Hardware stub

HW News - Intel Ray-Tracing Woes, EK's "Not A Sham" Water Blocks, Steam Deck Booming

Posted on July 30, 2022

This week in the news, we're talking about Intel's early ray tracing issues with Linux, rumors about the Raptor Lake 13th Gen CPUs and RTX 4090 GPUs, and news from EK -- it put gold on blocks, for some reason, and called them an "investment."


Additional topics include the Steam Deck's continual boom and rise, Windows 12's arrival, and more.

Intel Drivers Reduce Ray Tracing Performance to 1%

Phoronix reported that a new driver update for Intel’s Arc drivers resulted in a 100x increase to Vulkan ray-tracing performance. According to Phoronix and the driver update notes, the improvement is a result of memory mismanagement.

This was ultimately a programming issue, not a hardware issue, and it’s also a perfect example of the driver problems we covered in our review of the Arc A380. When Intel is at the point of making 100x multiple gains in performance because its drivers are currently in an unacceptable state, it becomes clearer why Intel was so hesitant to even launch the A380.

The company obviously has a QA deficit if it can’t catch basic issues like one coding error causing this type of impact -- and we have a lot we want to add to the driver discussion coming up in a video soon.

Before anyone goes there: This isn’t a “fine wine” situation. Improving the liquid from poison to wine just makes it drinkable, not inherently good.

This change won’t affect Windows performance, so nothing in our review changes from this update.

Source: https://www.phoronix.com/news/Intel-Vulkan-RT-100x-Improve

Rumor: RTX 4090 3DMark Performance

kopite7kimi is back again with another RTX 40 Series rumor regarding the 4090’s performance in 3DMark Time Spy Extreme. The tweet is extremely simple, just saying, “RTX 4090, TSE >19000.” In the replies, kopite confirms this is a graphics score rather than overall, and that the card will be using PCIe Gen 4.

If we take that graphics score at face value, it calculates to 84% higher performance than the average RTX 3090 in the Time Spy Extreme results database, which is a score of 10300. This is a slightly milder increase than the massive claims of earlier leaks which ranged between 2x and 2.5x. However, this is a much better jump than Turing to Ampere, which was 47% between the 2080 Ti - on TU-102 - and 3080 - on GA102.

We expect power consumption to be much higher on the 40 series versus the 30 series. As for literal cost in dollars, we don’t yet know what to expect given the current oversupply concerns and rumors of Nvidia pushing back the 40 series launch.

Source: https://twitter.com/kopite7kimi/status/1549045512212742144

Rumor: Raptor Lake Launch Date

ECSM_Official (Enthusiastic Citizen) has provided alleged announcement and launch dates for the upcoming Intel 13th Gen CPUs codenamed “Raptor Lake.” ECSM states September 28th as the date for Intel’s 2022 Innovation event where Z790 and the high-end K CPUs will be announced, with launch following on the week of October 17th. According to ECSM, the H760 and B760 chipsets and the non-K CPUs will be announced at CES 2023 on January 5th, with release following in the second half of January. This follows most of Intel’s prior playbook for CPU launches, with nearly identical timing ot the 8th and 9th generations.

ECSM also alleges that there will be no H710 chipset this time, with H610 continuing to be used instead. The post continues, stating that the first CPUs to be announced will be the i9-13900K and KF with 8 P-cores and 16 E-cores, the i7-13700K and KF with 8 P-cores and 8 E-cores, and the i5-13600K with 6 P-cores and 8 E-cores. For reference, this is a change over the i5-12600K and its 6 P-cores and 4 E-cores.

As for the Z790 chipset, the post alleges that it will have 20 PCIe Gen 4 lanes and 8 PCIe Gen 3 lanes. The CPUs will still have 16 PCIe Gen 5 lanes and 4 PCIe Gen 4 lanes, and the largest change is DDR5 support being upgraded from JEDEC 4800 to 5600.

If this and different rumors about Ryzen 7000 are true, that would put the launches roughly one month apart, with Ryzen coming first. Between all of the rumored CPU and GPU launches, this should be an interesting and busy Fall season.

Source: https://space.bilibili.com/4139209/dynamic?spm_id_from=444.42.0.0

Leak: Raptor Lake Geekbench Scores

Speaking of Raptor Lake, some Geekbench results for the 13600K and 13700K have been uncovered by harukaze and Benchleaks on Twitter. There are three total results between the two CPUs. Two of them are from the 13600K (one from an ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Extreme, and the other from an ASRock Z690 Steel Legend motherboard), and one is from the 13700K on the same ASRock board.

The alleged 13600K ASUS result comes in at 2012 single-core and 16054 multi-core, while the ASRock result reports 1980 single-core and 14425 multi-core. 

The leaked 13700K with two more P-cores results in 2090 single-core and 16542 multi-core scores. If we compare against the two alleged 13600K scores, that calculates to roughly a 4% to 6% single-core and 3% to 15% multi-core lead. It’s too early to tell which results are more accurate, given that we haven’t actually gotten to test these yet.

All results show as Valid on the Geekbench results page, unlike an earlier 13900K result that was making the rounds. The Raptor Lake leaks are beginning to come fast now that most Z690 motherboards have compatible BIOSes available.

Sources: https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/16142924




EK Launches Gold-Plated Blocks

EK’s recent press release has the snobbiest, most disconnected intro we’ve read in a while: 

“Gold is the quintessential symbol of status, power, immortality, and wealth, often reserved for royalty, so why not add some to your PC? We must not forget to mention that genuine gold was used for the plating of all these products, so it’s not a sham.”

Great. We weren’t wondering if it was a “sham” until reading that line, but that certainly inspires confidence -- thanks, EK, for projecting what the product is into its own marketing. Maybe we can do diamonds next, maybe put them into gold and make rings for the tubes.

The company continues with the multi-level marketing language, writing:

“Plus, everyone knows these are good times to invest in gold.”

It’s not much of an investment if it’s on top of a water block, so even as a joke, this seems obnoxious to say. The EK Quantum Velocity (squared) line will include gold-plated M.2 SSD heatsinks, CPU blocks, and pump covers. The price is as much of a scam as gold would allow: The cheapest part is an M.2 heatsink, priced at $37. The most expensive is the LGA1700 water block, priced at $210 -- you could buy another LGA1700 CPU for that price.

Source: https://www.ekwb.com/news/we-heard-its-a-good-time-to-invest-in-gold/

Leak: Potential Ryzen 7600X Spotted

Leaker TUM_APISAK has shared a result from the Basemark benchmark that shows scores from an AMD engineering sample CPU. The alleged Ryzen 7000 series CPU is shown with 4 cores running at 4.4 GHz on a Gigabyte X670E Aorus Master motherboard with 32GB of RAM and an Nvidia A4000 GPU. We were able to find three total instances of this system appearing in Basemark’s database, with minor variations in setup and benchmarks run.

As compared to an Intel i7-12700F result with the same A4000 GPU, the Vulkan test showed 12075 points for the AMD sample and 12817 points for the 12700F – a 6% lead for the 12700F. This doesn’t mean anything at all really, between it being an engineering sample and the totally unknown test conditions.

Regardless, these benchmark results leaking out should be an indicator that we are getting closer to a launch for AMD’s Ryzen 7000 series.

Source: https://powerboard.basemark.com/systems-compare/560387-560400-560401-554661

AIDA64 Adds Zen 4 and RTX 4090

This isn’t a leak, but an actual update.

FinalWire’s AIDA64 benchmarking software has launched version 6.75 with support for AMD Zen 4 CPUs and the Nvidia RTX 4090. The update also mentions enhanced support for AM5 motherboards as well as detailed chipset information for the memory controller found in Zen 4. AVX-512 and AVX2 optimized benchmarks will be available as AMD is retaining those instruction sets unlike Intel’s Alder Lake.

Software like AIDA64 adding support for upcoming hardware is another sign that extremely early samples are likely becoming available to select developers to make updates like this ahead of full launch.

Source: https://www.aida64.com/news/finalwire-aida64-v675-zen4-am5-smtp-tls

Over 4000 Steam Deck Titles

Valve’s Steam Deck now supports 4044 games with 1980 of those games being officially in Verified status at the time of writing. More games than this are likely playable, as validation efforts are ongoing. This is evidence of the Steam Deck’s continued popularity and success with gamers. A robust catalog of titles is essential, as anyone who bought a PS3 on launch can attest.

The Deck’s official and community support are also responsible for an increase in the attention on Linux gaming as a whole, spearheading a push for game support and compatibility like with Valve’s own Proton. We are happy to see this, as it’s an important step towards giving Microsoft serious competition in the desktop PC gaming space. It’s not just hardware monopolies that are bad for the consumer.

Source: https://www.gamingonlinux.com/2022/07/steam-deck-hits-over-4000-titles-marked-either-verified-or-playable/

Rumor: Windows 12 Coming 2024

Microsoft is changing the release cycle for Windows, according to an article by Windows Central. Microsoft will reportedly now launch major versions every three years, which will put the launch of Windows 12 (or whatever Microsoft decides to name it) some time in 2024.

For some history and perspective, Microsoft launched Windows 11 in 2021, following the 2015 Windows 10 initial launch. That’s a 6-year window. Windows 8 launched in 2012 though, closer to the new 3-year window. Windows 7 was a 2009 launch, again at a 3-year window. Windows Vista had a 2007 launch and was promptly rushed to Windows 7. Windows XP was a 2001 launch, with major updates through 2005. That marks Windows 10 and Windows XP as the outliers, with the plan for Windows 11 and 12 moving back to a more familiar window.

In addition to those major versions, Microsoft will also be pushing smaller updates more frequently than the current twice per year. These feature updates will come on an arbitrary schedule up to four times per year, scrapping the Half 1 and Half 2 update approach.

Windows 10 will reach EOL in 2025.

Source: https://www.windowscentral.com/software-apps/windows-11/microsoft-moves-to-new-windows-development-cycle-with-major-release-every-three-years-feature-drops-in-between

FCC Chair Pushes Minimum Internet Speeds

The Federal Communications Commission has published a press release in which the Chairperson proposes raising the minimum standard for broadband internet access in the United States to 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload. This is up from the 2015 standard of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up.

The FCC states:

“The needs of internet users long ago surpassed the FCC’s 25/3 speed metric, especially during a global health pandemic that moved so much of life online,”

“The 25/3 metric isn’t just behind the times, it’s a harmful one because it masks the extent to which low-income neighborhoods and rural communities are being left behind and left offline. That’s why we need to raise the standard for minimum broadband speeds now and while also aiming even higher for the future, because we need to set big goals if we want everyone everywhere to have a fair shot at 21st century success.”

In addition, a future goal of 1 Gbps download and 500 Mbps upload is being discussed, with no definite time set. The FCC states that it also wants to consider affordability and availability in addition to bandwidth.

The United States currently places 11th in average download speed, according to Ookla via Wikipedia, measuring at 192 Mbps. While that average isn’t bad, we can tell you that number is currently unrealistic in many places in the United States. 

Source: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-385322A1.pdf

NAND Flash Price Drop

TrendForce has put out a report in which it expects the price of NAND flash to drop by 8 to 13% in Q3 of 2022, possibly continuing into Q4. TrendForce cites low consumer demand and high inventory levels as the primary reasons for this change. They state that PC brands have significantly reduced their order volume for Q3 as they try to work through stock already acquired in the first half of the year.

The report states that specifically client SSD, eMMC, and UFS are all expected to fall in the 8% to 13% range. TrendForce expects enterprise SSD to fall slightly less at 5% to 10%. They expect the actual NAND flash wafers, however, to fall in price sharply by 15% to 20% in Q3. These numbers are all up from guidance originally published by TrendForce last month.

These oversupply issues will force price competition among manufacturers that should have an effect all the way to retailers. Regardless, later this year should be a better time to buy an SSD if you’re going to be in the market. We may continue to see situations like this for other components as well, as ramped supply in response to shortages meets declining demand.

Source: https://www.trendforce.com/presscenter/news/20220719-11310.html

Hard Drive Shipments Down 33%

Flash isn’t the only storage facing change. Hard drive shipments have declined by 33% year over year, says a new report by Storage Newsletter via Tom’s Hardware. The report cites cratering demand for HDDs as flash storage becomes cheaper and more dense over time.

The largest drop is in consumer electronics, desktops, and laptops. This is especially true for the 2.5” form factor, with a drop of 40% quarter over quarter. These 2.5” consumer drives usually see use in laptops, which continue to move away from the use of mechanical hard drives entirely.

The only market segment that did not see a substantial drop in demand is in the enterprise, where data storage requirements still require cheap, dense storage en masse.

As a quick aside to those still interested in high capacity HDDs, Western Digital is now shipping 22TB models in their Gold, Red Pro, and Purple Pro lines.

Source: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/hdd-shipments-plummet-yoy

Low-Profile Silverstone M.2 Adapter

Silverstone has launched a new dual M.2 adapter card, keeping up their proud tradition of niche hardware. It’s called the ECM28 and can hold an M.2 SSD on either side of itself. It installs into a PCIe Gen4 x4 slot, providing connectivity for one NVMe M.2 SSD. The second slot only supports SATA M.2 SSDs and is connected via a SATA port on the end of the device.

The ECM28 measures only 32mm in total height, meaning it can fit into the smallest of cases and 1U applications, as shown in Silverstone’s promotional images. This could be used in situations where you are either out of M.2 slots or you prefer taking advantage of your PCIe slots instead. Though if that is the case, there are other options which give you more M.2 slots, and all NVMe at that.

One caveat for use of the ECM28 is that it doesn’t work on platforms older than Intel’s Z97 and Windows 8. There’s no official word on if the ECM28 is compatible with Silverstone’s ECS07 M.2 SATA controller we mentioned last week, but that would be pretty entertaining.

Source: https://www.silverstonetek.com/en/product/info/expansion-cards/ECM28/

Writing: Jeremy Clayton
Host, Writing: Steve Burke
Video Editing: Mike Gaglione, Andrew Coleman