IFA 2017: Dell announces refreshed Quad-Core XPS 13 Notebook

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 28, 2017 - 10:20 PM |
Tagged: ifa, IFA 2017, dell, XPS 13, 8th generation core, i7-8550U, i5-8250U

As expected, this year's IFA trade show in Berlin is proving busy for notebook manufacturers. Hot on the heels of Intel's announcement of 15W 8th Generation quad-core processors in the Kaby-Lake refresh family earlier in the month, we are starting to see some announcements of actual products utilizing these new processors.

Not to be left behind, Dell has officially announced the refreshed version of their well-received XPS 13 notebook. 

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It appears that there has been little physical change to the XPS 13 centered around these new processor options. Customers will still find 2 USB-A Ports upgraded to USB 3.1 Gen 2, a Thundebolt 3 Port, full-size SD card slot, a standard headphone jack, and a power connector (although charging over Thunderbolt 3 is supported). There's no indication yet as to the Thunderbolt 3 implementation, but we hope Dell has gone with the full PCIe x4 bandwidth instead of x2 as found on the current XPS 13.

Same as the current XPS 13, customers will be able to choose from a 1080p non-touch display or a 3200x1800 touchscreen, up to 16GB of RAM, and SSD options including SATA and NVMe.

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Battery size remains at 60Wh, which Dell claims has a MobileMark battery life score of 22 hours on the 1080p display model and 12 hours with the 3200x1800 QHD+ Touchscreen option.

Expect a longer rollout than usual with these new 8th generation parts from Dell, with the highest end i7-8550U to be available starting September 12th, and the i5 parts coming later in October. We have no current indications of pricing, but I would expect it to fall along the current XPS 13 models, in which the i7 model starts at $1349 along with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB NVMe SSD, and the 1080p display.

Source: Dell

FMS 2017: Intel's EDSFF 'Ruler' SSD Form Factor Details Emerge - 1 Petabyte in a 1U Chassis!

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 9, 2017 - 09:19 PM |
Tagged: FMS 2017, ssd, S4600, S4500, ruler, pcie, NVMe, Intel, EDSFF

Yesterday we saw Samsung introduce their 'NGSFF' form factor during yesterday's keynote. Intel has been at work on a similar standard, this one named EDSFF (Enterprise & Datacenter Storage Form Factor), with the simpler working name as 'Ruler', mainly because it bears a resemblance:

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Note that the etching states P4500 Series. P4500 was launched a couple of days ago and is Intel's next generation NVMe PCIe Datacenter SSD. It's available in the typical form factors (U.2, HHHL), but this new Ruler form factor contains the exact same 12 channel controller and flash counts, only arranged differently.

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SFF-TA-1002 connector (aka 'Gen-Z'), shown next to an AA battery for scale. This connector spec is electrically rated for speeds up to 4th and 5th generation PCIe, so future proofing was definitely a consideration here. In short, this is a beefed up M.2 style connector that can handle more throughput and also has a few additional pins to support remote power and power-loss-protection (capacitors outside the Ruler), as well as support for activity LEDs, etc.

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Here is a slide showing the layout of the Ruler. 36 flash packages can be installed, with the possibility of pushing that figure to 42.

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Thermals were a main consideration in the design, and the increased surface area compared to U.2 designs (with stacked PCBs) make for far cooler operation.

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Intel's play here is fitting as much flash as possible into a 1U chassis. 1PB in a 1U is definitely a bold claim, but absolutely doable in the near future.

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I'll leave you with the quick sniper shot I grabbed of their demo system. I'll be posting more details on the P4500 and P4600 series products later this week (remember, same guts as the Ruler), so stay tuned!

FMS 2017: Samsung Announces QLC V-NAND, 16TB NGSFF SSD, Z-SSD V2, Key Value

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 8, 2017 - 05:37 PM |
Tagged: z-ssd, vnand, V-NAND, Samsung, QLC, FMS 2017, 64-Layer, 3d, 32TB, 1Tbit

As is typically the case for Flash Memory Summit, the Samsung keynote was chock full of goodies:

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Samsung kicked off by stating there are a good 5 years of revisions left in store for their V-NAND line, each with a corresponding increase in speed and capacity.

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While V-NAND V4 was 64-layer TLC, V5 is a move to QLC, bringing per die capacity to 1Tbit (128 GB per die).

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If you were to stack 32 of these new V5 dies per package, and do so in a large enough 2.5" housing, that brings the maximum capacity of such a device to a whopping 128TB!

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Samsung also discussed a V2 of their Z-NAND, moving from SLC to MLC while only adding 2-3 us of latency per request. Z-NAND is basically a quicker version of NAND flash designed to compete with 3D XPoint.

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M.2 SSDs started life with the working title of NGFF. Fed up with the limitations of this client-intended form factor for the enterprise, Samsung is pushing a slightly larger NGSFF form factor that supports higher capacities per device. Samsung claimed a PM983 NGSFF SSD will hold 16TB, a 1U chassis full of the same 576TB, and a 2U chassis pushing that figure to 1.15PB.

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Last up is 'Key Value'. This approach allows the flash to be accessed more directly by the application layer, enabling more efficient use of the flash and therefore higher overall performance.

There were more points brought up that we will be covering later on, but for now here is the full press release that went out during the keynote: (after the break)

FMS 2017: Micron Launches 9200 Series Enterprise Lineup with 3D TLC NAND, x8 PCIe

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 8, 2017 - 12:02 PM |
Tagged: U.2, pcie, NVMe, micron, HHHL, FMS 2017, 9200, 3d nand

We were extremely impressed with the Micron 9100 Enterprise SSDs. They are still the fastest NAND flash SSDs we've tested to date, but they were built on planar NAND, and we know everyone is replacing their flat flash with more cost efficient 3D NAND. Same goes for the 9200:

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Highlights for the new models are IMFT 3D NAND running in TLC mode and a new controller capable of PCIe 3.0 x8 (HHHL form factor only - U.2 is only a x4 interface). Here are the detailed specs:

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Improvements for the x4 models are marginal upgrades over the 9100, but the x8 variants bump up the maximum performance to 900,000 IOPS and 5.5GB/s! These should be shipping by the end of the month, and we will review them as they come in.

Press blast after the break

Just a little more Computex in the cache; check out what Adata is up to

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 12, 2017 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sata, NVMe, M.2, computex 2017, adta

Adata had a flashy booth at Computex, focusing on their upcoming storage and memory products which The Tech Report spent some time at.  They had quite a lineup to show off, a pair of Enterprise class NVMe M.2 drives, the IM2P33E8 powered by Silicon Motion's upcoming SM2262 controller which is reputed to hit 3000 MB/s read, 1500 MB/s write as well as the SATA IM2S33D8 using the SM2259 controller.

For high end users there are the NVMe XPG SX9000, XPG SX8000 and XPG SX7000, the former with a Marvell controller and Toshiba's evergreen 15-nm MLC NAND, the latter pair with a Silicon Motion controller and IMFT 3D MLC flash.  For the price sensitive they have launched an M.2 drive which only uses two PCIe lanes, it will not be as the high end drives but should leave a HDD or older SSD in the dirt. 

As for what is below?  Why that is an XPG Spectrix S10 drive which is the world's first RGB infected SSD.

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"Without high-end motherboards or funky case concepts to show off, Adata focused its Computex presence on its strong point: storage. Join us as we walk through the company's upcoming SSD offerings."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Computex: AORUS Introduces The Most Powerful 15" Gaming Laptop To Date

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | May 31, 2017 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: aorus, AORUS X5 MD, gaming laptop

The GTX 1080 doesn't seem like a mobile card but there are more than a few laptops which have one inside them, including the newly announced AORUS X5 MD.  In addition to the expected GPU is an overclocked i7-7820HK processor, thought the exact CPU will depend on the model chosen.

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The screen quoted in the PR is a 15.6" 3840x2160 IPS GSYNC panel which has been calibrated with their X-Rite Pantone tool; this is suggested as optional but if you plan on spending the money for a gaming laptop of this calibre it is essentially mandatory.  Audio is provided by the ESS Sabre Audio ES9018 DAC with a DNR of up to 135dB. 

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Outputs include HDMI 2.0 and mDP 1.3 though it is the Thunderbolt 3 port which catches the eye, allowing you to power a 4k monitor with this laptop when you are at home.  The casing is a mere 22.9mm tall, a bit thicker than your average deck of cards.  The keyboard is full of RGBs for those that prefer visual aids, while phonophobes will like the fact the cooling fans are adjustable to 10 different speeds.   Check out the full PR below the specs.

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AORUS, leader in high-end gaming laptops, is proud to announce a new version of its 15.6” X5. Pushing the boundaries even further, AORUS has extended the X5 series with the X5 MD, which incorporates the state of the art NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GDDR5X 8GB GPU.

Packed with plenty of new features, such as overclockable 7th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, Thunderbolt 3, ESS SABRE 32-bit Hi-Fi audio DAC specially-designed cooling vents, the X5 MD also utilizes the new Max-Q design, NVIDIA’s innovative approach to design the world’s thinnest, fastest, and quietest gaming laptops. Max-Q, an integral part of NASA’s mission to launch man into space, is defined as the point at which the aerodynamic stress on a rocket in atmospheric flight is maximized. Thus, the design of the rocket is precision-engineered around Max-Q. NVIDIA has applied a similar philosophy to designing gaming laptops, enabling AORUS to build laptops that are thinner with more GPU performance of previous generation products.

“The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 was already fast, then the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 designed with Max-Q came along to satisfy gamers’ demand for even more performance,” commented Patrick Lai, Product Marketing at AORUS. “The X5 MD with GTX 1080 is an absolute beast. Gamers will love it!”

Step Up the Gaming Performance
The unmatched performance is what makes the X5 MD the most powerful 15” gaming laptop. This is the first Max-Q designed laptop from AORUS and is equipped with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPU. Furthermore, AORUS has paired the powerful GPU with the latest overclockable Intel Core i7-7820HK CPUs running at up to an 15% increase when compared to the 7700HQ, the X5 MD has outperformed any 15” laptops. All this power is fitted within the 22.9mm thin chassis through extensive engineering, allowing the X5 MD to provide the best gaming experience.

ESS Sabre Audio DAC – A 32-bit, 8-channel Hi-Fi Sound Experience
Few things are as important to gaming and movies as high-quality, crystal clear sound. Striving to offer the finest sound possible, AORUS has utilized the top of the line ES9018 DAC from ESS, built on its 32-bit Hyperstream architecture. Capable of output to 8 channels, it also boasts a Digital Noise Ratio of up to 135dB and a Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N) figure of -120dB.

Thunderbolt 3, mDP 1.3, Multi-Surround Displays
AORUS’ commitment to versatility is evident in the utilization of the Thunderbolt 3 connector in the X5 MD Thunderbolt 3 truly is the USB Type-C connector that does it all – connect to external graphics cards, connect external 4K display, or even charge your external devices with the 3A/5V output. Added with the upgraded mini DP 1.3 port and the existing HDMI 2.0, Multitasking and surround gaming are made possible.

X-Rite Pantone Calibrated Screen Panels
Further emphasizing the versatility of the AORUS X5 MD laptop is the introduction of fully calibrated screen panels, courtesy of revered color system player X-Rite Pantone. With each X5 MD laptop, you can rest assured that your system’s color reproduction will be second to none, whether you’re enjoying it professionally or casually.

 

Source: Aorus

COMPUTEX 2017: QNAP Unveils World's First Ryzen-based NAS

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | May 31, 2017 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: TS-x77, amd, ryzen, qnap, NAS, computex 2017

QNAP are providing a sneak peak of a new line of NAS devices, powered by AMD's Ryzen processors.  The TS-x77 series will come in 6, 8, and 12-bay models with an AMD Ryzen 7 1700 or Ryzen 5 1600 or 1400 processor with up to 8, 16, 32 or 64GB DDR4 RAM dependant on the model. 

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The devices support RAID 0/1/5/6/10/50/60, RAID 1/5/6/10/50/60 + spare, single and JBOD, which support AES-NI encryption acceleration.  Internally there are quite a lot of opportunities to customize your NAS, on all models you will find a pair of M.2 2242/2260/2280/22110 SATA 6 Gb/s SSD slots for your hot storage and depending on the model you will have a mix of 2.5" and dual 2.5/3.5" drive bays for your SSDs or HDDs. 

That is not the only possibilities for expansion in these NAS devices, all models contain three PCIe 3.0, one 8x slot and two 4x which you can use for a PCIe SSD, 10GbE or 40GbE network cards or perhaps even a GPU for local transcoding.  Externally you have four Gigabit ethernet connectors, two USB 3.1 ports, one Type-C and one Type-A as well as five USB 3.0 ports.

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These will not be available until Q3, so we won't be able to review it for a while but rest assured that we are at least as interesting in seeing the performance of Ryzen in a NAS as you are.

Source: QNAP

New X299 Gaming Motherboards from MSI

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | May 30, 2017 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: msi, computex, GAMING M7 ACK, GAMING PRO CARBON AC, TOMAHAWK, x299

MSI is launching their X299 motherboard series with a trio of options, the X299 GAMING M7 ACK, GAMING PRO CARBON AC and a new TOMAHAWK motherboard.

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The X299 GAMING M7 ACK above is their current flagship model, designed with 10+1+1 phase DigitALL power, Loadline Calibration and MSI’s Turbo Socket which should give you some impressive overclocking ability.  The M.2 slots are covered by MSI's Shield FROZR which will keep the drives well within their temperature thresholds ensuring there is no performance hits because of excessive heat.  The board also features Killer Double Shot PRO technology, which allows you to combine the two Killer E2500 Ethernet NICs and the Killer 1535 Wi-Fi connections which will be interesting to see in action when we eventually get a chance to test it out.

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The GAMING PRO CARBON AC is the pretty boy of the trio, it sports removable heatsinks and is compatible with any of their new X-Mounting accessories; fire up your 3D printer and create your own for a custom look.  Along with the interchangeable heatsink covers are MYSTIC LIGHT RGB LEDs spaced around the motherboard to highlight your system in the colours you choose.  The board features MSI's Game boost function, a one click overclocking solution to get you gaming as quickly as possible, though you can always disable it and manually tweak your settings.  With Turbo U.2 and M.2 slots you can run the latest NVMe drives at full speed, the M.2 sticks will be cooled by the M.2 Shield to ensure you don't see throttling.

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The newest incarnation of the TOMAHAWK series is designed to be sturdy, it features stainless steel heatsinks and MSI Steel Armor design; we still wouldn't recommend tossing it around but for a LAN machine you should be confident in transporting your system.  This motherboard also features the new M.2 Shield FROZR cooling for your M.2 SSDs the Turbo U.2 slot uses the Steel Armor design in a similar fashion.  The front USB Type-C port will make it easy to connect a VR headset to this motherboard to take advantage of MSI's VR Boost feature.

 

Source: MSI

ZOTAC also announced an External VGA Box

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | May 25, 2017 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: external gpu, zotac, thunderbolt 3, computex 2017

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They haven't given us much detail but as you would expect the ZOTAC external GPU box connects an GPU to your system via a Thunderbolt 3 connector, allowing you to add more GPU power to a mobile system or any other computer which needs a little boost to its graphics.  You can fit cards of up to 9" in length, which makes it a perfect match for the two Mini-GPUs just below or other lower powered cards which are not as well endowed as your average GTX 1080 or 1080 Ti.  It also adds four USB 3.0 ports and a Quick Charge 3.0 port to your system so you can leave it at home and simply attach your laptop via the Thunderbolt cable and get right to gaming.

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Source: Zotac

Zotac announces a pair of really Mini GTX 1080 Ti's

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | May 25, 2017 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: zotac, GTX 1080 Ti Mini, GTX 1080 Ti Arctic Storm Mini, gtx 1080 ti, computex 2017

ZOTAC is claiming bragging rights about the size of their new GTX 1080 Ti's, that they are the smallest of their kind.  The two new cards measure a miniscule 210.8mm (8.3") in length and in the case of the Arctic Storm mini it is the lightest watercooled GPU on the market. 

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You can see the size of the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini by how much of the length is taken up by the PCIe connector, compared to most 1080 Ti's which are over a foot long.  This card is not long enough to fit a third fan on.

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The Arctic Storm version is the same size as the air-cooled model but opts for the worlds lightest watercooler.  That may mean you want a powerful pump attached to the GPU as there is less metal to transfer heat but it means small silent builds can pack a lot of graphical power.

Both these cards will use dual 8-pin PCIe power connectors, expect to see more of them at Computex.

 

Source: Zotac