Imagine an internet where AT&T will happily cover the costs of your data for using certain apps—provided you’re already an AT&T mobile customer, of course. Imagine an internet where Verizon can deliberately slow down Netflix traffic. Imagine an internet where exceedingly wealthy companies can pay for better connections, at the expense of throttling the connections of those who don’t or can’t pay. Imagine AT&T, Timer Warner, and Comcast being able to advantage and prioritize their own content—such as HBO, NBC, and DirectTV Now—by making it stream faster, or by allowing it to not count towards data plans, or by slowing down competing YouTube options. An internet where today’s few and powerful ISPs are the gatekeepers, raising the barrier and cost of entry for new startups or potential ISPs. An internet where ISPs can control exactly how consumers view content—not based on choice or quality, like it should be—but rather because they have the keys to the internet.
EK Water Blocks has seemingly had a strong year, dotted with numerous major product launches and expansion into the mainstream market (with the EK Fluid Gaming series). In spite of this, TechPowerUp just broke news that EKWB’s CEO, CTO, Head of Marketing, and numerous R&D engineers have all departed the company. The company remains 90-strong, but has lost much of its R&D department and head management as of today.
ET News reports [English] that the price of silicon wafers, the raw material used in the production of 300mm semiconductors, has increased 20% year over year from major manufacturers SK Siltron and SUMCO.
SK Siltron is a recent acquisition of the SK Group, a massive South Korean conglomerate that also includes SK Materials (produces NF3 gas used in semiconductor production) and SK Hynix (a memory chipmaker that regularly appears in our articles on increasing NAND demand). SK Siltron was known as LG Siltron until January, when SK Group purchased 51% of shares from LG for $532 million, and then proceeded to purchase the rest as well (Chairman Choi Tae-Won personally secured 29.4%). LG Siltron sales had suffered since 2012 with an industry increase in silicon wafer production, as well as the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis--but SK Group’s purchase immediately paid off.
This week’s hardware news recap primarily focuses on Intel’s Minix implementation, alongside creator Andrew Tanenbaum’s thoughts on the unknown adoption of the OS, along with some new information on the AMD + Intel multi-chip module (MCM) that’s coming to market. Supporting news items for the week include some GN-style commentary of a new “gaming” chair with case fans in it, updates on nVidia quarterly earnings, Corsair’s new “fastest” memory, and EK’s 560mm radiators.
Find the show notes after the embedded video.
The Intel/AMD news just won’t stop this week. Raja Koduri has indeed left AMD—and he has indeed joined Intel. This was a fair bit of conjecture until now (we even mentioned it in our most recent HW News video, not knowing whether it would be confirmed or debunked), but Intel has released an official statement confirming the move, and the existence of their newly formed Core and Visual Computing Group, which Koduri will helm.
Raja Koduri is a prominent figurehead in the industry, especially as it relates to graphics, visuals, and GPU computing. He notably led AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group, and served as director of graphics for Apple. News of his move to Intel came during his sabbatical he announced back in September, under which he intended to spend time with his family after a grueling Vega launch. His experience and expertise will doubtless be invaluable as part of Intel’s strategy to aggressively expand their presence in the GPU market.
Seagate Technologies (NASDAQ: STX) reported their financial results for the quarter ending September 29th, 2017. Seagate is largely known for manufacturing HDDs and external hard drives, a sector that has seen a decline over the last few years in part due to decreased pricing and availability of SSDs. Flash-based memory prices are high right now, but are overall significantly lower than when the technology was being introduced to the mainstream market.
For Q1 2018, Seagate reported revenue of $2.6 Billion, gross margin was reported at 28.0%, and net income was listed at $181 Million with diluted earnings per share of $0.62. For reference, last year’s financial results in Q1 2017, Seagate showed revenue of $2.8 Billion, gross margin of 28.6%, net income of $167 Million, and diluted earnings per share of $0.55.
The latest report out of TrendForce and DRAMeXchange indicates that the already-high DRAM prices will continue to climb through 2018. Original shortages were accused of being fallout from impending Samsung and iPhone major launches this year, but new information points toward a slow-down in production out of the big three memory manufacturers (Samsung, Micron, SK Hynix). The three companies claim to be running R&D efforts for future technologies, but the fact that all three coincide does mean that each group can continue to enjoy exceptionally high margins into the future.
Our newest video leverages years of data to make a point about the case industry: Thermal testing isn't just to find a potential item of nitpicking or discussion -- it has actual ramifications in frequency response, power consumption/leakage, and even gaming performance. The current trend of case design has frighteningly spiraled into design trends that are actively worsening performance of systems. This is a regular cycle, to some extent, where the industry experiments with new design elements and trends -- like tempered glass and RGB lights -- and then culls the worst of the implementations. It's time for the industry to make its scheduled, pendulous swing back toward performance, though, and better accommodate thermals that prevent frequency decay on modern GPUs (which are sensitive to temperature swings).
This is a video-only format, for today. Although the content starts with a joke, the video makes use of charts from the past year or two of case testing that we've done, highlighting the most egregious instances of a case impacting performance of the entire system. We hope that the case manufacturers consider thermals with greater importance moving forward. The video makes the point, but also highlights that resolving poor case design with faster fans will negate any "silent" advantage that a case claims to offer. Find all of that below:
This week's hardware news recap includes some follow-up discussion from our Intel i7-8700K review, primarily focused on addressing incorrect references of thermal testing cross-review/cross-reviewer. We also talk Coffee Lake availability and pricing, as it was unknown at time of finalizing the review, and dive into some of the new Z370 motherboards. EVGA's Z370 FTW and Classified K have both been announced (and we followed-up with EVGA to get pricing information), alongside a new Micro board in Z370 format.
Beyond this, we've got the usual listing of new product announcements and industry news, including USB3.2's specification, headless video cards, Star Citizen 3.0 alpha pushed to Evocati, and AIM's death.
Variations of “HBM2 is expensive” have floated the web since well before Vega’s launch – since Fiji, really, with the first wave of HBM – without many concrete numbers on that expression. AMD isn’t just using HBM2 because it’s “shiny” and sounds good in marketing, but because Vega architecture is bandwidth starved to a point of HBM being necessary. That’s an expensive necessity, unfortunately, and chews away at margins, but AMD really had no choice in the matter. The company’s standalone MSRP structure for Vega 56 positions it competitively with the GTX 1070, carrying comparable performance, memory capacity, and target retail price, assuming things calm down for the entire GPU market at some point. Given HBM2’s higher cost and Vega 56’s bigger die, that leaves little room for AMD to profit when compared to GDDR5 solutions. That’s what we’re exploring today, alongside why AMD had to use HBM2.
There are reasons that AMD went with HBM2, of course – we’ll talk about those later in the content. A lot of folks have asked why AMD can’t “just” use GDDR5 with Vega instead of HBM2, thinking that you just swap modules, but there are complications that make this impossible without a redesign of the memory controller. Vega is also bandwidth-starved to a point of complication, which we’ll walk through momentarily.
Let’s start with prices, then talk architectural requirements.
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