NVIDIA GPP Concerns Raised by [H]
The big news item this past week was nVidia’s GPP, or GeForce Partner Program. This was a story broken by HardOCP, wherein site owner Kyle Bennett cites off-record discussions with board vendors about an nVidia branding initiative. The report makes several strong points, including, quote:
“The crux of the issue with NVIDIA GPP comes down to a single requirement in order to be part of GPP. In order to have access to the GPP program, its partners must have its ‘Gaming Brand Aligned Exclusively With GeForce.’ I have read documents with this requirement spelled out on it. NVIDIA will tell you that it is 100% up to its partner company to be part of GPP, and from the documents I have read, if it chooses not to be part of GPP, it will lose the benefits of GPP which include: high-effort engineering engagements -- early tech engagement -- launch partner status -- game bundling -- sales rebate programs -- social media and PR support -- marketing reports -- Marketing Development Funds (MDF). MDF is likely the standout in that list of lost benefits if the company is not a GPP partner.”
The concern raised in the HardOCP story is that gaming brands, like ROG Ares, might be restricted by name to nVidia GPUs, theoretically requiring vendors to use a different name for their AMD products. This would obviously not apply to single-party vendors, and only those that sell both AMD and nVidia products.
HardOCP and its off-record contacts have raised concern about legality of the program, insinuating anti-competitive practices.
We have not been able to open dialogue with our contacts about this story and have no new information to add.
Coffee Lake Working on Z170 & Z270
A few months ago, we reported on an overclocker managing to get a Coffee Lake CPU semi-functional on an older Z270 motherboard. At the time, not much could be done aside from booting, but things have progressed.
A recent Overclock.net forum post by rootmoto indicates that, quote, “Coffee Lake is now completely working on 100/200 series motherboards, so far Core i3-8100 has been tested working completely on the 100 series boards.” The user goes on to credit contributions from various team members.
The team has posted a guide to the Win-Raid forum. There are four primary steps: First, you need a UEFI BIOS updater, the Intel Binary Modification Program, a VBIOS and BSF package, and the AMI UEFI MMTool. The guide provides instructions on which binaries and batch files to replace, which will allow the insertion of Coffee Lake microcode to allow a bootable 8th Gen CPU on 100 and 200 series motherboards.
This isn’t guaranteed to work, but it may be worth a shot for anyone with an old board and a desire to get a cheaper upgrade.
Intel i7-8670 Oddity
A few sites pointed-out an Intel oddity on the GFXBench website this week: A CPU named the i7-8670, which GFXBench claims has 12 threads and 6 cores. There’s no guarantee that this is an accurate specifications listing, and it would be out of character for Intel to create an i7 with the second digit being a 6, as is the case in 8670. Existing parts with a 6- in the name since at least the last few generations, have been i5 parts.
Either way, if we assume any of this is correct, it’d look like a 3.1GHz CPU with 6 cores and 12 threads, likely selling at a price between the 8600K and 8700 CPUs.
AMD TR/Ryzen 2000
There have also been a lot of Ryzen slides of debated legitimacy over the past week. The newest rumor indicates a potential Threadripper follow-up that’ll be based on the Ryzen 2000 series updates, with the rumor indicating the shipment of this hypothetical Threadripper part sometime in 2018.
The major Ryzen 2000 series announcements should appear just after PAX East.
Valve Back into Game Development
A recent presentation by Gabe Newell at Valve’s offices suggested that the company is returning to game development in force. As quoted by PC Gamer, Newell stated the following of its new game: “Artifact is the first of several games that are going to be coming from us. So that’s sort of good news. Hooray! Valve’s going to start shipping games again.”
Interestingly, Newell also commented that Valve is jealous of Nintendo’s ability to craft the hardware around the games, and vice versa. Newell provided the example that Miyamoto could design the new controller inputs around game mechanics, and that Nintendo isn’t bound by hardware in the same way as most manufacturers. Newell further indicated that Valve hopes to leverage its new hardware developments, like the Vive, to the same effect as Nintendo does with its hardware development.
For those curious, Artifact appears to be a card game with some vague similarities to Hearthstone.
$2 Million of Mining PCs Stolen
The Associated Press ran a story that a cryptomining company in Iceland had 600 “computers” stolen in a robbery; given that this is a mainstream outlet, we have no idea what the word “computer” means in this context. We don’t know if they mean video cards or complete systems, but clearly every properly identifiable “computer” had multiple GPUs in it. The mining equipment was worth an estimated $2 million.
Either way, the Reykjavik police commissioner noted that the theft appears to be a “highly organized crime.” Another source indicated that police are looking at power consumption across the country to try and find a likely source for a new mining operation, though tracking fenced sales could be harder.
NZXT X72 & 120mm Cooler
NZXT has two new liquid coolers coming up: The NZXT X72 360mm cooler, part of the X62 and X52 family, and a new M22 120mm liquid cooler. The X72 uses Asetek cooling hardware, while the M22 uses a yet-unspecified vendor, but it’s not Asetek. It is using the same OEM as Raidmax.
RAM Prices Will Continue to Rise (by Eric Hamilton)
For some time now, anytime RAM pricing is suspect to decline, the PC building crowd seemingly waits for the proverbial other shoe to drop. At the jump of 2018, reports suggested a potential relief in memory pricing; however, recent reports stand to nullify any hopes of reasonable RAM prices.
In a report from Digitimes, prices are speculated to rise 5-10% in the first half of 2018, with increased demand from datacenter and smartphone segments. Additionally, Goldman Sachs reinforced the suspected DRAM price trend in a note to investors. Goldman Sachs notes that supply appears to remain constrained, and 32GB server module prices are up at $310 to $315, up from $300 back in January. Overall, this echoes the most recent DRAMeXchange forecast, which expects DRAM supply to remain tight with strong demand, as well as expecting DRAM revenue to increase by more than 30 percent in 2018, reaching $96 billion.
All the big players—that is, Samsung, SK Hynix, Micron—are planning on ramping up DRAM output for 2018 and 2019, with 2017 being a historic year for DRAM prices and growth. An infusion of new memory supply to the market could offset the high prices, to an extent—but not the high demand.
For perspective, we bought a G.SKILL Trident Z 16GB DDR4-3200MHz kit in March of 2016 for $99. That same kit now goes for $211—more than double. Additionally, we published a brief history of RAM prices between 2011 and 2018, should anyone require more examples. It’s hard to say what price will do this year; that would simply be conjecture. However, the outlook remains bleak, and it’s a tough time to be a PC builder (see also: GPU prices).
Upcoming GN Live OC
Just a quick heads-up: We have no date or time yet, but sometime early this week, we intend to take to the livestream to challenge LinusTechTips’ new high score for 3DMark. It’ll be a good show! Keep an eye on twitter for announcements.
Host, Editorial: Steve Burke
Additional Reporting: Eric Hamilton
Video: Andrew Coleman