HW News - 'Fake' VRM Phases on B450, Next-Gen Ryzen Core Count

By Published July 23, 2018 at 10:13 pm

Hardware news this week has been largely overrun with major movers: Micron and Intel are set to end their partnership on 3D XPoint, PC sales have grown for the first time in 6 years, Z370 BIOS updates indicate an 8-core CPU on the horizon, AMD Ryzen CPUs could be targeting more than 8C in 2019, Western Digital is shutting down a major hard drive plant, and more.

As always, our show notes for the episode are below, with sources and links to all stories. We've also got a video for those who prefer the visual medium:


Modmats Shipping, New GN Posters, New Shirts

Some quick GN news first: We've restocked nearly everything in our store, following a large sell-out after our latest stream. We've also stocked brand new video card anatomy posters. Other restocked items include:

Fake Phases on B450 Motherboard

We recently spoke with Buildzoid about the new Gigabyte B450 motherboard that was covered on his channel, where Buildzoid discussed how marketing is beginning to further blur the lines between what defines a “phase” in a VRM. Typically, you’d define a phase as a driver, a hi-side MOSFET, a low-side MOSFET, and a choke, which has its own PWM signal out of phase with the signal from other phases. We’ve seen boards in the past that do doubling schemes, where they go with 2 hi-side, 2 low-side, and 2 chokes, all driven by 1 driver and called “2 phases.” That’s not new. What’s new is that Gigabyte has axed a hi-side MOSFET on B450, resulting in 1 hi-side, 2 low-side, 2 chokes, and 1 driver. This makes the motherboard look like an 8-phase board, and Gigabyte marketed it as an 8-phase board, but it’s really not.

High-side MOSFETs are responsible for switching the +12V rail, so reducing to 1 MOSFET will reduce operational efficiency and increase power and heat load on a single FET. The board still works, and we don’t have a problem overall with a lower-end board being worse than its higher-end counterparts. What we do have a problem with is the marketing. Changing a well-known definition to stretch it into fitting something worse isn’t OK. This is a deceptive practice, and we think it deserves the call-out. Check our colleague Buildzoid’s channel for more information on this, linked in the show notes.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IjWCOXSuKU

MSI Ad: AMD Moving Beyond 8 Cores

A video/ad from MSI could possibly allude to AMD increasing core count beyond 8 for their next generation of Ryzen CPUs. In the ad, MSI is promoting a new B450 motherboard design, specifically a new feature called Core Boost, where it reads “enhanced layout and digital power design for 8-core and up CPU”.

Take it with a grain of salt, and make of it what you will. If we’re going to see AMD bringing more than 8 cores to their mainstream Ryzen parts, it’ll be with Zen 2, which is ostensibly set for a 2019 launch.    



Google Slapped With $5B Fine By EU Commision

Google has been hit with a record setting $5 billion fine, stemming from allegations by the European Commission that Google has abused their market dominance. The European Commission claims the key areas are:

  • Illegally tying Chrome and search into the operating system
  • Blocking phone makers from creating devices running forked versions of Android
  • “made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators” to exclusively bundle the Google search app on handsets.

According to The Verge, The EU Commision has given Google 90 days to comply to their decision that Google must: stop forcing manufacturers to preinstall Chrome and Google search in order to offer Google Play, stop preventing phone makers from using forked versions of Android, and cease illegal payments for app bundling. For their part, Google intends to appeal the decision, which will likely result in a years-long back and forth.

This isn’t the first time Google has been slapped with fines from EU; they were previously fined $2.7 billion in 2017 for allegedly manipulating search results. The EU Commision is no stranger to saddling tech companies with antitrust fines, as they’ve fined Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Intel.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2018/7/18/17580694/google-android-eu-fine-antitrust

Z370 BIOS Supports 8-core Intel Chips

Major motherboard vendors such as ASUS, ASRock, and MSI have rolled out BIOS updates that could be priming their respective Z370 boards for Intel’s 9000-series chips, specifically 8-core parts.

In the version notes, MSI simply listed “Support New Generation CPU”; however, other vendors were more braggadocious, and listed support for “latest Intel 8th Gen CPU”. The new BIOS updates also come with microcode revisions that reinforce the CPUs against newer Spectre variants.  

Primary Source: https://www.msi.com/Motherboard/support/Z370-GAMING-PRO-CARBON-AC

& https://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/ROG-MAXIMUS-X-HERO/HelpDesk_BIOS/

PC Sales Grew for First Time in 6 Years

During the second quarter of 2018, worldwide PC shipments totaled 62.1 million units, marking a new 6 year growth for the PC segment. This is the most quarterly PC growth since 2012, and it appears to be driven by dropping GPU prices and strong business demand.

Another report from IDC shows reflects a slight increase over Gartner’s report. According to IDC, Q2 2018 PC shipments totaled 62.3 million. IDC attributes this growth to not just business demand, but more traditional PCs, such as premium notebooks and gaming PCs.

By all accounts, a large contributor was the enterprise shift to Windows 10, and commercial refreshing of systems. However, IDC still notes a “growing consumer demand for gaming systems” as a positive catalyst for growth.   

Source(s): https://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3881812 &


Corsair SPEC-06 RGB

Corsair is now offering a RGB variant of their SPEC-06 case, unambiguously dubbed -- wait for it -- the SPEC-06 RGB. The case carries a $10 premium over its predecessor, and offers RGB lighting behind the front panel, with a built-in controller offering varying speeds, colors, and effects.

RGB lighting aside, the chassis remains identical to its forerunner. The SPEC-06 is available now for $90.

Source(s): https://www.corsair.com/us/en/company/press-release/introducing-the-corsair-carbide-series-spec-06-rgb

Intel & Micron Part Ways On 3D XPoint After 2019

In a press release from Intel, the company announced that after 2019, the joint memory venture between them and Micron will cease to exist. Intel and Micron announced their joint partnership to develop the non-volatile memory technology in 2015, with the first generation rolling out in 2017.

Their partnership will see both companies co-develop the second generation of 3D XPoint; however, beyond that, each company will be on their own for the 3rd gen iteration, assumingly allowing Intel and Micron to focus on their own business needs and product roadmaps.

It is worth noting that both companies have had their share of struggles lately: Intel’s now famously troubled 10nm shrink and the abrupt resignation of their CEO, and Micron simultaneously being investigated by the Chinese government while being engrossed in legal battles. Additionally, Micron’s version of 3D XPoint (QauntX) has also been somewhat underwhelming. What effect any of this has on the dissolving of the Intel-Micron partnership, if any, is unknown.      

Source(s): https://newsroom.intel.com/news-releases/micron-intel-announce-update-3d-xpoint-joint-development-program/

NZXT Taps Seasonic For E-Series PSUs

NZXT is reentering the PSU market, with the help of Seasonic. As AnandTech notes, NZXT offered PSUs from 2010 to 2016, then ceased to do so, with no new products since. With their new E-series, NZXT is taking another shot at PSUs.

The E-series of digital PSUs are based on Seasonics Focus+ Gold platform, with NZXT adding USB and DSP connectivity, allowing for real time monitoring of the 12v rails and wattage consumption, as well as temperature. The monitoring is the key feature for NZXT, as it integrates with their CAM software, and other the other CAM compatible products within that ecosystem.

The new PSUs offer capacities from 500, 650, and 850. Like the Seasonic Focus+ Gold platform, NZXT’s E-series offer full modularity, Japanese capacitors, and an 80 Plus gold rating, all backed by a 10-year warranty. Prices are as follows:

  • E500 - $125
  • E650 - $140
  • E850 - $150    

Source(s): http://www.nzxt.com/news/70

Western Digital to Shut Down Major HDD Plant in 2019

Western Digital has announced their intent to shut the doors on their manufacturing factory in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, a facility they’ve maintained since 1973. Western Digital intends to decommission the plant by end of calendar, 2019.

It goes without saying, that this comes amidst the decline in demand for client HDDs and mechanical storage. WD will still have two remaining plants from which to spread out their HDD production, and they have plans to continue to bolster their SSD production capabilities. WD established a joint venture with Toshiba last year, and they intend to open their second SSD facility in Penang.   

Source(s): https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/07/17/western_digital_petaling_jaya_malaysia/

HW Sales

MSI's RX 580 is closer to MSRP, or slightly under if the rebate is still available when you read this.

Threadripper Prices: This week, TR prices hit new lows on Amazon, with the 1950X going for prices lower than launch, the 1920X for also reduced, and the 1900X for around where the 1700 was when it launched. Prices have been fluctuating the past couple days, but worth keeping an eye on if you’re looking at a TR build.

Editorial: Eric Hamilton
Host: Steve Burke
Video: Andrew Coleman

Last modified on July 23, 2018 at 10:13 pm

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