thinks it could result in 2 or more hours of additional battery life at the end of the day.

We have already discussed the new Quick Charge 4 technology, that can offer 5 hours of use with just 5 minutes of charge time.

Continue reading our preview of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC!

Podcast #431 - Das Keyboard, Samsung 750 EVO, ASUS X99, CES Predictions

Subject: Editorial | December 29, 2016 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: Thinkpad, Samsung, podcast, Lenovo, das keyboard, CES, ASUS Zenbook X390A, ASUS X99-A II, 750 evo

PC Perspective Podcast #431 - 12/29/16

Join us this week as we DasKeyboard, Samsung 750 EVO, CES predictions 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:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath

Program length: 1:35:27

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 0:59:20 CES Predictions
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Jeremy: Luggage!
    2. Josh: $6.99!!!!
    3.  
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Source:
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction

Earlier this year we covered the lower two capacities of the Samsung 750 EVO. We had some requests for a review of the 500GB model as soon as it was added to their lineup, and Samsung promptly sent a sample, but I delayed that review in the interest of getting the full 750 EVO lineup tested under our new storage test suite. I've been running batches of SSDs through this new suite, and we now have enough data points to begin cranking out some reviews. The 750 EVO was at the head of the line, so we will be starting with it first. I'm 'reissuing' our review as a full capacity roundup of the 750 EVO lineup as these are fresh results on a completely new test suite.

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Specifications

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These are the 'Rev. 2' specifications from Samsung, which include the 500GB model of the 750 EVO. The changes are not significant, mainly a slight bump to random performance of the top capacity model along with a changeover to lower power DDR3 (of twice the capacity) for the 500GB model's system cache.

Packaging

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Nothing new here. This is the standard Samsung packaging for their SATA products.

Continue reading our full review of the Samsung 750 EVO series of SSDs!!

Speedy storage at stocking stuffer prices, the Samsung 750 EVO

Subject: Storage | December 19, 2016 - 02:49 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, SSD 750, slc, sata, Samsung, planar, 750, 2d

With current prices of $61 for 120GB, $89 for the 250GB and $140 for the 500GB model, anyone still stuck using spinning rust for their main drive can join the flash revolution.  Al reviewed these drives at the beginning of the year and there have been so many new drives this year you may have forgotten about it.  It is not the highest tech drive on the market, with 2D NAND and a SATA interface, which is also why they are so inexpensive.  Kitguru recently wrapped up a review of the drives and the Magician software which comes with it.

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"The one thing that was missing from Samsung’s range of SSD’s was a low price value oriented drive. This has been rectified by the arrival of the SSD750 EVO product line. To keep production costs and therefore the cost of the drive down, Samsung has forsaken the 3D V-NAND of the last few drive ranges and gone back to 2D Planer NAND."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Kitguru

Samsung will be disabling the charging ability of the Note 7

Subject: General Tech | December 9, 2016 - 05:58 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, galaxy note 7, verizon, recall

If you are one of the 7% that like living dangerously and are not returning your Samsung Galaxy Note 7 you may find yourself unable to charge it.  Samsung are going to push out an update on December 19th which will disable the devices ability to charge.  The incendiary devices suffer from a design flaw which does not leave enough space for the battery to swell, which can lead to an electrical short in the battery which ends badly for both the device and the owner.  Verizon has decided to take an interesting stand and will be blocking this update, allowing those who wish to continue using this device to continue to do so.  Pop over to The Inquirer for more details.

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"THE REMAINING owners of the highly flammable Samsung Galaxy Note 7 will have their devices remotely killed from 19 December when an over-the-air update will prevent their devices from charging."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer