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HW News - Best Buy Slimy Tactics, AMD RDNA3 GPUs, Intel i9-13900K 32-Thread CPU

Posted on February 24, 2022

Best Buy didn’t want Newegg hogging all the limelight and decided to make some shady decisions of its own by putting new GPUs behind a paywall. There's plenty of other news from the last week too, like rumors of Intel's Raptor Lake i9-13900K CPUs, Cooler Master's new Sneaker X case, the death of the NVIDIA-Arm deal, and plenty more.

Show notes and video below:

01:19 | Newegg Recap

We'll leave this one to just the video.

05:52 | AMD’s Navi 3x GPUs May Be Non-Monolithic

It seems that an AMD Infinity Data Fabric Silicon Design Engineer has done a bit of oversharing on Linkedin. As spotted by Twitter user @blueisviolet, and subsequently picked up by the press, the engineer had a rather impressive laundry list of products – many formally unannounced – attached to their Linkedin profile. While the Linkedin profile has since been amended, there have already been several screenshots circulating online. 

Among the products listed on the profile, there’s a notable mention of AMD’s Navi 3x GPUs, where the engineer’s current listed projects include Navi 31 (5nm, 6nm), Navi 32 (5nm, 6nm), and Navi 3 (6nm). Additionally, the profile listed an announced HPC accelerator, the MI300 (6nm). Reading between the lines a bit, we can extrapolate that Navi 31 and Navi 32 are likely to be of MCM designs, making use of at least two different manufacturing processes (the 5nm and 6nm nodes listed, we presume). 

AMD has long been working towards MCM (chiplet) designs with its GPUs, so this wouldn’t be an altogether shocking development. AMD has had tremendous success with its non-monolithic CPUs (Ryzen, Threadripper, Epyc), and the industry at large has been slowly lurching towards MCM designs, including Nvidia and Intel. With AMD, Navi 31 has been rumored for some time to be AMD’s first MCM design aimed at consumers, and late last year, there were rumblings that AMD had successfully taped out its design. 

AMD has already confirmed that RDNA 3 GPUs would be coming in 2022, and Navi 3x GPUs should land in the form of the RX 7000 series if we’re proffering guesses. 

Source: https://twitter.com/blueisviolet/status/1489589038365372417


08:58 | Cooler Master Kicks Off 30th Anniversary

Cooler Master decided to celebrate their 30th anniversary in style with some new shoes. You won’t find them in Foot Locker and from the pictures it looks like they only come in one size: SFF. That’s right, Cooler Master is making a case shaped like a sneaker, finally tech YouTube can crossover with sneakerhead YT. The design comes from case modder JMDF, who submitted it in CM’s 2020 Case Mod World Series. 

From the images, we can see the Sneaker X case is in white and either pink or red. The design is largely open air, with the shoe elements more for show than actually closing off. The design also features a pair of shock absorbers, a feature our actual shoes could use if/when tradeshows start again.

Cooler Master also had a more practical, sleek SFF case called the Mini X. At this point there aren’t specs or prices for either of these products and from the renders there’s not much we can say about the Mini X other than it looks a bit more closed off than Lian Li’s A4-SFX from earlier in this piece. Both the Mini X and Sneaker case will be available for preorder later this year, but as we said in the Lian Li story, we don’t anticipate reviewing these cases either. We may try on the Sneaker case though for fun.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2022/2/15/22934685/cooler-master-sneaker-x-jmdf-pc-case-mini-x-sff 

10:50 | The Nvidia-Arm Deal Is Officially Dead

After nearly a year-and-a-half, Nvidia is officially abandoning its plan to acquire Arm. Nvidia and Arm owner SoftBank emailed the press early this week to announce plans to immediately terminate Nvidia’s acquisition of Arm. The reason for the termination, of course, stemming from the staunch opposition coming from global regulators and the belief that the deal will not meet with regulatory approval in the end.

Nvidia’s proposed $40B purchase of Arm – which was likely doomed from the onset – has been on shaky ground since it was announced way back in September of 2020. At the time of the announcement, Nvidia and Softbank outlined an 18-month timeline – of which is less than a month away at this point – to get the deal pushed through, indicating that the two companies did have some understanding of the scope required to appease law makers. However, government regulators have remained apprehensive throughout the entire process. 

The UK and the European Union have had an ongoing investigation into the deal for months, and have even cited national security concerns. Meanwhile, the US FTC filed a lawsuit to flat out block the deal from going through. What’s more, Nvidia and Softbank never even got started in China, where the purchase was expected to face an even colder reception. China has historically been reluctant to rubber stamp these kinds of deals, for example: China killed Qualcomm’s $44B bid for NXP Semiconductor.

In place of an Nvidia takeover, SoftBank will now begin preparations to take Arm public with an IPO, and according to SoftBank, the company is planning to have the IPO ready by the end of the company’s next fiscal year, which would be March 2023. Nvidia, for its part, will retain its 20-year Arm license and will have to part ways with the $1.25B prepayment it made to SoftBank for the purchase of Arm. As stipulated in the purchase agreement between Nvidia and SoftBank, the $1.25B prepayment would serve as a contractual payment to SoftBank should the purchase fall through.

Finally, upon the termination of the deal, there are also some rather abrupt leadership changes within Arm, as longtime Arm CEO Simon Segars is stepping down immediately. The reason for this leadership change wasn’t given, but the timing likely isn’t a coincidence.

Source: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220207006011/en/NVIDIA-and-SoftBank-Group-Announce-Termination-of-NVIDIA%E2%80%99s-Acquisition-of-Arm-Limited

13:11 | Leak Shows Raptor Lake 8P+16E Core Config. 

A new Intel part – presumably Intel’s i9-13900K from Intel’s upcoming Raptor Lake – has surfaced in the Ashes of The Singularity benchmark, as spotted by @BenchLeaks. The part shows up as a "Genuine Intel(R) 0000" part with 32 logical cores; though, the 32 logical cores are misleading. The Ashes of The Singularity benchmark has not been updated to reflect the core topology of Alder Lake, and in turn, Raptor Lake. The benchmark reads 32 threads as logical cores, which might also explain the paltry score of 13,400 points, just 100 points above the 13,300 score achieved by the i9-12900K. 

As ever, this is also going to be early engineering silicon, so there’s much to it that isn’t final. Furthermore, Ashes historically doesn’t scale well beyond more than a few cores/threads. The benchmark results also seem to confirm earlier rumors that the i9-13900K would utilize an 8P + 16E core configuration, whereby the 8 P cores offer hyperthreading, hence the total 32 thread count.

Intel’s Raptor Lake is set for a 2022 launch window and will look to compete with AMD’s Zen 4 CPUs. So, we won’t have to wait long to see exactly what Raptor Lake is all about.     

Source: https://twitter.com/BenchLeaks/status/1492034395229855747


15:10 | Best Buy Gates New GPUs Behind $200 Paywall 

Best Buy saw what happened to Newegg and decided that it wanted some of that, so it’s doubling down on putting hard-to-get products behind its $200 Totaltech annual subscription. We’ve already seen some of this, as Best Buy has let its Totaltech and My Best Buy members have first dibs on Xbox Series X|S and PS5 consoles. Most recently, however, Best Buy has gated an entire batch of RX 30-series cards behind the Totaltech program, deeming it an exclusive event

All of this was spotted by Twitter user @CameronRitz, who routinely monitors re-stocks for various retailers and has paid special attention to elusive items, such as the latest GPUs and consoles. Best Buy’s most recent re-stock included the entire range of Nvidia’s RTX 30-series cards, from the humble RTX 3060 Ti up to the RTX 3080. According to Tom’s Hardware, the restock only lasted for about four hours, even with it sitting behind a Totaltech subscription paywall.

Best Buy’s tactics here aren’t a surprise, given how many retailers are taking advantage of the scarcity of highly sought-after electronics. Newegg already uses its arbitrary and laughable Newegg Shuffles to dump useless stock on customers trying to buy graphics cards.

Best Buy will almost certainly frame this move as creating value for its program members, and that may be half true, but Best Buy also knows that a whole lot of people who are otherwise not interested in Totaltech are likely to pony up $200 just for a mere CHANCE at a GPU or console – that means Best Buy can collect a free $200 on top of selling a graphics card or console that no one is guaranteed to get. 

Source: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/best-buy-totaltech-geforce-rtx


18:48 | Lian Li Collaborates on New SFF Case Design

We don’t review small form factor cases and we don’t often cover them, but Lian Li’s upcoming case has piqued our interest. Lian Li worked with DAN Cases, a boutique case manufacturer Lian Li has OEM’d for in the past (seen in our factory tours). DAN Cases don’t offer many designs, in fact they only offer two, but they specialize in sleek, practical SFF cases. For the A4-SFX DAN Cases is working with Lian Li to bring their designs to a wider audience at a lower price. The case will have two SKUs: a $120 variant with a PCIe Gen 3.0 riser cable or $155 for the PCIe Gen 4.0 version. 

What’s impressive about the A4-SFX is that it claims support for a triple-slot GPU & a full 240mm CLC all inside a box that’s 5.5 x 9.6 x 12.8 inches large. Lian Li’s video shows the case with a Founder’s Edition RTX 30-series card & strangely considering that Lian Li makes a perfectly good CLC, a 240mm EK AIO. As is always the case with these two components in particular, tolerances will differ significantly from one manufacturer to the next, so if you’re interested in this double check the measurements for your components carefully (or any case, clearance can always be a concern, as we’ve demonstrated over years of case testing).

For some perspective on this little box, it’s just about 25 cubic inches larger than the Lian Li TU100 ‘‘lunchbox’ case that Patrick has used internally for capture systems, seen in our LDAT coverage. That case was listed at 6.3" x 10.8" x 9.5". 

We still don’t have plans to expand our case reviews to cover SFF cases, and the A4-SFX is no exception, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Source: https://www.pcworld.com/article/613534/lian-li-teams-up-with-dan-for-a-teeny-tiny-affordable-itx-case.html 

20:46 | Valve Makes CAD Files Steam Deck Open Source

As a fun addition to the Steam Deck, Valve made CAD files for the shell open source. This is a pretty interesting development for the handheld – it opens up the devices to be modded by those so inclined. It will also make it easier for companies that make accessories, which has the knock-on bonus for consumers to be confident that aftermarket accessories will fit their devices. Valve also points out that it’s a bonus for “folks who just want to 3D print a Steam Deck to see how it feels”, we’re not sure how big that audience is, but it’s a neat idea anyway. 

This isn’t the first time Valve has done something like this, they did it previously with the Steam Controller, which was such a massive success that Valve had to put them on sale for $5 to get rid of them. Unlike the Steam Controller though, we were very impressed with the build quality of the Steam Deck when we took it apart in our teardown, and we’re interested to see what people come up with with their 3D printers.

In another post, Valve also announced that iFixit will be an authorized seller of replacement parts. iFixit posted their own teardown of the Steam Deck along with some x-rays of the device.

Source: https://steamcommunity.com/games/1675180/announcements/detail/3106923225208810471 


22:26 | UK Seizes NFTs in Tax Fraud Investigation

We love ending HW News with a Cyberpunk-esque story – and today we have a good one featuring NFTs. HMRC – Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, the UK’s equivalent to the IRS – seized three NFTs and arrested three people in the investigation of an attempt to defraud the government of 1.4 million pounds – that would be just under $1.9 million. 

The description of the alleged crime by HMRC authorities sounds like it could’ve been a cheap William Gibson-wannabe novel a decade ago. According to HMRC the suspects used “sophisticated methods” to cover their digital trail, including: “false and stolen identities, false addresses, pre-paid unregistered mobile phones, VPNs, & false invoices.” We’re pretty sure Matt Damon or Tom Cruise did something similar in one of the Bourne or Mission Impossible films. HMRC also alleges an impressive 250 fake companies were created in the attempted tax fraud. 

The seized assets include three NFTs and about £5,000 in unspecified cryptocurrency. HMRC was also quick to point out that this should serve as warning to anyone trying to use online assets to commit fraud in the future. 

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-60369879

Writing: Eric Hamilton, Keegan Gallick
Host: Steve Burke
Video: Keegan Gallick