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AMD B550 and A520 Lack PCIe Gen 4 Capabilities?

Last Friday, we reported ASMedia working on new-generation socket AM4 motherboard chipsets that succeed the AMD B450 and A320, which could hopefully offer significantly cheaper alternatives to boards based on the feature-rich AMD X570 chipset. The DigiTimes story we cited was updated to clarify that the chipset only supports PCI-Express gen 3.0, and not the newer PCI-Express gen 4.0. There are two distinct ways of interpreting this information.

One, that motherboards based on B550 and A520 completely lack PCIe gen 4.0, including the main PCI-Express x16 (PEG) slot and the M.2 slot wired to the AM4 SoC; and two, that only the downstream PCIe lanes and the chipset bus are PCIe gen 3.0, while the main PEG slot and M.2 slot from the SoC remain gen 4. We lean toward the latter interpretation being more plausible, that AMD B550 and A520 motherboards will at least feature one PCI-Express 4.0 x16 slot, and one M.2 slot that has PCI-Express 4.0 x4 wiring from the AM4 SoC; while the ASMedia chipset is connected to the SoC over PCI-Express 3.0 x4, and downstream PCIe lanes put out by the chipset are gen 3.0, too. These ASMedia-sourced AMD 500-series chipset motherboards could also implement the latest PCB, CPU VRM, and memory wiring specifications released by AMD that enable CPU and memory overclocking levels unattainable on motherboards based on older chipsets.

AMD Announces the Radeon Pro Vega II and Pro Vega II Duo Graphics Cards

AMD today announced the Radeon Pro Vega II and Pro Vega II Duo graphics cards, making their debut with the new Apple Mac Pro workstation. Based on an enhanced 32 GB variant of the 7 nm "Vega 20" MCM, the Radeon Pro Vega II maxes out its GPU silicon, with 4,096 stream processors, 1.70 GHz peak engine clock, 32 GB of 4096-bit HBM2 memory, and 1 TB/s of memory bandwidth. The card features both PCI-Express 3.0 x16 and InfinityFabric interfaces. As its name suggests, the Pro Vega II is designed for professional workloads, and comes with certifications for nearly all professional content creation applications.

The Radeon Pro Vega II Duo is the first dual-GPU graphics card from AMD in ages. Purpose built for the Mac Pro (and available on the Apple workstation only), this card puts two fully unlocked "Vega 20" MCMs with 32 GB HBM2 memory each on a single PCB. The card uses a bridge chip to connect the two GPUs to the system bus, but in addition, has an 84.5 GB/s InfinityFabric link running between the two GPUs, for rapid memory access, GPU and memory virtualization, and interoperability between the two GPUs, bypassing the host system bus. In addition to certifications for every conceivable content creation suite for the MacOS platform, AMD dropped in heavy optimization for the Metal 3D graphics API. For now the two graphics cards are only available as options for the Apple Mac Pro. The single-GPU Pro Vega II may see standalone product availability later this year, but the Pro Vega II Duo will remain a Mac Pro-exclusive.

KLEVV Shows Off New Flash Drives, SSDs and Memory with Copious Amounts of RGB

KLEVV at its Computex 2019 booth unveiled a new line of high-performance USB flash drives. It also brought along its latest variants of CRAS series M.2 NVMe SSDs and DDR4 memory, which come with a dazzling/blinding (take your pick) amount of RGB LED embellishment. We begin with the Portable Ghost, branded as a "portable SSD" and not a flash-drive. This is because the USB 3.1 gen 2 type-C connection pulls a PCIe/NVMe internal SSD. When plugged into a PC or a USB charger, the drive can also work as a wireless drive to your other devices over Bluetooth 4.2. The drive comes in two variants based on capacity, which significantly differ in hardware. The 240 GB variant is pulled by a JMicron JM5583 controller, while the 480 GB variant has a Silicon Motion SM2263EN. Both models use 72-layer 3D TLC NAND flash, and have the same on-paper performance figures, with up to 1,250 MB/s reads/writes. The drive isn't without two RGB LED diffusers.

The Blu RC30 is another fascinating, albeit slower drive, that's properly marketed as a flash drive. Built in the conventional 2-piece capped form-factor, the drive features a USB 3.1 gen 1 (5 Gbps) type-A connection. An internal battery which soaks up power when plugged in, lets the drive function wireless over Bluetooth 4.2, and also be used as a wireless presentation tool (a clicker), with capacitive touch surface and a couple of buttons, which imitate a mouse. Built in capacities of 32 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB, the Blu RC30 offers sequential transfer-rates of up to 250 MB/s reads on all three models, and write-speeds rated at 40 MB/s for the 32 GB model, 50 MB/s for 64 GB, and 90 MB/s for the 128 GB model. Transfer rates are severely throttled in wireless mode. We then moved on to its SSD and memory products.

GIGABYTE Rolls Out AORUS RGB AIC NVMe SSD

GIGABYTE today rolled out the Aorus RGB AIC NVMe SSD series. Built in the full-height single-slot AIC form-factor with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 host interface, the card combines a Phison PS5012-E12 NVMe 1.3 controller with Toshiba BiCS3 TLC NAND flash, and comes in capacities of 512 GB and 1 TB, which are equipped with 512 MB and 1 GB of DRAM cache, respectively. The 1 TB variant offers sequential transfer speeds of up to 3,480 MB/s reads, with up to 3,080 MB/s writes; up to 610,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 530,000 IOPS 4K random writes. The 512 GB variant, on the other hand, gives you up to 3,480 MB/s sequential reads, up to 2,100 MB/s sequential writes; up to 360,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 510,000 IOPS random writes.

GIGABYTE deployed a passive cooling system, consisting of a thermal pad that makes contact with the controller, NAND flash chips, and DRAM chips on one side, and on the other side the card's top aluminium shroud that doubles up as a heatspreader. There's an equally thick aluminium back-plate which holds the card's acrylic RGB LED diffuser that runs along the top edge. You use GIGABYTE RGB Fusion software to control the lighting on this card. Both cards are backed by 5-year warranties, provided the card stays below their rated endurance of 800 TBW for the 512 GB model, and 1600 TBW for the 1 TB model. The company didn't reveal pricing.

Intel Unveils Wi-Fi 6 AX200 "Cyclone Peak" WLAN NIC

Intel formally launched the Wi-Fi 6 AX200 client-segment WLAN card for notebooks and PC motherboards in the M.2-2230 and M.2-1216 form-factors, based on the "Cyclone Peak" PHY powering the Wireless AX-22260 NIC family. The card interfaces with its host over PCI-Express 3.0 x1 and USB 2.0, for the Wi-Fi and integrated Bluetooth interfaces, respectively. As a Wi-Fi 6 adapter, it supports 802.11ax over 2x2 MU-MIMO antennae, and peak bandwidth of 2.4 Gbps, with support for both the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands. The Bluetooth interface is version 5.0.

Micron Unveils 2200 Client-segment SSD, Ditches SMI for In-house Controller

Micron has curiously been releasing client-segment SSDs these recent weeks. The company's main brand was focused on enterprise products, while subsidiary brands Crucial and Ballistix catered to the client-segment. Following up on its late-February launch of the 1300-series client-segment SSDs, Micron unveiled the even faster 2200-series. These drives ditch Silicon Motion-sourced controllers in favor of a new controller Micron designed in-house. Built in the M.2-2280 form-factor with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface, taking advantage of the NVMe protocol. This in-house controller is mated with Micron's 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash, cushioned by its own LPDDR4 DRAM cache.

Available in capacities of 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB, the Micron 2200 is rated to offer sequential transfer rates of up to 3000 MB/s reads, with up to 1600 MB/s writes, up to 240,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 210,000 IOPS 4K random writes, with an endurance rating of 75 TB, 150 TB, and 300 TB, for the 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB variants, respectively. Micron-exclusive features also make their way, such as native power-loss data-protection, and TCG Opal SED. The company hasn't revealed pricing or availability for these drives.

Western Digital WD Black SN750 is a High-end NVMe SSD with a Chunky Heatsink

Western Digital over the weekend refreshed its high-end client-segment SSD lineup with the WD Black SN750. Built in the M.2-2280 form-factor with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface and support for the NVMe 1.3 protocol, the drive combines a refreshed in-house developed controller with SanDisk-made 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory, cushioned by up to 2 GB of DRAM cache. The biggest change this drive offers over last Summer's WD Black 3D series, however, is the optional aluminium heatsink originally made by EK Waterblocks, which improves the drive's thermals and possibly sustained performance. You can opt to buy the drive without this heatsink.

Available in capacities of 250 GB for $80, 500 GB for $130, 1 TB for $250, and 2 TB for $500, the WD Black SN750 offers sequential transfer rates of up to 3470 MB/s reads on the 500 GB and 1 TB models. The 250 GB model reads at up to 3100 MB/s, and the 2 TB model up to 3400 MB/s. Sequential write speeds, too, are improved across the board, with up to 3000 MB/s for the 1 TB model, up to 2900 MB/s for the 2 TB model, up to 2600 MB/s for the 500 GB model, and up to 1600 MB/s for the 250 GB model. 4K random-access numbers can be as high as 515,000 IOPS reads. All models are backed by 5-year product warranties.

Intel "Ghost Canyon" High-end NUC Pictured

Intel plans to put an 8-core "Coffee Lake" CPU into a chassis with no more than 5 liters volume. Detailed earlier this month, the "Ghost Canyon" is a high-end NUC (next unit of computing) desktop which features the company's premium "Coffee Lake-HR" SoC. This chip features an 8-core/16-thread CPU and Intel UHD 620 graphics, and a PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot.

Since "Ghost Canyon" is positioned above the "Hades Canyon" NUC in Intel's product stack, Intel isn't bothering to build another MCM with an 8-core CPU and an AMD discrete GPU. It could instead let the NUC feature a faster discrete GPU over an MXM slot. FanlessTech caught the first glimpse of "Ghost Canyon," a matte black box with clear Intel Extreme branding. Apart from its star attraction, "Ghost Canyon" offers up to three HDMI 2.0 ports, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, M.2-2280 NVMe storage, and either PCI-Expresss 3.0 x16 interface for graphics. FanlessTech mentions this product won't be out before early-2020.

GIGABYTE Intros C246-WU4 Motherboard for Xeon E-Series and Core Processors

GIGABYTE today introduced the C246-WU4, a workstation-grade socket LGA1151 motherboard based on Intel C246 chipset, with support for the recently announced Xeon E-2100 series, in addition to 8th and 9th generation Core processors. With Xeon processors installed, it supports up to 128 GB ECC memory. 9th Generation Core processors let you use up to 128 GB non-ECC memory. 8th generation ones cap out at 64 GB non-ECC. The board also supports many of the vPro enterprise features that the Q370 Express chipset offers.

Built in the standard ATX form-factor, the board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX, 8-pin EPS, and optional 4-pin ATX, and uses an 8+2 phase VRM to condition power for the CPU. Expansion slots include four PCI-Express 3.0 x16, from which slots 1 and 3 are wired to the CPU, and share an x16 link (x16/NC or x8/x8), while slots 2 and 4 are gen 3.0 x4, and wired to the PCH. There's also a legacy PCI slot driven by a bridge chip. Storage connectivity includes two M.2 PCIe with gen 3.0 x4 wiring, each; and ten SATA 6 Gbps ports, from which eight are driven by the PCH, and two from an ASMedia ASM1061 chip. Network connectivity includes two 1 GbE interfaces, one driven by an Intel i219-V, and the other by i211-AT, with vPro support. USB connectivity includes USB 3.1 gen 2, including type-C rear-panel ports. The onboard audio features a Realtek ALC1220VB, which is EMI shielded, and wired to WIMA capacitors. Expect this board to be priced around $350.

BIOSTAR Announces M500 Series M.2 NVMe SSDs

BIOSTAR today introduced the M500 line of solid-state drives in the M.2-2280 form-factor, with PCI-Express 3.0 x2 interface. These were first shown off at Computex 2018. The drives take advantage of the NVMe 1.2 protocol. Available in capacities of 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB; the drives feature DDR3L DRAM caches of 256 MB, 256 MB, 512 MB, and 1 GB, respectively. Sequential performance numbers put out by the company are up to 1,700 MB/s reads, with up to 1,100 MB/s writes.

The drives pack a couple of handy innovations, beginning with the integrated metal heatspreader, which wraps around three sides of the drive. Near the end of the drive are two indicators - one is a green link/activity LED and the other is an RGB LED that indicates real-time temperature measured at the controller, with red being the hottest, green being the coolest, and yellow~amber indicating typical/normal temperature. The company didn't reveal pricing.

GIGABYTE Intros X299-WU8 Motherboard Capable of 4x PCIe x16

GIGABYTE introduced the X299-WU8, a high-end desktop motherboard being sold as a quasi-workstation-class board, in the CEB form-factor (305 mm x 267 mm). Based on Intel X299 Express chipset, it features out-of-the-box support for Intel's socket LGA2066 Core X 9000-series processors, in addition to existing Core X 7000-series. A design focus with this board is on PCIe connectivity. The board employs two PLX PEX8747 PCIx gen 3.0 x48 bridge chips, which convert two gen 3.0 x16 links from the processor to four downstream x16 links, which can further be switched to x8. All seven expansion slots are PCI-Express 3.0 x16 physically, which are electrically "x16/NC/x16/NC/x16/NC/x16" or "x16/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8." The topmost slot stays x16, while the other six share three x16 links depending on how you populate them. The board has certifications for 4-way SLI and CrossFireX.

The GIGABYTE X299-WU8 draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and two 8-pin EPS connectors, conditioning it for the CPU with an 8+1 phase VRM. An additional 6-pin PCIe power input, which is optional, stabilizes slot power delivery to the graphics cards. The CPU socket is flanked by eight DDR4 DIMM slots, supporting up to 128 GB of quad-channel DDR4 memory. Storage connectivity is surprisingly sparse, with just one M.2-2280 slot that has PCIe 3.0 x4 wiring, and eight SATA 6 Gbps ports. USB connectivity includes USB 3.1 gen 2 (including a type-C port), a number of USB 3.1 gen 1 ports, both on the rear panel and via headers; high-end onboard audio including an ALC1220 CODEC and headphones amp; and two 1 GbE networking interfaces. Expect this board to be priced around $600, given that the PEX8747 isn't cheap these days, and this board has two of it.

Silicon Power Intros P34M85 M.2 NVMe SSD

Silicon Power today introduced the P34M85 solid-state drive. Built in the M.2-2280 form-factor, this drive features PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface, and takes advantage of the NVMe 1.2 protocol. The company didn't drop any hints as to what combination of controller and NAND flash is under its heatspreader. It comes in capacities of 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB. It could be DRAM-less, given its HMB (host memory buffer) support, wherein the drive uses a small portion of your system memory. The P34M85 offers sequential transfer rates of up to 2,700 MB/s reads, with up to 1,400 MB/s writes. The drive is backed by a 5-year warranty. The company didn't reveal pricing.

ASRock Intros X370 Pro BTC+ Motherboard

Cryptocurrency mining rig motherboards have, until now, mostly been based on the Intel platform because Intel chipsets put out more PCIe lanes than AMD ones, and because Intel's sub-$100 Pentium/Celeron chips don't have narrower PCIe connectivity from the CPU. ASRock apparently has a lot of unsold AMD X370 chipset inventory, and with the possible introduction of sub-$100 Ryzen chips that have 28 PCIe lanes from the CPU, a use-case has emerged for a mining motherboard based on this platform. We hence have the X370 Pro BTC+. The board features an AM4 socket, with out of the box support for "Pinnacle Ridge" processors. The socket is wired to just one DDR4 DIMM slot, but all eight PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots.

The topmost x16 slot runs at electrical gen 3.0 x4, while the remaining seven slots are gen 3.0 x1, taking advantage of PCIe segmentation of the X370 platform. The board draws power from three 24-pin ATX, 8+4 pin EPS, and a number of Molex outputs, although most of these power connectors are optional. A point to note here is that the D-sub/HDMI display outputs only work if an A-series "Bristol Ridge" or Ryzen "Raven Ridge" APU is used (which have fewer PCIe lanes), so you're bound to take display output from one of the 8 graphics cards. A 1 GbE interface and two USB 3.0 ports make for the rest of it.

GIGABYTE Intros B450-I Aorus Pro WiFi Motherboard

GIGABYTE introduced an Aorus-branded, quasi-premium mini-ITX motherboard based on AMD B450 chipset, for socket AM4 processors, the B450-I Aorus Pro WiFi. The board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS, conditioning it for the SoC with a lean 4+2 phase VRM. The AM4 SoC is wired to two DDR4 DIMM slots, supporting up to 32 GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory; and the board's lone PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot.

Storage connectivity on the B450-I Aorus Pro WiFi includes an M.2-2280 slot with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 and SATA 6 Gbps wiring; and four SATA 6 Gbps ports. USB connectivity includes six USB 3.0 ports (four on the rear panel, two by headers); and two USB 3.1 gen 2 (both on the rear panel). With just 6-channel jacks, the onboard audio solution may look cheap, but is redeemed by Realtek ALC1220 CODEC. The Intel 9260 adapter is at the helm of wireless networking, with 802.11ac + Bluetooth 5.0, while GbE is handled by Intel i211AT. There's also some RGB LED fun to be had, with two 4-pin ARGB headers, and a small 8-pixel diffuser behind the PCB. GIGABYTE could price this board around $120.

Intel Intros 660p Series M.2 NVMe SSDs with QLC NAND Flash

Intel Tuesday introduced the new SSD 660p series M.2 NVMe solid state drives. At the heart of these drives is the new 64-layer 3D QLC (quadruple level cell, or 4 bits per cell) NAND flash memory by IMFlash Technology (an Intel and Micron joint-venture). This memory is mated with a SIlicon Motion SMI 2263 controller. This chip is a derivative of the popular SMI2262EN, built on a newer process, with support for QLC NAND flash, compacted to have a smaller PCB footprint, and is driven by a custom firmware by Intel. The drives use over 10% of the QLC NAND flash area as SLC cache. The 660p series comes in three variants based on size - 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB. The prices are the biggest dividend of QLC: the 512 GB variant goes for USD $99.99, the 1 TB variant at $199.99, and the 2 TB variant for $399.99.

Built in the M.2-2280 form-factor, the SSD 660p series drives feature PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface. Intel's pricing puts these drives close to competing drives with PCIe x2 interface, but offering higher transfer rates thanks to the wider bus. It's also interesting to note here that the controller is cushioned by a DRAM cache (something PCIe x2 drives tend to lack, to keep costs down). Performance numbers differ by variant, and the 512 GB drive is the slowest, sequentially reading at speeds of up to 1500 MB/s, with up to 1000 MB/s sequential writes; up to 90,000 4K random reads, and up to 220,000 IOPS 4K random writes. The 1 TB and 2 TB variants both sequentially read and write at up to 1800 MB/s. The 1 TB variant offers 150,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 220,000 IOPS random writes; while the 2 TB variant has 4K random reads/writes numbers of 220,000 IOPS.

GIGABYTE Announces the AORUS X399 XTREME Motherboard

GIGABYTE today announced its flagship socket TR4 motherboard for AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors, with out-of-the-box compatibility with 2nd generation 32-core Threadrippers. The new Aorus X399 XTREME board is part of a new breed of X399-TR4 motherboards launched/unveiled in the past few months, with reinforced VRM to cope better with the upcoming 250W TDP 24-core and 32-core processors, such as the MSI MEG X399 Creation. A brochure of this board was leaked to the web last month, and now we see it in the flesh. Technically still an ATX board, the Aorus X399 Xtreme is slightly broader, and is recommended to be installed in EATX-capable cases. Power is drawn from a 24-pin ATX, two 8-pin EPS, and an optional 6-pin PCIe power. A 10-phase VRM powers the CPU.

Expansion includes four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x16/NC/x16/NC or x16/NC/x8/x8 or x8/x8/x8/x8), and an x1 slot. Storage connectivity includes three M.2 slots with gen 3.0 x4 wiring, each; and six SATA 6 Gbps ports, from which four come directly from the CPU. The onboard audio is top of the line, with an ESS Sabre DAC working the main stereo out, and a Realtek ALC1220VB handling the other 8 channels. The Sabre is slaved to the ALC1220VB, so the system only sees one audio controller. There are four network interfaces - a 10 GbE driven by an Aquantia-made controller, two 1 GbE pulled by Intel i219-V, and an 802.11ac driven by an Intel 9260 WLAN card, which also handles Bluetooth 5.0. There are 10 USB 3.1 ports at the integrated rear panel (eight running at 5 Gbps, and two at 10 Gbps, one of which is type-C). Four other 5 Gbps ports are wired internally. Of course there's the full-shebang of RGB lighting and control. Available from 8th August, the board will be priced at USD $499.99.

GIGABYTE Intros CMT403x Series M.2 PCIe Riser Cards

GIGABYTE introduced the CMT4034 and CMT4032 M.2 PCIe riser cards, which convert a PCI-Express gen 3.0 slot to M.2-22110 slots with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 wiring. Your motherboard needs to support PCI-Express lane segmentation, as the cards have no switching logic of their own. Both cards are built in the half-height (low-profile) add-on card form-factor. The arrangement of the M.2 slots is where the two slightly differ. The CMT4034 has four M.2-22110 slots and takes in PCI-Express 3.0 x16, while the CMT4032 only has two M.2 slots, plugging into PCI-Express 3.0 x8.

While the CMT4032 features a single PCB with two M.2 slots on the obverse side of the PCB, the CMT4034 is designed with two PCBs such that a smaller PCB features the x16 host interface, while a larger second PCB is elevated from the main PCB, and has two M.2 slots on each of its side. The idea here is to provide clearance on the reverse side of the card, lest the M.2 drives installed there intrude into the space of the adjacent add-on card. Both cards include metal heatspreaders. You also get thermal sensors and link/activity LEDs for each individual slot. The company didn't reveal pricing.

ADATA Intros SR2000CP PCI-Express 3.0 x8 AIC SSD

ADATA introduced the SR2000CP a new enterprise SSD for when you absolutely, positively, need to push data at 6 gigabytes per second. Built in the half-height add-on card form-factor with PCI-Express 3.0 x8 interface, the drive ships in capacities of 2 TB, 3.5 TB, 4 TB, 8 TB, and 11 TB. The drives use 3D "eTLC" NAND flash. This type of memory has the 3 bits per cell characteristics of TLC, but endurance (P/E cycles) comparable to MLC NAND flash, which lends it endurance of 1~3 DWPD under a 5-year warranty.

The 4 TB variant tested by ADATA, churns out some impressive performance numbers - up to 1 million IOPS 4K random reads, up to 150,000 IOPS 4K random writes; and sequential transfer speeds of up to 6 GB/s reads, with up to 3.8 GB/s writes. You also get enterprise essentials such as user-configurable overprovisioning, power-loss protection, native 256-bit AES encryption, and up to protection against 95% relative humidity and 55°C ambient temperature (Google's datacenters). The company didn't reveal pricing as the drives could be served up to enterprise customers.

ASMedia Readies ASM2824 PCIe Switch Anticipating a Rise in M.2 Slots

ASMedia is giving finishing touches to the ASM2824 PCI-Express gen 3.0 x24 switch. With half the fabric as the PLX PEX8747, the chip takes in PCI-Express 3.0 x8, and puts out four PCI-Express 3.0 x4 connections. In theory, this would let a motherboard designer create four M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 slots from 8 downstream PCIe lanes of the Intel Z390 chipset, saving the remaining PCIe lanes for onboard USB 3.1 controllers (preferably sourced from ASMedia itself), since Intel canned the older 14 nm version of the Z390, which was supposed to put out six 10 Gbps USB 3.1 gen 2 and ten 5 Gbps USB 3.1 gen 1 ports directly from the PCH.

With all four downstream slots populated, ASMedia promises NVMe RAID bandwidths of up to 6,500 MB/s, with some CDM numbers even crossing 6,700 MB/s. Then again, one has to take into account that the test platform probably had the ASM2824 wired to the CPU's PCIe root-complex, and not that of the chipset. Intel is yet to modernize the lousy DMI 3.0 chipset-bus between its latest processors and chipset, and is physically PCI-Express 3.0 x4, which is fundamentally outdated for the bandwidth-heavy interfaces of this generation, such as USB 3.1, M.2 NVMe, and even the upcoming SD Express. The ASM2824 is also a godsend for the AMD AM4 platform, which not only has the same PCI-Express 3.0 x4 chipset bus between the AM4 SoC and the X470 chipset, but also a poor downstream PCIe feature-set of the X470, with just 8 gen 2.0 lanes. Motherboard designers can wire out all of those lanes to an ASM2824 for up to 24 downstream lanes.

Realtek Intros RTS5762 NVMe SSD Controller Capable of 3500 MB/s Reads

Realtek, known more for its cheap Ethernet PHYs and audio CODECs, entered the SSD controller market in 2017, with mainstream SSD controllers. This year, the company plans to take on giants such as Silicon Motion, Phison, Intel, and Samsung, with its own high-performance controller, the RTS5762. The PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface provides 4,000 MB/s of raw bandwidth per direction, and while it's technically impossible for any device to transfer its payload data at that speed (on account of various protocol overheads), very few PCI-Express 3.0 x4 SSDs get within 80th percentile of it (3200 MB/s per direction transfers). It's only recently that 3400 MB/s became the gold-standard of high-end M.2 NVMe SSDs, but Realtek plans to change that.

The RTS5762 is capable of up to 3,500 MB/s reads, or 87.5% saturation of the PCI-Experss 3.0 x4 bus. It supports up to 8 NAND flash channels, 3D TLC and 3D QLC NAND flash memory, and takes advantage of the newer NVMe 1.3 protocol. The only other controller right now that's capable of 3,500 MB/s reads is Samsung "Phoenix," found exclusively on the 970 Pro series (and no other brand's products). Sequential write performance is where this Realtek chip edges past Samsung, with the company showing CDM performance of up to 3,000 MB/s writes, whereas the 970 Pro is only specified to write up to 2,700 MB/s. Realtek also beefed up its mainstream NVMe controller portfolio with the new RTS5763DL. If drives based on this chip are priced right, it could carve out a new market segment between cheaper PCIe 3.0 x2 drives, and "upper mainstream" x4 drives such as the Samsung 970 EVO. Armed with just 4 NAND flash channels and no DRAM to cushion it, the RTS5763DL reads at up to 2150 MB/s, and writes at up to 1475 MB/s (as tested on CDM), making it faster than PCIe 3.0 x2 drives, at least in the sequential reads test.

ASUS ROG Dominus Pictured, Core i9 XCC Confirmed to Feature 6-channel Memory

This Tuesday at its Computex presser, Intel unveiled an unnamed 28-core/56-thread HEDT (client-segment) processor that's capable of being bench-stable at 5.00 GHz. The chip is a client-segment implementation of the Skylake XCC (extreme core count) silicon, which features 30 Mesh Interconnect "tiles," of which 28 are cores and two integrated memory controllers. The XCC silicon features a 384-bit wide (6-channel) DDR4 memory interface, and it turns out that whatever SKU Intel is planning, will require a different motherboard from your X299 board that can handle up to 18 cores and 4-channel memory. It will require a client-segment variant of the LGA3647 enterprise socket from the Purley platform. One of the first of these is the ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) Dominus.

Clearly bigger than ATX, in being either E-ATX or SSI form-factor, this board draws power from two 24-pin ATX, two 8-pin EPS, and three 6-pin PCIe, and has a gargantuan 16-phase VRM with two fan-heatsink blocks. Six DDR4 DIMM slots flank the socket, three on either side, each with its dedicated 64-bit wide path to the socket. The XCC silicon features a 48-lane PCI-Express gen 3.0 root complex, and so the board could feature at least two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 capable of full bandwidth, among a boat load of PCIe based storage connectivity, and onboard devices.

Update: This motherboard may have been a quick modification of the WS C621E SAGE, by removing one of its sockets, and modifying the rest of the board accordingly. Prototyping a board like that, for a company with ASUS' resources, would barely take 2-3 weeks by our estimate.

Intel Launches Optane 905P in M.2-22110 Form-factor

Intel launched the Optane 905P SSD in the more practical M.2-22110 (110 mm long) form-factor, following up on its early-May launch in the add-in card (AIC) form-factor. These drives take advantage of the PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface and NVMe protocol, and feature the company's latest generation 3D X-point memory. The drive likely comes in capacities of up to 480 GB, with transfer rates of up to 2600 MB/s reads, up to 2200 MB/s writes, and 575k/550k 4K random access speeds. The USP here is endurance, with 10 DWPD, and 1.6 million hours MTBF.

ASUS Intros H370 Mining Master Motherboard - Those Aren't USB Ports

ASUS rolled out one of its first crypto-currency miner-friendly motherboards based on the Intel 300-series chipset platform, now that cheaper Pentium Gold and Celeron processors for this platform are available. The H370 Mining Master puts out all 20 PCI-Express gen 3.0 lanes of the H370 Express chipset as x1 slots. It does this in a space-saving way - wiring out each PCIe "port" as USB 3.0 physically (using its 9 pins), which you wire out using USB 3.1 type-A male-to-male cables into open-ended PCIe x1 risers. You can plug in 20 graphics cards over risers, besides a 21st card on the board's PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot.

The rest of the board is pretty spartan, which is what miners need. The LGA1151 socket is powered by a simple 4+2 phase VRM. Power is drawn from three 24-pin ATX, and one 8-pin EPS. The CPU socket is wired to two DDR4 DIMM slots, supporting up to 32 GB of dual-channel memory, the x16 slot, and the H370 Express chipset. Storage connectivity includes just two SATA 6 Gbps ports. You get six USB 3.0 ports (four on the rear panel, two via headers). Display outputs include DVI and HDMI. Legacy connectivity includes PS/2 combo, and one serial COM header. 6-channel HD audio, and one 1 GbE interface, driven by an Intel i219-V, makes for the rest of it. ASUS threw in onboard power/reset buttons, and POST debug display to sweeten things.

Silicon Power Intros AIC3C0P Industrial NVMe SSD

Silicon Power introduced the AIC3C0P, an industrial-grade PCI-Express NVMe SSD in the half-height add-in card form-factor, with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface. Available in capacities of 800 GB, 1.6 TB, and 3.2 TB, the drive features MLC NAND flash. It offers sequential transfer rates of up to 3200 MB/s reads, with up to 1850 MB/s writes, and 4K random access speeds of up to 750,000 IOPS reads, and up to 380,000 IOPS writes. Also on offer is power-loss protection, and native 256-bit AES data encryption. The company didn't reveal pricing.

Mushkin Launches its Pilot Series M.2 NVMe SSDs

Mushkin launched the Pilot line of M.2 NVMe SSDs, which it debuted at the 2018 CES. The drives combine Silicon Motion SM2262 controller with 3D TLC NAND flash memory. Built in the M.2-2280 form-factor, the drives feature PCI-Express 3.0 x4 interface, and take advantage of the NVMe 1.3 protocol. The drive comes in four capacities - 120 GB, 250 GB, 500 GB, and 1 TB, which differ in performance.

The 120 GB variant offers sequential transfer speeds of up to 1215 MB/s reads, with up to 515 MB/s writes, up to 91,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 133,000 IOPS 4K random writes. The 250 GB variant is almost twice as fast, with up to 2470 MB/s sequential reads, up to 1000 MB/s sequential writes, up to 179,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 257,000 IOPS 4K random writes. The 500 GB variant is faster still, with up to 2680 MB/s sequential reads, with up to 1755 MB/s writes, up to 335,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 277,000 IOPS 4K random writes. The 1 TB variant leads the pack, with up to 2710 MB/s sequential reads, with up to 1755 MB/s writes, up to 283,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 280,000 IOPS 4K random writes. The drives are backed by 3-year warranties.
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