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Intel Board of Directors Extends Andy Bryant's Term as Intel Chairman until 2020

Intel Corporation today announced that its board of directors had unanimously decided to extend Andy Bryant's term as Intel chairman for one additional year, to help support Intel's leadership transition. If Bryant is re-elected at Intel's 2019 annual stockholders' meeting, his term as chairman would continue through the conclusion of Intel's 2020 annual stockholders' meeting. Bryant has informed the board that he does not expect to stand for re-election again in 2020.

"I am honored to be nominated to serve as a director and Intel's chairman for another year," Bryant said. "If re-elected by the stockholders at our annual meeting in May, I look forward to continuing to work with Bob, the board and the entire executive team to continue Intel's historic transformation to a data-centric company. I expect this would be my last year of service as a member of Intel's board."

"I am ecstatic that the board has extended Andy's term for another year," Intel CEO Bob Swan said. "He has been a great sounding board for me since I joined the company, and has been especially invaluable to me while I have served in the interim and now permanent CEO roles."

Several Gen11 GPU Variants Referenced in Latest Intel Drivers

The latest version of Intel Graphics drivers which introduce the company's latest UWP-based Graphics Command Center app, hide another secret in their INF. The file has pointers to dozens of variants and implementations of the company's next-generation Gen11 integrated graphics architecture, which we detailed in a recent article. Intel will implement Gen11 on two key processor microarchitectures, "Ice Lake" and "Lakefield," although later down the line, the graphics technology could trickle down to low-power Pentium Silver and Celeron SoC lines, too, with chips based on the "Elkhart Lake" silicon.

There are 13 variants of Gen11 on "Ice Lake," carved using execution unit (EU) count, and LP (low-power) aggressive power management. The mainstream desktop processors based on "Ice Lake," which are least restrained in power-management, get the most powerful variants of Gen11 under the Iris Plus brand. Iris Plus Graphics 950 is the most powerful implementation, with all 64 EUs enabled, and the highest GPU clock speeds. This variant could feature on Core i7 and Core i9 brands derived from "Ice Lake." Next up, is the Iris Plus Graphics 940, with the same EU count, but likely lower clock speeds, which could feature across the vast lineup of Core i5 SKUs. The Iris Plus 930 comes in two trims based on EU count, of 64 and 48, and could likely be spread across the Core i3 lineup. Lastly, there's the Iris Plus 920 with 32 EUs, which could be found in Pentium Gold SKUs. There are various SKUs branded "UHD Graphics Gen11 LP," with EU counts ranging from 32 to 64.

Intel Introduces its New Graphics Command Center App, Paving the Way For Intel Xe

Intel has revealed the layout and overall look (as well as functionality, though that one is always changing) of their new Graphics Command Center app, which showcases the company's vision for a graphics control hub. The design is thematically coherent (read: it's blue), and is, for now, of a simple layout. Enthusiast options are expectedly going to be added closer to or upon release of the company's discrete-level graphics architecture with Intel Xe, but the Command Center as it is showcases Intel's overall spirit to their graphics push. For now, features keep the minimalist approach of Intel's integrated graphics - this is more of a new coat of paint than a new enthusiast-grade Command Center.

Intel made a video available on its Twitter account, and announced an early access program for users that want to partake i the feature and usability development of the new Command Center. The new app is available through Microsoft's App Store on Windows.

Without Silicon, Intel Scores First Exascale Computer Design Win for Xe Graphics - AURORA Supercomputer

This here is an interesting piece of tech news for sure, in that Intel has already scored a pretty massive design win for not one, but two upcoming products. Intel's "Future Xeon Scalable Processors" and the company's "Xe Compute Architecture" have been tapped by the U.S. Department of Energy for incorporation into the new AURORA Supercomputer - one that will deliver exascale performance. AURORA is to be developed in a partnership between Intel and Cray, using the later's Shasta systems and its "Slingshot" networking fabric. But these are not the only Intel elements in the supercomputer design: Intel's DC Optane persistent memory will also be employed (in an as-of-yet-unavailable version of it as well), making this a full win across the prow for Intel.

Kyle Bennett of HardOCP Joins Intel as Director of Enthusiast Engagement

Kyle Bennett, owner of tech publication HardOCP that ruled the web for over two decades, has joined Intel in the position of Director of Enthusiast Engagement. Following his departure, HardOCP will "mothballed," in that it will not generate new content, its IP and existing content will be owned by Bennett. HardForum.com, on the other hand, will be sold to a company Bennett is familiar with, demonetized, and run by volunteers and funded by Patreons. At Intel, Bennett will work under Technology Leadership Marketing, and will lead the company's efforts to "reconnect with the top of the high-performance consumer pyramid which contains hardware enthusiasts, overclockers, gamers, and content creators."

Kyle Benett is among a handful superstar tech journalists Intel soaked up in recent times as Raja Koduri and Chris Hook build Intel's Infinity Gauntlet with them. These include Ryan Shrout from PC Perspective, and Damien Triolet from Hardware.fr (albeit via AMD). Anand Lal Shimpi probably was one of the first and most prominent tech press leaders who left his publication for the industry. AMD's arsenal includes Scott Wasson from The TechReport and the famous overclocker Sammi Maekinen. Lars Weinand from RivaStation works for NVIDIA (also via AMD). Kyle Bennett is famous for a mountain of work in the DIY PC sphere, but in recent times is most recently credited for exposing and leading an awareness campaign against NVIDIA's poorly conceived GeForce Partner Program (GPP). We wish Kyle Bennett all the very best in his new endeavor and pray that he doesn't allow DIY PC and overclocking to become as expensive a hobby as fast cars (which unfortunately is the direction in which it's headed).

Apple iMac Gets a 2x Performance Boost

Apple today updated its iMac line with up to 8-core Intel 9th-generation processors for the first time and powerful Vega graphics options, delivering dramatic increases in both compute and graphics performance. From consumers to pros alike, users will notice their iMac is faster for everyday tasks all the way up to the most demanding pro workloads. This boost in performance, combined with its gorgeous Retina display, sleek all-in-one design, quiet operation, fast storage and memory, modern connectivity and macOS Mojave, makes iMac the world's best desktop.

"Customers are going to love the huge boost in iMac performance. With up to 8-core processors and powerful Vega graphics, the iMac lineup is stronger than ever," said Tom Boger, Apple's senior director of Mac Product Marketing. "With its stunning Retina display, amazing design, twice the performance, and macOS Mojave that our customers love, iMac is by far the best desktop in the world."

AMD CPUs Immune to SPOILER Vulnerability: Company Statement

SPOILER, short for Speculative Load Hazards Boost Rowhammer and Cache Attacks (not sure how that abbreviates), is the latest in the long line of security vulnerabilities preying on imperfections in speculative-execution capabilities of modern processors, which surfaced early March, and affects all Intel processors. The vulnerability exploits the speculative nature of loading data from main memory to a CPU register. Intel has yet to assign a CVE to SPOILER, and hasn't yet released its own documentation on possible mitigation.

Meanwhile, rival AMD put out a statement that its processors are inherently immune to SPOILER due to a fundamentally different memory management design. "We are aware of the report of a new security exploit called SPOILER which can gain access to partial address information during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because of our unique processor architecture. The SPOILER exploit can gain access to partial address information above address bit 11 during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because AMD processors do not use partial address matches above address bit 11 when resolving load conflicts," the company writes in its statement.

ASUS ZenBook 14 (UX431) Now Available

ASUS today announced ZenBook 14 (UX431). It balances value and performance to deliver a sleek, sophisticated ultraportable that doesn't compromise on power. This premium laptop is packed full of the latest technology that includes 8th Generation Intel Core processors, NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics, up to 16GB of RAM, ample SSD storage space and the latest connectivity options. The ZenBook 14 is available now, in two configurations, starting at $799.99.

ZenBook 14 exudes sophistication without screaming for attention. Its Utopia Blue color and spun-metal finish are decidedly chic while still being distinctly Zen. Lifting the lid reveals a 14-inch FHD (1920x1080) IPS NanoEdge display that offers great viewing angles and uniform color, whether the user is sitting square in front of it at work, or lounging to one side watching Netflix.

Intel Graphics Teases a New Gamer-Friendly Control Panel

Intel Graphics switched gears from being integrated graphics solutions for basic 2D desktop and video, to something that could appeal to gamers. The change appears to have been brought about by hiring of Raja Koduri, who led graphics teams at AMD and Apple. Intel discovered that its iGPUs can play many e-Sports games such as PUBG, World of Tanks, Warhammer: Vermitide 2, etc., and so, the company decided to do more for this segment of PC gamers that still games on iGPUs, beginning with regular driver updates that pack game-optimizations, the switch to the new DCH driver model for Windows 10, and apparently, a new Control Panel app designed for gamers.

Teased in a YouTube presentation by Intel Graphics, the Control Panel appears to show a game launcher and settings optimization tool modeled along the lines of GeForce Experience. Intel has also made big changes to the functional bits of the Control Panel, which deal with global display settings, monitor setup, etc. The new Control Panel gives us a direction of where Intel Graphics is headed: it doesn't want to leave behind gamers. The Gen11 iGPU which will be part of the company's 10 nm "Ice Lake" processors already spark rumors of massive 3D performance improvements over current Gen9.5, and reportedly have over 1 TFLOP/s of raw compute power. The company is also working on a discrete GPU lineup under the Xe brand, targeting a variety of market segments, including gamers.
The video presentation by Intel Graphics follows.

Intel to Refresh its LGA2066 HEDT Platform This Summer?

Intel is rumored to refresh its high-end desktop (HEDT) platforms this Summer with new products based on the "Cascade Lake" microarchitecture. Intel now has two HEDT platforms, LGA2066 and LGA3647. The new "Cascade Lake-X" silicon will target the LGA2066 platform, and could see the light of the day by June, on the sidelines of Computex 2019. A higher core-count model with 6-channel memory, will be launched for the LGA3647 socket as early as April. So if you've very recently fronted $3,000 on a Xeon W-3175X, here's a bucket of remorse. Both chips will be built on existing 14 nm process, and will bring innovations such as Optane Persistent Memory support, Intel Deep Learning Boost (DLBOOST) extensions with VNNI instruction-set, and hardware mitigation against more variants of "Meltdown" and "Spectre."

Elsewhere in the industry, and sticking with Intel, we've known since November 2018 of the existence of "Comet Lake," which is a 10-core silicon for the LGA1151 platform, and which is yet another "Skylake" derivative built on existing 14 nm process. This chip is real, and will be Intel's last line of defense against AMD's first 7 nm "Zen 2" socket AM4 processors, with core-counts of 12-16.

Intel CPU Shortages to Worsen Thru Q2-2019

Supplies of Intel processors will worsen in the second quarter of 2019 according to Taiwan-based industry observer DigiTimes. In a research-based report covering not just the DIY channel, but also the OEM channel focusing on notebook manufacturer, DigiTimes notes that heading into Q2, growth in demand for entry-level portables such as Chromebooks based on entry-level Intel processors, and mainstream notebooks powered by Core i3 processors, which make up the largest demographic of PC consumers in the market.

A pertinent concept to this report is supply-gap, the percentage difference between demand and supply. A positive supply-gap indicates demand exceeding supply and shortages. Leading notebook vendors HP, Dell, and Lenovo, reported supply-gaps of 5% going into Q3-2018, which severely impacted their bottom-lines. The companies waded through Q4 with 4-5%. DigiTimes reports that even Apple wasn't spared from shortages in "Amber Lake" processors. "In the first quarter of 2019, the Core i5 processors featuring Coffee Lake architecture are now having the worst supply shortfall. Some of the demand for Intel's entry-level Atom processors has turned to AMD, while some others have opted for Core i3 processors," the report reads. AMD's market-share among OEMs increased from 9.8% in Q1-2018 to 15.8% in Q1-2019.

Mellanox Not Quite Intel's Yet, NVIDIA Joins Competitive Bidding

Late January it was reported that Intel is looking to buy out Israeli networking hardware maker Mellanox Technology, in what looked like a cakewalk USD $6 billion deal at the time, which was a 35 percent premium over the valuation of Mellanox. Turns out, Intel hasn't closed the deal, and there are other big tech players in the foray for Mellanox, the most notable being NVIDIA. The GPU giant has reportedly offered Mellanox a competitive bid of $7 billion.

NVIDIA eyes a slice of the data-center networking hardware pie since the company has invested heavily in GPU-based AI accelerators and its own high-bandwidth interconnect dubbed NVLink, and now needs to complete its hardware ecosystem with NICs and switches under its own brand. Founded in 1999 in Yoqneam, Israel, Mellanox designs high performance network processors and fully-built NICs in a wide range of data-center relevant interconnects. Intel is by far the biggest tech company operating in Israel, with not just R&D centers, but also manufacturing sites, in stark contrast to NVIDIA, which opened its first R&D office in 2017 with a few hundred employees.

Update: NVIDIA's bid for Mellanox stands at $7 billion.

CORSAIR Hydro X Custom Watercooling Parts Up at Swiss Retailer + Visual Impressions

When we first had a glance of the CORSAIR Hydro X custom watercooling loop parts in action, we suspected they might have a CES debut. CES has come and gone since, with no word of the company's entry into this field. Their direct competitors, including Phanteks and Thermaltake, have since added to their respective product portfolios comprising fans, water blocks, coolants and radiators. Perhaps CORSAIR wanted the launch to not be overshadowed by the other product launches at the recent trade show, and perhaps the listings of the Hydro X products on Digitech.ch is a sign of things to come sooner than later. Read past the break for a more in-depth discussion on the various parts listed, based on our experience with this industry as a whole.

Definitive List of 9th Gen Intel Desktop Client-Segment Processors Outed

Japanese PC maker Fujitsu put out a definitive list of all 9th generation Core/Pentium/Celeron desktop processors as part of its updated desktop motherboard BIOS update document, expanding on the models Intel currently has out. Intel had, in January, stated that it will add several new 9th generation Core desktop processor models in Q1 2019, beginning with the Core i5-9400 and i5-9400F 6-core/6-thread processor, along with "KF" variants of the i5-9600K, i7-9700K, and i9-9900K, which lack integrated graphics. Later this month, the lineup could be expanded with new 9th generation Core i3 series, which includes the i3-9100 and i3-9300 4-core/4-thread processors, overclocker-friendly i3-9350K, and additions to the Core i5 lineup, including the i5-9500 and the i5-9600 (non-K).

Here's where it gets interesting. Apparently, the iGPU-devoid "F" extension is being applied to nearly all 9th gen Core SKUs, and not just the ones already launch. So, you can expect an i5-9500F, i5-9600F (besides the already launched i5-9600KF), i3-9100F, and i3-9350KF. Apparently Intel is harvesting dies with defective iGPUs to target DIY PC gamers who are bound to use discrete graphics cards. The 2-core/4-thread Pentium G5600 is also getting "F-ed," with the G5600F.

Spoiler Alert: New Security Vulnerability Found Affecting Intel CPUs

A new security vulnerability has been found that only affects Intel CPUs - AMD users need not concern regarding this issue. Dubbed Spoiler, the newfound security vulnerability was discovered by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in partnership with the University of Lübeck, and affects all Intel CPUs since the introduction of their Core architecture. This vulnerability too affects Intel's speculative execution design, and according to the researchers, works independent of OS, virtual machine, or sandboxed environments.

As the researchers explain, Intel's speculative execution of certain memory workloads requires the full physical address bits for the information in memory to be known, which could allow for the full address to be available in user space - allowing for privilege escalation and other microarchitectural attacks. According to the researchers, a software solution to this problem is impossible, which means this is yet another silicon-level bug that needs to be addressed in future processor designs.

Intel Takes Steps to Enable Thunderbolt 3 Everywhere, Releases Protocol

Intel is well on its way to making the innovation delivered with Thunderbolt 3 available to everyone. Today, Intel announced that it contributed the Intel Thunderbolt protocol specification to the USB Promoter Group, enabling other chip makers to build Thunderbolt compatible silicon, royalty-free. In addition, the USB Promoter Group announced the pending release of the USB4 specification, based on the Thunderbolt protocol. The convergence of the underlying Thunderbolt and USB protocols will increase compatibility among USB Type-C connector-based products, simplifying how people connect their devices.

"Releasing the Thunderbolt protocol specification is a significant milestone for making today's simplest and most versatile port available to everyone. This, in combination with the integration of Thunderbolt 3 into upcoming Intel processors is a win-win for the industry and consumers," said Jason Ziller, general manager, Client Connectivity Division at Intel.

USB Promoter Group Announces USB4 Specification

While we just recently covered the USB 3.2 specification. The USB Promoter Group has today announced the pending release of the USB4 specification, a major update to deliver the next generation USB architecture that compliments and builds on the existing USB 3.2 and USB 2.0 architectures. The USB4 architecture is based on the Thunderbolt protocol specification recently contributed by Intel Corporation. It doubles the bandwidth of USB and enables multiple simultaneous data and display protocols.

The new USB4 architecture defines a method to share a single high-speed link with multiple end device types dynamically that best serves the transfer of data by type and application. As the USB Type-C connector has evolved into the role as the external display port of many host products, the USB4 specification provides the host the ability to optimally scale allocations for display data flow. Even as the USB4 specification introduces a new underlying protocol, compatibility with existing USB 3.2, USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt 3 hosts and devices is supported; the resulting connection scales to the best mutual capability of the devices being connected. "The primary goal of USB is to deliver the best user experience combining data, display and power delivery over a user-friendly and robust cable and connector solution," said Brad Saunders, USB Promoter Group Chairman. "The USB4 solution specifically tailors bus operation to further enhance this experience by optimizing the blend of data and display over a single connection and enabling the further doubling of performance."

JPR: GPU Shipments Down 2.65% From Last Quarter, 3.3% YoY

Jon Peddie Research, the market research firm for the computer graphics industry, has released its quarterly Market Watch report on worldwide GPU shipments used in PCs for Q4'18. Overall GPU shipments decreased -2.65% from last quarter, AMD shipments decreased -6.8% Nvidia decreased -7.6% and Intel's shipments, decreased -0.7%. AMD's market share from last quarter decreased -0.6%, Intel's increased 1.4%, and Nvidia's market share decreased -0.82%. Year-to-year total GPU shipments decreased -3.3%, desktop graphics decreased -20%, notebooks increased 8%.

Although overall GPU shipments declined PC sales saw an uptick of 1.61% which is a positive sign for the market overall. "The channel's demand for add-in boards (AIBs) in early 2018 was out of sync with what was happening in the market," said Dr. Jon Peddie, president and founder of Jon Peddie Research. "As a result, the channel was burdened with too much inventory. That has impacted sales of discrete GPUs in Q4, and will likely be evident in Q1, and Q2'19 as well."

New "Thunderclap" Vulnerability Threatens to Infect Your PC Over Thunderbolt Peripherals

A new security vulnerability named "Thunderclap" severely compromises security of computers with USB type-C Thunderbolt ports, or machines with Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps) ports. This would be pretty much every MacBook released in the past two years, Macs, and PCs with certain aftermarket Thunderbolt 3 adapters. Chronicled in a paper by the Department of Computer Science and Technology at the University of Cambridge, Rice University and SRI International, is a method for Thunderbolt devices to bypass the host machine's IOMMU (I/O memory management unit), and read its main memory over DMA.

An IOMMU translates address-spaces between devices and main memory, and hence protects your memory's contents being read by just about any device. The group has detailed possible ways to mitigate this vulnerability, and forwarded these mitigations to Apple, Intel, and Microsoft. For now no public mitigation exists other than disabling the Thunderbolt controller of your machine in your motherboard's UEFI setup program.

Intel Announces Next-Generation Acceleration Card to Deliver 5G

Today at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019, Intel announced the Intel FPGA Programmable Acceleration Card N3000 (Intel FPGA PAC N3000), designed for service providers to enable 5G next-generation core and virtualized radio access network solutions. The Intel FPGA PAC N3000 accelerates many virtualized workloads, ranging from 5G radio access networks to core network applications.

"As the mobile and telecommunications industry gears up for an explosion in internet protocol traffic and 5G rollouts, we designed the Intel FPGA PAC N3000 to provide the programmability and flexibility with the performance, power efficiency, density and system integration capabilities the market needs to fully support the capabilities of 5G networks," said Reynette Au, Intel vice president of marketing, Programmable Solutions Group.

NVIDIA Adds New Options to Its MX200 Mobile Graphics Solutions - MX250 and MX230

NVIDIA has added new SKUs to its low power mobility graphics lineup. the MX230 and MX250 come in to replace The GeForce MX130 and MX150, but... there's really not that much of a performance improvement to justify the increase in the series' tier. Both solutions are based on Pascal, so there are no Turing performance uplifts at the execution level.

NVIDIA hasn't disclosed any CUDA core counts or other specifics on these chips; we only know that they are paired with GDDR 5 memory and feature Boost functionality for increased performance in particular scenarios. The strange thing is that NVIDIA's own performance scores compare their MX 130, MX150, and now MX230 and MX250 to Intel's UHD620 IGP part... and while the old MX150 was reported by NVIDIA as offering an up to 4x performance uplift compared to that Intel part, the new MX250 now claims an improvement of 3.5x the performance. Whether this is because of new testing methodology, or some other reason, only NVIDIA knows.

Intel Invites Gamers for a Graphics Odyssey Spanning Multiple Continents

Intel is working to build up hype and awareness around its discrete graphics efforts, of which we're still to see more off besides Intel's continuous acquisition of AMD-based talent for that particular endeavor. It's relatively hard to build up enthusiasm for something other than the fact there is a third competitor entering the high-performance graphics card space; the rest is mostly rumors, speculations, and declared intentions.

Intel's FinFET-Based Embedded MRAM is Ready for Production

A report via EETimes slates Intel's own working MRAM (Magnetoresistive Random-Access Memory) is ready for production in high-volume manufacturing. MRAM is a nonvolatile memory technology, meaning that it retains information even if there is a change in powerstate (ie, power loss), meaning that it's more akin to a storage device than to, say, RAM.

But why does MRAM matter, really? Well, MRAM is being developed as a long-term candidate to a universal memory solution, replacing both DRAM (a volatile memory technology) and NAND flash (a nonvolatile one), since node scaling with these technologies is becoming increasingly harder. MRAM promises better-scaling (at the foundry level) processes, with much higher yield rates. The fact that MRAM has been demonstrated to be able to achieve 1 ns settling times, better than the currently accepted theoretical limits for DRAM, and much higher write speeds (as much as thousands of times faster) compared to NAND flash.

Intel Rolls Out the 4 GHz Pentium Gold G5620 Processor

Intel rolled out its first Pentium-branded processor with 4.00 GHz clock-speed, the Pentium Gold G5620 (retail SKU: BX80684G5620). The chip replaces the G5600 on top of the entry-level product stack. Based on the 14 nm "Coffee Lake" microarchitecture, it packs a 2-core/4-thread CPU clocked at 4.00 GHz without Turbo Boost. 256 KB of L2 cache per core and 4 MB of shared L3 cache are also offered. The integrated graphics solution is Intel's workhorse UHD Graphics 630, with 24 execution units. The dual-channel DDR4 integrated memory controller supports up to 64 GB of DDR4-2400 memory. The chip's TDP is rated at 65W. Pricing is up in the air, with retail channel shortages expected to swing the chip on both sides of the $100-mark. Availability is slated for early-March, 2019.

Intel Acquires Indian Startup to Strengthen Position in Discrete GPU Tech

Several years ago, Ineda, a small startup from Hyderabad, India made headlines when they developed custom-design processors for use in wearable devices that were optimized for high energy-efficiency, while still having the ability to read out various sensors or listen to voice commands at the same time. Such improvements help increase battery life on devices that people don't want to recharge every day. Over the years the company has received several million dollars in funding from Samsung, Qualcomm, Imagination Technologies and others.

Looks like this caused enough attention at chip giant Intel, who's trying to come up with a competitive design for a discrete graphics processor, that's able to take on AMD's and NVIDIA's offerings. While Ineda certainly has patents that could come in useful, it looks like Intel is more interested in the company's manpower. With around 100 engineers, the company has a lot of talent, that's experienced in chip design and how to make these chips energy efficient.
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