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  • U.S. lawmakers annoyed with Huawei's latest laptop with Intel Meteor Lake CPUs
    on 13. April 2024 at 18:52

    As the presidential election race heats up, Republican lawmakers criticize Biden administration export decisions.

  • Vendor readies AMD motherboards for Zen 5 CPUs — FireRangePi 1.1.7.0 AGESA for AM5 makes way for...
    on 13. April 2024 at 18:50

    MSI has published new BIOS updates featuring AMD's latest AGESA 1.1.7.0 firmware update, incorporating "next-gen" CPU support for its upcoming Ryzen 9000 Zen 5 CPUs.

  • Hard drive destroyer vibrates hard drives to death in 90 seconds — DiskMantler then spits out the...
    on 13. April 2024 at 17:19

    This new drive destruction tool vibrates HDDs into their parts in 8 to 90 seconds.

  • This briefcase lets you walk around with 368TB of NVMe SSDs — WD Ultrastar Transporter features...
    on 13. April 2024 at 16:50

    Western Digital has created a new travel luggage carry case with 368TB of high-speed NVMe SSD storage with an Ice Lake server.

  • Are you holding out for a curved gaming monitor? Acer Nitro 24-inch 165 Hz monitor is on sale for...
    on 13. April 2024 at 16:27

    The Acer Nitro ED240Q Sbiip is currently available at Walmart for just $81 instead of the recommended $199.

  • U.S. blacklists Intel's and Nvidia's key partner in China — three other Chinese firms also...
    on 13. April 2024 at 16:23

    The U.S. government added Sitonholy, one of China's largest solution providers based on Intel and Nvidia processors, to the Entity List.

  • Western Digital preps 4TB SD cards for 2025 — SDUC cards big enough to tackle 8K video
    on 13. April 2024 at 14:54

    The Western Digital-owned SanDisk continues to push the envelope in SD card storage and speeds.

  • How to identify which application is hogging your camera in Windows 11 and 10
    on 13. April 2024 at 14:34

    We’ve all been there. The pandemic forced many of us to work from home and that meant getting used to being on camera. But sometimes our cameras failed to work. In this how to we cover the biggest “gotcha” to impact many Windows users.

  • Raspberry Pi 4 brings KITT from Knight Rider to life using ChatGPT
    on 13. April 2024 at 14:13

    Knight Rider Historians show off this incredible Raspberry Pi-powered KITT replica that uses ChatGPT to imitate conversation.

  • Jim Keller suggests Nvidia should have used Ethernet to stitch together Blackwell GPUs — Nvidia...
    on 13. April 2024 at 13:56

    Jim Keller advises Nvidia to use Ethernet to stitch two Blackwell GPUs in GB200.

  • Can Microsoft Copilot Write Simple SQL Commands for You?
    by Mark W. Kaelin on 12. April 2024 at 21:19

    Microsoft Copilot can write basic SQL code, which could help your employees be more efficient and productive.

  • Side-by-Side Comparison: Pipedrive vs HubSpot
    by Bianca Caballero on 12. April 2024 at 21:00

    Pipedrive is a sales-focused CRM that helps businesses manage their workflows through visual pipelines, while HubSpot is an all-in-one platform that aligns sales, marketing and service strategies.

  • Determine Which Version of Microsoft Copilot is Right for You
    by Mark W. Kaelin on 12. April 2024 at 20:31

    Trying to decide which version of Microsoft Copilot is right for you? This guide will help you compare and choose the one that best suits your needs.

  • Apple Alerts iPhone Users in 92 Countries to Mercenary Spyware Attacks
    by Fiona Jackson on 12. April 2024 at 16:54

    Apple recommends that iPhone users install software updates, use strong passwords and 2FA, and don’t open links or attachments from suspicious emails to keep their device safe from spyware.

  • TIOBE Index News (April 2024): PHP’s Popularity Declining
    by Megan Crouse on 12. April 2024 at 15:58

    The top three programming languages – C++, C and Python – remain the same, while Fortran rises.

  • Sophos Study: 94% of Ransomware Victims Have Their Backups Targeted By Attackers
    by Fiona Jackson on 12. April 2024 at 15:44

    Research has found that criminals can demand higher ransom when they compromise an organisation’s backup data in a ransomware attack. Discover advice from security experts on how to properly protect your backup.

  • 8 Best ETL Tools and Software for 2024
    by Kihara Kimachia on 12. April 2024 at 15:26

    Databricks, AWS and Google Cloud are among the top ETL tools for seamless data integration, featuring AI, real-time processing and visual mapping to enhance business intelligence.

  • 7 Best CRM for Startups in 2024
    by Allyssa Haygood-Taylor on 12. April 2024 at 15:09

    Looking for the best CRM for startups? Check out our comprehensive guide. Compare features, pricing, and reviews to find the best CRM solution for you.

  • 5 Best AI CRM Software for 2024
    by Allyssa Haygood-Taylor on 12. April 2024 at 13:54

    Looking to find the best AI CRM software? Explore top options, features and benefits to streamline your customer relationship management processes effectively.

  • Hubspot CRM Review 2024: Features, Pricing, Pros & Cons
    by Allyssa Haygood-Taylor on 12. April 2024 at 13:45

    Explore the capabilities of HubSpot CRM in our detailed review. Learn about the features, pricing, and pros and cons of this CRM software.

  • Corsair Enters Workstation Memory Market with WS Series XMP/EXPO DDR5 RDIMMs
    on 12. April 2024 at 12:30

    Corsair has introduced a family of registered memory modules with ECC that are designed for AMD's Ryzen Threadripper 7000 and Intel's Xeon W-2400/3400-series processors. The new Corsair WS DDR5 RDIMMs with AMD EXPO and Intel XMP 3.0 profiles will be available in kits of up to 256 GB capacity and at speeds of up to 6400 MT/s. Corsair's family of WS DDR5 RDIMMs includes 16 GB modules operating at up to 6400 MT/s with CL32 latency as well as 32 GB modules functioning at 5600 MT/s with CL40 latency. At present, Corsair offers a quad-channel 64 GB kit (4×16GB, up to 6400 MT/s), a quad-channel 128GB kit (4×32GB, 5600 MT/s), an eight-channel 128 GB kit (8×16GB, 5600 MT/s), and an eight-channel 256 GB kit (8×32GB, 5600 MT/s) and it remains to be seen whether the company will expand the lineup. Corsair's WS DDR5 RDIMMs are designed for AMD's TRX50 and WRX90 platforms as well as Intel's W790 platform and are therefore compatible with AMD's Ryzen Threadripper Pro 7000 and 7000WX-series as well as Intel's Xeon W-2400/3400-series CPUs. The modules feature both AMD EXPO and Intel XMP 3.0 profiles to easily set their beyond-JEDEC-spec settings and come with thin heat spreaders made of pyrolytic graphite sheet (PGS), which thermal conductivity than that of copper and aluminum of the same thickness. For now, Corsair does not disclose which RCD and memory chips its registered memory modules use. Unlike many of its rivals among leading DIMM manufacturers, Corsair did not introduce its enthusiast-grade RDIMMs when AMD and Intel released their Ryzen Threadripper and Xeon W-series platforms for extreme workstations last year. It is hard to tell what the reason for that is, but perhaps the company wanted to gain experience working with modules featuring registered clock drivers (RCDs) as well as AMD's and Intel's platforms for extreme workstations. The result of the delay looks to be quite rewarding: unlike modules from its competitors that either feature AMD EXPO or Intel XMP 3.0 profiles, Corsair's WS DDR5 RDIMMs come with both. While this may not be important on the DIY market where people know exactly what they are buying for their platform, this is a great feature for system integrators, which can use Corsair WS DDR5 RDIMMs both for their AMD Ryzen Threadripper and Intel Xeon W-series builds, something that greatly simplifies their inventory management. Since Corsair's WS DDR5 RDIMMs are aimed at workstations and are tested to offer reliable performance beyond JEDEC specifications, they are quite expensive. The cheapest 64 GB DDR5-5600 CL40 kit costs $450, the fastest 64 GB DDR5-6400 CL32 kit is priced at $460, whereas the highest end 256 GB DDR5-5600 CL40 kit is priced at $1,290.

  • Western Digital Previews 4 TB SD Card: World's Highest-Capacity
    on 11. April 2024 at 22:30

    Western Digital this week is previewing the industry's first 4 TB SD card. The device is being showcased at the NAB trade show for broadcasters and content creators and will be released commercially in 2025. Western Digital's SanDisk Extreme Pro SDUC 4 TB SD card complies with the Secure Digital Ultra Capacity standard (SDUC, which enables up to 128TB). The card uses the Ultra High Speed-I (UHS-I) interface and is rated for speed Class 10, therefore supporting a minimum speed of 10 MB/s and a maximum data transfer rate of 104 MB/s when working in UHS104 (SDR104) mode (there is a catch about performance, but more on that later). WD's SD card is also rated to meet Video Speed Class V30, supporting a minimal sequential write speed of 30 MB/s, which is believed to be good enough for 8K video recording, above and beyond the 4K video market that Western Digital is primarily aiming the forthcoming card at. For now, Western Digital is not disclosing what NAND is in the SanDisk Extreme Pro SDUC 4 TB SD card. Given the high capacity and relatively distant 2025 release date, WD may be targetting this as one of their first products to use their forthcoming BiCS 9 NAND. And while not listed in WD's official press release, we would be surprised if the forthcoming card didn't also support the off-spec DDR200/DDR208 mode, which allows for higher transfer rates than the UHS-I standard normally allows via double data rate signaling. Western Digital's current-generation SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC 1 TB SD card already supports that mode, allowing it to reach read speeds as high as 170 MB/s, so it would be surprising to see the company drop it from newer products. That said, the catch with DDR208 remains the same as always: it's a proprietary mode that requires a compatible host to make use of. Western Digital has not disclosed how much will its SanDisk Extreme Pro SDUC 4 TB SD card cost. A 1 TB SanDisk Extreme Pro card costs $140, so one can make guesses about the price of a 4 TB SD card that uses cutting-edge NAND.

  • AMD Quietly Launches Ryzen 7 8700F and Ryzen 5 8400F Processors
    on 11. April 2024 at 19:30

    AMD has recently expanded its Ryzen 8000 series by introducing the Ryzen 7 8700F and Ryzen 5 8400F processors. Initially launched in China, these chips were added to AMD's global website, signaling they are available worldwide, apparently from April 1st. Built from the recent Zen 4-based Phoenix APUs using the TSMC 4nm node as their Zen 4 mobile chips, these new CPUs lack integrated graphics. However, the Ryzen 7 8700F does include the integrated Ryzen AI NPU for added capabilities in a world currently dominated by AI and moving it directly into the PC. The company's decision to announce these chips in China aligns with its strategy to offer Ryzen solutions at every price point in the market. Although AMD didn't initially disclose the full specifications of these F-series models, and we did reach out to the company to ask about them, they refused to discuss them with us. Their listing on the website has now been updated with a complete list of specifications and features, with everything but the price mentioned. AMD Ryzen 8000G vs. Ryzen 8000F Series (Desktop) Zen 4 (Phoenix) AnandTech Cores/Threads Base Freq Turbo Freq GPU GPU Freq Ryzen AI (NPU) L3 Cache (MB) TDP MSRP Ryzen 7 Ryzen 7 8700G 8/16 4200 5100 R780M 12 CUs 2900 Y 16 65W $329 Ryzen 7 8700F 8/16 4100 5000 - - Y 16 65W ? Ryzen 5 Ryzen 5 8600G 6/12 4300 5000 R760M 8 CUs 2800 Y 16 65W $229 Ryzen 5 8400F 6/12 4200 4700 - - N 16 65W ? The Ryzen 7 8700F features an 8C/16T design, with 16MB of L3 cache and the same 65W TDP as the Ryzen 7 8700G. Although the base clock speed is 4.1 GHz, it boosts to 5.0 GHz; this is 100 MHz less on both base/boost clocks than the 8700G. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 5 8400F is a slightly scaled-down version of the Ryzen 8600G APU, with 6C/12, 16MB of L3 cache, and again has a 100 MHz reduction to base clocks compared to the 8600G. Unlike the Ryzen 5 8400F, the Ryzen 7 8700F keeps AMD's Ryzen AI NPU, adding additional capability for generative AI.  The Ryzen 5 8400F can boost up to 4.7 GHz, 300 MHz slower than the Ryzen 5 8600G. AMD also allows overclocking for these new F-series chips, which means users could potentially boost the performance of these processors to match their G-series equivalents. Pricing details are still pending, but to remain competitive, AMD will likely need to price these CPUs below the 8700G and 8600G, as well as the Ryzen 7 7700 and Ryzen 5 7600. These CPUs offer, albeit very limited, integrated graphics and have double the L3 cache capacity, along with higher boost clocks than the 8000F series chips, so pricing is something to consider whenever pricing becomes available.

  • Intel Teases Lunar Lake At Intel Vision 2024: 100+ TOPS Overall, 45 TOPS From NPU Alone
    on 11. April 2024 at 17:00

    During the main keynote at Intel Vision 2024, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger flashed a completed Lunar Lake chip off, much like EVP and General Manager of Intel's Client Computing Group (CCG) Michelle Johnston Holthaus did back at CES 2024. The contrast between the two glimpses of the Lunar Lake chip is that Pat Gelsinger gave us something juicier than just a photo op. He clarified and claimed the levels of AI performance we can expect to see when Lunar Lake launches. According to Intel's CEO Pat Gelsinger, Lunar Lake, scheduled to be launched towards the end of this year, is set to raise the bar even further regarding on-chip AI capabilities and performance. At Intel's own Vision event, aptly named Intel Vision, current CEO of Intel Pat Gelsinger stated during his presentation that Lunar Lake will be the 'flagship SoC' for the next generation of AI PCs. Intel claims that Lunar Lake will have 3X the AI performance of their current Meteor Lake SoC, which is impressive as Meteor Lake is estimated to be running around 34 TOPS combined with the NPU, GPU, and CPU. Factoring in the NPU within Meteor Lake, 11 of the 34 TOPS come solely from the NPU. Still, Intel claims that the NPU on Lunar Lake will hit a large 45 TOPs, akin to the Hailo-10 add-in card and similar to Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite processor. Factoring in the integrated graphics and the compute cores, Intel is claiming a combined total of over 100 TOPS, and with Microsoft's self-imposed guidelines of what constitutes an 'AI PC' coming in at 40 TOPS, Intel's NPU fits the bill. Intel also alludes to how they are gaining a load of TOPS performance from the NPU, whether that be with new technologies; the NPU will likely be built in a more advanced node, perhaps Intel 18A. Another thing Intel didn't highlight was how they were measuring the TOPS performance, whether that be INT8 or INT4. Still, one thing is clear: Intel wants to increase on-chip AI capabilities in desktop PCs and notebooks with each generation. Intel is also attempting to leverage more AI performance to help boost its goal to ship 100 million AI PCs by the end of 2025. Intel has already announced that it's shipped 5 million thus far and plans to sell another 40 million units by the end of the year.

  • The Intel Core Ultra 7 155H Review: Meteor Lake Marks A Fresh Start To Mobile CPUs
    on 11. April 2024 at 12:30

    One of the most significant talking points of the last six months in mobile computing has been Intel and their disaggregated Meteor Lake SoC architecture. Meteor Lake, along with the new Core and Core Ultra naming scheme, also heralds the dawn of their first tiled architecture for the mobile landscape on the latest Intel 4 node with Foveros packaging. In December last year, Intel unveiled their premier Meteor lake-based Core Ultra H series, with five SKUs ranging from two with 4P+8E+2LP/18T and three with 6P+8E+2LP/22T models. Since then, many vendors and manufacturers have launched notebooks capitalizing on Intel's latest multi-tiled Meteor Lake SoC architecture as the heart of power and performance, driving their latest models into 2024. Today, we will focus on an attractive ultrabook via the ASUS Zenbook 14 OLED (UX3405MA), which features a thin and light design and is powered by Intel's latest Meteor Lake Core Ultra 7 155H processor. While much of the attention is going to come on how the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H with its 6P+8E+2LP/22T configuration and 8 Arc Xe integrated graphics cores will perform, the ASUS Zenbook 14 OLED UX3405MA has plenty of features within its sleek Ponder Blue colored shell to make it very interesting. Included is a 14" 3K (2880 x 1800) touchscreen OLED panel with a 120 Hz refresh rate, 32 GB of LPDDR5X memory (soldered), and a 1 TB NVMe M.2 SSD for storage.

  • Intel To Discontinue Boxed 13th Gen Core CPUs for Enthusiasts
    on 11. April 2024 at 0:00

    In an unexpected move, Intel has announced plans to phase out the boxed versions of its enthusiasts-class 13th Generation Core 'Raptor Lake' processors. According to a product change notification (PCN) published by the company last month, Intel plans to stop shipping these desktop CPUs by late June. In its place will remain Intel's existing lineup of boxed 14th Generation Core processors, which are based on the same 'Raptor Lake' silicon and typically carry higher performance for similar prices. Intel customers and distributors interested in getting boxed versions 13th Generation Core i5-13600K/KF, Core i7-13700K/KF, and Core i9-13900K/KF/KS 'Raptor Lake' processors with unlocked multiplier should place their orders by May 24, 2024. The company will ship these units by June 28, 2024. Meanwhile, the PCN does not mention any change to the availability of tray versions of these CPUs, which are sold to OEMs and wholesalers. The impending discontinuation of Intel's boxed 13th Generation Core processors comes as the company's current 14th Generation product line, 'Raptor Lake Refresh' is largely a rehash of the same silicon at slightly higher clockspeeds. Case in point: all of the discontinued SKUs are based on Intel's B0 Raptor Lake silicon, which is still being used for their 14th Gen counterparts. So Intel has not discontinued producing any Raptor Lake silicon; only the number of retail SKUs is getting cut-down. As outlined in our 14th Generation Core/Raptor Lake Refresh review, the 14th Gen chips largely make their 13th Gen counterparts redundant, offering better performance at every tier for the same list price. And with virtually all current generation motherboards supporting both generation of chips, apparently Intel feels there's little reason to keep around what's essentially older, slower SKUs of the same silicon. Interestingly, the retirement of the enthusiast-class 13th Generation Core chips is coming before Intel discontinues their even older 12th Generation Core 'Alder Lake' processors. 12th Gen chips are still available to this day in both boxed and tray versions, and the Alder Lake silicon itself is still widely in use in multiple product families. So even though Alder Lake shares the same platform as Raptor Lake, the chips based on that silicon haven't been rendered redundant in the same way that 13th Gen Core chips have. Ultimately, it would seem that Intel is intent on consolidating and simplifying its boxed retail chip offerings by retiring their near-duplicate SKUs. Which for PC buyers could present a minor opportunity for a deal, as retailers work to sell off their remaining 13th Gen enthusiast chips.

  • Report: Impact of Taiwanese Earthquake on DRAM Output to be Negligible in Q2
    on 10. April 2024 at 22:00

    Following the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Taiwan on April 3, 2024, there was immediate concern over what impact this could have on chip production within the country. Even for a well-prepared country like Taiwan, the tremor was the strongest quake to hit the region in 25 years, making it no small matter. But, according to research compiled by TrendForce, the impact on the production of DRAM will not be significant. The market tracking company believes that Taiwanese DRAM industry has remained largely unaffected, primarily due to their robust earthquake preparedness measures. There are four memory makers in Taiwan: Micron, the sole member of the "big three" memory manufacturers on the island, runs two fabs. Meanwhile among the smaller players is Nanya (which has one fab), Winbond (which makes specialty memory at one fab), and PSMC (which produces specialty memory at one plant). The study found that these DRAM producers quickly resumed full operations, but had to throw away some wafers. The earthquake is estimated to have a minor effect on Q2 DRAM production, with a negligible 1% impact, TrendForce claims In fact, as Micron is ramping up production of DRAM on its 1alpha and 1beta nm process technologies, it increases bit production of memory, which will positively affect supply of commodity DRAM in Q2 2025. Following the earthquake, there was a temporary halt in quotations for both the contract and spot DRAM markets. However, the spot market quotations have already largely resumed, while contract prices have not fully restarted. Notably, Micron and Samsung ceased issuing quotes for mobile DRAM immediately after the earthquake, with no updates provided as of April 8th. In contrast, SK hynix resumed quotations for smartphone customers on the day of the earthquake and proposed more moderate price adjustments for Q2 mobile DRAM. TrendForce anticipates a seasonal contract price increase for Q2 mobile DRAM of between 3% and 8%. This moderate increase is partly due to SK hynix's more restrained pricing strategy, which is likely to influence overall pricing strategies across the industry. The earthquake's impact on server DRAM primarily affected Micron's advanced fabrication nodes, potentially leading to a rise in final sale prices for Micron's server DRAM, according to TrendForce. However, the exact direction of future prices remains to be seen. Meanwhile, DRAM fabs outside of Taiwan have none been directly affected by the quake. This includes Micron's HBM production line in Hiroshima, Japan, and Samsung's and SK hynix's HBM lines in South Korea, all of which are apparently operating with business as usual. In general, the DRAM industry has shown resilience in the face of the earthquake, with minimal disruptions and a quick recovery. The abundant inventory levels for DDR4 and DDR5, coupled with weak demand, suggest that any slight price elevations caused by the earthquake are expected to normalize quickly. The only potential outlier here is DDR3, which is nearing the end of its commercial lifetime and production is already decreasing.

  • Google Develops In-House Arm 'Axion' CPU for Datacenters
    on 9. April 2024 at 22:00

    Google was among the first hyperscalers build custom silicon for its services, starting first with tensor processing units (TPUs) for its AI initiatives, and then video transcoding units (VCUs) for the YouTube service. But unlike its industry peers, the company has been slower to adopt custom CPU designs, prefering to stick to off-the-shelf chips from the major CPUs. This is finally changing at Google, with the announcement that the company has developed its own in-house datacenter CPU, the Axion. Google's Axion processor is based on the Arm Neoverse V2 (Arm v9) platform, which is Arm's current-generation design for high-performance server CPUs, and is already employed in other chips such as NVIDIA's Grace and Amazon's Graviton4. Within Google, Axion is aimed at a wide variety of workloads, including web and app servers, data analytics, microservices, and AI training. Google claims that the Axion processors boast up to 50% higher performance and up to 60% better energy efficiency compared to current-generation x86-based processors, as well as offer a 30% higher performance compared to competing Arm-based CPUs for datacenters. Though as is increasingly common for the cryptic cloud side of Google's business, least for now the company isn't specifying what processors they're comparing Axion to in these metrics. While Google is not disclosing core counts or the full specifications of its Axion CPUs, the company is revealing that they are incorporating their own secret sauce into the silicon in the form of the company's Titanium purpose-built microcontrollers. These microcontrollers are designed to handle basic operations like networking and security, as well as offload storage I/O processing to Hyperdisk block storage service. As a result of this offloading, virtually all of the CPU core resources should be available to actual workloads. As for the chip's memory subsystem, Axion uses conventional dual-rank DDR5 memory modules. "Google's announcement of the new Axion CPU marks a significant milestone in delivering custom silicon that is optimized for Google's infrastructure, and built on our high-performance Arm Neoverse V2 platform," said Rene Haas, CEO of Arm. "Decades of ecosystem investment, combined with Google's ongoing innovation and open-source software contributions ensure the best experience for the workloads that matter most to customers running on Arm everywhere."  Google has previously deployed Arm-based processors for its own services, including BigTable, Spanner, BigQuery, and YouTube Ads and is ready to offer instances based on its Armv9-based Axion CPUs to its customers that can use software developed for Arm architectures. Sources: Google, Wall Street Journal

  • Intel Unveils New Branding For 6th Generation Xeon Processors: Intel Xeon 6
    on 9. April 2024 at 15:35

    At Intel's Vision 2024 event, which is being held in Phoenix, AZ, has seen several key announcements. On the datacenter CPU front, Intel is using the show to unveil their newest branding for their venerable family of Xeon processors. Beginning with this year's sixth generation of processors, Intel is "evolving" the Xeon brand by retiring the "Xeon Scalable" branding in favor of Intel's new and simplified "Xeon 6" brand. The Xeon 6 family is set to launch later this year with two primary variants: an all-performance (P) core chip codenamed Granite Rapids, and an all-efficiency (E) core chip codenamed Sierra Forest. Both of these chips will be sold under the Xeon 6 brand and sit on top of the same motherboard platform, with the Xeon 6 branding intended in part to underscore this shared platform. Though speaking of the chips themselves, at this time Intel isn't illustrating how the two sub-series of chips will be differentiated in terms of product numbers. Over the last year, we've extensively covered Intel's Granite Rapids and Sierra Forest. For more information about Granite Rapids and Sierra Forest, here are some of our key pieces: Hot Chips 2023: Intel Details More on Granite Rapids and Sierra Forest Xeons Intel Previews Sierra Forest with 288 E-Cores, Announces Granite Rapids-D for 2025 Launch at MWC 2024 IFS Reborn as Intel Foundry: Expanded Foundry Business Adds 14A Process To Roadmap Intel debuted their Xeon Scalable branding in 2017 with the launch of the Xeon Platinum 8100 series, which was built using their Skylake microarchitecture. At the time Xeon Scalable replaced Intel's older Xeon E/EP/EX vX branding, resetting the generation count in the process. Moving forward to 2024, Intel is looking to build an ecosystem befitting the current demands of technologies within key areas such as data centers, Edge, and the PC. Intel is laying the foundations for what it calls 'Intel Enterprise AI.' Using a vast array of frameworks and accelerators and working closely with partners, ISVs, and GSIs to create a large and open ecosystem, the newly branded Intel Xeon 6 platforms will be key in the enterprise market as we advance. Intel has adopted a newer and simpler nomenclature for Granite Rapids and Sierra Forest, starting with the Intel Xeon 6 processors. Sierra Forest Xeon 6 processors are set to launch in Q2 of 2024, which include a chip featuring 288 E-cores. It will be the first product to adopt this new branding, which is designed to ease customer navigation between models. Meanwhile the Xeon 6 P-core Granite Rapids processors will come later. Ultimately, the Xeon brand itself and what it entails (enterprise, workstation, server, and data center) isn't going anywhere. Instead, Intel is putting an increased focus on the generation number of the platform by moving it front and center, to more clearly highlight what generation of technology a part belongs to. As mentioned, Intel's Xeon 6 processors, based on their Sierra Forest architecture, are set to launch in Q2 2024, while the Granite Rapids Xeon 6 platform is expected to come sometime in the second half of 2024. Gallery: Intel Vision 2024 Press Deck

  • Intel Introduces Gaudi 3 AI Accelerator: Going Bigger and Aiming Higher In AI Market
    on 9. April 2024 at 15:35

    Intel this morning is kicking off the second day of their Vision 2024 conference, the company’s annual closed-door business and customer-focused get-together. While Vision is not typically a hotbed for new silicon announcements from Intel – that’s more of an Innovation thing in the fall – attendees of this year’s show are not coming away empty handed. With a heavy focus on AI going on across the industry, Intel is using this year’s event to formally introduce the Gaudi 3 accelerator, the next-generation of Gaudi high-performance AI accelerators from Intel’s Habana Labs subsidiary. The latest iteration of Gaudi will be launching in the third quarter of 2024, and Intel is already shipping samples to customers now. The hardware itself is something of a mixed bag in some respects (more on that in a second), but with 1835 TFLOPS of FP8 compute throughput, Intel believes it’s going to be more than enough to carve off a piece of the expansive (and expensive) AI market for themselves. Based on their internal benchmarks, the company expects to be able beat NVIDIA’s flagship Hx00 Hopper architecture accelerators in at least some critical large language models, which will open the door to Intel grabbing a larger piece of the AI accelerator market at a critical time in the industry, and a moment when there simply isn’t enough NVIDIA hardware to go around.

  • TSMC to Receive $6.6B Under US CHIPS Act, Set to Build 2nm Fab in Arizona
    on 8. April 2024 at 20:30

    TSMC has entered into a preliminary agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce, securing up to $6.6 billion in direct funding and access to up to $5 billion in loans under the CHIPS and Science Act. With this latest round of support from the U.S. government, TSMC in turn will be adding a third fab to their Arizona project, with its investment in the region soaring to more than $65 billion. This move not only signifies the largest foreign direct investment in Arizona but also marks one of the biggest support packages that the U.S. government plans to make under the CHIPS Act, second only to Intel's $8.5 billion award last month. TSMC is currently equipping its Fab 21 phase 1 and expects that it will start making chips using N4 and N5 (4 nm and 5 nm-class) process technologies in the first half of 2025. TSMC's Fab 21 phase 2 will commence operations in 2028, and will make chips on N3 and N2 (3 nm and 2 nm-class) production nodes. The newly-announced third fab (designation TBD) is set to manufacture chips on processes of 2 nm-class or beyond, with the start of production anticipated by the end of the decade. TSMC has not announced a planned capacity for the new fab, only noting that it will be similar to the other two Arizona fabs, boasting a cleanroom space roughly twice as large as that of a typical "industry-standard logic fab." If it is sized similarly to the other Arizona fabs, then this strongly implies that the new fab will be another MegaFab-class facility – a mid-range fab producing around 25,000 wafer starts per month. TSMC does operate even larger fabs – the 100K WSPM GigaFab – though to date they've yet to build any of these outside of Taiwan. “The CHIPS and Science Act provides TSMC the opportunity to make this unprecedented investment and to offer our foundry service of the most advanced manufacturing technologies in the United States,” said TSMC Chairman Dr. Mark Liu. “Our U.S. operations allow us to better support our U.S. customers, which include several of the world’s leading technology companies. Our U.S. operations will also expand our capability to trailblaze future advancements in semiconductor technology.” The construction of three fabs in Arizona is poised to generate approximately 6,000 direct high-tech jobs, contributing significantly to the creation of a skilled workforce. This workforce is expected to play a crucial role in fostering a dynamic and competitive global semiconductor ecosystem. Moreover, the project is projected to create over 20,000 construction jobs, in addition to spawning tens of thousands of indirect jobs related to suppliers and consumer services. AMD, Apple, and NVIDIA fully support TSMC's project and all of them expressed interest in using TSMC's capacities in the U.S. “Today’s announcement highlights the strong commitment from Secretary Raimondo and the entire administration to ensure the U.S. plays a central role creating a more geographically diverse and resilient semiconductor supply chain,” said AMD Chair and CEO Lisa Su. “TSMC has a long track record of providing the leading-edge manufacturing capabilities that have enabled AMD to focus on what we do best, designing high-performance chips that change the world. We are committed to our partnership with TSMC and look forward to building our most advanced chips in U.S.” TSMC's ventures in Arizona have encountered obstacles, such as setbacks caused by labor shortages and doubts about the U.S. governmental funding. As a result, production at the second facility has been postponed from 2026 to 2028. Moreover, Bloomberg has reported that at least one supplier for TSMC has called off its intended project in Arizona, attributing the decision to challenges in securing a workforce. The address the workforce issues, the TSMC grant includes a $50 million allocation for training of the local workforce. Sources: TSMC, Bloomberg

  • The be quiet! Straight Power 12 750W PSU Review: Proficient Platinum Power
    on 5. April 2024 at 12:00

    In the arena of PC components, Be quiet! is a name synonymous with excellence, known for its fusion of silent functionality and exceptional performance. The company's broad range of products, from high-end power supply units (PSUs) to sophisticated cases and cooling solutions, including both air and liquid options, is crafted with a keen eye on reducing noise while maximizing efficiency. Be quiet! has earned accolades for its dedication to achieving near-silent operation across its lineup, making it a preferred choice among those in the PC enthusiast community who seek a serene computing environment. The diversity of its offerings reflects a deep understanding of the needs of tech enthusiasts and professionals alike, with each product designed to offer a blend of low noise levels and high efficiency. Today we're looking at he Be quiet! Straight Power 12 750W PSU, a high-tier offering in Be quiet!'s PSU portfolio that exemplifies the brand's approach to product design. The Straight Power 12 series is engineered to deliver top performance and whisper-quiet operation, appealing to users who seek the optimal mix of power efficiency and sound level, without compromising on reliability and premium quality. The 750 Watt model that we are reviewing today is the weakest unit of the series, yet still enough to effortlessly power a modern gaming system with a mid-tier GPU.

  • SK hynix to Build $3.87 Billion Memory Packaging Fab in the U.S. for HBM4 and Beyond
    on 5. April 2024 at 11:00

    SK hynix this week announced plans to build its advanced memory packaging facility in West Lafayette, Indiana. The move can be considered as a milestone both for the memory maker and the U.S., as this is the first advanced memory packaging facility in the country and the company's first significant manufacturing operation in America. The facility will be used to build next-generation types of high-bandwidth memory (HBM) stacks when it begins operations in 2028. Also, SK hynix agreed to work on R&D projects with Purdue University. "We are excited to become the first in the industry to build a state-of-the-art advanced packaging facility for AI products in the United States that will help strengthen supply-chain resilience and develop a local semiconductor ecosystem," said SK hynix CEO Kwak Noh-Jung. One of The Most Advanced Chip Packaging Facility Ever The facility will handle assembly of HBM known good stacked dies (KGSDs), which consist of multiple memory devices stacked on a base die. Furthermore, it will be used to develop next-generations of HBM and will therefore house a packaging R&D line. However, the plant will not make DRAM dies themselves, and will likely source them from SK hynix's fabs in South Korea. The plant will require SK hynix to invest $3.87 billion, which will make it one of the most advanced semiconductor packaging facilities in the world. Meanwhile, SK hynix held the investment agreement ceremony with representatives from Indiana State, Purdue University, and the U.S. government, which indicates parties financially involved in the project, but this week's event did not disclose whether SK hynix will receive any money from the U.S. government under the CHIPS Act or other funding initiatives. The cost of the facility significantly exceeds that of packaging facilities built by other major players in the industry, such as ASE Group, Intel, and TSMC, which highlights how significant of an investment this is for SK hnix. In fact, $3.87 billion higher than advanced packaging CapEx budgets of Intel, TSMC and Samsung in 2023, based on estimates from Yole Intelligence. Given that the fab comes online in 2028, based on SK hynix's product roadmap we'd expect that it will be used at least in part to assemble HBM4 and HBM4E stacks. Notably, since HBM4 and HBM4E stacks are set to feature a 2048-bit interface, their packaging process will be considerably more complex than the existing 1024-bit HBM3/HBM3E packaging and will require usage of more advanced tools, which is why it is poised to be more expensive than some existing advanced packaging facilities. Due to the extremely complex 2048-bit interface, many chip designers who are going to use HBM4/HBM4E are expected to integrate it directly onto their processors using hybrid bonding and not use silicon interposers. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether the SK hynix facility will be able to offer such service. HBM is mainly used for AI and HPC applications, so it is strategically important to have its production in the U.S. Meanwhile, actual memory dies will still need to be made elsewhere, at dedicated DRAM fabs. Purdue University Collaboration In addition to support set to be provided by state and local governmens, SK hynix chose to establish its new facility in West Lafayette, Indiana, to collaborate with Purdue University as well as with Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center on R&D projects, which includes advanced packaging and heterogeneous integration. SK hynix intends to work in partnership with Purdue University and Ivy Tech Community College to create training programs and multidisciplinary degree courses aimed at nurturing a skilled workforce and establishing a consistent stream of emerging talent for its advanced memory packaging facility and R&D operations. "SK hynix is the global pioneer and dominant market leader in memory chips for AI," Purdue University President Mung Chiang said. "This transformational investment reflects our state and university's tremendous strength in semiconductors, hardware AI, and hard tech corridor. It is also a monumental moment for completing the supply chain of digital economy in our country through chips advanced packaging. Located at Purdue Research Park, the largest facility of its kind at a U.S. university will grow and succeed through innovation."

  • PCIe 7.0 Draft 0.5 Spec Available: 512 GB/s over PCIe x16 On Track For 2025
    on 4. April 2024 at 12:00

    PCI-SIG this week released version 0.5 of the PCI-Express 7.0 specification to its members. This is the second draft of the spec and the final call for PCI-SIG members to submit their new features to the standard. The latest update on the development of the specification comes a couple months shy of a year after the PCI-SIG published the initial Draft 0.3 specificaiton, with the PCI-SIG using the latest update to reiterate that development of the new standard remains on-track for a final release in 2025. PCIe 7.0 is is the next generation interconnect technology for computers that is set to increase data transfer speeds to 128 GT/s per pin, doubling the 64 GT/s of PCIe 6.0 and quadrupling the 32 GT/s of PCIe 5.0. This would allow a 16-lane (x16) connection to support 256 GB/sec of bandwidth in each direction simultaneously, excluding encoding overhead. Such speeds will be handy for future datacenters as well as artificial intelligence and high-performance computing applications that will need even faster data transfer rates, including network data transfer rates. To achieve its impressive data transfer rates, PCIe 7.0 doubles the bus frequency at the physical layer compared to PCIe 5.0 and 6.0. Otherwise, the standard retains pulse amplitude modulation with four level signaling (PAM4), 1b/1b FLIT mode encoding, and the forward error correction (FEC) technologies that are already used for PCIe 6.0. Otherwise, PCI-SIG says that the PCIe 7.0 speicification also focuses on enhanced channel parameters and reach as well as improved power efficiency.  Overall, the engineers behind the standard have their work cut out for them, given that PCIe 7.0 requires doubling the bus frequency at the physical layer, a major development that PCIe 6.0 sidestepped with PAM4 signaling. Nothing comes for free in regards to improving data signaling, and with PCIe 7.0, the PCI-SIG is arguably back to hard-mode development by needing to improve the physical layer once more – this time to enable it to run at around 30GHz. Though how much of this heavy lifting will be accomplished through smart signaling (and retimers) and how much will be accomplished through sheer materials improvements, such as thicker printed circuit boards (PCBs) and low-loss materials, remains to be seen. The next major step for PCIe 7.0 is finalization of the version 0.7 of specification, which is considered the Complete Draft, where all aspects must be fully defined, and electrical specifications must be validated through test chips. After this iteration of the specification is released, no new features can be added. PCIe 6.0 eventually went through 4 major drafts – 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, and 0.9 – before finally being finalized, so PCIe 7.0 is likely on the same track. Once finalized in 2025, it should take a few years for the first PCIe 7.0 hardware to hit the shelves. Although development work on controller IP and initial hardware is already underway, that process extends well beyond the release of the final PCIe specification.

  • Samsung Unveils CXL Memory Module Box: Up to 16 TB at 60 GB/s
    on 3. April 2024 at 12:00

    Composable disaggregated data center infrastructure promises to change the way data centers for modern workloads are built. However, to fully realize the potential of new technologies, such as CXL, the industry needs brand-new hardware. Recently, Samsung introduced its CXL Memory Module Box (CMM-B), a device that can house up to eight CXL Memory Module – DRAM (CMM-D) devices and add plenty of memory connected using a PCIe/CXL interface. Samsung's CXL Memory Module Box (CMM-B) is the first device of this type to accommodate up to eight 2 TB E3.S CMM-D memory modules and add up to 16 TB of memory to up to three modern servers with appropriate connectors. As far as performance is concerned, the box can offer up to 60 GB/s of bandwidth (which aligns with what a PCIe 5.0 x16 interface offers) and 596 ns latency.  From a pure performance point of view, one CXL Memory Module—Box is slower than a dual-channel DDR5-4800 memory subsystem. Yet, the unit is still considerably faster than even advanced SSDs. At the same time, it provides very decent capacity, which is often just what the doctor ordered for many applications. The Samsung CMM-B is compatible with the CXL 1.1 and CXL 2.0 protocols. It consists of a rack-scale memory bank (CMM-B), several application hosts, Samsung Cognos management console software, and a top-of-rack (ToR) switch. The device was developed in close collaboration with Supermicro, so expect this server maker to offer the product first. Samsung's CXL Memory Module – Box is designed for applications that need a lot of memory, such as AI, data analytics, and in-memory databases, albeit not at all times. CMM-B allows the dynamic allocation of necessary memory to a system when it needs this memory and then uses DRAM with other machines. As a result, operators of datacenters can spend money on procuring expensive memory (16 TB of memory costs a lot), reduce power consumption, and add flexibility to their setups.

  • Rapidus to Get $3.9 Billion in Government Aid for 2nm, Multi-Chiplet Technologies
    on 2. April 2024 at 17:45

    Rapidus, a Japan-based company developing 2nm process technology and aiming to commercialize it in 2027, will receive a huge government grant for its ongoing projects. The Japanese government will support Rapidus with subsidies totaling ¥590 billion yen ($3.89 billion). In addition to developing its 2nm production node and spending on cleanroom equipment, Rapidus will also fund the development of multi-chiplet packaging technology. This extra funding will significantly help the company's ambitious plans. With the government's total support now at ¥920 billion ($6.068 billion), Rapidus is getting a solid push to become a significant player in the semiconductor industry. The whole project is expected to cost around ¥5 trillion ($32.983 billion), so the funding is not quite there yet. Meanwhile, the company may get enough financing with support from the Japanese government and large Japanese conglomerates like Toyota Motor and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone. According to Atsuyoshi Koike, Rapidus's chief executive, the company is on track to start testing its production by April 2025 and aims to begin large-scale production by 2027. Commercial production of 2nm chips is set to commence sometime in 2025. In addition to developing its 2nm fabrication process in collaboration with IBM and building its manufacturing facility, Rapidus is also working on advanced packaging technology for multi-chiplet system-in-packages (SiPs). The latest government subsidies include more than ¥50 billion ($329.85 million) for research and development in this area, the first time Japan has provided subsidies for such technologies. It is noteworthy that Rapidus will use a section of Seiko Epson Corporation's Chitose Plant (located in Chitose City, Hokkaido) for its back-end packaging processes. This plant is near the company's fab, which is currently being built in Bibi World, an industrial park in Chitose City. This space will be dedicated to pilot-stage research and development activities. Sources: Rapidus, Nikkei

  • Introspect Intros GDDR7 Test System For Fast GDDR7 GPU Design Bring Up
    on 29. March 2024 at 12:00

    Introspect this week introduced its M5512 GDDR7 memory test system, which is designed for testing GDDR7 memory controllers, physical interface, and GDDR7 SGRAM chips. The tool will enable memory and processor manufacturers to verify that their products perform as specified by the standard. One of the crucial phases of a processor design bring up is testing its standard interfaces, such as PCIe, DisplayPort, or GDDR is to ensure that they behave as specified both logically and electrically and achieve designated performance. Introspect's M5512 GDDR7 memory test system is designed to do just that: test new GDDR7 memory devices, troubleshoot protocol issues, assess signal integrity, and conduct comprehensive memory read/write stress tests. The product will be quite useful for designers of GPUs/SoCs, graphics cards, PCs, network equipment and memory chips, which will speed up development of actual products that rely on GDDR7 memory. For now, GPU and SoC designers as well as memory makers use highly-custom setups consisting of many tools to characterize signal integrity as well as conduct detailed memory read/write functional stress testing, which are important things at this phase of development. But usage of a single tool greatly speeds up all the processes and gives a more comprehensive picture to specialists. The M5512 GDDR7 Memory Test System is a desktop testing and measurement device that is equippped with 72 pins capable of functioning at up to 40 Gbps in PAM3 mode, as well as offering a virtual GDDR7 memory controller. The device features bidirectional circuitry for executing read and write operations, and every pin is equipped with an extensive range of analog characterization features, such as skew injection with femto-second resolution, voltage control with millivolt resolution, programmable jitter injection, and various eye margining features critical for AC characterization and conformance testing. Furthermore, the system integrates device power supplies with precise power sequencing and ramping controls, providing a comprehensive solution for both AC characterization and memory functional stress testing on any GDDR7 device. Introspects M5512 has been designed in close collaboration with JEDEC members working on the GDDR7 specification, so it promises to meet all of their requirements for compliance testing. Notably, however, the device does not eliminate need for interoperability tests and still requires companies to develop their own test algorithms, but it's still a significant tool for bootstrapping device development and getting it to the point where chips can begin interop testing. “In its quest to support the industry on GDDR7 deployment, Introspect Technology has worked tirelessly in the last few years with JEDEC members to develop the M5512 GDDR7 Memory Test System,” said Dr. Mohamed Hafed, CEO at Introspect Technology.

  • Western Digital Ships 24TB Red Pro Hard Drive For NASes [UPDATED]
    on 28. March 2024 at 16:00

    Nowadays highest-capacity hard drives are typically aimed at cloud service providers (CSPs) and enterprises, but this does not mean that creative professionals or regular users do not need them. To cater to demands of more regular consumers, Western Digital has started shipments of its Red Pro 24 TB HDDs, which are aimed at high-end NAS use for creative professionals with significant storage requirements. Western Digital's Red Pro 24 TB hard drives come approximately 20 months after their 22 TB model hit retail in 2022, offering an incremental improvement to WD's highest-capacity NAS and consumer hard drive offering. The platform uses conventional magnetic recording (CMR), feature a 7200 RPM rotating speed, are equipped with a 512 MB cache, and use OptiNAND technology to improve reliability as well as optimize performance and power consumption. The HDDs are rated for an up to 287 MB/s media to cache transfer rate, which makes them some of the fastest hard drives around (albeit, still a bit slower compared to CSP and enterprise-oriented HDDs). Just like other high-end network-attached storage-aimed HDDs, the Red Pro 24 TB hard drives use helium-filled platforms that are very similar to those designed for enterprise drives. Consequently, the Red Pro 24 TB HDD are equipped with rotation vibration sensors to anticipate and proactively counteract disturbances caused by increased vibration and multi-axis shock sensors to detect subtle shock events and automatically offset them with dynamic fly height technology to ensure that heads to not scratch disks. UPDATE 4/2/2024: Western Digital has notified us that WD Red Pro fully support ArmorCache capability, even though it is not listed in datasheets. What these drives lack compared Apparently, just like WD Gold and Ultraster 22 TB and 24 TB drives for enterprises and cloud datacenters, WD Red Pro HDDs fully support the ArmorCache feature that provides protection against power loss when write-cache is enabled (WCE mode) and enhances performance when write-cache is disabled (WCD mode). On the reliability side of matters, Western Digital's Red Pro 24 TB HDDs are designed for 24/7 operation in vibrating environments, such as enterprise-grade NAS with loads of bays, and are rated for up to 550 TB/year workloads as well as up to 600,000 load/unload cycles, which is in line with what Western Digital's WD Gold and Ultrastar hard drives offer. As for power consumption, the WD Red Pro 24 TB consumes up to 6.4W during read and write operations, up to 3.9W in idle mode, and up to 1.2W in standby/sleep mode. Western Digital's Red Pro 24 TB (WD240KFGX) HDDs are now shipping to resellers as well as NAS makers, and are slated to be available shortly. Expect these hard drives to be slightly cheaper than the WD Gold 24 TB model.

  • The DeepCool AK620 Digital CPU Cooler Review: Big, Heavy, and Lit
    on 28. March 2024 at 13:00

    Typical CPU coolers do the job for standard heat management but often fall short when it comes to quiet operation and peak cooling effectiveness. This gap pushes enthusiasts and PC builders towards specialized aftermarket solutions designed for their unique demands. The premium aftermarket cooling niche is fiercely competitive, with brands vying to offer top-notch thermal management solutions. Today we're shining a light on DeepCool's AK620 Digital cooler, a notable entry in the high-end CPU cooler arena. At first blush, the AK620 Digital stands out from the crowd mostly for its integrated LCD screen. Yet aesthetics aside, underneath the snappy screen is a tower cooler that was first and foremost engineered to exceed the cooling needs of the most powerful mainstream CPUs. And it's a big cooler at that: with a weight of 1.5Kg and 162mm tall, this is no lightweight heatsink and fan assembly. All of which helps to set it apart in a competitive marketplace.

  • HBM Revenue Poised To Cross $10B as SK hynix Predicts First Double-Digit Revenue Share
    on 28. March 2024 at 12:00

    Offering some rare insight into the scale of HBM memory sales – and on its growth in the face of unprecedented demand from AI accelerator vendors – the company recently disclosed that it expects HBM sales to make up "a double-digit percentage of its DRAM chip sales" this year. Which if it comes to pass, would represent a significant jump in sales for the high-bandwidth, high-priced memory. As first reported by Reuters, SK hynix CEO Kwak Noh-Jung has commented that he expects HBM sales will constitute a double-digit percentage of its DRAM chip sales in 2024. This prediction corroborate with estimates from TrendForce, who believe that, industry-wide, HBM will account for 20.1% of DRAM revenue in 2024, more than doubling HBM's 8.4% revenue share in 2023. And while SK hynix does not break down its DRAM revenue by memory type on a regular basis, a bit of extrapolation indicates that they're on track to take in billions in HBM revenue for 2024 – having likely already crossed the billion dollar mark itself in 2023. Last year, SK hynix's DRAM revenue $15.941 billion, according to Statista and TrendForce. So SK hynix only needs 12.5% of its 2024 revenues to come from HBM (assuming flat or positive revenue overall) in order to pass 2 billion in HBM sales. And even this is a low-ball estimate. Overall, SK hynix currently commands about 50% of HBM market, having largely split the market with Samsung over the last couple of years. Given that share, and that DRAM industry revenue is expected to increase to $84.150 billion in 2024, SK hynix could earn as much as $8.45 billion on HBM in 2024 if TrendForce's estimates prove accurate. It should be noted that with demand for AI servers at record levels, all three leading makers of DRAM are poised to increase their HBM production capacity this year. Most notable here is a nearly-absent Micron, who was the first vendor to start shipping HBM3E memory to NVIDIA earlier this year. So SK hynix's near-majority of the HBM market may falter some this year, though with a growing pie they'll have little reason to complain. Ultimately, if sales of HBM reach $16.9 billion as projected, then all memory makers will be enjoying significant HBM revenue growth in the coming months. Sources: Reuters, TrendForce

  • GDDR7 Approaches: Samsung Lists GDDR7 Memory Chips on Its Product Catalog
    on 27. March 2024 at 19:00

    Now that JEDEC has published specification of GDDR7 memory, memory manufacturers are beginning to announce their initial products. The first out of the gate for this generation is Samsung, which has has quietly added its GDDR7 products to its official product catalog. For now, Samsung lists two GDDR7 devices on its website: 16 Gbit chips rated for an up to 28 GT/s data transfer rate and a faster version running at up to 32 GT/s data transfer rate (which is in line with initial parts that Samsung announced in mid-2023). The chips feature a 512M x32 organization and come in a 266-pin FBGA packaging. The chips are already sampling, so Samsung's customers – GPU vendors, AI inference vendors, network product vendors, and the like – should already have GDDR7 chips in their labs. The GDDR7 specification promises the maximum per-chip capacity of 64 Gbit (8 GB) and data transfer rates of 48 GT/s. Meanwhile, first generation GDDR7 chips (as announced so far) will feature a rather moderate capacity of 16 Gbit (2 GB) and a data transfer rate of up to 32 GT/s. Performance-wise, the first generation of GDDR7 should provide a significant improvement in memory bandwidth over GDDR6 and GDDR6X. However capacity/density improvements will not come until memory manufacturers move to their next generation EUV-based process nodes. As a result, the first GDDR7-based graphics cards are unlikely to sport any memory capacity improvements. Though looking a bit farther down the road, Samsung and SK Hynix have previously told Tom's Hardware that they intend to reach mass production of 24 Gbit GDDR7 chips in 2025. Otherwise, it is noteworthy that SK Hynix also demonstrated its GDDR7 chips at NVIDIA's GTC last week. So Samsung's competition should be close behind in delivering samples, and eventually mass production memory. Source: Samsung (via @harukaze5719)

  • Report: SK Hynix Mulls Building $4 Billion Advanced Packaging Facility in Indiana
    on 26. March 2024 at 23:00

    SK hynix is considering whether to build an advanced packaging facility in Indiana, reports the Wall Street Journal. If the company proceeds with the plan, it intends to invest $4 billion in it and construct one of the world's largest advanced packaging facilities. But to accomplish the project, SK hynix expects it will need help from the U.S. government. Acknowledging the report but stopping short of confirming the company's plans, a company spokeswoman told the WSJ that SK hynix "is reviewing its advanced chip packaging investment in the U.S., but hasn’t made a final decision yet." Companies like TSMC and Intel spend billions on advanced packaging facilities, but so far, no company has announced a chip packaging plant worth quite as much as SH hynix's $4 billion. The field of advanced packaging – CoWoS, passive silicon interposers, redistribution layers, die-to-die bonding, and other cutting edge technologies – has seen an explosion in demand in the last half-decade. As bandwidth advances with traditional organic packaging are largely played out, chip designers have needed to turn to more complex (and difficult to assemble) technologies in order to wire up an ever larger number of signals at ever-higher transfer rates. Which has turned advanced packaging into a bottleneck for high-end chip and accelerator production, driving a need for additional packaging facilities. If SK hynix approves the project, the advanced packaging facility is expected to begin operations in 2028 and could create as many as 1,000 jobs. With an estimated cost of $4 billion, the plant is poised to become one of the largest advanced packaging facilities in the world. Meanwhile, government backing is thought to be essential for investments of this scale, with potential state and federal tax incentives, according to the report. These incentives form part of a broader initiative to bolster the U.S. semiconductor industry and decrease dependence on memory produced in South Korea. SK hynix is the world's leading producer of HBM memory, and is one of the key HBM suppliers to NVIDIA. Next generations of HBM memory (including HBM4 and HBM4E) will require even closer collaboration between chip designers, chipmakers, and memory makers. Therefore, packaging HBM in America could be a significant benefit for NVIDIA, AMD, and other U.S. chipmakers. Investing in the Indiana facility will be a strategic move by SK hynix to enhance its advanced chip packaging capabilities in general and demonstrating dedication to the U.S. semiconductor industry.

  • Intel Announces Expansion to AI PC Dev Program, Aims to Reach More Software & Hardware Devs
    on 26. March 2024 at 22:00

    Today, Intel announced that it is looking to progress its AI PC Acceleration program further by offering various new toolkits and devkits designed for software and hardware AI developers under a new AI PC Developer Program sub-initiative. Originally launched on October 23, the AI PC Acceleration program was created to connect hardware vendors with software developers, using Intel's vast resources and experience to develop a broader ecosystem as the world pivots to one driven by AI development. Intel aims to maximize the potential of AI applications and software and broaden the whole AI-focused PC ecosystem by aiming for AI within 100 million Intel-driven AI PCs by 2025. The AI PC Developer Program aims to simplify the adoption of new AI technologies and frameworks on a larger scale. It provides access to various tools, workflows, AI-deployment frameworks, and developer kits, allowing developers to take advantage of the latest NPU found within Intel's Meteor Lake Core Ultra series of processors. It also offers centralized resources like toolkits, documentation, and training to allow developers to fully utilize their software and hardware in tandem with the technologies associated with Meteor Lake (and beyond) to enhance AI and machine learning application performance. Such toolkits are already broadly used by developers, including Intel's open-source OpenVino. Furthermore, this centralized resource platform is designed to streamline the AI development process, making it more efficient and effective for developers to integrate AI capabilities into their applications. It is designed to play a crucial role in Intel’s strategy to not only advance AI technology but also to make it more user-friendly and adaptable to various real-world applications. Notably, this is both a software and a hardware play. Intel isn't just looking to court more software developers to utilize their AI resources, but they also want to get independent hardware vendors (IHVs) on board. OEMs and system assemblers are largely already covered under Microsoft's requirements for Windows certification, but Intel wants to get the individual parts vendors involved as well. How can AI be used to improve audio performance? Display performance? Storage performance? That's something that Intel wants to find out. "We have made great strides with our AI PC Acceleration Program by working with the ecosystem. Today, with the addition of the AI PC Developer Program, we are expanding our reach to go beyond large ISVs and engage with small and medium sized players and aspiring developers" said Carla Rodriguez, Vice President and General Manager of Client Software Ecosystem Enabling. "Our goal is to drive a frictionless experience by offering a broad set of tools including the new AI-ready Developer Kit," The Intel AI PC Acceleration Program offers 24/7 access to resources and early reference hardware so that both ISVs and software developers can create and optimize workloads before launching retail components. Developers can join the AI PC Acceleration Program at their official webpage or email [email protected] for further information Gallery: Intel AI PC Acceleration Program Slide Deck

  • Report: China to Pivot from AMD & Intel CPUs To Domestic Chips in Government PCs
    on 26. March 2024 at 20:00

    China has initiated a policy shift to eliminate American processors from government computers and servers, reports Financial Times. The decision is aimed to gradually eliminate processors from AMD and Intel from system used by China's government agencies, which will mean lower sales for U.S.-based chipmakers and higher sales of China's own CPUs. The new procurement guidelines, introduced quietly at the end of 2023, mandates government entities to prioritize 'safe and reliable' processors and operating systems in their purchases. This directive is part of a concerted effort to bolster domestic technology and parallels a similar push within state-owned enterprises to embrace technology designed in China. The list of approved processors and operating systems, published by China's Information Technology Security Evaluation Center, exclusively features Chinese companies. There are 18 approved processors that use a mix of architectures, including x86 and ARM, while the operating systems are based on open-source Linux software. Notably, the list includes chips from Huawei and Phytium, both of which are on the U.S. export blacklist. This shift towards domestic technology is a cornerstone of China's national strategy for technological autonomy in the military, government, and state sectors. The guidelines provide clear and detailed instructions for exclusively using Chinese processors, marking a significant step in China's quest for self-reliance in technology. State-owned enterprises have been instructed to complete their transition to domestic CPUs by 2027. Meanwhile, Chinese government entites have to submit progress reports on their IT system overhauls quarterly. Although some foreign technology will still be permitted, the emphasis is clearly on adopting local alternatives. The move away from foreign hardware is expected to have a measurable impact on American tech companies. China is a major market for AMD (accounting for 15% of sales last year) and Intel (commanding 27% of Intel's revenue), contributing to a substantial portion of their sales. Additionally, Microsoft, while not disclosing specific figures, has acknowledged that China accounts for a small percentage of its revenues. And while government sales are only a fraction of overall China sales (as compared to the larger commercial PC business) the Chinese government is by no means a small customer. Analysts questioned by Financial Times predict that the transition to domestic processors will advance more swiftly for server processors than for client PCs, due to the less complex software ecosystem needing replacement. They estimate that China will need to invest approximately $91 billion from 2023 to 2027 to overhaul the IT infrastructure in government and adjascent industries.

  • The DeepCool PX850G 850W PSU Review: Less Than Quiet, More Than Capable
    on 26. March 2024 at 13:00

    DeepCool is one of the few veterans in the PC power & cooling components field still active today. The Chinese company was first founded in 1996 and initially produced only coolers and cooling accessories, but quickly diversified into the PC Case and power supply unit (PSU) markets. To this day, DeepCool stays almost entirely focused on PC power & cooling products, with input devices and mousepads being their latest diversification attempt. Today's review turns the spotlight toward DeepCool’s PSUs and, more specifically, the PX850G 850W ATX 3.0 PSU, which currently is their most popular power supply. The PX850G is engineered to balance all-around performance with reliability and cost, all while providing ATX 3.0 compliance. It is based on a highly popular high-output platform but, strangely, DeepCool rated the PX850G for operation up to 40°C.

  • Construction of $106B SK hynix Mega Fab Site Moving Along, But At Slower Pace
    on 23. March 2024 at 12:00

    When a major industry slowdown occurs, big companies tend to slowdown their mid-term and long-term capacity related investments. This is exactly what happened to SK hynix's Yongin Semiconductor Cluster, a major project announced in April 2021 and valued at $106 billion. While development of the site has been largely completed, only 35% of the initial shell building has been constructed, according to the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy. "Approximately 35% of Fab 1 has been completed so far and site renovation is in smooth progress," a statement by the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy reads. "By 2046, over KRW 120 trillion ($90 billion today, $106 billion in 2021) in investment will be poured to complete Fabs 1 through 4, and construction of Fab 1's production line will commence in March next year. Once completed, the infrastructure will rank as the world's largest three-story fab." The new semiconductor fabrication cluster by SK hynix announced almost exactly three years ago is primarily meant to be used to make DRAM for PCs, mobile devices, and servers using advanced extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) process technologies. The cluster, located near Yongin, South Korea, is intended to consist of four large fabs situated on a 4.15 million m2 site. With a planned capacity of approximately 800,000 wafer starts per month (WSPMs), it is set to be one of the world's largest semiconductor production hubs. With that said, SK hynix's construction progress has been slower than the company first projected. The first fab in the complex was originally meant to come online in 2025, with construction starting in the fourth quarter of 2021. However, SK hynix began to cut its capital expenditures in the second half of 2022, and the Yongin Semiconductor Cluster project fell a victim of that cut. To be sure, the site continues to be developed, just at a slower pace; which is why some 35% of the first fab shell has been built at this point. If completed as planned in 2021, the first phase of SK hynix Yongin operations would have been a major memory production facility costing $25 billion, equipped with EUV tools, and capable of 200,000-WSPM, according to reports from 2021. Sources: Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy; ComputerBase

  • Micron Samples 256 GB DDR5-8800 MCR DIMMs: Massive Modules for Massive Servers
    on 22. March 2024 at 20:00

    Micron this week announced that it had begun sampling of its 256 GB multiplexer combined (MCR) DIMMs, the company's highest-capacity memory modules to date. These brand-new DDR5-based MCRDIMMs are aimed at next-generation servers, particularly those powered by Intel's Xeon Scalable 'Granite Rapids' processors that are set to support 12 or 24 memory slots per socket. Usage of these modules can enable datacenter machines with 3 TB or 6 TB of memory, with the combined ranks allowing for effect data rates of DDR5-8800. "We also started sampling our 256 GB MCRDIMM module, which further enhances performance and increases DRAM content per server," said Sanjay Mehrotra, chief executive of Micron, in prepared remarks for the company's earnings call this week. In addition to announcing sampling of these modules, Micron also demonstrated them at NVIDIA's GTC conference, where server vendors and customers alike are abuzz at building new servers for the next generation of AI accelerators. Our colleagues from Tom's Hardware have managed to grab a couple of pictures of Micron's 256 GB DDR5-8800 MCR DIMMs. Image Credit: Tom's Hardware Apparently, Micron's 256 GB DDR5-8800 MCRDIMMs come in two variants: a taller module with 80 DRAM chips distributed on both sides, and a standard-height module using 2Hi stacked packages. Both are based on monolithic 32 Gb DDR5 ICs and are engineered to cater to different server configurations with the standard-height MCRDIMM adressing 1U servers.The taller version consumes about 20W of power, which is in line with expectations as a 128 GB DDR5-8000 RDIMM consumes around 10W in DDR5-4800 mode. I have no idea about power consumption of the version that uses 2Hi packages, though expect it to be a little bit hotter and harder to cool down. Image Credit: Tom's Hardware Multiplexer Combined Ranks (MCR) DIMMs are dual-rank memory modules featuring a specialized buffer that allows both ranks to operate simultaneously. This buffer enables the two physical ranks to operate as though they were separate modules working in parallel, which allows for concurrent retrieval of 128 bytes of data from both ranks per clock cycle (compared to 64 bytes per cycle when it comes to regular memory modules), effectively doubling performance of a single module. Of course, since the modules retains physical interface of standard DDR5 modules (i.e., 72-bits), the buffer works with host at a very high data transfer rate to transfer that fetched data to the host CPU. These speeds exceed the standard DDR5 specifications, reaching 8800 MT/s in this case. While MCR DIMMs make memory modules slightly more complex than regular RDIMMs, they increase performance and capacity of memory subsystem without increasing the number of memory modules involved, which makes it easier to build server motherboards. These modules are poised to play a crucial role in enabling the next generation of servers to handle increasingly demanding applications, particularly in the AI field. Sources: Tom's Hardware, Micron

  • Micron Sells Out Entire HBM3E Supply for 2024, Most of 2025
    on 22. March 2024 at 15:00

    Being the first company to ship HBM3E memory has its perks for Micron, as the company has revealed that is has managed to sell out the entire supply of its advanced high-bandwidth memory for 2024, while most of their 2025 production has been allocated, as well. Micron's HBM3E memory (or how Micron alternatively calls it, HBM3 Gen2) was one of the first to be qualified for NVIDIA's updated H200/GH200 accelerators, so it looks like the DRAM maker will be a key supplier to the green company. "Our HBM is sold out for calendar 2024, and the overwhelming majority of our 2025 supply has already been allocated," said Sanjay Mehrotra, chief executive of Micron, in prepared remarks for the company's earnings call this week. "We continue to expect HBM bit share equivalent to our overall DRAM bit share sometime in calendar 2025." Micron's first HBM3E product is an 8-Hi 24 GB stack with a 1024-bit interface, 9.2 GT/s data transfer rate, and a total bandwidth of 1.2 TB/s. NVIDIA's H200 accelerator for artificial intelligence and high-performance computing will use six of these cubes, providing a total of 141 GB of accessible high-bandwidth memory. "We are on track to generate several hundred million dollars of revenue from HBM in fiscal 2024 and expect HBM revenues to be accretive to our DRAM and overall gross margins starting in the fiscal third quarter," said Mehrotra. The company has also began sampling its 12-Hi 36 GB stacks that offer a 50% more capacity. These KGSDs will ramp in 2025 and will be used for next generations of AI products. Meanwhile, it does not look like NVIDIA's B100 and B200 are going to use 36 GB HBM3E stacks, at least initially. Demand for artificial intelligence servers set records last year, and it looks like it is going to remain high this year as well. Some analysts believe that NVIDIA's A100 and H100 processors (as well as their various derivatives) commanded as much as 80% of the entire AI processor market in 2023. And while this year NVIDIA will face tougher competition from AMD, AWS, D-Matrix, Intel, Tenstorrent, and other companies on the inference front, it looks like NVIDIA's H200 will still be the processor of choice for AI training, especially for big players like Meta and Microsoft, who already run fleets consisting of hundreds of thousands of NVIDIA accelerators. With that in mind, being a primary supplier of HBM3E for NVIDIA's H200 is a big deal for Micron as it enables it to finally capture a sizeable chunk of the HBM market, which is currently dominated by SK Hynix and Samsung, and where Micron controlled only about 10% as of last year. Meanwhile, since every DRAM device inside an HBM stack has a wide interface, it is physically bigger than regular DDR4 or DDR5 ICs. As a result, the ramp of HBM3E memory will affect bit supply of commodity DRAMs from Micron, the company said. "The ramp of HBM production will constrain supply growth in non-HBM products," Mehrotra said. "Industrywide, HBM3E consumes approximately three times the wafer supply as DDR5 to produce a given number of bits in the same technology node."

  • NVIDIA's GPU IP Drives into MediaTek's Dimension Auto SoCs
    on 21. March 2024 at 21:00

    MediaTek this week has introduced a new lineup of Dimensity Auto Cockpit system-on-chips, covering the entire market spectrum from entry-level to premium. And while automotive chip announcements are admittedly not normally the most interesting of things, this one is going to be an exception to that rule because of whose graphics IP MediaTek is tapping for the chips: NVIDIA's. This means the upcoming Dimensity Auto Cockpit chips will be the first chips to be released by a third-party (non-NVIDIA) vendor to be based around NVIDIA's GeForce graphics technology. NVIDIA's first attempt to license its GPU IP to third parties dates back to the year 2013, when the company proposed to license its Kepler GPU IP and thus rival Arm and Imagination Technologies. An effort that, at the time, landed flat on its face. But over a decade later and a fresh effort at hand to license out some of NVIDIA's IP, and it seems NVIDIA has finally succeeded. Altogether, MediaTek's new Dimensity Auto Cockpit system-on-chips will rely on NVIDIA's GPU IP, Drive OS, and CUDA, setting a historical development for both companies. MediaTek's family of next-generation Dimensity Auto Cockpit processors consists of four distinct system-on-chip, including CX-1 for range-topping vehicles, CY-1, CM-1, and CV-1 for entry-level cars. These are highly-integrated SoCs packing Armv9-A-based general-purpose CPU cores as well as NVIDIA's next-generation graphics processing unit IP. NVIDIA's GPU IP can run AI workloads for driver assistance as well as power infotainment system, as it fully supports such graphics technologies like real-time ray-tracing and DLSS 3 image upscaling. The Dimensity Auto Cockpit processors are monolithic SoCs with built-in multi-camera HDR ISP, according to HardwareLuxx. This ISP supports front-facing, in-cabin, and bird's-eye-view cameras for a variety of safety applications. Additionally, these processors feature an audio DSP that supports various voice assistants. The announcement from MediaTek does not disclose which generation of NVIDIA's graphics IP they're adopting – only that it's a "next-gen" design. Given the certification requirements involved, automotive SoC announcements tend to be rather conservative, so it remains to be seen just how "next gen" this graphics IP will actually be compared to the current generation Ada Lovelace architecture. The new MediaTek SoCs will be fully supported by NVIDIA's Drive OS, which is widely used by automakers already. This will allow automakers to unify their software stack and use the same set of software for all of their cars powered by MediaTek's Dimensity. Furthermore, since NVIDIA's Drive OS fully supports CUDA, TensorRT, and Nsight, MediaTek's Dimensity SoCs will be able to take advantage of AI applications developed for the green company's platform. “Generative AI is transforming the automotive industry in the same way that it has revolutionized the mobile market with more personalized and intuitive computing experiences,” said Jerry Yu, Corporate Senior Vice President and General Manager of MediaTek’s CCM Business Group. “The Dimensity Auto Cockpit portfolio will unleash a new wave of AI-powered entertainment in vehicles, and our unified hardware and software platform makes it easy for automakers to scale AI capabilities across their entire lineup.” Without a doubt, licensing graphics IP and platform IP to a third party marks a milestone for NVIDIA in general, as well as its automotive efforts in particular. Leveraging DriveOS and CUDA beyond NVIDIA's own hardware platform is a big deal for a business unit that NVIDIA has long considered poised for significant growth, but has faced stiff competition and a slow adoption rate thanks to conservative automakers. Meanwhile, what remains to be seen is how MediaTek's new Dimensity Auto Cockpit processors will stack up against NVIDIA's own previously announced Thor SoC and associated DRIVE Thor platform, which integrates a Blackwell-based GPU delivering 800 TFLOPS of 8-bit floating point AI performance.

  • AMD Announces FSR 3.1: Seriously Improved Upscaling Quality
    on 21. March 2024 at 14:00

    AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution 3 technology package introduced a plethora of enhancements to the FSR technology on Radeon RX 6000 and 7000-series graphics cards last September. But perfection has no limits, so this week, the company is rolling out its FSR 3.1 technology, which improves upscaling quality, decouples frame generation from AMD's upscaling, and makes it easier for developers to work with FSR. Arguably, AMD's FSR 3.1's primary enhancement is its improved temporal upscaling image quality: compared to FSR 2.2, the image flickers less at rest and no longer ghosts when in movement. This is a significant improvement, as flickering and ghosting artifacts are particularly annoying. Meanwhile, FSR 3.1 has to be implemented by the game developer itself, and the first title to support this new technology sometime later this year is Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Temporal Stability AMD FSR 2.2 AMD FSR 3.1 Ghosting Reduction AMD FSR 2.2 AMD FSR 3.1 Another significant development brought by FSR 3.1 is its decoupling from the Frame Generation feature introduced by FSR 3. This capability relies on a form of AMD's Fluid Motion Frames (AFMF) optical flow interpolation. It uses temporal game data like motion vectors to add an additional frame between existing ones. This ability can lead to a performance boost of up to two times in compatible games, but it was initially tied to FSR 3 upscaling, which is a limitation. Starting from FSR 3.1, it will work with other upscaling methods, though AMD refrains from saying which methods and on which hardware for now. Also, the company does not disclose when it is expected to be implemented by game developers. In addition, AMD is bringing support for FSR3 to Vulkan and Xbox Game Development Kit, enabling game developers on these platforms to use it. It also adds FSR 3.1 to the FidelityFX API, which simplifies debugging and enables forward compatibility with updated versions of FSR.  Upon its release in September 2023, AMD FSR 3 was initially supported by two titles, Forspoken and Immortals of Aveum, with ten more games poised to join them back then. Fast forward to six months later, the lineup has expanded to an impressive roster of 40 games either currently supporting or set to incorporate FSR 3 shortly. As of March 2024, FSR is supported by games like Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, Starfield, The Last of Us Part I. Shortly, Cyberpunk 2077, Dying Light 2 Stay Human, Frostpunk 2, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart will support FSR shortly. Source: AMD

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