HW News - AMD Zen 4 & RDNA3 Update, PS5 SSD Support, AMD “NUC”

By Steve Burke & Eric Hamilton Published August 02, 2021 at 6:07 am

Hardware news has been busy the last few days. AMD has updates on its Zen 4, 3D V-Cache, and RDNA3 timelines, alongside updates to financials. Beyond AMD's news, but somewhat adjacent, Sony's PlayStation 5 now formally supports add-on SSDs of a certain class. We'll also go over Intel's Alder Lake updates, critical for end of year and early 2022 as Intel lines-up to compete with AMD on DDR5 platforms.

Show notes are below the video embed.

01:00 | Right to Repair Fundraiser Results

This one is just for the video!

05:47 | AMD Zen 4, RDNA3, & V-Cache Timelines

Following earnings call comments from AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su this past week, AMD has recommitted to its launch timeline of Zen 4 and RDNA3 GPUs in 2022. As a reminder, the company is also working on shipping its V-Cache Zen 3 CPUs later this year, likely lining-up to compete with Intel Alder Lake CPUs.

Dr. Lisa Su stated:

“We remain on-track to launch next-generation products in 2022, including our Zen 4 processors built with industry-leading 5nm process technology and our RDNA 3 GPUs.”

07:25 | AMD Cyan Skillfish APUs with RDNA

Michael Larabel over at Phoronix, which does great Linux testing work, recently reported driver commits by AMD’s Radeon team to Linux 5.15. The driver updates are for an AMD project called “Cyan Skillfish,” which will be a new APU running on RDNA1.

Currently, all of AMD’s publicly available standalone APUs use Vega graphics. Vega is so old that its architect has now nearly completed his work on Intel’s re-entry to dGPU architectures, so it’s been around a while. Valve’s Steam Deck will run RDNA2, but this is a semi-custom solution and is not available standalone. That means that consoles have had newer graphics architectures in their APUs than desktops.

Tom’s Hardware reports that the reason AMD might opt for RDNA1 rather than RDNA2 would have to do with the ability to hit a smaller overall package size, thanks to the loss of dedicated ray tracing hardware.

Source: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Cyan-Skillfish-Linux-AMDGPU-5.15

Secondary Source: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/amd-readies-apus-with-rdna-based-cyan-skillfish-graphics

08:47 | SK Hynix DDR5 Mass Production Incoming

SK Hynix revealed its plans to enter volume production with DDR5 in the second half of this year, which will effectively kick-off the commercial era of DDR5 DRAM. SK Hynix, like other memory makers, has long been working towards mass production of DDR5. SK Hynix detailed its first DDR5 chip back in 2019, and further expanded on its DDR5 specifications last year

Volume production of DDR5 should line-up with hardware launches that support the new memory, such as Intel’s Alder Lake-S platform late this year, and Sapphire Rapids for the data center in 2022. AMD will also support DDR5 memory with its new Zen 4 CPUs and compatible motherboards in 2022, as it stands now.

SK Hynix also expects to ship server DRAM ICs that are manufactured on its 1a nm process that leverages EUV lithography during the back half of the year. SK Hynix is also working to produce 176-layer NAND flash at some point before the end of the year.     

Source: https://news.skhynix.com/sk-hynix-inc-reports-second-quarter-2021-results/

09:50 | TSMC Forges Ahead With 2nm Process Plans

According to a new report from Nikkei Asia, TSMC has officially been given the seal of approval for the construction of a new facility focused on 2nm-class chips. The fab will be located in Xīnzhú, in the northwest of Taiwan, and was approved by the Environmental Review Committee for construction to begin in 2022. Assuming construction continues according to TSMC’s plans, TSMC will install production tools in 2023.

Specifically, the new facility will reside in Xīnzhú’s Bǎoshān Xiāng township and will sit on 50 acres. According to the report, the new plant will use 98,000 tons of water a day, and TSMC has vowed to use 10% recycled water by 2025, and 100% recycled water by 2030. Previously, TSMC had to import water for use during a dry season with few typhoons, so this is a mitigating step against future issues.

This news comes as TSMC continues its aggressive expansion plans across the globe, including its new $12B Arizona facility that will initially focus on 5nm production, while also expanding its 28nm production in China, as well as looking into building new sites in Japan and Germany.    

Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Tech/Semiconductors/Taiwan-gives-TSMC-green-light-for-most-advanced-chip-plant

https://hothardware.com/news/tsmc-receives-go-ahead-for-2nm-chip-fab-2024

12:22 | Newegg Fixes Exploit Allowing People to Buy Things

Newegg recently suffered from a catastrophic design exploit that accidentally allowed visitors to its ecommerce website to purchase products. Fortunately, the issue was resolved and the website was reverted to a state of bundling. Relatedly, we heard a rumor that Newegg’s next bundle will force you to buy 6 pallets of bluetooth speakers with each GT 1030.

The story comes after a kid and his father discovered a loophole over at Newegg’s website that allowed the duo to completely bypass Newegg’s laughable bundles, shuffles, and build-to-order service in order to instantly land a new RTX 3090.

As the story goes, the father-son elite hacking team discovered that, through Newegg’s mobile app, you could go through Newegg’s PC Builder tool to buy a “hot item,” like a GPU, individually. This required such special hacker skills as using Newegg’s interface more than Newegg’s design team.

We previously discussed how Newegg is treating limited supply products as “hot items” and walling them off for its build-to-order services, where the company can charge for both the hot item and for the assembly of the build.

Sure enough, PCMag tried out the workaround and successfully repeated it -- that is, until Newegg got wind of it, taking the PC Builder tool offline and patching it. Newegg's Senior Brand Manager Andrew Choi stated that “Only a small number of GPUs were sold via this loophole and we halted all subsequent orders."

Source: https://www.pcmag.com/news/11-year-old-finds-loophole-in-newegg-app-to-quickly-buy-pc-graphics-cards

14:49 | Sapphire Enters The Crowded PC Case Market

As spotted by serial hardware leaker momomo_us, Sapphire is entering the case market. Sapphire’s official Chinese website has a product page for the Nitro M01 computer case. The translated name is the same -- it’s just Sapphire Nitro M01 Computer Case. Simple enough.

The case isn’t a rumor and does exist, it’s just a question of whether it makes its way to the Western markets. The Nitro M01 is micro-ATX or ITX, uses panels that snap into places with similar studs and snaps to Lian Li’s TU-series (and Lian Li often OEMs for small production runs, but we’re not sure if that’s happening here).

The case lists support for 240mm radiators, 335mm length video cards, and -- even if you also decided to be illiterate when you started learning Chinese -- it has the universally recognized “RGB” support. The marketing goes so far as to commit to it looking “cool.” Risky play. We’ll see if it pays off.

The Nitro M01 one seems to offer aluminum side and front panels, and one tempered glass side window. According to the product page, the Nitro M01 is compatible with Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX motherboards, and supports ATX and SFX PSUs. The Nitro M01 can also accommodate graphics cards up to 335mm in length, and has a built-in side bracket for a 240mm radiator, should water cooling become interesting. 

The Nitro M01 also appears to feature your usual fare of RGB lighting and front panel connectivity options, such as USB 3.0. The case also has heavy Sapphire branding, which again, suggests this is more of a product for Sapphire loyalists. At this time, the Nitro M01 is only available in China, and the price is TBD.   

Source: https://twitter.com/momomo_us/status/1420344755280441346

https://www.tomshardware.com/news/sapphire-launches-nitro-pc-chassis

18:19 | Rumor: Intel Alder Lake Running Behind Schedule

According to new information from Igor Wallossek from Igor’s Lab, Intel’s upcoming Alder Lake-S launch could be a bit lean, at least initially. According to Igor and his sources, Intel is struggling to get Alder Lake-S CPUs out of the door on time, and is expected to prioritize the enthusiast SKUs first. Per this information, Intel will roll out Alder Lake-S K and KF SKUs, as well as Z690-based motherboards, later this fall. The timeline cited is between October 25 and November 19, 2021. 

The rest of Alder Lake-S CPUs and other chipsets (H6xx, B6xx,) will come in early 2022, likely following a CES 2022 announcement. It seems part of the reason for this is the lack of a PCIe Gen5 ecosystem, as vendors are still working to validate and certify their products. Igor also cites sources claiming that Intel’s renewed push for wider ATX12V0 adoption with motherboard vendors has been mostly rejected, primarily in an effort to control motherboard prices.

As usual, take this with a grain of salt, but Igor’s information is usually good.    

Source: https://www.igorslab.de/en/intel-alder-lake-s-launch-only-enthusiasts-cpu-and-z690-chipset-between-25-october-and-19-november-2021-the-remainder-is-coming/

20:03 | AMD Q2’ 2021 Earnings: $3.85B

AMD reported $3.85B in revenue for Q2’ 2021, noting a massive 99% increase YoY. For reference, AMD recorded $1.9B in Q2’ 2020. In fact, AMD only came up a bit short of straight-up doubling its yearly earnings -- an impressive feat for a company that was on the brink of bankruptcy in a previous life.

As is usually the story, AMD’s Computing and Graphics segment is the star of the show, bringing in $2.25B for the quarter, a 65% jump YoY. AMD noted that ASPs for both CPUs and GPUs have grown both YoY and QoQ, thanks to a mix of strong sales for Ryzen products and high-end GPUs. If AMD were Jeff Bezos, it’d probably thank you for its rocket ship to the moon, because low-end and mid-range priced CPUs and GPUs haven’t been available from AMD for a few years now.

AMD’s Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom segment revenue was $1.60B for the second quarter of 2021, marking another massive YoY leap of 183%. Unsurprisingly, AMD points to healthy sales of its Epyc processors, as well as strong semi-custom product sales -- that is, next-gen consoles. Further highlighting AMD’s semi-custom wins is Valve’s upcoming Steam Deck, which will also have semi-custom silicon from AMD. It’ll likely be another quarter or two before we see what effect this will have on AMD’s coffers, but judging by the interest in the Steam Deck, we expect it to be very good. 

In closing, AMD commented that it remains on track to launch its Zen 4-based CPUs and RDNA 3-based GPUs, both built on TSMC’s N5 (5nm) process, at some point in 2022.   

Source: https://ir.amd.com/news-events/press-releases/detail/1014/amd-reports-second-quarter-2021-financial-results

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4441904-advanced-micro-devices-inc-amd-ceo-dr-lisa-su-on-q2-2021-results-earnings-call-transcript

23:08 | Sony Wants $275 for a 1TB “PS5” SSD

Sony finally announced support for using that conspicuous, inactive SSD slot in the PlayStation 5, and Seagate jumped on with its Firecuda 530 SSD. The SSD claims 7300MB/s sequential read and write, but costs $275 for just 1TB. You can get high-speed M.2 NVMe SSDs of this capacity for under $200 in a desktop.

Sony says that the PS5 and PS5 Digital are both active, but require a beta invitation to enable.

Sony claims the requirement is 250GB-4TB, it directly suggests a cooling solution for the SSD, and it recommends 5500MB/s or greater. In Sony’s documentation, the company shows a separate heatsink installed to the M.2 SSD, including thermal pads in between. They really seem to be pushing the thermal angle.

Source: https://www.playstation.com/en-us/support/hardware/ps5-install-m2-ssd/

24:13 | AMD Files for 4700S “NUC”-Like Kit

Via Tom’s Hardware, AMD submitted an EEC filing for its mini-ITX, Zen 2 SoC kit PC, which will be available via OEMs initially. The AMD Ryzen 4700S desktop kit has an 8C/16T CPU at 3.2GHz with 8MB L3 and 4MB L2, and currently, the understanding is that this is the same as the console SoC.

This is a good opportunity for AMD to go the NUC route, although we’re uncertain right now if it’s a socketable CPU. We’d assume it’s soldered, as the memory solution is 14Gbps GDDR6 modules at 8GB.

If this is the SoC from the PlayStation 5, it makes for interesting implications for comparing the performance capabilities in a mostly like-for-like environment. The IGP is disabled, unfortunately, so you’d need to supply your own GPU.

Source: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/amd-lists-four-ryzen-4700s-desktop-kits-in-new-regulatory-filing

Host, Writing: Steve Burke
Writing: Eric Hamilton
Video: Keegan Gallick

Last modified on August 02, 2021 at 6:07 am

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