Posted on Tuesday, January 16 2018 @ 14:59:53 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Over at CES 2018, Ducky Keyboards showed off a mechanical keyboard that adopts the new Cherry MX RGB Low Profile. These mechanical switches have a height of just 11.9mm and feature a shorter travel distance, they ideal for low-profile keyboards as well as a better fit for gaming laptops. Thanks to the new switches, Ducky managed to create a mechanical keyboard with a total keyboard height of just 22mm.
The Ducky Blade Air is one of the first confirmed keyboards with the Cherry MX RGB Low Profile switches and what makes it even more special is that it can be used wirelessly. The Blade Air has a detachable USB Type-C plug for wired operation but it also features Bluetooth for wireless computing.
Posted on Tuesday, January 16 2018 @ 14:26:00 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Half an hour ago I wrote about the QLC-based Intel SSD 660p and now there's news of a new QLC-capable controller from Marvell. The quad-bit-per-cell NAND flash memory is cheaper but has even lower endurance than triple-bit-per-cell (TLC) NAND flash memory. Over at CES 2018, Tom's Hardware heard that various companies are working on QLC-based SSDs.
One of the upcoming QLC-capable controllers is a new Marvell model that will replace the existing NVMe 1.1 Eldora (88SS1093). The unnamed controller will target the consumer, cloud data center, and enterprise segments.
QLC NAND flash memory requires enhanced error correction technology and one of the key features in the new Marvell controller is NANDEdge ECC technology.
Tom's Hardware saw the controller in action at CES 2018 and reports it can do 3500MB/s and 670,000 IOPS in combination with 3D TLC flash memory. The availability of the first disks with this controller is unknown, but it will probably be later rather than sooner.
Posted on Tuesday, January 16 2018 @ 14:15:19 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
A leaked slide set details a cunning plan to squeeze more money out of gamers. It works by employing an artificial intelligence system to manipulate your gameplay in a way that maximizes profits for game publishers. The idea behind the system is to increase the revenue stream by combining out-of-game information and out-of-game AI generated activities with in-game premium activities. The AI agent analyzed you and your socioeconomic situation and can then continuously alter your individual gameplay experience to get you to pay as much as possible to get ahead in the game.
It proposes leveraging AI to gather and build a socio-economic profile of a player to implement the best revenue-generation strategy. It also proposes using an AI to consistently "alter" the player's gameplay, such that the player's actions don't have the desired result leading toward beating the game, but towards an "unfair" consequence that motivates more in-game spending.
TechPowerUp has more details and the relevant slides over here. There's no indication anyone is planning to adopt this in a large way, but it's a sign of things to come.
We all want better AI in games, but perhaps not this sort of AI?
Posted on Tuesday, January 16 2018 @ 14:03:46 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
The Intel Core i5-8500 processor got spotted in the online database of the SiSoft SANDRA test. This six-core Coffee Lake chip has a base clock of 3.0GHz, has six threads, 9MB L3 cache, and a TDP rating of 65W. The Boost clock is unknown.
TechPowerUp speculates this chip will soon hit retail shelves for about $220, after retailer markup.
It scored 139.63 GOPS in the Arithmetic test, 317.88 Mpix/s in the multi-media test, 7.49 GB/s in the cryptography test, which puts its performance in the league of AMD's Ryzen 5 1600.
There are also rumors about more Coffee Lake chips for the laptop market. German tech site ComputerBase came across evidence of several chips, including the Core i7-8850H, the first six-core, twelve-threaded CPU for the mobile segment. Other parts include the 7-8670, i5-8600T, i3-8121U, and i3-8130U. There is even a mentioning of an early Cannonlake-U sample, Intel still hopes to ship these later this year.
Posted on Tuesday, January 16 2018 @ 13:55:48 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
The specifications of two upcoming M.2 NVMe SSDs from Intel hit the web.
First up we have the Intel SSD 760p, this model features the Intel 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory and promises read speeds of up to 3200MB/s, write speeds of up to 1600MB/s, up to 350,000 random read IOPS and up to 280,000 random write IOPS. The SSD 760p series will be offered in 128GB, 256GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities. TigerDirect lists pricing of $96, $120, $240, $448, and $893, respectively.
SSD 660p gets QLC NAND
The SSD 660p is a cheaper version and as far as I know this is the first mass-market product to feature 64-layer 3D NAND flash memory with quad-level-cell (QLC). The SSD 660p lineup will ship in 512GB to 2TB capacities, but we don't know the exact pricing. The leaked specifications indicate read speeds of up to 1800MB/s, write speeds of up to 1200MB/s, and random read/write performance of around 150,000 IOPS.
Posted on Tuesday, January 16 2018 @ 13:34:12 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
In Win will soon deliver its new multi-functional MARS fans. These 120mm fans feature an arm with three rotating hinges, allowing you to adjust the fan position and angle to cool very specific areas. The MARS fans feature a lightweight aluminium frame and have a modular connector design, enabling you to link more than one fan to the motherboard.
Vibrational noise is minimized with rubber stands and the included 2.5mm fan connector allows you to transfer the voltage from 5V to 12V. The specification sheet lists a speed of 600 to 1400RPM, an airflow level of up to 38.73CFM, 0.69 mm/ H2O air pressure and a noise level of 25dBA.
The MARS fans use double ball bearing, have a life expectancy of 50,000 hours (at 40°C) and feature a 5-year warranty.
In Win will offer the MARS fans in full-black and black/red color combinations. Pricing is unknown.
Posted on Tuesday, January 16 2018 @ 11:30:40 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
While PC enthusiasts best know HBM and HBM2 due to their inclusion in high-end video card designs from AMD, it seems it's primarily AI and machine learning that are driving new demand for this type of memory. HBM is not only the fastest form of DRAM on the market, it also offers the best space and power characteristics. All this makes it very attractive for next-gen supercomputers and AI systems. The big reason why HBM is still a niche technology is the high cost. The problem at the moment is that volumes are low, which makes it hard to get the costs down. At the same time, the low volume is keeping the pricing high so we get a classic chicken-and-egg problem.
HBM is often discussed in the same breadth of Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) as an avenue for getting the fastest DRAM performance. There's not a great deal of difference between the two technologies, but given that HBM has been getting wider adoption, it may win out over HMC, just as VHS eclipsed Beta.
But even if HBM is the winner, it's still a niche technology, said Jim Handy, principal analyst with Objective Analysis. "I do see it eventually becoming mainstream, but today it's really expensive technology. That's because TSVs are expensive thing to put silicon wafers,” Handy said.
Posted on Tuesday, January 16 2018 @ 11:20:23 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Artificial intelligence is one of the hottest buzz words in the technology industry and there are quite a number of companies that are working on chips to meet the demand from this growing target audience. This includes big names like Intel, NVIDIA and Qualcomm, but also a long list of startups. A new piece by NY Times reports there are at least 45 startups working on AI chips, focusing on everything from speech to self-driving car technology. At least five of these startups have already raised over $100 million from investors.
The paper compares the AI boom to the massive growth of PC and HDD makers in the 1980s, and predicts few of these startups will survive:
The explosion is akin to the sudden proliferation of PC and hard-drive makers in the 1980s. While these are small companies, and not all will survive, they have the power to fuel a period of rapid technological change.
It is doubtful that any of the companies fantasize about challenging Intel head-on with their own chip factories, which can take billions of dollars to build. (The start-ups contract with other companies to make their chips.) But in designing chips that can provide the particular kind of computing power needed by machines learning how to do more and more things, these start-ups are racing toward one of two goals: Find a profitable niche or get acquired. Fast.
Posted on Monday, January 15 2018 @ 15:13:33 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Relief for the high pricing of SSDs could be in sight sooner than expected. Previously, analysts and investors expected prices would continue to rise or remain high for at least another year, but that idea got dashed by a sudden price drop in Q4 2017.
Reuters reports the pricing of high-end flash memory chips, which are commonly used in smartphones, fell almost 5 percent last quarter. Analysts are now revising their forecast, and lowering their growth forecast for the big memory makers.
Last year’s explosive growth gave chipmakers cash to reinvest and boost output, analysts said. The supply of NAND flash memory chips, in particular, will grow 43 percent this year, up from last year’s 34 percent, causing prices to drop by about 10 percent, brokerage Nomura estimates.
The DRAM market on the other hand is unlikely to see similar relief. Supply of DRAM chips is seen as much tighter. Prices are expected to soar another 9 percent due to shortages.
Posted on Monday, January 15 2018 @ 14:35:19 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Towards the end of 2017, it looked like the GPU market was normalizing but in recent days things have dramatically worsened for gamers. Intensifying demand from the cryptocurrency market is resulting in fewer video cards hitting retail shelves, which in turn drives up prices.
The US is hit pretty hard and Europe is following.
German tech site ComputerBase tracked the evolution of video card prices and concludes there's been a big increase since December 4, 2017. As is to be expected, especially AMD GPUs are hit hard. Pricing of popular AMD cards is up 24 to 58 percent, depending on the model. With exception of the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, the price of NVIDIA's cards soared 10 to 20 percent over the same timeframe.
An increase in component costs explains part of the price spike, but most of it seems to originate from strong mining demand. ComputerBase heard from a trader that the delivery situation is expected to remain tight until at least the end of March.
The site also picked up word that AMD is still not providing enough Vega GPUs to its partners. Similarly, NVIDIA is said to be cutting back Pascal GPU production to make room for its next-gen GeForce GPUs, which are expected in Q2 2018. Some other PC components, like PSUs with a capacity of 1000W or more, are also very hard to find due to strong demand from the cryptocurrency segment.
In the US, things are even worse as major retailers are now selling GeForce GTX 1070 cards for $940. Suffice to say, it's pretty bonkers to pay these prices if you're a gamer.