Subject: Systems | March 9, 2017 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, microsoft, hgx-1, GP100, dgx-1
When NVIDIA announced the Pascal architecture at last year’s GTC, they started with the GP100 architecture that was to be initially available in their $129,000 DGX-1 PC. In fact, this device contained eight of those “Big Pascal” GPUs that are connected together by their NVLink interconnection.
Now, almost a full year later, Microsoft, NVIDIA, and Ingrasys have announced the HGX-1 system. It, too, will contain eight GP100 GPUs through eight Tesla P100 accelerators. On the CPU side of things, Microsoft is planning on utilizing the next generation of x86 processors, Intel Skylake (which we assume means Skylake-X) and AMD Naples in these "Project Olympus" servers. Future versions could also integrate Intel FPGAs for an extra level of acceleration. ARM64 is another goal of theirs, but in the more distant future.
At the same time, NVIDIA has also announced, through a single-paragraph statement, that they are joining the Open Compute Project. This organization contains several massive players in the data center market, spanning from Facebook to Rackspace to Bank of America.
Whenever it arrives, the HGX-1 will be intended for cloud-based AI computations. Four of these machines are designed to be clustered together at high bandwidth, which I estimate would have north of 160 TeraFLOPs of double-precision (FP64) or 670 TeraFLOPs of half-precision (FP16) performance in the GPUs alone, depending on final clocks.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | March 8, 2017 - 12:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: qualcomm, OCP, microsoft, falkor, centriq 2400, azure, arm, 10nm
Last December Qualcomm announced plans to launch their Centriq 2400 series of platforms for data centres, demonstrating Apache Spark and Hadoop on Linux as well as a Java demo. They announced a 48 Core design based on ARM v8 and fabbed with on Samsung's 10nm process, which will compete against Intel's current offerings for the server room.
Today marks the official release of the Qualcomm Falkor CPU and Centriq 2400 series of products, as well as the existence of a partnership with Microsoft which may see these products offered to Azure customers. Microsoft has successfully configured a version of Windows Server to run on these new chips, which is rather big news for customers looking for low powered hosting solutions running a familiar OS. The Centriq 2400 family is compliant with Microsoft's Project Olympus architecture, used by the Open Compute Project Foundation to offer standardized building blocks upon which you can design a data centre from scratch or use as an expansion plan.
Enough of the background, we are here for the specifications of the new platform and what can be loaded onto a Centriq 2400. The reference motherboard supports SOCs of up to 48 cores, with both single and dual socket designs announced. Each SOC can support up to six channels of DDR4 in either single or dual channel configurations with a maximum of 768GB installed. Falkor will offer 32 lanes of PCIe 3.0, eight SATA ports and a GbE ethernet port as well as USB and a standard 50Gb/s NIC. NVMe is supported, one design offers 20 NVMe drives with a PCIe 16x slot but you can design the platform to match your requirements. Unfortunately they did not discuss performance during their call, nor any suggested usage scenarios. We expect to hear more about that during the 2017 Open Compute Platform US Summit, which starts today.
The submission of the design to Open Compute Project ensures a focus on compatibility and modularity and allows a wide variety of designs to be requested and networked together. If you have a need for HPC performance you can request a board with an HPC GPU such as a FirePro or Tesla, or even drop in your own optimized FPGA. Instead of opting for an impressive but expensive NVME storage solution, you can modify the design to accommodate 16 SATA HDDs for affordable storage.
Qualcomm have already announced Windows 10 support on their Snapdragon, but the fact that Microsoft are internally running Windows Server on an ARM v8 based processor is much more impressive. Intel and AMD have long held reign in the server room and have rightfully shrugged of the many times in which companies have announced ARM based servers which will offer more power efficient alternatives. Intel have made huge advances at creating low power chips for the server room; AMD's recently announced Naples shows their intentions to hold their market share as well.
If the submission to the OPC succeeds then we may see the first mainstream ARM based servers appear on the market. Even if the Windows Server instances remain internal to Microsoft, the Centriq series will support Red Hat, CentOS, Canonical and Ubuntu as well as both GCC and LLVM compilers.
(click to seriously embiggen)
ARM may finally have reached the server market after all these years and it will be interesting to see how they fare. AMD and Intel have both had to vastly reduce the power consumption of their chips and embrace a diametrically opposite design philosophy; instead of a small number of powerful chips, servers of the future will consist of arrays of less powerful chips working in tandem. ARM has had to do the opposite, they are the uncontested rulers of low powered chips but have had to change their designs to increase the processing capabilities of their chips in order to produce an effective product for the server room.
Could Qualcomm successful enter the server room; or will their ARMs not have the necessary reach?
Subject: Systems, Mobile | March 4, 2017 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Tegra X1, teardown, switch, nvidia, Nintendo
Here at PC Perspective, videos of Ryan and Ken dismantling consoles on their launch date were some of our most popular... ever. While we didn’t do one for the Nintendo Switch, GamersNexus did, and I’m guessing that a segment of our audience would be interested in seeing what the device looks like when dismantled.
As he encounters many chips, he mentions what, if anything, is special about them based on their part numbers. For instance, the NVIDIA SoC is listed as A2, which is apparently different from previous Maxwell-based Tegra X1 SoCs, but it’s unclear how. From my perspective, I can think of three possibilities: NVIDIA made some customizations (albeit still on the Maxwell architecture) for Nintendo, NVIDIA had two revisions for their own purposes and Nintendo bought the A2, or the A2 shipped with NVIDIA's Maxwell-based Shield and my Google-fu is terrible.
Regardless, if you’re interested, it should be an interesting twenty-or-so minutes.
Subject: Systems | February 21, 2017 - 01:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: upgrade, sandybridge, kaby lake
The tick-tock of Intel's waltz has stuttered a bit, with many users wondering if it is worth picking up a new Kaby Lake based system. Gone are the good old days when a new generation of processors guaranteed enough of an increase in performance to justify decreasing your bank account immediately. There are several reasons for this, including the difficulties in reducing the size of the process and increasing the amount of transistors, not just the current lack of competition in the marketplace.
At The Tech Report, one of their staff were curious enough to do the upgrade, dumping their i7-2600K for an i7-7700k. Check out the results of the upgrade, with some impressive effect on the wonky but beloved Arma III engine.
"The question of whether it's worth upgrading from Intel's Sandy Bridge chips accompanies every new TR CPU review. For one TR contributor, the arrival of Kaby Lake finally motivated him to make a move. See what the upgrade to a more modern platform did for him."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Syber Intel Extreme Masters Pro GTX 1070 Gaming PC @ eTeknix
- Mesh 7EVEN (7600K & GTX 1060) Gaming PC @ Kitguru
- A Look At CyberPowerPC’s GUA2400BST AMD VR Gaming PC @ Techgage
- The Tech Report System Guide: February 2017 edition
Subject: Systems, Mobile | February 6, 2017 - 03:37 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: xeon, Thinkpad, quadro, P71, P51s, P51, nvidia, notebook, mobile workstation, Lenovo, kaby lake, core i7
Lenovo has announced a trio of new ThinkPad mobile workstations, featuring updated Intel 7th-generation Core (Kaby Lake) processors and NVIDIA Quadro graphics, and among these is the thinnest and lightest ThinkPad mobile workstation to date in the P51s.
"Engineered to deliver breakthrough levels of performance, reliability and long battery life, the ThinkPad P51s features a new chassis, designed to meet customer demands for a powerful but portable machine. Developed with engineers and professional designers in mind, this mobile workstation features Intel’s 7th generation Core i7 processors and the latest NVIDIA Quadro dedicated workstation graphics, as well as a 4K UHD IPS display with optional IR camera."
Lenovo says that the ThinkPad P51s is more than a half pound lighter than the previous generation (P50s), stating that "the P51s is the lightest and thinnest mobile workstation ever developed by ThinkPad" at 14.4 x 9.95 x 0.79 inches, and weight starting at 4.3 lbs.
Specs for the P51s include:
- Up to a 7th Generation Intel Core i7 Processor
- NVIDIA Quadro M520M Graphics
- Choice of standard or touchscreen FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, or 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS display
- Up to 32 GB DDR4 2133 RAM (2x SODIMM slots)
- Storage options including up to 1 TB (5400 rpm) HDD and 1 TB NVMe PCIe SSDs
- USB-C with Intel Thunderbolt 3
- 802.11ac and LTE-A wireless connectivity
Lenovo also announced the ThinkPad P51, which is slightly larger than the P51s, but brings the option of Intel Xeon E3-v6 processors (in addition to Kaby Lake Core i7 CPUs), Quadro M2200M graphics, faster 2400 MHz memory up to 64 GB (4x SODIMM slots), and up to a 4K IPS display with X-Rite Pantone color calibration.
Finally there is the new VR-ready P71 mobile workstation, which offers up to an NVIDIA Quadro P5000M GPU along with Oculus and HTC VR certification.
"Lenovo is also bringing virtual reality to life with the new ThinkPad P71. One of the most talked about technologies today, VR has the ability to bring a new visual perspective and immersive experience to our customers’ workflow. In our new P71, the NVIDIA Pascal-based Quadro GPUs offer a stunning level of performance never before seen in a mobile workstation, and it comes equipped with full Oculus and HTC certifications, along with NVIDIA’s VR-ready certification."
Pricing and availability is as follows:
- ThinkPad P51s, starting at $1049, March
- ThinkPad P51, starting at $1399, April
- ThinkPad P71, starting at $1849, April
Subject: Systems | January 31, 2017 - 03:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming desktop, SFF, gtx 1060, i7-7700, msi, Trident 3
MSI's Trident 3 PC comes complete with Windows 10 Home, a DS4200 keyboard and a DS B1 gaming mouse. The actual system is a mere 346.25x232.47x71.83mm (13.6x9.2x2.8") and hides a shrunken GTX 1060, a Core i7-7700, two 8GB sticks of DDR4-2400 and in the system that TechPowerUp reviewed, a 256GB Kingston SATA M.2 SSD and a 1TB Toshiba HDD. It is easy to use for VR, with USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C and Type-A ports as well as HDMI on the front panel. MSI did need to make some sacrifices to squeeze these components in, the system does not support overclocking nor XMP profiles. The performance at 1080p is respectable for a fully configured system and it starts at $899, with upgrades available.
"MSI's Trident 3 is a compact SFF system that can provide a console-like gaming experience. Equipped with an Intel Core i7-7700, a custom mITX MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB GAMING, 16 GB of RAM, an M.2 SSD and a mechanical HDD for storage duties, it is small yet extremely capable."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Gladiator SuperNova (i5 Kaby Lake) @ Kitguru
- ASRock DeskMini 110 Mini-PC @ Hardware Secrets
- DinoPC Raptor 2 (Kaby Lake 7700K 5GHz) @ Kitguru
Subject: Systems | January 24, 2017 - 10:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xbox one, xbox, Project Scorpio, microsoft
Digital Foundry received an Xbox Project Scorpio whitepaper from an anonymous source, although they were able to validate its authenticity. Basically, they sent it to their own, off-the-record sources who would have access to the same info, and those individuals confirmed it’s an official document that they’ve seen before. Of course, the trust bottlenecks through Digital Foundry, but they’re about as reputable as you can get in this industry, so that works.
Anywho, disclaimer aside, the whitepaper unveils a few interesting details about how Project Scorpio is expecting to provide higher performance. The most interesting change is what’s missing: the small, on-chip RAM (ESRAM). Microsoft claims that the higher global memory bandwidth removes the need to have it on Project Scorpio.
Digital Foundry is still a bit concerned that, while the 320 GB/s bandwidth might be enough, the latency might be a concern for compatibility. Personally, I’m not too concerned. Modern GPUs do a huge amount of latency-hiding tricks, such as parking whole shaders at global memory accesses and running other tasks while the GPU fetches the memory the original shader needs, swapping it back and finishing when it arrives. Also, the increased GPU performance will mean that the game has more room to be wasteful of GPU resources, since it only needs to perform at least as good as a regular Xbox One. I expect that there wouldn’t be enough round-trips to ESRAM for it to be a major slowdown when running on Project Scorpio (and its not-ESRAM).
Seriously, Wall-E with a Freddie Mercury 'stache.
Microsoft does suggest that developers make use of ESRAM on Xbox One and Xbox One S, though. Yes, don’t deliberately throw away performance on the slower machines just because that accelerator isn’t available on higher-end devices, like Project Scorpio or a gaming PC (heh heh heh).
Another point that Digital Foundry highlighted was that the actual number of rendered fragments (pixels that may or may not make it to screen) didn’t scale up by a factor-of-four (going from 1080p to 4K) in all cases. A first-party developer noticed a case where it was only a 3.5x scaling between the two resolutions. (This metric was actually rendered pixels, not even just GPU load, which would include resolution-independent tasks, like physics simulations.) I’m not exactly sure how the number of fragments decreased, but it could be due to some rendering tricks, like when Halo renders the background at a lower resolution. (Yes, I’m using Khronos verbiage; it’s less ambiguous.)
They also assume that Project Scorpio will use pre-Zen AMD CPU cores. I agree. It seems like Zen wouldn’t be around early enough to make production, especially when you consider the pre-release units that are circulating around Microsoft, and probably third-party developers, too.
Project Scorpio launches this holiday season (2017).
Subject: Displays, Systems | January 10, 2017 - 11:50 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: triple-screen, theft, stolen, report, razer, Project Valerie, multi-display, laptop, igzo, gaming, CES 2017, CES, BBC, 4k, 3-screen
While Razer did not name any particular product when first publicly posting about a theft (see FaceBook screencap below) from their booth at CES, the BBC is now reporting that "the stolen prototypes" in question were indeed the Project Valerie triple-screen laptop introduced last week.
"Two prototype models of an unusual gaming laptop with three screens have been stolen at the CES tech show in Las Vegas, according to PC maker Razer. The concept device boasts three 4K screens and is said to be the first portable laptop of its kind. Razer said the laptops had gone missing from its booth at the tech show on Sunday.
The incident was being taken 'very seriously', said chief executive Min-Liang Tan. A Razer spokesman said it was offering $25,000 (£20,600) for any 'original information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction' of those allegedly involved in the crime."
Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan initially posted news of stolen prototypes from his FaceBook page:
One would expect that the security in place at CES, including many security cameras, should produce some more information as the investigation unfolds.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 8, 2017 - 09:25 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: thin and light, nvidia, notebook, laptop, kaby lake, gtx 1070, gtx 1060, GTX 1050 Ti, gtx 1050, gigabyte, gaming, CES 2017, CES
Gigabyte had a full line of new laptops to show off at this year’s CES, with models ranging from larger gaming enthusiast designs to slim machines that still offer plenty of gaming power from their discrete graphics.
We’ll start with the P56, a 15.6-inch machine with an optional 4K display, 7th-gen Intel Core i7 (Kaby Lake) processor, and GeForce GTX 1070 GPU.
“The P56 provides enthusiasts with not only ultra smooth performance but also with tools to victory. All packed in a portable quality chassis. Equipped with the next gen Intel 7th Gen Core i7 7700HQ processor and the all-powerful GeForce GTX 1070 graphics. The main core of the P56 is set to drive all the latest games, not at just 1080P but even at higher resolutions with the optional 15.6” UHD 3840x2160 display.”
The P56 is equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 port, island-style keyboard with customizable per-key RGB backlighting, and a large 91Wh battery.
Next we have the Sabre 15, which is also powered by a new 7th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4GB) and GTX 1050 (2GB) graphics options.
“Gamers can now fully enjoy the latest performance from the pascal architecture, with fluid gaming graphics at 1080p for most recent game titles. The keyboard plays a big role in winning or losing a game, that is why the Sabre 15 comes with optimized 2.2mm travel scissor type keys, for that extra feel and precision. To top that off, the Sabre 15 features RGB backlight keyboard with 16.8 million colors (optional).”
Rounding out the updated lineup are a trio of thin-and-light professional models that are still very capable gaming machines, beginning with the AERO 14, a 19.9mm-thick (and 4.17 lb) aluminum design which features a QHD (2560x1440) IPS screen, GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, and 94.24Wh battery.
Finally we have the P34 and P35 laptops, which claim the title of “world’s lightest 14” GeForce GTX 1050 Ti laptop (P34) and “world’s slimmest 15.6” GeForce GTX 1070 laptop”, respectively.
The P34 is indeed light for a gaming-ready laptop, with a weight of just 3.73 lbs. For its part the 15.6-inch P35 laptop is a very high-end option, regardless of its slim construction.
“The P35 comes in at an unbeatable 20.9mm thin and weighs just 2.3Kg. It is hard to believe that such a thin chassis has a GeForce GTX 1070 inside, outputting the same performance as the desktop GeForce GTX 1070, now on the go. GIGABYTE has swapped out the old 6th gen and opt for the latest 7th gen Core i7 processor, giving professionals multitasking capabilities like never before. The unparalleled graphical power of the GeForce GTX 1070 further drives the stunning 15.6” UHD 3840 x 2160 IPS display, professionals will definitely take advantage of such a high pixel density and high RGB accuracy display, stationed or mobile. The Swappable bay gives professionals the power to swap between Blu-ray drive or up to 2TB HDD of extra storage, providing that extra customization on the go.”
Pricing and availability information for the new laptops is not yet available.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2017 - 04:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: TX-M Series, PSU, HX Series, corsair, CES 2017, CES, bulldog, 80 Plus Platinum, 80 Plus Gold
We will let Corsair speak for themselves about these three products.
Platinum and Gold – HX and TX-M
Equipped with 100% Japanese 105°C capacitors the new HX series offers 80 Plus Platinum efficiency for up to 94% efficient operation. Fully modular cabling makes clutter-free builds easy, while a large 135mm cooling fan and Zero RPM mode allow for virtually silent operation. Rated for operating temperatures up to 50°C, the HX series is designed to deliver superb electrical performance and efficiency in the most demanding situations.
Also furnished with 100% Japanese capacitors and rated to 50°C, the new TX-M series delivers 80 Plus Gold efficiency paired with fantastic electrical performance and reliability. Combined with semi-modular cables for immaculate builds, the TX-M series hits the sweet spot of features and performance that PC enthusiasts demand.
Bulldog 2.0 - Build Your Living Room PC Better
CORSAIR Bulldog 2.0 retains the sleek looks and small form factor layout of its predecessor, effortlessly fitting into home theatre or living room setups. Within the glossy exterior, Bulldog 2.0 is completely upgraded for 2017, to be the ultimate living room barebone kit. Boasting the very latest Intel Z270 Mini-ITX motherboard from MSI, Bulldog 2.0 is ready to overclock and push performance limits with new Intel 7th Generation Core processors. Bulldog 2.0 also includes an all-new low-profile liquid CPU cooler, the H6SF, and the best-in-class CORSAIR SF600 SFX PSU, as well two low-noise 92mm PWM-controlled cooling fans based on the award-winning CORSAIR ML Series. With a high-performance case, PSU, cooler and motherboard all included and pre-installed, CORSAIR Bulldog 2.0 is the ideal starting point to build the ultimate living room PC.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!