1:22 | GN Mouse Pads
We launched some new mouse pads this weekend! We'll leave discussion to the video, but here's a look:
06:40 | Rumor: AMD RX 6600 XT & 6600
Classify this one firmly under the “rumors” category until further notice, but the Chiphell forums recently had GPU-Z screenshots uploaded that show alleged RX 6600-series GPUs.
In reading the Chiphell forum post by user “Rè4xīn1 shì4mín2 miáo2 biān1 guài4,” we learned that the cards were engineering samples from Sapphire that required modified drivers to run, and so there’s some missing information and some of this is subject to change.
The user had trouble getting the frequency to report accurately, so we’re still not sure about that. They did claim PCIe Gen4 support functioning as expected, as was ReBAR. The user was also postulating on whether applying the 6600 XT VBIOS to the 6600 non-XT might be feasible to increase OC headroom.
The cards were running 8GB of memory and using GDDR6, according to the screenshots, with a bus width of 128-bit. Shader count was 1792 and it appears to still be 7nm, which would make sense.
That’s all we have on this one for now.
08:45 | NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti & 3070 Ti Launching Soon
Just a short one: Over the past week or two, we've been told by board partners to expect a launch for the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3070 Ti around the same time -- roughly the first week of June -- but we haven't received any contact from NVIDIA at this time. New cards are on the way -- and it sounds like they're trying to build as much supply as they can.
09:14 | AMD CPU Market Share Q1’2021
Mercury Research’s CPU market share report for Q1’2021 is in, and the report shows that AMD has notched its best server CPU growth in 15 years. However, while AMD is snatching up market share in the server segment and among Steam users, it seems its overall market share shrank a bit.
For the server market, AMD moved up to 8.9%, marking a 1.8 percent point increase QoQ and a 3.8 percentage point increase YoY. For server chips, this is AMD’s highest single-quarter increase in share since 2006, which was the peak of AMD’s Opteron heydays. These numbers coincide with AMD’s last earnings report, where AMD managed to double its data center revenue.
"While we don't often discuss average selling prices, we note that this quarter saw unusually strong price moves for AMD -- as AMD shipped fewer low-end parts and more high-end parts, as well as shipping many more server parts, the company's average selling price increased significantly," said Dean McCarron of Mercury Research.
However, AMD actually ceded a bit of market share back to Intel in notebooks and overall x86 market share. AMD fell down by 1 percentage point in notebook share to land at a flat 18%. Meanwhile, AMD’s desktop share moved to 19.3%, after losing a bit of market share to Intel last quarter.
AMD also lost 1 percentage point in overall x86 market share, moving down to 20.7%. However, these losses in market share are largely stemming from AMD being more impacted by supply constraints than Intel, and AMD pritorzing its highest-margin products in the meantime. Both AMD and Intel shipped a record number of CPUs last quarter, and AMD is especially dealing with high demand, seemingly selling every piece of silicon it can produce.
13:57 | Sony Expects Tight PS5 Supply Throughout 2022
Sony isn’t anticipating PS5 supply to improve anytime soon, following comments made by Sony’s CFO Hiroki Totoki. Sony’s recent earnings report highlighted that Sony has sold 7.8 million PS5 consoles through March 31st, 2021, and is aiming to sell 14.8 million units through the current fiscal year. However, Sony again admits that it's struggling to keep up with demand.
“I don’t think demand is calming down this year and even if we secure a lot more devices and produce many more units of the PlayStation 5 next year, our supply wouldn’t be able to catch up with demand,” said Totoki.
For reference, Sony notched 14.8 million PS4 consoles sold during the console’s first fiscal year, although Sony wasn’t facing a global semiconductor shortage back then, either. Totoki also stated that Sony will need to ramp production on the PS5, as it doesn’t expect demand to curtail once Covid-19 is less present.
“We have sold more than 100 million units of the PlayStation 4 and considering our market share and reputation, I can’t imagine demand dropping easily,” Totoki said.
15:05 | Samsung Announces CXL-Based DDR5 Memory Module
Samsung took the wraps off of the industry’s first CXL-based DDR5 module, which Samsung claims can scale into the terabyte level with DRAM capacity. Samsung was intentionally light on the details, but being based on the CXL.memory protocol that uses a PCIe 5.0 x16 connection, a theoretical 32 GT/s of bandwidth is possible.
The idea, it seems, is to allow for increasing memory akin to the way storage is increased. With the advent of the CXL fabric, servers are able to supplement socketed DRAM with the addition of massive pools of memory that can be shared between the CPU and GPU via the PCIe interface.
Samsung notes that it has already tested and validated its CXL DDR5 module with next-gen servers based on Intel platforms -- which would be Sapphire Rapids/Eagle Stream. Intel will support CXL 1.1 over PCIe 5.0 with Sapphire Rapids, which will also mark the introduction of PCIe 5.0 support from Intel. Servers based on Intel’s Sapphire Rapids are expected towards the end of the year.
Samsung quotes AMD in its press release, though AMD isn’t expected to adopt DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 until 2022. As a reminder, AMD joined the CXL Consortium back in 2019.
16:33 | Phison Predicts SSD Price Increases and Controller Shortages
According to Digitimes, Phison is joining the growing chorus of storage vendors predicting price hikes and shortages in the SSD market. Additionally, Phison seems to expect SSD controller shortages to extend into 2022, and possibly even 2023. The SSD market is already grappling with a massive controller shortage, and even Samsung, who produces its own controllers in-house, hasn’t been immune.
As Digitimes reports, Phison’s outlook business-wise is optimistic, as the demand for storage continues to grow, and so will prices. Phison chairman KS Pua has reportedly claimed that NAND flash prices will grow by 10% in Q3’2021, driven by high demand, Chia mining, and supply constraints.
17:34 | American Companies Form Semiconductors in America Coalition (SIAC)
The Semiconductors in America Coalition (SIAC) announced its formation this past week, and is primarily made up of American technology companies. It seems the primary purpose for this coalition will be to lobby the US Government for subsidies for US-based semiconductor manufacturing. While the company is predominantly made up of American tech giants like Apple, Intel, and Google, the group is also joined by international companies such as TSMC, Samsung, and ASML.
In its inaugural press release, SIAC stated that “SIAC’s mission is to advance federal policies that promote semiconductor manufacturing and research in the U.S. to strengthen America’s economy, national security, and critical infrastructure.”
It seems that initially, SIAC will focus on bolstering support for President Biden’s CHIPS for America Act. The CHIPS Act was passed by the House and Senate earlier this year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. However, it has not yet been funded, and SIAC is attempting to lobby support for that funding. President Biden has previously called for $50B in funding for the CHIPS act, and SIAC also supports that level of funding.
19:29 | Surprise: Chia Mining Can Wreck Cheaper SSDs
In relatively unsurprising news, Chia mining (farming...whatever) can be detrimental to lower-cost SSDs, or many consumer-grade SSDs for that matter, that aren’t suited for the write-intensive nature of Chia. It seems that creating Chia plots with SSDs and farming those plots with HDDs seems to be a popular approach, but many consumer SSDs lack the NAND endurance for extensive plot creation.
A report from MyDrivers, picked up by Tom’s Hardware, points out that a cheap 512GB SSD can be wrecked in ~40 days, as Chia workloads will completely consume the drive’s write life. The MyDrivers report, even roughly translated, didn’t mention a TBW for the drive tested, but lower cost 512GB SSDs often have ratings between 250TBW and 300TBW.
Recently, TeamGroup announced its T-Create Expert SSD, the first SSD we know of aimed solely at Chia mining. That particular SSD features a MTBF of 3M hours and a TBW rating of up to 12,000 TB.
Friend of the site Der8auer recently covered the topic and explored the Chia plotting process, for which he recommends an SSD with high TBW and DWPD ratings set up in RAID mode.
21:55 | FTC Report on Right to Repair
The FTC finally released its extensive and scathing report on anti-competitive repair restrictions. The report examines repair restrictions across several industries, but it takes particular issue with repair practices within the realm of smartphones and cars. This report is almost two years in the making, stemming from a public workshop that the FTC hosted back in 2019. After that workshop, the FTC compiled public comments, responses to a Request for Empirical
Research and Data, and independent research.
Manufacturers and companies have long hid behind flimsy excuses for constricting repairs, such as the need to protect IP, security issues, and even consumer safety. These excuses have long been refuted by repair advocates, but the FTC has finally acknowledged them, too.
“Based on a review of comments submitted and materials presented during the Workshop, there is scant evidence to support manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions. Moreover, the specific changes that repair advocates seek to address manufacturer repair restrictions (e.g., access to information, manuals, spare parts, and tools) are well supported by comments submitted for the record and testimony provided at the Workshop.”
Furthermore, the report finds that manufacturers and OEMs constrict repair through a few primary avenues:
- Unavailability of parts and repair information;
- Designs that make independent repairs less safe;
- Policies or statements that steer consumers to manufacturer repair networks;
- Application of patent rights and enforcement of trademarks;
- Disparagement of non-OEM parts and independent repair;
- Software locks and firmware updates; or
- End User License Agreements.
Again, for those who have been paying attention for the last few years, none of this is particularly surprising. However, it’s a monumental milestone to have the FTC shine a spotlight on it. The FTC is reporting its findings to congress, and also “stands ready to work with legislators, either at the state or federal level, in order to ensure that consumers have choices when they need to repair products that they purchase and own.”
Furthermore, the FTC is also looking to more adequately enforce the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (MMWA) -- a law that is often laughably ignored by companies who liberally apply “warranty void if removed” stickers to their devices.
24:25 | Framework Is Trying To Fix Consumer Electronics, Starting With Laptops
Framework, a startup out of San Francisco, is looking to make a splash in consumer electronics -- specifically laptops. Framework announced early this year that it was preparing a line of laptops that were highly upgradable and repairable, and in the end, more sustainable than traditional consumer laptops. Now, Framework has announced that it is taking preorders for its machines.
The premise around Framework’s laptops is modularity and accessibility. Whereas most laptops are riddled with solder and adhesive, Framework looks to be offering the antithesis to that. Framework is taking a module-based approach, where in addition to upgradeable/changeable memory and storage, users can also change connectivity ports with Framework’s expansion cards. These cards allow users to change the types of ports on the machine, as well as what side the ports are on. Currently, Framework is offering expansion cards covering USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, and DisplayPort.
Framework states that it is currently developing future expansion cards for things like high-end audio amps, and has opened up the reference designs and schematics so that partners and the community can improve and expand upon the system. Additionally, the entire motherboard can be swapped out as well, in the event that users want to upgrade to a future processor or to a motherboard that supports more storage and memory.
For now, Framework is offering its laptop in three different pre-configured editions, as well as a barebones DIY edition where users can pick components à la carte. The three pre-configured options fall under base, performance, and professional. As usual, the biggest differentiators here are processor, storage, and memory options.
Regardless of configuration, Framework is relying on Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake mobile chips; specifically, the i7-1185G7, i7-1165G7, and i5-1135G7. We used to know these kinds of CPUs as Intel’s U-series, but are now known as UP3. Note that Framework is not currently offering its laptops with a discrete GPU, instead relying on Intel’s Iris Xe-LP graphics.
Framework says that all parts can be accessed and swapped with the included screwdriver and bits, and that it’s publishing repair/replacement guides that customers can access. The Framework laptop starts at $1,000 for the base edition, and $750 for the DIY edition. Pre-orders are open now, with esteemed shipping in July.
Editorial, Research: Eric Hamilton
Host, Additional Reporting: Steve Burke
Video: Keegan Gallick