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HW News - Intel i5-12400 & 12100, Intel B660, RX 6500 XT, & NVIDIA Sued by FTC

Posted on December 12, 2021

We're back with another hardware news episode. This week, as the year is winding-down, we're faced with a huge slew of rumor stories; that said, we've filtered through them to select for the most probable or for ones which we've independently confirmed. The reason for the surge in rumors now is because of the impending CES announcements in early January, although there's still some hard news to talk about this week. One of those items is the FTC's challenge of NVIDIA's acquisition of ARM, something we've expected for a while but which is finally progressing.

04:28 | A Wild Intel i3-12100 Appears

Hong Kong tech media site XFastest claims to have an Intel i3-12100 CPU which they show in CPU-Z, accompanied by an LGA1700 CPU with one of the classic “Intel Confidential”-branded integrated heat spreaders that you may have seen in some of our reviews. At this point, Intel hasn’t officially published specs, pricing, or other details for either the 12100 or the 12400, but if rumors are to be believed, 12400s have been circulating in the wild for at least a couple of weeks. 

XFastest puts the price of the 12100 at about $128 USD and the 12400 at about $192 USD, although again, Intel hasn’t released details on either of these CPUs, so we don’t know if these prices represent MSRP, 1000-unit pricing, or if they even represent a value we could actually see attached to these CPUs. That said, $128 & $192 are in the same sort of area as the previous gen. 10100 & 10400, which were around $120 & $180 at launch.

According to XFastest, the 12400 will be a 6-core CPU (presumably 12-thread, though it’s not explicitly stated) and the 12100 will have 4 cores and 8 threads. The 12100 allegedly won’t take advantage of the P-Core/E-core technology we’ve seen on Alder Lake CPUs thus far. The 12100 also has a 12MB Cache and a 60W TDP. XFastest says the highest single-core clock they saw was 4.3GHz, marking it expectedly slower than the existing ADL CPUs.

XFastest tested the 12100 against AMD’s most recent budget considerations: the AMD Ryzen 3 3300X and the R3 3100. You can check their benchmarks in the XFastest.com coverage and we won’t go through them here, but in nearly every test XFastest ran, the 12100 bested the AMD CPUs, with the 3300X following close behind or matching in many of them and beating the 12100 in a handful. The point we’d like to make from these results is how disappointing it is that AMD seems to have abandoned the budget CPU space entirely. It’s been over a year since the Ryzen 5000 CPUs launched and we have yet to see any sign of a CPU below the R5 5600X. 

Needless to say, we’re interested in the 12100 and 12400 and we’ll be testing them ourselves as soon as we get our hands on them. 

Source: https://hk.xfastest.com/135191/intel-core-i3-12100-cpu-test/

07:36 | Rumor: Intel B660, H670, & H610 Chipset Specs

Intel launched its genuinely impressive Alder Lake CPUs last month, marking a return to form in the DIY sector. One of the main problems with Alder Lake thus far has been the high barrier for entry, particularly in the motherboard pricing. At launch, the cheapest CPU was the $260 (1K-unit pricing) 12600KF. The best you can do on a motherboard is still upwards of $200. 

Luckily, the eagle-eyed @momomo_us has spotted new options on the horizon. In an unsourced Twitter upload (the watermark is his own), he lists specs for the upcoming H670, B660, & H610 motherboards. We won’t go through a breakdown of all the USB & PCIe lanes available on each chipset, you can see them on screen in the image, if you’re interested. 

The most significant takeaway is that all of the boards will support DDR5 & DDR4, enabled at a CPU-level by Alder Lake. Remember, but you won’t get both DDR5 and DDR4 on the same board -- each board will have one or the other. It does mean that there should be board options available for each kind of memory on the different chipsets. 

Like the 500-series boards, the H670 & B660 boards will support memory overclocking but not CPU overclocking. The H610 does not support either option and the currently available, higher-end, Z690 boards support both. No word yet on when H670, B660, & H610 will be available, but with CES (digital or otherwise) around the corner, it’s safe to assume we’ll have more information soon. 

These boards will be significant if they can move the entry price-point to span more of a range than just $180 and up.

Source: https://twitter.com/momomo_us/status/1467181907259670530

Secondary source: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/intel-alder-lake-h670-b660-h610-chipset-specifications-exposed

09:44 | US FTC Attempts to block Arm Acquisition

The United States Federal Trade Commission is suing to halt the $40 billion acquisition of Arm Ltd. by NVIDIA. This should come as a surprise to no one, least of all NVIDIA and Arm's owner Softbank. We reported that the deal had stalled as far back as January of this year as the FTC worked on building a case, with the EU intervening in October and agencies in China and the UK likely to follow.

In the official complaint, the FTC stated that "The Proposed Acquisition will substantially lessen competition in multiple markets because it will create a combined firm that has both the ability and the incentive to use its control of Arm to diminish competition by undermining Nvidia's rivals." It goes on to call Arm (as it exists currently) "the 'Switzerland' of the semiconductor industry" because of its status as a fabless company that licenses IP neutrally. The document also contains multiple redacted quotes from Arm employees and Nvidia insiders "highlighting the basic conflicts of interest associated with Nvidia buying Arm."

An evidentiary hearing is scheduled for August 9th assuming that the respondents (Nvidia, Softbank, and Arm) contest the complaint, which they will: NVIDIA has stated that "as we move into this next step in the FTC process, we will continue to work to demonstrate that this transaction will benefit the industry and promote competition." It's good to know that NVIDIA is ready and willing to drop $40 billion just to help everyone else out.





11:56 | Official RTX 2060 12GB Listed & More Rumored

We don’t know how many refreshes it takes for an old GPU to become interesting, but the RTX 2060 is giving the GT 730 a run for its money. The fabled 12GB RTX 2060 that literally one person has (probably) been asking for has stepped forward, spotted by momomo_us. Based on the names, the 2060 isn’t the only GPU getting refreshed with some extra memory -- 12GB 3080s & 16GB 3070s are mentioned as well. Amusingly, Gigabyte even goes so far as to brand the 12GB 3080 and 16GB 3070 as ‘Gaming’ despite the fact that the extra memory is going to do far more in mining than it will in gaming. The RX 6500 XT also appears on the list, so maybe we’ll finally get a mid-tier option for this generation of GPU along with the rumored RTX 3050.. 

Since momomo’s post, listings for the RTX 2060 12GB have appeared on Gigabyte, Zotac, and Gainwards websites -- confirming that it’s not just Russian hackers making the cards, as reported on last week.

Primary source: https://twitter.com/momomo_us/status/1468236891535327240

Store page sources: https://www.gigabyte.com/Graphics-Card/GV-N2060WF2OC-12GD#kf, https://www.zotac.com/us/product/graphics_card/zotac-gaming-geforce-rtx-2060-twin-fan-12gb, http://www.gainward.cn/Home/ProductDetail?id=292&isStop=0

13:35 | Despite Shortage, Highest GPU Sales Since 2018

Jon Peddie Research's latest AIB report shows a massive 25.7% increase in Q3 shipments year-over-year, reaching 12.7 million units and $13.7 billion. Obviously even that quantity of supply isn't keeping pace with demand, as a quick glance at Newegg proves. The public summary of the report makes no distinction between units sold to individual customers versus businesses and mining farms and is also unable to differentiate between bots or professional scalpers and consumers. 

37 million discrete graphics cards were shipped in the first three quarters of this year, on track to exceed last year's 42-million total.

Other interesting notes from the report include a 1% bounce-back for AMD's market share and some positive speculation about Intel's planned entrance to the AIB market in Q1 2022. This particular report doesn't factor in integrated graphics, just discrete cards--if IGPs are counted, Intel is already a major player in the GPU market.

Source: https://www.jonpeddie.com/press-releases/graphics-add-in-board-market-reached-13.7-billion-for-q321-showing-double-d

15:02 | Virus Steals Crypto from Windows Thieves

Users looking for an easy way to illegally activate Windows or Microsoft Office might be paying for those activation keys after all. Red Canary, a cybersecurity company, outlined how a fraudulent version of a key server program, KMSPico, was carrying a Cryptbot payload that was designed to steal credentials. 

KMSPico is a tool used to activate Windows and the Microsoft Office suite without actually purchasing the real thing. The name “KMS” comes from Windows Key Management Services which helps enterprises manage bulk licensing. Normally, a KMS server works with client PCs to validate licenses. KMSPico runs on the downloader’s system and acts like a KMS server so that Windows and MS Office can activate without a license.

Red Canary’s research showed that in infected systems, the Cryptbot malware could be traced back to the fraudulent version of the KMSPico installer. Cryptbot can lift information from a variety of crypto wallets (Atomic, Coinomi, Jaxx, Electron Cash, Electrum, Exodus, MultiBitHD) and web browsers (Opera, Chrome, Firefox, and others). Hardware wallets like Ledger were also named in the Red Canary writeup.

Source: https://redcanary.com/blog/kmspico-cryptbot/

16:39 | Intel DRM Bugs Mostly Fixed

Alder Lake was a big win for Intel overall, but as we experienced with our attempts to benchmark Total War: Three Kingdoms, not every game ran smoothly at launch. According to Intel, "Certain third-party gaming Digital Rights Management (DRM) software may incorrectly recognize 12th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors efficient-cores (E-cores) as another system." Intel studiously avoided naming the software in question, but it was everyone's favorite: Denuvo. According to a statement provided to PCGamer, the games in question were ones that had not implemented Denuvo's pre-(Alder Lake)-launch patches. That doesn't bode well for the future of games preservation--developers don't stick around to patch their games eternally.

Intel promptly published a list of 49 known broken games and has kept it updated since, along with offering the hackiest official workaround we've ever seen--a BIOS update that adds a "Legacy Game Compatibility Mode" so that pressing the scroll lock key "dynamically place[s] E-cores on standby" and makes the affected games playable. The list has now been reduced to just three games: Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, Madden 22, and the extremely German-sounding Fernbus Simulator, which "shows the daily life of a coach driver on the German Autobahn." If you've recently flashed BIOS or enabled Legacy Game Compatibility Mode, it's safe to turn it back off now. Unless you want to play Fernbus Simulator, which you probably do.

Source: https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000088261/processors/intel-core-processors.html





19:09 | Stop Grinch Bots Act

US Policymakers are re-introducing a previously failed bill to make online scalping more difficult. The Stop Grinch Bots Act was originally introduced in 2019. The reintroduction coincided with the beginning of this year’s holiday shopping season where among other things, MSRP graphics cards were nowhere to be found.

With the general public being more irritated than ever with scalping, the bill may actually stand a chance at passing. The idea behind the bill is to prohibit “bad actors” from using bots to circumvent security measures or access control systems on Internet websites or online services. 

Easier said than done.

If passed, it would make it illegal under the FTC Act to knowingly use bots to get around security for purchasing and further make it illegal to sell or offer to sell any product or service obtained in this manner.

It’ll be difficult to enforce. The last point of the bill allows the FTC and state Attorneys General to treat bot workarounds as “prohibited unfair or deceptive acts or practices” and take legal action against the scalpers.

We’re curious to hear what you all think about this one in the comments section below.






21:55 | Next Apple M1 Silicon Might Use Chiplets

We’ve seen AMD adopt the chiplet approach with Ryzen, and Intel used the chiplet approach with Foveros. NVIDIA has dabbled in chiplet research, and now Arm might have helped another one of its customers move the same direction. Apple's new M1 Max chips appear to have a section on the edge that may be an MCM or Multi Chip Module interconnect. 

None of this has been substantiated by Apple yet, but two- and four-die interconnects have been theorized. A design incorporating 4 dies would be a monster 40 CPU core and 128 GPU core processor. The current M1 Max processors are manufactured using TSMC’s 5nm process and contain 10 CPU cores and either 24 or 32 GPU cores. 

Memory addressability going from 64GB to 128GB has been proposed as well as the doubling of memory bandwidth, up to 800Gbps. The question of extra silicon dedicated to an I/O die has also been raised and solutions like AMD’s Infinity Fabric have been offered as possibilities. We’ll keep an eye on Apple’s continued progression of the M1 architecture.


[tweet w/source image, has been deleted] https://web.archive.org/web/20211202214137/https://twitter.com/techanalye1/status/1466522911917756416

Writers: Steve Burke, Patrick Stone, Patrick Lathan, Keegan Gallick
Video: Keegan Gallck, Andrew Coleman