Hardware

PAX is always surprisingly full of PC gaming hardware, and we’ve run across a couple more items that aren’t yet available – but will be soon. PNY brought the newest addition to their red-and-black gaming suite, an overclocked Nvidia GTX 960, and OCZ came with an M.2 SSD, the RD400 NVME. Both devices are set to release sometime in May.

Gigabyte pleasantly surprised us at PAX East 2016 with a small set of unreleased motherboards. These boards will likely surface about the time that Broadwell-E is released – keep an eye out over the next month – so that means these are all prototypes and that everything here is subject to change. What we were shown appears to be a refresh of the Haswell-E and Skylake boards that are already on the market with the addition of U.2 support.

U.2 is a connector that the Small Form Factor Working Group (SFFWG) decided to rename in 2015. It was formerly called “SFF-8639,” and most of the people that were aware of it worked with servers. Part of the reason it’s making its way to desktop boards is that the form factor provides M.2 PCIe speed combined with the drive mounting flexibility of the old SATA cable. This means that you can have as many U.2 drives as your motherboard has U.2 connectors.

Logitech's gaming (“Logitech G”) unit deployed a clicky spectacle at PAX East 2016. The “Great Wall of Logitech G” flanked the booth, a composition of 160 keyboards capable of aggregated video playback across roughly (by eye) ~10 x 15ft of key caps. The display uses Logitech's G810 RGB mechanical keyboard with diffuser keycaps for the underglow. Partnership with Right Brain Electronics' Kent Suzuki made the wall possible on the software side, where video playback was programmed to location-match the appropriate keyboards.

A video explaining the making of the keyboard wall can be found below, along with some footage of the wall itself:

PAX East 2016 has a strong hardware presence, and the number of zero-hour announcements backs that up. MSI, Corsair, AMD (a first-time exhibitor at East), nVidia, Intel, Cooler Master, Kingston, and a handful of other hardware vendors have all made an appearance at this year's show, ever flanked by gaming giants.

Today's initial news coverage focuses on the MSI Aegis desktop computer, Corsair's updated K70 & K65 keyboards, and the AMD Wraith cooler's arrival to lower-end SKUs. Find out more in the video below:

Corsair’s recent Strafe RGB keyboards are among our highest-rated peripherals for gaming and typing. The Strafe RGB expanded Corsair’s RGB lineup and fixed some of the issues Corsair’s other RGB keyboards have. Corsair is once again expanding its RGB keyboard line – and standard keyboard line – with its new Rapidfire K70, K65 RGB Rapidfire, and K70 RGB Rapidfire. These keyboards are the same as Corsair’s current versions, but the new RAPIDFIRE iteration features Cherry’s new Cherry MX Speed switch, which actuates at 1.2mm (40% higher than normal Cherry MX switches) at 45g.

This fifteenth episode of Ask GN springs forth a few quick-hitter questions, but a couple that require greater depth than was addressable in our episodic format. These longer questions will be explored in more depth in future content pieces.

For today, we're looking at the future of AMD's Zen for the company, forecasting HDR and monitor tech, discussing IGP and CPU performance gains, and talking thermals in laptops. As always, one bonus question at the end.

Timestamps are below the embedded video.

ASRock routinely breaks rules with Intel – like with the SkyOC firmware hack that allows non-K CPU overclocking. In the latest breach, ASRock mentioned Intel's new Core i7-6950X Broadwell-E processor and listed some of its core specs. The CPU will be part of the line replacing Haswell-E (which was the first consumer architecture to host DDR4 memory) and the X99 platform.

Motherboard manufacturer ASRock says that the Intel Core i7-6950X will host 10 physical cores with hyperthreading (total of 20 threads). ASRock indicates that its existing X99 motherboards will be able to leverage a firmware patch to unlock support for Broadwell-E, meaning that HW-E owners may not have to upgrade motherboards if firmware hacks are available. ASRock's will be posted here.

G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3600 Specs Announced

By Published April 08, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Memory manufacturer G.Skill announced its latest DDR4 RAM in the Trident line. The new “Trident Z” memory kit, selling in high-density 8GB-per-stick capacities, runs its clock at 3600MHz natively with a CAS latency of 15 (CL15). The memory will be sold in kits of 16GB (2x8GB) and is part of G.Skill's flagship series of memory. DDR4 runs lower voltage than DDR3, so the 1.35V stock voltage isn't much of a surprise.

The Trident Z series has historically been used by record-setting overclockers (though HyperX has battled with G.Skill). The new memory kit uses a black PCB with a silver heat-spreader, emboldened by the typical red G.Skill splash of color.

Pascal is the imminent GPU architecture from nVidia, poised to compete (briefly) with AMD's Polaris, which will later turn into AMD Vega and Navi. Pascal will shift nVidia onto the new memory technologies introduced on AMD's Fury X, but with the updated HBM2 architecture (High Bandwidth Memory architecture version 2); Intel is expected to debut HBM2 on its Xeon Phi HPC CPUs later this year. View previous GTC coverage of Mars 2030 here.

HBM2 operates on a 4096-bit memory bus with a maximum theoretical throughput of 1TB/s. HBM version 1, for reference, operated at 128GB/s per stack on a 1024-bit wide memory bus. On the Fury X – again, for reference – this calculated-out to approximately 512GB/s. HBM2 will double the theoretical memory bandwidth of HBM1.

NVidia's Graphics Technology Conference (GTC 2016) kicked-off with a keynote from CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, who frontloaded the event with topics on AI, software development kits, self-driving cars, machine-learning, and VR. Of what we've seen so far, the most interesting has been the new “Mars 2030” VR demo, which used photogrammetry to rebuild Mars using satellite flybys. The Mars 2030 VR demo was helmed by computer industry icon Steve Wozniak, whom Huang selected for the Woz's recently vocalized wishes to fly one-way to Mars. Wozniak, providing the most candid form of stage presence, declared “wow! I'm getting dizzy! I'm gonna fall out of this chair.”

Huang: “... Well, Woz, that was not a helpful comment.”

But the exchange sums-up the presentation well – somewhat playful, experimental with technology, and entertaining.

Our initial GTC keynote coverage consists primarily of VR and SDK talking points, with a focus on the Mars 2030 demo.

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