HW News - MIT Researches Diamond for CPUs, Final The Verge Response, & 7nm EUV

By Published February 17, 2019 at 11:09 pm

The Verge misstepped last week and ended up at the receiving end of our thoughts on the matter, but after a response by The Verge, we're back for one final response. Beyond that, normal hardware news ensues: We're looking at MIT's exciting research into the CPU space, like with advancements in diamond as potential processor material, and also looking at TSMC's moves to implement 7nm EUV.

Show notes are below the embedded video:

For our final thoughts on The Verge, and our final response to their direct commentary to us, check the video above. We won't be typing this one out.

SuperMicro Renews Focus on Consumer Motherboards

It seems SuperMicro is keen on a renewed focus for high-end consumer motherboards, particularly gaming. While this isn’t new territory for SuperMicro, they have been noticeably absent compared to the likes of ASUS, Gigabyte, and ASRock, and other top board vendors. In an interview with KitGuru, Vik Malyala, the Senior Vice President of Field Applications Engineering and Business Development, stated that the company intends to return to the fold later this year.  

“In 2019, we will put the pedal to the metal”, said Vik. “Setting the record itself showed that ‘we are here’, but it doesn’t mean anything unless we bring the right product to the customer. We’re here to make an impact”.

One point Malyala iterated was SuperMicro’s top position in the server and data center space, and how that affords them the ability to be first to market with emerging technologies, such as DDR5, PCIe Gen4, etc. This is what Malyala calls SuperMicro’s “secret sauce”.

Once upon a time, back in the 90’s, SuperMicro was something of a household name, as their boards could be found in many PCs from OEMs. Over the last decade and a half, they’ve pivoted to the server and enterprise space, where they’re currently the third biggest supplier of servers in the world.

SuperMicro’s pedigree in the server market could make for an interesting consumer motherboard, and as a bonus, they’re at the forefront of green computing, pioneering the TCE (total cost to the environment) concept while trying to reduce the footprint of data centers.    



Ireland Next for Intel Expansion

Intel recently confirmed their Oregon expansion plans, and we’ve reported on their rumored plans for Israel. Now, Ireland is next up to potentially see a multi-billion dollar expansion. This all coincides with Intel’s announcement last year that these sites would receive multi-year manufacturing expansions, presumably to prepare for new processing nodes, expanding business, and to put Intel in a better position to meet demand in the future -- that last point being the crux of Intel’s problems lately.

Now, Intel recently confirmed that they have submitted documents to the Kildare County Council for revisions and expansion to a planning permission that was granted in 2017. The new proposal details an estimated $8 billion plan for expansion at the Leixlip campus, beyond what was originally planned in 2017, and was picked up by a local newspaper, The Irish Times.

The expansion will reportedly see the construction of new, 110,000sf fab that will take four years to complete, employ over 3,000 construction professionals, and add an additional 1,600 jobs once the facility is online. The proposal also includes plans for widening local streets, establishing a shuttle bus service to take staff to and from campus, and planting 6,000 trees and 12,000 shrubs to mitigate environmental impact.   

Source: https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/intel-prepared-to-invest-8bn-in-new-leixlip-development-1.3787348?mode=amp


MIT Research on Strain Engineering and Diamonds in CPUs

It’s been known for some time that modulating a strain on semiconductors can augment their properties, leading to enhanced performance and thermal properties. However, finding the exact amount of bend opens up “100 million calculations if we want to map out the entire elastic strain space” according to MIT News. So, researchers at MIT, joined by scientists in Russia and Singapore, have employed AI to explore the possibilities of strain engineering.

Researchers, in conjunction with their neural network algorithms, have studied the “tuning” of the bandgap in both silicon and diamond. David L. Chandler from MIT News sums it up.

“‘Tuning’ of a bandgap can be a key tool for improving the efficiency of a device, such as a silicon solar cell, by getting it to match more precisely the kind of energy source that it is designed to harness. By fine-tuning its bandgap, for example, it may be possible to make a silicon solar cell that is just as effective at capturing sunlight as its counterparts but is only one-thousandth as thick. In theory, the material ‘can even change from a semiconductor to a metal, and that would have many applications, if that’s doable in a mass-produced product,’ Li says.”

The research also finds that diamonds could one day be a theoretical replacement for silicon. Ju Li, MIT professor of nuclear science and engineering and of materials science and engineering, states that compared to silicon technology, diamond could perform 100,000 times better. However, diamonds as semiconductors is still an idea in its infancy, and poses unique challenges, like being able to properly mount them to a substrate.  

Source: https://news.mit.edu/2019/artificial-intelligence-engineer-microchips-0211

TSMC Will Ramp 7nm EUV in Late March

In a report by Digitimes, citing industry sources, TSMC is set to enter volume production with their 7nm EUV in late March.

“ASML, which provides extreme ultraviolet (EUV) litho equipment, is looking to ship a total of 30 EUV systems in 2019. Of the units to be shipped, 18 have already been reserved by TSMC, the sources indicated.”

Additionally, TSMC plans to move 5nm to risk production status in the second quarter of 2019, with volume production expected in the first half of 2020. Late last year, TSMC was approved to start construction of a $19 billion fab, with a focus on 3nm.    

Source: https://www.digitimes.com/news/a20190212PD200.html

Puget Systems Benchmarks i9-9990XE

Puget Systems has been recently releasing their benchmarks on the Intel i9-9990XE, and they also divulged that they paid $2,300 for the privilege. Intel’s rare i9-9990XE is only available via private auction, and only OEMs and system integrators can vie for a chance at the chip.

Ultimately, Puget Systems stated they would not be shipping any systems with the i9-9990XE, due to the following.

“Availability - We cannot just order more of these from distributors, but have to wait for Intel's auctions to purchase more. Even then, there is no guarantee that we will win any of the bidding... so we cannot forecast availability for our customers.

Price - Because of the nature of an auction, we can never be certain of pricing either. The one we won ended up costing about 15% more than a Core i9 9980XE, yet in multi-threaded applications it does not perform all that much faster than the 9980XE.

Warranty - The Core i9 9990XE is being sold without any warranty by Intel, and while CPU failure rates are generally low even a single DOA or failure for a customer in the field would be an expensive loss. Further, if a customer has a failure and we are out of stock there is no guarantee we could ever acquire a replacement... especially once Intel stops the auctions for this chip.

Heat - This processor uses a lot more power than other Core X models, and this puts out a lot more heat. We've found that the Corsair Hydro H80i cooler with upgraded fans can dissipate the heat well enough for the CPU to operate properly, but long-term there could be unforeseen complications from so much heat. This is especially concerning in tandem with the lack of warranty.”

Source: https://www.pugetsystems.com/all_articles.php

Investor Could Be Looking to Sell Stake in GlobalFoundries

Advanced Technology Investment (ATIC), Abu Dhabi's investment firm, who is also the majority shareholder of Global Foundries, could be looking to sell out. Last year, ATIC sold one of Global Foundries’ fabs to Vanguard International Semiconductor in Singapore, and subsequently laid off a portion of the company’s employees.

Now, it seems that ATIC’s interest in the fab business has waned significantly. This comes after Global Foundries’ decided to turn their back on 7nm, and that they would no longer be receiving payments from AMD for using TSMC for 7nm.   



NVIDIA Posts 4Q19 Earnings, Down 24%

NVIDIA posted their financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2019, and while the company did slightly better than they anticipated, they are still down 24% quarter-over-quarter. Perhaps more troubling is the 45% YoY loss in gaming revenue. According to Tom’s Hardware, NVIDIA earned only $954 million in Q419, compared to $1.73 billion in Q418.

Jensen Huang attributed the severe decline to a number of issues: slow adoption of RTX cards, the delay of the RTX 2060, launching a new architecture with only high-end models available, macro economics in China, lack of support for ray tracing in games, oversupply of 10-series cards, and the collapse of the crypto mining craze.

Overall, the company came out slightly above their lowered revenue guidance with $2.21 billion for the quarter, and a 21% gain in full fiscal year, both of which helped NVIDIA’s stocks rally in after hours trading.   

Source: https://nvidianews.nvidia.com/news/nvidia-announces-financial-results-for-fourth-quarter-and-fiscal-2019


70% of Windows Patches Are To Address Memory Issues

A Microsoft engineer recently stated that, of 12 years of Windows updates, 70% are fixes for memory and memory security bugs. Memory exploits can expose passwords or grant access to other private information on the computer, something that Microsoft struggles with as a result of its use of C and C++. Memory attack vectors are among the most commonly exploited.

Source: https://www.fudzilla.com/news/pc-hardware/48123-more-than-70-percent-of-microsoft-patches-are-for-memory-problems

News Reporting: Eric Hamilton
Host: Steve Burke
Video: Andrew Coleman

Last modified on February 17, 2019 at 11:09 pm

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