Hardware stub

HW News - AMD Ryzen C-Series CPUs, GDDR6X Thermals, Amazon Game Streaming

Posted on October 2, 2020

Even with Nvidia's RTX 30-series launches the past couple of weeks, it has still been busy on fronts outside of new GPUs. We’ve been exhaustively testing the various aspects of the RTX 3080 and 3090 and have been diving into enthusiast overclocking.

Outside of that, we’ve got plenty of hardware and industry news to cover, offering some additional reporting and analysis on Nvidia’s botched launches and Microsoft's titanic ZeniMax/Bethesda buyout. We also have some news regarding Nvidia’s use of Micron’s GDDR6X memory and why it opted to keep clock rates modest -- for now. 

We also have some information on AMD’s new Ryzen and Athlon 3000 C-series CPUs, Intel still shipping secret products to Huawei (with a license), Western Digital forming new business units internally, and the arrival of Amazon’s new Luna game streaming service. News article and video embed follow below, as usual.

01:30 | GN 1 Million Subs Limited Shirt

Update, expecting to sell through quantity within the next week.

03:33 | NVIDIA Allegedly Leaking Personal Information

A recent post to reddit has been escalated to the NVIDIA team. The post claims that other user data was being auto-filled into fields, including email information and partial credit card numbers, though not the full number. This information was corroborated by other users in the thread, who posted screenshots of email addresses allegedly from other users present in the page source. This could be an issue similar to the Fallout 76 or Steam account information leaks previously, where server cache or CDN cache plays a role. Recent changes to the NVIDIA store to cope with traffic may be an underlying factor contributing to this accidental leak of some email addresses and other personal information. It sounds as if only one account is being shown at a time, for what that’s worth, but it is still a security and potential GDPR concern. NVIDIA, at this point, has gone from a somewhat defensible limitation of inventory into a much less defensible position whereupon just about every aspect of launch has been botched, at this point. We still have it on good authority that this was in no way a “paper launch,” and search results support that traffic is higher than any previous GPU launch, but potential personal information leaks are a major ding against NVIDIA’s store reputation. The upside, perhaps, is that partners and retailers are now proving their repeated value in the market, and hopefully this means that NVIDIA will be incapable of any sort of long-term usurping of power from partners.

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/nvidia/comments/izqaq2/nvidia_store_is_leaking_personal_informations/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=iossmf

07:17 | GDDR6X Thermals for RTX 3000 Cards

With the launch of Nvidia’s RTX 30-series, we saw the first implementation of Micron’s GDDR6X memory. Currently, Micron produces GDDR6X SGRAM binned at both 19Gbps and 21Gbps, which led some to wonder why the RTX 3080 didn’t get the faster binned variant. Even the RTX 3090 VRAM configuration is only clocked at 19.5Gbps. Aside from future product segmentation reasons, it seems there may be some thermal concerns when the modules approach 20Gbps and beyond. 

Igor’s Lab conducted some tests on the PCB of the RTX 3080 FE to measure the temperature of the GDDR6X modules relative to the overall board temperature. Igor did this using some proprietary software made available only to engineers, and an Optris PI640. Igor coated the back of the board with a transparent varnish with an emissivity of 0.95. This coating is to protect the board from certain environmental conditions, such as high air humidity. Igor then ran Witcher 3 at 4K for 30 minutes, noting that the ambient room temperature was 22C.  

What Igor found was that the hottest GDDR6X module was operating at 104C. For perspective, GDDR5/5X/6 have a Tjunction of 100C, and a recommended operating threshold of 95C. GDDR6X is rated for 110C, but we found severe issues in our own testing with the FE GDDR6X thermals. 

“The hottest module on the IR image is located in the immediate vicinity of the voltage transformer and has a Tjunction inside of 104 °C. This results in a delta of approx. 20 degrees between chip and bottom of the board,” says Igor. 

Igor’s testing suggests that, as it stands currently, there isn’t enough of a margin between the Tjunction value and when the modules will start to throttle and suffer damage to raise GDDR6X frequencies beyond 20Gbps. Not yet, anyway. 

Thus far, the partner models we’ve tested are faring much better.

Source: https://www.igorslab.de/en/gddr6x-am-limit-ueber-100-grad-bei-der-geforce-rtx-3080-fe-im-chip-gemessen-2/

Source 2: GN thermal testing

11:34 | NVIDIA: Bots, Boxes, and Nuked Launches 

At this point, it’s well known that the RTX 30-series launch was something of a disaster -- and Sony’s PS5 pre-orders shared a similar fate, for those keeping score. Microsoft’s pre-orders for the Xbox Series X and Series S also immedley sold out. At this point, maybe we should just start taking pre-orders for pre-ordering. Of course, this could be announced by announcing an announcement. And Sony did all of these things.

Jokes aside, Nvidia has been put under intense scrutiny over the launch, with several questions and concerns in the wake of the RTX 3080 supply evaporating. It’s worth keeping mind that this isn’t entirely Nvidia’s fault, with the exemption of questionable marketing, claimed personal information leaks, and inadequate web servers. Nvidia has been in production with Samsung since August, so there was a reasonable amount of inventory -- it just didn’t last long. Most stores were immediately overwhelmed with traffic, owing in part to bot scripts flooding websites.

One of the new issues this week came from Newegg, which was found to be shipping RTX 3080s in bulk packaging (no retail packaging), and some customers were reporting damaged cards showing up. EVGA’s Jacob Freeman, now famous for calling in during our stream, tweeted about this on his account and noted that customers should contact Newegg or EVGA for any damage that occurs in transit from Newegg’s error.

Source: https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/geforce/news/rtx-3080-qa/?



14:18 | Microsoft: What The Bethesda Acquisition Means

The name of the game for the console wars has always been exclusive game deals. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintentdo have all historically sold their hardware at a loss, and then propped up profits with games exclusive to their respective consoles. And while this next generation of hardware will see the console wars spill out onto several new fronts, like game streaming and subscription services (see: Xcloud, Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Plus), exclusives will still be a driving factor in console addoption.

First party studios and titles has long been the chink in the armor for the Xbox, but Microsoft has been aggressively looking to remedy this with the recent acquisition spree it’s been on. This spree has seen Microsoft snatch up development talent such as Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment, among others. Now, and what’s no doubt been Microsoft’s ultimate play, we reported on the acquisition of ZeniMax Media and Bethesda Softworks for $7.5B. It’s hard to overstate how significant this is for Microsoft, as the company now has access to some of the most popular game IP in existence, including Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and Doom.

It’s hard to imagine Sony having much of a move to make after this. We suppose they could call up Take Two Interactive and see about buying Rockstar Games, but that’s probably a stretch. This has some interesting implications for the Xbox and PC. First of all, Microsoft will use Bethesda games to bolster its Xbox Game Pass service, which has already seen impressive growth. Microsoft confirmed that Bethesda games will be available on Xbox Game Pass from day one, and Doom Eternal will land on the service next month.

Microsoft’s games -- both on Game Pass and elsewhere -- already come to PC. Furthermore, Microsoft has stated it will honor Sony’s exclusivity agreements for Deathloop and GhostWire: Tokyo. However, there’s zero indication that future Bethesda games ( i.e, Starfield, The Elder Scrolls 6) will land on the PS5, and Microsoft likely didn’t spend $7.5B to share games with Sony. Microsoft maintains that the future of Bethesda games will be on Xbox and PC, and “other consoles on a case by case basis.” 

Capping off Microsoft's news this past week was another abysmal pre-order event. Similar to recent pre-orders, the Xbox Series X and S consoles were immediately sold out, and what’s more, many users erroneously ordered the Xbox One X. The entire process was riddled with crashed websites, bugged shopping carts, and what appeared to be zero inventory. Microsoft is of course promising more opportunities to pre-order, but at this point, we’d recommend you just don’t.     

Source: https://www.techspot.com/news/86819-microsoft-buy-zenimax-75-billion-gain-control-elder.html



18:18 | AMD Announces Ryzen and Athlon 3000 C-Series

While we’re still waiting on AMD to talk more about Zen 3 (which is coming in October), AMD is trotting-out some interesting smaller CPUs aimed at the growing Chromebook market. AMD is announcing its Ryzen and Athlon 3000 C-series, which will mark the first Ryzen branded CPU for Chromebooks. 

AMD’s 3000 C-series line up will comprise the Ryzen 7 3700C (4C/8T), Ryzen 5 3500C (4C/8T), Ryzen 3 3250C (2C/4T), Athlon Gold 3150C (2C/4T), and the Athlon Silver 3050C (2C/4T). All of these chips have a 15W TDP, with Radeon Vega graphics scaling up to 10 Vega CUs for the top-end Ryzen 7 3700C. 

The Athlon Gold 3150C and Silver 3050C are built on TSMC’s 14nm process node, and are based on Zen, while the Ryzen 3000 C-series parts are all Zen+ built on 12nm. AMD is working with Google and Chromebook partners such as Acer, ASUS, HP, and Lenovo to bring new Chromebooks systems with AMD 3000 C-series CPUs to market in Q4. 

Source: https://ir.amd.com/news-events/press-releases/detail/969/amd-launches-first-zen-based-chromebook-mobile

19:56 | Intel Still Selling to Huawei

Reports have surfaced this past week that indicate that Intel is still doing a certain amount of business with the blacklisted Huawei. Huawei has been blacklisted since May of 2019, and since then, the current administration has effectively moved to cut off China from American technology and IP altogether, requiring any American-based company to acquire a license before shipping to China. 

Intel stated that it had acquired a license to sell certain products to Huawei, but declined to confirm what products these may be. Interestingly, SK Hynix sought a similar license and was apparently denied. Intel has yet to comment on the matter, despite multiple publications reaching out.  

Source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-intel-huawei/intel-gets-u-s-licence-to-supply-some-products-to-huawei-idUSKCN26D0HV

20:53 | Western Digital Spins SSDs & HDDs Into Separate BUs

In an effort to become more agile to market conditions and accelerate product development and growth, Western Digital is dividing its HDD and SSD businesses into separate units, internally. It’s unlikely consumers will notice these changes on the surface, but it should allow WD to better address the industry's growing storage and data needs, ranging from IoT, edge devices, cloud infrastructure, and more.

WD stated in its press release that both the HDD and SSD units will be headed up by separate general managers, and should help align and diversify the company’s portfolio. While WD has yet to name a general manager for its newly minted HDD business unit, its flash business will see Robert Soderbery take control as executive vice president and general manager. Soderbrey's past experiences include stints at Cisco and Symantec/Veritas, as well as Rubrik, McKinsey, and Uplift. 

These internal shuffles come not long after WD anointed David Goeckeler as its new CEO. Goeckeler himself came over to WD from Cisco.  

Source: https://www.westerndigital.com/company/newsroom/press-releases/2020/2020-09-22-western-digital-hires-industry-veteran-robert-soderbery

22:15 | Amazon’s Luna Game Streaming Service

Amazon has finally taken the wraps of its anticipated game streaming service, now known as Luna. The service has been rumored for well over a year, suspected to have been known internally as Project Tempo.

With Luna, Amazon is throwing its weight behind cloud gaming, and will be competing against Microsoft's Xcloud and Google’s Stadia for the nascent game streaming market crown. While Amazon hasn’t made Luna widely available, the service will initially come to PC, Mac, Fire TV, iPhone, and iPad. Android will see availability some time after launch. Interestingly, Amazon is carving Luna up into channels, with the first two channels being Luna+ and a Ubisoft channel. Users who are interested can sign up for early access, with an introduction price of $5.99/month for the Luna+ channel. Luna+ will bundle games like Control 2, Resident Evil 7, and The Surge 2, among others.

Amazon’s Luna will come with an Amazon designed controller, which appears to be one of the more interesting controller designs, outside of Sony and Microsoft's, anyways.

“Luna Controller is Alexa-enabled and connects directly to the cloud to effortlessly control your game, featuring a multiple-antenna design that prioritizes un-interrupted wifi for lower latency gaming. In fact, our testing showed a reduction in roundtrip latency when playing Luna Controller with Cloud Direct vs. Luna Controller via Bluetooth, with reductions of between 17 to 30 milliseconds among PC, Fire TV, and Mac. Because the Luna Controller connects directly to cloud servers, players can easily switch between screens—such as Fire TV to mobile phone—without additional pairing or configuration changes,” Amazon said of the controller. 

The Luna controller will cost $49.99, but users can also use a Bluetooth enabled controller, or a keyboard and mouse. Also, Luna will offer custom integrations with Twitch, such as the ability to watch streams from within Luan and launch the games they’re watching. 

As you can imagine, Luna is powered by AWS -- specifically AWS EC2 G4 instances, as we understand it. These instances use Nvidia’s T4 Tensor accelerators and custom Intel Cascade Lake-SP Xeons. AWS EC2 G4 instances have been previously deployed for heavy machine learning inference and graphics intensive applications. We’ve reached out to Amazon to inquire about any possible tweaks or customizations to these servers that may be specific to Luna.     

With so many big players in cloud gaming now, it’s hard to imagine a future where game streaming doesn’t take off. However, just because Amazon, Microsoft, Google, et al. are ready, doesn’t mean that the internet infrastructure -- primarily in America -- is ready. We also don’t think consumers are quite ready for game streaming. Not yet, anyway.   

Source: https://press.aboutamazon.com/news-releases/news-release-details/introducing-luna-amazons-new-cloud-gaming-service-where-its-easy

26:32 | Microsoft Reveals Expansion Card Prices for Xbox

The prices for Microsoft’s proprietary storage expansion cards have been made available, and we’ve already seen some somewhat cringey takes on the matter. The 1TB expansion card, made by Seagate, will cost $220. Some non-tech savvy outlets have commented on the cost, comparing it to being more than a Switch Lite and more than half as much as the Xbox Series S. That’s an especially bad lens from which to view this.

The 1TB expansion card is based on the fastest storage interface available today (NVMe 4.0/PCIe Gen4), and its price isn’t far off from what comparable SSDs in M.2 form factors cost. Sabrent’s Rocket model, which has emerged as one of the most popular, is an NVMe 4.0/PCIe Gen4 M.2 SSD that costs right $200 for the 1TB configuration. Similarly, Corsair’s Force MP600 hovers between $190 and $200. 

Some more astute users have pointed out that the expansion cards for the new Xbox consoles look more akin to an SD card, and that my account for why there’s so much chest clutching in reaction to the price. As ever, there should also be more options in time. Early adoption is never cheap, but this could be much worse.   

Source: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/Seagate-Storage-Expansion-Card-for-Xbox-Series-X/940J83PK147R

Editorial: Eric Hamilton
Video: Keegan Gallick
Host: Steve Burke