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.
This far along the line, it should be no secret that we at GamersNexus find the “Warranty Void if Removed” stickers that adorn so many devices—consoles, cellphones, laptops, etc.—ethically abhorrent. They are a thinly veiled, bullshit attack on consumers’ right to repair. These stickers are also a violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act—a point we brought up in an article we wrote a while back, as well as details on the then-current right to repair climate. It would seem as though the pecuniary and questionable warranty practices of at least six companies have caught up with them, as the FTC has officially put six major companies on notice.
In the press release, the FTC expresses “concerns” about the six companies’ policies that constrict repairs to specific service providers—e.g. Apple, Microsoft, Sony, et al. While the FTC wouldn’t disclose the identity of the companies in question, the press release did mention that these companies sell and market “automobiles, cellular devices, and video gaming systems in the United States.”
Intel’s Hades Canyon NUC is well-named: It’s either a reference to hell freezing over, as AMD and Intel worked together on a product, or a reference to the combined heat of Vega and an i7 in a box that’s 8.5” x 5.5” in size. Our review of Hades Canyon looks at overclocking potential, preempting something bigger, and benchmarks the combined i7 CPU and Vega M GPU for gaming and production performance. We’re also looking at thermal performance and noise, as usual. As a unit, it’s one of the smallest, most-powerful systems on the consumer market get right now. We’ll see if it’s worth it.
There are two primary SKUs for the Intel NUC on Newegg, both coming out on April 30th. The unit which most closely resembles ours is $1000, and includes the Intel i7-8809G with 8MB of cache and a limited-core Turbo up to 4.2GHz. The CPU is unlocked for overclocking. It’s coupled with an AMD Vega M GH GPU with 4GB of high-bandwidth memory, also overclockable, but does not include memory or an SSD. You’re on your own for those, as it’s effectively a barebones kit. If you buy straight from Intel’s SimplyNUC website, the NUC8i7HVK that we reviewed comes fully-configured for $1200, including 8GB of DDR4 and a 128GB SSD with Windows 10. Not unreasonable, really.
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:
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.
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.
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:
“Intel & NVIDIA working together” will surely raise eyebrows, but this isn’t similar to how AMD and Intel recently worked to make Hades Canyon. Rather than work together on a product, the two companies sent high-ranking researchers and engineers to meet with the US Government, alongside numerous other AI and machine learning organizations. Intel and nVidia are the most relevant to our line of work, and the representatives at each organization worked to educate government officials on the needs of AI and machine learning development.
In addition to this news, Intel also is working on a $5B expansion for 10nm production, covered further down, and the company’s new Coffee Lake Pentium CPUs have been rumored and assigned specs.
Show notes below the video, if you prefer to read.
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.
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