HW News - Dell Locks Special RAM, AMD Silently Launches RX 6400, Zen 4 Pre-Production

By Eric Hamilton & Steve Burke Published April 26, 2022 at 10:17 pm

There's a lot to cover in hardware news this week! First, we'll cover Dell's new, proprietary DDR5 memory modules coming up, which we assume will go perfectly with their proprietary motherboards, cases, and power supplies. We'll also cover the silent launch of AMD's RX 6400 GPUs, apparently kept on the down-low to limit negative feedback on the $160 part. In better news, AMD is making movement on its Zen 4 pre-production CPUs. Additionally, we'll be talking about our new charity shirt with 100% of profits benefiting relief efforts for refugees in and around Ukraine.

01:22 | GN Ukraine Shirt

First up, we have a new limited edition charity T-shirt over here: https://store.gamersnexus.net/products/limited-charity-shirt-ukraine-gn

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100% of profits will be donated to 2 charity groups that GN has researched and vetted. We have 2 groups we'll be donating to in order to provide relief funds for those affected in Ukraine, more on them in a moment. The shirt features a GN Hardware Heart around an outline of Ukraine, with the heart made out of liquid cooling tubes and power cables. There's a silhouette of Ukraine centrally, represented with Ukraine's colors, and components like keyboards, SSDs, RAM, and GPUs surrounding it. Centrally, we have a silhouette of a Nightingale, which is Ukraine's national bird. On the back, a special version of the GN logo is present with Ukraine's national flower -- the sunflower -- and a city skyline of Kyiv.

We've wanted to do something to help for a while, so we took inspiration from our Australia Wildlife charity shirt we did previously to make this new shirt in our Hardware Heart charity series. If you weren't a subscriber yet for the Australia one, we did that shirt after the bushfires of 2019 and 2020 and raised nearly $20,000 for wildlife and animal hospitals. We're planning to continue doing these limited shirts in this series for causes we believe in.

We are splitting the profits evenly between two charities: The first is World Central Kitchen, which is supplying food across 8 countries (including Ukraine) to help refugees and residents who are struggling to get even the most basic needs met right now. Some of those meals are going to places like Poland, where refugees need to build a new life. People are starving right now as a result of supply blockades and the huge influx of refugees, so this group will help with that problem. A lot of our subscribers also know that I'm passionate about helping animals, wildlife, and environmental efforts, so the second is IFAW, or the Interational Fund for Animal Welfare. IFAW is currently running programs that help people and pets affected by the conflict, including assistance for Ukrainian refugees with pets, animal rescue and care for those in educational centers like zoos, and working to provide food. We chose these two because World Central Kitchen is actually directly collaborating with IFAW right now to provide food for bother people and animals, and they can get more out of each dollar because they're working together on logistics.

This shirt will be a pre-sale, so everyone has a chance to get one -- but we're closing orders in 2 weeks from today. You won't have another chance after that. It will take us about 4-6 weeks to get all the orders out the door because we still have to print them, but now is your chance to grab one and get a cool, limited, unique shirt while also supporting a good cause. Our distributor and our shirt supplier are both giving us a discount on these shirts, so that allows us to give even more money to the charities. Huge shoutout to Michael and John for their support on this.

07:13 | Dell Expands Proprietary Nightmare to DDR5 

Dell, a company that has more recently been beating its drum to the tune of reducing waste and even going as far as showing off a modular laptop concept, sure can’t seem to stay away from proprietary form factors. Dell is infamous for its home-brewed hardware, ranging from its retired Alienware Graphics Amplifier, extending into its business line of PCs, and into the company’s so-called “gaming” PCs, like the Dell G5 5000 we reviewed last year.

Now, Dell has moved on to designing a new – and yet again, proprietary – form factor, this time for DDR5, which the company is calling Compression Attached Memory Module (CAMM). Twitter user @Emerald_x86 showed images of what appears to be a new workstation-focused laptop  (Precision 7670) making use of Dell’s new CAMM form factor.

While Dell hasn’t officially made any statements on CAMM that we know of, it’s likely Dell is going to frame CAMM as an engineering solution to two parallel issues: soldered memory and reducing the size of the machine itself. The problem with closed designs like these is that they always restrict customers’ upgrade paths to a single source – in this case, Dell. And while Dell could theoretically open the design up to third parties, that doesn’t mean there will be any interest in it. Nor should there be.

Source: 

https://twitter.com/Emerald_x86/status/1515381280275316741?s=20&t=fI4oclSZpoRGraQXQBE1Jw 

https://www.tomshardware.com/news/dells-proprietary-ddr5-module-locks-out-user-upgrades

10:57 | Nvidia Ada GPUs Supposedly Enter Testing 

According to the reputable hardware leaker Kopite7kimi, Nvidia’s upcoming Ada architecture that allegedly features the AD102 GPU has entered testing at Nvidia. Nvidia’s Ada is set to feature the company’s RTX 40-series of graphics cards, and the AD102 is pegged as the flagship GPU silicon. 

Kopite7kimi also shared that Nvidia intends to use 24Gbps GDDR6X memory, though didn’t share any details beyond that, such as configuration or single-sided versus dual-sided options. This claim lines-up with Micron recently revealing its plans to push GDDR6X to 24Gbps. It’s been rumored for some time that Nvidia’s GA102 (RTX 3090 Ti) is a test vehicle of sorts for AD102 and that the two GPUs are pin-compatible, meaning they can share a PCB and likely laying the groundwork for what’s to come with Ada. 

Nvidia is loosely expected to get Ada/RTX 40xx out the door sometime in the back half of 2022. If Nvidia has truly entered testing with Ada, we can expect to see some engineering samples surface before too long.    

Source: https://twitter.com/kopite7kimi/status/1516222556109357058

https://twitter.com/kopite7kimi/status/1513393450473107456?cxt=HHwWgMDRzeXU04AqAAAA 

12:44 | Smart Modular AIC to Expand Optane Support

Smart Modular Technologies has designed a new add-in PCIe card that extends support for Intel’s Optane DIMMs to AMD, Arm, and Nvidia servers. As ever, Intel’s Optane persistent memory (PMem) DIMMs are only supported on certain Intel Xeon CPUs and have served as an innovative way to tack on loads of extra memory to Intel-based servers. Optane DIMMs were actually a good technology, but in the consumer space, Optane has largely looked worthless in the form of the cache drive-equivalent that launched in M.2 form factor.

With Smart Modular’s new AIC, known as the Kestral PCIe Optane Memory Add-in-Card, other servers may be able to benefit from Intel’s Optane technology. Smart Modular claims that with the new AIC, servers can add up to 2TB of Optane Memory expansion on a PCIe Gen4-x16 or PCIe Gen3-x16 interface, irrespective of the motherboard or CPU. The Kestral AIC is able to do this in part to the onboard Intel FPGA that offloads software-defined storage functions from the host CPU to the FPGA. There’s a latency cost for non-native support, but it seems Smart Modular is able to keep the latency down to less than 350ns. 

Going forward, Smart Modular states that there will be AICs capable of supporting up to 4TB of Intel’s Optane memory.     

Source: https://www.smartm.com/media/press-releases/smartm_modular_announces_the_smart_kestral_pcie_optane_memory_add-in-card_to_enable_memory_expansion_and_acceleration

14:50 | Nvidia RTX 30 Series Restocked at MSRP

As part of what Nvidia is calling its “Restocked and Reloaded” promotion, both Nvidia and EVGA have been restocking the entire gamut of RTX 30 SKUs at near-MSRP prices. At the time of this writing, EVGA is currently offering several RTX 30-series cards, such as SKUs like the RTX 3090 Ti at $2,150 down to the RTX 3050 at $300. Similarly, Nvidia’s online store has retail links to several SKUs spanning the entire line of Ampere, some of which have been maintaining stock. 

Additionally, as GPU prices and availability are stabilizing to a degree, Galax is offering a price guarantee via promotion through June 18, 2022. Galax is partnering with JD.com, a massive retailer in China, to offer the promotion. The price guarantee is in place for most, if not all, of Galax’s RTX 30 cards.   

Source: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/as-gpu-prices-slide-galax-offers-price-guarantee

https://www.evga.com/articles/01557/nvidia-restocked-reloaded/

19:03 | CPU-Z Adds Support for Upcoming CPUs

The latest build of CPU-Z has added preliminary support for the upcoming CPU release from AMD and Intel, which would be Ryzen 7000 and Raptor Lake, respectively. Both of these platforms are expected by the end of 2022, and as usual, support for them will be ongoing. 

Furthermore, the CPU-Z changelog confirms rumors that AMD’s “Raphael” will be an RDNA 2-based APU, similar to AMD’s Rembrandt. On the graphics front, CPU-Z will also now properly recognize and support AMD’s Radeon 6800S/XT series and Intel’s Arc A-Series GPUs, as well as Nvidia’s RTX 3090 Ti.

CPU-Z is also beefing up support for its validation process for high clock submissions, which is likely a result of the whole Alder Lake 8GHz overclock conundrum.   

Source: https://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html

20:13 | Corsair Announce DDR5 SO-DIMM Kits

Corsair is continuing to build-out its line of DDR5 memory and is now entering the DDR5 memory market for laptops, starting with the new Vengeance DDR5 SO-DIMM kits. Corsair’s new Vengeance DDR5 SO-DIMMs are going to be offered in 4,800 MT/s kits, at least initially. Most DDR5 speeds, even those of desktop kits, are still relatively tame; it’ll take some time for the DDR5 specification to mature before higher speeds are launching on lower-end kits. 

That said, the bigger issue will be the price: Corsair’s DDR5 Vengeance SO-DIMM kits will cost $270 for the 32GB (2x16GB) kit and $520 for the 64GB (2x32GB) kit. If you can afford them, both are available now. Corsair is citing some of the latest DDR5 compatible laptops, such as the Alienware x17 R2, MSI Raider GE66 12UHS, and Asus ROG Zephyrus M16, as being compatible with Corsair’s latest offerings. 

Source: https://www.corsair.com/newsroom/press-release/a-new-dimension-of-ddr5-introducing-corsair-vengeance-ddr5-sodimm-memory

22:22 | AMD Shadow Launches Radeon RX 6400 at $159 for DIY Market

AMD has unceremoniously rolled-out its entry-level Radeon RX 6400 for $160, which was previously limited as an exclusive OEM offering. The RX 6400 technically debuted back in January as an OEM option with little fanfare, aside from the whole “4GB isn’t enough for games” blog post controversy, which is another matter entirely.

The RX 6400 hasn’t changed much, other than that there will be some AIB models that will have low profile coolers and single-slot designs. The RX 6400 is still an RDNA2-based card based on Navi 24 with 4GB of 16Gbps GDDR6 memory. There is 16MB of Infinity cache and 768 stream processors with a base clock rate of 1,923MHz and a boost clock rate of 2,321MHz. The card doesn’t need any auxiliary power from the PSU, as it pulls its power from the PCIe slot alone. The card’s connectivity is limited, however, with only one HDMI 2.1 port and one DisplayPort 1.4 port. 

Its 4GB of VRAM effectively relegates it to older games at 1080p or general GPU acceleration tasks, and for 1080p, most gamers would be better served moving up to the RX 6500XT anyways. There’s also very minimal video encoding/decoding support, so the card likely won’t find much traction with the HTPC crowd either. AMD claims the card competes with Nvidia’s GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 1650, and some early independent reviews out of China seem to confirm that.     

Aside from DIY and general consumer availability, there’s not much else to talk about regarding the RX 6400. Both the card itself and the price are far from ideal, though if you have to have something, we suppose you could do worse.    

Source: https://www.pcgamer.com/amd-quietly-launches-entry-level-radeon-rx-6400/

26:09 | EK Cuts Workforce by 25%

EK Water Blocks recently just cut approximately 25% of its workforce, mostly in Slovenia (its HQ location), as a result of a large quarterly sales drop of approximately 20%. In speaking with off-record sources, GN has been told that many of the jobs cut were seen as either “redundant” or unneeded, indicating an issue that EK expanded in the wrong roles or directions -- or hired without optimizing roles, ultimately no longer needing those roles once optimized for.

The company largely blames COVID 19, but given that EK hired the same amount of people in 2021, it sounds more like poor execution at a management level than an external factor. Hiring and firing the same amount of people within a year is an internal matter, not an external one.

Additionally, noted that it is planning to expand into new regions in 2022, so it sounds like EK isn’t quite sure of what it’s doing right now.

Source: EK Sources to GN

28:29 | Zen 4 CPUs Now in Pre-Production

A new leak from @BenchLeaks suggests early stepping revisions of AMD’s Zen 4 architecture are now in pre-production manufacturing. These leaks were first posted to the MilkyWay@Home BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Computing) project, where the upload indicates a 16-core Zen 4 CPU in a host system with 32GB of RAM. Cache is indicated at 1024KB and perhaps inaccurate or unrepresentative of the final processor.

The implication is that CPUs are in early production, aligning with known public release targets by the end of 2022.

Source: https://milkyway.cs.rpi.edu/milkyway/show_host_detail.php?hostid=925206

Writing: Eric Hamilton
Host, Additional Writing: Steve Burke
Video: Keegan Gallick, Andrew Coleman

Last modified on April 26, 2022 at 10:17 pm

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