Hardware stub

HW News - 5.3GHz Intel 10-Core OC, Liquid Metal on Laptops, Samsung 3nm Delay

Posted on April 12, 2020

Hardware news returns with a lot to talk about, including our newest charity auction of a unique, rare item: A KINGPIN 2080 Ti PCB (no parts on it -- just the board!) has been listed to benefit Cat Angels Pet Adoptions, a no-kill shelter we work with locally. You can only get these if you visit KINGPIN's lab, so they're special items that we reserve for charity events. This is the second of two we've listed, with the first benefitting wildlife following Australian bushfires. In hardware news proper, we're talking about Intel Z490 10-core CPU overclocking expectations (not stock), ASUS finding a way to automate application of Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut liquid metal, Samsung 3nm process delays, and more.

KINGPIN Charity PCB for Cat Angels

There’s been a lot of bad news lately, so we wanted to offer some good news at the top of the show. We’re doing another charity sale of a KINGPIN limited PCB. A couple months ago, we said that we had three autographed KINGPIN PCBs that we’d be listing for various charity auctions throughout the year. The first one went toward Australian bushfire relief for affected animals with Adelaide Koala & Wildlife Hospital, raising over $2500 for the PCB. Before that, we sold a GN modmat signed by Linus and others, raising over $3000 for Wildlife Rescue South Coast. Both of these items sold for a lot of money, so we wanted to do one that’s more accessible to everyone. I’ll explain how in a moment.

We’re listing another KINGPIN PCB that will benefit Cat Angels Cat Adoptions, the group that we supported last year with a PC build for use in their adoptions process. A local mountain biker we know found an abandoned kitten off of a major road near her house, and GN stepped in to get it a safe home through Cat Angels, where he’s already found a foster home. In order to help Cat Angels take on another kitten at this trying time economically, GN offered to pay for his necessary shots and early food needs. Any additional funding will go toward the rest of the shelter’s food, veterinary, and rent needs. The operation is entirely volunteer-driven and all funds will go toward the cause. We’re going to sell one of these limited KINGPIN PCBs to do so. The kitten’s name is Ebenezer, named after the road he was abandoned on, and he’s doing very well; for Ebenezer, we’re listing the KINGPIN PCB signed by KINGPIN, an EVGA X299 DARK motherboard, and a GN Medium Modmat signed by the team.

You can find the charity auction here (100% of the sale goes toward the charity): https://www.ebay.com/itm/303538803941

Intel Z490 10-Core Frequency Expectations for Overclocking

Last week, we broke news about the silicon packaging for the Intel Z490-ready 10-core CPU. We confirmed all of the previous information in-person and know that the silicon will be lower to the substrate, the IHS will be lower to the silicon, and the entire package will be more thermally-focused than previously. You can check last week’s news for information on that, both in written and video format.

For this week’s information on the 10-core, we’ve also learned that some of the engineering sample CPUs are hitting about 5.2GHz at 1.3V for the good chips. Our understanding presently is that most early samples can do 5.2GHz or 5.3GHz, but this may be better silicon than average. Either way, it sounds like another bump in frequency for this generation, despite additional cores, so Intel will still be a strong contender for the gaming crown.

AMD’s StoreMI Technology Goes EOL

In quiet fashion, AMD has decided to move away from its StoreMI software that was launched in 2018. In a brief Product Change Advisory (PCA) -- which was actually published last month, but has just now caught the attention of press -- AMD signaled that installations, downloads, and support would cease as of March 31, 2020.

In the interim, AMD will be preparing a replacement, due sometime in the second quarter. The PCA notes that AMD is allocating internal resources for the replacement, suggesting that whatever form the replacement takes, it will be developed under AMD’s roof. 

StoreMI was born out of a partnership with AMD and Enmotus, the latter of which having its own hybrid drive software, FuzeDrive. In fact, AMD still recommends FuzeDrive in the absence of StoreMI per the PCA. Also, end users who have downloaded StoreMI prior to March 31 should expect the software to continue to work, albeit it will no longer be supported.       

Source: https://www.amd.com/system/files/documents/storemi-product-change-advisory.pdf

Confirmed: GDDR6 Comes To GTX 1650 GPUs

In the interest of following up to a rumor we mentioned last week, it appears GDDR6 is indeed coming to the GTX 1650. 

Nvidia has updated its site to spec out both the GDDR5 (G5) and GDDR6 (G6) versions of the card. Additionally, Nvidia’s partners, such EVGA, have begun to trot out their own designs with the newer memory. It seems for the time being, that both GDDR5 and GDDR6 parts will exist. Nvidia did say it was transitioning the product to GDDR6, because the “industry was running out of GDDR5.” 

Interestingly, Nvidia has dialed back clock speeds a bit for G6 cards. Whereas the original G5 cards sported a 1485/1665MHz base/boost clock, the new G6 cards come with a 1410/1590MHz base/boost clock. There’s probably a few reasons for this. 

One, the newer GDDR6 is a mighty upgrade over GDDR5. The new GDDR6 runs at 12 Gbps, compared to 8 Gbps for GDDR5. Also, GDDR6 comes with a significant bandwidth increase, to the tune of 192 GB/sec compared to 128 GB/sec for GDDR5. Now, with both the GTX 1650 Super and GTX 1650 having a 4GB frame buffer with GDDR6, Nvidia presumably had to do something to segment the cards in the stack. 

Additionally, even though GDDR6 is intended to be more energy efficient than GDDR5, the higher speed and higher bandwidth doesn’t come for free when the card is limited to a 75W TDP. The GTX 1650 has to draw all its power through a PCIe slot, as it doesn’t have any auxiliary power connections. We’d assume dialing the clocks back a bit also helps keep the card within its power envelope. Of course, that’s for Nvidia’s reference/founder’s cards, and AIB partners are free to forgo the 75W board limit with factory overclocks by adding 6-pin power connectors, which is what EVGA has done to get a boost of 1710 MHz on its GTX 1650 SC ULTRA GDDR6 GAMING model.

At time of writing, at least one other partner, Gigabyte, has announced a GDDR6 model. We can expect to see more in the coming days and weeks.         

Source: https://www.evga.com/products/product.aspx?pn=04G-P4-1257-KR


Samsung’s 3nm May Not Enter Volume Production Until 2022

Among the industries caught in the cross hairs of the current pandemic are foundries. Both TSMC and Samsung have had their ups and downs, and it seems the latest casualty may be Samsung’s 3nm node.

According to Digitimes, Samsung’s 3nm node, which was scheduled to enter volume production in 2021, is likely going to be delayed until 2022. Specifically, it seems Samsung is having difficulties getting the necessary equipment installed due to the pandemic playing out across the globe. 

Earlier this year, Samsung showed off a 3nm prototype based on GAAFET (gate-all-around field-effect transistors) with the intent of entering volume production in 2021. With the delay, it seems Samsung will be on the same timetable as TSMC, who’s also looking to enter volume production with its own 3nm process at some point in 2022.    

Source: https://www.digitimes.com/news/a20200406VL201.html

ASUS Is Building Laptops With Liquid Metal TIM

ASUS announced via its ROG blog earlier this week that it intends to bring liquid metal to the masses, and while the article isn’t without the on-brand ROG machismo and flexing, in this case, that enviable ROG certified badge may finally have some merit.

Technically, ASUS introduced liquid metal TIM with its ROG Mothership, which also featured ASUS’ spin on a new form factor for a desktop replacement. According to ASUS, the ROG Mothership allowed the company to implement an early, less refined version of the process it’s using now.

GN is well acquainted with liquid metal TIM and delidding, and many of our readers are as well. It requires special consideration and careful application, but can net a significant thermal improvement. Without careful application done by hand, you risk damaging surface mounted circuitry and capacitors that flank the die. ASUS has been working on an automated process to combat this for over a year, according to its article. 

ASUS has implemented custom machinery and a proprietary process that it claims is capable of applying liquid metal TIM at a scale consistent with mass production. ASUS’ process seems to be made up of two steps. The first step involves a mechanical arm brushing the liquid metal on the die initially, with additional injections of compound to get the amount just right in the second step. 

During the first step, the mechanical arm makes exactly 17 passes across the CPU die, with each pass being slightly different than the last, which ASUS claims helps avoid accumulation of TIM around the edges of the CPU and optimize coverage. Also, ASUS has developed a stainless steel shim that the CPU die sits inside to help control accumulation around the edges. ASUS states that an earlier version of this shim sat on the motherboard, but a newer version sits directly on the CPU package and can be reused for laptops using the same generation of chips.    

For the second stage, another mechanical arm affixed with a stainless steel pump and syringe (stainless steel to avoid reacting with the TIM) applies more compound at two points on the die. According to ASUS, the surface tension of the first coat helps spread the rest without any further brushing. At this stage, ASUS also employs a stainless steel “sponge” around the die to help deal with the low viscosity and fluidity of liquid metal. 

This whole process works with Intel chips, specifically because the area adjacent to the die is free of capacitors. ASUS says it’s working on insulating techniques for other chips that have more challenging CPU package real estate (AMD), but that these methods aren’t quite ready yet. 

ASUS also outed that it’s using Conductonaut from Thermal Grizzly, but did not partner with the company in an effort to keep the project a secret. ROG laptops from ASUS that use liquid metal TIM and 10th gen Intel chips will be available at some point in the second quarter this year.     

Source: https://rog.asus.com/articles/technologies/patented-process-brings-exotic-liquid-metal-thermal-compound-to-new-rog-gaming-laptops/

Kaby Lake Refresh Chips Are Almost Gone

It just wouldn’t be HW News if we weren’t sifting through Intel’s QDMS for relevant PCNs. To that end, Intel’s i5-8250U, i5-8350U, i7-8550U, and i7-8650U are set to begin EOL. Technically, this leaves two Kaby Lake-R chips available, the Pentium Gold 4417U and the Celeron 3867U. 

Kaby Lake-R was a mess, to say the least. It included a smattering of refreshed Kaby Lake-U (2016) chips, launched and re-branded as 8th-generation chips in August of 2017. Intel lumped in the Pentium Gold 4417U and Celeron 3867U in 2019, further complicating the line-up. Kaby Lake-R did feature a couple of notable firsts from Intel, however. They were the first U-series chips from Intel to move to four cores and 8 threads. The chips also retained the same 15W power envelope.

The i5-8250U and i7-8550U entered EOL on April 6, with final orders being taken until July 24, 2020. Final shipments will go out on January 22, 2021. As for the i7-8650U and i5-8350U, orders are being taken until October 23, 2020, and final orders will ship April 9, 2021. 

Source: Intel PCN #117511 - 00, 117533 - 00 -- https://qdms.intel.com/Portal/SearchPCNDataBase.aspx

Maingear Is Building Emergency Ventilators 

Boutique PC builder Maingear has announced that it’s retooling some of its lines to produce emergency pulmonary ventilators, which the company has named the Maingear LIV. It seems that at least initially, Maingear will target its neighboring New York hospitals. However, Maingear has stated that it will scale up production to ship internationally if need be.   

The Maingear LIV uses a repurposed Silverstone FT03-MINI case that features “redundant power circuits, multiple safety features, and a unique coupling device which contains and drains exhaled aerosolized virus from the patient while allowing routine maintenance under severe conditions.”

While it doesn’t seem Maingear will donate the ventilators, it does state that the machines can be produced at scale for around 25% of the cost compared to traditional ventilators. Importantly, Maingear iterated (via Tom’s Hardware) that these ventilators are not intended to replace traditional ventilators, but rather be used as emergency devices, presumably in field hospitals.

“Medical professionals are overworked, they’re getting sick, hospitals are struggling,” said Maingear CEO Wallace Santos to Tom’s Hardware. “We wanted to make this so almost anyone in the field could operate it with minimal training...they’re setting up field hospitals in stadiums; portability is an absolute must! These will hook up to any oxygen tank and you’re good to go.”

Maingear also told Tom’s Hardware that it wasn’t sure how production of the Maingear LIV would affect its existing PC product catalog. “We don’t have specifics on how this would impact our PC production, but given the current situation, we are willing to do whatever it takes to help during this pandemic.” said Santos.  

Source: https://maingear.com/press-release-maingear-announces-the-maingear-liv-emergency-pulmonary-ventilator/



EVGA Has More KO Cards, But...

EVGA has announced its 2070 Super KO and 2080 Super KO. If you recall, the last KO card by EVGA was the RTX 2060 KO, which accidentally had significantly higher performance in production applications than the usual RTX 2060, upwards of 50%, in some instances. We reached-out to ask whether the RTX 2070 KO or 2080 KO would be similar, but the answer is “no,” they’re the same GPU as now. These cards are down-cost versions of existing boards and will be sold for cheaper, at $500 for the 2070 Super KO. They’re also moving to slimmer 2-slot designs.

Source: https://www.evga.com/products/product.aspx?pn=08G-P4-2072-KR

Editorial: Eric Hamilton
Host, Additional Reporting: Steve Burke
Video: Josh Svoboda, Keegan Gallick