Windows 10 Lean for Devices with Small Drives

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2018 - 07:41 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, windows 10 lean, mean

A recent Insider build, from beyond the soon-to-be-released Windows 10 version 1803 feature update, added a new version of the OS: Windows 10 Lean. According to Windows Central, it is 2GB smaller than the typical versions, and is expected to target devices with 16GB of storage.

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That… is quite small for a device to have, especially when you consider patches.

And then there’s the way that they’re apparently doing it: dropping rarely-used applications. Internet Explorer? Gone. Reminds me of when I used to use nLite and vLite to make custom Windows installs back in the early-to-mid aughts. (I got Vista to boot in less than a minute on spinning rust before… whole lot of services to trim out of that one -- who knew? Okay… everyone did.)

What does this mean for us? Probably nothing. I expect that most of us will continue to use Windows 10 Home or Pro, even if Microsoft allows us to choose at install time. Still, I would expect that Microsoft has devices in mind when they created this initiative – God I hope they didn’t just do this on a whim – so we’ll need to see whether those are worthwhile for us.

Stomping from tabletop to desktop, Battletech is here

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2018 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: battletech, gaming, paradox, harebrained schemes

If you have played the tabletop version of Battletech before, then you have some idea how long a single turn can take.  Paradox and Harebrained have replicated that somewhat, much to the dismay of Alec over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN who found the pacing extremely slow even after turning off the closeup animation feature.  Having managed to steal an hour yesterday to try the new game I can understand why he feels this way, as there is a long waiting period for the sequential weapon animations.  For now it is enjoyable, watching PPCs and missiles impact an enemy but I can believe that after a dozen missions or more it will begin to pale. 

If you are easily bored by turn based games, and found the new X-Com incarnations to be paced too slow for enjoyment you might want to steer clear of this game.  If, on the other hand, you can't wait to teach those crunchies not to play with the big boys or engage in a bit of friendly death from above this is worth picking up.  The game manages to replicate the feeling of massive inertia from the tabletop and the battles are very satisfying.  I still haven't seen secondary ammo store explosions yet but here's hoping!

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"There was, for once, none of the thunderous din of new kitchens or loft extensions being built in one of the adjacent terraced houses, and nor was my own PC’s volume set high as I threw stompy tankbots at each other in XCOM-meets-Mechwarrior turn-based strategy game/boardgame adaptation BattleTech. "

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Tech Talk

Oh Canada, you and your plastic semiconductors

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2018 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: Semiconductor, polymer, plastic, conjugated polymer

Researchers at the University of Waterloo are working on a way to mass produce conjugated polymers, which conduct electricity and can be coaxed into being a semiconductor.  The process sounds quite simple from The Inquirer's description, the polymers are created by dehydrating plastics which results in the poly(hetero)arenes currently used in products such as solar cells and LED displays.  As the byproduct of this process is water, any device created using this technique would have a significantly lower environmental impact than traditional techniques though it is unclear what plastics could be dehydrated.  There is a bit of the history of this process along with links to this specific research right here.

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"Professor Derek Schipper and his team said it could soon be possible to mass produce semiconductors made from conjugated polymer, which is a type of plastic that can conduct electricity in a similar way to metals."

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Source: The Inquirer

Roccat's new headset is perfect to watch the second Star Trek movie

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2018 - 06:42 PM |
Tagged: roccat, swarm, Khan AIMO, virtual 7.1, RGB, gaming headset, audio

Roccat's new Khan Aimo bears a similar design to the Khan Pro, with a subdued colour scheme, apart from the garish RGB infection.  The pair of 50mm neodymium drivers offer true 2.0 audio however with the help of the Roccat Swarm software these headsets are able to deliver virtual 7.1 sound well enough to satisfy Benchmark Reviews.  The headset's High Resolution Audio badge is apparently well deserved, with incredible good playback thanks  to the  10 – 40000Hz response range and the microphone also earned tacit approval.  Check out the full review here.

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"Roccat has added a splash of intelligent RGB lighting to their new HiRes audio headset and given it a new name: the Khan Aimo. More than just a name change and some lighting, this update of the Khan Pro keeps the HiRes designation but swaps the 3.5mm cable for USB to add some new capabilities."

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See spring outside your windows? You might be seeing it on your Windows as well

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2018 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, spring update

The rumours are flying that the Windows 10 April Update might start arriving on machines today.  The root of this rumour is a large update released today for those running the last major update and it is not alone.  The Inquirer also spotted some information suggesting the Surface Phone may be launching soon as well as Windows Lean, a slimmed down OS for hybrid tablets which will hopefully be better than Windows 10 S.  The last bit of speculation has to do with how Windows will update.  This could be the last large update Microsoft pushes out and we may start to learn more about how they intend to move their OS into a service model instead of a product. 

None of this has been confirmed, so keep your eyes peeled for official announcements. 

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"A cumulative update (KB4093105) for the previous Fall Creators' Update (1709) was pushed through this morning and we'd bet it probably readies the ground for the big update."

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Tech Talk

Is that a Samsung charging antenna in your pocket or ...

Subject: General Tech | April 23, 2018 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: wireless charging, Samsung, far field

Wireless charging is fun, but the limited range and speed of induction charging makes it more of a gimmick than a useful tool for the moment.  Samsung is looking to resolve one of those limitations by using far field energy transfer; their current prototypes are able to reliably transfer power over 40cm but they intend far more.  The Register describes the major hurdle for transferring power this way, interference between the antennas because of motion or signal interference significantly reduces the efficiency of power transfer.  Take a look at how they propose to solve this issue as well as alternate suggestions from different researchers.

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"An alternative approach is far-field energy transfer, which requires two antennas, one sending electromagnetic waves to the other. The receiving antenna then converts this radiation into electric currents."

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Source: The Register

You've been diagnosed with terminal projected gradient descent

Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2018 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: security, scary, health, PGD

Researchers have demonstrated how a projected gradient descent attack is able to fool medical imaging systems into seeing things which are not there.  A PGD attack degrades pixels in an image to convince an image recognition tool into falsely identifying the presence of something in an image, in this case medical scanners.  The researchers were successful in fooling three tests, a retina scan, an x-ray and a dermatological scan for cancerous moles; regardless of their access level on the scanner itself.  Take a look over at The Register for more information on this specific attack as well as the general vulnerability of image recognition software.

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"Medical AI systems are particularly vulnerable to attacks and have been overlooked in security research, a new study suggests."

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Source: The Register

2700X people knocking 'cause they're wanting some more

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2018 - 07:37 PM |
Tagged: xen+, amd, ryzen 2, Ryzen 7 2700X, Ryzen 5 2600X, AMD Wraith, Pinnacle Ridge

 Ryzen 2 is no longer on the horizon, it has crossed both the pinnacle and the ridge and now descends upon us.  Zen has matured and while it may not be conducting a waltz it is surely doing more than a simple two step as demonstrated by its deft ability to weave multiple threads.  Along with the increase in frequencies comes a welcome drop in prices as the flagship APU, with included prismatic spray cooler is barely over $300 or $400 depending on which side of the border you have chosen.  The Tech Report concurs with Ryan, AMD's construction phase wasn't so bad, but now that they have come to peace with their inner selves the Editors are Choosing them left, right and center.

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"After a busy year of desktop CPU launches from the entry level to the high-end, AMD is back with a second generation of mainstream Ryzen CPUs boasting a range of refinements. Join us as we see just what the Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 7 2700X are capable of."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

AMD, tongue, cheek; check

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2018 - 06:42 PM |
Tagged: amd

AMD had a little fun yesterday as the head of Radeon Gaming, Scott Herkelman posted a comment about AMD's Radeon GPUs offering freedom of choice to gamers; unless they disapprove of the colour red of course.  FreeSync is certainly a good example of this commitment, offering non-proprietary adaptive sync technology to display manufacturers; on the other hand those who favour penguin flavoured operating systems might take exception to their statement.  Those shopping for GPUs in the near future should keep an eye out for new branding as the market seems to be poised for a bit of a change; either as a refresh of existing product lines or hopefully new products.  The Inquirer has opined about the comment in this post; though we have not yet heard from their articulate and unflappable CEO.

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"While AMD doesn't mention Nvidia by name, it noted that proprietary tech from other hardware brands can stymie freedom of choice when it comes to selecting PC components and systems."

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Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #496 - Ryzen 7 2700X, 8-Core Coffee Lake, WD Black NVMe, and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2018 - 10:08 AM |
Tagged: x470, wd black nvme, Samsung, s9 plus, ryzen, podcast, Pinnacle Ridge, Intel, coffee lake, amd, 2700x, 2600x

PC Perspective Podcast #496 - 04/19/18

Join us this week for discussion of the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600X, WD's new NVMe SSDs, performance benchmarks of the Galaxy S9 Plus 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:59:30

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. Thanks to Simple Contacts for supporting PC Perspective. Save $30 on your first Simple Contacts order at http://simplecontacts.com/pcper and use promo code: pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Picks of the Week:
    1. 1:45:05 Allyn: Myst 25th Anniversary Collection (kickstarter)
    2. 1:49:20 Jeremy: I can’t believe we’ve never picked Rufus
  5. Closing/outro
 

The simple life, Far Cry 5's graphics settings

Subject: General Tech | April 18, 2018 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: gaming, far cry 5

The graphics options in the new Far Cry have gone back to simplicity, with Ultra settings turning on all available features, so you won't have to spend as much time hunting for settings and enabling them as you did in a few of the prior incarnations. You can choose between SMAA or TAA depending on your preference as neither showed any significant performance impact in [H]ard|OCP's testing.  If you are planning on playing in 4K, the GTX 1080 Ti is your best bet, though the non-Ti version and AMD's RX Vega 64 are capable of running this resolution on High settings.  At 1440p or lower you have a wide variety of choice as any of the cards tested could manage a decent experience, albeit not necessarily on Ultra. 

Check out the full performance review here.

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"We test eleven GPU's performance from the low-end, to the top-end in Far Cry 5. Our goal is to find what settings are playable on each video card in Far Cry 5, and to compare the performance. We will also look at AA and Volumetric Fog performance. If you want to find what the best value GPU is for this game, this is for you."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Now there's a good sign, Ryzen 2 can almost hit 6GHz

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2018 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: ryzen 2, overclocking, LN2, amd

It took liquid nitrogen to do, but an experienced overclocker took the 4.3GHz Ryzen 7 2700X all the way to 5.884GHz and and the 4.2GHz Ryzen 5 2600X to 5.882GHz.  If that doesn't impress you, then how about the fact that all cores were running at that speed, and not just one core active?  You will not see such high frequencies when using less esoteric cooling solutions however this indicates some serious overclocking potential for the new Ryzens in general.  Check out the proof by following The Inquirer's links here.

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"AMD'S RYZEN 2 processors are set to be proper powerhouses as the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600X chips have been overclocked beyond a preposterously nippy 5.8GHz."

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Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft Takes a Mulligan with Windows 10 Build 17134

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2018 - 09:21 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

We were supposed to get Windows 10 build 17133 last week – but we didn’t.

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As it turns out, Microsoft says that they noticed their reliability metrics fall below their comfortable threshold, so they pulled the build. They could have fixed the issues with a Cumulative Update, but they didn't. While I’m sure Microsoft doesn’t want you to avoid Windows Updates, cough cough, the feature updates are kind-of the blank slates that get updated, so it’s probably for the best that they meet a certain level of stability. I mean, it would suck to not be able to install an update because your machine crashes before it installs the update that fixes the crash, right?

Fast forward a week, though, and we now have a new build, 17134, which is being pushed to Insiders. This means that it will probably be a bit of time before the public gets their hands on it. It would seem kind-of odd to push a build to Insiders and then YOLO it to the world at large the very next day.

Maybe next week? Maybe the week after? No idea. It's coming, though.

Well SPIt, Intel firmware is a wee bit vulnerable

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2018 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: uefi, SPI, security, Intel, bios

The one part of your computer you still rely on to be safe are firmware updates to your UEFI, but of course there are also cases where this too can prove to be vulnerable.  It seems there is a vulnerability in the way the the SPI flash is configured on on a variety of Intel CPUs stretching all the way back to Broadwell, straight through to the current chips.  There is good news as a patch for this vulnerability has already been provided to PC and motherboard manufactures according to the information over at Bleeping Computer so check for BIOS updates over the next while.  As this does stretch back to models which no longer receive regular updates, hopefully even those ancient devices will receive an update.

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"According to Lenovo, who recently deployed the Intel fixes, "the configuration of the system firmware device (SPI flash) could allow an attacker to block BIOS/UEFI updates, or to selectively erase or corrupt portions of the firmware.""

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Tech Talk

Dell and HP ain't down with the GPP

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2018 - 04:29 PM |
Tagged: transparency, nvidia, npp, dirty pool

Curious about the state of NVIDIA's new GeForce Partner Program?  There is definitely news as both Dell and HP do not seem to have joined up, though neither will confirm nor deny this.  The evidence comes from the availability of AMD GPUs in both of their current gaming lineups.  The new HP Omens do not offer AMD but this is theorized to be a supply issue, or it could simply be down to the better performance offered by NVIDIA's current mobile parts.  Lenovo as well still offers AMD in their Legion gaming systems so for now it seems they are not interested either.

This is very good news for the consumer, if these three big suppliers are not signing on, obviously the supposed benefits to joining the GPP simply are not that attractive to them, in much the same way as the 'transparency' offered by this program does not appeal to enthusiasts.

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"Since we found out about NVIDIA's GeForce Partner Program, aka GPP, a couple of months ago, we have seen changes implemented by NVIDIA's partners, but what has not happened is far more important to point out at this time."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #495 - ICY DOCK’s 16 bay enclosure, Intel Rumors, and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2018 - 10:20 AM |
Tagged: video, Samsung, podcast, Platimax, micron, KL-G, K68, Intel, icy dock, hp, enermax, corsair, cloudflare, chromebook x2, Byte3, Azulle, amd, AlterEgo, 7nm, 3d nand

PC Perspective Podcast #495 - 04/11/18

Join us this week for ICY DOCK’s 16 bay enclosure, Intel Rumors, 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:34:25

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. ButcherBox
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 0:35:00 Chris Hook leaves AMD (to where?) and Sasa Marinkovic takes that spot
  4. Picks of the Week:
    1. 1:22:50 Ryan: The NVIDIA Ruler
    2. 1:26:50 Allyn: MKVToolNix (also for Windows)
    3. 1:29:35 Jeremy: Humble Strategy Bundle
  5. Closing/outro
Source:

In need of an ergonomic mechanical keyboard?

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2018 - 03:07 PM |
Tagged: input, mechanical keyboard, ergonomic, kinesis, Freestyle Edge, Cherry MX, cherry mx red, cherry mx blue, cherry mx brown

There are those who prefer an ergonomic keyboard design over the standard model, which means most of the new mechanical keyboards do not meet their needs.  Kinesis offers an alternative, the Freestyle Edge available with Cherry MX Red, Bue or Brown switches and a separated keypad.  You do not need install the SmartSet App to use this keyboard but it is worth it as you can reprogram every keys function, add up to three macros on the appropriate keys, with delays, and of course to control your RGBs.  Check TechPowerUp for the full review.

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"Kinesis, with over 25 years of experience in developing ergonomic peripherals, has brought to market the Freestyle Edge keyboard as part of their new gaming brand. With a split keyboard configuration, extensive customization options, and nothing but Cherry mechanical switches, the Freestyle Edge offers a new take on ergonomics for gamers and casual end users alike."

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Source: TechPowerUp

Intel rumours abound

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2018 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: Intel, kaby lake-x, skylake-x, cascade lake, rumours, arctic sound

There are numerous rumours about Intel roaming the news today, from CPUs being discontinued to brand new GPUs.  [H]ard|OCP have heard that Kaby Lake X does not have long to live, the end of this year may see the end of that chip and a modified Skylake-X family which have moved to solder under the heatspreader to allow higher frequencies to be reached.  The TIM change is not the only interesting thing about the Skylake-X refresh, its TDP could be as high as 300W, based on information from Supermicro's PR. 

As far as new products go, the little birds suggest Cascade Lake is unlikely to appear this year, but instead should be expected in early 2019.  There are also whispers about Intel's new GPU, Arctic Sound, appearing both on-die and in a discrete GPU designed to accelerate streaming and HPC, with Raja closely involved in the design.

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"In this episode of How the Rumor Mill Churns, we address some old Intel CPUs, some new Intel CPUs, and hopefully Intel CPUs that we will never see again. End of Life for good products is often disheartening, but when EOL pertains to something that should have never existed, it goes over a lot better."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

HyperX Reveals Pulsefire Surge RGB Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2018 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: hyperx, gaming mouse, optical, pixart, RGB, pulsefire

Kingston’s gaming brand HyperX is now shipping a new Pulsefire Surge RGB gaming mouse which represents both an aesthetic and hardware specification upgrade over the previous generation Pulsefire mouse. The Pulsefire Surge RGB measures 120.24 x 40.7 x 62.8mm and weighs 100g (130g including the cable). It is a symmetrical design clad in all black with six programmable buttons and a RGB LED ring that runs around the sides.

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HyperX is using a Pixart 3389 sensor that it rates at up to 16,000 DPI and 50G of acceleration. The mouse further uses Omron switches for the buttons which are rated at 50 million clicks. It connects to the PC with a 1.8-meter (5.9 ft) braided cable over USB 2.0 (1,000 Hz polling rate).

Users can program each of the six the buttons (left, right, click wheel, DPI selector, and two left side buttons) with macros, adjust the five DPI settings that the DPI button will cycle through, adjust sensor performance, and configure the RGB lighting on the LED ring, and HyperX logo) with any of 16.7 million colors and four brightness levels) using their NGenuity software. The Pulsefire Surge RGB has onboard memory that allows up to three of the configured profiles to be saved to the mouse.

The RGB equipped gaming mouse is currently available for $69.99 with a two-year warranty. It weighs a mere 5 grams more than HyperX’s previous gaming mouse but adds a better sensor (Pixart 3310 vs 3389), programmable buttons, and customizable lighting (the Pulsefire FPS was red LED only) so at least on paper it is a decent upgrade. If you don’t need the extra bells and whistles, the older Pulsefire FPS is going for a bit under $25 less now at $45.52 on Amazon. In either case, the pricing doesn’t seem too bad (I remember paying a very pretty penny for my original Razer Mamba... but at least it’s lasted as long as it has! Heh) and hopefully reviews will start popping up soon.

Have you tried gaming with HyperX and NGenuity?

Source: HyperX

Micron Constructing New Cleanroom For 3D NAND Fabrication R&D In Singapore

Subject: General Tech | April 9, 2018 - 11:20 PM |
Tagged: micron, manufacturing, IMFT NAND, flash memory, fab, cleanroom, 64-Layer, 3d nand

Micron Technologies recently began construction on a multi-billion-dollar cleanroom facility for research and development of its 3D NAND technologies. The new facility is being built adjacent to Micron’s existing NAND fabrication complex at 1 North Coast Drive where Micron invested $4 Billion to expand in 2016. Micron did not disclose its exact investment in the new cleanroom space except to say that it was a multi-billion-dollar project.

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Micron’s expanded 300mm 3D NAND manufacturing complex is part of its NAND Center of Excellence, and the new facility that is under construction will expand the company’s ability to increase its research and development efforts and allow Micron to push “even more intricate designs” according to Sanjay Mehrotra (Micron President and CEO). for its 3D flash memory. The new facility will be staffed by the new hires which will mainly be engineers and technicians specializing in 3D NAND manufacturing and will include as many as 600 fresh graduates.

Construction of the new manufacturing and cleanroom space is slated for completion in mid-2019 with initial wafer output by the fourth quarter of next year. Unfortunately, this facility is not intended to add additional wafer capacity (at least at this time) so those hoping for increased supply of NAND chips and cheaper SSDs will have to keep waiting. Rather, this facility is going to be used for R&D and its manufacturing will be used to produce more advanced flash and experiment with new manufacturing methods for increasingly complicated stacked and denser die designs instead of beefing up supply of its current memory chips that are being used in current products.

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Satellite view of Micron's existing 300mm NAND fabrication facility in northern Singapore.

Along with the new 3D NAND facility, Micron will be adding 1,000 new jobs to its existing workforce in Singapore of 7,500 over the next five years per a deal with Singapore’s Economic Development Board. Business Times and Channel News Asia note that over the past 20 years Micron has invested heavily in Singapore – north of $20 billion.

I am glad to see Micron pushing forward with its 3D NAND especially following the breakup with Intel wherein the two companies have decided to complete the development of third generation 3D NAND together and then to develop 3D NAND independently. Interestingly, Intel and Micron did not totally dissolve the IMFT joint venture as they will continue collaborating on 3D XPoint at the fab in Lehi, Utah which according to Intel is now entirely focused on XPoint memory. That was something I was curious about when first reading of the breakup early this year and happened to come across when writing this story. That press release notes that Intel and Micron are currently producing second generation 64-layer IMFT flash and developing higher density third generation flash which is slated for production next year (after which Micron and Intel will go their separate ways on NAND), so this may be a major reason for Micron building out new multi-billion-dollar fab space for NAND R&D.