Technology moves so fast these days that it's not easy to keep track of all the great innovations going on in various fields and disciplines. MIT's TechnologyReview just published its annual list of the ten biggest breakthrough technologies you should know about. Some of these technologies are unfolding before our eyes while others may take a decade or more to develop, but most of them will likely have a profound impact on our life. You can check out the full list with links to in-depth articles over here.
10 biggest breakthroughts of the year:
Brain implants to reverse paralysis suffered by patient with spinal cord injuries. Available in 10-15 years.
Self-driving trucks, expected to have huge impact on employment in the 2020s.
Facial recognition, on the market today and used to authorize payments, provide entry to facilities and track down bad guys.
Practical quantum computers. We've been hearing about quantum computing for decades but now researchers believe it's going to have a major impact within 4-5 years.
360-degrees video, on the market today and ushering in a new era with a phenomenal new way to record your memories.
Hot solar cells. Still 10-15 years away from us but this different sort of solar energy device promises to capture far more of the sun's energy than traditional silicon-based solar panels.
Gene Therapy 2.0. Scientists are using this today to attack rare hereditary disorders, the same approach could have applications to fight cancer, heart disease and other common illnesses.
The Cell Atlas. A mega-project to discover in much greater detail than ever before what humans are made of by cataloguing the 37.2 trillion cells of the human body. Results expected in five years.
The Botnets of Things. As more devices connect to the Internet, often with very poor build-in security, botnets are getting bigger and more diverse than ever before.
Reinforcement learning. An approach to artificial intelligence to let machines learn like humans and to let computers figure out how to best do stuff no programmer could teach them. In testing right now, expected in 1-2 years.
RGB LED products are the rage of the moment so Corsair figured it wouldn't hurt to roll out a new RGB product to light up your case. Now available via the company's webshop, the Corsair Lighting Node PRO features four individually addressable RGB LED strips, they connect to a USB 2.0 node that lets you control the RGB LEDs via the Corsair LINK software.
Each LED strip is 410mm long and features ten RGB LEDs, you can mount them via four magnets per strip and full-strip tape. The kit also includes four 345mm long RGB extension cables to ensure you can mount the strips wherever you want them in your case.
The RGB LED kit is sold for $59.99.
Dual Channel Lighting
Control four individually addressable RGB LED strips and up to six HD RGB fans (sold separately, fan RGB LED hub required) simultaneously.
Individually Addressable RGB LED Strips
Each RGB LED strip is independently controlled - display different lighting effects and animations on each strip separately.
USB 2.0 Interface
No special interface or additional hardware is required to use the Lighting Node PRO to its full potential; plug it into an available USB 2.0 header on your motherboard.
With just a couple more days to go until the NDA expires, more and more Ryzen benchmarks are starting to leak. It's hard to post every single snippet that hits the web but I'll do my best to post about the more interesting leaks.
One of these leaks comes from China and gives us a glimpse at the gaming performance of the $399 Ryzen 7 1700X (3.4GHz). The tester compared it to the $409.99 Intel Core i7-6800K (3.4GHz) on an almost identical system. Both systems used a Radeon RX 480 8GB video card, the Intel system used the ASUS STRIX X99 GAMING with 16GB DDR4-2400 while the AMD system used the ASUS PRIME X370-PRO with 16GB DDR4-2133.
The results are certainly impressive, if these results are accurate AMD has the upper hand. Not only is the slightly cheaper Ryzen 7 1700X faster in mosts tests, it also consumes a lot less power! The Intel chip has a TDP of 140W whereas the can outmatch it with a TDP of just 95W.
The standby platform power consumption of the 1700X system came in at 62.77W versus 98.74W measured on the 6800K system. Similarly, platform gaming power consumption was 154.66W for the 1700X and 194.2W for the 6800K system, and platform office task consumption was 85.11W versus 113.5W. Interestingly, the platform power consumption with the CPU at full load was not that big: 123W for the 1700X versus 126.87W for the 6800K.
A full list of the benchmark results can be viewed below, the Ryzen 7 1700X is generally faster than the Core i7 6800K and in the few data points were it loses the difference is pretty small. We'll know more in a couple of days but if this is accurate the Ryzen lineup scores favorable in terms of raw performance, price/performance and performance/Watt.
VideoCardz came across a video that showcases the RGB LED effects of the new Wraith Max cooler that ships with some Ryzen processors. The RGB LED ring can be controlled via software, which supports many light effects.
The site also published a screenshot that reveals the new Downcore feature of Ryzen. This seems to be a new BIOS feature that gives you a great level of control over the number of cores the chip is allowed to use. You can disable up to six of the eight core of Ryzen 7 and you even have some control over which cores should be used.
Taiwanese foundry UMC announced it's now offering volume production on its 14nm FinFET process node. This is earlier than expected, just a couple of months ago the company said it wouldn't offer 14nm until Q2 2017. UMC says its 14nm node offers industry-competitive yields and reveals its 14nm FinFET node features 55 percent higher speed, 50 percent lower power consumption and twice the gate density over its 28nm node.
United Microelectronics Corporation (NYSE:UMC;TWSE: 2303) ("UMC"), a leading global semiconductor foundry, today announced that it has entered mass production for customer ICs based on the company’s self-developed 14nm FinFET technology. The foundry is shipping 14nm wafers to its lead customers and has achieved industry-competitive yields for the highly advanced process, which is being utilized for pioneering new consumer electronic applications.
Po-Wen Yen, CEO of UMC said, “This 14nm volume production milestone is the culmination of UMC’s close collaboration with its customers, demonstrating the success of our collaborative approach to bringing leading-edge technologies to market. We will continue to refine this process and are working with other customers to bring the full performance, power and gate density benefits of 14nm FinFET to enable next generation silicon in areas such as networking, AI and various consumer products."
UMC’s 14nm FinFET technology performance is competitive with the semiconductor industry’s leading standards, featuring 55% higher speed and twice the gate density over 28nm process technology. The leading-edge 14nm process also consumes approximately 50% less power than 28nm. UMC is producing the 14nm customer ICs at the company’s Fab 12A in Tainan, Taiwan and expects to steadily ramp its 14nm manufacturing capacity according to customer demand.
Futuremark send out word about a couple of new benchmarks the company has in its pipeline. These new tests will be shown at the GDC and MWC this week, it includes a DirectX 12 benchmark for VR, a mobile VR test, a hardware-based VR latency test, and a server benchmark.
VRMark Cyan Room, DirectX 12 VR benchmark
VRMark Cyan Room, currently in development, is a new DirectX 12 benchmark test for Windows PC. Sitting between the Orange and Blue Rooms, the Cyan Room benchmark shows how using an API with less overhead helps developers create impressive VR experiences on modest PC systems. As with the existing VRMark tests, you can run the Cyan Room benchmark on your monitor or on a VR headset. Run the benchmark to measure performance or try Experience mode with an HMD to judge a system's rendering quality with your own eyes.
VRMark benchmarks for mobile VR
Mobile VR offers an affordable entry point for virtual reality, but differences in device performance and a rapidly evolving ecosystem present significant challenges. That’s why VRMark will soon add new benchmark tests designed specifically for mobile VR platforms.
The new tests cover a range of existing and emerging device standards such as Google Daydream, Google Cardboard, and Samsung Gear VR. Two test modes let you measure a device's peak performance as well as its ability to run VR for longer periods without overheating, degrading performance or consuming an excessive amount of battery.
VR Latency testing with Futuremark and OptoFidelity
In virtual reality, low latency is essential for user comfort. Poor performance affects the quality of the VR experience. It can even cause motion sickness and nausea.
Futuremark has partnered with OptoFidelity, a globally recognized pioneer in robot-assisted testing and quality assurance, to provide manufacturers with an advanced VR latency testing platform. The platform offers end-to-end testing of VR equipment while measuring key VR performance indicators such as motion-to-photon latency, pixel persistence, and frame jitter. The solution works with PCs and mobile devices and can be applied to both VR and AR systems.
Servermark server benchmark tests from Futuremark, a UL company
Servermark is a new benchmark suite for testing server performance for a range of common uses. At GDC and MWC, we're showing previews of two Servermark benchmark tests.
Servermark VDI is a benchmark for evaluating servers used for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. It enables you to determine the number of virtual desktops a server can support at a set performance level or the level of performance that can be achieved with a set number of clients.
Servermark Media Transcode is a benchmark for testing the performance of media servers. It helps you determine the maximum number of concurrent video streams a server can deliver with a specified codec, resolution and quality.
Extreme overclocking demonstration
Head over to the Futuremark stand (142) from 1-5pm on Thursday, March 2, for a live demonstration of extreme overclocking hosted by Pieter-Jan "Massman" Plaisier, Chief Operating Officer at HWBot. Don’t miss this chance to see overclocking taken to the next level with liquid nitrogen cooling.
Here's an image of the new virtual reality DX12 test:
There's some buzz about Intel responding to the imminent arrival of Ryzen by significantly lowering its prices but this seems to be a promotion from a single retailer and not a broad price cut coming from Intel.
WCCF Tech discovered that US retailer Microcenter is offering big discounts on various Intel desktop processors. There are some good deals to be found but this promotion is exclusively for in-store pickup and is limited to one unit per household.
Here's an overview of the promotions with the current price level at Microcenter and the price cut versus the usual list price:
Market research firm DRAMeXchange provides an update about the NAND flash memory market and it's bad news if you're in the market for a new disk. Pricing of solid state disks saw a big increase in recent months, a quick check of a disk I bought in July 2016 reveals the same product is now over 20 percent more expensive!
The reason for this is tight supply of NAND flash memory and there's no improvement expected the coming months as DRAMeXchange predicts contract prices of SSDs will increase by another 5-10 percent in Q2 2017. At the same time, the computer industry is also seeing big price increases for DRAM and LCD panels.
The global supply of 2D-NAND Flash will remain tight going into the second quarter of 2017, according to the latest analysis from DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce. Also, major smartphone brands will soon begin their first wave of new product release for the year after the Mobile World Congress in Spain. With the NAND Flash supply still under strain, DRAMeXchange forecasts that contract prices of both SSDs and eMMCs will see a more moderate sequential price hike of 5~10% in the second quarter.
The end of 2016 saw the most severe phase of shortage in the NAND Flash market, and since then the market expectation of undersupply has kept prices climbing. For the first quarter of 2017, DRAMeXchange estimates that the average sequential increases in contract prices of eMMCs and SSDs will come to 15~20% and 10~15%, respectively. The sequential contract price increase for SSDs in the first quarter will also be the highest in almost two years.
Apart from the pressure of soaring NAND Flash prices, smartphone and notebook brands are also dealing with sharp price upswings for other key components such as DRAM and LCD panels. In order to keep costs down and maintain healthy margins, device vendors will implement measures that will also lead to slowing growth in the average content per box for eMMCs and SSDs in the near future.
“The accumulated price increase in the NAND Flash market has become so huge that device vendors are currently revising their initial plans to raise the storage specifications of their products,” said Sean Yang, research director of DRAMeXchange. “Though the NAND Flash market will remain strong the second quarter of this year, eMMCs and SSDs will see a more moderate hike in their contract prices compared with increases of the previous quarters.”
Looking ahead to the rest of 2017, the market for enterprise-grade SSDs constitutes the strongest and most stable source of end demand for NAND Flash compared with other applications. Server vendors are enjoying booming growth of data centers, and this is also driving their use of high-efficiency enterprise-grade SSDs when designing their systems. As for the client-grade SSD market, the growth in the average content per box will slow down this year due to the high NAND Flash prices. Nonetheless, SSDs have become standard in notebooks and their penetration in the notebook market will continue to rise through 2017.
Yang in his analysis also pointed out the next iPhone release in the second half of this year will be an important indicator of the NAND Flash market. “The 10th anniversary iPhone devices will come with major hardware upgrades and many new features,” said Yang. “If they do well in sales, it will help keep up NAND Flash demand in the latter half of 2017.”
The ASRock X370 Taichi motherboard manual reveals a bit more details about the design and the installation procedures of the coolers that will be boxed with the Ryzen processors.
AMD SR1 cooler
There are three different coolers according to the manual, the first one is called "SR1" and is the most basic version. It's a radial cooler that comes with a backplate, this is the cheapest version and it's also the only one without a LED ring. This one is likely for future, lower-end or business Ryzen releases with a TDP of up to 65W.
AMD Wraith Spire
Next we have the "SR2", which is basicaly a larger version of the "SR1". It's more commonly known as the Wraith Spire, it's capable of handling a TDP of up to 95W and features an RGB LED ring that connects to the AMD FAN LED1 header on the motherboard so you can control it via software-based utilities like the ASRock RGB LED tool, which allows you to select various light effects.
AMD Wraith Max
The most advanced boxed cooler for Ryzen is the "SR3", aka the Wraith Max. This top-down cooler is rated at up to 140W TDP and uses a mounting system similar to the original Wraith cooler.
The interesting thing is that there are two options here for the LED ring, you can either connect it to the AMD FAN LED1 header on the motherboard, in this case you need to install the ASRock RGB LED tool. Alternatively, you can use a different cable to connect it to the USB_5 header, in that case you need to install the AMD "SR3 Settings Software". I think the difference is that the first option allows you to sync the light effects with the other RGB LED regions of the motherboard.
A couple of days ago AMD unexpectedly opened pre-orders for its Ryzen 7 lineup and all signs point to a massive commercial success. Lots of enthusiast are excited about AMD's new architecture and hope it will give the company a grand comeback in the x86 processor market.
Tom's Hardware took a look at the sales of the Ryzen lineup and concludes the first batch is starting to sell out. The Ryzen 7 1800X is currently sold out at Newegg but new stock is expected by March 3. The other two models are still available for pre-order.
It's the same story at Amazon, the Ryzen 7 1700 and Ryzen 7 1700X are still available but the 1800X is sold out. Some smaller third-party shops are still selling it via the Amazon platform but they charge at least $150 more than the MSRP.
In Europe we can see that places like Caseking still have the 1800X available for pre-order but its British counterpart OCUK lists an ETA of March 8, 2017. Alternate.de promises a March 3-4 delivery and MindFactory still has it available for pre-order with a March 2nd availability.
One of the interesting things about MindFactory is that this shop lists how many items they've sold and it reveals there's an inverse correlation between the price of the chip and the number of pre-orders. The Ryzen 7 1800X scored "over 130" pre-orders at this German shop, versus "over 90" for the 1700X and "over 70" for the 1700.