This week's news announcements include AMD AM4 Zen chipset naming (rumors, technically), NZXT's new RGB LED 'Aer' fans, and a pair of cases from Rosewill and Cooler Master.
AMD's initial AM4 chipset announcement was made at PAX, where the B350, A320, and XBA300 chipsets were announced for mainstream and low-end Gen 7 APUs. The high-end Zen chipset for Summit Ridge was concealed during this announcement, but is now known to be the X370 platform.
X370 will ship alongside the Summit Ridge CPUs and will add to the lanes available for high-speed IO devices, mostly SATA and new generation USB. Most of the IO with the Zen architecture will be piped through the CPU itself, with what remains of the chipset acting more as an IO controller than a full chipset.
On December 5, we broke news on Asetek's Cease & Desist order sent to AMD, pursuant to the sale of its liquid-cooled R9 Fury X video card. Asetek previously won a suit against Cooler Master USA for its closed-loop liquid cooler products (CLCs), to include the Seidon, Nepton, and Glacer (Swiftech-supplied) lines. The patents primarily discussed are 8,240,362 and 8,245,764.
By judge and jury, CMI USA (Cooler Master USA) was found guilty of patent infringement of the pump-on-coldplate design and ordered to pay 14.5% royalties. Inability to pay-out on its ruled dues ultimately saw a royalties percentage increase to 25.375%, followed by banishment of all affected Cooler Master CLCs from US markets.
This article fully details the relevant legal history of liquid cooling companies, including the rise of Asetek & CoolIT, their patent lawsuits against one another, the recent lawsuit against Cooler Master, and the C&D against AMD's R9 Fury X.
Readers following our story on the Asetek vs. Cooler Master lawsuits may remember a call to attention regarding the Fury X's utilization of a CM Seidon equivalent CLC. Gigabyte's newest GTX 980 WaterForce card uses a 120mm CLC supplied by Cooler Master, with the pump mounted atop the coldplate (GPU block). This falls within Asetek's claims regarding its patent protection – and the company holds patents valid for GPU- and CPU-mounted pumps – and Gigabyte could reasonably be impacted by the resolutions set forth by recent lawsuits.
The recent banishment from US markets of Cooler Master's closed-loop liquid coolers has inspired us to research and document major CLC suppliers. In most industries – automotive, technology & computing, bike components – suppliers build a base product, receive input from a manufacturer, and then produce a slightly modified version of their core offering. Liquid coolers are the easiest example and the one about which we are talking today. This topic came about following some readers stating that they'd never seen an “Asetek” or “CoolIT” cooler on sale before.
Corsair, NZXT, SilverStone, Enermax, Fractal, and others sell liquid cooling products. These companies buy the pump, radiator, tubing, and liquid in an AIO (all-in-one) package from suppliers who specialize in the making of such items; the brands we know then provide varying degrees of product input to differentiate amongst themselves. NZXT, for instance, sells the NZXT X41 liquid cooler, a product sourced from Asetek but customized by NZXT. In this case, that customization includes software integration and variable pump speed control, alongside an RGB LED in the pump's faceplate. Even the CLC OEMs will source some of their components from the outside, like radiators.
First, a simple table to reveal suppliers of known liquid coolers in the industry, then we'll talk about how companies differentiate themselves. At the surface, all of this can look like a “sticker operation,” by which I mean it may look as if manufacturers put their “sticker” (logo) on a cooler and then sell it – but most folks do more than that when designing their variant of a product.
Liquid cooler manufacturer Asetek, the company that supplies many of the industry's best-known coolers by Corsair, EVGA, and NZXT, saw victory in a patent infringement case against Cooler Master (CMI) in 2014. In that trial, the jury awarded Asetek a 14.5% royalty on all Cooler Master liquid coolers sold in the US.
Listed on AMD's official R9 Fury X documentation is the liquid cooling solution. The PDF indicates that Cooler Master is slated to provide AMD's Fury X CLC, marked by part number “DCV-01647-A1-HF” in the document.
Cooler Master recently lost a lawsuit with CLC supplier Asetek, where a jury ruled that Cooler Master would owe Asetek a 14.5% royalty on all Seidon AIO coolers sold. We are yet unsure if the Fury X stock CLC will be subject to the same legal agreements as the Seidon AIO units.
For years now, the original Quickfire Rapid has had a “Stealth” version with side printed keycaps; although, I’m not sure how stealthy one can be with a keyboard that uses Cherry MX Blue or Green switches. With the release of the Quickfire Rapid-I, some (myself included) were disappointed to see Cooler Master not release a stealth version, but this appears to be changing as of late. Recently, Cooler Master posted the Quickfire Rapid-SI (the “S” standing for “stealth”) page on their site. This is nearly identical to the Quickfire Rapid-I, but for any unfamiliar with the Rapid-I, I’ll quickly run over it, then cover the differences between the two.
Closed-loop liquid cooling (CLC) supplier Asetek has agreed to settle its ongoing patent infringement lawsuit vs. CoolIT. CoolIT, also a liquid cooling supplier, allegedly infringed upon Asetek's patents (8,240,362 & 8,245,764) that effectively lay claim to liquid pumps mounted to the CPU cooling block.
CoolIT is the most recent in a string of action imposed against Asetek's competitors, a list that includes Cooler Master and Swiftech.
Update: CoolIT has provided a statement, found below.
With Computex now over, we’ve had a full look at what all the major hardware manufacturers have had up their sleeves. One of the more electrically complex items released by EVGA, Corsair, and Be Quiet! are their newest power supplies.
Rounding-up all the newest power supplies from Computex reveals a cluster of 1600W PSUs, a 600W SFX PSU that we’ve covered before, and a renewed focus on power efficiency.
Most of the RAM sales have subsided as prices have continued to hang onto their unseemly high, but this weekend sees a reduction in price in several cases and power supplies; there's a pretty big sale on most of Cooler Master's catalog right now, but we'll also be looking at some video cards in this sales round-up.
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