Hardware news this week recaps PC World's channel disappearing and re-emerging in the ongoing YouTube platform saga, but also talks industry news: EVGA, ASUS, and Corsair have all had layoffs recently, AMD launched gaming chairs via Vertagear, Intel is bringing back HEDT CPUs with W790, and more.
Watch the episode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uunW0vRMk_Y
PC World Channel Disappears
Last week, we received an email from friend of the channel Gordon Mah Ung from PC World. The email stated that their YouTube channel had disappeared.
Those of you who used to read Maximum PC or other shelf-bound magazines about computers have likely read his articles and letters from the editor, and he’s been at PC World in more recent years.
PC World is part of a corporate media conglomerate -- they’re big -- and as part of some corporate clean-up, PC World’s IT went about consolidating old email addresses and aliases.
We’ve since attempted to connect Gordon with the same contacts who did nothing when we were demonetized, but at least it’s something.
AMD Gaming Chairs
BIG NEWS: AMD has partnered with VERTAGEAR on a branded version of VERTAGEAR’s PL4500 copy-paste gaming chair spam. AMD has had a troubled history with branded products that you sit on, but this one probably won’t try to kill you. At least, not in the same way.
The chair is available in a black and red colorway alongside black, white, and red. The chair features a 10-year warrantied steel frame, synthetic PUC leather, and 3D armrests (which are obviously way better than 2D, but not quite as good as the 4D armrests).
The chairs are available on the AMD Fan Store for $580. That price is higher than the $550 stock version straight from VERTAGEAR, and there is actually a sale right now bringing the regular unbranded version down to $400. That said, we prefer actual ergonomic office chairs as we covered in a previous video, and $580 gets you a very long way towards a great chair. We will probably do a round two video on chairs in the future, so look out for that.
Rumor: The Beast
Serial leaker kopite7kimi has struck once more, tweeting about a ridiculously high-powered Nvidia GPU he dubs “the beast.”
Kopite claims The Beast is on a die named AD102-450-A1 and features 18,176 CUDA cores, 48 gigabytes of 24 gigabits per second GDDR6X, and a total board power of 800W. But it’s possible that the insane power figure is actually a maximum spec for something like a testing board rather than a production model and is being misrepresented.
To us, this rumor reads as too over the top to be any kind of gaming card with 48GB of memory, and also too high power to be targeted at the data center. It could theoretically be a new Titan or 4090 Ti, but we are taking a lot of salt with this rumor. If this beast exists anywhere outside of PSU manufacturer’s nightmares, it will be sure to have an equally monstrous price.
Leak: Ryzen 7000 SKUs
This is a quick one. Videocardz has found mention of four upcoming AMD Ryzen 7000 CPUs in AMD’s own resource library website. The four parts mentioned are the 7600X, 7700X, 7900X, and 7950X.
There isn’t much left for us to say other than this leak unofficially confirms the future existence of the named CPUs. The names come as no surprise to us as they are just 5000 series names with a 7 at the front. We were unable to find these tags within the website ourselves, so AMD has cleaned the leak up by the time of writing.
Seagate On Track for 30TB HDDs in 2023
Seagate expects to ship 30-plus terabyte hard drives in the middle of 2023, as stated during its recent earnings call. Higher capacities are to follow, with 50 terabyte drives slated for some time in 2026. This schedule is on track with Seagate’s overall roadmap, which was shared previously during the company's March 2021 Virtual Analyst Event.
These higher capacities are being enabled through a technology called HAMR, or heat-assisted magnetic recording. Seagate has done significant research and development into HAMR since at least 2015, when it showed the first working prototypes. The first commercially available HAMR hard drives were launched in 2019. HAMR comes with significant technical challenges, such as being able to heat, write, and cool the area being written within less than one nanosecond.
Multiple technological changes beyond just HAMR are required to hit even higher capacity targets, with components like the reader and media on the platters planned to be updated as well. All of this change will drive up cost, but rising data density requirements show no signs of stopping in the data center.
Micron Ships First 232-Layer NAND Flash
Micron has announced volume production of its new 232-layer NAND flash, which is the highest number of layers we have yet seen for NAND. Micron boasts the new design has the highest areal density of any NAND on the market, and that it is the highest capacity and most energy efficient of any Micron NAND to date.
The new NAND also features a six-plane design, which is a first for the industry. Previous designs topped out at four planes. Each plane can read independently of the others, to the benefit of overall read speed. Micron claims its 232-layer NAND operates at 2.4 gigabytes per second, which is 50% faster than the company’s previous generation 172-layer offerings. For bandwidth, Micron claims 100% higher writes and over 75% higher reads per die over the previous generation.
The new flash also brings a new low-voltage memory interface called NV-LPDDR4, which offers per-bit transfer savings of over 30% compared to previous I/O interfaces. Micron claims this will benefit mobile and data center applications the most.
This 232-layer NAND is also the highest TLC density per square millimeter, providing 14.6 gigabits per square millimeter. That density results in 1 terabit dies, 16 of which can be packaged together to form a 2 terabyte package measuring 11.5 millimeter by 13.5 millimeter. That package size is 28% smaller than Micron’s previous generation.
Micron’s new flash is now in volume production at the company’s Singapore fabrication plant, and will initially ship through Crucial’s consumer SSD lines, with others to follow.
EVGA, Corsair, & Asus Layoffs
This one is just in the video.
EVGA Carbon Fiber E1 Frame Case
EVGA has launched a new carbon fiber frame PC case called the EVGA E1, and it starts at $1600. This case was originally teased in a video on the TEAMEVGA YouTube channel back in January.
The E1’s extremely light 2.76lb construction consists of an all carbon fiber outer frame with steel cable suspending what looks to be an aluminum motherboard frame and radiator or fan mounts. EVGA’s E1 also comes with a unique I/O panel featuring three “analog” gauges for GPU temperature, CPU temperature, and a third for a regular temperature probe that can be used to track air or water temperature. Amusingly, the third gauge has a range between -30* and 50* celsius.
The new case is available in three different SKUs. Starting from the lowest price at $1600, is the ”EVGA E1 KIT 2” that comes with the case and vertical graphics card kit. The middle option is $3700 and is called the ”EVGA E1 KIT 1” and comes with the case, vertical kit, RTX 3090 Ti K|NGP|N, and 1600W T2 PSU. The highest cost kit is a whopping $5000 and contains all of the previously mentioned items as well as a PowerLink 52u for the K|NGP|N card, EVGA Z690 DARK K|NGP|N motherboard, and a custom Pelican case for transport.
The E1 is clearly intended for showcase PCs and those with exceptionally deep pockets. The extreme cost is coming from the built-to-order nature, as EVGA says it takes 3 to 4 weeks for delivery, as well as the carbon fiber construction. There isn’t any real-world advantage to this use of carbon fiber in a PC case aside from perhaps the weight, but aluminum would be far more practical. Carbon fiber might make sense on a bike or a car, or generally things that move, but if your PC case is moving, it has other issues. Unless it’s the Lian Li train, then it’s a feature. The E1 is available now on EVGA’s own website if you’re tempted to spend as much on your case as a 3090 Ti on sale.
Intel is Killing Optane
Intel has revealed that it will cease its Optane business just seven years after the first announcement of the 3D XPoint memory that underpins it. This new announcement to shut down Optane came quietly during Intel’s Q2 of 2022 financial earnings report. While the report mentions Optane memory specifically, Dr. Ian Cutress confirmed via Twitter that Intel will be stopping operations of all divisions.
Intel posted its first quarterly loss since 2017, citing inflation, lower sales, and geopolitical issues as primary causes. Part of Intel’s strategy is to cut out wings of business that are not profitable or are not in line with its core business. As a previous example of this, Intel sold its SSD business to SK Hynix in 2020.
If we look backwards, this move isn’t very surprising. For starters, Intel previously stopped making Optane products for consumer PCs to focus on data center customers. More importantly, however, Intel’s fabrication partner for 3D XPoint, Micron, stopped production in 2021. Intel reportedly has several years worth of inventory on hand, which Intel marked down as a $559 million inventory impairment loss. This is a way for companies to adjust the book value of inventory in hand for tax purposes.
Looking to the future, Intel is pivoting to CXL, or compute express link. CXL is a technology that allows cache-coherent communication between compute devices and memory. Optane products are still used by certain enterprise customers and Intel has vowed to still support them for the time being.
Teamgroup M.2 SSD With Vapor Chamber
Teamgroup has announced a new M.2 SSD with a vapor chamber heatsink, which is an approach we haven’t yet seen on M.2 drives. The new SSD is called the N74V-M80 and is intended for industrial applications.
Teamgroup’s new SSD uses TLC NAND and comes in 128, 256, and 512GB capacities. The SSD utilizes a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface, which is a bit dated at this point for a new product. Teamgroup claims 3,445 MB/s reads and 2,520 MB/s writes sequentially.
Teamgroup also states that this heatsink design provided a 75% time savings in a file transfer test it performed at 85 degrees celsius ambient versus an SSD without a heatsink. That’s an extreme use case that would more align with a shop environment. Due to the industrial marketing, we aren’t likely to see this SSD in mainstream availability.
Retbleed Unpatched for 32-bit Linux
We previously reported on the Retbleed speculative execution vulnerability for Skylake and Zen 1 or 2 era CPUs, and we have a quick update regarding patches for Linux.
While mitigations for Retbleed have rolled out for 64-bit Linux kernels, 32-bit kernels remain unpatched and vulnerable if being run on the affected CPUs. However, there is valid reason for the choice to ignore 32-bit, in that users shouldn’t be running 32-bit kernels at all on the affected CPUs, which are fully capable of 64-bit function.
Linux kernel developers do not view this as a problem due to the rarity of the combination, and an Intel employee is quoted saying the following:
”Yeah, so far nobody cared to fix 32bit. If someone *realllllly* cares and wants to put the effort in I suppose I'll review the patches, but seriously, you shouldn't be running 32bit kernels on Skylake / Zen based systems, that's just silly.”
The bottom line is, if you can run a 64-bit kernel, you should be.
Intel HEDT W790 Chipset Confirmed
Intel has published a document titled “Intel® 600 Series Chipset Family Platform Controller Hub (PCH)” that contains mention of a W790 chipset for workstations. This is the first official confirmation of the existence of W790. Rumors suggest that this will be the replacement for X299 as a high-end desktop platform supporting Intel’s upcoming Sapphire Rapids CPUs.
Sapphire Rapids has had a number of leaks and rumors lately, including a Geekbench 5 result for a Xeon Platinum 8480+ CPU with 56 cores. It’s too early to extract much meaning out of results like that with so many variables unknown, but just for fun we compared it to an 18-core 10980XE in the database.
Since this new chipset has a W prefix instead of an X, it’s possible that Intel is moving away from the enthusiast market and committing to the true workstation niche entirely.
Radeon Raytracing Analyzer 1.0
AMD has launched a new tool called Radeon Raytracing Analyzer (RRA) as part of its Radeon Developer Tool Suite. This new tool is intended to be an aid to game developers and 3D artists transitioning from rasterization to raytracing.
RRA has a number of features designed to highlight where optimizations can be made to a scene to remove performance bottlenecks. The tool exposes technical details, like how much memory the acceleration structures are using, among many other things. One particularly interesting feature is the heatmap, which visually shows areas of high ray traversals, which may require attention by the developer.
RRA can show BVH memory residency, helping developers to determine their memory consumption and where savings can be had (like in triangle count or instances). The index view breakdown gives a funnel of instances and unique vs. total triangles to help visually understand inefficiencies.
RRA is free to download and use on Windows and Linux
Writing: Jeremy Clayton
Host, Additional Writing: Steve Burke
Video: Andrew Coleman
Video Assistant: Mike Gaglione