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GIGABYTE B550 AORUS Master Waltzes Around Chipset Limitations to Provide Three Gen 4 M.2 Slots

GIGABYTE B550 AORUS Master is the company's most premium socket AM4 motherboard based on the upcoming AMD B550 chipset. We described this board in some detail in our older article covering an assortment of top B550 motherboards from manufacturers, but missed a key bit. At the time we assumed that the PCI-Express lane switches located below the board's main PCI-Express slot merely split its x16 connection from the AM4 SoC down to two x8 connections to share between two slots, given that AMD allows multi-GPU (including SLI) with the B550. Apparently, the lane switches are there for a different, more fascinating reason.

A BenchLife.info report points to the possibility of all three M.2 slots on this motherboard having PCI-Express gen 4.0 wiring - something that shouldn't normally be possible, since all downstream PCIe lanes put out by the B550 are gen 3.0. The way we see it, the topmost M.2 slot has a direct PCI-Express 4.0 x4 connection from the AM4 socket (as it normally should). The second- and third slots, however, pull their wiring from a series of lane switches that split the main x16 PEG slot to gen 4.0 x8/x4/x4. It's possible that one of the two x16 (electrical x4) slots has a further lane sharing arrangement with one of the two M.2 slots.

NVIDIA GA100 Scalar Processor Specs Sheet Released

NVIDIA today unveiled the GTC 2020, online event, and the centerpiece of it all is the GA100 scalar processor GPU, which debuts the "Ampere" graphics architecture. Sifting through a mountain of content, we finally found the slide that matters the most - the specifications sheet of GA100. The GA100 is a multi-chip module that has the 7 nm GPU die at the center, and six HBM2E memory stacks at its either side. The GPU die is built on the TSMC N7P 7 nm silicon fabrication process, measures 826 mm², and packing an unfathomable 54 billion transistors - and we're not even counting the transistors on the HBM2E stakcs of the interposer.

The GA100 packs 6,912 FP32 CUDA cores, and independent 3,456 FP64 (double-precision) CUDA cores. It has 432 third-generation tensor cores that have FP64 capability. The three are spread across a gargantuan 108 streaming multiprocessors. The GPU has 40 GB of total memory, across a 6144-bit wide HBM2E memory interface, and 1.6 TB/s total memory bandwidth. It has two interconnects: a PCI-Express 4.0 x16 (64 GB/s), and an NVLink interconnect (600 GB/s). Compute throughput values are mind-blowing: 19.5 TFLOPs classic FP32, 9.7 TFLOPs classic FP64, and 19.5 TFLOPs tensor cores; TF32 156 TFLOPs single-precision (312 TFLOPs with neural net sparsity enabled); 312 TFLOPs BFLOAT16 throughout (doubled with sparsity enabled); 312 TFLOPs FP16; 624 TOPs INT8, and 1,248 TOPS INT4. The GPU has a typical power draw of 400 W in the SXM form-factor. We also found the architecture diagram that reveals GA100 to be two almost-independent GPUs placed on a single slab of silicon. We also have our first view of the "Ampere" streaming multiprocessor with its FP32 and FP64 CUDA cores, and 3rd gen tensor cores. The GeForce version of this SM could feature 2nd gen RT cores.

NVIDIA Tesla A100 "Ampere" AIC (add-in card) Form-Factor Board Pictured

Here's the first picture of a Tesla A100 "Ampere" AIC (add-in card) form-factor board, hot on the heals of the morning big A100 reveal. The AIC card is a bare PCB, which workstation builders will add compatible cooling solutions on. The PCB features the gigantic GA100 processor with its six HBM2E stacks, in the center, surrounded by VRM components, and I/O on three sides. On the bottom side, you will find a conventional PCI-Express 4.0 x16 host interface. Above it, are NVLink fingers. The rear I/O has high-bandwidth network interfaces (likely 200 Gbps InfiniBand), by Mellanox. The tail end has hard points for 12 V power input. Find juicy details of the GA100 in our older article.

MSI Announces MEG Z490 Unify and MEG Z490I Unify Motherboards

MSI, the world-leading motherboard manufacturer, proudly introduces the latest MEG Z490 UNIFY and MEG Z490I UNIFY into MSI Z490 motherboards. Appearance wise, it is dedicated to users who prefer something other than RGB, the black design with embossed dragon mylar symbolizing a mysterious and high-quality image without the redundant LEDs. Performance wise, it is tailored for hardcore gamers and enthusiasts, emphasizing the true value of the motherboard and enhancing not only the thermal but also power solution, combines MSI's premium layout, digital power design and exclusive Mirrored Power Arrangement, MEG UNIFY series is ready for the challenge of high-end processors.

All MSI Z490 series including UNIFY motherboards are PCI-E Gen 4 ready. Adopting tons of components, enhanced layout placement and PCB design dedicated for PCI-E Gen 4 solution, the MSI Z490 series motherboards ensure higher bandwidth and faster transfer speeds stability. It is ready 4 the future.
MSI MEG Z490 Unify MSI MEG Z490I Unify

AMD B550 Chipset Detailed, It's Ready for Zen 3, Older AM4 Motherboards not Compatible

In their briefing leading up to today's Ryzen 3 3100 and 3300X review embargo, AMD disclosed that its upcoming "Zen 3" 4th generation Ryzen desktop processors will only support AMD 500-series (or later) chipsets. The next-gen processors will not work with older 400-series or 300-series chipsets. This comes as a blow to those who bought premium X470 motherboards hoping for latest CPU compatibility running into 2020. At this time only B550 is available, but we expect more news on enthusiast chipsets as the Zen 3 launch date comes closer. AMD B550 is a fascinating new mid-range chipset by AMD. Launching today as a successor to the popular B450 chipset, B550 is a low-power silicon with roughly the same 5-7 W TDP as the older 400-series chipset. Although AMD won't confirm it, it's likely that the chipset is sourced from ASMedia. It brings a lot to the table that could draw buyers away from B450, but it also takes some away.

The AMD B550 currently only supports 3rd generation Ryzen "Matisse" processors. Ryzen 3000 "Picasso" APU are not supported. What's more, older Ryzen 2000 "Pinnacle Ridge," "Raven Ridge," and first gen Ryzen 1000 "Summit Ridge" aren't supported, either. The Athlon 200 and 3000 "Zen" based chips miss out, too. AMD argues that it ran into ROM size limitations when trying to cram AGESA microcode for all the older processors. We find that hard to believe because B450 motherboards with the latest ComboAM4 AGESA support 2nd gen and 3rd gen processors, including APUs and Athlon SKUs based on the two. On the bright side, AMD assured us (within its marketing slides for the B550), that the chipset will support upcoming processors based on the "Zen 3" microarchitecture. The company also came up with a new motherboard packaging label that clarifies that the processors won't work with the 3400G and 3200G.
AMD B550 chipset highlights AMD B550 processor support AMD B550 vs B450

Assortment of Five AMD B550 Premium Motherboards Pictured

Here are the first pictures of an assortment of five premium AMD B550 chipset motherboards by five different manufacturers. With PCI-Express gen 4.0 (where it matters), CPU+memory overclocking, and multi-GPU being enabled for the B550, and more importantly, the chipset not needing any fan-heatsink, the B550 could be an important chipset for AMD in the battle to come against the 10th generation Core processor and Intel B460 chipset.

We begin with the MSI MPG B550 Gaming Pro Carbon WiFi, the company's most premium B550 offering, picking up the mantle from the immensely successful B450-based predecessor. The MSI board offers a single PCI-Express 4.0 x16 slot, that's reinforced, one M.2 PCIe gen 4.0 x4 slot, a second M.2 slot that's gen 3.0 x4; and a number of x1 slots. The board uses a 14-phase CPU VRM to support CPU overclocking. Connectivity includes 802.11ax WLAN, 1 GbE wired networking, a premium ALC1220-based AudioBoost solution, and heatsinks over both M.2 slots. As a Carbon, it features plenty of RGB LED embellishments.
MSI MPG B550 Gaming Pro Carbon WiFi ASUS ROG Strix B550-E Gaming Gigabyte B550 Aorus Master ASRock B550 Taichi BIOSTAR Racing B550 GTQ

GIGABYTE's Entire Selection of Z490 Motherboards Pictured

Turkish tech publication PC Hocasi posted marketing pictures of the entire lineup of GIGABYTE's Intel Z490 chipset motherboards. These include the four recently leaked to web. The vast selection of boards includes the Z490 Vision G and Z490 Vision D targeted at creators. The company's mainline Ultra Durable (UD) and Gaming series includes the likes of the Z490 Gaming X and Z490M Gaming X, and of course the company's AORUS Gaming lineup we detailed in the older article.

An interesting trend with these boards is that GIGABYTE appears to have indeed given them PCI-Express gen 4.0 preparation, which extends across most SKU, including the entry-level UD series. These boards will not provide gen 4.0 with 10th gen "Comet Lake" processors, but the gen 4.0 preparation is reserved for its successor, the 11th gen "Rocket Lake," whenever it comes out. This is a costly design choice which rides on the assumption that "Rocket Lake" will introduce gen 4.0 to the LGA1200 socket (and not the fabled future LGA1700 socket). "Rocket Lake" is expected to come out towards the end of 2020 or early 2021, and will be Intel's response to Ryzen 4000 "Vermeer" processors based on the "Zen 3" microarchitecture.

Sony Reveals PS5 Hardware: RDNA2 Raytracing, 16 GB GDDR6, 6 GB/s SSD, 2304 GPU Cores

Sony in a YouTube stream keynote by PlayStation 5 lead system architect Mark Cerny, detailed the upcoming entertainment system's hardware. There are three key areas where the company has invested heavily in driving forward the platform by "balancing revolutionary and evolutionary" technologies. A key design focus with PlayStation 5 is storage. Cerny elaborated on how past generations of the PlayStation guided game developers' art direction as the low bandwidths and latencies of optical discs and HDDs posed crippling latencies arising out of mechanical seeks, resulting in infinitesimally lower data transfer rates than what the media is capable of in best case scenario (seeking a block of data from its outermost sectors). SSD was the #1 most requested hardware feature by game developers during the development of PS5, and Sony responded with something special.

Each PlayStation 5 ships with a PCI-Express 4.0 x4 SSD with a flash controller that has been designed in-house by Sony. The controller features 12 flash channels, and is capable of at least 5.5 GB/s transfer speeds. When you factor in the exponential gains in access time, Sony expects the SSD to provide a 100x boost in effective storage sub-system performance, resulting in practically no load times.

ASUS Unveils ROG Strix GA35-G35DX Gaming Desktop with Top-Notch Hardware

ASUS today unveiled its top-spec ROG Strix GA35 series gaming desktop, the GA35-G35DX. This pre-built desktop comes with some serious hardware specs geared toward AAA gaming at 4K UHD resolution and future-proofing for many years. Under the hood is a potent combination of an AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 16-core processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics, an ROG Strix X570 motherboard, and 64 GB of DDR4-3200 memory. Storage includes a 1 TB PCI-Express 4.0 x4 M.2 NVMe SSD, and a 2 TB SATA HDD. 802.11ac WLAN with Bluetooth 5.1, 1 GbE Ethernet, and SupremeFX integrated audio make for the rest of it.

ASUS is using a 240 mm AIO liquid CPU cooler for the Ryzen 9 3950X, while the graphics card retains ASUS's custom-cooling solution for the ROG Strix A11G variant of the RTX 2080 Ti. The ASUS in-house design case features several RGB embellishments which, along the with AIO and graphics card, can be controlled using the Aura Sync tab in Armory Crate. The case features a plastic handle along the top. The front hides a panel that reveals two 2.5-inch hot-swap drive bays with SATA 6 Gbps back-planes. Front-panel connectivity includes two USB 3.1 type-C, two USB 3.1 type-A, and HDA jacks. A 700 W 80 Plus PSU powers it. The desktop ships with Windows 10 Pro pre-installed. The company didn't reveal pricing.
ASUS ROG Strix GA35-G35DX

Intel "Panther Canyon" NUC Implements "Tiger Lake" SoC with Xe Graphics

Intel NUC 11 Extreme is the spiritual successor to the "Hades Canyon" and "Skull Canyon" NUC, and implements the company's next-generation 10 nm+ "Tiger Lake" processor. Codenamed "Panther Canyon," the NUC 11 Extreme represents a line of ultra-compact desktops with serious computing power, bringing together the company's highest-performance CPU cores and iGPUs. The "Tiger Lake-U" SoC powering the NUC 11 Extreme will reportedly be configured with a 28-Watt TDP, and will come in Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 variants.

The "Tiger Lake-U" processor is expected to combine next-generation "Willow Cove" CPU cores with an iGPU based on Intel's new Xe graphics architecture, in what could be the first commercial outing for both. The NUC 11 Extreme "Panther Canyon" will also support up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200 memory over SO-DIMMs, an M.2-2280 slot with PCI-Express 4.0 x4 and SATA 6 Gbps wiring, and option for Intel Optane M10 cache memory. On the connectivity front, and Intel AX-201 WLAN card provides 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5. A 2.5 GbE wired interface will also be available. These will also be among the first NUCs to feature front- and rear-Thunderbolt ports (possibly next-gen 80 Gbps given that the platform implements PCIe gen 4.0). The NUC 11 Extreme "Panther Canyon" is expected to launch some time in the second half of 2020.

Kioxia, Formerly Toshiba Memory, Makes its CES Debut

One of the big hardware industry changes of 2019 was the formal spin-off of Toshiba Memory as an entirely independent firm called Kioxia. This is big, because Toshiba is regarded as the inventor of NAND flash as we know it; and a pioneering firm with DRAM, NAND flash, and other forms of solid-state storage. Toshiba retains the hard disk business. Having formally begun operations only in Q4-2019, much of Kioxia's upcoming products are in development, but we still caught some of their latest SSDs that implement PCIe gen 4.0 and NVMe 1.4 protocol, besides some former-Toshiba products under new Kioxia branding. Kioxia is planning to make a big splash in the near future as its pioneering Twin BiCS Flash tech hits the market, besides scoring design wins with the automotive and data-center industries.

The CD6 and CM6 SSDs are star-attractions. The CD6 is designed for data-centers, and comes in capacities ranging all the way from 800 GB to 15 TB, with 1 to 3 DWPD endurance. It uses the next-generation U.3 (SFF-TA-1001) connector with PCI-Express 4.0 x4 physical-layer and NVMe 1.4 protocol. Among its security features are SIE, FIPS140-2, and SED Opal/Ruby. The drive is built in the 15 mm-thick 2.5-inch form-factor. The CM6 is its cousin, targeted at enterprise environments with higher mission-criticality. With capacities ranging from 800 GB to a staggering 30 TB, the drive offers sequential transfer-rates of up to 6,400 MB/s by leveraging PCI-Express 4.0 x4 and NVMe 1.4. Much like the CD6, the CM6 uses the new U.3 connector, and is built in the 15 mm form-factor. Endurance and security feature-set are identical to the CD6. We also spotted the 2+ year old rebranded XD5-series and PM5-series in fresh Kioxia colors. Lastly, there are the XG6 and XG6-P SSDs from 2019 transitioned to the Kioxia brand.

Kingston Teases "Grandview," its Upcoming Mid-range PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD, and Current-Gen "Seccos"

Kingston at the 2020 International CES shows us their upcoming mid-range M.2 NVMe SSD that has the latest PCI-Express 4.0 x4 host interface and NVMe 1.4 protocol, codenamed "Grandview." Later this year, this drive will be launched as a high cost-performance product under the company's marquee or HyperX brand. Available in capacities ranging between 500 GB and 2 TB, the drive is powered by Marvell "Whistler Plus" 12 nm controller that has 4 flash channels, and 1.2 GT/s per channel bandwidth. They wouldn't tell us if it's TLC or QLC NAND flash in use, or the manufacturer-rated performance numbers. The PCIe to M.2 adapter in these pictures will not be part of the package.

Also on display was "Seccos," their new PCI-Express 3.0 x4 drive that uses an unnamed 8-channel controller (likely Marvell), and 3D TLC NAND flash, with capacities ranging between 250 GB to 2 TB. Kingston put out some CDM numbers for the 1 TB model of Seccos: 3,449 MB/s sequential reads, and 2,839 MB/s sequential writes. The manufacturer-rates performance numbers are up to 3,500 MB/s reads, and up to 3,000 MB/s writes.

AMD X570-successor to be Third-Party Sourced

AMD X570 chipset is the industry's first PC platform core-logic to support PCI-Express gen 4.0, but has proven to be expensive and hot. Its 600-series chipset successor will be third-party sourced much like its 400-series predecessor, according to a MyDrivers report citing sources in the motherboard industry. AMD is reportedly sourcing its 500-series mid-range chipset, the B550, from ASMedia. The B550 uses PCI-Express 3.0 x4 as its chipset bus, and puts out eight PCIe gen 3.0 downstream general purpose lanes, however, B550 motherboards could still feature PCI-Express 4.0 x16 slots from the socket AM4 SoC (provided a 3rd gen Ryzen processor is installed), and at least one of the M.2 NVMe slots on B550 motherboards could have PCI-Express 4.0 x4, since they're wired to the SoC instead of the chipset.

The MyDrivers report predicts that the successor to X570, the supposed "X670," could be sourced from a third-party firm, much like the B550, and implement PCI-Express gen 4.0, not just as chipset-bus, but also putting out PCI-Express gen 4.0 general purpose lanes. A possible design goal of the X670 could be to implement PCIe gen 4.0 switching fabric without running too hot, resulting in a cooler chipset than can make do with fanless cooling solutions, much like the X470. AMD will continue to make "chipsets" in the form of I/O controller dies for use in its MCM processors, although the relatively low-margin motherboard chipset business could be axed.

AMD Announces Ryzen 9 3950X, Details 3rd Gen Ryzen Threadripper, unlocked Athlon 3000G

AMD today announced four new desktop processors across three very diverse markets. To begin with, the company crowned its socket AM4 mainstream desktop platform with the mighty new Ryzen 9 3950X processor. Next up, it released its new baseline entry-level APU, the Athlon 3000G. Lastly, it detailed the 3rd generation Ryzen Threadripper HEDT processor family with two initial models, the Ryzen Threadripper 3960X and the flagship Ryzen Threadripper 3970X. The company also formally released its AGESA Combo PI 1.0.0.4B microcode, and with it, introduced a killer new feature for all "Zen 2" based Ryzen processors, called ECO Mode.

The Ryzen 9 3950X is a 16-core/32-thread processor in the AM4 package, compatible with all socket AM4 motherboards, provided they have the latest BIOS update with AGESA Combo PI 1.0.0.4B microcode. The processor comes with clock-speeds of 3.50 GHz base, with 4.70 GHz maximum boost frequency, and the same 105 W TDP as the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X. With 512 KB of dedicated L2 cache per core, and 64 MB of shared L3 cache, the chip has a mammoth 72 MB of "total cache."

GIGABYTE Unveils AORUS Gen4 AIC Adapter Just in Time for TRX40

Just in time for AMD's 3rd generation Ryzen Threadripper processors and the AMD TRX40 chipset, GIGABYTE launched the AORUS Gen4 AIC Adapter, an add-on card that converts a PCI-Express 4.0 x16 upstream link to four M.2-22110 slots with PCI-Express 4.0 x4 wiring, each. This isn't the first card of this kind, but is certified to work with PCIe gen 4.0 SSDs. The TRX40 platform provides at least two PCI-Express 4.0 x16 slots, from which one can be allocated to your graphics cards, and the other to a fast storage solution like this, so you can use your motherboard's NVMe RAID features. The card is backwards compatible with older generations of PCIe.

The card features a large copper heatsink that cools the drives under the airflow of a fan. The PCB of this card features a PCI-Express 4.0 x16 interface, four M.2-22110 slots with PCI-Express 4.0 x4 wiring, each, and a controller that uses eight thermal diodes to sense drive temperatures and accordingly adjust the speed of the 50 mm lateral-flow fan that pushes air through the heatsink and out of the rear panel. The card also has four LEDs that provide link+activity indication. It meets the electrical specification of PCI-Express gen 4.0, and features gen 4.0 re-drivers. An aluminium alloy shroud and back-plate with brushed-metal finish and diamond-cut edges make for the rest of it. We expect this card to be priced around USD $130. A credible source tells us that the card will also be included with some of GIGABYTE's premium TRX40 motherboards.

ASRock AMD B550AM Gaming Motherboard Spied

Here is the first picture of a motherboard based on AMD's upcoming mid-range desktop motherboard chipset, the AMD "B550A," the ASRock B550AM Gaming. The board was spied inside a pre-built desktop at a Best Buy store. This is the first time we've seen the mid-range chipset being referenced as "B550A" and not "B550." The "A" may not be part of the motherboard's model name as the "M" denotes Micro-ATX and usually succeeds the chipset model in ASRock's nomenclature. The B550(A) will be an important chipset for AMD as it will enable motherboards priced under the $150 mark that support AMD's 3rd generation Ryzen processor's I/O natively.

While the X570 is an in-house development by AMD, the B550 is sourced from ASMedia, and is expected to be a new version of the "Promontory-LP" silicon. The only thing that sets this chip apart from the 400-series "Promontory-LP" is PCI-Express gen 3.0 certification. The chipset talks to the AM4 SoC over a PCI-Express 3.0 x4 link, and puts out up to 8 PCI-Express gen 3.0 downstream lanes. A 3rd gen Ryzen processor on a B550 motherboard still puts out PCI-Express gen 4.0 connectivity, which means you get one PCI-Express 4.0 x16 slot, and one M.2 slot with PCI-Express 4.0 x4 wiring. The rest of the chipset's I/O will be similar to the 400-series, which includes six SATA 6 Gbps ports, up to two 10 Gbps USB 3.1 ports, up to four 5 Gbps USB 3.1 ports, and eight USB 2.0/1.1 ports. If the AM4 SoC installed is a 3rd gen Ryzen, then you'll get a couple more 10 Gbps USB 3.1 ports. AMD partners could use the opportunity to launch some of the more upscale B550 motherboards with the latest 2.5 GbE wired LAN, and 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6.

Update (16/10): We learn later down in the referenced Reddit thread, including from comments by AMD's Robert Hallock, that the B550A is a rebranded B450 targeted at OEMs. The B550 (non-A) is what is the upcoming chipset detailed in this article.

ASUS Rolls Out ROG Crosshair VIII Impact - Not Strictly Mini-ITX

ASUS over the past week rolled out its flagship socket AM4 motherboard for SFF gaming PC builds, the ROG Crosshair VIII Impact. Based on the AMD X570 chipset and supporting the latest 3rd generation Ryzen processors, this board is slightly longer than the Mini-ITX specification, while retaining its mount-hole layout. The logic here is that most ITX gaming PC cases have two expansion slots to accommodate dual-slot graphics cards, and so it would make sense to extend the motherboard's PCB up until there, reclaiming precious PCB real-estate. Technically this board would qualify as mini-DTX, but ASUS believes it should fit in most ITX cases that have two expansion slots. The board's dimensions are 203 mm x 170 mm.

The ROG Crosshair VIII Impact draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors, conditioning power for the AM4 SoC using a massive 8-phase VRM. The AM4 socket is wired to a pair of DDR4 DIMM slots, the board's sole expansion slot, a PCI-Express 4.0 x16, and the interestingly-named SO-DIMM.2 slot. Physically, this is an SO-DIMM slot that's been re-wired with PCIe gen 4.0 leading up to a proprietary SO-DIMM daughterboard that holds two M.2-2280 slots with PCIe 4.0 x4 and SATA 6 Gbps wiring, each. Four SATA 6 Gbps ports make for the rest of the storage connectivity. The area of the motherboard just below the PCIe x16 slot has another proprietary slot that holds the second daughterboard, this one with the SupremeFX Impact IV onboard audio solution, which has been physically isolated from the main PCB, and has an EMI-shielded Realtek ALC1220 main CODEC, ESS Sabre ES9023P DAC for the main stereo channel, a de-pop circuit, and audio-grade capacitors.

Radeon RX 5300 XT and AMD B550 Chipset Coming to OEM Systems in October

HP has listed new desktop consumer prebuilts that use previously unannounced hardware from AMD, namely the Radeon RX 5300 XT graphics card and the B550 chipset. B550 has been expected for a while — it's a lower-cost chipset for Ryzen 3000 "Zen 2" processors with reduced feature set. HP calls the chipset "AMD Promontory B550A" in their sheets which seems to be designed and produced by ASMedia (unlike X570, which is a fully AMD in-house design). One of the major differences between X570 and B550 is that the latter has no support for PCI-Express 4.0, which won't matter one bit in its target segment. This move not only reduces chipset cost, it also drives down the cost of motherboards significantly, as the more stringent signal integrity requirements for PCIe 4.0 won't apply here.

While we have heard rumors that AMD is working on a smaller chip for their "Navi" architecture (Navi 12 and Navi 14), it's uncertain whether RX 5300 XT is really based on Navi, or whether it will be yet another rebrand — we wouldn't be surprised if Polaris is making a comeback yet again. Both systems are listed for € 699 and € 899, with shelf availability expected for October 8th.

Intel Ships Stratix 10 DX FPGAs, VMWare Among Early Partners

Intel today announced shipments of new Intel Stratix 10 DX field programmable gate arrays (FPGA). The new FPGAs are designed to support Intel Ultra Path Interconnect (Intel UPI), PCI-Express (PCIe) Gen4 x16 and a new controller for Intel Optane technology to provide flexible, high-performance acceleration. VMware is one of many early access program participants.

"Intel Stratix 10 DX FPGAs are the first FPGAs designed to combine key features that dramatically boost acceleration of workloads in the cloud and enterprise when used with Intel's portfolio of data center solutions. No other FPGA currently offers this combination of features for server designs based on future select Intel Xeon Scalable processors," said David Moore, Intel vice president and general manager, FPGA and Power Products, Network and Custom Logic Group.

ASUS ROG Strix X570-I Gaming Motherboard Starts Selling

ASUS started selling its premium Mini-ITX motherboard based on the AMD X570 chipset, the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Strix X570-I Gaming. The board was announced as part of ASUS' X570 motherboard lineup back in July, but is only now reaching selves, with an MSRP of USD $220. The board features an elaborate thermal solution that cools the CPU VRM, the fiesty X570 chipset, and an M.2-2280 SSD over a network of interconnected heatsinks that are ventilated by two 30 mm fans. Despite crippling space constraints, ASUS managed to cram in a 10-phase VRM to power the socket AM4 CPU, which is wired to two DDR4 DIMM slots, an M.2-2280 slot, and the board's sole expansion slot, a PCI-Express 4.0 x16.

Storage connectivity on the ASUS ROG Strix X570-I Gaming includes not one, but two M.2-2280 slots, one wired to the AM4 socket, and the other from the X570 chipset. The two M.2 slots are stacked one on top of the other, with a metal heatspreader between them, pulling heat from the drive below to the board's heatsink network. Four SATA 6 Gbps ports make the rest of the storage connectivity. Networking includes WiFi 6 (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.0 from an Intel "Cyclone Peak" AX200 card; and 1 GbE wired Ethernet pulled by an Intel i211-AT chip. The onboard audio solution features a Realtek ALC1200A CODEC with dual OPAMPs.

Realtek Announces New Flash Controllers, Including one for PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSDs

At the 2019 Flash Memory Summit, Realtek announced a slew of new Flash memory controllers targeting a diversity of devices, spanning from USB flash drives to USB external SSDs, M.2/U.2 NVMe internal SSDs. Leading the pack is the RTS5771, the company's new flagship NVMe SSD controller that features a PCI-Express 4.0 x4 host interface, 8 NAND Flash channels with up to 1,200 MT/s speeds per channel, NVMe 1.3, and DRAM cache. This becomes the third PCIe gen 4.0-capable client-segment NVMe SSD controller after the Phison E16 and the Marvell 88SS132x.

The RTS5765DL is its cost-effective sibling, which has PCI-Express 3.0 x4 host interface, just 4 NAND Flash channels, and is DRAM-less, allowing manufacturers to design cost-effective SSDs. It still has 1,200 MT/s bandwidth per channel, so drives that implement it can offer sequential speeds similar to premium drives from the previous generation. The new RTL9210 is a bridge chip that converts USB 3.1 gen 2 (10 Gbps) to PCI-Express 3.0 x2, ideal for cost-effective external NVMe SSDs. The controller also features an integrated RGB LED logic, so drive designers can bling up their creations.

Intel "Tiger Lake" Supports PCIe Gen 4 and Features Xe Graphics, Phantom Canyon NUC Detailed

Intel is working on its next generation gaming-grade NUC, codenamed "Phantom Canyon." When it comes out some time in 2020-21, it will feature Intel's 10 nm+ "Tiger Lake" SoC. Intel detailed this and more in a leaked presentation to industry partners. It describes the launch of of the company's "Ghost Canyon" NUC in Fall 2019 to succeed the current "Hades Canyon" gaming NUC. This box features a Core i9-9980HK processor and discrete graphics options. It will be succeeded in 2020-21 (late 2020 or sometime 2021), by the "Phantom Canyon" NUC that's in development.

The "Phantom Canyon" NUC is powered by a 28 W 10 nm+ "Tiger Lake-U" SoC that features PCI-Express gen 4. The package also implements Intel's "Gen 12" graphics processor that's derived from the Xe architecture it's currently working on, according to Chinese publication PTTWeb. The NUC will also feature discrete graphics options in the price-range of the current GTX 1660 Ti and RTX 2060 ($299 to $349). In related news, we see subtle hints that Intel will give its chipset bus a major update in future generations of its desktop and mobile platforms. Apparently, future platforms could feature DMI spread over 8 lanes as opposed to 4 on current platforms, besides the update to PCIe gen 4. This quadrupling in bandwidth compared to DMI 3.0 (PCIe 3.0 x4) is necessitated by the growth in bandwidth-hungry devices such as NVMe SSDs, external Thunderbolt 3 graphics cards, USB 3.2 flash drives, etc.

Marvell Announces 88SS1320-series PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD Controllers

Marvell today released the industry's lowest power PCIe Gen4 NVMe solid-state drive (SSD) controller portfolio. Marvell's newest SSD controllers are designed to meet the need for lower power and higher performance in next-generation data centers and edge devices as artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G gain momentum. This breakthrough technology delivers unparalleled performance in an ultra-compact footprint, leveraging the company's complex system-on-chip (SoC) design expertise and groundbreaking storage IP to help data center, notebook, tablet, gaming and edge computing platform architects advance their solutions for the highly distributed data era.

"Marvell's latest family of storage controllers has been architected to optimally address edge computing and data center pain points of power-performance and capacity-performance," said Nigel Alvares, vice president of marketing for the Flash Business Unit at Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. "With today's launch, we're once again demonstrating Marvell's leadership in storage, delivering the industry's first 4-Channel PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD controllers with the industry's lowest power consumption that will help revolutionize SSD solutions for the data economy."

BIOSTAR Rolls Out the Racing X570GT Micro-ATX Motherboard

BIOSTAR expanded its AMD X570 chipset motherboard family with the micro-ATX Racing X570GT. The board ships with out-of-the-box support for 3rd generation Ryzen processors, and features PCI-Express gen 3.0 connectivity. It draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and a single 8-pin EPS power connector. A simple 4+3 phase VRM conditions power for the SoC, and even lacks cooling over the MOSFETs. Expansion options include one PCI-Express 4.0 x16, and two PCI-Express 4.0 x1 slots.

Storage connectivity of the Racing X570GT includes one M.2-22110 slot with PCI-Express 4.0 x4 and SATA 6 Gbps wiring. Display outputs include HDMI and D-Sub. The onboard audio solution features an entry-level Realtek ALC887 CODEC, and the board's sole network connectivity is care of a 1 GbE interface, driven by a Realtek RTL8111H PHY. USB connectivity includes four 5 Gbps USB 3.1 gen 1 ports on the rear panel, and two additional 5 Gbps ports via headers. The company didn't reveal pricing, but the Racing X570GT could be one of the cheapest AMD X570 motherboards, if not the cheapest.

BIOSTAR Formally Enables PCIe Gen 4 on its AMD 400-series Motherboards

BIOSTAR formally (officially) enabled PCI-Express gen 4.0 support for four of its socket AM4 motherboard models based on the AMD X470 and B450 chipsets, through BIOS updates. The updated BIOS lets you use PCI-Express gen 4.0 graphics cards on the topmost PCI-Express x16 slot, and the M.2 NVMe slot that's directly wired to the AM4 SoC. The expansion slots that are wired to the chipset are still restricted to PCIe gen 2.0. You will need a 3rd generation Ryzen "Matisse" processor for PCI-Express gen 4.0. Among the motherboards that receive PCIe gen 4.0 support through BIOS updates are the AB45C-M4S (B450MH), the AB35G-M4S (B45M2), the AX47A-A4T (X470GT8), and the AX47A-I4S (X470GTN). The links lead to the BIOS image files on BIOSTAR website, which you use at your own risk.
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