Friday, October 11th 2019

Today's Reviews

Cases
CPU Coolers
Harddisks
Headphones
Keyboards
Memory
Storage

Confirmed: NVIDIA GTX 1660 Super to Make Use of GDDR6 Memory

Videocardz have snagged some ZOTAC box renders (for an AMP and non-AMP model), and these all but confirm some rumors that have been circulating through the interwebs: NVIDIA's GTX 1660 SUPER will make use of a GDDR6 memory subsystem to increase bandwidth and competitiveness against AMD's lineup. As GDDR6 memory pricing falls, it makes sense that NVIDIA trickles it down across its product stack as a relatively inexpensive way to improve performance - a move that is well in line with their SUPER lineup policy.

Next-Gen Intel Core i3 to Sport Hyper Threading?

TUM_APISAK has done of his well-regarded snoopings again, and this one could have relevant information for the democratization of threads in next-gen Intel products. Intel has been slowly (as they can) increasing the amount of cores and threads in their respective product lines across i3, i5, and i7 CPUs after AMD's Ryzen onslaught. Luckily, from two core, four-thread Core i3 of a few years ago, we now seem to be entering a new era for entry-level computing, with a new SiSoftware benchmark seemingly showing an Intel next-gen "Comet Lake" Core i3 CPU sporting 4 physical threads with Hyper Threading enabled (so, basically, the equivalent of Skylake Core i7's from just three years ago).

The benchmark submission lists what appears to be a four-core, eight-thread Core i3-10100. It sports a 3.6 GHz base clock, which likely isn't final, so take that frequency with a grain of salt. This shuffle in the low-end definitely means an upscale in Intel's more powerful lineups, with HyperThreading likely being active for all of their product stack across Comet Lake - 4C, 8T Core i3; 6C, 12T Core i5; 8C, 16T Core i7; and a likely 10C, 20T Core i9 10900K that straddles the line between consumer and HEDT platforms. Of course, remember these are still built upon the 14 nm process, give or take a few "+" symbols, so don't expect too much in terms of energy efficiency gains.

CHERRY Introduces the New STREAM Keyboard

Cherry introduces the new STREAM keyboard, the perfect workhorse for professional work environments. With the many satisfied users of the original STREAM in mind, Cherry has upgraded the keyboard with extended functionality, a modern look, and

CHERRY has equipped the STREAM KEYBOARD with its own proven SX scissor technology, giving the keyboard a comfortable typing feel and uncompromising precision. During development, special attention was paid to the typing sound; compared to the previous model - which was already very quiet - the noise level has been reduced even further. This makes the STREAM KEYBOARD the best choice for open-plan offices with numerous workstations, where employee productivity benefits from a low-noise environment.

Quick Look: HyperX Doubleshot PBT Pudding Keycaps (White)

We took a close look at HyperX's new keyboard, the Alloy Origins, earlier this week, and were left impressed with it. The company had sent along also a set of their new replacement keycap set for us to check out, and this seemed like a great product to trial out a shorter article format to cover products that otherwise would not merit multi-page reviews. Let us know what you feel about such posts, and if you would like us to expand coverage accordingly.

The HyperX-branded PBT plastic keycaps with doubleshot injected legends use the so-called "pudding" construction, with the top 1/3 of the keycap sides only left opaque to allow for more light to go through. The black and white set was originally sold beginning late last year, and there must have been enough demand for HyperX to dedicate a new SKU for an all-white edition. Read past the break for more on the new keycap set, including fit and finish on the Alloy Origins keyboard too.

GoodOffer24 Autumn 2019 Sale Brings Never Before Seen Prices on Windows and Office

GoodOffer24 announced the Autumn 2019 Sale that brings you genuine, globally-valid Windows and Office licenses at never before seen prices. Discounts as deep as 90 percent over prevalent market prices for Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Home lets you shave at least $80 off your gaming desktop build or upgrade from Windows 7, letting you spend that money elsewhere, such as an RGB LED overhaul, or cooling improvements, or even a bunch of AAA games (GoodOffer24 has them, too). Windows 10 Pro can be had for as low as USD $11.38, and Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC for $13.29 per license. No home desktop is complete without Office, and the latest Office 2019 Professional Plus can be had at just $49.65 for a genuine, lifetime, and globally-valid license. The formidable Office 2016 Professional Plus goes for an even deeper discount, for just $28.19. Find interesting combinations of Windows and Office that let you save even more, below.

Don't forget to apply the coupon code JGAU25 on the following items for the prices you see here.
Buy Windows 10 Pro for $11.38 | Buy Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC for $13.29 | Buy Windows 10 Pro 2-pack for $19.50 | Buy Windows 10 Home for $11.87 | Buy Windows 10 Pro + Office 2016 Professional Plus for $33.69 | Buy Office 2016 Professional Plus for $28.19

Apply the coupon code JGAU30 to shave 30% off on the list prices and avail the prices you see here.
Buy Office 2019 Professional Plus for $49.65 | Buy Windows 10 Pro + Office 2019 Professional Plus for $53.80 | Buy Windows 10 Home + Office 2019 Professional Plus for $52.14

CORSAIR VENGEANCE LPX Memory Breaks 5000MHz Barrier on AMD Ryzen Processors

CORSAIR, a world leader in PC gaming peripherals and enthusiast components, today announced a new kit of its award-winning CORSAIR VENGEANCE LPX DDR4 Memory, becoming the first commercially available high-frequency DRAM to break the 5,000 MHz barrier. This record-setting Micron-based memory is available now in a 2x 8 GB kit, reaching its full potential in select MSI X570 motherboards running 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen Desktop Processors.

VENGEANCE LPX once again sets a new milestone in the world of performance memory, continuing to deliver on its long-standing tradition of excellence thanks to the partnership between CORSAIR, MSI, and AMD. The new modules have been specifically designed and fully tested to achieve their record-breaking maximum frequency of 5,000 MHz on the Ryzen 3000 platform in MSI MEG X570 GODLIKE, MSI MEG X570 ACE, MSI MEG X570 UNIFY, and PRESTIGE X570 CREATION motherboards using their included automated overclocking utilities.

Intel Discontinues Almost the Entire 7th Generation Core Desktop Processor Series

Intel late Thursday, through a product change notification, announced the discontinuation of almost its entire 7th generation Core "Kaby Lake" desktop processor series. This includes most chips across the Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, Pentium, and Celeron desktop chips based on the 14 nm+ "Kaby Lake-S" silicon, across both retail boxed and tray packages. These chips formed Intel's main product lineup through 2017, and had to be quickly succeeded by the 8th generation "Coffee Lake" with the advent of AMD Ryzen. To clear out its inventory, Intel will accept discontinuance orders for these chips until April 2020. A discontinuance order can only be placed by a customer who has previously ordered these exact chips. The last of these orders will be shipped out by October 2020.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare System Requirements Revealed

Ahead of its October 25 release, NVIDIA got hold of the system requirements for "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare," the month's hottest AAA release. NVIDIA is an extensive technical partner for the game's development, and the game is expected to feature NVIDIA RTX real-time ray-tracing at launch, along with support for NVIDIA Highlights and Ansel, although there's no mention of DLSS from NVIDIA. The game supports Windows 7, and isn't restricted to Windows 10. It calls for a whopping 175 GB of disk space. The bare minimum system requirements for a 1080p experience includes 8 GB of RAM, Intel Core i3-4130 or AMD FX-6300 processors, and GeForce GTX 670 or current-gen GTX 1650 graphics.

The recommended system requirements for 1080p 60 FPS without ray-tracing are Core i5-2500K or Ryzen 5 1600X processor, 12 GB of RAM, and either GTX 970 or current-gen GTX 1660 graphics. For 1080p 60 FPS with ray-tracing, the requirements climb up to RTX 2060 graphics. At the same resolution with 144 FPS frame-rate, "High" preset, and "competitive" performance that won't let you down in an online MP situation, you'll need at least a GeForce RTX 2070 Super, 16 GB of system RAM, and either Core i7-8700K or Ryzen 7 1800X processor. For 4K 60 FPS with ray-tracing, a high-end experience, you'll need at least an RTX 2080 Super graphics card, and either Core i7-9700K or Ryzen 7 2700X processor. The NVIDIA article doesn't mention AMD Radeon graphics cards. In the absence of ray-tracing, you can probably use an RX 590 for 1080p 60 FPS, RX 5700 for 1080p 144 FPS or 1440p 60 FPS.

DeepCool Announces Gamer Storm Castle 360EX White CPU Cooler

Deepcool is a company established with the vision - to provide the finest PC DIY solution for the worldwide customers by constantly seeking innovative breakthroughs. Rooted in its success in the previous AIO liquid coolers, today Deepcool launches Castle 360EX in white version -- CASTLE 360EX WHITE. CASTLE 360EX WHITE is equipped with Deepcool's exclusive Anti-leak Technology. The technology helps the system achieve automated pressure balance, which will significantly improve operation safety of AIO liquid cooling systems.

Intel Discontinues Omni-Path Enabled Xeon Processors

Intel's Omni-Path technology has been used primarily in high performance computing market, in order to provide high speed interconnect between Intel Xeon CPUs, with speeds reaching around 100 Gbps. Accompanied by different design and system integration that Omni-Path uses, it was a bit difficult to integrate into server system, while not adding much value that other technologies couldn't match or beat.

Because of these reasons, Intel is now discontinuing its last product capable of utilizing Omni-Path - the first generation Xeon Scalable CPUs. Carrying the suffix "F", these CPUs had an extra connector sticking out of CPU's PCB to enable the Omni-Path functionality (see images bellow). There were eight CPUs manufactured in total that had this extra feature, consisting out of two Xeon Platinum and six Xeon Gold CPUs, which have now reached end of life. Intel states that focus from these CPUs has shifted to other technologies like silicon photonics, which provides much greater speed reaching 100s of gigabits per second. Intel already demonstrated transceivers capable of reaching 400 Gb/s speeds with the magic of light, which will become available in 1H 2020.
Thursday, October 10th 2019

Today's Reviews

Cases
CPU Coolers
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Keyboards
Memory
Monitors
Motherboards
Mouse
Processors
PSUs
SSD
Scythe Fuma 2

Scythe Fuma 2

The Scythe Fuma 2 is a compact dual-tower cooler that manages to deliver exceptional performance while also being nearly silent and fitting where other massive coolers cannot due to its 154.5 mm height. Truly like a ninja, the Fuma 2 is hiding in the shadows, poised to strike down its competition.

Sennheiser Launches GSP370 Wireless Gaming Headset, 100 Hours of Battery Life

Sennheiser today launched the GSP370 gaming headset, which will allow you to immerse yourself in virtual worlds for as many as 100 hours between charges. Sennheiser have managed to improve power efficiency of the GSP370 over their current flagship, the GSP670, by more than five times - that one headset only lasts between 16 and 20 hours for each full charge. And this battery efficiency didn't come at the cost of maximum output levels - the 117dB SPL makes sure of that.

There's a noise-canceling mic in the headset, and memory foam pads appeal to comfort and extended gaming sessions. The GPS370 is compatible with PC, Mac, and PlayStation 4 (and Xbox as well with the headphone adapters or newer controllers) and is available on Sennheiser's website starting today for $199.95. Data transmission is taken care of by Bluetooth 5.0 (in a dongle adapter) and there's a micro USB charging cable in the box, which is enough to power the headset for usage even if its battery runs completely dry. Sennheiser will also include its GSA 50 headset hanger, which normally sells for $38, for free.

Mad Catz Announces the R.A.T.AIR Gaming Mouse - Wireless Power for £200

Mad Catz announced the shipping of their most advanced wireless mouse yet, the R.A.T.AIR. A flagship innovation in the evolution of the R.A.T. range, the R.A.T.AIR offers uncompromising wireless gameplay, thanks to cutting-edge electrical capacitor technology meaning no lag, no batteries and peerless performance.

Available to purchase today across select European territories, the R.A.T.AIR offers the ultimate solution for casual and competitive gamers alike. Comprised of two individual components, the R.A.T.AIR ships with the mouse itself as well as the innovative Activation Board. Plugging into the gamers' PC via USB, the Activation Board provides constant power to the mouse itself wirelessly, using best-in-class capacitor technology. Allowing the mouse to operate with no need for batteries, the Activision Board is so powerful, that the R.A.T.AIR even remains powered for a limited amount of time when lifted from the board itself, crucial for those who value 'lift-off' play. For those who steadfastly demand a wired connection, gamers can quickly unplug the connection to the Activation Board and directly connect the mouse to wired USB, offering a hybrid solution for all.

CORSAIR Updates Headset Lineup with New VOID ELITE and HS PRO Headsets

CORSAIR, a world leader in PC gaming peripherals and enthusiast components, today announced the new VOID ELITE and HS PRO series of gaming headsets, updating the celebrated VOID and HS Series with improved audio, microphones, and comfort. Whether you're looking for immersive 7.1 surround sound, multi-platform compatibility, low-latency wireless, dynamic RGB lighting, or any combination thereof, you'll find it in one of the many new CORSAIR headsets now available.

The CORSAIR VOID family of gaming headsets has become synonymous with quality gaming audio, lasting comfort, and superb build quality, and the new VOID ELITE series continues this with a range of updates. New custom-tuned 50 mm neodymium audio drivers with an expanded frequency range of 20Hz-30,000Hz have been designed from the ground up to produce stunning clarity over a wider range alongside booming bass, while 7.1 surround sound puts you in the middle of the action with immersive virtual multi-channel audio.

AMD TRX40 Chipset Not Compatible with 1st and 2nd Gen Threadrippers

AMD is giving finishing touches to its 3rd generation Ryzen Threadripper HEDT processor lineup, and the first wave of these chips, starting with a 24-core model, will launch alongside the AMD TRX40 chipset. It turns out that the chipset won't be compatible with 1st and 2nd generation Ryzen Threadripper processors. The upcoming 3rd generation Threadripper chips won't be backwards-compatible with the AMD X399 chipset, either. We've been hearing from reliable sources rumors of this segmentation from AMD for a few days now, and tech journalist ReHWolution just tweeted its confirmation having obtained info on upcoming motherboards from ASRock. The company is working on the TRX40 Taichi and TRX40 Creator motherboards.

The underlying reason between this restriction remains a mystery. We know that the EPYC "Rome" MCM is pin-compatible with first-generation EPYC "Naples" chips due to the fact that the newer chips are drop-in compatible with older servers via a BIOS update. The TR4 socket, too, is nearly identical to SP3r2, but for four out of eight memory channels being blanked out. It remains to be seen if for TRX40 motherboards, AMD re-purposed these unused pins for something else, such as additional PCIe connectivity or more electrical pins. We'll find out in November, when AMD is expected to launch these chips.

ROCCAT Kone Pure Ultra Available in Asia and EU October 11th

ROCCAT, Turtle Beach's Hamburg, Germany-based PC accessories division today announced the release of the Kone Pure Ultra PC gaming mouse. The Kone Pure Ultra is your favorite mouse, reborn with the latest tech and a new ultra-light weight design. ROCCAT's Kone Pure has become a mouse of choice for many performance-focused gamers, and the Kone Pure Ultra keeps the original ergonomic shape of its predecessor, including the strategic button placement, crisp "click" feeling, and beloved Titan Wheel, but with a much lighter weight coming in at a low 66 grams, making it one of the lightest PC gaming mice on the market. The Kone Pure Ultra is also updated with the latest features, including ROCCAT's Owl-Eye 16K sensor, 1,000hz polling rate, onboard memory for programmable Macros and profiles, and more. The Kone Pure Ultra is available at participating retailers across Asia, the UK, and Europe for a MSRP of 69.99€/59.99£ and will be available in the U.S. this winter for a MSRP of $69.99.

"The Kone is part of ROCCAT's heritage, so each time we release a new version, we always want to make sure we're satisfying our loyal Kone Pure users, as well as enticing new gamers," said René Korte, General Manager for PC Products at Turtle Beach. "Everything gamers love about the Kone Pure is there and upgraded in the Kone Pure Ultra, and we don't have any doubt that this is one of the best gaming mice available, made even better."

TP-Link Introduces Two Highly Affordable AX Routers

TP-Link, a leading global provider of consumer and business networking products, today introduced two highly affordable WiFi routers, Archer AX3000 and Archer AX1500. Both support the newest 802.11ax wireless standard, also known as Wi-Fi 6. TP-Link's next-generation AX routers provide much stronger and more reliable WiFi coverage throughout the home at a price more consumers can afford.

"Wi-Fi 6 technology is redefining the home, leaving previous generations of WiFi routers in the dust," said Louis Liu, CEO at TP-Link USA. "With our new Wi-Fi 6 routers, Walmart customers can experience up to 3-times faster speeds, connect more devices than ever before and dramatically reduce network congestion compared to the previous AC Wi-Fi 5 standard. Now, every household can enjoy the benefits of blazing fast, high capacity WiFi without breaking the bank." With the increase of WiFi-dependent devices, these AX routers are the perfect solution for modern living. TP-Link is committed to delivering more affordable solutions that meet the increasing bandwidth demands in today's homes.

Blizzard's Account Deletion Mechanism Conveniently Breaks Down

In the wake of the Blitzchung ban controversy, clamors for "#BoycottBlizzard" are growing in gaming boards and social networks, with some angry gamers even deleting their Blizzard Battle.net accounts. Under GDPR, any EU consumer is entitled to delete their accounts with an online service, and have their data scrubbed. On Wednesday evening, however, users found themselves being unable to do so. The user authentication system (which authenticates that a request to delete the account is legitimate), has conveniently broken down, preventing people from deleting their accounts. Some see this as a deliberate attempt by Blizzard to cauterize its userbase while the controversy dies down. Blizzard's customer support for the Americas tweeted that this is "an issue" with the account deletion mechanism and that Blizzard's engineers are "looking into it," with no ETA mentioned.

PC Version of Red Dead Redemption 2 now Available for Pre-Order

Highly anticipated version of Red Dead Redemption 2 for PC is now available for pre-order. Launching on November 5th, this game will be available for pre-purchase starting from today until October 22nd, when the pre-order period will end. For now, ordering is exclusive to the Rockstar Games Launcher, Rockstar's version of Steam/Epic Store for its own games.

For all pre-purchases, Rockstar has prepared a heap of extra bonuses. For starters, users can choose any two games from the selection of Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto:Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Bully: Scholarship Edition, L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition, Max Payne 3: The Complete Edition, for free. Additionally, every pre-purchase made through Rockstar Game Launcher will result in a free upgrade to the premium edition of Red Dead Redemption 2, where ultimate and special edition will get a $20 discount if users want to upgrade. Furthermore, there are additional bonuses that include Outlaw Survival Kit for Story Mode, War Horse for Story Mode, Le Trésor des Morts Treasure Map for Story Mode, Cash Bonus for Story Mode, 50 gold Bars for Red Dead Online. To add thing up, PC port of RDR2 will feature updated graphics to harness the power PC graphics cards offer with features like HDR for better visual effects.

TSMC September 2019 Revenue Report

TSMC today announced its net revenues for September 2019: On a consolidated basis, revenues for September 2019 were approximately NT$102.17 billion, a decrease of 3.7 percent from August 2019 and an increase of 7.6 percent from September 2018. Revenues for January through September 2019 totaled NT$752.75 billion, an increase of 1.5 percent compared to the same period in 2018.
Wednesday, October 9th 2019

Today's Reviews

Cases
CPU Coolers
Graphics Cards
Headphones
Input Devices
Monitors
Mouse
SSD
Storage
Dark Project ME1

Dark Project ME1

The Dark Project ME1 is a lightweight right-handed ergonomic gaming mouse with a familiar shape for those who know their mice. It features a PixArt PMW3360 top optical sensor, Huano switches rated for 20 million clicks, and RGB lighting.

Intel Mobility Xe GPUs to Feature Up to Twice the Performance of Previous iGPUs

Intel at the Intel Developer Conference 'IDC' 2019 in Tokyo revealed their performance projections for mobility Xe GPUs, which will supersede their current consumer-bound UHD620 graphics under the Gen 11 architecture. The company is being vocal in that they can achieve an up to 2x performance uplift over their previous generation - but that will likely only take place in specific scenarios, and not as a rule of thumb. Just looking at Intel's own performance comparison graphics goes to show that we're mostly looking at between 50% and 70% performance improvements in popular eSports titles, which are, really, representative of most of the gaming market nowadays.

The objective is to reach above 60 FPS in the most popular eSports titles, something that Gen 11 GPUs didn't manage with their overall IPC and dedicated die-area. We've known for some time that Intel's Xe (as in, exponential) architecture will feature hardware-based raytracing, and the architecture is being developed for scalability that goes all the way from iGPUs to HPC platforms.

MSI Confirms Upcoming TRX40 Platform, Lists Creator TRX40 Motherboard

MSI today inadvertently confirmed preparations for the release of TRX40-based motherboards, which will allow for AMD's next-gen, Zen 2-based Threadripper CPUs to slot in quite nicely in a bed of silicon. Via a promo page for new motherboard purchases, where MSI listed the eligible motherboards for a $25 Steam rebate after purchase, the company listed a number of their already-known motherboard quantities... And the new Creator TRX40. This is a new series of motherboards from MSI, first populated by the X299 motherboards, which caters to expandability and storage capabilities so as to accelerate content creation and production.

The reference to the Creator TRX40 has already been silently deleted in MSI's page.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order System Requirements Outed

The upcoming single-player Star Wars Jedi: Fallen order will be a tall calling for Respawn. Few franchises are as loved as Star Wars, and this one will definitely leave a mark in the company's legacy. It's unlikely EA will "pull an EA" on the studio even if it flops, though: Apex Legends remains an incredibly successful release form Respawn Entertainment, and it should be enough to hold EA's reins - at least for a while.

The system requirements for the highly-awaited, story-driven single-player game have been outed, and they're in the usual side of things. Minimum requirements call for an AMD FX-6100 or an Intel Core i3-3220, paired with 8 GB of RAM and an AMD Radeon HD 7750 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 - alongside 65 GB of storage. The recommended specs are relatively standard as well, and nothing to throw users in an upgrade fit... We're looking at an AMD AMD Ryzen 7 1700 or an Intel i7-6700K, 16 GB of system RAM, An AMD RX Vega 56 or NVIDIA GTX 1070 graphics cards. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order drops on November 15th.

G.SKILL Releases New DDR4 32GB Module Specs with Memory Kits Up to 256GB

G.SKILL International Enterprise Co., Ltd., the world's leading manufacturer of extreme performance memory and gaming peripherals, is announcing new high-capacity, high-performance memory kit specifications based on 32 GB modules across several memory series, including Trident Z Royal DDR4-3200 CL16 256 GB (32 GB x8), Trident Z Royal DDR4-4000 CL18 128 GB (32 GB x4), Trident Z Neo DDR4-3600 CL18 128 GB (32 GB x4), and Trident Z Neo DDR4-3800 C18 64 GB (32 GB x2). Built with the latest high-density 16Gb components, these DDR4 memory kits are the perfect choice for pushing the performance limits of high memory capacity.

With the availability of higher density memory at the consumer level, G.SKILL memory is pushing the performance boundary to DDR4-3200 on current HEDT platforms with up to 8 modules of 32 GB for a total of 256 GB. As shown in the screenshot below, the Trident Z Royal DDR4-3200 CL16 256 GB (32GBx8) is validated on the latest X299-based ASUS ROG Rampage VI Extreme Encore motherboard and the Intel Core i9-9820X processor. Such extremely high-capacity memory kits are the ideal choice for powerful workstations or for systems running multiple virtual machines.

Adobe Pulls the Plug on Venezuela, Thousands of CC Users Cut off From Their Apps

With U.S. economic sanctions on Venezuela taking effect, Adobe discontinued its Creative Cloud (CC) subscription service in the country, stranding thousands of creators without their creative apps. Adobe switched to SaaS-only in several markets and the only legal way for creators to use popular Adobe apps such as Photoshop, Premier, Acrobat, Lightroom, and Illustrator, is through CC. Much like Steam, CC is a DRM platform that lets you subscribe to Adobe apps on monthly or annual payment plans, and provides you with the latest versions of the apps, with regular updates. You also get access to cloud-storage an asset library, and a social network of creators.

Adobe's exit from Venezuela isn't sudden, the company has given Venezuelan creators until October 28th to download any content stored on their accounts. From October 29th, Adobe's servers will longer respond to requests from Venezuela. This also means Creative Cloud apps will break. CC authenticates users by dialing home each time an app is launched. If a user is falling behind on subscription payments or if the app can't reach Adobe servers, they are usually given a 14-day grace period before the app stops working. Executive Order 13884 signed by President Trump strips Venezuela of all U.S. businesses, which would include payment processors such as Visa and MasterCard.

AMD-made PlayStation 5 Semi-custom Chip Has Ray-tracing Hardware (not a software solution)

Sony's next-generation PlayStation 5 could land under many Christmas trees...in the year 2020, as the company plans a Holiday 2020 launch for the 4K-ready, 8K-capable entertainment system that has a semi-custom chip many times more powerful than the current generation, to support its lofty design goals. By late-2020, Sony calculates that some form of ray-tracing could be a must-have for gaming, and is working with its chip designer AMD to add just that - hardware-acceleration for ray-tracing, and not just something that's pre-baked or emulated over GPGPU.

Mark Cerny, a system architect at Sony's US headquarters, in an interview with Wired, got into the specifics of the hardware driving the company's big platform launch for the turn of the decade. "There is ray-tracing acceleration in the GPU hardware," he said, adding "which I believe is the statement that people were looking for." Besides raw processing power increases, Sony will focus on getting the memory and storage subsystems right. Both are interdependent, and with fast NAND flash-based storage, Sony can rework memory-management to free up more processing resources. AMD has been rather tight-lipped about ray-tracing on its Radeon GPUs. CEO Lisa Su has been dismissive about the prominence of the tech saying "it's one of the many technologies these days." The company's mid-2019 launch of the "Navi" family of GPUs sees the company skip ray-tracing hardware. The semi-custom chip's GPU at the heart of PlayStation 5 was last reported to be based on the same RDNA architecture.

Valve Offices Burgled, Thief Does Away with $40,000 Worth Equipment and Games

A man broke into the offices of Valve Software in September, and did away with $40,000 worth equipment and game keys. He was caught on camera trying to sell these keys at a Game Stop store. 32-year-old Shawn Shaputis already had six warrants for his arrest out on him when he broke into the Bellevue WA offices of one of the world's largest game distribution companies. The suspect is still at large, and is summoned to appear before court. Should he fail to show up, additional warrants for arrest will be put out. Valve Software owns Steam, the world's largest online game distribution platform.

Blizzard Employees Protest Company's Blitzchung Ban

Blizzard employees protested the company's decision to ban Hearthstone player "Blitzchung" from an event for his opinions on the ongoing situation in Hong Kong SAR. Some employees covered up a portion of a floor decal in the company's office that read "Think Globally," and "Every Voice Matters," in protest. Blizzard's MMORPGs are "massively" popular in China, with Chinese Internet giant Tencent holding an equity stake. Some see the move to ban "Blitzchung" as the company "bending the knee" to China by taking a position on the situation in Hong Kong, instead of remaining neutral. The picture of a ruled piece of paper covering up the company floor decal with duct tape was tweeted by former Blizzard employee and eSports industry observer Kevin Hovdestad.

MSI Brings the New Alpha Series, the First 7nm Technology Gaming Laptop

MSI, the world's No.1 gaming brand, has just announced its latest Alpha 15 gaming laptop. Armed with the new AMD Radeon RX 5500M graphics, the Alpha 15 is the first gaming laptop to feature 7 nm technology, bringing cutting-edge hardware to the mainstream. MSI even created a dedicated category and a new logo for the unique yet innovative segment. The new logo takes form of a thunderbird with rising wings, representing strength, innovation and prosperity. Being the first and dominant of its kind, MSI has presented the new beast with the name "Alpha".

As typical MSI gaming tradition, the laptop also packs ample gaming features from powerful cooling system, per-key RGB keyboard, Giant Speaker, High-Res audio, and more. Gamers who purchase the Alpha 15 via selected channels will also be eligible for a complimentary copy of either Borderlands 3 or Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint."

Micron Tapes Out 128-layer 3D NAND Flash Memory

Micron Technology has taped out its 4th generation 3D NAND flash memory with 128 layers. This paves the way for mass production and product implementations in 2020. The 4th gen 3D NAND by Micron continues to use a CMOS-under-array design, but with Replacement Gate (RG) Technology instead of Floating Gate, which Micron and the erstwhile IMFlash Technology had been using for years. Micron is currently mass-producing 96-layer 3D NAND flash, and TLC remains the prominent data-storage physical layer despite the advent of QLC (4 bits per cell).

Micron comments that this 4th gen 128-layer 3D NAND will be a stopgap restricted to a select few applications, and may not see the kind of adoption as its current 96-layer chips. The company appears to be more focused on its evolution, possibly the 5th generation 3D NAND, which are expected to bring tangible cost-per-bit gains for the company, as it transitions to a newer silicon fabrication node, and implements even newer technologies besides RG. "We achieved our first yielding dies using replacement gate or "RG" for short. This milestone further reduces the risk for our RG transition. As a reminder, our first RG node will be 128 layers and will be used for a select set of products. We don't expect RG to deliver meaningful cost reductions until FY2021 when our second-generation RG node is broadly deployed. Consequently, we are expecting minimal cost reductions in NAND in FY2020. Our RG production deployment approach will optimize the ROI of our NAND capital investments," said Sanjay Mehrotra, CEO and president of Micron.

AMD Launches Ryzen 9 3900 and Ryzen 5 3500X Processors

AMD Tuesday expanded its 3rd generation Ryzen desktop processor lineup with two new product additions, the 12-core/24-thread Ryzen 9 3900, and the 6-core/12-thread Ryzen 5 3500X. Both chips are particularly interesting given their naming. The 3900 is a slightly subdued twin of the company's current flagship, the 3900X, with a small amount of clock speed traded off for a huge drop in TDP. This chip ticks at 3.10 GHz with 4.30 GHz boost, compared to 3.80/4.60 GHz frequencies of the 3900X. Its TDP, however, is rated at just 65 W, compared to 105 W of the 3900X. You get 512 KB of dedicated L2 cache per core, and 64 MB of L3 cache.

The Ryzen 5 3500X is another interesting part, in which the "X" makes a world of difference from the Ryzen 5 3500. Whilst the 3500 is a 6-core/6-thread part devoid of SMT, the 3500X is 6-core/12-thread (features SMT), has the same exact 3.60 GHz nominal clocks as the popular Ryzen 5 3600, but a slightly lower 4.10 GHz boost frequency, compared to 4.20 GHz of the 3600. The Ryzen 5 3500X is expected to be marginally cheaper than the 3600, at around $189, and is currently only being offered to OEMs and system integrators in China. The company hasn't finalized pricing for the 3900, yet.
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