ZTE Axon 7 (US) Update Pushed -- Not Oreo, But Needed

Subject: Mobile | January 27, 2018 - 11:01 PM |
Tagged: zte, axon 7

Until this weekend, the ZTE Axon 7 was running on the August patch level of Android 7.1.1. The phone manufacturer was hinting that Oreo could be provided, and a few leaks have shown Android 8.0 running on the device. My assumption was that ZTE was just holding off on updates until their build of Android 8.0 is ready.

Today, my phone was updated to Android 7.1.1 with the December patch level.


To me, this says that – well, one, the Blueborne and KRACK vulnerabilities are finally fixed. Two: if ZTE was holding out on updates until Android 8.0, then they no longer expect to ship it in the immediate future. They could still be working on it, and I’m guessing that they are unless they found a showstopper bug that simply cannot be worked around, but it’s slower than they projected.

That said, I’m glad that ZTE is still patching their device, two years later. The availability of updates is a major factor in my choice of which phone to buy. While I’ve had some hiccups with it, it’s been well worth the price, and software support is a big differentiator in that category. Sure, it’s not going to compete with Google’s first-party devices, especially in terms of update frequency, but it’s not competing with Google’s first-party devices.

Let’s see how long the support will last.

Source: ZTE

The sound of the Phontum Cougar

Subject: General Tech | January 26, 2018 - 04:50 PM |
Tagged: audio, Cougar, phontum, gaming headset

Cougar have come up with a brand new word to go with their new headset, unless they are referring to a certain old geographical location in Thailand.  At ~$50 it does not represent a major investment even with its 53mm drivers and the two pairs of earcups included in the box.  Neoseeker found the microphone to be decent enough for conversational usage and were thoroughly happy with sound reproduction when listening to music or gaming.  If you are in the market for a headset but can't justify spending $100 or more, this is worth a look.


"The Cougar Phontum gaming headset incorporates a 53mm driver to provide more audio output across multiple situations than the standard 50mm driver. Next, Cougar utilizes a dual-chamber design to achieve a profound distinction between bass, midrange and treble frequencies. Finally we have a graphene diaphragm to reduce distortion due with their lighter and stiffer construction – making for faster response with less unwanted flex of the cone."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: Neoseeker

1000W of unLinked Platinum power from Corsair, the HX1000

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 26, 2018 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: modular psu, corsair, hx1000, 80 Plus Platinum, kilowatt

Corsair's HX series of PSUs have been around for a while now, Lee recently reviewed the 850W Platinum model, but for some only a kilowatt will do.  [H]ard|OCP is the place to check out that member of the family, the HX1000 Platinum. This model retails for the same price as the HX1000i, which is compatible with Corsair's Link software and from the test results the HX1000 is a better PSU overall.  Drop by to check out their review of the "best 1000 watt plus PSU" they've seen from Corsair in the last seven years.


"The Corsair HX1000 computer power supply is, you guessed it, rated for 1000 huge watts of power delivery to your enthusiast system build. All of this comes in rated at extremely high efficiency, while being fully modular, all Japanese capacitors, and boasting "extremely tight voltage regulation." Let's put all that to the test."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel will be melting down the spectre of insecurity later this year

Subject: General Tech | January 26, 2018 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: Intel, spectre, meltdown, rumour

Brian Krzanich, still the lead at Intel, announced that new Intel chips will arrive in 2018 which are immune to Spectre and Meltdown.  This is interesting in several ways, and may offer the first really compelling reason to upgrade an Intel system in quite some time.  It is unlikely this new processor will be Cannon Lake as it has been taped out for long enough there are accusations that Intel is purposely holding it back.  It could indicate that Ice Lake will arrive earlier than expected, both to resolve their architectutal flaws and as a counter to AMD's Ryzen and ThreadRipper or possibly only refer to a certain family of mobile or server chips.  It is also unknown what effect the changes will have on the performance of these chips.  The Inquirer would like to know ... about a few things, in fact.


"INTEL CEO Brian Krzanich, he of the conveniently well-timed stock sale, has told investors that the company will launch chips immune to the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities later this year."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

PCPer Mailbag #28 - 1/26/2018

Subject: Editorial | January 26, 2018 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: video, Ryan Shrout, pcper mailbag

It's time for the PCPer Mailbag, our weekly show where Ryan and the team answer your questions about the tech industry, the latest and greatest GPUs, the process of running a tech review website, and more!

On today's show:

00:40 - Mid-range/budget Coffee Lake motherboards?
02:22 - Bitlocker performance hit?
05:05 - Optane for page file?
06:36 - GPU production, costs, and mining?
09:19 - Dissuade miners with offsetting GPU price increases and rebates?
12:08 - Higher end Ryzen APUs?
14:32 - Faster GDDR eliminating the need for HBM?
17:24 - Re-testing old GPUs after Meltdown/Spectre fixes?
19:20 - AMD comeback in discrete GPU market?
21:44 - Why do Metldown/Spectre patches negatively affect performance?

Want to have your question answered on a future Mailbag? Leave a comment on this post or in the YouTube comments for the latest video. Check out new Mailbag videos each Friday!

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel to make sure you never miss our weekly reviews and podcasts, and please consider supporting PC Perspective via Patreon to help us keep videos like our weekly mailbag coming!

Source: YouTube

Lenovo's Yoga 920; Thunderbolt and a battery chock full of lightning

Subject: Mobile | January 25, 2018 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: Lenovo, Yoga 920

Sadly this is not the Yoda 920 model, however even the non-special model of Lenovo's Yoga 920 is worth taking a look at.  The entire body of the 14" convertible is metal to lend this tiny machine some stability and it features Lenovo's lovely watchband style hinge.  As you can see in the picture below, a Sharpie is thicker than the Yoga 920 which does mean the chiclet style keys do not have much travel, which TechSport noted but did not find to offer a bad typing experience.  The new Yoga also features Thunderbolt 3.0 and a 70WH battery which fared very well in the battery tests they performed in the full review.


"With a 14" foldable display, an 8th-gen Core i7 CPU, and a premium-looking design, the new Lenovo Yoga 920 is aimed at business professionals who want a sleek laptop that is a solid companion on the go and for use in the board room, too."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

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Source: Techspot

Podcast #484 - New Samsung SSDs, Spectre and Meltdown updates, and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 25, 2018 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: spectre, Samsung, podcast, plex, meltdown, Intel, inspiron 13, dell, amd, 860 pro, 860 evo

PC Perspective Podcast #484 - 01/25/18

Join us this week for a recap of news and reviews including new SSDs from Samsung, updates on Spectre and Meltdown, and building the ultimate Plex server, 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

Program length: 1:28:56

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:41:30 Thanks to Casper for supporting our channel. Save $50 on select mattresses at http://www.casper.com/pcper code: pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. 1:14:10 Picks of the Week:
    1. Ryan:
  5. Closing/outro

The Quirks of quantum computation

Subject: General Tech | January 25, 2018 - 12:47 PM |
Tagged: quantum computing, Q Experience, IBM, quirk

Quantum computing is up there with deep learning, adaptive AI and other over-hyped terms as having been so heavily marketed that they have lost much of their meaning.  Hack a Day  observed enough of this to want to enact a chance by detailing what a quantum computer is as well as how to program a simulated one.  The first misunderstanding they clear up is what computing actually means in this case; it more closely resembles an old analogue style computer which is purpose built to provide a the result to a specific question.  They also explain how the answers provided are probabilistic and not the preferred 100% certainty which the movies imply is always necessary.  Read on for more general details as well as a close look at a web application which allows you to build simulated quantum computers.


"So before we get to the real quantum hardware, I am going to show you a simulator written by [Craig Gidney]. He wrote it and promptly got a job with Google, who took over the project. Sort of. Even if you don’t like working in a browser, [Craig’s] simulator is easy enough, you don’t need an account, and a bookmark will save your work."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Hack a Day

Acer Launches Updated Chromebook Spin 11 Starting at $349

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 25, 2018 - 12:12 AM |
Tagged: wacom, convertible tablet, Chromebook, chrome os, apollo lake, Android, acer

Acer is bringing an updated convertible Chromebook to market in March with the Chromebook Spin 11 being available to consumers and not just through educational channels like the previous models. The 2.75-pound notebook with 360-degree hinge and 11.6” IPS display (1366x768) runs Chrome OS, supports Android apps, and is powered by “all day” battery life and Apollo Lake processors. Unfortunately, Acer is not using Intel’s latest Gemini Lake chips, but the Chromebooks do hit more budget friendly MSRPs as a result with the Chromebook Spin 11 starting at $349.

Acer Chromebook Spin 11.jpg

Acer’s updated silver colored Chromebook features a 360-degree hinge allowing it to be used in tablet mode, laptop mode, or anything in between. The hinge connects the top half with the 11.6” touchscreen and 1MP webcam to the bottom half which holds the keyboard, trackpad, I/O ports, and 5MP camera (intended to be used in tablet mode) along with all the internal battery and processing hardware. External I/O is fairly modern and includes two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C ports, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a headphone jack, and one micro SD card reader. Users can also opt for a Wacom EMR stylus to get pen input on the touchscreen display.

Internal hardware includes an Intel Apollo Lake processor of dual or quad core varieties that sit at 6W TDPs, either 4GB or 8GB DDR4 memory, and 32GB or 64GB of eMMC storage. The processor options include the dual core Intel Celeron N3350 (2.4 GHz), Intel Celeron N3450 (4 core / 4 thread at up to 2.2 GHz), and quad core Intel Pentium N4200 at up to 2.5 GHz.

The keys look fairly large and well-spaced for an 11.6” device save for the arrow keys which are squished into the bottom right corner. There appear to be two bottom firing stereo speakers as well. I am curious how much travel the keys have though.

The updated Chromebook Spin 11 is slated for availability in March for North America starting at $349 and in April at €379 for the EMEA market (Europe, Middle East, Africa).

Also read:

Source: Ars Technica

SK Hynix Launches Its 8Gb GDDR6 Memory Running at 14 Gbps

Subject: Graphics Cards, Memory | January 24, 2018 - 11:04 PM |
Tagged: SK Hynix, graphics memory, gddr6, 8gb, 14Gbps

SK Hynix recently updated its product catalog and announced the availability of its eight gigabit (8 Gb) GDDR6 graphics memory. The new chips come in two SKUs and three speed grades with the H56C8H24MJR-S2C parts operating at 14 Gbps and 12 Gbps and the H56C8H24MJR-S0C operating at 12 Gbps (but at higher voltage than the -S2C SKU) and 10 Gbps. Voltages range from 1.25V for 10 Gbps and either 1.25V or 1.35V for 12 Gbps to 1.35V for 14 Gbps. Each 8 Gb GDDR6 memory chip holds 1 GB of memory and can provide up to 56 GB/s of per-chip bandwidth.

SK Hynix logo.jpg

While SK Hynix has a long way to go before competing with Samsung’s 18 Gbps GDDR6, its new chips are significantly faster than even its latest GDDR5 chips with the company working on bringing 9 Gbps and 10 Gbps GDDR5 to market. As a point of comparison, its fastest 10 Gbps GDDR5 would have a per chip bandwidth of 40 GB/s versus its 14 Gbps GDDR6 at 56 GB/s. A theoretical 8GB graphics card with eight 8 Gb chips running at 10 Gbps on a 256-bit memory bus would have maximum bandwidth of 320 GB/s. Replacing the GDDR5 with 14 Gbps GDDR6 in the same eight chip 256-bit bus configuration, the graphics card would hit 448 GB/s of bandwidth. In the Samsung story I noted that the Titan XP runs 12 8 Gb GDDR5X memory chips at 11.4 Gbps on a 384-bit bus for bandwidth of 547 GB/s. Replacing the G5X with GDDR6 would ramp up the bandwidth to 672 GB/s if running the chips at 14 Gbps.

Theoretical Memory Bandwidth
Chip Pin Speed Per Chip Bandwidth 256-bit bus 384-bit bus 1024-bit (one package) 4096-bit (4 packages)
10 Gbps 40 GB/s 320 GB/s 480 GB/s    

12 Gbps

48 GB/s 384 GB/s 576 GB/s    
14 Gbps 56 GB/s 448 GB/s 672 GB/s    
16 Gbps 64 GB/s 512 GB/s 768 GB/s    
18 Gbps 72 GB/s 576 GB/s 864 GB/s    
HBM2 2 Gbps 256 GB/s     256 GB/s 1 TB/s

GDDR6 is still a far cry from High Bandwidth Memory levels of performance, but it is much cheaper and easier to produce. With SK Hynix ramping up production and Samsung besting the fastest 16 Gbps G5X, it is likely that the G5X stop-gap will be wholly replaced with GDDR6 and things like the upgraded 10 Gbps GDDR5 from SK Hynix will pick up the low end. As more competition enters the GDDR6 space, prices should continue to come down and adoption should ramp up for the new standard with the next generation GPUs, game consoles, network devices, ect. using GDDR6 for all but the highest tier prosumer and enterprise HPC markets.

Also read:

Hello Daddy, hello Mom, I'm your ch-ch-cherry MX bomb

Subject: General Tech | January 24, 2018 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: input, Cherry MX, cherry mx board 3

You can pick up the Cherry MX Board 3.0 with Red, Brown, Blue or Black switches depending on your preference.  The design is quite different than we have been seeing on mechanical keyboards recently as there are no RGBs, in fact there is no backlighting whatsoever.  TechPowerUp found the keyboards performance to be excellent, great for typists or gamers to pick up, however there were a few flaws.   The KeyMan driver for this keyboard is only available from Cherry's German page, which also means the installer is in German and during the installation process you need to ensure to download the English module so the actual program will run in English.  There were a few other sticking points, which are detailed in the review.


"The Cherry MX Board 3.0 is a minimalist keyboard for professionals offering low profile, thick ABS keycaps, large anti-slip pads, a key configuration tool, and dedicated media buttons. Despite a release in 2013, it remains relevant and is a good option for consideration in the $80 price range."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: TechPowerUp

Low budget gaming until the bitcoins go away

Subject: General Tech | January 24, 2018 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: gaming, linux, nvidia, amd

With the current mining insanity driving GPU prices high enough it makes more financial sense to buy a gaming laptop or boutique system than to purchase a GPU on its own.  The alternative is to continue on with your current GPU, even if it is a bit long in the tooth.  Phoronix recently tested a battery of AMD and NVIDIA cards, focusing on older or less powerful models to see what kind of gaming performance they are capable of.  The switch to Linux makes sense as Microsoft is beginning to refuse to recognize older GPUs and blocking the installation of the older drivers they require.  You will have to turn down your graphics settings to reach playable FPS but there are titles out there you can still enjoy at 1080p.


"A request came in this week to look at how low-end and older graphics cards are performing with current generation Linux games on OpenGL and Vulkan. With ten older/lower-end NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards, here is a look at their performance with a variety of native Linux games atop Ubuntu using the latest Radeon and NVIDIA drivers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Source: Phoronix

Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer will let you see what your computer sends back to Redmond

Subject: General Tech | January 24, 2018 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10

Some time towards the end of March or the beginning of April Windows 10 will be getting another major update and one of the components will allow you to read through all the information which your computer has collected about your usage.  This won't mean you can easily read through the data as it will be presented in a JSON format with little detail as to what the various attributes mean.  The numbers may not remain a mystery for long, once released various enterprising souls will get to work decoding the information and writing applications to translate the JSON files.  This does not mean Microsoft will no longer collect data, merely that they are going to be a bit more transparent about what they are doing.  Pop by Ars Technica for more information.


"Following the publication last year of the data collected by Windows 10's built-in telemetry and diagnostic tracking, Microsoft today announced that the next major Windows 10 update, due around March or April, will support a new app, the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer, that will allow Windows users to browse and inspect the data that the system has collected."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Source: Ars Technica

New Ryzen Mobile Notebooks Now For Sale from Acer, Lenovo

Subject: Mobile | January 24, 2018 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: vega APU, vega 8, vega 10, swift 3, ryzen mobile, raven ridge, Lenovo, ideapad 720s, amd, acer, 2700u, 2500U

Last October, when AMD launched their mobile-oriented Ryzen Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics product line (Raven Ridge), they talked about several different notebooks that would be shipping with these new parts. However, up until now, there has only been one officially launched and shipping product—the HP Envy x360.

We have an article on the performance of the Ryzen 5 2500U and the HP Envy x360 coming very soon, but today Ryzen Mobile-enabled notebooks have become available to order from both Acer and Lenovo.

First, we'll take a look at Acer's offering, the Swift 3.


For anyone who might be familiar with Acer's current notebook offerings, the Ryzen Swift 3 will seem very similar. From the photos, it appears to be nearly identical to its 8th Generation Intel equipped counterpart. That's certainly not a negative though, as I have been impressed with the Intel variant during some recent testing.

Acer Swift 3
MSRP $749 $949
Screen 15.6” FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Display
CPU Ryzen 5 2500U Ryzen 7 2700U
GPU Integrated Radeon Vega 8 Integrated Radeon Vega 10
RAM 8GB DDR4 Dual Channel (non-upgradable)
Storage 256GB SSD 512GB SSD
Network 802.11ac Dual Band 2x2 MU-MIMO
Display Output

1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
2 x USB 3.0 Type-A
1 x USB 2.0 


48Wh Battery, "Up to 8 Hours Battery Life"

As far as specs are concerned, Acer seems to be checking all of the boxes. RAM will ship in a dual-channel configuration (although we don't know at what speed it will be running, likely 2133 or 2400,) but will not be user replaceable according to questions answered by an Acer representative on their Amazon listing.


Additionally, Acer seems to be the only notebook maker set to ship the Ryzen 5 2700U variant. Not only does the 2700U give users increased clock speeds of 200MHz at base speeds on the CPU portion, but the GPU sees a significant bump. The 2700U gets an upgrade from Vega 8 graphics with 512 stream processors running at 1100MHz to Vega 10 graphics with 640 stream processors at 1300MHz. This should provide a nice performance boost for the extra $200 Acer is asking.

The Acer Swift 3 is set to start shipping on February 9th from Amazon.

Next up is Lenovo, with their Ideapad 720S.


The only 13" Ryzen Mobile option to be announced, the Lenovo Ideapad 720S also shares a lot of design DNA with Lenovo's Intel counterparts.

Lenovo Ideapad 720S
Processor AMD Ryzen 5 2500U
Graphics Integrated Radeon Vega 8
Memory 8GB DDR4-2133 (Single Channel)
Screen 13.3-in 1920x1080 IPS
Storage 512GB PCIe SSD
Camera 720p / Dual Digital Array Microphone
Wireless 802.11AC (1x1) + Bluetooth® 4.1
Connections 2 x USB 3.0
1 x USB 3.0 Type-C (DP & Power Delivery)
1 x USB 3.0 Type-C (DP)
Audio jack
Battery 48Wh "Up to 9.5 hours battery life"

12.0" x 8.4" x 0.5" / 305.9 x 213.8 x 13.6 (mm) 

2.5 lbs (1.14 kg)

OS Windows 10 Home
Price $1049 - Lenovo.com

Disappointingly, the Lenovo Ideapad 720S will ship only in a single memory channel configuration. This will significantly affect the performance of the integrated graphics, as it is highly dependant on memory bandwidth. I wouldn't expect the memory to be user upgradable either; it's likely a single DIMMs worth of memory soldered onto the motherboard.


Curiously, although AMD listed a 2700U variant of the Ideapad 720S in their slides in October, those models have yet to be seen. However, we've seen this before from Lenovo where they start skipping a single SKU that is the most popular configuration and then filling out the rest of the options shortly after.

The Lenovo Ideapad 720S is available to order now directly from Lenovo, with an estimated shipping date or 5-7 business days.

At a price premium above the Acer Swift 3, the Ideapad 720S seems like a hard sell with lack of dual channel memory. However, for users who may be set on a 13" screen size, it appears it will be the only option.

Overall, I am excited to see more AMD-powered options in the thin-and-light notebook category, and I look forward to getting our hands on some of these new models soon!

AMD Hires Two Graphics Execs to Help Tackle NVIDIA

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 23, 2018 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, radeon technologies group, rtg

The following story was originally posted on ShroutResearch.com.

AMD announced today that it has hired two new executives to run its graphics division after the departure of Radeon Technologies Group’s previous lead. Raja Koduri left AMD in November to join Intel and launch its new Core and Visual Computing group, creating a hole in the leadership of this critical division at AMD. CEO Lisa Su filled in during Koduri’s sabbatical and subsequent exit, but the company had been searching for the right replacements since late last year.

Appointed as the senior vice president and GM of the Radeon Technologies Group, Mike Rayfield comes to AMD from previous stints at both Micron and NVIDIA. Rayfield will cover all aspects of the business management of AMD’s graphics division, including consumer, professional, game consoles, and the semi-custom division that recently announced a partnership with Intel. At Micron he served as the senior vice president of the Mobile Business Unit, responsible for company’s direction in working with wireless technology providers (smart phones, tablets, etc.) across various memory categories. While at NVIDIA, Rayfield was the general manager of the Mobile Business Unit helping to create the Tegra brand and products. Though in a different division at the time, Rayfield’s knowledge and experience in the NVIDIA organization may help AMD better address the graphics markets.


David Wang is now the senior vice president of engineering for the AMD Radeon Technologies Group and is responsible for the development of new graphics architectures, the hardware and software that integrate them, and the future strategy of where AMD will invest in graphics R&D. Wang is an alumni of AMD, working as corporate vice president for graphics IP and chip development before leaving in 2012 for Synaptics. David has more than 25 years of graphics and silicon experience, starting at LSI Logic, through ArtX, then ATI, before being acquired by AMD.

The hires come at a critical time for AMD. Though the processor division responsible for the Zen architecture and Ryzen/EPYC processors continues to make strong movement against the Intel dominated space, NVIDIA’s stranglehold on the graphics markets for gaming, machine learning, and autonomous driving are expanding the gap between the graphics chip vendors. The Vega architecture was meant to close it (at least somewhat) but NVIDIA remains the leader in the space by a not insignificant margin. Changing that is and should be AMD’s primary goal for the next few years.

AMD is hoping that by creating this two-headed spear of leadership for its Radeon graphics division it can get the group back on track. Rayfield will be taking over all business aspects of the graphics portion of AMD and that includes the addition of the semi-custom segment, previously a part of the EESC (Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom) group under senior vice president Forrest Norrod. AMD believes that with the growth and expansion of the enterprise segment with its EPYC processor family, and because the emphasis on the semi-custom group continues to be the advantage AMD holds in its graphics portfolio, the long-term strategy can be better executed with that group under the Radeon Technologies umbrella.

The return of Wang as the technical lead for the graphics division could bring significant positive momentum to the group that has struggled in the weeks leading up to the release of its Vega architecture. The product family based on that tech underwhelmed and had concerns over availability, pricing, and timing. Wang has a strong history in the graphics field, with experience as far back as any high-level graphics executive in the business. While at ATI and AMD, Wang worked on architectures from 2002 through 2012, with several periods of graphics leadership under his belt. Competing against the giant that NVIDIA has become will be a challenge that requires significant technical knowledge and risk-taking and Wang has the acumen to get it done.

AMD CEO Lisa Su expressed excitement and trust in the new graphics executives. “Mike and David are industry leaders who bring proven track records of delivering profitable business growth and leadership product roadmaps,” she says. “We enter 2018 with incredible momentum for our graphics business based on the full set of GPU products we introduced last year for the consumer, professional, and machine learning markets. Under Mike and David’s leadership, I am confident we will continue to grow the footprint of Radeon across the gaming, immersive, and GPU compute markets.”

Affordable NVMe? Intel's new 760p series

Subject: Storage | January 23, 2018 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: Intel, 760p, NVMe, ssd, 512GB, SM2262, 64-layer TLC

Intel have released a new M.2 SSD line which will come in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB with prices of  $74, $109 and $199 respectively.  This is a far cry from falling under Ryan's Law but are lower than other NVMe drives.  The Tech Report believes it is using the Silicon Motion SM2262 controller though Intel is being cagey about confirmation, with 64-layer TLC flash for storage. The overall performance was mixed, for reads this drive is one of the best TR have tested however the write speeds are barely faster than a SATA drive; at this price point that should not scare you off unless you plan on doing a lot of writes.


"Intel is shaking up the mainstream SSD market by releasing a new NVMe drive at what it calls near-SATA prices. We run the drive through our storage-testing gauntlet to see whether the SSD 760p 512 GB and its 64-layer NAND turn out to be a game-changer."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:



Portable performace, post patch

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2018 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: meltdown, spectre, Broadwell, coffee lake

TechSpot ran two Dell XPS 13 ultraportables, one powered by a Broadwell era i5-5200U and one with a Coffee Lake i7-8550U, through a battery of benchmarks and tasks to see what effect the patches have had on performance.  They were lucky not to encounter the stability issues currently plaguing machines with patched UEFI but they do mention it. For intensive tasks, such as rendering or numerical calculations there was a noticeable hit to performance after the patches were installed, with both systems suffering equally.  This is interesting to see as there has been mention that older processors may suffer more than current generation CPUs.  Take a look at this newest set of benchmarks and expect to see more soon.


"We've already covered what you can expect on modern desktop systems, however today we'll be diving into the mobile side of things to see how Meltdown and Spectre patches affect ultraportable laptops."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


Source: Techspot

ASRock Launches Mini ITX Motherboards With Fanless Gemini Lake CPUs

Subject: Motherboards | January 22, 2018 - 11:24 PM |
Tagged: SFF, mini ITX, gemini lake, fanless, asrock

Not ready to let Gigabyte have all the fun, ASRock has announced two new Mini ITX motherboards of its own that come pre-loaded with quad core Intel Gemini Lake processors cooled using fanless heatsinks. The ASRock J4105-ITX and J4105B-ITX measure 6.7" x 6.7" and sport a "sapphire black" PCB constructed of a high-density glass fabric that is allegedly more resistant to humidity and helps to prevent electrical shorts. The boards use all solid capacitors and have voltage spike protections for board components. The J4105-ITX may be of more interest to home users while the J4105B-ITX variant is aimed at industrial and commercial setups since it downgrades the audio outputs but adds more USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and adds legacy connections for serial (COM), parallel (Printer port), and D-Sub outputs to the rear I/O.

ASRock J4105-ITX.png

The new Gemini Lake motherboards have a soldered-on Gemini Lake processor cooled by a black heatsink in the top left corner. Two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots sit to the right and beneath the processor (up to 8GB 2400 MHz). The J4105-ITX has a Key E M.2 slot for 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth modules, a single PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, four SATA 6.0 Gbps ports for storage, and headers for a CPU fan, one chassis fan, one USB 3.1 Gen 1, and two USB 2.0 headers (3 ports max). The four SATA ports are comprised of two from the Intel chip and two from an ASMedia ASM1061 chip. On the other hand, the J4105B-ITX does not have a M.2 slot, has a physical PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot (electrically x2), and only two SATA 6.0 Gbps ports. Both boards appear to use the same networking chipset for Gigabit Ethernet with the Realtek RTL8111H. Audio chipsets are a bit different with the J4105-ITX using the Realtek ALC892 and the J4105B-ITX using a slightly cut down Realtek ALC887 chipset.

Rear I/O is as follows:

J4105-ITX J4105B-ITX
2 x PS/2 1 x PS/2
1 x D-Sub (VGA) 1 x D-Sub
1 x DVI-D 1 x COM
1 x HDMI 1 x Printer Port
2 x USB 3.1 (5Gbps) 3 x USB 3.1 (5Gbps)
2 x USB 2.0 1 x USB 2.0
1 x RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet) 1 x RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
6 x Audio (5 x 3.5mm + 1 x S/PDIF 3 x Audio (3 x 3.5mm)

The Gemini Lake processor used is the Intel Celeron J4105 which is a quad core part (no Hyperthreading) with Intel UHD 600 graphics, 4MB cache, and clockspeeds from a base of 1.5 GHz to a maximum turbo of 2.5 GHz. The UHD 600 GPU reportedly has 12 EUs (execution units) and a max frequency of 750 MHz and supports 4K60 video output, multiple displays, and hardware acceleration of HVEC H.265 10-bit (and 8-bit), H.264 AVC, VP8, VP9 8 and 10-bit video codecs.

ASRock J4105B-ITX.png

This new processor is based on the Goldmont+ architecture which is a bit more efficient and features higher clocks than Apollo Lake along with more L2 cache. You won't be gaming on these things (at least not locally; you should look for APUs or the Intel+Vega Kaby Lake-G CPU for that in this SFF space), but if you need small and silent low power PC for a streaming box, or office work this might fit the bill. I think the biggest market for these particular boards will be small businesses, kiosks, signage, and industrial control and monitoring systems though as they may be a bit too bare bones for enthusiasts to tinker with or home users to get the most out of them (e.g. only one GbE port, 8GB of RAM max, and somewhat limited USB 3.1 ports).

ASRock has not yet announced pricing or availability.

What are your thoughts on these low power SFF boards?

Also read:

Source: ASRock

Intel Recommends Waiting to Apply Haswell and Broadwell Spectre and Meltdown Patches

Subject: Processors | January 22, 2018 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: spectre, meltdown, Intel

A couple of weeks ago, Intel acknowledged reports that firmware updates for Spectre and Meltdown resulted in reboots and other stability issues. At the time, they still suggested that end-users should apply the patch regardless. They have since identified the cause and their recommendation has changed: OEMs, cloud service providers, system manufacturers, software vendors, and end users should stop deploying the firmware until a newer solution is released.


The new blog post also states that an early version of the updated patch has been created. Testing on the updated firmware started over the weekend, and it will be published shortly after that process has finished.

According to their security advisory, another patch that solved both Spectre 1 and Meltdown did not exhibit stability and reboot issues. This suggests that something went wrong with the Spectre 2 mitigation, which could be a fun course of speculation for tea-leaf readers to guess what went wrong in the patch. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, though, because new code will be available soon.

Source: Intel

ASRock's X299-ITX/ac, tiny and flexible

Subject: Motherboards | January 22, 2018 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: itx, asrock, x299-itx/ac, Intel, SFF

ASRock's X299-ITX/ac is a decent choice to build a tiny system with, offering a wide variety of features as well as the ability to trim some of them off if you do not need them.  There are two removable PCBs, one which holds the SATA ports as well as a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0 header while the second carries the LAN chips, a USB hub and your M.2 slots.  There may be cases in which removing one or the other makes room for other equipment in your enclosure, with the option to add them back later on.  You can see how the ~$400 board performs at TechPowerUp


"ASRock's X299-ITX/ac is that mini motherboard for Intel's X299 platform that takes all that is good and shoves it into a board smaller than a shoebox. With a triplet of M.2 ports and dual LAN chips, plus Wi-Fi, there's almost nothing missed, other than some PCIe slots, making this board an engineering feat only ASRock could accomplish."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:


Source: TechPowerUp