Gigabyte's Z270X Ultra Gaming is a bargain

Subject: Motherboards | August 4, 2017 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z270X Ultra Gaming, Prime Z270-A, lga1151, Intel

A Z270 board for under $160 can be hard to find which is what makes this Z270X board interesting.  There were some sacrifices made in the design, all of the reviewers at [H]ard|OCP noticed how thin the PCB is as well as the heatsinks less than robust attachments, not a deal breaker by any means but worth considering if you are a little rough on your components.  The board does still have 7 power phases, the PCIe slots are Armored and there is a new ALC1220 CODEC with a USB DAC UP 2 so Gigabyte did not skimp on the features that matter.  Overclocking was easy and did not require an obscene amount of power for an i7-7700K to hit 5GHz.  You can see the full review over at [H] ... and yes it does have all the RGBs too.

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"GIGABYTE has been on a roll with all it's 2017 offerings. This generation has seen solid boards for both AMD and Intel fans alike. Today, we switch gears and look at the GIGABYTE Z270X Ultra Gaming. It's the most misleading name GIGABYTE has used to date, but comes in with a very affordable price of $160!"

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Motherboards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Rip enough threads and you are going to spring a leak, AMD's Threadripper 1920

Subject: General Tech | August 4, 2017 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, Threadripper, 1920, xfr, leak

Thanks to a few motherboard makers and some good eyes, we now know there will be a Threadripper part without support for AMD's eXtended Frequency Range.  The slightly lower frequencies, 3.2-3.8GHz and lack of XFR suggest this part will sell for less than the $800 which the 1920X is slated to be released at.  This should not mean the chip will not benefit from any of the features of XFR, only that the frequency increments will be larger and less reactive than on an XFR chip, as Tim explained a while back.  There is a benefit to that lack as well, the TDP drops 40W to 140W.  This is a leak so it is possible some of the information is wrong; however it was found in several different places and looks to have been posted accidentally as opposed to release to fuel rumours so it is quite likely the information you can see over at PCWorld is accurate.

threadripper-1920-100730872-orig.jpg

"Tweakers discovered the Threadripper 1920 listed on websites for Asus, Gigabyte, and ASRock. PCWorld was able to confirm the listing on Gigabyte and ASRock’s sites, though Asus has since scrubbed its support page for the $550 ROG Zenith Extreme entirely."

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Tech Talk

 

Source: PCWorld

Intel Coffee Lake Rumors: More Cores and Z270 Incompatibility

Subject: Processors | August 3, 2017 - 10:06 PM |
Tagged: rumor, report, processor, Intel, cpu, core i7, core i5, core i3, coffee lake

You may have heard that Intel's upcoming 8th-generation processors, code named Coffee Lake, won't be compatible with the current Z270 chipset motherboards. Last week we had another round of rumors and reports about these upcoming - and totally incompatible - new CPUs, with wccftech reporting some details on what to expect with the new processors. Spoiler: MORE CORES.

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Image credit: Tech Advisor

We begin with the Intel Core i7-8700K, which will reportedly be the company's first mainstream 6-core processor, with previous hex-core offerings limited to HEDT and server. The i7-8700K will run slightly below the current 4-core i7-7700K, with a base frequency of 3.7 GHz (vs. 4.2 GHz with the i7-7700K) and single-core Turbo speeds topping out at 4.3 GHz according to the report. Another point of interest with the 6-core i7 part is TDP, with 95W needed where even the current HEDT parts are into the 130W territory. What of the Core i5? This is where things get a little more interesting, as there appear to be 6-core parts in the i5 family as well, without Hyper-Threading of course. Even the Core i3 parts jump to 4-core configurations with Coffee Lake, which would obviously be another first.

INTEL_CHART.png

Chart credit Wccftech.com

To editoralize a bit, AMD seems to be in a highly influential position in the wake of Ryzen and Threadripper, as Intel is (reportedly, of course) upping the core counts for Core series processors. Sure, Intel could have done this anyway, but looking at their pre-Ryzen products they were quite happy selling 2 - 4 core parts for premium prices before. This is great news for anyone in an era of increasingly multi-thread optimized computing (as long as pricing remains at or below current offerings), and with this healthy competition the second half of the year might be the best time in a very long time to upgrade - be it Intel or AMD. Now, if only graphics cards would fall back down to earth...

Source: wccftech

I Think They're Big Fans of AMD Threadripper and EPYC... Noctua Announces Three New Coolers.

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 3, 2017 - 08:41 PM |
Tagged: noctua, amd, Threadripper, EPYC

Noctua has announced three new heatsinks for AMD’s new high-end CPU platforms, Threadripper and EPYC. If you’ve been following the company, or Morry’s motherboard reviews, then you know that these coolers are huge (and effective).

noctua-2017-threadripper-cooler.png

Apparently the main difference is the contact surface, 70mm x 56mm, to accommodate for the processor’s large package. AMD connects multiple dies together with their Infinity Fabric, which means a huge total surface area. The cooler comes in three sizes, corresponding to the fan that’s intended to be used with it: 140mm (NH-U14S TR4-SP3), 120mm (NH-U12S TR4-SP3), and 92mm (NH-U9S TR4-SP3).

The two “smallest” sizes, NH-U12S and NH-U9S, are both expected to retail for $69.90 USD, so I guess choose whichever makes the most sense for your system. The largest one, the NH-U14S, is $10 more expensive at $79.90 USD. They should be available by the end of the month.

Source: Noctua

A song of external GPUs; Sonnet' eGFX Breakaway Box

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 3, 2017 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: external gpu, sonnet, eGFX Breakaway Box, thunderbolt 3

The version of Sonnet's Breakaway Box which Ars Technica tested is priced at $300, for that you get the housing with a 350W PSU inside that can handle a GPU of up to 300W.  There are two other models, the Developer Edition which shipped with Apple's External GPU Dev kit and a higher powered model which can support cards that require up to 375W.  AMD worked with Sonnet to create an optimized driver for this enclosure which has enabled them to retain more performance than NVIDIA on this Thunderbolt 3 enclosure, however all the cards they tested did show performance degradation compared to a GPU inside of a desktop system.  On the other hand that is not what this device is for; it is to enable a laptop to play high end games and in that it does succeed.  Check out the full review here.

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"The Breakaway Box is best described as functional, consisting of a simple steel chassis and vented side panels (neither of which, sadly, feature proper dust filters), with a power supply, 120mm fan, and a single PCIe slot inside."

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Graphics Cards

Source: Ars Technica

Happy unboxing day, rip them threads

Subject: General Tech | August 3, 2017 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: amd, Threadripper, unboxing, angel hair

Unboxing videos are perhaps second only to booth babe videos in terms of uselessness; however with Threadripper there is some information to convey.  The mounting process for these new processors is very different than the ZIF of old and while we cannot provide you with any benchmarks we can show you how to install a Threadripper CPU properly.  For those that learn more from their failures than their successes, which should be most of you, Kyle at [H]ard|OCP can give you some insight on just how fragile the pins on these new processors are.

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"We show you how "easily" the AMD Threadripper comes out of the box, and some hilarity ensues, and then we take you through the simple steps of Threadripper installation. I would consider this a PSA as well because I destroyed the socket on my TR4 motherboard."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #461 - AMD Ryzen 3, Threadripper, Logitech Powerplay, and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 3, 2017 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: podcast, wolfenstein, wdc, Vibe, Vega Nano, Threadripper, ryzen 3, radeon rx vega, QLC, htc, Fanatec, Clubsport lite elite, BiCS3, amd, video

PC Perspective Podcast #461 - 08/03/17

Join us for AMD Ryzen 3, Threadripper, Logitech Powerplay, 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:38:20

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:25:45 Ryan: Logitech G903
    2. 1:34:05 Allyn: Things I would have loved to grow up learning / playing (pixel kit): 1 2
  4. Closing/outro

Source:

AMD Ryzen Threadripper Installation and Unboxing

Subject: Processors | August 3, 2017 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: Threadripper, ryzen, amd

Though we are a full week away from the release of the Ryzen Threadripper reviews, AMD is letting us share the installation process of the new TR4 socket, as well as an unboxing of the awesome kit that AMD put together for media and reviewers. Enjoy!

Unreal Engine 4 Enterprise Sizzle Video

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2017 - 11:41 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, epic games, unreal engine 4, ue4

Apart from a Fortnite clip that they snuck in, Epic Games has published a video to highlight the recent use of Unreal Engine 4 in the enterprise. The game engine is attractive to several industries, including architectural visualization, product demos, and even rendering video for TVs and movies. For instance, you can walk through a building (even in VR) that you’re intending to create and move walls around, or customize a car and see it in that state before you order it.

One that caught my eye was the Paris VR demo from The Chainsmokers and Sony Music. This was the first that I’ve heard of it, but I find kind-of abstract, music video demos interesting. It reminds me a little of the Ellie Goulding WebGL demo from back in 2011. It should be a cute little demo if you have a PSVR, although you can also watch a playthrough on YouTube.

Amazon Web Services Releases Lumberyard Beta 1.10

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2017 - 08:03 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, amazon

Amazon Web Services launched a new version of their Lumberyard game engine at SIGGRAPH. They advertise that the new version, Lumberyard Beta 1.10, is 50% original code from when they launched back in February 2016. The engine started as a fork of CryEngine, and I’ve watched it evolve rapidly since about November. They’re pushing the engine into sort-of an entity-component framework, similar to Unity, but with a focus on C++ and Lua. You create scripts that define some functionality, then place them on the relevant entities (versus making a hierarchy of strict subclasses like you would do in Unreal Engine 4’s C++ API).

Amazon’s visual scripting system, Script Canvas, was supposed to launch in 1.10 but I can’t see it mentioned so I’m guessing it slipped.

So what does the version have? Mostly a bunch of new rendering features. Lumberyard 1.10 adds temporal anti-aliasing and order-independent transparency. Lumberyard, because it is a deferred renderer, cannot use MSAA. The engine currently supports FXAA and SMAA, as well as supersampling of course, but 1.10 adds TAA, which blends parts of previous frames into the current one. Since the point of anti-aliasing is to know all the geometry that makes up a pixel, not just what is on top and dead center, sub-pixel variation should eventually average out to a clean image.

Order-independent transparency should be more interesting. I don’t think it’s currently available in Unreal Engine 4 or (stock) Unity 5, although I could be wrong on that, but it is noticeable for scenes with a lot of transparency. To drive the point home, NVIDIA Research made a demo in Lumberyard for GDC with glasses in a bar, embedded above. As the camera pans around the glasses, you can see the multiple reflections in the top-left side of the upside-down glass is much more stable on the left image, and where the two reflections meet in the center blends correctly.

Lumberyard 1.10 also includes a lot of editor UI tweaks, which isn’t appealing to write about but... honestly... that’s what you want in a professional content creation tool update. Their entity component tools seem to be growing nicely from the screenshots I’ve seen.

You can download Lumberyard 1.10 free from their website.

Source: Amazon

Western Digital BiCS3 Flash Goes QLC - 96GB per die!

Subject: Storage | August 2, 2017 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, tlc, slc, QLC, nand, mlc, flash, 96GB, 768Gb, 3d

A month ago, WD and Toshiba each put out releases related to their BiCS 3D Flash memory. WD announced 96 layers (BiCS4) as their next capacity node, while Toshiba announced them reliably storing four bits per cell (QLC).

FMS-QLC.jpg

WD recently did their own press release related to QLC, partially mirroring Toshiba's announcement, but this one had some additional details on capacity per die, as well as stating their associated technology name used for these shifts. TLC was referred to as "X3", and "X4" is the name for their QLC tech as applied to BiCS. The WD release stated that X4 tech, applied to BiCS3, yields 768Gbit (96GB) per die vs. 512Gbit (64GB) per die for X3 (TLC). Bear in mind that while the release (and the math) states this is a 50% increase, moving from TLC to QLC with the same number of cells does only yields a 33% increase, meaning X4 BiCS3 dies need to have additional cells (and footprint) to add that extra 17%.

The release ends by hinting at X4 being applied to BiCS4 in the future, which is definitely exciting. Merging the two recently announced technologies would yield a theoretical 96-layer BiCS4 die, using X4 QLC technology, yielding 1152 Gbit (144GB) per die. A 16 die stack of which would come to 2,304 GB (1.5x the previously stated 1.5TB figure). The 2304 figure might appear incorrect but consider that we are multiplying two 'odd' capacities together (768 Gbit (1.5x512Gbit for TLC) and 96 layers (1.5x64 for X3).

Press blast appears after the break.

Hit the town in Pillars of Eternity 2

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2017 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: Pillars of Eternity 2, gaming

A new video showing off Pillars of Eternity 2 game play was posted over at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN.  It focuses on a town called Nekataka which you will be exploring in the sequel to the popular RPG.  Sailing will also be a large part of the game, not just for fast travel as there will also be naval combat, a feature with a troubled history in gaming.  There is still no specific release date for the game, only that it will launch in 2018.  It is fully funded but you can still get backer bonuses if you head to their Fig page and donate.

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"How pleasing it is, then, to see precisely the kind of big old city I want to visit in the latest update video. It’s called Neketaka, a name I will always enjoy saying out loud but will almost certainly mangle the vowels of every time I write it down."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

FSP releases a trio of Platinum PSUs

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 2, 2017 - 01:30 PM |
Tagged: FSP Group, modular psu, 750w, 650W, 550W, Hydro PTM, 80 Plus Platinum

FSP Group have just released three new 80 Plus Platinum Hydro PTM modular PSUs, in 750W, 650W and 550W models.  The Hydro branding comes from the fluid dynamic bearings in the 135mm fan which they have optimized for quiet operation.

Hydro PTM-750W_002.jpg

The 750W model has a pair of 4+4 power plugs for X299 users, the other two models will not though all will use ribbon cables to help you with cable management.  Internally you will find Japanese industrial grade electrolytic caps and a single 12V rail which will provide higher quality power than multiple rail designs.   All models will come with a 10 year warranty.

PR below the fold.

Source: FSP Group

Acer's take on a VR headset comes at a reasonable price

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2017 - 12:55 PM |
Tagged: AR, acer

Acer's new mixed reality headset, is now available from the Microsoft Store.  The $300 price tag compares extremely favourably to the $3000 Hololens that Microsoft is selling.  The two headsets will both run on Windows Holographic and will have steep hardware requirements.  Acer recommends a Ryzen 8 1700 or Core i7 paired with at least an RX 480 or GTX 980 and 16GB of RAM.  The headset will not be able to overlay virtual images over real objects, hence the mixed reality moniker, rather it will be somewhat like a VR environment to work in.  Drop by The Inquirer for a peek.

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"The headset we tested in prototype last month is available to anyone looking to build content for it, for $300 a squirt. It had been made available in private beta to some devs back in April but now it's in the Microsoft Store."

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Source: The Inquirer

The Khronos Group Releases OpenGL 4.6

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 2, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: spir-v, opengl, Khronos

While Vulkan has been getting a lot of mindshare recently, OpenGL is still in active development. This release, OpenGL 4.6, adds a bunch of extensions into the core specification, making them more reliably available to engines. There’s a lot of them this time, many of which seem to borrow design elements from the work done on Vulkan.

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The headlining feature is SPIR-V support as an ARB extension, which frees OpenGL programs from having their shaders written in GLSL. Many engines write their shaders in HLSL and use a transpiler to generate the corresponding GLSL, which may not support all features. The extension might also help titles target both OpenGL and Vulkan, although I’m not sure why we would see a driver that supports OpenGL 4.6 but not Vulkan.

Another extension is GL_KHR_no_error, which tells graphics drivers that they do not need to generate errors at runtime. This will save a bit of driver overhead. GL_ARB_indirect_parameters also helps with CPU overhead by allowing draws to pass parameters to other GPU-initiated draws, although this is a bit out of my domain. Also, if you’re not working in SPIR-V, GL_KHR_parallel_shader_compile will allow the driver to compile your GLSL shaders across multiple worker threads.

NVIDIA has a beta driver for developers, which is a couple of versions back compared to their consumer version, so you don’t want to install it unless you intend on developing OpenGL 4.6 applications. Mesa says that they shouldn’t be too far behind.

Slip a Viper on your head, Patriot's new gaming headsets

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2017 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: audio, patriot, V361, V370, gaming headset, virtual 7.1, Viper

Patriot's new Viper V361 And V370 headsets are virtual twins, virtual 7.1 surround sound in fact.  They share the same specifications, a dynamic range of 20 Hz – 20 KHz, 32Ohm
impedance and 40mm neodymium drivers with 30mm neodymium sub-drivers to provide the virtual surround sound.  Indeed at first look the only difference is the price, $50 for the V361 and $70 for the V370.  Techgage discovered the difference, the V370 is thoroughly infected with RGB-itis, if you find yourself in need of a glowing head.  As for the audio quality, check out the full review.

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"How often does a product force you into an attitude adjustment? Patriot’s V361 and V370 headsets have revealed themselves to be a pair of price and performance champs. The best thing? They prove that virtual surround sound doesn’t need to be pricey to be desirable. Let’s check them out."

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Audio Corner

Source: Techgage

Unmasking a new photolithography technique

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2017 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: photolithography, DOLFIN

In the eternal search for ways to fabricate smaller features in semiconductors, EUV seems to be the current focus for production facilities.  Researchers at the University of Chicago and the Argonne National Laboratory may have a solution which could prove to be very useful in the future and could even see the mask technology currently used in photolithography become obsolete.  DOLFIN, aka Direct Optical Lithography of Functional Inorganic Nanomaterials, creates features by making a film of nanoparticles with photoactive ligands which is then covered in a glas or quartz mask with a patterned metal layer and exposed to UV light.  This is very similar to current methods, the mask is reusable and the amount of UV light required is similar to that needed currently. 

This method differs in several ways, not least of which is it does not require as many rare and unhealthy solutes.  What could really help it take off is the fact that seems to be cheaper and more reliable than current processes and it is capable of creating a six-layer 3D pattern in 19 process steps; conventional technology would take 43 steps.  There is more over at Nanotechweb.

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"The fact that the dose of UV required in the new technique is comparable to that for conventional photoresists opens up a plethora of opportunities for advanced device manufacturing, he tells nanotechweb.org."

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Source: Nanotechweb

Report: Wolfenstein 2 Optimized for AMD Vega with FP16 Shader Support

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 1, 2017 - 12:05 PM |
Tagged: Wolfenstein 2, vulkan, Vega, id Tech 6, id software, half-precision, game engine, FP16, amd

According to a report from Golem.de (German language), with the upcoming Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus game AMD Vega owners will have the advantage of FP16 shader support from a new version of the id Tech 6 engine. The game supports both DX12 and the Vulkan API, but the use of half-precision calculations - the scope of which has not been specified - will potentially offer higher frame-rates for AMD Vega users.

vega-26.jpg

AMD provided some technical details about Wolfenstein 2 during their Threadripper/Vega tech day, and this new game includes “special optimizations” in the id Tech 6 game engine for AMD Vega hardware:

“For what exactly id Software (is using) FP16 instead of FP32, AMD did not say. These could post-processing effects, such as bloom. The performance should increase in the double-digit percentage range, (though) id Software did not want to comment on it.” (Translated from German.)

Source: Golem.de

To blindly go where no monitor has gone before

Subject: Displays | July 31, 2017 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: gsync, freesync

At recent AMD events, attendees were invited to try a blind sight test (an oxymoron if there ever was one) in which they had a chance to play on a AMD system with the new Vega GPU and Freesync as well as a machine powered by a GTX 1080 and G-Sync.  The two machines and monitors were concealed so you could not tell which was which.

Seeing as how many of us did not have a chance to attend these conferences nor see the difference between the two, [H]ard|OCP decided to replicate the experiment, albeit with a GTX 1080 Ti in the G-Sync system.  The two Windows 10 64-bit systems were powered by a AMD Ryzen 7 1800X CPU with 16GB of DDR4-2666MHz; the only difference was the GPU and display.   The two displays were capable of up to a 100Hz refresh rate and the display settings were matched as well as humanly possible.  The two monitors were a $720 ASUS MX34V with FreeSync and a $1300 ASUS PG348 G-Sync display, something worth noting for those with a shopping list.

Check out the video of the subjective experiences of the participants here, remembering that this is not exactly a rigid scientific experiment.

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"Totally unscientific and subjective testing is scorned by many, so if that gets your panties in a bunch, I suggest you stop reading. We had the opportunity to preview AMD's RX Vega this weekend, and we put it up against NVIDIA's GTX 1080 Ti, both using 100Hz FreeSync and G-Sync panels, with our testers representing 223 combined years of gaming experience."

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Displays

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Ryzen and Radeon Roundup

Subject: Processors | July 31, 2017 - 03:18 PM |
Tagged: vega 64, vega 56, vega 10, Vega, radeon, amd, X399, Threadripper, ryzen, 1950x, 1920x, 1900x

Just in case you wanted to relive this weekends event, or you feel that somehow Ryan missed a detail when he was describing Threadripper or Vega, here is a roundup of other coverage of the event.  The Tech Report contrast the Vega 64 and Vega 56 with a few older NVIDIA cards as well as more modern ones, giving you a sense of the recent evolution of the GPU.  They also delve a bit into the pricing and marketing strategies which AMD has chosen, which you can check out here.

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"AMD's Radeon RX Vega graphics cards are finally here in the form of the RX Vega 64 and RX Vega 56. Join us as we see what AMD's new high-end graphics cards have in store for gamers."

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Processors