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HW News - "X590" False Alarm, RTX 3070 Delays, Zen 3 Motherboard Updates

Posted on October 6, 2020

At GN, we’re slowly emerging from our RTX 30-series coma, where we’ve pushed our testing and coverage perhaps as far as we ever have. We’re getting ready to slow down for a week or so to revamp and improve processes internally and get ready to do it all again with Zen 3, RDNA2, and the RTX 3070.

As ever, there’s plenty to cover outside of our reviews and testing. This week, we have news regarding NVIDIA delaying the RTX 3070 launch window to the end of October in an effort to avoid the previous RTX 3080 and 3090 catastrophe. There’s also a credible rumor suggesting that Zen 3 will come in under the Ryzen 5000-series banner, which would probably be for the best, given how convoluted CPU naming is getting. 

Elsewhere, we discuss Intel’s Omni-Path being resurrected under the new Cornelis Networks, leaked Windows XP source code, an interesting new HPE-Cray built supercomputer, and more. Check out the article and video embed below.  

01:09 | RTX 3070 Launch Moved To October 29th

In what appears to be an effort to mitigate the possibility of another abysmal GPU launch, Nvidia has rolled back the availability date for its upcoming RTX 3070. While the card was initially scheduled to launch on October 15th, it will now be pushed out to October 29th, marking a ~ two-week delay, and putting it up right next to AMD’s RX 6000 event. 

In its statement on upcoming availability, Nvidia expressly states the desire to get more cards out on launch day, as well as to global AIB partners. The previous RTX 3080 and 3090 launches saw limited supply instantly outstripped by demand, crashed websites, bot scripts beating real customers to the punch on orders, and poor driver support that has been linked to some early stability issues. 


05:58 | Rumor: Zen 3 Will Arrive as Ryzen 5000

We want to start by addressing a rumor about X590 chipsets. A recent Gigabyte BIOS update re-surfaced an old artifact from before the Ryzen 3000 launch, where AMD originally had plans to ship X570 and X590 chipsets, but ended up rolling it all into X570. The Gigabyte BIOS that recently shipped has some remnants resurfaced of X590, but our understanding is that this was just an artifact of the old (ditched) plans for the chipset, and not an indication that a new X590 chipset will emerge with Zen 3.

We should know more about AMD’s upcoming Zen 3 architecture later this month, but it seems like the new Zen 3-based CPUs are likely to skip the already crowded 4000-series naming and land as Ryzen 5000. Hardware leaker @TUM_APISAK spotted new listings in the Ashes of the Singularity benchmark database that show an “AMD Ryzen 7 5800X” entry. The chip is listed as an 8C/16T processor, and would no doubt be the Zen 3 successor to the Ryzen 7 3800X. 

While we encourage everyone to take rumors with a grain of salt, this makes sense for a couple of reasons. 

One, AMD already has its line of Ryzen 4000 mobile (G-series) APUs that bear the “4000” branding. Two, from what we know about Zen 3, it’s likely enough of an overhaul under the hood to warrant a shift in the naming. A leaked Processor Programming Reference (PPR) outlined a few key details about Zen 3, such as the changes to the CCD/CCX structure, a unified 32MB of L3 cache per CCX, and the Scalable Data Fabric (SDF) being built up to support 512GB per DRAM channel. 

In addition to these changes, which should improve latency and coherency, as well as further refine AMD’s MCM approach to Zen, Zen 3 should also offer some generation-over-generation clock speed boosts, as well as an IPC improvement.


10:42 | Zen 3 Motherboard Support Begins to Roll Out

Elsewhere in Zen 3 hype this past week, it seems motherboard makers are already prepping board support. First among board makers getting ready to transition to Zen 3 is MSI, who recently rolled out a new firmware update for some of its existing 500-series AM4 boards.

MSI revealed that it was pushing out a Combo PI BIOS (V2 update to X570 and B550 chipset-based motherboards. MSI notes that the update should roll out to A520-based boards towards the end of October. In addition to further optimizations for current Ryzen processors, there’s an updated SMU and DRR4 overclocking fixes. MSI also notes support for “future AM4 socket processors.”

Future socket AM4 processors would of course be the imminent Zen 3 chips that AMD has yet to officially reveal. For compatible MSI motherboards getting the update, check out MSI’s blog post.    


12:17 | Cornelis Networks to Breathe New Life into Intel’s Omni-Path

Intel’s first-generation Omni-Path interconnects (OPA 100-series) were meant to be Intel’s answer to Mellonox’s InfiniBand-based switches and push Intel further into highspeed network interconnect and fabric business. However, after only one generation, Intel seemingly abandoned the Omni-Path Architecture and halted development on the OPA 200-series.

However, Intel is now spinning out its Omni-Path business into an entirely separate company. Cornelis Networks, according to CRN, is made up of former Intel employees who worked on Intel’s Omni-Path under Intel previously. Cornelis Networks announced its Series-A funding that brought in $20M from the likes of Downing Ventures and Intel Capital, which is Intel’s venture and investment division. 

Philip A. Murphy Jr., CEO of Cornelis Networks and formerly of Intel, stated that he and his colleagues approached Intel about spinning out Omni-Path when it became apparent that the technology no longer aligned with Intel’s strategy. Intel apparently agreed, and Cornelis Networks received Intel’s Omni-Path IP, existing inventory, and additional assets in exchange for Intel Capital receiving a stake in Cornelis Networks.   

Murphy states that under Cornelis Networks, Omni-Path will see next-generation products, possibly under a new brand. Cornelis Networks will also work to support existing Omni-Path customers and continue selling first-generation Omni-Path products.    


13:52 | Leaked Windows XP Source Code Legitimate

Recently, news broke of the Windows XP source code being leaked onto the internet via 4chan. And while Microsoft wouldn’t -- and as of this writing, still hasn’t -- confirm or deny the leak, security researchers immediately began poring over the code, and suggested it was legitimate, albeit incomplete.

Fast forward a week or so, and we now know the source code is that of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. According to ZDNet, who spoke with Microsoft engineers of both past and present, the code does appear to authentic, but incomplete. Furthermore, at least one astute user has compiled the code into a working version of the ancient operating systems. 

The NTDEV YouTube channel, which focuses on Windows and software, successfully compiled the code, both confirming its legitimacy and the fact that some components are missing. "Well, the reports were indeed true. It seems that there are some components missing, such as winlogon.exe and lots of drivers," NTDEV told ZDNet.

However, while the videos were briefly available to view, they’ve since been taken down following a copyright claim from Microsoft. So, in lieu of an official statement, it seems we’ll have to settle for a copyright strike on behalf of Microsoft as confirmation that this leak was legitimate. 


16:01 | HPE to Build New “Crossroads” Supercomputer 

HPE announced that it will build and deliver a new supercomputer to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for the purpose of modeling the behavior of nuclear weapons. The system, known as Crossroads, will be based on the new HPE Cray EX supercomputer model. The Cray EX (fair warning: don’t google this) is a blade-based cluster, built inside a sealed, liquid-cooled cabinet.

While we don’t have exact specs on Crossroads, it’s said to offer quadruple performance to that of the system it’s intended to replace, Trinity. The Trinity supercomputer is currently ranked at number 11 on the TOP500 list and was rolled out in two stages/partitions. There’s the first partition that uses Haswell Xeons, and the second partition that uses Phi Knights Landing Xeons. Trinity offers a peak performance of 41.4 PFlops per second.

For perspective, the HPE Cray EX is largely based on Cray’s Shasta architecture, which was Cray’s first supercomputer platform aimed at exascale computing. The Shasta architecture is set to power upcoming exascale supercomputers such as Aurora, El Capitan, and Frontier. An HPE Cray EX3000 cabinet can accommodate up to 64 blades, across 8 compute chassis. Each compute chassis can power up to 8 blades.

The HPE Cray EX3000 supports the HPE Cray EX425 blade, which comes equipped with 2x boards per blade. Each board offers two sockets, for a total of 4x sockets per blade. The HPE Cray EX425 blade boards support AMD’s EPYC 7002 series CPUs, and 8 DIMMs per socket, with up to 64GB DIMMs at 3200. While the Cray EX platform is built for AMD’s EPYC line, Crossroads will actually use Intel’s 10nm Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPUs. It’s also important to note that the HPE Cray EX supercomputer is purely x86 CPU-based; no heterogeneous CPU-GPU computing design.

There’s no information on how many cabinets Crossroads will use, or any suggested performance metrics yet. Crossroads is scheduled to be deployed in the Spring of 2022, and will remain in service through 2026. Crossroads also marks another notable supercomputer win for Intel, behind the Intel-based Aurora supercomputer.   



19:13 | Microsoft Testing New Storage Monitoring Features 

Alongside the Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20226 announcement, Microsoft announced that it was testing a new storage monitoring feature intended to keep SSDs healthy. Or at least alert users if their SSDs become unhealthy.

Many SSDs ship replete with software for monitoring the drive; Samsung’s SSD Magician software is a popular example. This type of software lets users monitor the drive for potential failures and reports on various diagnostics. However, not all SSDs ship with such software, and Windows doesn’t currently offer any such feature for SSDs. 

“This feature is designed to detect hardware abnormalities for NVMe SSDs and notify users with enough time to act. It is strongly recommended that users immediately back up their data after receiving a notification,” says Microsoft. 

Most modern HDDs and SSDs support the S.M.A.R.T. system, and it may be that Microsoft is testing a Windows 10 feature that reports S.M.A.R.T. data to the user, but that’s just a guess.   


21:02 | Corsair Tests Price Ceiling with K100 RGB Keyboard

Corsair just trotted out its new flagship keyboard, the K100 RGB, and with it a new top end for keyboard prices. At $230, Corsair is certainly testing the price consumers are willing to pay for a keyboard, if not looking for the price ceiling altogether. 

The K100 RGB looks set to slot in directly above Corsair’s K95 RGB Platinum -- itself a $200 keyboard that was eye-watering at the time. Corsair’s K100 RGB does offer a couple of notable evolutions over the K95 Platinum; whether or not they justify a $230 price tag isn’t for us to say, though. 

First, Corsair has continued its iCUE evolution, with the manifestation of a full-blown “iCUE Wheel” adorned at the top left corner of the board. Aside from the name, it seems the scroll wheel could have some convenient uses under certain circumstances. For instance, adjusting volume, zooming in and out, or assigning certain keyboard shortcuts to the wheel itself.  

Second, Corsair is also unveiling its first switch design, the Corsair OPX optical switches. These switches seem similar to Razer’s Optical Switches and are rated for 150M clicks. These switches offer a 1.0mm actuation point and linear travel. Corsair is also touting its Axon technology, which is responsible for the 4,000 Hz polling and key scanning rate on the K100 RGB.

As mentioned above, the K100 RGB will cost $230 and is available now. The keyboard will also come with an option for Cherry MX Red switches, should optical switches not be of interest.      


22:51 | EK Vertical GPU Bracket for Open Loops

EK announced a new vertical GPU mounting bracket recently, following in the steps of companies like CableMod and its successful bracket previously. The biggest differentiation between good and bad vertical GPU mounts -- because they aren’t universally bad, despite what people who make blanket statements think -- is seating the card far enough away from the glass that it can still breathe if air-cooled. EK is more interested in water cooling support, though, and said that its solution is focused on providing more rigidity to the GPU. EK is calling its mount the “EK Loop Vertical GPU holder,” and says that it will work in “any ATX PC case that has an open-style rear PCIe I/O slot layout.” The structure is 1.5mm thick steel and uses two motherboard standoff screws for stability. EK overplays its hand on claiming the dangers of most vertical mounts -- it’s not like people are going to LAN parties and moving systems around -- but the solution overall looks to be higher quality than most. EK says 1-2 slot designs will fit (from the I/O shield perspective), and that height doesn’t matter.


Host: Steve Burke
Editorial: Eric Hamilton
Video: Keegan Gallick, Andrew Coleman