Hardware stub

HW News - Ryzen 3000 Core Counts & PCIe, DRAM Prices Fall, GTX 1660

Posted on January 23, 2019

For this hardware news episode, we compiled more information ascertained at CES, whereupon we tried to validate or invalidate swirling rumors about Ryzen 3000, GTX 1660 parts, and Ice Lake. The show gave us a good opportunity, as always, to talk with people in the know and learn more about the goings-on in the industry. There was plenty of "normal" news, too, like DRAM price declines, surges in AMD notebook interest, and more.

The show notes are below the video. This time, we have a few stories in the notes below that didn't make the cut for the video.

Update on AMD Ryzen 3000, X570

A quick update on our previous X570/PCIe story: First off, as pointed out previously, "chipset" wasn't really the right language to use when referring to the X570's induction of "parts" of Epyc -- it's just PCIe 4.0, more or less, that's moving over. We had a few people reach out to us and confirm that the chipset will almost certainly be running PCIe 4.0, responsible for the power requirement increase and for potential logistical challenges.

Separately, on core counts, our engineering contacts within the industry have informed us that we should expect 16C and 12C CPUs with Ryzen 3000, in addition to the usual 8-core parts. It's just a question of if those launch altogether or independently.

NVIDIA 1660 GPU Information

  • We have independently confirmed parts of the rumors with sources in the industry
  • GN confirmed that the product will indeed drop RT and Tensor cores while upgrading the rest of the CUDA cores to Turing
  • GN confirmed that this isn’t just a straight Pascal refresh and rebrand, as we speculated about 8 months ago. It is on Turing silicon
  • GN confirmed independently that the 1660 will be less powerful than the 2060 in ways beyond RTX performance, namely in reductions to SM count
  • This is all interesting, as it begins to loosely put a price on RTX itself

This reinforces other recent reports, like those by TechPowerUp, but with independent validation: https://www.techpowerup.com/251606/nvidia-readies-geforce-gtx-1660-ti-based-on-tu116-sans-rtx

DRAM Prices Expected to Fall 20% Through 2019

We can perhaps start 2019 on a positive note, with DRAM prices continually forecasted as declining. We spent much of 2018 writing about memory prices, and for good reason. That said, 2019 may be the year memory prices reach or fall below where they were at in early 2016.

DRAM manufacturers such as Samsung and SK Hynix have already announced plans to cut capital expenditure and expansion in a bid to maintain prices, and Micron have followed suit. We’ve also mentioned that DRAM makers could augment output to try and level out the market, which is in oversupply, presently.

Despite this, DRAMeXchange still expects demand to be weak, with little signs of recovery throughout the four quarters of 2019. As such, prices are expected to slide, quarter by quarter, with as much as a 15% drop in1Q19. However, that fact that the big DRAM players have so much influence over the market is concerning, especially when prices are returning to normalcy.

Paul Lilly with PC Gamer felt the same way, and reached out to Avril Wu, an analyst at DRAMeXchange.

"Even though DRAM manufacturers have revised their 2019 capex downwards, slowing down the capacity expansion, we still believe that memory prices would continue to drop in 2019. Particularly, the prices of consumer DRAM would decline by over 20 percent this year."

So, even though there are still some uncertainties in the market, prices are expected to keep sliding, which is much needed.  

Source: https://press.trendforce.com/press/20190102-3195.html


NVIDIA Claims 10-Series Inventory is Nearly Gone

In a Q&A session, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang gave an update on their self proclaimed (and self inflicted) crypto hangover. As VentureBeat reports, when asked, “Can you tell us more about your problem with excess inventory and how that will be resolved?” Huang responded as such:

“It’s completely a crypto hangover issue. Remember, we basically shipped no new GPU in the market, to the channel, for one quarter. But the amount of excess inventory and market demand, channel velocity — you just have inventory divided by velocity, and that’s time. We said that it would take one to two quarters for all the channel inventory to sell out. 1080Ti has sold out. 1080 has sold out. 1070 has sold out. 1070Ti has sold out. In several more weeks 1060s will sell out. Then we can go back to business.

I think the world would be very sad if Nvidia never shipped another GPU. That would be very bad.”

If Huang’s words are anything to go by, we could assume end of life for the GTX 10-series is nigh, and they can begin to push the RTX 20-series in earnest. Even has Pascal heads into the sunset, there are still rumors swirling regarding a Turing based GTX card, sans RT cores. Presumably, such a card would exist to sate the appetite of those wanting a faster card, but aren’t interesting in baked-in ray tracing support.  

Source: https://venturebeat.com/2019/01/14/nvidia-ceo-jensen-huang-unplugged-the-blockchain-bubble-and-car-autopilots/view-all/

Ice Lake CPUs Show Up with Cache Upgrade

A recent benchmark shows Intel Ice Lake CPUs with double L1 and L2 cache, as can be seen in the Geekbench and SiSoftware Sandra benchmark databases. These benchmarks show a quad-core chip clocked at 1.38Ghz, with a boost of 2.29Ghz. The chip is a low power, mobile part, and as Tom’s Hardware points out, most likely an engineering sample.

The CPU shows an L1 and L2 cache of 48KB and 512KB, respectively -- a significant upgrade from Intel’s long unchanged cache hierarchy. As a reminder,  Ice Lake will be based on the Sunny Cove architecture, and Intel’s 10nm+ process node.

Source: https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/11585297

Apple Attributes Weak iPhone Sales to Repairs

Apple’s stance against right to repair is well documented, but they always stop short of saying it hurts their bottom line. Insted, they prefer to talk in vague terms and invoke talking points of safety and security. Well, in a recent letter to investors, CEO Tim Cook said just that, in so many words.

In the letter, Cook warns investors that Apple would come significantly short of their revenue expectations for the final quarter of 2018, mostly due to sluggish iPhone sales. Cook offers a few different reasons for the slump in sales, but one of particular interest is the one of users hanging on to their older devices.

After the “throttlegate” controversy, Apple tried to atone for their sins by offering $29 battery replacements, which many iPhone users took advantage of. By replacing an older battery, this did two things. It showed many device owners that smartphones don’t come with a two year expiration date, and simple repairs can keep a device running like new. Secondly, it forced Apple to admit -- in Apple’s own way, mind you -- that planned obsolescence and avoiding user repairs is important for iPhone sales.

We don’t discuss Apple much, or even smartphones for that matter, but these kinds of points are interesting as they relate to right to repair.

Source: https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/01/letter-from-tim-cook-to-apple-investors/

USB Type-C Will Get New Verification Protocol

The USB-IF announced the USB Type-C Authentication Program. The new program is primarily aimed at resolving two issues: uncertified USB Type-C cables and accessories, and security vulnerabilities exploiting a USB Type-C connection. To do this, the new protocol will use cryptographic keys (encryption) to authenticate USB Type-C devices, which the USB-IF asserts will prevent the use of faulty or uncertified cables, and mitigate potential security issues.

According to USB-IF President and COO Jeff Ravencraft, the USB Type-C Authentication Program will provide OEMs “the flexibility to implement a security framework that best fits their specific product requirements.”

Or, it may provide them with the flexibility to implement proprietary cables and accessories with their hardware, à la Apple.    

Source: https://www.usb.org/sites/default/files/2019-01/USB-IF_USB%20Type-C%20Authentication%20Program%20Press%20Release_FINAL_20181227.pdf

Ajit Pai Maintains Delusional Narrative

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his administration were responsible for gutting net neutrality rules last year, an achievement Pai is increasingly proud of. Though, he couldn’t have done it without the help of a republican led congress, which he recently thanked for the help.

“I’m pleased that a strong bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives declined to
reinstate heavy-handed Internet regulation. They did the right thing—especially considering
the positive results for American consumers since the adoption of the Restoring Internet
Freedom Order.”

Bipartisan is an interesting word to use, as net neutrality as always fallen along party lines. Also interesting is the baseless claim that the Restoring Internet Freedom Order is increasing broadband speeds and closing the digital divide.

In a statement to Arstechnica, Evan Greer of Fight for the Future put it rather bluntly:

“As usual, Ajit Pai is full of it," Deputy Director Evan Greer of advocacy group Fight for the Future told Ars. "His claim that broadband speeds are up is the tech policy equivalent of 'it's snowing outside, therefore climate change is a hoax.”

Democrats now control The House, which could be the harbinger of a renewed fight for net neutrality.

Source: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-355824A1.pdf


ARPANET Director and Internet Pioneer Dies at 81

ARPANET was essentially the first internet, and with it came the creation of the IP/TCP stack that is still the backbone of the internet we enjoy today. ARPANET had many important names attached to it, with Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn being two of the more prominent. However, Larry Roberts is perhaps a lesser known, but equally important contributor.

Larry Roberts was the program manager and director at ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency), and along with his team, they created ARPANET in 1969, which would later become the foundation of the internet. Furthermore, Roberts is widely credited with implementing and commercializing packet-switching. Roberts has been inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame, received a Draper Prize for his work on developing the internet, and is fondly remembered as one of the founding fathers of the internet.

Roberts died on December 26th from a heart attack, at the age of 81. So, pour one out for Larry Roberts. Without him, we’d not be able to send cat GIFs and argue senselessly on social media.     

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/12/30/arpanet-creator-larry-roberts-dies/

Gartner Report Indicates PC Shipments Still in Decline

A preliminary report from Gartner shows that as 2018 came to a close, worldwide PC shipments saw a 1.3% decrease from 2017. The decline was concentrated to the 4th quarter of the year, after two quarters of growth, where Intel’s CPU shortage crippled vendors ability to get products out the door. Gartner also predicts that Intel’s CPU shortage will be propelled into 2019, which isn’t news at this point.

Secondly, the political and economic climate in some countries -- including the US -- warranted cautionary demand, as the holiday season fell flat for PC shipments. Gartner also maintains that the holiday season is no longer a driving force in PC growth.

In total, PC shipments exceeded 259.4 million in 2018, with Lenovo ousting HP as the top vendor. Lenovo, HP, and Dell made up 63% of worldwide PC shipments in 2018, and remain the top three PC vendors based on market share. Additionally, 2018 marked the seventh consecutive year of declining PC shipments.

Source: https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2019-01-10-gartner-says-worldwide-pc-shipments-declined-4-3-perc

Laptop Market Turns To AMD

In the wake of Intel’s CPU shortage, notebook makers are turning to AMD to pick up the slack. Intel as previously made it clear it would focus on top OEMs and server clients, leaving the likes of ASUS and Acer to fend for themselves, so to speak. ASUS as already stated that the CPU shortage has affected their business, and not just with laptops and prebuilts, but also motherboards. Less CPUs being purchased means less motherboards in which to drop them into.

In a report from Digitimes, anonymous sources indicate that Acer and ASUS will be adopting more AMD solutions, as they remain more sensitive to the CPU shortage than Dell, HP or Lenovo. Digitimes also suggests that AMD’s market share for notebooks could hit 20%, but may struggle to move north of that figure, as Intel is still very well entrenched in the market.

At CES 2019, we saw the first AMD chromebooks from HP and Acer, as well as new gaming laptops with AMD’s new Ryzen 3000 mobile series.

Source: https://www.digitimes.com/news/a20190108PD207.html

Windows 7 Users Put On Notice

Those left stubbornly clinging onto Windows 7 will have one year before the OS is officially at the end of its life. Mainstream support ended back in 2015, but extended support has seen the popular OS this far. As of January 14, 2020, that support comes to an end. Businesses can still pay for the privilege of extended support beyond that date, with the price increasing every year thereafter, but this isn’t intended for consumers.

That said, those still on Windows 7 will need to prepare to migrate to a new OS -- or prepare to use an unsupported Windows 7, like many Windows XP users have done, and still do. The tradeoff is that the platform becomes increasingly more vulnerable. If WannaCry -- which still lies dormant on thousands of PCs --  taught us anything, it’s that holding onto to an unsupported OS may not be the best idea.

Source: https://support.microsoft.com/en-in/help/13853/windows-lifecycle-fact-sheet

Host, Reporting: Steve Burke
Editorial: Eric Hamilton
Video: Andrew Coleman