ASUS CEO On Intel CPU Shortage
Asustek Computer CEO Jerry Shen has stated that the company has seen the Intel CPU shortage officially affect their business. Shen points to the DIY and client sector in particular, and noted he expects the shortage to last through 2Q19.
Shen also mentioned the growing competition in the notebook sector, as well as the US-China trade war as having an adverse effect on ASUS’ operational visibility, which, according to Shen, is down to 20% for the fourth quarter of 2018. This is a steep decline from an excess of 50% in previous years for the same quarter.
Shen said ASUS expects PC shipments to remain flat throughout the rest of the fourth quarter, despite the normal holiday demand.
Intel Focusing Supply on OEMs
On the same note, Intel is reportedly backing off its DIY CPU sales for EOY, instead focusing on its system integrator and OEM partners. Digitimes reports that Intel may reduce DIY retail availability by up to 2 million units for this quarter, shifting those units instead to notebooks, servers, SIs, and OEMs, where margins are higher. Intel will be shipping roughly 6 million units for end of year.
TechPowerUp reports that Intel is boosting its CapEx to increase production capabilities and expand its fabrication plants. Intel’s CapEx boost will focus on expanding notebook and pre-built markets.
SK Hynix DDR5
SK Hynix announced this week that they’ve completed the industry’s first DDR5, JEDEC compliant DRAM chip. These new chips will offer a capacity of 16Gb and a 5200 MT/s/pin speeds. The DRAM also operated at 1.1V, reduced from typical DDR4 voltages of 1.2v, and is fabricated on SK Hynix’s 10nm process node.
SK Hynix expects its future DDR5 memory, slated for 2020 volume production, to support capacities of 8GB, 16GB and 32GB, with transfer rates up to 6400 MT/s.
In addition to the memory chip, SK Hynix is working on its first DDR5 RDIMM. The new DIMM modules offer bandwidths of 41.6 GB/s, which is what DDR4 peaks at with extreme overclocking and cooling. The design of the new DIMMs will use 288 pins across a curved connector, to both reduce insertion force and avoid accidental insertion into DDR4 slots.
DDR5 memory is still slated for 2020.
Apple’s T2 Chip Thwarts Right To Repair
Apple’s newest MacBook Air and Mac Mini will come equipped with the new T2 chip, a co-processor focused on security. Some of the T2 chip’s primary functions are processing Touch ID data, storing cryptographic keys for secure booting, handling Siri requests, protecting the microphone from remote access, and more. It also combines several discrete controllers, like the SSD and audio controllers.
However, the T2 chip also acts as a tool to limit third party repairs. According to internal Apple documents, any T2 equipped Mac will require specialized software known as AST 2 (Apple Service Toolkit 2), and it’s only distributed to Apple stores and authorized ASTs. If certain parts are replaced, the T2 chip detects a repair and attempts to validate the repair. In order for the T2 chip to complete this verification process, the AST 2 software must be run. Without the AST 2 software and an internet connection, the T2 chip cannot validate the repair, and can render the computer inoperable, by refusing to allow booting.
However, Adam O’Camb from iFixit was able to replace the logic board, display, and update to macOS Mojave without using the AST 2 software. In a blog post at iFixit, O’Combe speculates on why this is:
So why is Apple doing this? It could simply be a mechanism for tracking parts used by their authorized network, to check quality or replacement rates. It’s possible that units with swapped parts may operate normally, but still report a failure in Apple diagnostic tests for having ‘unauthorized’ components installed—much like earlier units did on earlier versions of AST for third party HDD/SSD, RAM and batteries.
If it’s not, then we have a problem. Making part swaps dependent on secret software would be a customer-hostile move. It would impact people that don’t live near an AASP, can’t afford to go to one, don’t have time to mail their device, or like to use their computer longer than five years (the timeframe that Apple supports their hardware except where legally required otherwise). Third-party repair shops—which cater to the aforementioned groups—already struggle to keep up with Apple’s shenanigans.
As O’Comb mentions in the blog post, DIY repair seems to be intact for now, but with the T2 chip, it’s under threat at best. Apple could further lock down new Macs with software updates, that would render “incomplete” repairs null and void, and force users to an Apple store. Apple has a long history of not supporting third party repairs, and an aggressive stance against right to repair in general.
iFixit -- https://ifixit.org/blog/11673/
Defective 20-Series Story Comes to a Close
In their forums, Nvidia made a post addressing the issues customers were experiencing with their flagship 20-series cards. These issues include artifacting, blue screens, black screens, and cards that just wouldn’t work at all.
In their post, Nvidia asserts that these issues are the result of early manufacturing anomalies and quality control issues. As Nvidia puts it:
“Limited test escapes from early boards caused the issues some customers have experienced with RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition.
We stand ready to help any customers who are experiencing problems.
Please visit www.nvidia.com/support to chat live with the NVIDIA tech support team (or to send us an email) and we’ll take care of it.”
We’ve been investigating this issue independently, and have a number of videos with some of our findings on our YouTube channel.
Keyboard & Mouse Support Official on Xbox
With the most recent November update, Microsoft’s Xbox consoles will now offer keyboard and mouse support, with a handful of games already supporting the peripherals. While most modern USB keyboards and mice will work, Microsoft is currently working with Razer to bring specific hardware to market, and point to CES in January for more news.
As an aside, Corsair has announced they are among the first to become a licensed hardware partner with Microsoft. As such, Corsair announced compatibility for their keyboards and mice with Xbox One consoles. Corsair also cites future projects with Microsoft, such as integration of Microsoft's Mixer and Corsair’s recently acquired Elgato.
First RX 590 Cards Roll Out
After weeks of rumors and conjecture, PowerColor and XFX get to claim “first” with their RX 590 cards. The RX 590 is based on Polaris 30, which is another derivative of Polaris 10. Polaris 30 is the product of Global Foundries’ 12nm FinFET process, which makes way for higher clocks and higher a higher power target.
The RX 590 doesn’t change much from its 500 and 400-series counterparts. Stream processor and CU counts are the same, as is the 8GB of VRAM. The memory interface hasn’t changed, either. The highlight is the higher base/boost clocks of 1496 MHz/1545 Mhz, and the 225W TDP.
By this time, most outlets will have their reviews online. The general consensus is that the RX 590 comes in ahead of the GTX 1060 and RX 580, while trailing the GTX 1070, if at a slightly high price tag.
That’s it for the HW News this week. As we slide into the holidays next week, be sure to look out for our usual crop of Black Friday and Cyber Monday content. As usual, leave us a comment or tweet at us.
Host: Steve Burke
Editorial: Eric Hamilton
Video: Keegan Gallick, Josh Svoboda