Hardware

This week's hardware news recap primarily focuses on some GN-exclusive items pertaining to AMD's plans with system memory in the future, mostly looking toward DDR5 for CPUs and HBM integration with CPUs, creating "near memory" for future products. All of this, of course, is before the major Ryzen 2 review publication timelines on Thursday this week, 9AM Eastern, when you'll find still more CPU news to look over. Be sure to check back for that.

In the meantime, today's news covers memory stories, laptop updates, AMD staff changes, Spectre patches, and more.

AMD’s impending Ryzen 2 CPUs – not to be confused with Zen 2, the architecture – will launch on April 19, 9AM EST, and are preempted by yet another “unboxing embargo.” We’re not technically covered under these embargoes, as we’ve sourced parts externally and are operating independently for this launch. That said, as we’ve stated in a few places, we have decided to respect the embargo (although are under no obligation to do so) out of respect for our peers. This is also being done out of trust that AMD has rectified its preferential media treatment exhibited for Threadripper, as we were told the company would do.

Still, we wanted to share some preconditions we’re considering for test cases in our Ryzen 2 CPU reviews. Some of that will be covered here today, with most of the data being held for the April 19 embargo lift. We have been testing and iterating on tests for a few weeks now, updating EFI as new versions push and collecting historical data along the way.

The core specs – those regurgitated all over the internet, undoubtedly – will follow below.

The CPUs discussed today include (Amazon pre-order links below, although we never recommend pre-ordering PC hardware):

The past week of hardware news primarily centers around nVidia and AMD, both of whom are launching new GPUs under similar names to existing lines. This struck a chord with us, because the new GT 1030 silently launched by nVidia follows the exact same patterns AMD has taken with its rebranded RX 460s as “RX 560s,” despite having significant hardware changes underneath.

To be very clear, we strongly disagree with creating a new, worse product under the same product name and badging as previously. It is entirely irrelevant how close that product is in performance to the original - it’s not the same product, and that’s all that matters. It deserves a different name.

We spend most of the news video ranting about GPU naming by both companies, but also include a couple of other industry topics. Find the show notes below, or check the video for the more detailed story.

Find the show notes below, or watch the video:

Ask GN 75 is an excellent episode. We had great questions for this one, including discussion on X370 vs. X470 benchmarking for Ryzen 2000 series CPUs (e.g. R7 2700X, R5 2600X), which we’ll get in to more detail with in the near future. As noted in the episode, we’re technically not under embargo for the Ryzen 2 CPUs, but we’re planning to hold our review until embargo lift out of respect for AMD’s decision to stop giving special treatment to some media, for this round. That said, we still talk a bit about X370 vs. X470 benchmarking in the Ask GN episode.

The other excellent topic pertained to receiving review samples and balancing hardware criticism – basically behind-the-scenes politics. Find the episode below:

Intel has migrated its new i9 processor family to the portable market, or semi-portable, anyway. The i9-8950HK is an unlocked, overclockable 6C/12T laptop CPU, capable of turbo boosting to 4.8GHz when power and thermal budget permits.

The new i9-8950HK runs at a base clock of 2.9GHz, with single-core turbo boosting to 4.8GHz. We are unclear on what the all-core turbo boost max frequency is, but it’s clearly lower. TDP is rated at 45W, though note that this is more a measure of the cooling requirements and not the actual power consumption; that said, Intel’s TDP ratings almost always explicitly coincide with power consumption numbers. The 8950HK will move away from the quad-channel support of its desktop brethren, and instead move down to dual-channel memory at a base frequency of 2666MHz. Unlocked motherboards should theoretically permit higher memory speeds, though we are uncertain of the market options at this time.

Revealed to press under embargo at last week’s GTC, the nVidia-hosted GPU Technology Conference, nVidia CEO Jensen Huang showcased the new TITAN W graphics card. The Titan W is nVidia’s first dual-GPU card in many years, and comes after the compute-focused Titan V GPU from 2017.

The nVidia Titan W graphics card hosts two V100 GPUs and 32GB of HBM2 memory, claiming a TDP of 500W and a price of $8,000.

“I’m really just proving to shareholders that I’m healthy,” Huang laughed after his fifth consecutive hour of talking about machine learning. “I could do this all day – and I will,” the CEO said, with a nod to PR, who immediately locked the doors to the room.

NVidia today announced what it calls “the world’s largest GPU,” the gold-painted and reflective GV100, undoubtedly a call to its ray-tracing target market. The Quadro GV100 combines 2x V100 GPUs via NVLink2, running 32GB of HBM2 per GPU and 10,240 CUDA cores. NVidia advertises 236 TFLOPS Tensor Cores in addition to the power afforded by the 10,240 CUDA cores.

Additionally, nVidia has upgraded its Tesla V100 products to 32GB, adding to the HBM2 stacks on the interposer. The V100 is nVidia’s accelerator card, primarily meant for scientific and machine learning workloads, and later gave way to the Titan V(olta). The V100 was the first GPU to use nVidia’s Volta architecture, shipping initially at 16GB – just like the Titan V – but with more targeted use cases. NVidia's first big announcement for GTC was to add 16GB VRAM to the V100, further adding a new “NV Switch” (no, not that one) to increase the coupling capabilities of Tesla V100 accelerators. Now, the V100 can be bridged with a 2-billion transistor switch, offering 18 ports to scale-up the GPU count per system.

A few days ago, we ran our most successful, highest-watched livestream in the history of GN. The stream peaked at >5300 concurrent viewers for around 2.5 hours, during which time we attempted to outmatch the LinusTechTips 3DMark score submitted to the 3DMark Hall of Fame. This was a friendly media battle that we decided to bring to LTT after seeing their submission, which briefly knocked us out of the Top 10 for the Hall of Fame. As noted in this recap video, we're not skilled enough to compete with the likes of K|NGP|N, dancop, der8auer, or similar pro XOCers, but we can certainly compete with other media. We made a spectacle of the event and pushed our i9-7980XE, our RAM, and our GPU (a Titan V) as far as our components would allow under ambient cooling. Ambient, by the way, peaked at ~30C during the stream; after the stream ended and room ambient dropped ~10C to 20C, our scores improved to 8285 in Timespy Extreme. This pushed us into 4th place on the 3DMark official Hall of Fame, and 3rd place in the HW Bot rankings.

The overclocking stream saw guest visits from Buildzoid of Actually Hardcore Overclocking, who assisted in tuning our memory timings for the final couple of points. We think there's more room to push here, but we'd like to keep some in the tank for a retaliation from Linus and team.

If, to you, the word "unpredictable" sounds like a positive attribute for a graphics card, ASRock has something you may want. ASRock used words like “unpredictable” and “mysterious” for its new Phantom Gaming official trailer, two adjectives used to describe an upcoming series of AMD Radeon-equipped graphics cards. This is ASRock’s first time entering the graphics card space, where the company’s PCB designers will be faced with new challenges for AMD RX Vega GPUs (and future architectures).

The branding is for “Phantom” graphics cards, and the first-teased card appears to be using a somewhat standard dual-axial fan design with a traditional aluminum finstack and ~6mm heatpipes. Single 8-pin header is shown in the rendered teaser card, but as a render, we’re not sure what the actual product will look like.

The past week of hardware news has been peculiarly busy for this time of year, with a deluge of news posting toward the latter half of last week. For major stories, [H]ardOCP’s coverage of nVidia’s GPP agreements has undoubtedly garnered among the most attention in the news cycle, with additional stories of interest covering hacks to get Coffee Lake CPUs functional in Z170 and Z270 motherboards.

We’ve got a couple of minor news items – new liquid coolers, a mini-review of a chair – and a couple of game industry items, like Valve’s return to game development.

Find the written and filmed recaps below:

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