Hardware stub

HW News - TSMC 7nm Lead, Intel Building for 7nm, & GN LN2 OC Stream

Posted on January 26, 2019

Hardware news coverage largely focuses on silicon fabrication this week, with TSMC boasting revenue growth from 7nm production, Intel planning its own 7nm and EUV renovations in US facilities, and other manufacturers getting on-board the 7nm and EUV production train. Beyond this news, we cover a class action lawsuit against AMD for Bulldozer, Samsung's new 970 SSDs, and Backblaze's hard drive reliability report. Note further that GN is in the news, as we're planning a liquid nitrogen (LN2) overclocking livestream for Sunday, 1/27 at 1PM EST. We will have a special guest present.

Show notes below the embedded video, as always.



GN LN2 Overclocking Stream w/ Special Guest

Quick announcement: We will have a special pro overclocker guest at our studio this weekend. The plan is to livestream some liquid nitrogen overclocking of a 9980XE and Titan RTXs on Sunday, 1/27 at 1PM EST. Make sure you check the YouTube channel or our twitter pages for updates.

TSMC’s 7nm Process Leads 4Q18 Revenue

In late 2018, TSMC expected to post record revenue growth for 4Q18, thanks to their lead in 7nm manufacturing. They also announced they expect to have over 100 7nm designs taped out by 2019. It seems TSMC’s predictions were accurate, as 7nm technology was the biggest driver of revenue in the final quarter of 2018.

7nm accounted for 23% of TSMC’s revenue in 4Q18, while it made up around 10% of TSMC’s 2018 revenue. Impressive, considering the process only ramped in June of the same year.

TSMC has courted lucrative partnerships with AMD, Apple, Nvidia, and Qualcomm who will all lean on TSMC’s competitive advantage. TSMC is expected to roll out their second generation 7nm technology sometime in 2019, which will include the use of EUV.  

Source: https://www.tsmc.com/uploadfile/ir/quarterly/2018/4YJtp/E/4Q18PresentationUpload(E).pdf

Intel Setting the Stage for 7nm Production

According to a report by The Oregonian, Intel is preparing to expand its Oregon D1X facility to accommodate future 7nm production. The report cites unnamed sources and people “familiar with conversations” saying Intel could begin construction as early as June. The project would add a third phase to D1X, and be equipped for EUV 7nm production.

Construction would last 18 months, followed by several months of equipment installation, according to The Oregonian’s sources. Last December, Dr. Ann Kelleher, senior vice president and general manager of Manufacturing and Operations, announced Intel had plans for multi year expansions for Oregon, Israel, and Ireland. So, The Oregonian’s report seems to align with Intel’s plans.     

Source: https://www.oregonlive.com/silicon-forest/2019/01/intel-preparing-to-spend-billions-on-new-oregon-factory.html


Lawsuit Over AMD’s Bulldozer/Piledriver Core Definition Progresses

A lawsuit dating back to 2015 has been granted class action certification and allowed to continue, with a date set for February 5th, 2019 to establish a timeline. The lawsuit will see AMD and plaintiffs take the case before a jury of 12 in California to decide what a CPU core is and what it isn’t. That’s assuming AMD doesn’t decide to settle out of court, but the company has already committed to defending themselves “vigorously.”

The plaintiffs allege that they were misled by AMD’s representation of their FX processors, whereby AMD marketed the chips as 8-core desktop CPUs. The crux of the issue is in the way AMD defines a CPU core with the FX series. Each x86 core resides on a module with another x86 core and resources like L2 cache, floating point unit, and instruction fetch and decode circuitry are shared between the cores.

The plaintiffs claim this messaging is disingenuous, and that the the FX series are not native 8-core parts, and only have four functional cores. They seek compensation for the difference between an 8-core and 4-core CPU. The SKUs in question are the FX-8120, FX-8150, FX-8320, FX-8350, FX-8370, FX-9370, and FX-9590.

The complaint states the following:

“According to Plaintiffs,a “core” is a processing unit that is able to operate (e.g., perform calculations and execute instructions) independent from other cores positioned on a chip. Plaintiffs allege that the Bulldozer CPUs,advertised as having eight cores, actually contain eight “sub-processors” which share resources, such as L2 memory caches and floating point units (‘FPUs’).”

Source: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/01/22/judge_green_lights_amd_core_lawsuit/

Court Order: https://regmedia.co.uk/2019/01/22/amd-core-class-action.pdf

Rumor: 1660 Ti Arriving in February for $279

A report by HardOCP citing unnamed sources is attaching launch dates to Nvidia’s long rumored non-RTX, Turing based card(s). According to HardOCP, the 1660 Ti, which we’ve discussed, will arrive Febuary 15th, for $279. A GTX 1660 (non-Ti) will arrive in early March for $229, while the low-end GTX 1650 will come in late March for $179.

Interestingly, HardOCP claims Nvidia will continue to supply the 1050 Ti, presumably in lieu of a 1650 Ti. Take all this with a grain of salt, of course. Though, as we’ve speculated, fleshing out a selection of Turing options sans RTX makes sense, as developers and consumers have largely been slow to acclimate to ray tracing -- developers slow to support it, and consumers unprepared to pay for it.   

Source: https://www.hardocp.com/news/2019/01/23/nvidia_1660_ti_will_launch_on_february_15_at_279

Samsung Announces 970 Evo Successor: 970 Evo Plus

Among a few more trivial hardware announcements, Samsung announced their new 970 Evo Plus family of SSDs, trailing Western Digital’s recent Black SN750 launch. The 970 Evo Plus will supersede the 970 Evo as Samsung’s consumer NVMe SSD, while also being Samsung’s first mainstream offering using 96-layer 3D-NAND.

The 970 Evo Plus, like its predecessor, uses the M.2 (2280) form factor, and a PCIe 3.0 x4 connection. The new drives will be offered in capacities of 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. As usual, speeds vary a bit based on capacity, specifically sequential write speeds. Nonetheless, the drives are rated for sequential read and write speeds up to 3,500 MB/s and 3,300 MB/s, respectively.

The construction of the 970 Evo Plus hasn’t changed significantly, based on the paper specifications. The new drives will still use the Samsung Phoenix controller and LPDDR4 DRAM, which makes the key focus of these drives Samsung’s fifth-generation 3D-NAND. Samsung’s newest generation of NAND should allow them to remain competitive in pricing while also increasing density, improving cost per GB, and performance per watt.

MSRPs for the 970 Evo Plus are $89.99 for the 250GB, $129.99 for the 500GB, $249.99 for the 1TB, and TBA for the 2TB. Samsung offers a 5-year warranty with all 970 Evo Plus models, with TBW (Total Bytes Written) peaking 1.2TB for the 2TB model.

Noticeably absent is any mention of a 970 Pro Plus. Samsung could be waiting for the arrival of PCIe 4.0 – or the expedited PCIe 5.0.

Source: https://news.samsung.com/us/samsung-consumer-nvme-ssds-970-evo-plus/

Backblaze Report 2018: Density Migration Continues

Backblaze have released their annual hard drive report for 2018, and while it’s mostly unsurprising, these kinds of reports do tend to highlight broad trends in data storage. Those trends, according to Backblaze stats, are the continued migration to denser storage and lower annualized failure rates.

The information comes from the monitoring of 104,778 HDDs across 15 different models. For 2018, Backblaze continued to replace 2, 3, and 4TB HDDs with 8, 10, and 12TB options. They even added some 14TB, helium-filled PMR drives from Toshiba. A couple highlights from the report are quoted below:

  • “In 2016 the average size of hard drives in use was 4.5 TB. By 2018 the average size had grown to 7.7 TB.”
  • “The 2018 annualized failure rate of 1.25% was the lowest by far of any year we’ve recorded.”

Source: https://www.backblaze.com/blog/hard-drive-stats-for-2018/

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