Take a sneak peek at our Core i9-7960X and Core i9-7980XE results
— 2:03 AM on September 25, 2017

The embargo for performance results of Intel's Core i9-7960X and Core i9-7980XE lifts this morning. Right now, in fact. I'd have our full review for you, but other things things kind of got in the way, and let's be real: you're not going to read thousands of words about CPUs at two in the morning. Here's a sneak peek at some of the results we'll be talking about soon:

In a word, impressive and a bit weird all at once. Stay tuned as I put the finishing touches on my article. If you're suitably impressed by the above chart, the Core i9-7940X, Core i9-7960X, and Core i9-7980XE should be available at e-tail today.

Intel warms up Coffee Lake with eighth-gen desktop Core details
— 12:32 AM on September 25, 2017

Thanks to an early leak, Intel is taking the wraps off its full eighth-generation Core desktop CPU lineup now. After a brief and refreshing stop at Kaby Lake for quad-core chips in 15W power envelopes, the next vista to behold is Coffee Lake. As has been widely rumored, the Coffee Lake CPU family will be the first to bring six-core CPUs to Intel's mainstream LGA 1151 socket.

The six-core Coffee Lake die. Source: Intel

The headlining chip of this lineup is the Core i7-8700K, a six-core, 12-thread part with a 3.7 GHz base clock and a 4.7 GHz single-core Turbo speed. Eighth-gen desktop Core i5 CPUs will have six cores and six threads, while eighth-gen Core i3s will have four cores and four threads. Intel will offer an unlocked CPU at every tier of its eighth-gen lineup, too. Here's the full list of what's coming October 5:

Model Base clock Single-core
Turbo Boost 2.0
TDP Total
speed (MT/s)
Core i7-8700K 3.7 GHz 4.7 GHz 6/12 95W 12MB Dual DDR4-2666 $359
Core i7-8700 3.2 GHz 4.6 GHz 65W $303
Core i5-8600K 3.6 GHz 4.3 GHz 6/6 95W 9MB $257
Core i5-8400 2.8 GHz 4 GHz 65W $182
Core i3-8350K 4 GHz N/A 4/4 91W 6MB Dual DDR4-2400 $168
Core i3-8100 3.6 GHz 65W $117

The fundamental cores of Coffee Lake CPUs remain identical to those in Kaby Lake chips. To get better performance in this CPU generation, Intel is tapping further 14-nm process improvements to put more (and faster) cores in nearly the same power envelope as past desktop chips. The Core i7-8700K and Core i5-8600K only get a 4W TDP bump over the Core i7-7700K and Core i5-7600K on the way to their higher single-core boost speeds, although base clocks seem to have fallen significantly to squeeze into that modestly more generous envelope.

The new chips will require Z370 motherboards to function. While the LGA 1151 socket is physically identical to the one on Z170 and Z270 motherboards, Intel says it improved power delivery for its six-core processors, improved package power delivery for better overclocking of those chips, and improved memory routing support to justify the mandatory motherboard upgrade. I'll have more to say about this in my full review of the chips, but I can't imagine anybody with an eight-month-old Z270 motherboard will be terribly happy to hear this news. Aside from the purported minor tweaks to the socket and memory routing, the platform itself is no more resource-rich than Z270. Builders will still get 24 chipset PCIe 3.0 lanes and 16 CPU PCIe 3.0 lanes for a platform total of 40.

Overclockers will find some new levers and knobs on Z370, at least. Coffee Lake chips will offer per-core overclocking, meaning that a single laggard core doesn't have to hold up the entire chip. Eextreme overclockers will also get memory multipliers for speeds up to 8400 MT/s, real-time control of memory latency settings, and better phase locked loop (PLL) controls.

Performance results remain under embargo for the moment, so I'll have more thoughts about eighth-gen desktop Core CPUs when our full review goes live October 5. Stay tuned.

8 comments — Last by Stochastic at 2:00 AM on 09/25/17

Geil lights up its Evo X ROG-certified RAM
— 4:35 PM on September 22, 2017

Geil may not show up in the face of newspapers as often as Corsair or G.Skill, but the Taiwanese manufacturer also plays in the big boys' gaming  gear club. The company is presenting what it says is the first DDR4 memory with RGB LEDs and an Asus ROG certification. Geil calls the new series the Evo X ROG-certified.

The RGB LED lighting onboard the Evo X ROG DIMMs is compatible with Asus' Aura Sync system. Users can plug a cable going from the DIMMs onto the appropriate header on an Asus motherbard. The sliding switch on the top right corner of the DIMMs can be then used to select between four lighting modes.

We don't know why you'd get these if you weren't already a fan of all things ROG, but if you don't have an Asus mobo (or any other board with an RGB strip header), fret not. The DIMMs can plug into a regular fan header and you can still select their color and lighting modes with the sliding switch.

Geil will offer the Evo X ROG DIMMs with a speed of 3000 MT/s, in either two-packs with total capacity of 16 GB or in sets of four for a maximum of 32 GB. The sticks come with an XMP 2.0 profile onboard and have a CAS latency of 15 cycles. Voltage is set at a slightly-hot 1.35 V, as usual with overclocked DDR4 memory.

There's currently no word on pricing for these sticks, though we wager the 16 GB pack will be priced close to the $160 of the existing Evo X 3000 MT/s set. Geil offers lifetime warranty coverage on the Evo X ROG-certified memory.

4 comments — Last by PrincipalSkinner at 4:00 AM on 09/24/17

Google Compute Engine is now powered in part by Pascal
— 3:05 PM on September 22, 2017

Google's Compute Engine is expanding the availability of powerful compute GPUs in its Compute Engine cloud platform. The search giant is now offering access to its battery of Nvidia Tesla P100 compute GPUs in its Compute Engine in a beta rollout. Also, the company's collection of Tesla K80 dual-GPU compute cards is now available to the general public for number crunching.

Compute capabilities not shown to scale

The cloud GPU resources let Google's customers perform tasks like machine learning training and inference, geophysical data processing, simulation, seismic analysis, and other scientific computation. The Tesla P100 GPUs are based on the largest of all of Nvidia's Pascal chips, boasting 3584 stream processors at a brisk 1480 MHz boost clock rate. The Tesla K80 is based on the company's older Kepler architecture and has 4992 SPs with a maximum boost clock of 875 MHz. Google says the Tesla P100 GPUs can perform some tasks 10 times faster than the Tesla K80 cards.

Customers can spin up customizable VMs with varying amounts of CPU cores, memory, disk, and GPU resources. A single VM can have up to four Tesla P100 or K80 cards (eight Kepler GPU chips). The GPUs are available in all four Google Compute Engine regions, and can be used in either VMs or containers. The company also offers up to 3 TB of high-speed SSD storage per VM.

The company also announced that the price to access those GPU resources can be reduced by using its sustained use discount, with a reduction of up to 30%. Reaching that discount level requires running a VM for at least 75% of the hours in a billing month, but lesser discounts can be attained with VMs that operate as little as 25% of the hours in a month.

10 comments — Last by K-L-Waster at 10:47 AM on 09/24/17

EVGA slaps 12 GT/s memory on the GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 Elite
— 1:30 PM on September 22, 2017

Boy, I love my new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. It runs everything I play full-bore in 4K resolution without breaking a sweat, and it's quiet while doing so, too. Yes, it sure is nice to have the fastest gaming graphics... wait, what's that? EVGA's just released a new GTX 1080 Ti with 12 GT/s memory? Son of a gun. Indeed, the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 Elite card is now available in a version with 12 GT/s GDDR5X memory.

This card is, to our knowledge, the first product on the market using the latest and fastest SGRAM. According to EVGA's Jacob Freeman on Twitter, older cards can't jump up the clock rate with a BIOS update because the new card uses "a different memory." That would imply that the GDDR5X DRAM ICs on these cards are in fact new packages rated for 12 GT/s operation, and not simply overclocked modules.

With 11 GB of 12 GT/s memory on its 352-bit bus, the new EVGA card comes out to 528 GiB/sec of memory bandwidth. That puts its throughput ahead of everything else on the market save for the Titan Xp (which it very nearly matches) and the massive, HBM2-equipped Quadro GP100. The core clock rates on the new card are untouched from the original FTW3 Elite, at 1569 MHz base and 1683 MHz boost speeds. Again like its predecessor, the card includes EVGA's 10-sensor iCX cooling system.

It would be interesting to compare the performance of one of these cards versus the company's top-tier GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin card, which runs the usual 11 GT/s memory but has higher core clocks and a more aggressive boost profile. Unfortunately, that card costs almost as much as a Titan Xp—and it's out of stock, anyway. Meanwhile, the new GTX 1080 Ti FTW3 Elite 12 GT/s cards are ready to go for $849 on Newegg.

14 comments — Last by Shobai at 6:19 AM on 09/24/17

G.Skill unleashes AMD-ready Trident Z RGB kits up to 3200 MT/s
— 12:00 PM on September 22, 2017

Debates over whether memory performance is worth messing with have raged in hardware forums for decades. There are arguments to be made on Intel platforms, but on AMD's Ryzen CPUs there's no question: you want fast RAM. That extends to Ryzen Threadripper, too, which still benefits quite a bit from hot-clocked DIMMs. Fortunately, G.Skill is ready to serve. The company just announced a new set of Trident Z RGB kits aimed directly at Ryzen builders, ranging up to 3200 MT/s with a crazy-low CAS latency of 14 cycles.

The kits come in eight-module versions intended for Ryzen Threadripper, two-module variants for Socket AM4 Ryzen processors, and four-module packages that will work in either. The fastest 3200 MT/s tier of Trident Z RGB memory only comes in one-DIMM-per-channel flavor for either CPU, but the 2933 MT/s and 2400 MT/s kits scale all the way up to 64 GB on dual-channel rigs or 128 GB on quad-channel setups. The faster RAM does require a higher-than-standard 1.35 V signaling voltage, but that's the price you pay for performance.

The table above enumerates all the new kits G.Skill will be offering. The company provides a plethora of RAM packages now, so to help users pick out the right product, G.Skill helpfully points out that Trident Z RGB kits meant specifically for AMD processors will have model numbers ending in "X". The company didn't provide us any pricing information for the new RAM, but said it should be available next month.

14 comments — Last by jts888 at 8:46 AM on 09/24/17

Asus' ZenFone 4 Pro offers high-end photography and networking
— 10:30 AM on September 22, 2017

With a ZenFone 4 Pro in your hand, Asus wants you to be taking tons of photos and sharing them at blazingly-fast speeds. The company's latest phone has a big focus on photography, and some impressive network connectivity you probably don't even have at home yet.

Like many of the other popular phones this year, the ZenFone 4 Pro is a dual-camera device. The phone's main camera combines a unit with a 12-MP Sony IMX362 sensor with a second eye containing a 16-MP Sony IMX351 sensor. That second snapper has a 120° wide-angle lens that offers 2X optical zoom and up to 10X total zoom. The two lenses combined allow you to take portrait shots with bokeh-effect backgrounds.

The phone is capable of capturing 4K video at 30 FPS, and has electronic image stabilization to smooth out your shots. If you want to capture slow-motion shots, the camera can also do 120 FPS at 1920x1080 resolution. There's also a time-lapse mode that can turn off the phone's display and radios to save battery while recording those gorgeous Yosemite stars.

On the networking side, the phone's Snapdragon 835 SoC contains an X16 LTE cellular modem that supports download speeds of up to 1Gbps over a compatible network connection, Bluetooth 5, and 802.11ad wireless connectivity—better known as WiGig. The list of routers that support the fledgling network standard is pretty short so far, but it's good to have support for it nonetheless.

The phone's design feels pretty standard otherwise. The screen is a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with 1920x1080 resolution, and the handset is wrapped in curved glass, making it a bit heavier than some competitors at 6.2 oz (176 g). Inside, the SoC is paired with up to 6 GB of RAM and up to 128 GB of storage, expandable with a microSD card. Asus says the memory and storage specs may vary by region.

The dual speakers are complemented by a headphone jack that offers DTS Headphone:X 7.1 virtualization and support for 192kHz audio. The handset's powered by a 3600 mAh battery that Asus says will charge up to 50% in about half an hour. The ZenFone 4 Pro will be available in black and white models. Asus hasn't yet announced a price or release date.

21 comments — Last by Major-Failure at 7:07 AM on 09/24/17

Radeon 17.9.2 drivers put the pedal to the metal for Project Cars 2
— 9:00 AM on September 22, 2017

If you've just picked up a shiny new Radeon RX Vega card and you're keen to do some hyper-realistic racing, make sure you grab the latest AMD drivers. Just like the guys in green, AMD released a driver update yesterday that adds specific support for Project Cars 2. Radeon Software version 17.9.2 also adds CrossFire support for Radeon RX Vega cards, though only dual-card configurations are supported. This release is marked as Optional, so it's not super critical if you're not experiencing issues or not planning to play Project Cars 2.

Maybe when the crypocurrency furor finally dies down, we can pick up some cheap Vega cards to pair up for some play time. Speaking of the RX Vega, if you use the ReLive capture tool and your GPU doesn't drop to a lower power state after exiting your game, you'll need to restart the machine. If your RX Vega card is missing the "Enhanced Sync" toggle in Radeon Settings, you'll need to fully uninstall and do a clean reinstall of the drivers.

The new driver release fixes an issue with the game Hearts of Iron IV where it would hang the system in campaign mode, and it also resolves the strange "1603 Error" message while installing the drivers. Finally, be careful in WattMan, because it may not correctly restore default settings after a system hang. All of these are known issues, so AMD should have fixes before long.

Check out the full release notes here, although we've covered most of it for you already. You can grab the Windows 10 64-bit version of the drivers from this page. If you need a different version, hit up AMD's download page.

4 comments — Last by RAGEPRO at 3:14 PM on 09/22/17

ROG Strix X299-XE Gaming motherboard is rather groovy
— 4:00 PM on September 21, 2017

When the X299 platform and its associated motherboards debuted, extreme overclockers like der8auer remarked that the new boards' mostly-decorative VRM heatsinks were actually interfering with cooling the hot hardware underneath. A couple of weeks later, the aforementioned Deutschlander showed that you could  resolve that problem just by grinding a few grooves into the heatsinks. Asus has apparently taken that advice to heart, as the new ROG Strix X299-XE Gaming is identical to its "X"-deprived forebear save for the grooved VRM heatsink.

The new board carries forward the same bounty of functionality as its predecessor. Asus says the X299-XE Gaming will handle four channels of DDR4 memory at up to 4133 MT/s. The mobo has three PCIe x16 slots that can run in an x16/x16/x8 configuration with a 44-lane CPU installed, and the pair of M.2 sockets can simultaneously run in PCIe 3.0 x4 mode.

There's on-board 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, a trio of on-board USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (in both Type-A and Type-C flavors), and Asus' top-tier SupremeFX audio setup with a Realtek S1220A codec and Japanese capacitors. The board naturally has RGB LED lighting, and Asus includes a 12" (30 cm) light strip in the box.

The ROG Strix X299-XE Gaming board has only just appeared on Asus' website, and the only listing we found for it is for a third-party Amazon seller, going for $430. As more stores have the board in stock, we expect its price to more closely follow the $345 of the existing ROG Strix X299-E Gaming.

4 comments — Last by Srsly_Bro at 12:15 AM on 09/22/17

Miniature Golf Day Shortbread
— 2:30 PM on September 21, 2017

Surely, it can mean nothing else.

PC hardware and computing

  1. Intel Core i7-7800X review @ bit-tech
  2. Review: Aorus X399 Gaming 7 @ Hexus
  3. Reviews—Seasonic Focus Plus 850W Gold @ JonnyGuru
  4. Asus ROG Poseidon GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB Platinum Edition review @ Tom's Hardware
  5. HP Envy x360 15 review (w/ Core i7-7500U & GTX 940MX) @ KitGuru
  6. The Cherry G80-3494 MX Board Silent mechanical keyboard review @ AnandTech

Games and VR

  1. Steam now fighting review bombs with diagrams @ Rock Paper Shotgun
  2. PUBG CPU core benchmarks—how many cores do you need? @ Legit Reviews
  3. Has Team Fortress 2 been improved by its updates? @ Rock Paper Shotgun

Science, hacks, makers and gadgets

  1. Hypersonic flight: threat or opportunity? @ New Atlas
  2. Wind chimes and dry ice make an unusual musical instrument @ HackADay
  3. Pi wirelessly charges your devices at a distance, no mat required @ New Atlas
  4. Music box plays "Still Alive" thanks to automated hole puncher @ HackADay
  5. Knitting ALUs (and flipdots) @ HackADay (reminds me of a project I worked on a few years ago)

Tech news and culture

  1. Ethereum will match Visa in scale in a 'couple of years,' says founder @ Slashdot (obligatory Futurama)
  2. Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger back for a new Terminator movie @ ArsTechnica [insert joke about 'being back']
  3. Infrared signals in surveillance cameras let malware jump network air gaps @ ArsTechnica (better cover up your RGB LEDs, folks)

Cheese, memes, and RGB LEDs

  1. The ultimate cheese bracket: picking the greatest cheese of all @
  2. The best thing to do to your Trader Joe's cheese? Marinate it @
  3. Riotoro Prism CR1280 Full Tower RGB review @ Guru3D
  4. iKBC F108 RGB keyboard review @ TechPowerUp

18 comments — Last by chuckula at 11:43 AM on 09/22/17

GeForce 385.69 drivers are Game Ready for a ton of titles
— 1:00 PM on September 21, 2017

Lately, racing enthusiasts have had a pretty nice selection of PC titles to choose from. There's Forza Motorsport 7, Codemasters' excellent F1 2017, and just last week a killer HD remaster of Baja: Edge of Control hit Steam. If you're into racing games for the graphics, though, you're probably chomping at the bit for Project Cars 2. Nvidia just dropped a new GeForce driver numbered 385.69 that's "Game Ready" for Project Cars 2, among a trove of other titles. This is a big update, so strap yourself into into your racing-style gaming chair.

Project Cars was one of the nicest-looking games of its day, even if it was the subject of some benchmarking controversy. Slightly Mad Studios worked closely with Nvidia on the first title, and video of the new game—which unlocks in just a few hours—looks astonishingly good. The GeForce 385.69 driver also sports specific support for FIFA 18, From Other Suns, Raiders of the Broken Planet, Total War: Warhammer 2, Forza Motorsport 7, EVE: Valkyrie - Warzone, and the beta tests for Call of Duty: WWII and Star Wars Battlefront 2.

Along with that mountain of game-specific support, Nvidia added SLI profiles for Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, Fortnite, JX3 Online, Project Cars 2, Raiders of the Broken Planet, and Total War: Warhammer 2. 3D Vision profiles mark the 3D experience in Call of Duty: WWII and Project Cars 2 as "Good", while playing Raiders of the Broken Planet or Total War: Warhammer II in 3D is "Not Recommended."

The release notes also enumerate an enormous number of bugfixes. The biggest item on the list is that OpenGL applications, including Minecraft, should no longer flicker or run poorly on notebooks with Optimus GPU switching. The GeForce Experience FPS overlay should stop showing up in Discord, and Runescape should run at full speed now. Windows Store apps should be able to play back video correctly on G-Sync displays with the new driver. NVENC should stop wasting precious bandwidth when a game is running over 240 FPS, too

The list above doesn't even have half of the fixed issues, so you should check out the release notes for the full list. GeForce Experience users will no doubt have the driver downloading as they read this. For the rest of you, here's a handy link to the Windows 10 64-bit version. If you're using another operating system, you'll have to make the arduous journey to Nvidia's download page.

2 comments — Last by Klimax at 1:48 AM on 09/22/17

Thursday deals: big external drives, a sweet case, and more
— 11:28 AM on September 21, 2017

Howdy, gerbils! Our latest System Guide is up and contains lots of great hardware-buying advice. Sadly, despite the turn of the season, we didn't find any pumpkin-spice-flavored gear to recommend. We have, however, found some tasty deals for you this Thursday. Please do read on.

You've got a backup system in place? No? Well, stop everything you're doing and look at this pack of two Seagate Backup Plus Hub 6 TB external hard drives. These spinners connect to host PCs using USB 3.0 and come with an integrated two-port hub for convenience. Newegg is selling the two-pack for only $239.99 with the promo code EMCXRKCB2. Yes, you read that right, and let us do the math for you: $20 per terabyte, the lowest we've ever seen.

I like nice cases, and I cannot lie. The Fractal Design Define R5 is a TR Editor's Choice winner and one of the finest specimens of what constitutes a perfect ATX-sized case. It's beatifully understated, has a ton of room for both air and liquid cooling, and noise-reducing foam padding. The case usually sells for well over $100, but Newegg has it today for only $89.99, and there's a $10 rebate card available.

You read our System Guide and maybe you're considering a high-end Intel rig. We have just the motherboard for that, the Aorus X299 Gaming 3. This mobo has an Intel-powered Ethernet controller, two M.2 sockets, and Type-A and Type-C ports. The main PCIe and the DIMM slots are all metal-reinforced for good measure. Grab this board for $209.99 from Newegg. If you like rebate cards, filling one out will get you another $20 off.

We're fans of Cooler Master's CLCs, and we happen to have a good deal on one of them. The Cooler Master MasterLiquid 240 should offer enough dissipation power to handle even Ryzen Threadipper CPUs. In fact, Cooler Master will even get you a free Threadripper adapter bracket. Get a MasterLiquid 240 from Newegg for only $64.89. At this price, you're fresh out of excuses to not join the liquid cooling party.

That's all for today, folks! There's a chance you're looking for something we haven't covered. If that's the case, you can help The Tech Report by using the following referral links when you're out shopping: not only do we have a partnership with Newegg and Amazon, but we also work with Best Buy, Adorama, RakutenWalmart, and Sam's Club. For more specific needs, you can also shop with our links at the Microsoft Store and Das Keyboard's shop.

4 comments — Last by maxxcool at 8:15 AM on 09/22/17

Google acqui-hires 2,000 HTC employees for $1.1 billion
— 10:30 AM on September 21, 2017

In a blog post today, Google's SVP of Hardware Rich Osterloh announced that the company is making a major acquisition from HTC. However, unlike typical acquisitions, only a specific part of the company's workforce is changing hands in the deal. According to the New York Times (NYT), Google is picking up some two thousand of HTC's employees in exchange for $1.1 billion in cash. The deal also includes a non-exclusive licensing agreement for some of HTC's intellectual property.

The move is a huge expansion of Google's hardware division, and Osterloh described it as "a continuation of [Google's] big bet on hardware." Google said that most of the HTC employees encompassed by the deal were already working closely with the search giant on the Pixel smartphone.

According to the NYT report, HTC's Peter Shen said the smartphone manufacturer will still retain around half of its R&D staff after the deal. The company's had tough financial times lately, and it has made major cuts to marketing and research. The cash that HTC's getting from this deal might help level the ship out.

After listing off all of Google's current hardware—Google Home, Google Wifi, Daydream View, Chromecast Ultra, and of course the Pixel phone—Osterloh promised "a second generation of products" on October 4. You can rest assured we'll have full coverage of those announcements, so stay tuned.

26 comments — Last by strangerguy at 8:35 AM on 09/23/17

Some of AMD's next chips will arrive on GloFo's new 12LP process
— 9:00 AM on September 21, 2017

AMD's Mark Papermaster announced today that the CPU and GPU vendor will be "transitioning graphics and client products" to a new "12nm" process at GlobalFoundries in 2018. The announcement came today at the GlobalFoundries Technology Conference in mostly-cloudy Santa Clara. GlobalFoundries calls the new process 12LP, and as usual, the LP stands for "Leading Performance."

Image: Patrick Moorhead, on Twitter

Tom's Hardware followed up with Papermaster after the conference and confirmed that both Vega GPUs and a further iteration of Ryzen CPUs will be produced by GloFo on the new 12LP process. According to past rumors, AMD had intended to ship the next iteration of the Zen core on a 7nm process sometime in 2018. It's not clear whether Papermaster was talking about a possible Ryzen refresh of sorts on the 12LP process, or if the so-called "Zen 2" has been pulled back to 12nm from its purported 7nm aims.

GlobalFoundries says the new process can provide up to a 15% improvement in circuit density over its own 14LPP technology, implying that it's a bit more involved than a simple refinement. Although node names are basically hopes and dreams at this point, GloFo's 12LP should at least reflect a real advance. Not long ago, Samsung announced its own "11nm" process, and as far back as March we heard whispers of TSMC's "12nm" process, so in a sense GlobalFoundries is playing catch-up here. However, this move from GloFo is a little surprising given that the company specifically said it was skipping over any intermediate steps to move directly to its 7nm process.

68 comments — Last by tygrus at 9:58 PM on 09/24/17

Intel shows off 10-nm Cannon Lake wafer and talks process tech
— 4:14 PM on September 20, 2017

Intel does fine work as a silicon designer, but its manufacturing technology is probably what truly sets the company apart from its competitors. The company held a technology and manufacturing event in Beijing on Monday to show off its latest advances in silicon manufacturing. The most interesting showpiece was a wafer of Cannon Lake silicon built using the company's next-generation 10-nm process technology. The company also talked about its plans to manufacture field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) on that process, and announced that it's shipping what it calls the world's first 64-layer 3D NAND for datacenter applications.

Stacy Smith, Intel's group president of manufacturing, poses with a 10-nm Cannon Lake wafer

Intel's senior fellow Mark Bohr reiterated that the company's 10-nm process is an entire generation ahead of the "10-nm" technologies developed by competitors in terms of transistor density and transistor performance, in its view. That's something the company has pointed out loudly in the past. Bohr said Intel's 10-nm tech has the "tightest transistor and metal pitches" and employs the company's "hyper scaling" approach first used in its 14-nm chips. The Cannon Lake wafer on display marked the first occasion that anyone outside of Intel has gotten a chance to see the product.

Intel didn't make any claims about the yields, functionality, or shipping timeline of the chips on its test wafer, however, and there may be a reason for that. Digitimes reported a rumor today that Intel has pushed retail availability of Cannon Lake chips back to the end of 2018. That rumor should be taken with a grain of salt, but if it's true, it would represent the third time Intel has delayed its 10-nm x86 CPUs.

Bohr also talked about his density metric proposal that could make comparisons between different manufacturers' process techs less confusing. The senior fellow noted that Intel continues to work on a low-power process for mobile applications called 22FFL. The company says its latest prototypes can operate at up to 2 GHz with "100x lower leakage" than its previous 22-nm General Purpose (22GP) tech.

Intel also plans to release "Falcon Mesa" FPGAs built on a 10-nm manufacturing technology that should offer reduced power consumption and better meet the demands of the company's datacenter customers. According to the company, these FPGAs build upon Intel's existing Stratix designs. Intel likewise announced that it's started shipping what it says is the first 64-layer 3D TLC NAND SSD suitable for use in datacenter applications. The company hopes that those SSDs will be "broadly available" by the end of 2017.

ARM fellow Gus Yeung displays a 10-nm wafer of Cortex-A75 CPUs

Last but not least, if you'll recall, Intel Custom Foundry announced a partnership with ARM back in August 2016 to accelerate development and implementation of ARM chips on Intel's 10-nm process tech. In Beijing, the silicon manufacturer showed off the first fruits of this partnership, a wafer of 10-nm ARM Cortex-A75 SoCs capable of clock speeds in excess of 3 GHz. The fact that Intel seems to be making its cutting-edge process technology available to fabless semiconductor companies could represent a shake-up to come in the mobile SoC market.

26 comments — Last by the at 10:42 AM on 09/21/17

AOC Agon AG322QCX offers 32" of gaming goodness on the cheap
— 1:45 PM on September 20, 2017

We've already written once about AOC's Agon AG322QCX gaming monitor, but its spec sheet is impressive enough to revisit now that the screen is shipping. Besides the alphanumeric soup name, the AG322QCX sports a host of letters and numbers that should make gamers happy, like a resolution of 2560x1440, 1800R curvature, a 144 Hz refresh rate, and a 4-ms response time. That's all realized on a vision-filling 16:9 VA panel that's 32" across and infused with AMD's FreeSync. AOC says the display should reach a somewhat pedestrian 300 cd/m² brightness level, but that it also has an impressive 2000:1 contrast ratio.

Buyers can use the AG322QCX's external control dongle to change monitor settings and recall three independent presets. The base is adjustable for tilt, height, and swivel, and includes a built-in carrying handle for LAN gamers. A headphone hook provides a place to stow a set of cans when they're not in use. LED accent lighting on the back of the monitor can light up in blue, green, or red. The monitor has HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort connectors, though there are no speakers or a USB hub.

AOC's Agon AG322QCX gaming monitor is on sale now at Microcenter for $400, a price that's quite reasonable given the numbers on the spec sheet. We're sure the display will be available soon at places like Amazon and Newegg for those without a nearby Microcenter. AOC backs the monitor with a three-year warranty.

24 comments — Last by GrimDanfango at 12:47 PM on 09/21/17

Aqua Computer Cuplex Kryos Next block is ready for Threadripper
— 12:15 PM on September 20, 2017

AMD's Ryzen Threadripper CPUs are so big that we've taken to using them as an object of scale to represent the size of other devices. Giant CPUs beget giant cooling hardware to fully cover their heatspreaders, and Aqua Computer wants to make sure that liquid-cooling enthusiasts with Threadripper processors aren't left in the lurch. The German group has updated its Cuplex Kryos Next waterblock with a TR4-compatible version.

Aqua Computer Cuplex Kryos Next in black acetal and nickel

In case you missed us talking about it before, the Cuplex Kryos Next comes with "Vario" or "Vision" features, as well as models with both characteristics. "Vario" refers to the waterblocks' ability to adjust the shape of their cold plates in real time to ensure the best fit with the CPU socket. Meanwhile, "Vision" models have an OLED right on the block that can display temperatures, clocks, and other information in real time.

You can buy your Cuplex Kryos Next in a variety of styles. Aqua Computer offers models with copper, nickel-plated brass, black acetal, or transparent acetal housings. The base can be finished in bare copper, nickel-plated copper, or sterling silver. The TR4-SP3 version of the Cuplex Kryos Next starts at about 65€ and goes up from there. You can pick it up directly from Aqua Computer's web shop.

8 comments — Last by cynan at 3:53 PM on 09/20/17

Amazon's Kindle Fire HD 10 gets a meaty hardware upgrade
— 10:45 AM on September 20, 2017

Amazon's Kindle Fire 7 is probably the undisputed champion of the under-$50 tablet segment, and it often forays down to $35 impulse-buy territory thanks to discounts. The company's Kindle Fire HD tablets compete in more contested territory, but the online retailer-slash-cloud-computing-provider is upgrading its premium tablet's arsenal for the holiday shopping season. The new Kindle Fire HD 10 gets a big screen upgrade from a 1280x800 unit with a pixel density of 149 PPI to a 1920x1200 unit with 224 PPI. For some users, the addition of an Alexa voice interface might be even better news than the screen update.

The old Kindle HD 10 tablet was last updated in late 2015. While the MediaTek SoC in the previous model had a four-core big.LITTLE arrangement with two 1.5 GHz "fast" cores, it now gets a boost to four equal 1.8 GHz cores. System memory got doubled from 1 GB to 2 GB, too. Those hardware improvements should go a long way towards providing a more responsive experience on the tablet.

Amazon will sell units with either 32 GB or 64 GB of integrated storage, but buyers can add up to 256 GB of additional space on a microSD card. The Fire HD 10 has a 2 MP rear-facing camera that can shoot 720p video, and a 640x480 front-facer. The meager camera specs coupled with the tablet's 10.3" x 6.3" x 0.4" (26 cm x 16 cm x 1.0 cm) dimensions and 18 oz (500 g) weight, probably relegate the picture-takers to emergency duty only. Amazon says buyers have about 10 hours of media consumption between tablet charges.

The Fire HD 10 responds to Alexa voice commands whenever it's connected to Wi-Fi, even when the screen is asleep. The hands-free mode allows users to open apps, pause and resume videos, get answers to questions, and control smart home devices right from the tablet. Like the entire Kindle device family, the Fire HD 10 is positioned as a gateway to Amazon's immense media and app catalog. The included apps allow users to read e-books, play music, and watch videos from Amazon's Prime services or the larger library of paid items.

Amazon is taking pre-orders for it uprated Kindle Fire HD 10 now and expects deliveries to start October 11. The version with 32 GB of local storage costs $150 with lock screen ads or $165 without the extra advertising. The model with 64 GB of capacity runs $190 with the ads and $205 without them. Amazon says the Fire HD 10 is more resistant to falls than Apple's iPad Pro, though the Kindle Fire 7 Kids Edition is still probably a better choice for children or especially-clumsy adults. The tablet is available in black, blue, or red colors. The case with an integrated kickstand shown in the second photo goes for an extra $40.

30 comments — Last by ermo at 1:58 PM on 09/21/17

Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 and NH-L12S are ready for little boxes
— 9:14 AM on September 20, 2017

The stock heatsinks that AMD includes with most of its Ryzen processors are quite capable but also relatively tall. The fastest Ryzens don't even include coolers. If you're building a Ryzen ITX machine and can't decide what to slap on your socket to keep things chilled, Noctua can hook you up. The company just announced the NH-L12S and NH-L9a-AM4, both updated versions of existing designs.

First, let's look at the NH-L12S. The previous NH-L12 came with two fans and had a slightly different shape. That cooler was versatile, but its installation could be complex. The new NH-L12S comes with a single slim-line 120-mm fan that makes it shorter than the previous model, even with the fan installed on top. Putting the fan there gives you extra room for tall memory modules, but if you're really strapped for space, you can install the fan underneath for a total height of just 2¾ inches (70 mm).

Like most of Noctua's current heatsinks, the NH-L12S comes with the company's new SecuFirm2 socket mounting system. That means it's compatible with pretty much every socket under the sun, including Intel's latest LGA 2066 and of course, AMD's Socket AM4. Given that the slim 15-mm NF-A12x15 fan is also Noctua-made, we don't imagine it will make a lot of noise, but the company includes a low-noise adapter in the box anyway.

Meanwhile, the NH-L9a-AM4 doesn't use the SecuFirm2 mounting system. This heatsink is designed specifically for the AM4 socket and is based on the original NH-L9a. This ultra-low-profile heatsink is just a hair under 1½ inches (37 mm) tall, including the fan. Even though this mini-cooler is ridiculously tiny, Noctua says it should be able to handle the heat output of the top-end 95W Ryzen CPUs, as long as they aren't overclocked.

Noctua's "no-overclocking" caveat extends to both of these coolers, although we suspect the NH-L12S could dissipate quite a bit of heat with a beefier fan on it. The company says both of these coolers are already shipping, and that it expects the NH-L12S to go for $50, while the NH-L9a-AM4 should be $40.

9 comments — Last by Amien at 12:41 AM on 09/21/17

Gigabyte's X399 Designare-EX adds Thunderbolt to Threadripper
— 5:02 PM on September 19, 2017

As more hardware gets integrated into processor packages, it becomes trickier for motherboards to stand out. Some certainly do, though, and one such model is Gigabyte's upcoming X399 Designare EX. Gigabyte's Designare series represents the best of the best from the company's engineering team, and the new board looks to be no exception to that rule.

The X399 Designare EX is an ATX motherboard bearing the AMD X399 chipset. As usual, it has a TR4 socket primed and ready for a Ryzen Threadripper CPU. The board has eight DDR4 DIMM slots, five physical PCIe x16 slots, and steel reinforcement on every single slot. There are three M.2 sockets, all fitted with heatsinks, and the typical eight SATA 6Gbps ports. That's where 'typical' ends with this board, though.

For starters, Gigabyte equipped the X399 Designare-EX with a pair of Intel network adapters. That's not unheard-of on X399 motherboards, but it's certainly welcome. Alongside the Gigabit Ethernet jacks on the rear panel, you'll find a pair of RP-SMA connectors for the onboard Intel-powered 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter. The backside of the motherboard is covered in a back plate that could help shield it from harmful interference. If nothing else, it'll make the board stiffer while you're installing hardware. The I/O shield is integrated into the board itself, something that just makes too much sense.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the X399 Designare-EX is its support for Thunderbolt add-in cards. While the on-board Type-C port is just a regular USB 3.1 connection, there's a special 5-pin header near the SATA ports specifically to enable Thunderbolt support. Gigabyte wasn't clear about whether the board would include the Thunderbolt card or not.

Overall, aside from the networking capabilities, Thunderbolt support, and silver color scheme, this board is pretty similar to the X399 Aorus Gaming 7. That model is available on Newegg for $390, so if you need a seriously nice X399 motherboard right now, check it out. If you can wait, Gigabyte says the X399 Designare-EX should be available in the middle of next month, and expects it to be priced around the $400 mark.

16 comments — Last by cygnus1 at 10:24 AM on 09/21/17