Industry

At GTC 2018, we learned that SK Hynix’s GDDR6 memory is bound for mass production in 3 months, and will be featured on several upcoming nVidia products. Some of these include autonomous vehicle components, but we also learned that we should expect GDDR6 on most, if not all, of nVidia’s upcoming gaming architecture cards.

Given a mass production timeline of June-July for GDDR6 from SK Hynix, assuming Hynix is a launch-day memory provider, we can expect next-generation GPUs to become available after this timeframe. There still needs to be enough time to mount the memory to the boards, after all. We don’t have a hard date for when the next-generation GPU lineup will ship, but from this information, we can assume it’s at least 3 months away -- possibly more. Basically, what we know is that, assuming Hynix is a launch vendor, new GPUs are nebulously >3 months away.

Analyst Christopher Rolland recently confirmed Bitmain’s completed development of a new ASIC miner for Ethereum (and similar cryptocurrencies), and thusly reduced stock targets for both AMD and NVIDIA. According to Rolland, Bitmain’s ASIC may eat into GPU demand by cryptomining companies, as the ASIC will outperform GPUs in efficiency for the hashing power.

Rolland noted that this may, obviously, reduce demand for GPUs for mining applications, highlighting that an approximate 20% of AMD and 10% of NVIDIA sales revenue has recently come from mining partners.

This hardware news update looks into our original CTS Labs story, adding to the research by attempting to communicate with CTS Labs via their PR firm, Bevel PR. We also talk about leaked specifications for the R5 2600X, accidentally posted early to Amazon, and some other leaks on ASUS ROG X470 motherboards.

Minor news items include the loss of power at a Samsung plant, killing 60,000 wafers in the process, and nVidia’s real-time ray-tracing (RTX) demo from GDC.

Show notes below the video.

Here’s a histrionic quote for you: “AMD must cease the sale of Ryzen and EPYC chips in the interest of public safety.”

That’s a real quote from Viceroy Research’s deranged, apoplectic report on CTS Labs’ security allegations against AMD’s Ryzen architecture. The big story today seemed to mirror Meltdown, except for AMD: CTS Labs, a research company supposedly started in 2017, has launched a report declaring glaring security flaws for AMD’s processors. By and large, the biggest flaw revolves around the user installing bad microcode.

There are roots in legitimacy here, but as we dug deep into the origins of the companies involved in this new hit piece on AMD, we found peculiar financial connections that make us question the motive behind the reportage.

The goal here is to research whether the hysterical whitepapers -- hysterical as in “crazy,” not “funny” -- have any weight to them, and where these previously unknown companies come from.

Newegg’s sale of the new AMD Ryzen APUs, including the R3 2200G (that we’re reviewing now) and R5 2400G, posted the APUs above MSRP by roughly $20. The R5 2400G retailed on Newegg for $190, versus a $170 MSRP, and also landed the product significantly above Amazon’s competing pricing. We purchased APUs from both Newegg and Amazon, and paid less for the product from Amazon; of course, AMD (and other manufacturers) can’t control the prices of retailers – that’d actually be illegal – but they can certainly find ways to suggest a price. It is, after all, a manufacturer’s “suggested” retail price.

Today, we received the following note today from Newegg’s service account:

Newegg today revoked its affiliate commission for video cards, which the company's sub-affiliate networks declare to be a change pursuant to "Bitcoin's unexpected popularity." This statement, of course, is comprised primarily of a misunderstanding or misattribution of the market (or bullshit, in other words), although it does consist of some truth. By "Bitcoin," we must first assume that the company really means "cryptocurrency," seeing as Bitcoin is functionally unminable on GPUs. Making this assumption still does not account for the GPU price increase, though; the price increase, as we've discussed on numerous occasions, is mostly resultant of GPU memory prices and GPU memory availability moving in inversely proportional directions. In recent interviews with manufacturers, we learned that 8GB of GDDR5 has increased in manufacturing cost, and has increased BOM, by $20-$30. From what we understand, GDDR5 price movements are typically on a scale of +/- $5, but the $20-$30 hike necessitated some vendors to officially raise GPU MSRP (not just third-party retail price, but actual MSRP).

Samsung Confirms ASIC Miner Production

By Published February 05, 2018 at 5:02 pm

Samsung recently officially confirmed that they are producing ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuits) intended for cryptocurrency mining, being sold to unnamed clients for ASIC mining machines. These machines are different from GPU miners, and do not meaningfully affect desktop GPU supply.

As the name implies, ASICs are chips designed for a single purpose. There’s nothing unusual about producing ASICs, but mining-specific ones have been the domain of TSMC until now, primarily with client Bitmain. Samsung won’t be doing the mining themselves, just supplying the hardware: TechPowerUp suggests the order was placed by “Chinese clients” which were mentioned in a recent earnings report. Our understanding is that the varieties of cryptocurrency which ASICs can effectively mine are ones that are now beyond the capabilities of home mining operations, like Bitcoin, so they’re used by massive currency farms. SHA-256 algorithms are best mined with ASIC miners.

While researching GPU prices and learning that GDDR5 memory price has increased by $20-$30 on the bill of materials lately, we started looking into the rising system memory prices. RAM pricing has proven somewhat cyclic over the past few years. We’ve reported on memory price increases dating back to 2012, and have done so seemingly every 2 years since that time. This research piece pulls five years of trend data, working in collaboration with PCPartPicker, to investigate why memory prices might be increasing, when we can expect a decrease, and more.

DRAM prices are crazy right now. We’ve driven that point into the ground over the past few years, but pinpointing a “when” and a “why” is a difficult proposition. With the help of PCPartPicker, we’ve identified some general trends that seem almost cyclic, and provide some relief in pointing toward an eventual downturn.

We’re revisiting a topic from July 2017, initially published in the middle of one of last year’s cryptocurrency booms. That topic was our discussion with GPU add-in board partners and PSU makers, where we collected anonymized, aggregate thoughts on cryptomining and its impact on the consumer GPU market. Given the tremendous growth of the cryptocurrency community in the time since, and the recent explosion of GPU prices up to 3-5x their MSRP (depending on if it’s a primary or secondary seller), we decided it was time to revisit the topic once more.

This information is anonymized and aggregated for a few reasons: One, no one would be able to share their thoughts otherwise, as this isn’t a topic that can be officially approached; two, it allows folks to speak more freely, as if there were an official response, you can be assured it’d tread the line of neutrality to a point of being bereft of insight. We spoke to most of the major GPU board partners and some PSU maker representatives, including the original group of folks we spoke with in mid-2017, now back to re-evaluate their positions from six months ago.

UPDATE: We worked with Google's local Fiber team directly -- who responded quickly to this post -- and got Fiber installed and working. After a month of settling in, everything seems good now. We haven't had any additional issues with Google Fiber, and can now recommend the service over the competition (easily). As long as Google doesn't lose other customers in the system, like it did with us, we can strongly recommend the service.

Original Article: Google Fiber isn’t all that it’s cracked-up to be.

The company has routinely demonstrated impressive bouts of incompetence as we’ve tried to subscribe to the service, and today was the latest artistic expression of that ineptitude. Thus far, Google hasn’t been any better than the old TWC or AT&T ISPs, with regard to support, and has been significantly worse in installation and setup. Once fiber is setup, we hope that the speeds will account for the tremendous pain that Google and its contractors have been; we imagine it’ll all be worth it, as it’s still gigabit speeds, and it’s still going to help on our uploads – it’s just a matter of getting everything working.

For this, we’re ignoring that it took a few years for the crew to embed the lines in the roads. That’s expected, and not something we’re complaining about. This complaint is more about the post-payment service.

We signed-up for Google Fiber in August of 2017, or 4-5 months ago. Our first appointment for Google Fiber installation was scheduled for November 6, 2017. 73 days later, we still do not have Fiber installed. It is presently January 18, 2018. We have also been charged for the service, despite having no service. Our “free month” credit, bordering on a scam, has been consumed, and we’ve been billed for the second month of no service.

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