Hardware

We've been working with AMD since our RX 480 & RX 470 reviews to troubleshoot some driver-related screen hangs. In our July notice, we strongly encouraged that our readers on RX 400 series cards avoid the 16.7.3 drivers, following instability and file corruption on one of our test benches. Since then, we've been in correspondence with AMD on the issue, and finally have some good news for folks who've encountered the green / black / blue / yellow screen hangs with AMD drivers. 

Posting a day before we begin our on-site PAX West coverage, Ask GN episode 27 starts off with an introduction to our newly deployed 20TB Synology DS1515+ NAS, then moves on to Sandy Bridge longevity, VRM temperatures, and cooler orientation.

As for the NAS, it's an interesting topic to us. We're new to working with high-quality, network-attached storage solutions, but the move has become necessary. Eating ~100GB/week with video content, it is no longer feasible for GN to store its media production assets, test data, and OS images on a single, shared internal RAID. The Synology unit accommodates five 3.5” disks (and also has upgradeable RAM – something we'll soon benchmark), affording us a RAID5 configuration with ~14.5TB usable space and one redundant disk. The NAS is accessible through a web interface, something we've already used while on the road for the recent London nVidia event and will use for PAX. This helps us manage security without inhibiting access.

In Corsair's recently released Hydro GFX marketing video, we noticed that the video card on display used the protruded coldplate that we've been talking about since the 980 Ti Hybrid. That plate was recently put to the test in our GTX 1080 Hybrid vs. Sea Hawk review, where we found the protruded unit performs marginally better than the flat plate shipping with the Sea Hawk / Hydro GFX. We reached out to Corsair to discuss the change spotted in the marketing video, hoping to understand why the unannounced* (officially) modification was made, and have outlined the email responses below.

This seems largely to be a non-issue for users who purchased their cards from the official Corsair website, though we do have some contingencies for MSI Sea Hawk buyers. Note also that the temperature difference we spotted between the coolers is partially a result of new information we received regarding the Hydro GFX, primarily that the coldplate had its standoffs machined down by MSI prior to shipment. These machined standoffs have a larger tolerance (~0.2mm) for height than we've seen in from-factory Asetek CLCs (~0.05-0.08mm), which means mounting pressure could contribute to marginal thermal differences.

The video breaks things down most readily, but continue reading if preferred.

In additional hardware news to what we published yesterday -- a look at Intel's Kaby Lake (7600K, 7700K, etc.), the X2 Empire unique enclosure, and Logitech's G Pro mouse -- we are today visiting topics of Samsung's GDDR6, SK Hynix's HBM3 R&D, PCIe Gen4 power budget, and Zen's CCX architecture.

The biggest news here is Samsung's GDDR6, due for 2018, but it's all important stuff. PCI-e Gen4 is looking at being fully ratified EOY 2016, HBM3 is in R&D, and Zen is imminent and finalized architecturally. We'll talk about it more specifically in our reviews.

Update: Tom's misreported on PCI-e power draw. The Gen4 PCIe interface will still be 75W.

Anyway, here's the news recap:

Transcript

Memory manufacturer Samsung is developing GDDR6 as a successor to Micron's brand new GDDR5X, presently only found in the GTX 1080 and Titan XP cards. GDDR6 may feel like a more meaningful successor to GDDR5, though, which has been in production use since 2008.

In its present, fully matured form, GDDR5 operates at 8Gbps maximally, including on the RX 480 and GTX 10 series GPUs. Micron demonstrated GDDR5X as capable of approaching 12-13Gbps with proper time to mature the architecture, but is presently shipping the memory in 10Gbps speeds for the nVidia devices.

Samsung indicates an operating range of approximately 14Gbps to 16Gbps on GDDR6 at 1.35V, coupled with lower voltages than even GDDR5X by using LP4X. Samsung indicates a power reduction upwards of 20% with post-LP4 memory technology.

Samsung is looking toward 2018 for production of GDDR6, giving GDDR5X some breathing room yet. As for HBM, SK Hynix is already looking toward HBM3, with HBM2 only presently available in the GP100 Accelerator cards. HBM3 will theoretically run a 4096-bit interface with upwards of 2TB/s throughput, at 512GB/s per stack. We'll talk about this tech more in the semi-distant future.

PCIe

Tom's Hardware this week reported on the new PCI Express 4.0 specification, primarily detailing a push toward a minimum spec of 300W power transfer through the slot, but could be upwards of 500W. Without even talking about the bandwidth promises – moving to nearly 2GB/s for a single lane – the increase of power budget will mean that the industry could begin a shift away from PCI-e cables. The power would obviously still come form the power supply, but would be delivered through pins in the PCI-e slots rather than through an extra cable.

This same setup is what allows cards like a 750 Ti to function only off the PCI-e slot, because the existing spec allows for 75W to push through the PCIe bus. PCI-e 4.0 should be ratified by the end of 2016 by the PCI-SIG team, but we don't yet know the roll-out plans for consumer platforms.

Zen

AMD also detailed more of its Zen CPU architecture, something we talked about last week when the company camped out near IDF for an unveil event. The Summit Ridge chips have primarily been on display thus far, showing an 8C/16T demo with AMD's implementation of SMT, but we haven't heard much about other processors.

AMD is ditching modules in favor of CPU Complexes, or a CCX, each of which will host four CPU cores. Each CCX runs 512KB of L2 Cache per core, as seen in this block diagram, with L3 sliced into four pieces for 8MB total low-order address interleave cache. AMD says that each core can communicate with all cache on the CCX, and promises the same latency for all accesses.

It looks like the lowest SKU chips will still be quad-cores at a minimum.

Host: Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke
Video: Andrew "ColossalCake" Coleman

This week following IDF has posted several news items for general computing technology and for product announcements. As one might expect, Intel unveiled more Kaby Lake information at its self-titled "Intel Developer Forum," and OCaholic posted a SKU listing for the new Kaby Lake CPUs up to the 7700K. Our news round-up video discusses the limited specifications of the i5-7600K, i7-7700K, lower TDP chips, and Intel's plans for launch.

We also look to the world of peripherals for the Logitech G Pro mouse, equipped with the PMW3366 sensor, and to the world of cases for X2's new "Empire" enclosure.

More in the video or script below, if you prefer:

Despite AMD’s FreeSync arriving later than nVidia’s G-Sync, FreeSync has seen fairly widespread adoption, especially among gaming monitors. The latest monitor – and the 101st – to officially support FreeSync is Lenovo’s Y27f. This also marks the announcement of Lenovo’s first FreeSync monitor.

For those interested in learning about FreeSync and G-Sync check out our articles explaining G-Sync, FreeSync, and comparing them both technically and logically.

This week's Ask GN episode answers viewer questions about FinFET vs. Planar, the impact of cooling on power consumption, CPU load for 120Hz / 144Hz displays, liquid cooler testing, and a few extras. We spend most the time talking liquid coolers and cooler testing – a fitting topic, having done multiple “Hybrid” video card builds lately.

The full list of questions with their timestamps can be found below the video. Thanks to our viewers for the questions and, as always, post more in the video comments on YouTube for inclusion in next week's episode.

German manufacturer Be Quiet! has released its latest line of ultra-quiet fans – the SilentWings 3, first found in the Dark Base 900 that we saw at Computex. Be Quiet! is a company whose name backs most product roll-outs, as representative Christoph Katzer explained to us. The company focuses heavily on build quality and silence, and the new SilentWings 3 fans have been redesigned with fluid-dynamic bearings, now using brass cores and seven blades that have a funnel-shaped design. The frame is rubberized to enable a reported near-inaudible sound level – according to Be Quiet!, the 120mm model produces 16.4 decibels and the 140mm model 15.5 decibels. To put that into perspective, someone whispering is about 30 decibels. The rubberized design also reduces vibration levels to further mitigate noise.

We looked at Be Quiet!'s Dark Base 900 PC case at Computex and were impressed. The SilentWings 3 fans debuted in the DB900, about 3 months prior to launch individually, so owners of the DB900 are already equipped with the new fans.

MSI GTX 1060 3G Armor & Gaming X Specs

By Published August 20, 2016 at 9:31 am

MSI has announced it will be releasing five new GTX 1060 3GB cards. The new Pascal video cards are set for an August release, and they will take on AMD’s 4GB RX 480 in the $200 - $250 market. The MSRP for the GTX 1060 3GB cards will be $200, but some cards may be priced higher to account for pre-overclocks and AIB partner value adds, like improved cooling.

The GTX 1060 3GB cards have 1152 CUDA cores, operating at a base clock of 1506MHz and a boost clock of 1708MHz – the same as the 6GB model, but with 128 fewer cores. MSI, like other AIB partners, will offer factory overclocked cards coupled with brand heatsinks.

There were rumors of a GTX 1060 3GB card, but the launch of the GTX 1060 featured a single 6GB model. Almost exactly one month later, nVidia has announced its 3GB GTX 1060 with 1152 CUDA Cores, down from 1280, and a halved framebuffer. The card will also run fewer TMUs as a result of disabling 1 SM, for a total of 9 simultaneous multiprocessors versus the 10 SMs on the GTX 1060 6GB. This brings down TMU count from 80 to 72 (with 8x texture map units per SM), making for marginally reduced power coupled with a greatly reduced framebuffer.

(Update: The card is already available on etailers, see here.)

In theory, this will most heavily impact 0.1% low and 1% low frame performance, as we showed in the AMD RX 480 8GB vs. 4GB comparison. Games which rely less upon Post FX and more heavily upon large resolution textures and maps (as in shadow, normal, specular – not as in levels) will most immediately show the difference. Assassin's Creed, Black Ops III (in some use cases), and Mirror's Edge Catalyst are poised to show the greatest differences between the two. NVidia has advertised an approximate 5% performance difference when looking at the GTX 1060 3GB vs. GTX 1060 6GB, but that number will almost certainly be blown out when looking at VRAM stressing titles.

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