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Intel's "Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator" Patent Filling Published

A filed patent by Intel has shed some light on the company's idea to somewhere, along the fuzzy lines of the future, introduce a Bitcoin mining hardware "accelerator" to the market. The application itself, for a "Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator With Optimized Message Digest and Message Scheduler Datapath" was originally submitted in September 2016, so it's not exactly a novel idea. However, the fact that it has just now been published doesn't really mean there hasn't been work behind closed doors at Intel towards development of working silicon of this technology.

In the filing, it appears it's Intel's intent to create a chip that could augment the existing Bitcoin mining process by increasing energy efficiency. As they themselves put it, "Because the software and hardware utilized in Bitcoin mining uses brute force to repeatedly and endlessly perform SHA-256 functions, the process of Bitcoin mining can be very power-intensive and utilize large amounts of hardware space. The embodiments described herein optimize Bitcoin mining operations by reducing the space utilized and power consumed by Bitcoin mining hardware."

Scythe Presents the Choten Top-Flow CPU Cooler with 120 mm in Height

The Japanese cooling expert Scythe extends its product portfolio by a new Top-Flow CPU Cooler model. The new Choten CPU Cooler is able to effectively cool the CPU as well as the surrounding components thanks to the Top-Flow design by pushing the air towards the motherboard. This air circulation has a positive effect on system stability and life span of the components. Great performance along with unrestricted compatibility to high-end memory modules have been among the key factors when designing the Choten. This has been achieved by applying the asymmetric heatsink design combined with high precision manufacturing and high quality materials. The Choten CPU Cooler is bundled with the Scythe Kaze Flex 120 PWM fan and assures an easy fit into the majority of PC chassis thanks to a total height of only 120 millimeters.

Scythe Choten utilizes a total of four high-quality 6 mm copper heatpipes which are connecting the solid copper-baseplate with the fin-stack. The copper parts, such as the baseplate and heatpipes are covered by a layer of nickel, which prevents corrosion and improves the quality further. Aligning the aluminium heatsink parallel to the baseplate has the advantage that the airflow of the attached fan is guided toward the mainboard. In result, all the components surrounding the CPU socket are able to benefit from this air circulation. Outstanding memory module compatibility is achieved thanks to the asymmetric heatsink design as well as the big clearance between the heatsink and the motherboard.

Alliance for Open Media Announces the AV1 Royalty-free Video Format

Consumers' video expectations are being shaped by the brilliant images promised by 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) video and beyond. However, the technical-based hurdles and data demands of higher quality video mean that the majority of users only have access to full HD or lower video technology. For nearly three years, the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) has been working in lock-step with its members, the world's best-known leaders in video, to develop a better quality internet video technology that benefits all consumers. Today, the Alliance is proud to announce the public release of the AOMedia Video Codec 1.0 (AV1) specification, which delivers cross-platform, 4K UHD or higher online video, royalty-free - all while lowering data usage.

Whether watching live sports, video chatting with loved ones, or binging on a favorite show, online video is becoming a bigger part of consumers' daily lives. In fact, video is so important to users that by 2021, 82 percent of all the world's internet traffic will be video, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index , 2016-2021. To remove many of the hurdles required by older, optical disc-era, video technologies, AOMedia developed AV1 specifically for the internet video-era, paving the way for companies to make more of the royalty-free, 4K UHD and higher video devices, products, and services that consumers love.

Intel FPGAs Accelerate Artificial Intelligence for Deep Learning in Microsoft's Bing

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming industries and changing how data is managed, interpreted and, most importantly, used to solve real problems for people and businesses faster than ever.

Today's Microsoft's Bing Intelligent Search news demonstrates how Intel FPGA (field programmable gate array) technology is powering some of the world's most advanced AI platforms. Advances to the Bing search engine with real-time AI will help people do more and learn by going beyond delivering standard search results. Bing Intelligent Search will provide answers instead of web pages, and enable a system that understands words and the meaning behind them, the context and intent of a search.

Intel Previews True Optane M.2 SSD Geared for Enterprise

At the Open Compute project Summit, Intel previewed their upcoming Optane SSD DC P4801X, the company's true M.2, Optane-based SSD for enterprise deployments. Intel has managed to reduce the footprint for their flagship, U.2 form-factor Optane SSD DC P4800X, while increasing the available NAND capacity from their current caching solutions (800p and 900p Optane SSDs).

The new, upcoming M.2 SSD's controller features a 7-channel architecture to improve performance as much as possible, deployed in 375 GB drives, through use of seven quad-die packages of 3D XPoint memory. For the moment, there are no pricing or performance metrics to be talked about. However, this solution marks the first in a general consumer-available form-factor, and could be prototyped for a future, mainstream-hitting Optane SSD.

Intel's 8-core Mainstream Coffee Lake-S Processor Spotted in the Wild?

A screenshot of what seems to be a higher core-count CPU from Intel has been doing the rounds, brought to us by the usual suspects. This supposedly marks the first appearance of Intel's new Coffee Lake-S processors, which should feature increased core-counts - gearing them towards stealing some of AMD's initiative. If you'll remember, the red team regained it in explosive fashion with their first generation Ryzen CPUs - and AMD is looking to double down on with the launch of their updated, 12 nm refresh Ryzen 2000 series just next month.

The new CPUs should be delivered alongside a new platform, Z390 - at the moment, a mirage that's been referenced here and there, but still has no concrete evidence towards its existence. However, it's expected that Z390 as a platform will be what Intel's Z370 was supposed to be from the very beginning - but never could. The idea that's been circulating, and which has some credit (though it should still be taken with a salty disposition), is that due to Intel's need to rush Coffee Lake out the door - so as not to compete against AMD's 8-core Zen-based CPUs with their usual cadre of 4-core, 8-thread processors - led the company to rush out the Z370 release. The idea for Z370 was simply for it to deliver, at all points in the minimum requirements, the correct power delivery hardware and mechanisms for the increased power draw that comes with the added cores. But it was, as such, absent of any real improvements - it can be interpreted, basically, as a re-branded Z270 chipset platform - and there's something to that claim, definitely. Thus Z390 will be the actual, originally planned platform for Intel's Coffee Lake CPUs, with all features - however fair that is for buyers of Intel's Z370.

Intel "Hades Canyon" NUC Motherboard Pictured

Intel launched its "Hades Canyon" NUC way back in January 2018, but in the run up to its availability slated for Spring (very soon); the company shared a picture of its motherboard. The non-rectangular board is curved to the shape of the chassis, and is designed to utilize every square cm of precious PCB real-estate. The board has components soldered on both sides. The top side has the various slots (memory and M.2), ports, and headers; while the bottom side has the main Core i7-8709G MCM, the chipset, and some VRM components powering the two. Intel made sure some of the rear I/O ports utilize cutouts in the PCB, so they don't add a precious few millimeters. The NUC's main cooling system, inspired by gaming notebooks, takes up most of the bottom side of the chassis, making contact with the MCM, the PCH, and VRM.

Intel Board Elects New Director and Extends Andy Bryant's Term as Chairman till 2019

Intel Corporation today announced that Risa Lavizzo-Mourey was elected to Intel's board of directors. Her election marks the fifth new independent director added to Intel's board since the beginning of 2016. The board also voted unanimously to extend Andy Bryant's term as Intel chairman in order to ensure board continuity and a smooth integration for new directors. Bryant became Intel chairman in May 2012 and will stand for re-election at the company's 2018 annual stockholders' meeting. If elected, he will continue to serve as chairman until the conclusion of the company's 2019 annual stockholders' meeting.

"Risa knows how to lead a large organization tackling complex issues, and brings extensive public-company board experience. I look forward to her fresh insights and perspective," said Intel Chairman Andy Bryant. "We've worked to make sure the board has the right skills and backgrounds to be strong stewards in our dynamic industry. I'm honored to continue serving alongside them, as Intel transforms to create more value for our customers and our owners."

AMD Throws EPYC Jab at Intel Xeon Products on Cloudfest

Cloudfest is a summit of sorts, a running line of conferences and announcements that focus on the cloud side of computing. With the increasing market value and demand of cloud services and providers, it's no surprise that industry behemoths are in attendance. AMD is one such, and it took the opportunity to throw a slight jab at Intel. Making the best it can from its long-coming favorable position in the server market, AMD put up a banner with an EPYC pun, touting its 3.3x performance per dollar advantage versus the Xeon competition... and then some. Just take a look at the image for yourself. It's all in good sport... Right?

GIGABYTE Expands Density Optimized Intel Xeon Scalable Server Range

GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd, an industry leader in competitive, high performance server platforms & embedded solutions continues to expand its Intel Xeon Scalable product family by adding three new density optimized systems: H231-H60, H261-H60, and H261-H61, giving our customer a wider range of choices to meet their ever increasing needs for efficiency in the server room.

Sneak Peek of Upcoming H370, H310, and B360 Motherboards from ASUS, ASRock, Gigabyte, MSI

Coffee Lake processors were launched along side the high-end Z370 motherboards. While the Z370 chipset certainly brings many innovative features to the table, different consumers have different levels of needs. Some consumers simply don't need all the bells and whistles that the Z370 chipset has to offer. That's why other mainstream chipsets like H370, H310, and B360 still hold their value, and many consumers are waiting for motherboards based on one of the aformentioned chipsets to come out. Unfortunately, Intel still haven't shared a concrete launch date with the public. But as online stores have started to list the new H370, H310, and B360 motherboards, our guess is that they will be available real soon. Since some of you are probably planning your next budget PC build with one of these chipsets, we've rounded up the images of the different models that are currently floating around the internet. You can get a sneak peek at the offerings from major manufacturers like ASRock, Gigabyte, and MSI. There are 29 models in total that range from the mini-ATX form factor to the conventional ATX form factor.

ASUS

Hardware-based Protection Coming to Data Center and PC Products Later this Year: Intel CEO

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich penned (or signed) a blog post today where we went on to describe all of the steps his company took after knowing of the disclosed vulnerabilities by Google Project Zero (which gave Intel more than 24H notice). In the blog post, he acknowledges there's still much work to be done, but assures customers of security's importance to Intel. For one, 73 days after the vulnerabilities were made public, Intel is now done with software mitigations: all of Intel's last five years worth of CPUs now have in production patches.

The CEO also vowed that hardware solutions will be deployed on newly produced Intel processors by the end of 2018 - these will hit the company's next iteration of Xeon scalable processors (Cascade Lake) and will be deployed to 8th Gen Coffee Lake processors as soon as the second half of this year. The blog post follows.

Intel Celeron and Pentium Gold Coffee Lake Processors Spotted on Amazon

Amazon listed for a brief moment four upcoming Coffee Lake processors on their website. The crew over at Tom's Hardware managed to grab some screenshots of the processors right before the pages were taken down. The models in question belong to the Celeron and Pentium Gold families. The Celeron G4900 and G4920 are dual-core processors that lack hyperthreading. Both models are rated at 54W TDP. However, the G4900 operates at 3.1 GHz, while the G4920 runs at 3.2 GHz. Although Amazon didn't leak the pricing, we did some digging of own. According to Connection, the Celeron 4900 goes for $46.27 and the Celeron G4920 for $58.14. Similar to the Celeron models, the Pentium Gold G5500 and G5600 are also dual-core processors and possess a 54W TDP. However, the Pentium Gold models do come with hyperthreading. The G5500 runs at 3.8 GHz and the G5600 at 3.9 GHz. In terms of pricing, the Pentium Gold G5500 costs $82.06 and the faster Pentium Gold G5600 goes for $94.92.

Intel Considers Buying Out Broadcom

In a sequence of events perfectly illustrated by the stock image below, Intel is reportedly mulling the acquisition of Broadcom, which is still making efforts to acquire Qualcomm; the Wall Street Journal reported late last week. Shares of Intel fell 1 percent on this report. A successful acquisition of Qualcomm by Broadcom would result in a seemingly-American silicon supergiant that could pose a threat to Intel's position in the industry, observes CNBC. Both Intel and Broadcom spokespersons refuse to comment the WSJ report, terming it as "deal chatter."

Broadcom recently swayed Qualcomm board its way ahead of a crucial vote for the acquisition, prompting a CFIUS investigation, by American regulators, which has the legal power to halt the acquisition if national security implications emerge. Taking advantage of this, and its relatively stable outlook despite the recent CPU vulnerability mess, Intel is looking to mop up a seemingly foreign Broadcom. Other industry giants such as Microsoft and Google have expressed extreme concern with the developments in this deal, particularly with Apple's "sway" over it.

China's Tsinghua Unigroup to Manufacture 3D NAND Flash for Intel

In a bid to ensure sufficient supply of NAND flash memory to meet the growing demands of not just PC, but also smartphone markets, China's Tsinghua Unigroup and Intel are in talks to license-manufacture 64-layer 3D NAND flash, based on existing IMFlash Technologies designs. IMFlash is a joint-venture between Intel and Micron Technology. Tsinghua Unigroup is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Chinese Government's ambitious plan to invest RMB 1 trillion (USD $158 billion) over the next five years, to increase China's semiconductor self-sufficiency to 70 percent, by 2025.

The move will significantly increase supply of NAND flash memory, and is seen as a market threat to Korean NAND flash giants Samsung and SK Hynix, and Japanese Toshiba. IMFlash Technology released its first 64-layer 3D NAND flash to the market in 2017, and is currently developing a 96-layer 3D NAND flash chip, which, along with newer 10 nm-class silicon fabrication process, could double densities over the current 64-layer chips.

Intel Announces Optane 800p Series M.2 NVMe Cache SSD

Intel today announced the Optane 800p series M.2 NVMe cache SSD. This series succeeds the original Optane Memory series, which came in 16 GB and 32 GB capacities. The new Optane 800p comes in 58 GB and 118 GB, and offers acceleration to a HDD or slower SSD-based machine, just like the original. It can also be used as a standalone SSD since it's big enough to hold an OS installation and some software. Intel also encourages buying two or more of these drives for NVMe RAID.

The drive is built in the M.2-2280 form-factor, and takes advantage of PCI-Express gen 3.0 x2 interface. Both the 58 GB and 118 GB variants have identical performance numbers from Intel: up to 1450 MB/s sequential reads, up to 640 MB/s sequential writes, up to 250,000 IOPS (8 GB span) random reads, and up to 145,000 IOPS (8 GB span) random writes. Endurance is where 3D XPoint memory begins to shine, both variants have their endurance rated at 365 TBW. Available now, the Optane 800p 58 GB is priced at USD $129.99, while the 118 GB variant goes for $199.99.

CTL Announces the CTL Chromebox CBx1

CTL, an Oregon-based company specializing in comprehensive K12 personalized learning solutions, announced today the release of its new CTL ChromeboxCBx1. In addition to CTL's popular line of rugged Chromebooks for education, the new CTL Chromebox CBx1 expands the CTL portfolio for classroom, digital signage, and corporate use. The CTL Chromebox CBx1 can also be bundled with CTL 22" touch or non-touch LCD monitors for the perfect out-of-the box all-in-one solution. The CTL Chromebox CBx1 will be available in April for qualified education and corporate customers at $199.00. The CTL Chromebox CBx1 will start at $329 when bundled with a CTL 22" monitor and at $399.00 when bundled with a CTL 22" touchscreen monitor.

Scythe Bundles New Ninja 5 CPU Cooler with Two Silent Kaze Flex 120 PWM Fans

Japanese cooling expert Scythe launches the 5th Generation of its legendary Ninja CPU Cooler Series. Scythe bundles the Ninja 5 with two Kaze Flex 120 PWM fans with the goal to offer a significantly more silent solution without compromising the high performance that users expect from the Ninja Series. This goal has been achieved by mounting the two fans using the Push/Push principle and setting the fan rotation limit to only 800 rpm. Outstanding RAM compatibility is assured even when used with LGA 2066 Mainboards with 8 RAM-Slots thanks to a new heatsink optimization. In addition to that, Ninja 5 is equipped with the third generation of the Hyper Precision Mounting System (H.P.M.S.) which further simplifies the installation procedure and supports all the major AMD and Intel sockets.

Curious-looking Core i7-8670 Rears its Head

A curious-looking "Core i7-8670" processor surfaced on GFXBench benchmark online database, which features Intel UHD 630 iGPU. The processor's name breaks Intel's naming conventions of reserving the 87xx model number for Core i7 MSDT (mainstream desktop) SKUs, and 86xx for Core i5 SKUs, based on the 8th generation "Coffee Lake" silicon. The GFXBench information tab confirms that this is a 12-thread (6-core + HTT) CPU, and that its nominal clock speed is a mere 3.10 GHz. Its iGPU offers almost the same performance as the UHD 630 iGPU of the Core i7-8700.

Khronos Group Releases the Vulkan 1.1 Specification

The Khronos Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies creating advanced acceleration standards, announces the release of the Vulkan 1.1 and SPIR-V 1.3 specifications. Version 1.1 expands Vulkan's core functionality with developer-requested features, such as subgroup operations, while integrating a wide range of proven extensions from Vulkan 1.0. Khronos will also release full Vulkan 1.1 conformance tests into open source and AMD, Arm, Imagination, Intel Corporation, NVIDIA and Qualcomm have implemented conformant Vulkan 1.1 drivers. Find more information on the Vulkan 1.1 specification and associated tests and tools at Khronos's Vulkan Resource Page.

"With enhanced developer tools, rigorous conformance testing and the public Vulkan Ecosystem Forum, Khronos is delivering on its goal to develop a complete and vibrant Vulkan ecosystem," said Tom Olson, distinguished engineer at Arm, and Vulkan Working Group chair. "Vulkan 1.1 is a response to prioritized industry requests and shows our commitment to delivering a functional roadmap driven by developer needs."

Cooler Master Introduces the MasterAir MA620P and MA621P CPU Coolers

Cooler Master, a leader in PC cooling solutions, introduces the MasterAir MA620P and MA621P that pushes the performance of air cooling beyond AIO liquid cooling. Cooler Master's supercharged heatsink is a combination of two built heatsinks with CDC 2.0 technology and two MasterFan MF120R RGB that is able to transfer and dissipate heat at extremely efficient levels. The MasterFan MF120R RGB are also certified by ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI and Asrock with their motherboard RGB sync.

Supercharged Dual Heatsink Dual ML120R RGB fans
MasterAir MA620P and MA621P TR4 edition supercharges your CPU cooling by doubling the surface area by combining two heatsinks each accompanied by two MasterFan MF120R RGB to ensure enough air pressure brings out the heat quickly enough to continually remove heat from the CPU. An optional 3rd fan is possible to take you to the next level.

Dell CTO On AMD-Powered Products: "Don't Expect a [Intel and AMD] Duopoly"

AMD has been making waves on computing markets with its latest line of processors powered by its innovative Zen microarchitecture. Its strengths and weaknesses are very well known by now, so there's no use harking them all over again; suffice it to say that the company has regained competitiveness - and then some - with many of Intel's products in as many different industry sectors. The company's APU solutions, for one, are one of a kind solutions that allow users to do some very impressive gaming sans a discrete GPU. However, Intel's been spending the last several years before AMD's Zen entrenching themselves in all markets, so AMD clearly has an uphill battle in fighting existing relations and supply channels. Case in point: Dell.

Channel Pro is reporting that Dell EMC's CTO, John Roese, said today at WMC that "Intel is the big player, AMD is the second player. There's enough diversity between them that there are use cases to have them both in our portfolio, but just the sheer breadth of the Intel processor portfolio is massive compared to even the accelerated AMD world."

Intel Finally Ready With Security Microcode Updates for Broadwell, Haswell

Via updated documents on its Microcode Revision guide, Intel has revealed that they have finally developed and started deploying microcode security updates for their Broadwell and Haswell-based microprocessors. The microcode update comes after a flurry of nearly platform-specific updates that aimed to mitigate known vulnerabilities in Intel's CPUs to the exploits known as Spectre and Meltdown.

While that's good news, Intel's patching odyssey still isn't over, by any means. According to Intel's documentation, the Spectre fixes for Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge are still in beta and are being tested by hardware partners, so that's two other architectures that still remain vulnerable. Of course, this discussion of who's vulnerable and isn't really can't be reduced to which architectures Intel has released its updates to. Users have to remember that the trickle-down process from Intel's patch validation and distribution through manufacturers to end users' systems is a morose one, and is also partially in the hands of sometimes not too tech-savy users. Time will tell if these flaws will have any major impact in some users or businesses.

Lenovo Reveals the Yoga 730 and Yoga 530 2-in-1 Laptops with Alexa Support

At MWC this year, Lenovo announced two new additions to their Yoga line of laptops. The Yoga 730 comes in 13-inch and 15-inch models while the Yoga 530 is only available in the 14-inch flavor. They feature up to Intel's latest 8th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with the Yoga 730 having the option of coming with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 discrete graphics card. Apart from conventional input methods, consumers can also interact with the Yoga 730 through voice since it comes with built-in Alexa support. The integrated far-field microphone allows Alexa and Cortana to listen and respond to the user with relative ease.

The Yoga 730 is equipped with a UHD IPS touchscreen display while the Yoga 530 is fitted with a FHD IPS touchscreen. Lenovo is also offering the optional Active Pen 2 with up to 4096 levels of sensitivity for those users who love to write, draw, or jot down notes on their laptops. The new Yoga laptops are thinner and lighter than ever too. The 15-inch Yoga 730 comes in at 1.89 kg and the 13-inch model at 1.12 kg. The 14-inch Yoga 530 weighs 1.6 kg. The 13-inch Yoga 730 with Lenovo Active Pen 2 included starts at €999 (VAT included) and the 15-inch model with Lenovo Active Pen 2 included starts at €1,099 (VAT included). The 14-inch Yoga 530 costs around €549 (VAT included). All three models should be available soon on www.lenovo.com and select retailers.

Wacom Cintiq Pro Engine Transforms the Cintiq Pro Into a Windows 10 Workstation

Today Wacom announced the Wacom Cintiq Pro Engine, a creative PC module available in two configurations that fully integrates into the Cintiq Pro 24-inch pen display (announced today in a separate release). Designed for professional illustrators, designers, engineers and motion graphics users who require professional computing power and graphics performance, the modular Cintiq Pro Engine slots into the back of the Cintiq Pro 24, eliminating the space, cable clutter and compatibility issues that often result from using external computers and laptops.

"It is our mission to help professionals create with the least amount of distraction and clutter and to give them the power to tackle the new spaces of creating content for AR, VR and MR. The Wacom Cintiq Pro Engine provides a beautiful, easy to use solution for creatives everywhere," said Faik Karaoglu, Executive Vice President of the Creative Business Unit at Wacom.
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