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HW News - Record Intel CPU Shortages & Record DRAM Price Drops Since 2011

Posted on March 21, 2019

Our hardware news coverage has some more uplifting stories this week, primarily driven by the steepest price drop in DRAM since 2011. System builders who've looked on in horror as prices steadily climbed to 2x and 3x the 2016 rate may finally find some peace in 2019's price projections, most of which are becoming reality with each passing week. Other news is less positive, like that of Intel's record CPU shortages causing further trouble for the wider-reaching partnerships, or hackers exploiting WinRAR, but it can't all be good.

Find the show notes below the video embed, as always.

Kyle Bennett Leaves HardOCP for Intel

Intel has hired much of the technical press over the past year. Ryan Shrout and the entire core PC Per team left for Intel previously, Intel has also acquired talent from AMD’s graphics team, and now the company is pulling Kyle Bennett of HardOCP onto its enthusiast hardware team. Bennett announced that HardOCP would remain functional but unmonetized, with the HardForum being sold off to another company. Bennett hopes to shift internal paradigms at Intel and refocus on the enthusiast desktop user.

DRAM Prices See Steepest Decline Since 2011

Prices for DRAM are on pace to drop 30% this quarter, even lower than the previously projected 25%. This would be the steepest decline in a single quarter since 2011.

According to the report by DRAMeXchange, vendors are currently sitting on roughly six weeks worth of inventory, and due to demand suppression and Intel’s CPU shortages, OEMs are unable to sell through that inventory. This has led to prices entering a “freefall”, meaning large price reductions are not going to translate to sales or stimulate demand.


Radeon RX 560XT: A Revised Polaris for China Only


Radeon RX 560

Radeon RX 560XT

Radeon RX 570

Compute Units




Stream Processors




Base Clock

1175 MHz

973 MHz

1168 MHz

Boost Clock

1275 MHz

1073 MHz

1244 MHz



4/8 GB GDDR5

4/8 GB GDDR5

Memory Bus




Memory Speed

7.0 Gbps

6.6 Gpbs

7.0 Gbps

Source: AMD

Intel’s Record CPU Shortages Getting Worse

Intel’s record shortages of 14nm CPUs are well documented, but according to industry prophets Digitimes, those shortages could be compounded next quarter, just in time for peak Chromebook season.

According to the report, “Digitimes Research expects Intel CPUs' supply gap to shrink to 2-3% in the first quarter with Core i3 taking over Core i5 as the series hit hardest by shortages.” In the report, Digitimes notes that currently, the Coffee Lake Core i5 chips are the hardest to get ahold of. However, that supply constraint will shift to the Core i3 models in 2Q19 as Chromebook demand kicks off.

Intel’s inability to deliver on record demand has led to AMD historically encroaching on Intel’s notebook market share, with AMD’s market share going from 9.8% in 1Q18, to 15.8% in 1Q19. Additionally, vendors are expected ship their first ever AMD-based Chromebooks next quarter, leading AMD to an anticipated 18% market share in 2Q19.

Intel is expected to bring new 14nm production lines online in the second half of 2019, which would bolster Intel’s production capacity by 25%, theoretically reversing the shortage problems. Intel has recently announced several multi-year expansions at key sites like Oregon, Israel, and Ireland.

Intel’s 10nm Ice Lake is scheduled for volume production in the second half of 2019, but according to Digitimes sources, there are still several problems with Intel’s 10nm process. As such, Digitimes predicts that Intel could “skip” 10nm, and funnel investments into 7nm.       


Intel On-Track to Dethrone Samsung

Ironically, despite Intel's production woes, it is still on track to dethrone Samsung and retake the crown as the world’s top semiconductor supplier for 2019.

Intel previously held that title from 1993 up until 2016, when Samsung famously usurped Intel in 2017 to become the top chip vendor at the peak of the memory boom. Now, thanks to the massive downturn in the memory market that is expected to lower Samsung's sales by as much as 20% this year, Intel is poised to take back the title.

Even though Intel’s sales are expected to remain flat, its win will partially come by way of “a steep 24% drop in the memory market.”     


New York Hasn’t Given Charter Communications The Boot Yet

Last year, the New York government historically ejected Charter Communications (who operates as Spectrum) from the state and banned them from further business dealings, marking an unprecedented move against ISPs. However, to date, they haven’t given them the boot yet.

New York’s approval of Charter’s merger with Time Warner Cable was contingent on several factors -- factors that, according to the State of New York, were never met. This prompted New York state officials to revoke their merger approval, ban Charter Communications from the state, and demand a 60 day transition plan be filed. Although, the plan still hasn’t been filed, as Charter has been granted several extensions while it negotiates with the state.

Currently, the State Public Service Commission recently granted Charter another deadline extension, with a new deadline of May 3, 2019.

Charter’s repeated extensions are reportedly based on it working toward a settlement with the state, one that may presumably allow it to remain operating in New York. According to the New York PSC, the most recent deadline extension was granted based on a few conditions.

"Department Staff had previously advised that any final settlement will include: (1) an agreement on eligible passings [i.e. home and business addresses] that will count toward the 145,000-passing buildout condition pursuant to the 2016 merger order; (2) a penalty and/or an arrangement pursuant to which Charter funds the expansion of broadband access to further customers in addition to those passed pursuant to the buildout condition; and (3) an enforceable schedule to complete the remaining buildout work."


NVIDIA Beats Intel In Bidding War For Mellanox

Recently, both NVIDIA and Intel were locked in a bidding war for Mellanox, an Israeli startup focused on networking hardware using Ethernet and InfiniBand protocols for data centers and cloud computing.

Intel had previously offered $6 billion, but sources asserted NVIDIA could offer up to 10 percent more for the purchase. Also, NVIDIA was likely more favored for the purchase, as Intel could potentially run afoul of regulators. Intel already has a sizeable share of the InfiniBand market through its True Scale Fabric products.

NVIDIA officially confirmed their $6.9 billion acquisition of Mellanox on Monday, March 11th, and both companies subsequently issued statements.  

“The emergence of AI and data science, as well as billions of simultaneous computer users, is fueling skyrocketing demand on the world’s datacenters,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA. “Addressing this demand will require holistic architectures that connect vast numbers of fast computing nodes over intelligent networking fabrics to form a giant datacenter-scale compute engine.”

NVIDIA’s play at Mellanox would be to diversify its portfolio and use Mellanox’s interconnect technologies to fuel interests in AI, high performance computing ,data center, and autonomous vehicles.


Sun Sets on Skylake as Intel Announces End of Life

Launched in 2015, and concluding a four-year run, Intel is announcing EOL status for 6th-generation Skylake processors.

Intel’s i7-6700K and i5-6600K were among the first Skylake chips to be put to rest preceding Coffee Lake’s desktop launch. Now, the rest of the Skylake line up will join them in EOL status. OEMs and retailers have until September 27, 2019 to place final orders. The last orders will ship March 6th, 2020.  


Hackers Exploiting Recent WinRAR Vulnerability

In a recent episode, we mentioned a WinRAR vulnerability that’s existed for some 19 years, and that rarlab, the company behind the popular archive utility, had issued a patch and statement.

As fate would have it, days after being disclosed by cyber security research firm Check Point, the attack vector began to be exploited. WinRAR’s estimated 500 million users -- many of which likely don’t know about the vulnerability or security patch -- create an ideal attack surface for opportunistic hackers.

McAfee reports that they’ve identified “over 100 unique exploits and counting, with most of the initial targets residing in the United States at the time of writing.” Additionally, 360 Threat Intelligence Center has documented several other ways hackers are using the exploit to spread malware via its Twitter page.

One such way that’s gained traction is through a booby trapped file named “Ariana_Grande-thank_u,_next(2019)_[320].rar” meant to entice those looking to bootleg Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” album.

It’s imperative that if you’re a WinRAR user, you update to version 5.70. Aslo, if you happen to also be an Ariana Grande fan (aren’t we all?) that you know, maybe buy the album, instead of bootlegging it.      


Editorial: Eric Hamilton
Host: Steve Burke
Video: Josh Svoboda