HW News - China vs. Memory Makers, B450 Chipset Specs
Posted on May 29, 2018
Despite Computex’s imminence, there are still plenty of pre-show announcements and news items to discuss. This week’s anchor item is the “conversation” that Micron has been having with memory suppliers; specifically, China’s Anti-Monopoly Bureau has discussed DRAM pricing with Samsung and Micron, Hynix likely to follow. Connecting the dots isn’t too hard here, but keep in mind that there’s still nothing confirmed with regard to price fixing possibilities.
Separately, AMD’s B450 chipsets were detailed, passive AM4 coolers debuted, and JPR thinks cryptomining is waning, giving way to more affordable video cards for gamers.
Show notes are below the video.
China Has a “Conversation” with Memory Makers
At this point, the upward RAM pricing is no surprise, as it seems to command everyone’s attention. Perhaps the most attentive, however, is China. China is the world’s largest consumer of DRAM and memory, consuming 20% of DRAM and 25% of NAND, all over the world. To that effect, China’s Anti-Monopoly Bureau has met with Micron regrading the DRAM price trend. There are little details on the meeting, but we can read between the lines; this meeting comes after a similar meeting with Samsung, and a looming class action lawsuit that contends that DRAM suppliers are colluding in price fixing.
China’s meeting with Samsung is said to have potential for restain in DRAM price, and increased production. Micron’s meeting with the Chinese Government agencies might bear similar fruit. China hasn’t pointed their gaze at SK Hynix yet, but given the current climate, we can expect China to get to them sooner, rather than later.
AMD is readying a successor to their B350 mid-range chipset, with the B450 chipset slated for release in the second half of this year. B450 will support 2000 series chips out of the box, as well as retain overclocking support. It will also retain the same amount of USB, SATA, and PCIe connectivity as its B350 predecessor. Additionally, the B450 chipset offers an idle power draw of less than 2W, meaning paltry VRM heatsinks should be able to cool it; however, you know how we feel about puny heatsinks. Also, B450 will support NVMe raid, which was previously exclusive to X399.
The latest report from JPR suggests that the crypto-mining market has finally become saturated, suggesting that miners wanting cards have gotten them. The report indicates that crypto-currency mining is still influencing the PC graphics market, but that influence is waning, and gamer interest is increasing. The GPU shipment rate was up 66% annually, with over 3 million AIBs shipped to miners in 2017, and another 1.7 million shipped in the quarter.
JPR forecasts that due to the mining fizzling out--at least, for the time being--gamers are seeing supply increase, and prices come down. JPR also expects gamer interest to be strong into Q2, as well, offsetting the normal Q2 seasonal decline.
All this is good news for gamers, if JPR’s prognosticating holds true--all it takes is a spike in value, and we could find ourselves in another mining boom.
Arctic has announced their first AM4 passive CPU cooler, the Alpine AM4. Presumably intended to be used with AMD’s APUs, the cooler can be used with any AM4 AMD CPU with a TDP of no more than 46W--which means users could use CPUs from AMD’s 1000 or 2000 series that can have their TDP programmed to 46W. The Alpine AM4 should be relatively simple to install, coming with four springs and screws, and MX-2 thermal compound pre-applied. A six-warranty rounds out the notable features.
Pricing isn’t final, but as Anandtech notes, shouldn’t be more than $20, and probably more like $15.
Cryorig intends to unveil a uniquely styled M.2 SSD cooler at Computex 2018, dubbed the Frostbit M.2 SSD Cooler. The new cooler will feature a dual heat pipe design, attached to a small finstack that is pivotable, as to remain outside of GPU/add-in board clearances for PCIe slots. The thermal rating for the Frostbit M.2 cooler is 12W, and will require a degree of airflow over the fin array to be especially effective. No details on pricing and availability, but expect to hear more at Computex.
Micron has revealed they are shipping their new ION SSD lineup to specific customers and partners. Micron’s new 5210 ION SSDs are among the first to offer QLC NAND, and will offer capacities up to 7.68 TB in a 2.5” form factor. The SSDs are slated for a full release the fall, and are headed to the data center segment, as is usually the case with leading-edge storage products. However, the storage technology will eventually trickle down do the consumer market.
QLC NAND stores four bits per cell and uses 16 voltage states--a feat that ultimately reduces NAND endurance, but pays off in storage capacity. Micron’s 1 terabit QLC (128GB) die provides 33% more density than their previous MLC die. This can theoretically allow Micron to construct NAND packages using less dies, and still offer increasing storage. Micron’s new SSDs offer the latest enterprise safety features like power loss protection, data path protection, five-year warranty, and internal RAID features.
Micron’s QLC can withstand 1,000 program/erase cycles, and offers 1 DWPD (Drive Write Per Day) of endurance. For the present, QLC NAND is intended to be used for read intensive enterprise storage, so endurance isn’t a paramount concern yet.
Micron-Intel Deliver First 4-Bit/Cell (QLC) Memory Die
This news ties into the Micron SSD news, as it is the very memory used in those SSDs. As part of their joint memory venture, Intel-Micron have delivered the first 64 layer, 1Tb QLC NAND die. As previously mentioned, this is the memory used in Micron’s newest SATA-based 5210 enterprise SSD. While Intel hasn’t announced any products using QLC, that is sure to change soon, either at Computex or the Flash Memory Summit in August.
This news item is trivial: NZXT has removed the “i” suffix from its new H-series cases, including the H700i. We previously remarked that the H700i had stellar build quality and overall excellent design, but its mandatory inclusion of the ‘smart’ device drove price up unnecessarily -- and for little gain. NZXT has now officially produced an H700 non-i, and the same is true for its H200 and H400 cases; sadly, NZXT didn’t use the “D” suffix that we wanted -- D for “Dumb” -- but you win some and you lose some.
The H700 non-i is priced at $150, a steep reduction, with the H400 at $100 and H200 at $90. We can strongly recommend the H700 at this price. Overall design is unique and of high build quality, using well-placed color accents and reasonable airflow design overall. It’s not the best, but it’s not all that bad, either. Check our review for more on this one.
New case maker Apexgaming now has a new “X-Mars” enclosure that’s taken the “X” markation to new levels. The Apexgaming X-Mars has an X plastered across the front-center of the case, behind which rests a dust filter and at least 3 fans. Renders of the case show it as equipped with upwards of 10 fans, with 3 mounted near the PSU shroud, 3 on the drive cages, 1 in the rear, and 3 at the front. It certainly looks interesting, but its price is terrifying: The X-Mars full-tower will be available at $1000, but the company plans to offer an “X-Mars Junior” version for $190. If we put two interior shots side-by-side, differences primarily exist in small embellishments, holes dotting the drive cages and PSU shroud, and overall size.