As predicted, DRAM-dependent components continue to grow more expensive as demand outpaces supply. Nanya Technology president Pei-Ing Lee confirmed that their DRAM’s average price will increase in the first and second quarter of 2017.
When we published our “Why Are RAM Prices So High” article in 2014, DRAM was transitioning to 25nm wafers—and now it’s transitioning again, this time to 20nm. Prices in the second half of 2017 are expected to stabilize, but depend largely on how quickly manufacturers gear up for the move to smaller dies—Nanya Technology will be simultaneously increasing 20nm production while cutting down on 30nm going into 2018.
SK Hynix has been busy as of late. We most recently covered their plans for expansion, which offered a cursory foretaste into what 2017 might hold for the semiconductor supplier. SK Hynix has also recently further delineated plans for 2017, trailing behind their still-fresh announcement of the industry’s first 8GB LPDDR4X-4266 DRAM packages aimed at next-generation mobile devices.
In revealing plans, SK Hynix intends to volumize production of new types of memory—not altogether unexpected. Their primary focus on NAND production and expansion over DRAM is most noteworthy, at least for impermanent future. As such, SK Hynix intends to start volume production of 72-layer 3D TLC NAND (3D-V4). For reference, SK Hynix’s 36-layer and 48-layer NAND were 3D-V2 and 3D-V3, respectively. Notable about SK Hynix’s fourth version of 3D NAND is that it will use block sizes of 13.5 MB over the 9 MB sizes of the second and third generation predecessors. Furthermore, SK Hynix intends to roll-out 256 Gb 3D TLC ICs by Q2 2017, with 512 Gb 3D TLC ICs coming in Q4 2017. SK Hynix’s new 72-layer 3D NAND should allow for higher capacity SSDs in smaller form factors and increase performance on a per IC basis.
PAX really couldn’t stop growing if it tried, at this point. In 2016, there were five PAX events: PAX East, West, South, Australia, and Dev. But this really wasn’t enough for Gabe and Tycho, plus they thought that there was a little too much free time in November. But the downside to all the other PAX events is the massive power bill, and so to fix this problem the new event is like Nirvana in ‘94 -- Unplugged.
While some of that isn’t entirely true, what is true is that the popularity of board and card games is on the rise, a fact to which attendees of PAX West can attest. Every year, the designated unplugged gaming areas get more and more difficult to navigate and Magic: the Gathering’s displays get more elaborate. From the 17th to the 19th of November in Philadelphia, PAX will bring together those gamers who don’t need cables to get their kicks.
As solid-state storage continues to displace mechanical drives, so too does the constriction of the HDD market continue. As part of their ongoing plan to stay profitable and financially stable, Seagate has opted to shut down its HDD manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China. The Suzhou plant was one of Seagate’s largest production assets, and its resultant closure will acutely reduce the company’s HDD output.
However, this isn’t unforeseen, as last year Seagate announced its intentions to augment manufacturing capacities from around 55-60 million drives per quarter to approximately 35-40 million drives per quarter in accordance with their continued restructuring initiative. As part of that effort, Seagate reduced global employee headcount by 8,000 last year. Moreover, the closing of the Suzhou facility will see the layoff of a further ~2,200 employees.
The race to invest in semiconductor technology is unabating, it would seem. SK Hynix, the world’s second largest memory chipmaker (after Samsung), has announced plans to construct a new memory semiconductor fab in Cheongju, South Korea. The company will also upgrade DRAM facilities in China, with the total outlay summing $2.6 billion. This comes after global chipmakers like Samsung, Toshiba, and TSMC have spurred investments of their own to expand production.
Just a heads-up for regular readers: We’ll be at CES next week, where Intel and AMD are likely to each be sharing news of their new processor architectures. As always, we’ll be covering any events or information stemming from CES, including possible architectural deep-dives and any on-site demonstrations. They’re not the only companies at the show, of course.
We’ve got plans to revise our SSD testing methodology (again) through meetings with major controller and SSD manufacturers, hopefully paving the way for more automated testing under the GN banner in 2017. Meetings include the usual suspects: Samsung, Kingston/HyperX, Plextor, and possibly a few others.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) has set sights on building a new $15.7 billion facility geared towards the 5 and 3 nanometer chip processes, eyes set for future process nodes. TSMC is the world’s biggest chip maker by revenue, accounting for 55% of the market share. TSMC’s deep-pocketed clients include Qualcomm, nVidia, and Apple, whose iPhone 7 launch was especially pivotal in the record quarter to quarter profits TSMC has been reporting, as TSMC produces the A10 processor for the iPhone 7.
Taiwan Semiconductor houses its base of operations in Northern Taiwan, where several of their fabs are located. This is in addition to leading-edge fabs in Southern Taiwan and Central Taiwan, not to mention manufacturing bases in China.
SSDs are ostensibly a victim of their own success. Competitive pricing has made SSDs more accessible at the consumer level in addition to a proliferated demand in other market segments, such as the obvious smartphones and laptops. Both of these segments have seen the implementation of NAND flash-based storage for increasing capacity while minimizing the form and footprint of devices, not to mention power savings and noise reductions.
Most times, a level-headed approach offers the best insight as to how a particular piece of hardware or software functions at a low-level. Talking to people who make that product, independently monitoring its performance, and then merging the two perspectives will create the clearest picture of both sides.
Today, we're looking into nVidia's telemetry and data collection through the GeForce Experience utility, and will be doing so with assistance from Wireshark for packet monitoring. We've also spoken to nVidia about the topic and have a statement from the company, printed further down. First, a recap of the internet's latest outrage, a look at what's actually happening in the GFE software, and then a discussion on nVidia's latest GFE changes.
AMD sent us an email today that indicated a price reduction for the new-ish RX 460 2GB card and RX 470 4GB card, which we've reviewed here (RX 460) and here (RX 470). The company's price reduction comes in the face of the GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti release, scheduled for October 25 for the 1050 Ti, and 2-3 weeks later for the GTX 1050. Our reviews will be live next week.
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