Computex 2017: Toshiba Launches XG5 NVMe Client SSD With 64-Layer BiCS Flash

Subject: Storage | May 30, 2017 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, ocz, NVMe, nand, M.2, computex 2017, BiCS, 64-Layer

Last night we saw WD launch the first client SSDs with 64-layer NAND Flash, but recall that WD/SanDisk is in partnership with Toshiba to produce this new gen 3 BiCS memory, which means Toshiba is also launching their own product wrapped around this new high-density flash:

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Enter the Toshiba XG5. It is certainly coming on strong here, as evidenced by the specs:

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Unlike the WD/SanDisk launch, the BiCS flash on this Toshiba variant sits behind an NVMe SSD controller, with stated read speeds at 3GB/s and writes just over 2 GB/s. We don't yet have random performance figures, but we expect it to certainly be no slouch given the expected performance of this newest generation of flash memory. Let's take a quick look at some of the high points there:

BiCS.png

Alright, so we have the typical things you'd expect, like better power efficiency and higher endurance, but there is a significant entry there under the performance category - 1-shot, full sequence programming. This is a big deal, since writing to flash memory is typically done in stages, with successive program cycles nudging cell voltages closer to their targets with each pass. This takes time and is one of the main things holding back the write speeds of NAND flash. This new BiCS is claimed to be able to successfully write in a single program cycle, which should translate to noticeable improvements in write latency.

BiCS-FMS.png

Another thing helping with writes is that the XG5 will have its BiCS flash operating in a hybrid mode, meaning these are TLC SSDs with an SLC cache. We do not have confirmed cache sizes to report, but it's a safe bet that they will be similar to competing products.

We don't yet have pricing info, but we do know that the initial capacity offerings will start with 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB offerings. The XG5 is launching in the OEM channel in the second half of 2017. While this one is an OEM product, remember that OCZ is Toshiba's brand for client SSDs, so there's a possibility we may see a retail variant appear under that name in the future.

Press blast after the break.

Source: Toshiba

Computex 2017: ASUS Details the ROG Zephyrus, Its First Max-Q Gaming Laptop

Subject: Mobile | May 30, 2017 - 08:18 AM |
Tagged: max-q design, max-q, gaming laptop, computex 2017, ASUS ROG, asus

First teased during NVIDIA's event late Monday, ASUS provided more information on its upcoming high performance gaming laptop, Zephyrus, during its ROG Computex keynote this morning.

rog-zephyrus-front.jpg

Based on NVIDIA's new "Max-Q" design specifications, the Zephyrus is a 15.6-inch laptop targeted at what ASUS is calling its "AAA" gaming audience. It packs up to a Kaby Lake i7-7700HQ CPU, NVIDIA GTX 1080 graphics, up to 24GB of DDR4 memory, and up to 1TB of NVMe flash storage into relatively thin 17.9mm chassis weighing just under 5 pounds.

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ASUS engineers were able to accommodate these high performance components with an "Active Aerodynamic System" (AAS) design, which exposes additional cooling area beneath the hinge when the laptop is open. This design approach slightly increases the thickness of the rear of the device while in use, but keeps it as thin as possible for easier mobility while closed. ASUS claims that the AAS design improves the overall airflow of the Zephyrus by 32 percent, allowing it to run cooler than competing gaming laptops equipped with the same, or even lower-end, components.

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This design also means that the Zephyrus can run quieter than many of its competitors, with ASUS claiming significant improvements in the "noise generated per Watt" among gaming laptops.

Beyond the pure hardware capabilities, the ROG Zephyrus includes a full RGB-backlit keyboard with support for the ROG Aura lighting platform and a right-aligned gaming trackpad that can double as a touch-sensitive numeric keypad. The device's 15.6-inch display has a resolution of just 1080p, but is clocked at 120Hz and supports G-Sync. It includes one USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 port, along with four USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) Type-A ports, HDMI 2.0, and a 3.5mm combo audio jack for additional connectivity.

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Finally, while the ROG Zephyrus looks more like an ultrabook than a gaming laptop, its on-the-go running time will be more in line with the latter rather than the former. While ASUS did not release specific battery life estimates, its thin and lightweight chassis means that the Zephyrus will ship with only a 4 cell, 50 watt-hour battery

ASUS has yet to announce specific pricing or availability, other than to promise that the ROG Zephyrus will hit retailers "soon."

We have information on both pricing and availability to share! The GX501VI model, which includes the GTX 1080 and a 512GB SSD, is priced at $2699 and will be available at the end of June. The GX501VS model, which has a GTX 1070 and a 256GB SSD, is going to be priced at $2299 with availability in July.

Source: ASUS ROG

Computex 2017: ASUS Announces Prime and TUF Intel X299 Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | May 30, 2017 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: x299, VROC, skylake-x, raid, NVMe, LiveDash, kaby lake-x, Intel, HEDT, computex 2017, asus, 802.11ad

Alongside the announcement of Intel's Core i9 Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X CPUs, ASUS has unveiled details of their X299 motherboards. While we've already taken a look updates to the Republic of Gamers line of products, ASUS also released details about their "Prime" and "TUF" X299 products.

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ASUS PRIME

The Prime line of motherboards from ASUS are their entry-level options for any given platform. However just because they are the lowest cost boards doesn't mean that they are lacking in features.

All X299 Prime motherboards feature 3-way SLI thanks to the additional PCIe lanes available in the X299 platform (supported 44 lane CPUs are required). These available x16 slots are all reinforced with ASUS SafeSlot technology to help prevent heavy GPUs from damaging your motherboard.

The new Prime motherboards also feature the Realtek S1220A which we first saw on ASUS's Z270 products. ASUS claims that the S1220A paired with high-quality audio components on board help produce an onboard sound that rivals some dedicated sound cards.

Additionally, all X299 boards feature RGB LED headers with Aura Sync compatibility for maximum customizability. 

For the storage-focused, Intel VROC technology found on ASUS's X299 boards will allow for high-speed M.2 NVMe SSD RAIDs without being bottlenecked by chipset bandwidth, unlike on the Z270 platform.

Though the use of an add-in card users will be able to RAID multiple M.2 SSDs into a bootable array, utilizing full bandwidth from the available CPU PCIe lanes. ASUS even says that you can link multiple of these VROC cards together! 

In addition to these features, the Prime X299-Deluxe adds some very exciting features

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Wireless networking has seen an enhancement with the adoption of integrated 802.11ad Wi-Fi. This brand new wireless technology capable of 4.6Gbps transfer speeds uses spectrum in the 60Ghz range. While these high-speed radio waves cannot penetrate surfaces like walls, for applications like super fast file transfer between PCs in one room, or high-quality video streaming to wireless displays this should be ideal.

Along with Intel VROC support, the Prime X299-Deluxe has dual onboard M.2 Slots and a single U.2 Slot for high-speed storage options.

The new LiveDash display is a small OLED panel on the motherboard that allows you to display system statistics as well as custom animations and text for additional customization.

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In addition to the features on the motherboard, ASUS is including their ThunderboltEX 3 expansion card with the Prime X299-Deluxe so that owners can utilize Thunderbolt 3 technology with up to 40Gbps of bandwidth.

ASUS TUF X299

The TUF line has always been focused on ultimate reliability and durability. This is accomplished with high-quality components and more stringent testing standards than other products. 

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The ASUS TUF X299 Mark 1 is the all-new flagship motherboard for the TUF line. Redesigned Thermal Armor design helps to streamline airflow across the motherboard while also providing cooling to the onboard M.2 slot.

The Fortifier backplate uses a carefully shaped metal plate to stiffen the board to prevent warping. A removable GPU holder is also supplied to help support the weight of heavy graphics cards.

The new version of ASUS TUF Detective software allows users to perform diagnostics wirelessly over an included USB Bluetooth adapter rather than depending on a wired connection like the previous implementation.

TUF X299 MARK2_2D_AURA.png

The TUF X299 Mark 2 removes the Thermal Armor and Fortifier, but retains all of the great reliability and durability aspects of the TUF Mark 2,

ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe, Prime X299-A and TUF X299 Mark 1 motherboards will be available at leading resellers in North America starting in late June

Source: ASUS

Computex 2017: ASUS Announces Republic of Gamers, STRIX X299-based Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | May 30, 2017 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: x299, VROC, Strix X299-E, ROG, Rampage VI Extreme, Rampage VI Apex, raid, NVMe, LiveDash, Intel, computex 2017, asus, 802.11ad, 10G

Hot on the heels of Intel's Core i9 Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X announcements today, ASUS has released details on its X299 offerings. While you can find details on the more Prime and TUF ASUS Motherboards here, we're taking a look at the flagship Republic of Gamers products in this post.

Today ASUS is taking the wraps off of 3 X299 ROG Motherboards, the Rampage VI Extreme, Rampage VI Apex, and Strix X299-E.

One of the interesting features ASUS is talking about with these X299 boards is Intel VROC technology. While we'll have a post with some more details about VROC soon, essentially it allows for a bootable M.2 NVMe RAID to exist from the CPU PCIe lanes.

While NVMe RAID is supported on the Z170 and Z270 platforms, it depends on all data going through the chipset to function which creates a bottleneck. Using an add-in card in the PCIe slot of your motherboard, VROC claims to allow NVME SSDs to operate in a RAID away from the chipset, while still being bootable.

ROG Rampage VI Extreme_2D.png

Rampage VI Extreme

As we've historically seen with ASUS ROG Motherboards, the "Extreme" model tends to be where we see innovative new features that will later find their way into the rest of ASUS's motherboard lineup, and the Rampage VI Extreme seems to be no different.

ROG Rampage VI Extreme_3D.png

Networking seems to be a big focus for the Rampage VI Extreme, with the addition of 802.11ad wireless networking. While 802.11ad devices are just starting to come out, it's use of 60GHz wireless in order to hit speeds of up to 4.6GBps is very compelling. However, by using such high-frequency wireless technology, 802.11ad signals will not penetrate surfaces like walls and mostly depend on line of sight. This is more for fast file transfers within one room, with the rest of your house still utilizing 802.11ac.

Wired networking sees an upgrade too on the Rampage VI Extreme, with the addition of a 10 Gigabit NIC. We saw ASUS integrate 10G networking on the X99-E WS 10G late last year, and it's great to see continued commitment to bringing 10G to consumers.

In addition to the VROC add-in card for NVMe SSDs that we mentioned previously, the Rampage VI Extreme features 3 onboard M.2 slots (2 slots come from the use of the DIMM.2 module in one of the memory slots). ASUS says this will help clean up your chassis while still giving you maximum storage options. It's unclear if these SSDs are being routed through the chipset, or are going directly to the CPU using Intel's VROC technology which would provide more throughput.

For users looking for a bit of flair on their motherboard, in addition to built-in RGB lighting, the Rampage VI Extreme features a new LiveDash OLED display for displaying real-time system information on your motherboard. You can also customize this display to offer custom messages and graphics to complement your case mod.

Rampage VI Apex

A newer addition to the ROG family, the Apex motherboards are meant for maximum overclocking and performance. This means that you'll actually sacrifice some features from other X299 boards in order to get a lean product you can push to the edge.

For instance, the Rampage VI Apex only provide 1 DIMM slot per memory channel, which ASUS claims allows the optimal trace routing to improve performance and stability with the fastest memory kits. In addition, you'll also find 2 DIMM.2 slots to add a total of 4 PCIe M.2 SSDs to your system.

While it may not be meant for gamers, the Rampage VI Apex is sure to set some records in the high-end overclocking realm.

Strix X299-E

Unlike the uncompromising motherboards we've talked about so far, the Strix X299-E aims to bring a more entry-level motherboard to the ROG line. 

ROG Strix X299-E Gaming_2D.png

Keeping the same design cues as the other ROG motherboards, the Strix X299-E also keeps a lot of the same features. Users can expect the same PCIe slots and headers as other ROG boards. Additionally, features like onboard RGB lighting with Aura Sync Software, USB 3.1 Gen2, SupremeFX audio, and Intel Gigabit networking make the Strix X299-E a compelling product that should suit the needs of most users.

ROG Rampage VI Extreme, Rampage VI Apex and ROG Strix X299-E motherboards will be available at leading resellers in North America starting in late June with the STRIX series arriving first.

Source: ASUS

Computex 2017: Killer xTend Turns a PC into a Switch and Wi-Fi Extender

Subject: Networking | May 30, 2017 - 05:00 AM |
Tagged: wireless, wifi extender, wi-fi, Rivet Networks, network, msi, lan, Killer xTend, Killer Networking, gigabyte, Ethernet, computex 2017, computex

Rivet Networks has a new Killer Networking product, but it isn't a line of NICs or Wireless adapters; it's actually a combination of both interfaces (including a minimum of three Gigabit Ethernet ports) that combine to turn your PC into switch and a Wi-Fi extender. They call the new product Killer xTend, and Rivet Networks has partnered with MSI and GIGABYTE to bring the new technology to market.

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"Killer xTend delivers powerful network extension capabilities to your computer by integrating a network switch that includes at least three Killer Ethernet ports and using a Killer Wireless-AC module as a Wi-Fi extender. This allows your computer to share its network access with other nearby wired and wireless devices with a strong, powerful network connection.

Consumers no longer need to mess with switches and network extenders that are expensive and difficult to configure. Instead, they can use Killer’s innovative new xTend Technology to connect devices such as gaming consoles, smart phones and tablets directly to their gaming PCs. Killer xTend keeps your games, voice, and video fast and smooth because high priority traffic on the Killer PC is prioritized above the traffic from connected devices. Killer xTend also delivers amazing speeds – with potential throughput up to 1 Gbps for each Killer E2500 plus another 867 Mbps for the Killer Wi-Fi module."

The first motherboard launching with Killer xTend is the MSI Z270 GODLIKE GAMING, with three Killer E2500 NICs and a Killer Wireless-AC 1535 module onboard.

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"...the new GODLIKE adapts the Killer™ xTend technology as well and delivers powerful network extension capabilities by integrating a network switch that includes 3 Killer Ethernet ports and a Killer Wireless-AC module as a Wi-Fi extender. This allows the GODLIKE GAMING to provide the network access to other nearby wired and wireless devices with a strong, powerful network connection. Gamers no longer need to mess with switches and network extenders that are expensive and difficult to configure – instead they can use Killer’s innovative new xTend Technology to connect devices such as gaming consoles, smart phones, and tablets directly to your gaming PC. The Killer xTend keeps your games, voice, and video fast and smooth because high priority traffic on the Killer PC is prioritized above the traffic from connected devices. Killer xTend also delivers amazing throughput to your home – with potential throughput up to 1 Gbps for each Killer E2500 plus another 867 Mbps for the Killer Wi-Fi module."

GIGABYTE's AORUS Gaming Series will include Killer xTend, though no specific models were mentioned in the press release from Rivet Networks.

Full press release after the break.

Computex 2017: Intel 8th Gen Core Processors 30% Faster than 7th Gen

Subject: Processors | May 30, 2017 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: Intel, computex 2017, computex, coffee lake, 8th generation core

During it's keynote at Computex today, Intel announced the high performane Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X platforms with CPU core counts as high as 18 (!!) but also gave a brief mention of its upcoming Coffee Lake product, the 8th Generation Core product family.

To quote directly from the Intel press information:

"As we move toward the next generation of computing, Intel also shared its commitment to deliver 8th generational Intel® Core™ processor-based devices by the holiday season, boasting more than 30 percent improvement in performance versus the 7th Gen Intel® Core™ processor."

That is quite the claim, but let's dive into the details.

Based on SYSmark* 2014 v1.5 (Windows Desktop Application Performance). Comparing 7th Gen i7-7500U, PL1=15W TDP, 2C4T, Turbo up to 3.5GHz, Memory: 2x4GB DDR4-2133, vs. Estimates for 8th Gen Core i7: PL1=15W TDP, 4C8T, Turbo up to 4 GHz, Memory: 2x4GB DDR4-2400, Storage: Intel® SSD, Windows* 10 RS2. Power policy assumptions: AC mode. Note: Kaby Lake U42 performance estimates are Pre-Silicon and are subject to change. Pre-Si projections have +/- 7% margin of error.

In a more readable format:

  8th Gen
Core i7
7th Gen
Core i7-7500U
Code name Coffee Lake Kaby Lake
Process Tech 14nm Double Plus Good 14nm+
Cores/Threads 4/8 2/4
Base Clock ? 2.7 GHz
Turbo Clock 4.0 GHz 3.5 GHz
TDP 15 watt 15 watt
Memory 8GB 8GB
Memory Clock 2400 MHz 2133 MHz

The 30% performance claim comes from both a doubling of core and thread count (2- to 4-cores) but also a 500 MHz higher peak Turbo Clock, going from Kaby Lake to Coffee Lake. The testing was done using SYSmark 2014 v1.5, a benchmark that is very burst-centric and is comparable to common productivity tasks. Even with a 15% increase in peak clock speed and a 2x core/thread count, Intel is still able to maintain a 15 watt TDP with this CPU.

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While we might at first expect much larger performance gains with those clock and core count differences, keep in mind that SYSmark as a test has never scaled in such a way. We don't yet know what other considerations might be in place for the 8th Generation Core processor platforms, and how they might affect performance for single of multi-threaded applications.

Intel has given us very little information today on the Coffee Lake designs, but it seems we'll know all about this platform before the end of the year.

Source: Intel

Computex 2017: ZOTAC Introduces the MEK Mini-ITX Gaming PC

Subject: Systems | May 30, 2017 - 02:18 AM |
Tagged: zotac, PC, mini-itx, MEK, kaby lake, Intel Core i7, GTX 1080 Mini, GTX 1080, gaming, computex 2017, computex, computer

ZOTAC has introduces a new gaming brand at Computex, and along with it their first gaming PC. Have no fear, however, this gaming machine is quite compact from the mini-PC maker, as it is built around a mini-ITX motherboard and compact GPU.

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"ZOTAC Gaming’s first gaming product, MEK Gaming PC, debuts at Computex Taipei. Built for gaming enthusiasts, it is powered by a ZOTAC GeForce® GTX 1080 Mini, 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i7 processor and a low-profile CPU Cooler to deliver overwhelming performance for high-end gaming and premium entertainment. With a futuristic design, MEK marks the beginning of gaming products for a new brand, ZOTAC Gaming, focused on gaming products fit for all who Live to Game."

The GPU might be based on a smaller than the average PCB, but you are getting a full NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 courtesy of ZOTAC's own GTX 1080 Mini graphics card, which is just 8.3 inches long (and "the world's smallest GeForce GTX 1080," according to ZOTAC).

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Other than the above quoted 7th-gen Intel Core i7 processor we don't have much information on the specifications for the upcoming MEK Gaming PC, but the images of the enclosure paint a promising picture for small form-factor gaming enthusiasts as it appears to be quite compact.

Source: ZOTAC

Computex 2017: NVIDIA GeForce GTX Max-Q Design Notebooks are Thinner, Lighter

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | May 30, 2017 - 12:48 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, mobile, max-q design, max-q, GTX 1080, geforce

During CEO Jensen Huang’s keynote at Computex tonight, NVIDIA announced a new initiative called GeForce GTX with Max-Q Design, targeting the mobile gaming markets with a product that is lighter, thinner yet more powerful than previously available gaming notebooks.

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The idea behind this technology differentiation centers around gaming notebooks that have seen limited evolution over the last several years in form factor and design. The biggest stereotype of gaming notebooks today is that they must big, bulky and heavy to provide a competitive gaming experience when compared to desktop computers. NVIDIA is taking it upon itself to help drive innovation forward in this market, in some ways similar to how Intel created the Ultrabook.

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Using “typical” specifications from previous machines using a GeForce GTX 880M (admittedly a part that came out in early 2014), NVIDIA claims that Max-Q Designs will offer compelling gaming notebooks with half the weight, nearly a third of the thinness yet still see 3x the performance. Utilizing a GeForce GTX 1080 GP104 GPU, the team is focusing on four specific hardware data points to achieve this goal.

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First, NVIDIA is setting specifications of the GPUs in this design to run at their maximum efficiency point, allowing the notebook to get the best possible gaming performance from Pascal with the smallest amount of power draw. This is an obvious move and is likely something that has been occurring for a while, but further down the product stack. It’s also likely that NVIDIA is highly binning the GP104 parts to filter those that require the least amount of power to hit the performance target of Max-Q Designs.

Second, NVIDIA is depending on the use of GeForce Experience software to set in-game settings optimally for power consumption. Though details are light, this likely means running the game with frame rate limiting enabled, keeping gamers from running at refresh rates well above their screen’s refresh rate (static or G-Sync) which is an unnecessary power drain. It could also mean lower quality settings than we might normally associate with a GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card.

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Comparing a 3-year old notebook versus a Max-Q Design

The third and fourth points are heavily related: using the best possible cooling solutions and integrating the best available power regulators targeting efficiency. The former allows the GPU to be cooled quickly, and quietly (with a quoted sub-40 dbA goal), keeping the GTX 1080 at its peak efficiency curve. And putting the GPU in that state without inefficient power delivery hardware would be a waste, so NVIDIA is setting standards here too.

UPDATE: From the NVIDIA news release just posted on the company's website, we learned of a couple of new additions to Max-Q Design:

NVIDIA WhisperMode Technology
NVIDIA also introduced WhisperMode technology, which makes laptops run much quieter while gaming. WhisperMode intelligently paces the game's frame rate while simultaneously configuring the graphics settings for optimal power efficiency. This reduces the overall acoustic level for gaming laptops. Completely user adjustable and available for all Pascal GPU-based laptops, WhisperMode will be available soon through a GeForce Experience software update.

Availability
MaxQ-designed gaming laptops equipped with GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 and 1060 GPUs will be available starting June 27 from the world's leading laptop OEMs and system builders, including Acer, Aftershock, Alienware, ASUS, Clevo, Dream Machine, ECT, Gigabyte, Hasee, HP, LDLC, Lenovo, Machenike, Maingear, Mechrevo, MSI, Multicom, Origin PC, PC Specialist, Sager, Scan, Terrans Force, Tronic'5, and XoticPC. Features, pricing and availability may vary.

Jensen showed an upcoming ASUS Republic of Gamers notebook called Zephyrus that hit all of these targets – likely NVIDIA’s initial build partner. On it they demonstrated Project Cars 2, an impressive looking title for certain. No information was given on image quality settings, resolutions, frame rates, etc.

zephyrus.jpg

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus Max-Q Design Gaming Notebook

This design standard is impressive, and though I assume many gamers and OEMs will worry about having an outside party setting requirements for upcoming designs, I err on the side this being a necessary step. If you remember notebooks before the Intel Ultrabook push, they were stagnant and uninspiring. Intel’s somewhat forceful move to make OEMs innovate and compete in a new way changed the ecosystem at a fundamental level. It is very possible that GeForce GTX with Max-Q Design will do the same thing for gaming notebooks.

An initiative like this continues NVIDIA’s seeming goal of creating itself as the “PC brand”, competing more with Xbox and PlayStation than with Radeon. Jensen claimed that more than 10 million GeForce gaming notebooks were sold in the last year, exceeding the sales of Xbox hardware in the same time frame. He also called out the ASUS prototype notebook as having compute capability 60% higher than that of the PS4 Pro. It’s clear that NVIDIA wants to be more than just the add-in card leader, more than just the leader in computer graphics. Owning the ecosystem vertical gives them more control and power to drive the direction of software and hardware.

asusrog.jpg

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus Max-Q Design Gaming Notebook

So, does the Max-Q Design technology change anything? Considering the Razer Blade B5 is already under 18mm thin, the argument could be made that the market was already going down this path, and NVIDIA is simply jumping in to get credit for the move. Though Razer is a great partner for NVIDIA, they are likely irked that NVIDIA is going to push all OEMs to steal some of the thunder from this type of design that Razer started and evangelized.

That political discussion aside, Max-Q Design will bring new, better gaming notebook options to the market from many OEMs, lowering the price of entry for these flagship designs. NVIDIA did not mention anything about cost requirements or segments around Max-Q, so I do expect the first wave of these to be on the premium end of the scale. Over time, as cost cutting measures come into place, and the necessity of thinner, lighter gaming notebooks is well understood, Max-Q Designs could find itself in a wide range of price segments.

Source: NVIDIA

Computex 2017: Western Digital Launches Client SSDs Sporting 64-Layer NAND

Subject: Storage | May 29, 2017 - 11:42 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Ultra, ssd, sandisk, nand, computex 2017, Blue, BiCS, 3d

Western Digital bought SanDisk nearly two years ago, but we had not really seen any products jointly launched under both brand labels. Until today:

PRN-Graphic_3D-NAND.jpg

The WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD and SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD are both products containing identical internals. Specifically, these are the first client SSDs built with 64-layer 3D NAND technology. Some specs:

  • Sequential read: 560 MB/s
  • Sequential write: 530 MB/s
  • Capacity: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
  • Form factor: 2.5" (WD and Sandisk), M.2 (SATA) 2280 (WD only)

MSRP's start at $99.99 for the 250GB models of all flavors (2.5" / M.2 SATA), and all products will ship with a 3-year warranty.

It might seem odd that we see an identical product shipped under two different brands owned by the same company, but WD is likely leveraging the large OEM relationship held by SanDisk. I'm actually curious to see how this pans out long term because it is a bit confusing at present.

Full press blast after the break:

Fluid Simulations via Machine Learning Demo for SIGGRAPH

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2017 - 08:46 PM |
Tagged: machine learning, fluid, deep neural network, deep learning

SIGGRAPH 2017 is still a few months away, but we’re already starting to see demos get published as groups try to get them accepted to various parts of the trade show. In this case, Physics Forests published a two-minute video where they perform fluid simulations without actually simulating fluid dynamics. Instead, they used a deep-learning AI to hallucinate a convincing fluid dynamics result given their inputs.

We’re seeing a lot of research into deep-learning AIs for complex graphics effects lately. The goal of most of these simulations, whether they are for movies or video games, is to create an effect that convinces the viewer that what they see is realistic. The goal is not to create an actually realistic effect. The question then becomes, “Is it easier to actually solve the problem? Or is it easier having an AI learn, based on a pile of data sorted into successes and failures, come up with an answer that looks correct to the viewer?”

In a lot of cases, like global illumination and even possibly anti-aliasing, it might be faster to have an AI trick you. Fluid dynamics is just one example.

Computex 2017: EVGA Unveils GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin With Guaranteed 2GHz+ Overclock

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 29, 2017 - 08:30 PM |
Tagged: Kingpin, gtx 1080 ti, gpu, evga, computex 2017

EVGA today took the wraps off its latest and highest-end NVIDIA GPU with the announcement of the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin Edition. Part of the company's continuing line of "K|NGP|N" licensed graphics cards, the 1080 Ti Kingpin includes performance, cooling, and stability-minded features that are intended to set it apart from all of the other 1080 Ti models currently available.

evga-1080-ti-kingpin-top.jpg

From a design standpoint, the 1080 Ti Kingpin features an oversized PCB, triple-fan iCX cooler, an expansive copper heat sink, and right-edge PCIe connectors (2 x 8pin), meaning that those with an obsession for cable management won't need to pick up something like the EVGA PowerLink. The card's design is also thin enough that owners can convert it into a true single-slot card by removing the iCX cooler, allowing enthusiasts to pack more water- or liquid nitrogen-cooled GPUs into a single chassis.

The GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin also features a unique array of display outputs, with dual-link DVI, HDMI 2.0, and three Mini DisplayPort 1.3 connectors. This compares with the three full-size DisplayPort and single HDMI outputs found on the 1080 Ti reference design. The presence of the DVI port on the Kingpin edition also directly addresses the concerns of some NVIDIA customers who weren't fans of NVIDIA's decision to ditch the "legacy" connector.

evga-1080-ti-kingpin-power.jpg

With its overbuilt PCB and enhanced cooling, EVGA claims that users will be able to achieve greater performance from the Kingpin Edition compared to any other currently shipping GTX 1080 Ti. That includes a "guaranteed" overclock of at least 2025MHz right out of the box, which compares to the 1480MHz base / 1600MHz boost clock advertised for the 1080 Ti's reference design (although it's important to note that NVIDIA's advertised boost clocks have become quite conservative in recent years, and many 1080 Ti owners are able to easily exceed 1600MHz with modest overclocking).

EVGA has yet to confirm an exact release date for the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin, but it is expected to launch in late June or July. As for price, EVGA has also declined to provide specifics, but interested enthusiasts should start saving their pennies now. Based on previous iterations of the "K|NGP|N" flagship model, expect a price premium of anywhere between $100 and $400.

Source: EVGA

Computex 2017: Zotac ZBOX Pico PI225 / PI335 Tiny PCs

Subject: Systems | May 29, 2017 - 08:26 PM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox

Zotac is announcing two new additions to their line of mini PCs: the ZBOX Pico PI225 and the ZBOX Pico PI335. There’s not a whole lot of information about specifications and other details, but they are both passively cooled.

zotac-2017-zbox-pi225.jpg

The smaller PI225

The main difference between the two that one is smaller, but the other has more video connectivity. The ZBOX Pico PI225 is listed as the thinnest ZBOX that has ever been made, and it is capable of powering a single display at up to 4K resolution. Judging by the photos, it looks about SSD sized. The ZBOX Pico PI335 is bigger, but it has the ability to power two displays at up to 4K resolution.

zotac-2017-zbox-pi335.jpg

The larger PI335, view of ports
(not visible, 2x USB 3.0 and 1x DC Power on other side)

Zotac has not yet released pricing or availability info.

Source: Zotac

Thermaltake's Smart Pro RGB PSU series can provide you with the good kind of lightshow

Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 29, 2017 - 05:57 PM |
Tagged: thermaltake, Smart Pro RGB, 850W, modular psu

The Smart portion of the Thermaltake Smart Pro RGB seems to refer to the Riing 14 RGB fan that can produce up to 256 colours with five different lighting modes to choose from, and built-in memory to save your light shows. [H]ard|OCP turned the RGB off immediately, then proceeded to test the power the PSU provides, as you would expect.  The PSU passed all the tests, but not with flying colours, as some performance measures such as voltage regulation did not match the competitions.  On the other hand, if you need RGBs on your PSU then Thermaltake's Smart Pro RGB models are worth your consideration.

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"Frag-harder RGB lighting is all the rage, and so of course we are now seeing those in PSUs too. Thermaltake has a healthy 850 watt PSU here for review today that actually hits the sub-$100 mark by 1 cent. Fully modular with great DC output; is there anything not to like? You can turn the RGB off. And a 7 year warranty."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

BitFenix Shogun, a well rounded case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 29, 2017 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: bitfenix, Shogun

BitFenix's Shogun case stands 250x565x525mm in size and allows coolers of up to 175mm in height and GPUs of up to 410mm.  It is not the largest case on the market but it is certainly no SFF enclosure, fitting E-ATX motherboards though the tray has mounting points for even mini-ITX if you have a strange idea in mind.  The front panel is subtly hidden in the gap between the front bezel and the cases top with enough of a gap you should not have any issues fitting a thumb drive in.  Bitfenix gave this metal and glass case high marks for functionality, even if they weren't personally in love with the overall aesthetics.

caseunpacked.jpg

"The Bitfenix Shogun may not look the part when it comes to its naming, but it does offer a nice and mostly functional feature set coupled with great overall build quality. It also sets itself apart by allowing the user to expand the motherboard tray for an E-ATX board."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

 

Source: TechPowerUp

Windows Git gud

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2017 - 02:41 PM |
Tagged: git, windows, microsoft

Microsoft have moved their huge collection of source code from an internal proprietary tool to Git.  The repository is 300 GB and is very popular with The Register reporting 8,421 pull requests and 1,760 official builds a day.  To help people access the repository they have developed their own Git Virtual File System, which present Git as a FAT file system to users.  This has not been viewed as favourably as they had hoped, the popularity is causing the service to process requests slowly, however it is still generally faster than going straight to Git.  If you want to give it a shot, read through this blog post over at Microsoft.

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"Redmond's certainly feeling pleased with itself about the move, in particular stroking itself about being able to move the whole 2,000-strong Windows OneCore team from the Source Depot internal tool to Git over a weekend."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Computex 2017: ASUS ZenBook Pro UX550 Packs i7 CPU, 1050Ti, and 15-inch 4K Screen Into a 4-Pound Package

Subject: Mobile | May 29, 2017 - 11:54 AM |
Tagged: zenbook pro, laptop, computex 2017, asus zenbook, asus

ASUS kicked off the day by unveiling its svelte new 13-inch convertible laptop, but didn't forget about users who need more power from their portable. Following the introduction of the new ZenBook Flip S, the company turned its attention to the higher-end ZenBook Pro line and announced the ZenBook Pro UX550, a 15.6-inch laptop packed with power that measures in at 18.9mm thick and 1.8kg (3.97 pounds).

asus-zenbook-pro-ux550.jpg

The latest ZenBook Pro is slated to ship with i7 (7700HQ) and i5 (7300HQ) processor options, a 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti, up to 16GB of DDR4 2400MHz memory, and up to 1TB of NVMe flash storage.

asus-zenbook-pro-ux550-top.jpg

As a 2017 product, the ZenBook Pro UX550 unsurprisingly includes two USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, but it also retains plenty of "legacy" connectivity options as well, including two USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) Type-A ports, a full-sized HDMI port, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, and an integrated Micro SD Card reader.

asus-zenbook-pro-ux550-ports.jpg

Other features include Full HD and 4K display choices with optional pen and touch support, a backlit keyboard, glass-covered trackpad with integrated fingerprint sensor and Windows Hello support, four 3-watt speakers with Harman Kardon surround-sound audio, and a 73 watt-hour battery capable of up to 14 hours of advertised battery life with fast-charging support.

ASUS has not yet announced a release date for the ZenBook Pro UX550, but it is expected to have a starting price of $1,299.

Source: ASUS

Computex 2017: Dell Updates XPS 27 AIO with RX 570 for VR

Subject: Systems | May 29, 2017 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: RX 570, kaby lake, Intel, dell, AIO, amd

Dell has refreshed their XPS 27 All-in-one with two new models. Both of these have their GPU upgraded to the AMD RX 570 and their CPU refreshed to the Core i7-7700, which Dell highlights for its VR readiness. The difference between the two is that the lower-end model, $1999.99 USD, has a non-touch screen and a 2TB hard drive backed by 32GB of M.2 SATA SSD cache; the higher-end model, $2649.99 USD, has a touch screen and a 512GB, PCIe SSD, which makes it a quarter of the storage, but much faster. Both are loaded with 16GB of RAM, but they can be configured up to 64GB.

dell-2017-xps27aoi.jpg

About two weeks ago, Kyle Wiggers of Digital Trends had some hands-on time with the refreshed all-in-one. He liked the vibrant, 4K panel that was apparently calibrated to AdobeRGB (although I can’t find any listing for how much it covers). The purpose of that color space is to overlap with both non-HDR video and with the gamut of commercial printers, which is useful for multiple types of publishers.

The Dell XPS 27 All-in-one is available now.

Source: Dell

Computex 2017: ASUS ZenBook Flip S UX370, The World's Thinnest 13-inch 2-in-1 Featuring Windows 10 S

Subject: Mobile | May 29, 2017 - 03:38 AM |
Tagged: zenbook, Windows 10 S, UX370, computex 2017, asus zenbook, asus

ASUS kicked off its Computex 2017 schedule with the announcement early Monday of a number of new laptops. The company's headlining product is the new ZenBook Flip S UX370, the "world's thinnest" (as of right now, at least) 13-inch 2-in-1 convertible notebook. Measuring 10.9mm thin with a weight of 1.1kg (2.4 pounds), the ZenBook Flip S is thinner and lighter than competing 13-inch convertibles, while still packing up to an Intel Core i7-7500 processor, 1TB of NVMe flash storage, and 16GB of memory.

asus-zenbook-flip-s-angle.jpg

As a convertible, the ZenBook Flip S UX370 display folds back onto the underside of the keyboard via "the world's most compact" ErgoLift 360-degree hinge. The display itself packs an unsurprising 3840-by-2160 UHD resolution, with ASUS instead choosing to turn heads with the device's bezel, or lack thereof. The device includes what ASUS is calling a "NanoEdge" display, which is saddled by just a 6.11mm side bezel for a class-leading 80 percent "screen-to-body ratio." The ZenBook Flip S also touts touch and pen support, although the company's presentation and press materials don't yet indicate if it will include the ASUS Pen in the box.

zenbook-flip-s-thin.jpg

The convertible offers two USB Type-C ports, with a 39 watt-hour battery and fast charging support (achieving a 60 percent charge in 49 minutes). Once fully charged, ASUS claims that users can expect up to 11.5 hours of battery life.

zenbook-flip-s-bezel.jpg

As for operating system, the Flip S will ship in base configurations with the recently announced Windows 10 S, and it includes a built-in fingerprint sensor for compatibility with Windows Hello. This means that users will be limited to running Windows Store applications and the Microsoft Edge browser but, just like Microsoft's own Surface Laptop, ZenBook Flip S owners will have the option to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro post-purchase.

The ZenBook Flip S UX370 will start at $1,099 and is expected to launch in September.

Source: ASUS

Computex 2017: RIOTORO Ghostwriter Elite Prism Keyboard and Aurox Prism RGB Optical Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2017 - 02:23 AM |
Tagged: gaming mouse, gaming keyboard, riotoro

RIOTORO also had a couple of peripherals at Computex this year: a keyboard and a mouse.

The Ghostwriter Elite Prism keyboard is their new flagship mechanical keyboard, build around Cherry MX Red or Cherry MX Silent switches. Its RGB backlights can be controlled from the keyboard itself, without installing a driver. They don’t say whether this keyboard supports Linux, but moving that functionality to the hardware itself, rather than a proprietary driver, is a good sign. It also has USB pass-through, allowing easy access to a port for devices that hate hubs (like some high-end mice). Its volume control is a roller, which is my preferred way to adjust volume on a PC.

riotoro-2017-computex-keyboard.png

The RIOTORO Ghostwriter Elite Prism will be available in Q3. Pricing is expected at $149.99 USD.

The Auxor Prism RGB Optical Gaming Mouse is based around the Pixart PWM3330 optical sensor, which has a resolution of 10,000 DPI. Unfortunately, while it’s relatively symmetric in shape, its three thumb buttons are an exception, so it’s right-handed only. Right-handed users, however, might take a little extra interest in the “three thumb buttons” comment. Many mice have two, one forward and one back. This one adds an extra, trigger-like “sniper” button that RIOTORO intends to drop DPI for precise shots – for eight programmable buttons total. As hinted, it also has 16.8 million color RGB lighting.

riotoro-2017-computex-mouseblack.png

A little tip as an aside – if you’re going to the extent of dropping your DPI to snipe in PC games, consider binding a fire button to the keyboard. For instance, when I played with the arrow keys (again, I’m a lefty) I bound NumPad 0 to fire (as well as the left mouse button). Clicking a button will cause the mouse to jiggle a bit, so separating that action off to your other hand (for critical shots) makes a significant difference for the better. If you have ever played America’s Army 2 back in the early 2000s, and tried to qualify for sniper training, then you’ll probably know what I mean when I say “that’s how I passed it”.

riotoro-2017-computex-mousewhite.png

The RIOTORO Aurox Prism RGB Optical Mouse will be available in black or white (limited edition) in June. The website doesn’t confirm this, but the PR email has price expected at $39.99 USD for the black, and $44.99 USD for the white.

Source: RIOTORO

Computex 2017: RIOTORO Announces CR500 Tempered Glass, CR1288 Prism RGB Full-Tower, and CR1088 Mini-Tower Cases

Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 29, 2017 - 01:27 AM |
Tagged: riotoro, RGB

We first heard about RIOTORO at the CES before last, where they launched their CR1280 Prism case with its RGB lighting. They’ve since added quite a few models across different product segments.

Now, at Computex, they’re introducing three new models: the CR1288, the CR1088, and the CR500. The first two build upon existing products, while the last occupies a new segment for the company.

I’ll start with the CR1288 Prism, which fills a similar role as their aforementioned CR1280 Prism. It’s unclear whether this will replace that case, or whether they will both co-exist. Either way, RIOTORO claims that it has better cooling, noise reduction, and access for installation than its predecessor. It also looks quite different from the front, with a big, vertical stripe up the center of that side. It retains the CR1280 Prism’s front panel controls.

riotoro-2017-computex-cr1288prism.png

The CR1288 Prism Full-Tower

The CR1288 Prism is listed as a Q3 launch with a $159.99 USD expected street price.

Next is the CR1088 “Ultra-Compact Tower Case”. Like the CR1288, this is a redesign of the CR1080, although it’s unclear whether they will co-exist. This case is a little larger than a cubic foot, 15.7” long x 9” wide x 14.1” high, but supports a full-sized ATX motherboards and graphics cards. The design routes air across the typical hot spots, and it separates the power supply and drives (2x 3.5” and 3x 2.5”) into its own compartment, with cable routing for cable management.

riotoro-2017-computex-cr1088.png

The CR1088 Mini-Tower

The CR1088 is listed as a Q3 launch with an $89.99 USD expected street price.

Last is the CR500, which definitely does not replace any existing model. This is a lower-cost mid-tower with a tempered glass window, a separate compartment (which I’m guessing is for the power supply and drives, like the CR1288), and tool-free installation (with cable management). It’s made out of steel, and can mount up to a 240mm radiator.

riotoro-2017-computex-cr500.png

The CR500 Mid-Tower

The CR500 is listed as a Q3 launch with a $79.99 USD expected street price. RIOTORO says that it will have a $69.99 USD introductory price, but it’s unclear what that means (ex: if it’s a pre-order, and from who).

Source: RIOTORO