Slap a big brown Noctua blower on your Threadripper

Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 5, 2017 - 04:32 PM |
Tagged: noctua, NH-U9, U12S, U14S, amd, Threadripper, air cooling

The majority of the coolers we have seen for Threadripper are AiO watercoolers, but that doesn't mean there aren't any air coolers that can tame these beasts.  The Guru of 3D tested three such coolers, Noctua's NH-U9, U12S and U14S.  The coolers are large enough that they do impinge on your DDR4 slots, low profile memory is a good idea for all three, especially the the NH-U9 which is the largest of the three.  The latter two have fans which can be moved up to allow DIMMs with extra height but that can create extra turbulence and noise.  Read the full review to see how well these coolers perform.

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"We review three Noctua CPU coolers designed for Ryzen Threadripper / X399 motherboards with Socket TR4/SP3. All three coolers tested have recently been introduced into the channel with kicks performance and versus some really nice airflow, PWM controlled fan. Noctua is re-using their older model NH-U9 - NH-U12S NH-U14S, however, revamped base cooling base plate and the mounting mechanism to fully cover the Threadripper heat spreader."

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Source: Guru of 3D

Keeping your Threadripper properly watered

Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 9, 2017 - 04:28 PM |
Tagged: amd, Threadripper, watercooler, phanteks, Glacier C399A, X399

[H]ard|OCP have been working their way through every Threadripper compatible waterblock, the latest model to be tested is Phanteks' Glacier C399A.  The top of the waterblock is clear acrylic, perfect if you plan on adding a little colour to your coolant especially if you make use of the Frag-Harder Disco Lights.  Mounting is reasonably easy, no dedicated in or out connector to confuse and tightening can be accomplished with a small pair of pliers, which you may find necessary.  The cooling performance was in line with the other coolers they've tested, though the C399A does lose some marks because of the need to tighten the mounting mechanism on occasion.  Check out the full review for details.

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"The Phanteks Glacier C399A is a custom-designed water cooling block built specifically for AMD's new Threadripper processors. It has great looks, Frag-Harder Disco Lights, is built like a tank, and seems to be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to cooling overclocked Threadripper CPUs."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

GIGABYTE's X399 DESIGNARE EX

Subject: Motherboards | October 30, 2017 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: X399, Threadripper, gigabyte, designare EX, amd

Gigabyte have updated their lineup of X399 Threadripper boards with the new Designare EX.  It sports a long list of features including dual Intel GbE LAN, Dual Band 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, three M.2 slots, ALC1220 audio with 120dB SNR and a USB 3.1 Type-C port on the back as well as support for a second front port once cases start including them.

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Two of the M.2 slots lie between PCIe slots, with the third under the lit heatshield on the lower right of the board so do make sure to install them before the GPU.  The board is great for miners and gamers alike, the four top PCIe 3.0 slots can provide x16/x16/x8/x8 simultaneously thanks to Threadrippers huge count of PCIe lanes; the bottom most slot offers x4 speeds for an SSD. 

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You can read more about their Smart Fan 5 cooling, M.2 heatsinks, advanced power features and RGBs in the full press release.

Source: Gigabyte

The GIGABYTE Aorus Gaming 7; function over form

Subject: Motherboards | October 26, 2017 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: amd, Threadripper, gigabyte, X399, aorus gaming 7

[H]ard|OCP took exception to some of the design choices on the Gaming 7, specifically the placement of an M.2 slot directly underneath the first PCIe slot and some of the data and power connectors are inconveniently placed.  On the other hand the performance of the board is top notch, the 1950X ran perfectly stable at 4GHz and as there are two headers for watercooling on separate sides of the motherboard you should be able to hit that yourself.  They have learned some interesting facts about the X399 chipset so even if you are not picking up this board it is worth reading through the whole article.

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"We review GIGABYTE’s X399 Aorus Gaming 7 and see how it stacks up in the world of HEDT motherboards. This motherboard is not priced all that high considering the amount of features it touts and certainly it is not priced high for the stability we were afforded while overclocking the Threadripper to 4GHz."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

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

Making HEDT great again

Subject: General Tech | October 11, 2017 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: X399, x299, Threadripper, skylake-x, ryzen, Intel, amd

Over at [H]ard|OCP is a look at the current market and the resurgence of competition which we are currently enjoying.  As opposed to several pages of detailed benchmarks, the article focuses on the various feature sets that AMD and Intel currently offer and the effect it has on your current system choices.  They consider a wide variety of aspects, from the quality and quantity of PCIe lanes offered on X399 and X299 platforms through to the very different choices the companies have made when it comes to PCIe storage and RAID.  It has been quite a while since we have seen the competition between AMD and Intel heat up to these levels and it is wonderful to see. 

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"I’ve spent quite a bit of time with AMD’s Threadripper and X399 chipset and I thought I’d give our readers my impression of it and talk about the platform as well as giving interested consumers a general overview of the platform and what it has to offer. We compare it to Intel’s HEDT platform and give our take on this match up."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

MSI Announces X399 SLI PLUS Motherboard for AMD Threadripper

Subject: Motherboards | October 9, 2017 - 03:20 PM |
Tagged: msi, amd, Threadripper, X399, X399 SLI Plus, motherboard, workstation

MSI has announced a new X399 workstation motherboard for AMD Threadripper processors with the X399 SLI PLUS, a performance-oriented option with a full compliment of the company's premium motherboard features.

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"Perfect for content creators who are looking for a great performer with plenty of connectivity options, MSI’s new X399 SLI PLUS is an optimized workstation motherboard, built for designers. Featuring heavy plated heatsinks, Military Class V components and numerous unique and patented performance enhancing features, this motherboard is the best choice for professionals looking for speed and stability."

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MSI's feature list includes:

  • Supports AMD RYZEN THREADRIPPER Series Processors
  • Support 8 DIMMs, Quad Channel DDR4 3600+ (OC)
  • DDR4 Boost: Advanced technology provided by MSI OC lab to ensure maximum compatibility for overclocking performance.
  • AUDIO BOOST 4: Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality for the most immersive audio experience
  • Mystic Light and Mystic Light Sync: Personalize your PC with 16.8 million colors / 17 effects controlled in one click with the Mystic Light APP or a mobile device.
  • Professional IO cover & heatsink: Stunning looks, protecting the I/O ports
  • EZ Debug LED: Easiest way to troubleshoot
  • Lightning Fast Game experience: 3 x Turbo M.2 , 1 x M.2 Shield, and Lightning USB 3.1 Gen2
  • Lightning USB: Double bandwidth, supports USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A + Type C
  • PCI-E Steel Armor: Protecting VGA cards against bending and EMI
  • X-Boost: Great tool to boost your USB & Storage performance
  • Double ESD Protection: Double layer grounding motherboard mounting holes
  • Military Class 6, Guard-Pro: Latest evolution in high quality components for best protection and efficiency
  • Click BIOS 5: Award-winning BIOS with high resolution scalable font, favorites and search function
  • VR Ready: Best virtual reality game experience without latency, reduces motion sickness

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The cost and actual release date were not provided by MSI, but it should be listed for sale soon at the usual places.

Source: MSI

Now that's a waterblock! Cooling ThreadRipper with Enermax's Liqtech AIOs

Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 6, 2017 - 03:16 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, Threadripper, AIO, watercooler, enermax, Liqtech, TR4 240, TR4 360

As you can see in the picture, Enermax's Liqtech coolers are large enough to completely cover AMD's supersized new processors.  [H]ard|OCP found that the installation process "could not be much simpler", with great contact and an saw an even distribution of thermal compound when they checked.  As you might expect, the model numbers refer to the size of the radiator, the 240 sports a pair of 120mm fans while the 360 sports three for those systems which can accommodate the larger size.  The coolers were not able to keep a 1950X stable at 4GHz but kept the temperatures well below 80C at 3.9GHz; this along with the prices of $130 and $150 respectively show that these coolers are aimed at those on a budget who are not planning on overclocking.  You can see the full results here.

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"Enermax brings to us the first All-in-One coolers that are purpose-built for AMD's Ryzen Threadripper CPUs. We review both the Liqtech TR4 240 and the Liqtech TR4 360 using our overclocked 1950X Threadripper system and compare these to our XSPC RayStorm custom cooling loop. Yes, we are setting the bar high."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Gigabyte Designs New X399 Designare EX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 5, 2017 - 12:35 AM |
Tagged: X399, tr4, Threadripper, gigabyte, designare EX

Gigabyte has introduced the X399 Designare EX, a decked out ATX motherboard with silver colored armor (including a large backplate) and a blue LED overlay over the PCH. The X399 motherboard is based on the same platform as the already launched Aorus X399 Gaming 7, but with a silver-metallic aesthetic and toned-down LEDs (though you can add RGB LED strips via headers.

The X399 Designare EX surrounds the Threadripper TR4 socket with eight DIMM slots and an eight phase VRM setup with server grade chokes that pulls power from a set of 8-pin and 4-pin 12V EPS connectors. The power phases are covered by heatsinks connected by a heatpipe with the heatsink sitting behind the rear I/O including a small fan for active cooling (which should help ensure some airflow for the VRMs if you are watercooling). Interestingly the IO plate for the rear IO is part of the motherboard rather than being a separate piece that comes in the box. A large backplate ensures the board will not warp over time even with large and heavy CPU coolers and graphics cards installed.

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The motherboard has five PCI-E x16 slots (x16/x8/x16/x8 for 4-way GPU configurations) and three M.2 slots with heatspreaders (two in between the PCI-E slots and one below the PCH heatsink). Storage also includes 8 SATA 6 Gbps ports (four from CPU, and four from chipset). USB includes two USB 3.1 Gen 2, 10 USB 3.1 Gen 1, and USB 2.0 ports via headers. On board chipsets include Intel-based 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and two Gigabyte Ethernet (Intel i211AT) NICs. As for audio, the X399 Designare EX uses the Realtek ALC 1220 (120 dBA SNR) chipset paired with high end WIMA and Nichicon caps, Op Amps, and ground layer isolation. There are 9 temperature sensor headers and 8 fan headers for air or water gear.

Gigabyte has not yet released pricing or availability but I would expect it to be at least $430. Personally, I am a fan of the design of this board and it should at least look good in builds! As for stock performance, overclocking support, and CMOS battery placement we will have to wait for the reviews!

Source: Gigabyte

AMD Releases NVMe RAID Support for X399 Threadripper Platform

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2017 - 04:12 PM |
Tagged: X399, Threadripper, nvme raid, NVMe, amd, 960 PRO

A recent support page and community update posting suggest that NVMe RAID support is coming to Threadripper and the X399 platform imminently (as soon as motherboard manufacturers release an updated BIOS/UEFI). AMD will support up to six NVMe drives without adapters in a RAID 0, 1, or 10 array with all the drives wired directly to the PCI-E controller in the CPU rather than being routed through the chipset (meaning no DMI bottlenecking). There are no limits on the brand of drives and the NVMe RAID update is free with no hardware or software keys needed to unlock it.

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NVMe SSDs are very fast on their own, but when combined in a RAID array directly wired to the CPU things really get interesting. AMD claims that it saw read speeds of 21.2 GB/s when reading from six Samsung 960 Pro 512 GB drives in a RAID 0 array! The company also saw near perfect scaling with their test array (when adding up to six drives over a single drive) with reads scaling 6x on reads and 5.38x on writes. Intel's VROC seems to have the theoretical performance advantage here with the ability to RAID more total drives (four per VMD and three VMDs per CPU) but only after purchasing a hardware key and when using more than one VMD it can't be a bootable OS array. When it comes to bootable arrays, AMD would appear to have the upper hand with free support for up to six drives that can be used to run your bootable OS array! Windows has never booted faster! (heh)

Along with its partners releasing BIOS updates, AMD is releasing updates to its NVMe RAID Driver (version 17.50) and RAIDXpert2 Windows management ultility. Currently, Windows 10 x64 build 1703 is officially supported and fresh installs of Windows are recommended (and if you are currently running your Windows OS off of a RAID array a fresh install is required).

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Once BIOS updates are available (and they are coming shortly), users will have to jump through a few hoops to get a NVMe RAID up and running, but those hoops may just be worth it for enthusiasts wanting the best storage performance! For one, if you have a RAID array (bootable or not) you will not be able to do an in-place upgrade. If you have a SATA RAID you must back up your data and break down the array before updating the UEFI/BIOS and installing the Windows driver. Further, if your existing array is bootable with your operating system installed on it you will need to back up your data, upgrade the BIOS, and perform a fresh install of Windows with the AMD supplied F6 driver. After upgrading the BIOS, there will be a new menu item (the exact name will vary by manufacturer but SATA Mode and SATA Configuration are likely suspects) where users will need to change the mode from SATA or AHCI to RAID.

Oh, and did I mention to back up your data before diving into this? NVMe RAID support for Threadripper is a long-awaited feature and has a lot of promise with Threadripper offering up 64 PCI-E lanes and, according to AMD, many boards offering 7 slots (6 with a graphics card) which is where AMD is getting the six drive support number. It is appears that using adapters like the Asus Hyper M.2 cards or DIMM.2 slots would allow users to go past that six drive limit though. 

NVMe RAID support on X399 / Threadripper is a feature we are in the process of testing now (see comments) and I am very interested in what the results are! Stay tuned for more information as it develops!

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Source: AMD