Hardware stub

HW News - RAM & SSD Price Increases in 2020, Unrealistic GPU Expectations

Posted on January 6, 2020

This is just a quick hardware news recap before we get buried by CES 2020. We wanted to get a few of the industry stories covered before product-centric coverage takes over for the week (which you'll mostly find on our YouTube channel). For this week, the main story is combination of both Samsung's power outage and other stories of increasing DRAM and SSD prices in 2020. We'll also talk about over-reaching expectations for both NVIDIA and AMD GPUs.

Show notes will continue after the embedded video.

Samsung Power Outage at Hwaseong

Recent reports from Yonhap news indicate that Samsung suffered a power outage at its fab in  Hwaseong, South Korea. The fab produces NAND and DRAM memory, and the disruption in power brought production of both to a halt. The outage was determined to be the fault of a transmission cable exploding at a nearby substation, that subsequently rendered the fab without power for about a minute.

Samsung has reported that the downtime would last two to three days, and as of writing, there is no indication of how many wafers were lost due to the disruption in production. However, Yonhap reports that the damage is expected to be in the “few billion won range.” 

The incident is likely to be relatively minor, when compared to the 2018 power outage that Samsung suffered at its Pyeongtaek facility, resulting in 60,000 damaged wafers and 50 billion won ($43.3 million) in losses.

Source: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20191231007200315

EVGA SR-3 Dark Motherboard is Finally Available for $1,800

EVGA’s SR-3 Dark motherboard is finally available for those that have a spare $2,000 sitting around. We looked at the EVGA SR-3 Dark prototype way back at Computex 2019, but the board is just now up for pre-order at EVGA’s website. The EVGA SR-3 Dark has a list price of $2,000, but the board is currently on rebate for $1,800. 

The EVGA SR-3 Dark will combat only two other motherboards supporting Intel’s Xeon W-3175X: The Asus ROG Dominus Extreme and Gigabyte's C621 Aorus Xtreme. Intel’s Xeon W-3175X is based on Skylake-SP silicon, and as such, uses the LGA3647 socket -- a socket that not only requires special motherboard selection, but also limited cooler compatibility. 

There’s the $400 Asetek 690LX-PN, and EKWB's EK-Annihilator Pro water blocks. There’s also LGA3647 water blocks from Bitspower and Phanteks. Custom liquid cooling will be a natural choice, as the board comes equipped with a custom water block covering the VRM and C622 chipset. 

For more specs, check out the listing at EVGA’s website.  




CoolBitts ICEbox Full Immersion Gaming System 

AnandTech was on hand at the annual Supercomputing tradeshow, where an interesting product from CoolBitts was spotted. Coolbitts focuses on immersion cooling, and the company showed off its recent ICEbox5-Sys-1 fully immersed gaming system. 

Per AnandTech’s reporting, the ICEbox5-Sys-1 is single-phase system that comes in a complete kit that includes a tank, pump, radiator, fans, and 5 gallons of EC-120 coolant. The system is rated for loads up to 750W, and the display system the company showed reportedly used a Threadripper 2990WX and an RTX 2080 Ti peaking at 618W. The liquid temperature was reported to be 30C with the system under full load. 

The full kit will set you back $2,450. For those interested, AnandTech’s Ian Cutress recently discussed two-phase immersion liquid cooling in a separate article that is well worth the read. 

Source: https://www.coolbitts.com/shop/icebox5-sys-1


Rumor: Navi 21 GPU Twice the Size of Navi 10

Recent rumors regarding the die size for “Big Navi,” that is, Navi 21, have given traction to the notion that it will offer twice the performance of Navi 10-based GPUs (RX 5000-series cards are all Navi 10 derivatives). We’ll preface this by saying that’s likely false, as it’s currently nothing more than a baseless assertion. 

Navi 21 purportedly boasts a die size of 505mm2 versus the 251mm2 for Navi 10. Navi 21 will be built on a second-generation RDNA architecture, as well as a second-generation 7nm+ process node from TSMC. Specifically, it’ll be TSMC’s N7+ process. This is the same process node that will underpin Zen 3 and Ryzen 4000. Then there’s also support for GDDR6 memory, which is standard at this point. There’s been mention of AMD using the latest HBM2E memory for these cards, but it seems unlikely for consumer-grade cards. All of this is believable -- most of it we’ve already discussed at this point.   

The issue is that double die size doesn’t equal double the performance, or “twice as fast.” Increasing die size and transistor density doesn’t net linear gains in performance, so to speak. There’s other things within the silicon to consider, like Shaders, ROPs, TMUs, memory controller, etc. It’ll also depend on what changes AMD makes to RDNA 2 under the hood. This is a point Buildzoid brings up in his video, as well. We have little doubt that “Big Navi” exists, but take any performance claims with due skepticism.   

Source: https://hothardware.com/news/amd-radeon-rx-navi-21-gddr6-rdna-2

Buildzoid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNKybalWKVg

Zotac Finally Going to Offer Mini PCs with AMD CPUs

Some among you may remember when Zotac showed off its MA551 Mini-PC that boasted support for Ryzen’s Raven Ridge APUs. The MA551 was shown off at both CES 2018 and Computex 2018, but it never materialized in the US market. 

Two years later, and Zotac is again trotting out SKUs that will both support AMD’s Ryzen silicon and supposedly come to market. We’ll see. At any rate, Zotac’s new Zbox MA621 nano and Zbox CA621 nano are set to be Zotac’s first Ryzen-powered Mini PCs available in the US. Both SKUs will come with AMD’s embedded Ryzen 3 3200U processor that features Vega 3 graphics.

The biggest difference between the two SKUs is that the MA621 nano will be actively cooled, while the CA621 will be passively cooled. Otherwise, the systems appear to have similar specs, like 2x SODIMM slots, 1x 2.5” SSD bay, 1x M.2 2242 slot, 802.11ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.2. We should know more as CES 2020 gets underway proper. 

Source: https://www.zotac.com/us/news/imagine-tomorrow-zotac-ces-2020


Small Stories & Non-Stories

  • "AMD doing more 7nm volume than Apple" with TSMC (Apple is moving to 5nm, so no surprise)
  • NVIDIA Ampere “50% better at half the power” (probably only in one specific area of the GPU, not as a whole)
  • 3980X 48C will presumably exist
  • 5600 XT THICC II Pro Staging claims “newly enhanced open air design” (you're welcome) and “100% copper GPU & memory heat sink” (again)

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