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Basemark Launches Free Multiplatform GPU Benchmark
Wednesday, June 20th 2018

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Steam Releases 'External Funds Used' Tool

Have you ever wondered how much money you've invested into your entire Steam collection? Well, now you can! Valve has recently added a nifty feature called 'External Funds Used' that allows Steam users to see the total amount of money spent at the Steam store. All users have to do is sign into their Steam account at this link. Do note that the tool doesn't take into account key activations. So, games that have been purchased through third-party stores like GOG, Green Man Gaming, Humble Bundle, G2A, and etc. will not contribute to the grand total. The "OldSpend" field equals to the amount of money that was spent before the Limited User Account policy was implemented in 2015. The "PWSpend" is related to purchases made on games operated by Perfect World Entertainment. a Chinese company that runs CS:GO and DOTA 2 in China. So, how much have you spent? Let us know in the comments below.

Plantronics Announces New RIG 500 PRO Series Gaming Headsets

Plantronics, an audio pioneer and communications technology leader, today announced the RIG 500 PRO Series of gaming headsets, created to deliver high-fidelity audio in an ultra-lightweight design for the truly competitive gamer. RIG 500 PRO Series are the first gaming headsets to feature an exoskeleton earcup design with isolated inner acoustic chambers to reduce distortion, creating the ideal audio solution for today's high-resolution gaming platforms.

Premium 50 mm drivers deliver wide-range frequency response while dual-material ear cushions provide the combination of noise reduction and comfort competitive gamers need for long, focused sessions. In addition, the Xbox and PlayStation officially licensed editions come with the patent-pending RIG Game Audio Dial, a 3.5 mm connector with integrated volume control for wireless game controllers. Console gamers can now adjust volume directly from the controller without lifting their hands. PC models feature an inline volume slider.

Synology Releases Virtual Machine Manager Pro

Synology Inc. announced the official release of Virtual Machine Manager Pro to cater to professional users with services suitable to their needs. VMM Pro enables Synology NAS to run multiple virtual machines like Windows, Linux, Virtual DSM. It assists users to integrate and manage multiple Synology NAS via its virtualized cluster, flexibly distributes hardware resources, migrates virtual machines between hosts without any interruption, and conducts regular snapshots and replications to back up virtual machines, for the ultimate goal of building a efficient and safe virtualization environment.

Synology is dedicated to making powerful yet intuitive solutions for users. "Virtual Machine Manager has garnered wide acclaims with its latest version, and more than 130,000 Synology NAS have downloaded and installed it over the course of one year. This clearly shows how this product has been endorsed worldwide, which is very motivating to our development team. With the extremely flexible cluster in Virtual Machine Manager Pro, we are able to help IT personnel to easily build a professional and efficient virtualization environment on NAS servers. As this application improves your work efficiency, it protects critical virtual machines, as well." said Chen Feng Wang, Product Manager of virtualization at Synology.

AUO Reportedly Shipping Mini-LED Panels for Gaming Monitors in 4Q18

According to a report by DigiTimes, panel-maker AU Optronics is looking to ship gaming panels with built-in mini-LED technology going into the 4Q 2018. This isn't a new display tech, and shouldn't be confused with Micro LED tech, which is hailed as the great coming of an OLED killer. Despite that, mini-LED remains a very interesting, likely crucial piece of technology in enabling much increased color accuracy and contrast ratios of current panel technology - thus also bettering HDR implementations.

Usually, a given monitor or TV features Edge-lit LED technology to achieve the backlighting necessary for image display (or in the case of OLED, there's no need for any of that, since it's a self-emissive technology). In recent times, contrast ratios have been increased by the introduction of local dimming (essentially, there are multiple LED lighting units across the entirety of the monitor or TV, which can be singularly controlled to achieve desired lighting ratios). Mini-LED technology brings this a leap further, allowing for an enormous increase in lighting zones - up to the tens of thousands, compared, for example, to the 384 local dimming units present on the recently released 4K, 144 Hz G-Sync monitors - of which AUO did sample specification-like panels but with this added mini-LED tech. Of course, these "tens of thousands" still pale in comparison to an OLED panel's pixel-count-like dimmable LEDs. As a bonus, panel thickness can also be reduced with mini-LED tech.

Graphics Card Shipments Fall On Weak Mining Demand in 2H18; Prices to Remain Hiked

According to DigiTimes, the entire AIB partner and graphics card supply channel is gearing up to an expected demand decrease for graphics cards in the second half of 2018. This marks an expectation on the continuation of the downward trend since December 2017, a time where Bitcoin (and as such, alternate cryptocurrencies) were at all-time highs. As profits decrease, difficulty increases, and mining players offload their graphics cards to still-interested buyers of their hardware, the market's ability to trade existing graphics cards and absorb new inventory is dwindling. Naturally, this reduced demand means that prices for new graphics cards have also been decreasing and somewhat stabilizing towards pre-mining boom prices.

However, producers of graphics cards obviously don't want to give away their record-high profits in their entirety; and they're showing some reluctance, some "pricing memory" on their graphics cards, maintaining gross margins in the 20% area, double that of pre-mining pricing. As such, graphics card makers are again abandoning the mining boom as a source of stable revenue, looking to other solutions (such as servers, datacenter acceleration and such, DigiTimes reports in the case of TUL). Another thing that would certainly help graphics card manufacturers in keeping up high demand and profits, of course, would be the impending release of a new NVIDIA architecture... At least for those that have AIB status with the company.

Take Two: News of Single Player Games' Death Is Greatly Exaggerated

With so many games either a) adding a tacked-on multiplayer component with lootboxes or other monetization ingredients; and b) single-player games turning into multiplayer experiences (look no further than the expected Fallout 76's always-on multiplayer approach, of which I'm still reeling from), it's the little things, the little draughts of single player respect that keep us lone gaming wolves sane. Take Two, publishers of the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 (and a company best known for its affiliation with single-player experiences, thankfully), has said that single player games are going nowhere.

In an interview with Venture Beat, Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick voiced his support for single-player experiences as anchors for player engagement with all aspects of a game - including its multiplayer components, or paving the way for online-only efforts such as GTA Online, the most lucrative title ever in the history of entertainment. Zelnick said that "(...) there are also people saying that it won't work if it's not a free-to-play battle royale. People really are saying that, and not even tongue-in-cheek. I don't buy that. Single-player, in my opinion, is not dead, not even close. Companies that feel like they'll just avoid the hard work of building a story and characters and go right to where the money is in multiplayer, I don't think that's going to work. I'd be surprised.

NVIDIA's Next-Gen Graphics Cards to Launch in Q3 2018, Breadcrumb Trail Indicates

We the media and you enthusiasts are always getting scare jumps every time a high-profile launch is announced - or even hinted at. And few product launches are as enthusing as those of new, refined graphics cards architectures - the possibilities for extra performance, bang for buck improvements, mid-tier performance that belonged in last generation's halo products - it's all a mix of merriment and expectation - even if it sometimes tastes a little sour.

Adding to the previous breadcrumbs neatly laid-out regarding NVIDIA's Hot Chips presentation on a new "Next Generation mainstream GPU", the source for et another piece of bread that would make Grettel proud comes from Power Logic, a fan supplier for numerous AIB partners (company representative holding an EVGA graphics card below), who have recently said they expected "Q3 orders to be through the roof". Such an increase in demand usually means increased orders as AIB partners stock up on materials to produce a substantial enough stock for new product launches, and does fall in line with the NVIDIA Hot Chips presentation in August. Q3 starts in July, though, and while the supply-chain timings are unknown, it seems somewhat tight for a July product launch that coincides with the increased fan orders.

Raja Hires Larrabee Architect Tom Forsyth to Help With Intel GPU

A few months ago we reported that Raja Koduri has left AMD to work at Intel on their new discrete GPU project. Looks like he's building a strong team, with the most recent addition being Tom Forsyth who is the father of Larrabee, which was Intel's first attempt at making an x86-based graphics processor. While Larrabee did not achieve its goal and is considered a failure by many, it brought some interesting improvements to the world, for example AVX512, and is now sold under the Xeon Phi brand.

Tom, who has previously worked at Oculus, Valve, and 3DLabs posted on Twitter that he's joining Intel in Raja's group, but he's "Not entirely sure what he'll be working on just yet." At Oculus and Valve he worked on Virtual Reality projects, for example he wrote big chunks of the Team Fortress 2 VR support for the Oculus Rift. Taking a look at Tom's papers suggests that he might join the Intel team as lead for VR-related projects, as that's without a doubt one of Raja's favorite topics to talk about.

GameStop is Talking to Potential Buyout Firms

GameStop, which is one of the largest video game retailers, confirmed that they are in discussion with third parties for a potential buyout. To facilitate that, they have hired a financial advisor to help navigate talks. Who they are talking to and in what stages these discussions are was not revealed. The equity firm Sycamore Partners, which among others is invested in Staples, does seem interested in buying GameStop.

The company operates over 7,200 stores in 14 countries, and has been plagued by bad news recently. They had a data breach last year and had to shut down more than 100 store locations. With a net loss of $106 million reported for the year 2017, their stock has slid over 30% bringing the company's worth down to $1.4 billion.

PUBG Has Sold 50 Million Copies, 400 Million Players Total

PUBG Corp. just announced that they have reached the incredible number of 50 million units sold on the platforms PC and Xbox One. When including PUBG Mobile, they have over 400 million registered players world-wide, with over 87 million of them playing PUBG every single day.

To celebrate this epic milestone, they have decided to have the first ever sale of PUBG, at a price of $17.99, until July 5th. Could be that sales are going down, possibly driven by Epic's Fortnite, which has a bigger player base now, and is available for more platforms.
Tuesday, June 19th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Keyboards
Memory
Monitors
Motherboards
Networking
Notebooks
Processors
Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO DDR4 4000 MHz

Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO DDR4 4000 MHz

Corsair's latest entry into RGB memory is their Vengeance PRO series, a kit supporting iCUE, which is Corsair's RGB lighting control system. This isn't just any RGB memory, though; the Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO series is built for serious overclocking too!

First Benchmarks, CPU-Z Screenshots of AMD Ryzen Threadripper 32-core CPU Surface

First benchmarks and CPU-Z screenshots of AMD's upcoming Ryzen Threadripper 32-core monster have surfaced, courtesy of HKEPC. The on-time-for-launch (as AMD puts it) 12 nm "Pinnacle Ridge" processor has apparently been christened "Threadripper 2990X", which does make sense - should AMD be thinking of keeping the 2920X moniker for 12 cores and 1950X for 16-cores, then it follows a 20-core 2960X, a 24-core 2970X, a 28-core 2980X, and the aforementioned 32-core 2990X. whether AMD would want to offer such a tiered lineup of HEDT processors, however, is another matter entirely, and certainly open for discussion - too much of a good thing can actually happen, at least where ASP of the Threadripper portfolio is concerned.

On the CPU-Z screenshot, the 2990X is running at 3.4 GHz base with up to 4.0 GHz XFR, and carries a 250 W TDP - a believable and very impressive achievement, testament to the 12 nm process and the low leakage it apparently produces. The chip was then overclocked up to 4.2 GHz on all cores, which caused for some thermal throttling, since performance was lower than when the chip was clocked at just 4 GHz on all cores. Gains on this particular piece of silicon were reserved up to 4.12 GHz - the jump to 4.2 GHz must have required another bump in voltage that led to the aforementioned throttling. At 4.12 GHz, the chip scored 6,399 points in Cinebench - a remarkable achievement.

Acer Announces 49", 55" Gaming Monitors - 4K, HDR, IPS

Acer today at its japan-specific news page revealed the launch of two new desktop monitors that really do defy convention on the real-estate that you can have plopped right in front of your eyes. The new 49" EB490QKbmiiipfx and 55" EB550Kbmiiipx displays (ehrm... a little more attention to the naming convention, Acer?) deliver what's expected to be a sub-par HDR experience (due to their maximum 300 cd/m² brightness), even though they do tout HDR 10 certification. Response times are being set at 4 ms for both models, with a 1,200:1 contrast ratio.

The monitors feature blue-light reduction technology, and 2x 5 W speakers are par of the course. "Flickerless" technology points our proverbial ears to some sort of variable refresh rate technology, but nothing else from the translation seems to suggest this. Input listing points to 1x HDMI 2.0 (HDCP 2.2 compatible), 2x HDMI 1.4, and 1x DisplayPort 1.2 ports. Apparently, these will be launched in Asia first, for 70,000 yen (550 EUR/USD) and 100,000 yen (799 EUR/USD) for the 49" and 55" panels, respectively, starting on June 21st.

Cooler Master Launching Gateron-based Keyboards CK550, CK552

Cooler Master is gearing up for launch of two extra mechanical keyboards, packing Gateron switches (rated for 50 million clicks) instead of the more market-wide Cherry MX ones. The Gateron switches will also be available in Blue, Red and Brown varieties, and are similar in behavior to the Cherry MX ones (blue for tactile-clicky, brown for tactile-silent, and red for a linear switch).

These will still feature some extra gaming features, such as on-the-fly macros and the ubiquitous RGB lighting with a bazillion modes (and the keys have a translucent base for improved lighting). The CK550 features a brushed aluminum casing in gunmetal gray, and is available worldwide starting today from €89. The CK552 is a US/Canada exclusive, features a black brushed aluminum casing, and will be available from $79.99 only at Best buy and Staples.

Western Digital Expands Purple Line of HDDs with 12TB Model

To help enable the surveillance industry's evolution to increasingly higher resolution cameras and new applications requiring real-time edge analytics, Western Digital Corporation has expanded its surveillance portfolio with the introduction of the industry's highest capacity, deep-learning-capable, surveillance-class drive, Western Digital Purple 12TB drive with exclusive AllFrame AI technology. The newest addition to Western Digital's surveillance portfolio creates new possibilities in video surveillance by supporting the capture of multiple high resolution video streams while simultaneously accessing recorded video to support deep learning and analytics. This capability is purpose-built for emerging DVR and NVR systems with Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities in that it supports real-time detection of AI-triggered events at the point of capture with continuous background learning.

According to IDC, the amount of big data exabytes generated by surveillance solutions is expected to grow by 25 percent per year through 20211. This growth is driven by the installation of more complex cameras with vastly improved resolutions, increasingly intelligent applications and overall expanding use of video for analytics globally. Traditional video surveillance systems detect moving subjects without providing detailed analysis. New systems enable additional functions such as real-time edge analytics to better detect objects and reduce false triggers. Objects such as animals, leaves, and even light can cause false alarms. AI-enabled systems not only detect the moving targets, but can analyze them to help determine if they are a potential threat.

AMD Radeon Vega 12 and Vega 20 Listed in Ashes Of The Singularity Database

Back at Computex, AMD showed a demo of their Vega 20 graphics processor, which is produced using a refined 7 nanometer process. We also reported that the chip has a twice-as-wide memory interface, effectively doubling memory bandwidth, and alsomaximum memory capacity. The smaller process promises improvements to power efficiency, which could let AMD run the chip at higher frequencies for more performance compared to the 14 nanometer process of existing Vega.

As indicated by AMD during Computex, the 7 nanometer Vega is a product targeted at High Performance Compute (HPC) applications, with no plans to release it for gaming. As they clarified later, the promise of "7 nanometer for gamers" is for Navi, which follows the Vega architecture. It's even more surprising to see AOTS results for a non-gaming card - my guess is that someone was curious how well it would do in gaming.

TP-Link Announces the Deco M9 Plus Tri-band Mesh Wi-Fi 2-Pack System

TP-Link , a leading global provider of consumer and business networking products, today announced availability of the Deco M9 Plus Tri-band Mesh Wi-Fi 2-Pack System, the newest addition to the brand's lineup of mesh solutions. TP-Link's Deco M9 Plus features AC2200 speeds and tri-band Wi-Fi with dedicated backhaul to deliver fast, dependable connections to more than 100 devices throughout your entire home while doubling as a smart home hub for your IoT devices.

"From everyday activities like streaming Netflix and using smart voice assistants, to occasional video chats with friends or online gaming, our home lives are more connected than ever before," said Derrick Wang, director of product management at TP-Link USA Corp. "Today, families need Wi-Fi systems that can support the higher demands put on their network, delivering reliable performance in every room of the home. Deco M9 Plus is a powerful solution designed to meet the Wi-Fi needs of the modern smart home."

Toshiba First to Deliver Value SAS SSDs Targeting SATA Applications

Today Toshiba Memory America, Inc., the U.S.-based subsidiary of Toshiba Memory Corporation, unveiled a new, game-changing category of SAS SSDs expected to replace SATA SSDs in server applications. The RM5 12Gbit/s value SAS (vSAS) series features capacity, performance, reliability, manageability and data security advantages - at a price that obsoletes SATA SSDs.

A homogeneous SAS environment has long been the gold standard for enterprise server and storage systems. With vertical integration expertise in flash technology, firmware and controller design, Toshiba leveraged its leading position as the world's leading SAS SSD line optimizing RM5 to close the cost gap with SATA - and usher in a new class of SSD. SATA simply cannot compete with SAS, falling well short in terms of performance, robustness and encryption options.

Intel: "If [AMD] Wanted an Intel Core i7-8086K CPU, [They] Could Have Just Asked Us"

Oh well, this almost makes us think of this industry as going hand in hand merrily, tongue-in-cheeking each other towards fulfilling, eternal happiness. It's a shame that this not usually the shape of our industry, but really, life isn't either, so let's keep our expectations in check. All in all, Intel's Twitter response to the viral, beautifully-crafted AMD initiative of exchanging one of Intel's commemorative 8086K CPUs for one of its Threadripper 1950X processors is equally satisfying - there's an unavoidable smile to be found while considering these two exchanges.

Kudos, Intel. Kudos for both companies for keeping it in a good spirit. If only we didn't have strange things such as Optane memory shenanigans going on concurrently...

Iiyama Introduces the All-New 38-Series ProLite TFxx38UHSC Displays

iiyama's new 38-series (ProLite TFxx38UHSC) has followed-up iiyama's very popular 37-series (TFxx37MSC) displays which have been used extensively in museums, kiosks, shops and interactive signage set-ups around the world. All five models come with a 24/7 operating time, landscape, portrait and face-up orientation and Open Frame mounting holes to facilitate easy installation and trouble-free operation in kiosks, tables, on walls for businesses, education and retail. The 38-series interactive displays are available in the sizes: 32", 43", 49", 55" and 65". They are designed for intensive use; featuring a 3 to 5 mm, 7H ball-drop-proof hardened glass, a metal bezel and PCAP touch technology.

"In our pursuit to continually evolve and improve our range offering to customers, iiyama's new 38-series sets the standard for high-performance PCAP touchscreens. The focus on design, with sleek edge-to-edge glass provides ultimate appeal for many market sectors like retail, museums, automotive and healthcare - but the key improvements are around practical deployment for multiple estates. The control and command suite of functions make this range perfect for serious integrators working with the biggest brands." - Lewis Clifford, iiyama Sales Manager Professional Displays.

Samsung Facing Fine of $400 Million Over FinFET Patent Infringement

Bloomberg is reporting that Samsung was hit with a $400 million fine last Friday, (ahem) courtesy of a Texas federal jury. The source of the patent infringement relates to FinFET-specific technology that is being said was "illegally, and willfully taken" from the licensing arm of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), the South Korean university. If you're wondering why was such a case between two South Korean institutions settled in Texas, well - KAIST IP US, the university's licensing arm is strangely (or not) based in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas, - a venue considered "particularly friendly" to patent owners.

The $400 million is just the initial sum; since Samsung's mishandling of the intellectual property (usage without payment) was found to be "willful", the company could be faced with up to three times those charges. Bloomberg's report says that KAIST claimed in its initial complaint that Samsung was dismissive of the FinFet research at first, believing it would be a fad. Apparently, that all changed when rival Intel Corp. started licensing the invention and developing its own products, according to KAIST IP. Samsung, naturally, disagrees: the company that it helped the university develop the technology in the first place, and that it was "disappointed by the verdict", and "will consider options to obtain an outcome that is reasonable, including an appeal."

Noctua Introduces Quiet CPU Coolers for LGA3647 Intel Xeon Platforms

Noctua today introduced three quiet CPU coolers for the LGA3647 socket of Intel's Xeon Scalable (Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze) and Xeon-Phi processors. Coming in 140, 120 and 92mm form factors respectively, the new NH-U14S DX-3647, NH-U12S DX-3647 and NH-D9 DX-3647 4U cover all bases from large, ultra-high performance workstations all the way to compact 4U size servers. Thanks to their premium-grade Noctua fans, all three coolers are exceptionally quiet and ideally suited for use in noise-sensitive environments.

Apacer's PANTHER RAGE DDR4 RGB Will Glow Away the Competition

For enthusiastic gamers and modders, powerful gear is a must. And after winning over the professional gaming crowd, Apacer is bringing some colorful bling to DRAM. Since its last incarnation, PANTHER RAGE DDR4 has evolved from single-light LED to splashy RGB, with its bold new color in Gold. Apacer is going to show that the new gear is definitely worth the wait.

By implementing the newly developed hardware architecture to enhance the RGB controller, PANTHER RAGE DDR4 RGB has improved the performance by 200%. It also seamlessly integrates with the latest ASUS Aura Sync software which is popular among gamers, and allows users to select various patterns based on their preference. On top of that, it is compatible with the latest platform by Intel and AMD.

Samsung Wants to Design Their Own Graphics Processor

Job postings on LinkedIn reveal that Samsung is looking to hire a ton of graphics chip engineers to bring forward their own GPU design. In the past the company has licensed GPU IP from companies like ARM and Imagination Technologies, but these designs come with cost, low performance and low flexibility. With Samsung needing graphics IP for a large range of products like phones, tablets and exploring options in markets like automotive, machine learning and AI, it's not surprising that the company is now looking into rolling their own GPU - from scratch as indicated by a recruiter's posting:
"This is Samsung's proprietary IP. We will define the ISA, the architecture, the SW, the entire solution."

Western Digital's 14 TB HDD Qualified by Huawei for Big Data Applications

As a leader in enterprise-capacity hard disk drives (HDDs) and the inventor of helium HDD technology, Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC) today announced that Huawei has qualified its host-managed shingled magnetic recording (SMR) helium-based HDD, the Ultrastar Hs14 - the industry's first 14TB HDD designed for demanding big data applications. An early adopter of Western Digital's SMR HDDs, Huawei is breaking new ground by optimizing its distributed cloud storage OceanStor 9000 system for the sequential nature of data capture in video surveillance applications. Seeing the value in enabling significant TCO improvements, Huawei has made considerable investments in the integration of Western Digital's SMR HelioSeal HDDs, which deliver unsurpassed density, power efficiency and reliability.

NVIDIA Joins S&P 100 Stock Market Index

With tomorrow's opening bell, NVIDIA will join the Standard and Poors S&P 100 index, replacing Time Warner. The spot that NVIDIA is joining in has been freed up by the merger of Time Warner with AT&T. This marks a monumental moment for the company as membership in the S&P 100 is reserved for only the largest and most important corporations in the US. From the tech sector the list comprises illustrious names such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google Alphabet, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Netflix, Oracle, Paypal, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.

NVIDIA's stock has seen massive gains over the last years, thanks to delivering record quarter after record quarter. Recent developments have transformed the company from a mostly gaming GPU manufacturer to a company that is leading in the fields of GPU compute, AI and machine learning. This of course inspires investors, so the NVIDIA stock has been highly sought after, now sitting above 265 USD, which brings the company's worth to over 160 billion USD. Congratulations!
Monday, June 18th 2018

Today's Reviews

Cases
Cooling
Game Controllers
Graphics Cards
Keyboards
Memory
Monitors
Motherboards
Mouse
Networking
Notebooks
Sound Cards
SSD
Storage
ADATA SX8200 480 GB

ADATA SX8200 480 GB

The ADATA SX8200 SSD ushers in new performance records for our SSD reviews. Despite the use of TLC, speeds are incredible. The SX8200 has a generous 128 GB SLC write cache, which ensures even large write batches get completed at the drive's full speed. Pricing is awesome too, with only $170 for the tested 480 GB version.

Wishful Thinking, Disingenious Marketing: Intel's Optane Being Marketed as DRAM Memory

Intel's Optane products, based on the joint venture with Micron, have been hailed as the next step in memory technology - delivering, according to Intel's own pre-launch slides, a mid-tier, al-dente point between DRAM's performance and NAND's density and pricing. Intel even demoed their most avant-garde product in recent times (arguably, of course) - the 3D XPoint DIMM SSD. Essentially, a new storage contraption that would occupy vacant DIMM channels, delivering yet another tier of storage up for grabs for speed and space-hungry applications - accelerating workloads that would otherwise become constrained by the SATA or even NVMe protocol towards NAND drives.

Of course, that product was a way off; and that product still hasn't come to light. The marriage of Optane's density and speed with a users' DRAM subsystem is just wishful thinking at best, and the dreams of pairing DRAM and 3D Xpoint in the same memory subsystem and extracting the best of both worlds remains, well... A figment of the imagination. But not according to some retailers' websites, though. Apparently, the usage of Intel's Optane products as DRAM memory has already surfaced for some vendors - Dell and HP included. How strange, then, that this didn't come out with adequate pomp and circumstance.

Trade Your Intel Core i7-8086K for a Threadripper 1950X

AMD acknowledges Intel's contribution to the x86 architecture over the last 40 years. However, AMD is convinced that they are the leading company for future high-performance computing, and will "take it from here". That's why AMD will hold its own online sweepstakes to give the first 40 U.S.-based winners of the Intel sweepstakes the opportunity to swap their 6-core prize for a 16-core monster. To put things into perspective, the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X has 16 cores, 32 threads, 40 MB of cache, and 64 PCIe Gen3 lanes. Now that's something hard to pass up on! AMD's sweepstakes will go live on June 25 at 1:00:00 PM EDT. If you were one of the lucky Core i7-8086K winners and want to take up on AMD's offer, check this page for further details.

Update: Intel's response didn't take long. The company posted the following message to their Intel Gaming Twitter account: "if you wanted an Intel Core i7-8086K processor too, you could have just asked us. :)"

AMD Raven Ridge APUs Not Getting Beta Drivers, 3-Month WHQL Only

AMD's latest Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition 18.6.1 Beta, which is available now, lacks Raven Ridge APU support. Driver support for the APUs are limited to WHQL releases only, as noted by an AMD representative on the Overclockers UK forum. Currently AMD is set to use a three month release cycle for APU drivers. Understandably, this has caused some concern with the latest driver to offer support for the Raven Ridge APUs being the Adrenalin Edition 18.5.1 driver released in May. The only good news here is the limited driver releases allow AMD to further optimize their costs in regards to testing and qualification.

Limited or outdated drivers, with such a long period between releases, means games could perform sub-optimally on AMD's latest and greatest APUs. Worse yet, consumers could be stuck waiting three months for an updated driver. Even then, if a problem arises and is a fringe issue, fixes could take even longer. Essentially Raven Ridge owners are being left out in the cold to some extent in regards to hot-fixes and performance improvements. This makes AMD's Raven Ridge APUs with built in VEGA graphics for both desktops and mobile systems a bit less appealing. This issue is further exacerbated by the fact Intel's Kaby Lake G series which also features AMD's VEGA graphics has seen a new driver released that is based on the 18.6.1 driver.

Seagate Introduces New 2TB Game Drive SSD - Exclusively for Xbox

Seagate Technology plc, a world leader in data storage solutions, today announced the new Game Drive for Xbox SSD - a flash-speed SSD storage drive designed exclusively for Xbox One - delivering fast gaming performance and convenient portability. Available in 2TB, 1TB, and 500GB capacities, the pro-level flash SSD upgrade delivers fast game loading performance to get you into the game. The officially licensed Xbox drive offers branding elements that match the Xbox One X consoles and increases the console's storage capacity to make room for all of your games and downloadable add-ons.

"The quality of production and in-game environment for today's game titles is off the charts," said Jeff Fochtman, vice president of marketing for Seagate Technology. "Seagate's Game Drive for Xbox SSD offers gamers the extra capacity for their entire library and flash-speed performance so they can jump into their games without waiting on slow menus and load times."

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and IO Interactive Announce HITMAN 2

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and independent game developer, IO Interactive, today announced HITMAN 2, the follow-up to the acclaimed international video game, HITMAN. Featuring entirely new hyper-detailed sandboxes full of living, breathing environments to explore, HITMAN 2 offers players the freedom to plan the ultimate assassination utilizing an assortment of tools, weapons, disguises and a variety of stealth techniques to creatively trigger their own unique chain of events. HITMAN 2 will be available for PlayStation 4 computer entertainment system, PlayStation 4 Pro computer entertainment system, Xbox One X, Xbox One and PC beginning 13th November 2018.

"We are thrilled to partner with IO Interactive on HITMAN 2 and bring the latest game in this iconic franchise to the passionate HITMAN fanbase and new players," said David Haddad, President, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. "IO Interactive has done a fantastic job with the Hitman franchise, and this new game will provide a distinct gameplay experience for players to be creative in larger sandbox locations."

Gigabyte Announces Availability of Two New, Smaller NVIDIA GTX 1050 3 GB Graphics Cards

Gigabyte has announced two new SKUs that join their previous interpretation of NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1050 3 GB graphics card. Adding (or maybe subtracting, on account of it being smaller) to their lineup is the new GTX 1050 3 GB D5, which features a shorter PCB (172 mm x 113 mm x 30 mm, minus 19 mm) when compared to the original 3 GB OC model (for reference, 191 mm long, 111 mm wide, and 36 mm in height). The reduced footprint of the graphics card means there's now a single fan (now at 90 mm instead of 2x 80 mm) at work on cooling the GPU - but it's such a lean one that that factor should pose no problem. Additionally, the clocks are slightly lower on this card, and adhere to NVIDIA's reference of 1392 MHz base and 1518 MHz boost. Connectivity-wise, there's 1x DVI-D, 1x HDMI 2.0b and 1x DisplayPort 1.4 port (up to three simultaneous displays are supported).

The other, more interesting model, is the GTX 1050 OC Low Profile 3G. Like the name implies, this is a low-profile graphics card, best suited for space-starved enclosures. Coming in at 167mm x 68.9mm x 37mm, it's as small as this type of card has ever been in Gigabyte's lineup. The low profile version should feature higher performance than the D5 one, since it clocks in at 1404 MHz (1544 MHz boost clock) in the default Game Mode. OC Mode brings the graphics card's clocks to 1430 MHz and 1569 MHz respectively. Likely owing to an expected HTPC usage for these graphics cards, Gigabyte has added an extra HDMI 2.0 port to this card, bringing connectivity to 1x DVI-D, 2x HDMI 2.0b, and 1x DisplayPort 1.4 port.

QNAP Releases New TS-x32XU Rackmount NAS Series

QNAP Systems, Inc., a leading provider of networked storage and computing solutions, today announced the release of a new TS-x32XU rackmount NAS series, consisting of the 4-bay TS-432XU, 8-bay TS-832XU and 12-bay TS-1232XU with single power and redundant power models to choose from. The TS-x32XU series inherits the classic exterior design and all features of the TS-x31XU series and combines it with a new 64-bit Alpine AL-324 ARMv8 Cortex-A57 quad-core 1.7 GHz processor by Annapurna Labs, an Amazon company, and DDR4 memory. These hardware improvements bring performance boosts and enable support of snapshots, Qtier 2.0 tiered storage and RAID 50/60. With the high cost efficiency of the TS-x32XU, small businesses can benefit from faster operations and simplified workflows.

The TS-x32XU series comes with two 10GbE SFP+ network ports, two Gigabit network ports, four USB 3.0 Type A ports and one PCI Express (PCIe) 2.0 x2 slot. The hardware is capable of supporting versatile daily operational needs with additional expansion opportunities provided by the PCIe slot. Available QNAP expansion cards include the QXG-10G1T 10GBASE-T/NBASE-T Multi-Gigabit wired network adapter, QM2 M.2 SSD/10GBASE-T expansion cards and the USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) Type A expansion cards. With added hardware capabilities, the TS-x32XU NAS series can be used in more diversified applications and expanded to match growing business needs.

Lose by a Hundred, Lose by a Thousand: Black Ops 4 DLC Locked for Season Pass Buyers

Well, add this one decision by Activision to either a sensible, forward-thinking, profit-maximizing business decision or as another in a death by a thousand cuts scenario for the Call of Duty series. As big a behemoth as the series is, we doubt this will see the end of it; but whatever the side of that particular fence you're on, the decision to lock all eventually-launched DLC content behind a pay-once, get-it-all paywall seems to have struck the wrong cord with gamers and fans of the series.

Activision has announced that all future DLC releases will only be available and launched for Season Pass holders, and won't be able to be purchased in separate packages. There may be various reasons for this decision; one of them is that gamers are paying the development cost for DLC upfront, and thus, Activision knows exactly how much it can stretch the budget in each of the content releases. They can't change the actual release contents - those are set with the Season pass Announcement - but it's almost guaranteed they will scale back in map and asset complexity according to how many Season Pass bundles they sell - and thus, money they make.

AMD Motherboard Vendors Are Removing Support for Older CPU Models

Current AMD AM4 motherboards basically support four platforms at the moment: the new Ryzen 2000 processors, Ryzen 2000 G APUs with integrated graphics, 1st generation Ryzen and Bristol Ridge. Bristol Ridge was AMD's last processor generation before Ryzen was released. Bristol Ridge introduced Socket AM4, which according to AMD has a lifespan beyond 2020. According to Anandtech, several motherboard manufacturers are now reporting that they might drop support for Bristol Ridge in their future motherboard releases. The underlying reason is that in addition to the setup interface, and UEFI with its driver and network stack, the BIOS has to support all processors by including microcode for them.

Supporting so many CPU models bloats the size of the BIOS beyond 128 megabits (16 MB), which would exceed the capacity of the BIOS flash chips used by most vendors and force them to use higher capacity models, ie 256 megabits. As always in this industry, the issue here comes down to pricing.

The Cyberpunk 2077 E3 Demo Ran on a Modern, Yet Achievably-Specced PC

Cyberpunk 2077 is likely one of the more highly anticipated videogames in recent times, due in no small part - well, due specifically - to CD Projekt Red's pedigree as a developer. To say that any "projekt" the Polish team chose to tackle would be met with silly levels of expectations is likely correct - few developers have followed their stratospherical level of improvement, time and again, with every new game release.

While the E3 demo shown during Microsoft's press conference was met with extreme enthusiasm, there was some level of fear as well, due to the developers' choice to tackle the Cyberpunk universe from a first-person perspective instead of the third-person one they've perfected over the years. But after all is said and done, a demo is a demo, and the gaming press has been much more vocal about the closed-doors gameplay experience they were offered.

Gigabyte Bundles Intel's Optane Memory With Select AORUS Motherboards

Gigabyte, in a bid to further differentiate itself from its competitors' products, has decided to start bundling Intel's high-performance, 3D XPoint memory-based Optane drives with select AORUS motherboards. The initiative, which is available for the company's Z370 Aorus Gaming 7-OP and Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming WIFI-OP (where the OP suffix denotes the Optane bundle) delivers Intel's 32 GB Optane module at a price that's lower than the sum of its parts.

The Z370 Aorus Gaming 7-OP, for example, comes with an MSRP of just $269, $20 more than the non-OP version of the same motherboard - and can now be had for the same $249. This means you'll snag a full 32 GB Optane module for free with this bundle. The Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming WIFI-OP delivers a slightly less sweet deal, but it's still interesting: it's available at an MSRP of $214, while its non-Optane-equipped equivalent is available for $164.99 (this means the usually $74 Optane module will set you back a much more manageable $32). And have I mentioned these are absolutely beautiful motherboards?

AMD Ryzen 3 2300X and Ryzen 5 2500X Spotted in Geekbench

It looks like AMD has some more Ryzen 2000 models coming out soon. Two benchmark runs were posted to Geekbench showing off the capabilities of these two new processors.

The Ryzen 3 2300X runs at 3.5 GHz base, with turbo reaching up to 4.0 GHz. It comes with four cores and four threads, ie it lacks SMT. This is slightly surprising as all Ryzen 2000 non-APU processors so far came with SMT enabled to double their thread count. The Ryzen 5 2500X on the other hand does feature SMT and a higher base clock of 3.6 GHz. Highest turbo is set to 4.0 GHz too. Both processors feature the X suffix, which means Precision Boost and XFR is available, to boost the processor's operating frequency to the highest clock possible depending on load and cooling capabilities.

Latest 4K 144 Hz Monitors use Blurry Chroma Subsampling

Just a while ago the first 4K 144 Hz monitors became available with the ASUS PG27UQ and Acer X27. These $2,000 monitors no longer force gamers to pick between high-refresh rate or high resolution, since they support 3840x2160 and refresh rates up to 144 Hz. However, reviews of early-adopters report a noticeable degradation in image quality when these monitors are running at 144 Hz. Surprisingly refresh rates of 120 Hz and below look perfectly sharp.
The underlying reason for that is the DisplayPort 1.4 interface, which provides 26 Gbits/s of bandwidth, just enough for full 4K at 120 Hz. So monitor vendors had to get creative to achieve the magic 144 Hz that they were shooting for. The solution comes from old television technology in form of chroma subsampling (YCbCr), which, in the case of these monitors, transmits the grayscale portion of the image at full resolution (3840x2160) and the color information at half the horizontal resolution (1920x2160).
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