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Imagination launches RISC-V CPU family

Imagination Technologies announces Catapult, a RISC-V CPU product line designed from the ground-up for next-generation heterogeneous compute needs. Based on RISC-V, the open-source CPU architecture, which is transforming processor design, Imagination's Catapult CPUs can be configured for performance, efficiency, or balanced profiles, making them suitable for a wide range of markets.

Leveraging Imagination's 20 years of experience in delivering complex IP solutions, the new CPUs are supported by the rapidly expanding open-standard RISC-V ecosystem, which continues to shake up the embedded CPU industry by offering greater choice. Imagination's entry will enable the rapidly expanding RISC-V ecosystem to add a greater range of product offerings, especially for heterogeneous systems. Now customers have an even wider choice of solutions built on the open RISC-V ISA, avoiding lock-in with proprietary architectures.

NVIDIA Quantum-2 Takes Supercomputing to New Heights, Into the Cloud

NVIDIA today announced NVIDIA Quantum-2, the next generation of its InfiniBand networking platform, which offers the extreme performance, broad accessibility and strong security needed by cloud computing providers and supercomputing centers.

The most advanced end-to-end networking platform ever built, NVIDIA Quantum-2 is a 400 Gbps InfiniBand networking platform that consists of the NVIDIA Quantum-2 switch, the ConnectX-7 network adapter, the BlueField-3 data processing unit (DPU) and all the software that supports the new architecture.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W on sale now at $15

It's been nearly six years since we unleashed the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero on an unsuspecting world. Of all the products we've launched, Zero is still the one I'm proudest of: it most perfectly embodies our mission to give people access to tools, and to eliminate cost as a barrier. We've sold nearly four million units of Zero, and its $10 wireless-enabled big brother Zero W, and they've made their way into everything from smart speakers to hospital ventilators. But where our larger products have grown steadily more powerful over the years, we've never found a way to pack more performance into the Zero form factor. Until today.

Priced at $15, Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W uses the same Broadcom BCM2710A1 SoC die as the launch version of Raspberry Pi 3, with Arm cores slightly down-clocked to 1GHz, bundled into a single space-saving package alongside 512 MB of LPDDR2 SDRAM. The exact performance uplift over Zero varies across workloads, but for multi-threaded sysbench it is almost exactly five times faster.

SiFive Performance P550 Core Sets New Standard as Highest Performance RISC-V Processor IP

SiFive, Inc., the industry leader in RISC-V processors and silicon solutions, today announced launched the new SiFive Performance family of processors. The SiFive Performance family debuts with two new processor cores, the P270, SiFive's first Linux capable processor with full support for the RISC-V vector extension v1.0 rc, and the SiFive Performance P550 core, SiFive's highest performance processor to date. The new SiFive Performance P550 delivers a SPECInt 2006 score of 8.65/GHz, making it the highest performance RISC-V processor available today, and comparable to existing proprietary solutions in the application processor space.

"SiFive Performance is a significant milestone in our commitment to deliver a complete, scalable portfolio of RISC-V cores to customers in all markets who are at the vanguard of SOC design and are dissatisfied with the status quo," said Dr. Yunsup Lee, Co-Founder and CTO of SiFive. "These two new products cover new performance points and a wide range of application areas, from efficient vector processors that easily displace yesterday's SIMD architectures, to the bleeding edge that the P550 represents. SiFive is proud to set the standard for RISC-V processing and is ready to deliver these products to customers today."

Tenstorrent Selects SiFive Intelligence X280 for Next-Generation AI Processors

SiFive, Inc., the industry leader in RISC-V processors and silicon solutions, today announced that Tenstorrent, an AI semiconductor and software start-up developing next-generation computers, will license the new SiFive Intelligence X280 processor in its AI training and inference processor. SiFive will deliver more details of its SiFive Intelligence initiative including the SiFive Intelligence X280 processor at the Linley Spring Processor Conference on April 23rd.

Tenstorrent's novel approach to inference and training effectively and efficiently accommodates the exponential growth in the size of machine learning models while offering best-in-class performance.

Arm Highlights its Next Two Generations of CPUs, codenamed Matterhorn and Makalu, with up to a 30% Performance Uplift

Editor's Note: This is written by Arm vice president and general manager Paul Williamson.

Over the last year, I have been inspired by the innovators who are dreaming up solutions to improve and enrich our daily lives. Tomorrow's mobile applications will be even more imaginative, immersive, and intelligent. To that point, the industry has come such a long way in making this happen. Take app stores for instance - we had the choice of roughly 500 apps when smartphones first began shipping in volume in 2007 and today there are 8.9 million apps available to choose from.

Mobile has transformed from a simple utility to the most powerful, pervasive device we engage with daily, much like Arm-based chips have progressed to more powerful but still energy-efficient SoCs. Although the chip-level innovation has already evolved significantly, more is still required as use cases become more complex, with more AI and ML workloads being processed locally on our devices.

Arm Announces Cortex-R82: The First 64-bit Real Time Processor to Power the Future of Computational Storage

There is expected to be more than 79 zettabytes of IoT data in 2025, but the real value of this data is found in the insights it generates. The closer to the data source we can produce these insights the better, because of the improved security, latency and energy efficiency enabled. Computational storage is emerging as a critical piece of the data storage puzzle because it puts processing power directly on the storage device, giving companies secure, quick and easy access to vital information.

Our expertise and legacy in storage puts Arm in a strong position to address the changing needs of this market - with around 85% of hard disk drive controllers and solid-state drive controllers based on Arm, we are already a trusted partner for billions of storage devices. Today, we're announcing Arm Cortex-R82, our first 64-bit, Linux-capable Cortex-R processor designed to accelerate the development and deployment of next-generation enterprise and computational storage solutions.

Huawei Desktop PC with Kunpeng 920 Processor Teased and Tested

Huawei has been readying the entire new breed of desktop PCs with a custom motherboard, custom processor, and even a custom operating system. Being that Huawei plans to supply Chinese government institutions with these PCs, it is logical to break away from US-made technology due to security reasons. And now, thanks to the YouTube channel called "二斤自制" we have the first look at the new PC system. Powered by Huawei D920S10 desktop motherboard equipped with Kunpeng 920 7 nm Arm v8 processor with 8 cores, the PC was running the 64-bit UOS operating system, which is a Chinese modification of Linux. In the test, the PC was assembled by a third-party provider and it featured 16 GB of 2666 MHz DDR4 memory and 256 GB SSD.

The YouTube channel put it to test and in the Blender BMW render test, it has finished in 11 minutes and 47 seconds, which is quite slow. The system reportedly managed to stream 4K content well but has struggled with local playback thanks to poor encoding. Being that it runs a custom OS with a custom processor, app selection is quite narrow. The app store for the PC is accessible only if you pay an extra 800 Yuan (~$115), while the mentioned system will set you back 7,500 Yuan (~$1,060). At the heart of this system is eight-core, eight threaded Kunpeng 920 2249K processor. It features a clock speed of 2.6 GHz, has 128K of L1 cache (64K instruction cache and 64K data cache), 512K of L2, and 32 MB of L3 cache.

Intel Updates Its ISA Manual with Advanced Matrix Extension Reference

Intel today released and updated version of its "Architecture Instruction Set Extensions and Future Features Programming" Reference document with the latest advanced matrix extension (AMX) programming reference. This gives us some insights into AMX and how it works. While we will not go in too much depth here, the AMX is pretty simple. Intel describes it as the following: "Intel Advanced Matrix Extensions (Intel AMX) is a new 64-bit programming paradigm consisting of two components: a set of 2-dimensional registers (tiles) representing sub-arrays from a larger 2-dimensional memory image, and an accelerator able to operate on tiles, the first implementation is called TMUL (tile matrix multiply unit)." In other words, this represents another matrix processing extension that can be used for a wide variety of workload, mainly machine learning processing. The first microarchitecture that will implement the new extension is Sapphire Rapids Xeon processor. You can find more about AMX here.
Intel AMX

Raspberry Pi 4 Gets Upgraded to 8 GB, Priced at $75

Raspberry Pi 4 is almost a year old, and it's been a busy year. We've sold nearly 3 million units, shipped a couple of minor board revisions, and reduced the price of the 2 GB variant from $45 to $35. On the software side, we've done enormous amounts of work to reduce the idle and loaded power consumption of the device, passed OpenGL ES 3.1 conformance, started work on a Vulkan driver, and shipped PXE network boot mode and a prototype of USB mass storage boot mode - all this alongside the usual round of bug fixes, feature additions, and kernel version bumps.

While we launched with 1 GB, 2 GB and 4 GB variants, even at that point we had our eye on the possibility of an 8 GB Raspberry Pi 4. We were so enthusiastic about the idea that the non-existent product made its way into both the Beginner's Guide and the compliance leaflet. The BCM2711 chip that we use on Raspberry Pi 4 can address up to 16 GB of LPDDR4 SDRAM, so the real barrier to our offering a larger-memory variant was the lack of an 8 GB LPDDR4 package. These didn't exist (at least in a form that we could address) in 2019, but happily our partners at Micron stepped up earlier this year with a suitable part. And so, today, we're delighted to announce the immediate availability of the 8 GB Raspberry Pi 4, priced at just $75.

Microsoft Begins Phasing Out 32-Bit Support for Windows 10

It seems Microsoft has begun the long process of phasing out 32-bit support for Windows 10 beginning with version 2004, all new OEM Windows 10 systems will be required to use 64-bit builds and Microsoft will no longer release 32-bit builds for OEM distribution. This will not affect those of you running 32-bit versions of Windows 10 who will continue to receive updates and Microsoft plans to continue to sell 32-bit versions of Windows 10 through retail channels for the foreseeable future. This is likely just the first step in what will probably be a multi-year project to gradually phase out 32-bit support as more consumers and businesses switch to 64-bit systems.

Zhaoxin KaiXian x86 Processor Now Commercially Available to the DIY Channel

Zhaoxin is a brand that makes multi-core 64-bit x86 processors primarily for use in Chinese state IT infrastructure. It's part of the Chinese Government's ambitious plan to make its IT hardware completely indigenous. Zhaoxin's x86-64 CPU cores are co-developed by licensee VIA, specifically its CenTaur subsidiary that's making NCORE AI-enabled x86 processors. The company's KaiXian KX-6780A processor is now commercially available in China to the DIY market in the form of motherboards with embedded processors.

The KaiXian KX-6780A features an 8-core/8-thread x86-64 CPU clocked up to 2.70 GHz, 8 MB of last-level cache, a dual-channel DDR4-3200 integrated memory controller, a PCI-Express gen 3.0 root-complex, and an iGPU possibly designed by VIA's S3 Graphics division, which supports basic display and DirectX 11.1 readiness. The CPU features modern ISA, with instruction sets that include AVX, AES-NI, SHA-NI, and VT-x comparable virtualization extensions. The chip has been fabricated on TSMC 16 nm FinFET process.

ASRock Launches the Phantom Gaming Radeon 550 2G Graphics Card

No, that's not a typo. AsRock has actually launched an AMD Radeon 550 graphics card this late into the game. There is some sense behind the business decision, though; AMD's Radeon 550 is the company's entry-line offering, which aims only to improve upon the performance of integrated graphics solutions, and no more. In that sense, the Radeon 550 certainly delivers, though it does so in an underwhelming way for any tech enthusiasts. The Radeon 550 2G features 2 GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1,750 MHz (7,000 MHz effective) across a 64-bit bus, which feeds a die powered by 512 Stream Processors.

There are three operating modes on offer: Silent, for HTPC environments, which clocks the graphics card at 1,183 MHz boost clock and 7,000 MHz memory clocks. Default mode runs the card at AMD's defaults (1,183 MHz boost, 7,000 MHz memory). The OC mode overclocks the graphics card's boost clock to 1,230 MHz and the memory to 7,038 MHz. I/O stands at 1x dual-link DVI-D connector, 1x HDMI 2.0b port and 1x DisplayPort 1.4. A 50 W TDP should make it easy to cool in cramped spaces, and the graphics card doesn't require any power pins. No pricing was available at time of writing.

Primate Labs Introduces GeekBench 5, Drops 32-bit Support

Primate Labs, developers of the ubiquitous benchmarking application GeekBench, have announced the release of version 5 of the software. The new version brings numerous changes, and one of the most important (since if affects compatibility) is that it will only be distributed in a 64-bit version. Some under the hood changes include additions to the CPU benchmark tests (including machine learning, augmented reality, and computational photography) as well as increases in the memory footprint for tests so as to better gauge impacts of your memory subsystem on your system's performance. Also introduced are different threading models for CPU benchmarking, allowing for changes in workload attribution and the corresponding impact on CPU performance.

On the Compute side of things, GeekBench 5 now supports the Vulkan API, which joins CUDA, Metal, and OpenCL. GPU-accelerated compute for computer vision tasks such as Stereo Matching, and augmented reality tasks such as Feature Matching are also available. For iOS users, there is now a Dark Mode for the results interface. GeekBench 5 is available now, 50% off, on Primate Labs' store.

Intel Releases ModernFW as Open Source, minimal Firmware Replacement

Today Intel announced ModernFW - an experimental approach to building a minimum viable platform firmware for machines such as cloud server platforms. The reason for this software is that, while traditional PC Firmware has evolved over time and retained its backward compatibility, it has become very big and often inefficient.

So to meet the requirements of new platforms that need to be built quickly and adapted easily, Intel decided to offer a new software package that will help with that. The new firmware package targets x86_64 from ISA standpoint and Linux kernel based OSes.

Intel Officially Sinks the Itanic, Future of IA-64 Architecture Uncertain

Intel has unceremoniously, through a product change notification (PCN), discontinued the Itanium family of microprocessors. The Itanium 9700 "Kittson," which was released in 2017, is the final generation of Itanium, and its sales to new customers have stopped according to the PCN. The series has been marked "end of life" (EOL). Existing customers of Itanium who already have their IT infrastructure built around Itanium 9700 series, have an opportunity to determine their remaining demand of these processors, and place their "Last Product Discontinuance" order with Intel. The final LPD shipments would go out mid-2021.

With this move, Intel has cast uncertainty over the future of the IA-64 microarchitecture. IA-64 was originally conceived by Intel to replace 32-bit x86 at the turn of the century, as an industry-standard 64-bit processor architecture. AMD laid the foundation for its rival standard AMD64, which could go on to become x86-64. AMD64 won the battle for popularity over IA-64, as it maintained complete backwards-compatibility with x86, and could seamlessly run 32-bit software, saving enterprises and clients billions in transition costs. Intel cross-licensed it as EM64T (extended memory 64-bit technology), before standardizing the name x86-64. Itanium dragged on for close to two decades serving certain enterprise and HPC customers.

Version 4.6.0 Beta 10 of MSI Afterburner Introduces OC Scanner for Pascal

One of the runaway features for NVIDIA's latest RTX-20 series of graphics cards was the introduction of support for the OC Scanner feature - a program that automagically tests a range of frequencies on your NVIDIA graphics card and overclocks it to a deemed "stable" sweet-spot. This practically obviates the need for manual fine-tuning, though of course, the best results should always be found down that road - provided there's enough tinkering.

The latest version of MSI's Afterburner (v4.6.0 beta 10, available in the source link) now brings this functionality to Pascal-based graphics cards (besides some other features, such as voltage control, for Turing; check the entire release notes after the break). Have fun.

TrendForce: Contract Prices of NAND Flash Products to Drop Further 10% just in 1Q19

According to a report from DRAMeXchange, a division of market analytics firm TrendForce, contractor pricing of NAND flash products could drop some further 10% entering 2019 and throughout just the first quarter of the next year. Citing higher than expected but output from NAND manufacturers, who managed to ramp up their 64-bit 3D NAND ad higher-than-expected ratios, and with stagnating smartphone demand, channel quantities' increase will lead to dripping (if not cascading) pricing.

As for the trend in the SSD market, DRAMeXchange expects Client SSD contract prices to fall by nearly 10% in 1Q19, a great boon for customers. With global notebook shipments for 1Q19 estimated to decrease by over 15% QoQ, slowing demand for SSDs will lead to decreasing prices matching demand, despite the increasing SSD adoption rate in the PC market and the memory content upgrades. Long story short, enthusiasts: don't do any Christmas shopping for SSDs, barring some amazing deals that do pop up.

AMD Confirms Drop of 32-bit Executable Driver Support

AMD, via a statement provided to the 4Gamer publication, has confirmed they're dropping support for 32-bit executables in their driver releases. This move from AMD comes after mainstream adoption of 64-bit Operating Systems, which has rendered the market for 32-bit executables as apparently not worth the additional coding and certification effort.

For users till on a 32-bit operating system that have modern graphics hardware that's still being supported via AMD's drivers, though, this means that the last 32-bit version of an AMD driver will likely be the 18.9.3 version, which was re-released as WHQL on October 9th. As it stands, AMD won't be distributing new driver releases on the 32-bit format, so support for Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Forza Horizon 4 better be all you care about. The Vega page listing for driver releases already only lists the 64-bit version of the executables as is. Strangely, AMD has also pulled 32-bit driver references and links from its Vega 64 driver page - we'd expect some links to be up for legacy support, at least.

Cadence, Micron Update on DDR5: Still On Track, 1.36x Performance Increase Over DDR4 at Same Data Rate

DDR5 will be the next step in DDR5 memory tech, again bringing increased transfer speeds over the previous JEDEC (the standards body responsible for the DDR specifications) specification. The new memory technology will also bring the customary reductions in operating voltage - the new version will push the 64-bit link down to 1.1V and burst lengths to 16 bits from 1.2V and 8 bits. In addition, DDR5 lets voltage regulators ride on the memory card rather than the motherboard. CPU vendors are also expected to expand the number of DDR channels on their processors from 12 to 16, which could drive main memory sizes to 128 GB from 64 GB today.

DDR5 is being developed with particular attention to the professional environment, where ever-increasingly gargantuan amounts of addressable memory are required. One of the guiding principles over DDR5's development is a density increase (to allow 16 Gbit chips) that would allow for larger volumes of memory (and thus data processing) in the environments that need that. Reduced power consumption also plays a role here, but all of this will have a cost: latency. For end-users, though, this increased latency will be offset by the usual suspects (DDR memory companies such as Crucial, Corsair, just to name some started with the letter C) in tighter timings and increased operating frequencies. JEDEC's specification for DDR5 is set at 4800 MT/s, but it's expected the memory tech will scale to 6400 MT/s, and you know overclocking and performance-focused companies will walk all over the standard.

QNAP Announces TS-332X 3-bay 10GbE NAS with 10GbE

QNAP Systems, Inc. today released a new quad-core 3-bay NAS - the TS-332X - that allows for building a RAID 5 array for balancing capacity and protection with the fewest disks. The TS-332X also provides a 10GbE SFP+ port, three M.2 SATA 6Gb/s SSD slots, and supports SSD caching and Qtier auto-tiering technology to help tackle performance-demanding business operations. Featuring a minimalist design, the affordable 10GbE-ready TS-332X can easily fit any commercial space.

The TS-332X is a small NAS, but it is packed full of competitive features," said Dan Lin, Product Manager of QNAP, continuing "It allows for RAID 5 protection in a budget configuration, supports M.2 SATA SSDs, and performs efficient tiered storage. It is a cost-effective 10GbE NAS that empowers even the most budget-conscious small offices to upgrade their entire IT infrastructure."

Monster Hunter World PC Requirements Outed, August 9th Launch for the Long Summer

Capcom's Monster Hunter World is the fastest selling game in the publishers' history, and now, finally, PC gamers are on the verge of being able to play the critic and player-praised title. The release date, set at August 9th, will make sure PC gamers have a high-profile release to keep them going through the Summer. We'll see if the delay in launch (the game has been available in consoles since January) translates to good performance and optimization - but it does seem so from the available graphics settings, which include TAA for anti-aliasing, subsurface scattering, foliage sway, and most importantly, resolution scaling that helps achieve a more fluid game experience.

COLORFUL Expands Storage Offering with SL500 960 GB Solid-State Drive

COLORFUL Technology Company Limited, professional manufacturer of graphics cards, motherboards and high-performance storage solutions is proud to announce the expansion of its storage offering with the addition of its largest capacity solid-state drive to date. COLORFUL is announcing the availability of the SL500 960 GB SSD which will join the fast-growing line-up of COLORFUL high-performance, high-speed storage solutions.

With the introduction of the SL500 960 GB, gamers, power users and professionals seeking high-speed storage with plenty of capacity for various workloads including modern games, large multimedia files and expansive data can be served rapidly. The 960 GB capacity of the SL500 makes it an ideal choice for those individuals that don't want to compromise performance and capacity.

Synology Introduces DiskStation DS418j NAS

Synology Inc. today launched the new DiskStation DS418j, a budget-friendly 4-bay NAS server designed to help home and individual users to manage, protect and share data effectively. DS418j is powered by a brand-new 64-bit dual-core CPU and delivers an outstanding encrypted file transfer performance at over 112 MB/s reading and 87 MB/s writing under a RAID 5 configuration in a Windows environment. Coming with a 1 GB DDR4 memory, which is twice the size of its predecessor, and over 40 TB single volume raw capacity support, DS418j brings flexible storage management with excellent operation experience.

"In the digital era, photos, videos, and digital assets are being generated faster than ever. For home and individual users, it is essential to have a private storage solution that can satisfy the needs for both large storage capacity and secure data sharing," said Michael Wang, Product Manager at Synology Inc. "Combining hardware innovations and rich applications, the 4-bay DS418j allows users to enjoy cloud synchronization and multimedia streaming at a competitive price."

AMD Crimson ReLive 17.7.2 Presents Some Issues to Users

Users running AMD's latest 17.7.2 driver package are running into issues - which, let's face it, is somewhat understandable, considering all the new features AMD has crammed into this latest driver release. All driver releases ship with a bug here or there - there is even a "Known Issues" checklist on almost all of them - so unless bugs are widespread enough, they don't ever reach the critical mass to be noted by most users. However, users in both our forums and Reddit have been reporting issues after they install their 17.7.2 driver package: namely, the absence of the ReLive tab on the Radeon Control Panel.

The issue persists even after a full DDU (Display Driver Uninstaller) cleanup, and appears to be inconsistent in that users with the same hardware and on the same OS have mixed results upon installation. This issue has been confirmed by the Director of AMD's Corporate Strategy, Terry Makedon, on Reddit, who said that "Windows 7 being identified as beta and missing DVR is now reproduced in here and we will issue an update later today to address that. Sorry for that, hopefully we fixed it fast enough." For now, and until AMD releases a fix, there seems to be a workaround, as our own VSG has reported on an update to our Crimson ReLive 17.7.2 Preview: "One potential fix reported is to disable all security components (Antivirus, Malware protection etc) and to use the AMD Web Installer instead (Windows 10 64-bit here, replace 10 with 7 and 64 with 32 in the URL for other options)."
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