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Intel 3rd Gen Xeon Scalable Launch Event Liveblog

Intel today is launching its 3rd Generation Xeon Scalable processor bringing its first major IPC uplift to the enterprise space in five years. The Xeon Scalable processors are built on the 10 nm SuperFin process, and the "Ice Lake-SP" microarchitecture that bring new "Sunny Cove" CPU cores to the server space, including support for PCI-Express 4.0 I/O capabilities, a wider memory interface, and a more feature-rich AVX-512 instruction-set, along with DLBoost for HPC. join us for its launch live-blog.

14:59 UTC: CEO Pat Gelsinger and Data Platforms group head Navin Shenoy are expected to take centerstage. Xeon and memory group head Lisa Spelman could announce relevant platform products. This is Gelsinger's first major launch since taking office.

15:01 UTC: What will you solve for?

Intel to Launch 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Portfolio on April 6

Intel today revealed that it will launch its 3rd Generation Xeon Scalable processor series at an online event titled "How Wonderful Gets Done 2021," on April 6, 2021. This will be one of the first major media events headed by Intel's new CEO, Pat Gelsinger. Besides the processor launch, Intel is expected to detail many of its advances in the enterprise space, particularly in the areas of 5G infrastructure rollout, edge computing, and AI/HPC. The 3rd Gen Xeon Scalable processors are based on the new 10 nm "Ice Lake-SP" silicon, heralding the company's first CPU core IPC gain in the server space since 2015. The processors also introduce new I/O capabilities, such as PCI-Express 4.0.

AMD Announces 3rd Generation EPYC 7003 Enterprise Processors

AMD today announced its 3rd generation EPYC (7003 series) enterprise processors, codenamed "Milan." These processors combine up to 64 of the company's latest "Zen 3" CPU cores, with an updated I/O controller die, and promise significant performance uplifts and new security capabilities over the previous generation EPYC 7002 "Rome." The "Zen 3" CPU cores, AMD claims, introduce an IPC uplift of up to 19% over the previous generation, which when combined by generational increases in CPU clock speeds, bring about significant single-threaded performance increases. The processor also comes with large multi-threaded performance gains thanks to a redesigned CCD.

The new "Zen 3" CPU complex die (CCD) comes with a radical redesign in the arrangement of CPU cores, putting all eight CPU cores of the CCD in a single CCX, sharing a large 32 MB L3 cache. This the total amount of L3 cache addressable by a CPU core, and significantly reduces latencies for multi-threaded workloads. The "Milan" multi-chip module has up to eight such CCDs talking to a centralized server I/O controller die (sIOD) over the Infinity Fabric interconnect.

Transcend Announces MTE240S PCIe Gen4 M.2 NVMe SSD

Transcend today announced the MTE240S, a mid-range SSD built in the M.2-2280 form-factor, with PCI-Express 4.0 x4 host interface, which boasts of some stellar manufacturer-rated endurance numbers. The drive uses an unknown 4-channel controller, and while its rated sequential speeds fall well below what the bus is capable of, they're higher than most PCIe Gen3 drives. The MTE240S is available in 500 GB and 1 TB capacity variants. Both come with graphene-coated copper heatspreaders.

The 500 GB variant offers sequential speeds of up to 3800 MB/s reads, with up to 2800 MB/s sequential writes, up to 190,000 IOPS 4K random-reads, and up to 540,000 IOPS 4K random-writes. The 1 TB variant, on the other hand, clocks up to 3800 MB/s sequential reads, with up to 3200 MB/s sequential writes; up to 370,000 IOPS 4K random-reads, and up to 560,000 IOPS 4K random-writes. Transcend claims that the 500 GB variant can handle 850 TBW endurance, and the 1 TB variant 1,700 TBW. The company is backing them with 5-year warranties.

MSI Z490 Motherboards Unleash the Performance of PCIe 4.0 Graphics Cards and SSDs

All of the MSI Z490 motherboards will be supporting PCIe 4.0 with the coming Intel 11th Gen Intel Processors. Through an update to the latest BIOS, MSI Z490 motherboards offer great bandwidth and performance for PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs and graphics cards.

To be PCIe 4.0 compatible, several components on the motherboards are necessary, including PCIe 4.0 ready clock generator, lane switch, redriver, PCIe slots, and M.2 connectors. Thanks to the complete PCIe 4.0 solutions, MSI Z490 motherboards provide the most stable design for PCIe 4.0 and unlock the full performance of PCIe 4.0 devices.

"Rocket Lake" Offers 11% Higher PCIe Gen4 NVMe Storage Performance: Intel

Intel claims that its upcoming 11th Gen Core "Rocket Lake-S" desktop processors offer up to 11% higher storage performance than competing AMD Ryzen 5000 processors, when using the CPU-attached M.2 NVMe slot. A performance slide released by Intel's Ryan Shrout shows a Samsung 980 PRO 1 TB PCI-Express 4.0 x4 M.2 NVMe SSD performance on a machine powered by a Core i9-11900K processor, compared to one powered by an AMD Ryzen 9 5950X. PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark is used to evaluate storage performance on both machines. On both machines a separate drive is used as the OS/boot drive, and the Samsung 980 PRO is used as a test drive, free from any OS role.

The backup page for the slide provides details of the system configurations used for both machines. What it doesn't mention, however, is whether on the AMD machine, the 980 PRO was installed on the CPU-attached M.2 NVMe slot, or one that's attached to the AMD X570 chipset. Unlike the Intel Z590, the AMD X570 puts out downstream PCI-Express 4.0, which motherboard designers can use to put out additional NVMe Gen 4 slots. On the Intel Z590 motherboard, the M.2 NVMe Gen 4 slot the drive was tested on is guaranteed to be the CPU-attached one, as the Z590 PCH puts out PCIe Gen 3 downstream lanes. A PCI-Express 4.0 x4 link is used as chipset bus on the AMD X570, offering comparable bandwidth to the DMI 3.0 x8 (PCI-Express 3.0 x8) employed on the Intel Z590. A drive capable of attaining 7 GB/s sequential transfers should be in a sub-optimal situation on a chipset-attached M.2 slot. It would be nice if Intel clears this up in an update to its backup.

Update 02:51 UTC: In response to a specific question on Twitter, on whether the drives were tested on CPU-attached M.2 slots on both platforms, Ryan Shrout stated that a PCI-Express AIC riser card was used on both platforms to ensure that the drives are CPU-attached. 11% is a significant storage performance uplift on offer.

Corsair MP600 Core and Water Cooled MP600 PRO HydroX SSDs Pictured

Newegg listings indicate Corsair is ready with the MP600 Core and MP600 PRO HydroX, which they state release later today. The MP600 Core is an M.2 NVMe SSD that's a cost-effective variant of the MP600 PRO. Built in the M.2-2280 form-factor, the drive takes advantage of PCI-Express 4.0 x4, but unlike the MP600 PRO, uses QLC NAND flash memory. The drive uses the Phison PS5016-E16 controller just like the original MP600, but swaps out its TLC NAND flash for QLC. On offer, are sequential transfer rates of up to 4950 MB/s reads, and up to 3700 MB/s writes, up to 380,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 580,000 IOPS 4K random writes.

The MP600 PRO HydroX, on the other hand, is a premium variant of the MP600 PRO that comes with a factory-fitted water block that you connect to your DIY liquid cooling loop. It uses the same combination of the latest Phison PS5018-E18 controller with 3D TLC NAND flash, and offers the same on-paper performance, with up to 7000 MB/s sequential reads, up to 6550 MB/s sequential writes, up to 660,000 IOPS 4K random reads, and up to 800,000 IOPS 4K random writes. The MP600 Core and MP600 PRO HydroX are expected to launch alongside the original MP600 PRO, later this week. Both the MP600 Core and MP600 PRO HydroX are listed on the international stores of Newegg, with the 2 TB MP600 PRO HydroX going for $459, and the 2 TB MP600 Core going for £286 (incl. VAT).

MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Force Motherboard Pictured

Here's the first picture of the MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Force, an interesting new product from MSI slotted in its upper-mid tier MPG line of motherboards. This Socket LGA1200 motherboard based on the Intel Z590 chipset is characterized by a Hip Hop design language that's a break away from the company's other MPG Z590 motherboards, with a dash of neon-noir colors. A pair solid ridged heatsinks cool the board's 16-phase CPU VRM. Another set of three heatsinks cover its three M.2 NVMe slots, one of which is PCIe Gen 4 and wired to the LGA1200 socket, and the other two to the Z590 PCH.

Expansion slots on the MPG Z590 Gaming Force include two PCI-Express 4.0 x16 (x8/x8 with both populated), an x16 (electrical PCI-Express 3.0 x4) slot that's wired to the PCH, and a pair of x1 slots. The rest of the board's feature set appears to roughly match the MPG Z590 Gaming Carbon, including a 6-pin PCIe power input to supplement the two 8-pin EPS and 24-pin ATX power inputs, POST debug readout, a fairly premium onboard audio solution, and other connectivity that possibly includes 2.5 GbE.
MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Force

MSI Outs MAG A520M Bazooka WiFi and MAG B550M Vector WiFi

MSI updated the entry-level of its AMD 500-series chipset motherboard product stack with two interesting additions. The new MAG A520M Bazooka WiFi is essentially based on the same board design as the MAG B550M Bazooka, but uses the cheaper A520 chipset; while the new MAG B550M Vector WiFi is based on the same design as the MAG A520M Vector WiFi that the company debuted its A520 motherboard lineup with.

The A520M Bazooka is a well spaced-out 240 x 240 mm Micro-ATX board with a 7+2 phase CPU VRM solution that uses a large heatsink to cool the Vcore MOSFETs; four DDR4 DIMM slots, expansion slots that include a PCI-Express 3.0 x16, and two Gen 2 x1 slots; and an entry-level combination of audio CODEC and Ethernet PHY (Realtek ALC887 + RTL8111H). The B550M Vector will be the most affordable B550 offering from MSI, thanks to its narrow Micro-ATX footprint, and just two DIMM slots. Unlike the A520M Vector, this board gives you PCI-Express 4.0 x16 and a Gen 4 NVMe slot. The onboard audio+Ethernet combination is the same as the Bazooka. Both boards offer dual-band 802.11ac WLAN + Bluetooth 4.2, put out by an Intel Wireless-AC 3168 WLAN solution. The company didn't reveal pricing.

AMD WRX80 Threadripper PRO Platform Breaks From OEM Shackles, ASUS WS WRX80 SAGE Spotted

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3000 PRO line of ultra high-end processors with 8-channel DDR4 memory and 128-lane PCI-Express were a bit of a nothingburger for the DIY PC community as AMD made it exclusive to Lenovo for its ThinkStation P620 pre-built workstations. The hope for Threadripper PRO hitting the DIY scene increased in December 2020, with GIGABYTE unveiling a the WRX80 SU8, a motherboard sold in the open market, albeit designed mainly for servers and not workstations that are loaded with I/O. ASUS is about to change this.

Here's the first picture of the ASUS WS WRX80 SAGE, a no-holes-barred workstation motherboard based on the AMD WRX80 chipset, supporting Ryzen Threadripper PRO 3000 series processors. This board wires out each of the processor's eight memory channels to its own DIMM slot (1 DIMM per channel), and spreads the processor's lavish PCIe 4.0 lane budget among seven PCI-Express 4.0 x16 slots, three onboard (and possibly four by AIC) M.2 NVMe slots, a pair of U.2 NVMe slots, and I/O that very likely includes a pair of 10 GbE connections. Getting the board is the easy part. You'll need to hunt down a Ryzen Threadripper PRO sWRX80 processor, and a PSU that can feed the board's three 8-pin EPS, and two 6-pin PCIe, besides the 24-pin ATX.

GIGABYTE X570 AORUS Master OC Edition Pictured

In a move that's possibly triggered by the MSI MEG B550 Unify X, GIGABYTE unveiled a limited edition variant of its X570 AORUS Master motherboard targeting overclockers—the X570 AORUS Master OC. This board does away with much of its aesthetic cladding, sheds the rear I/O shroud, and exposes its bare PCB for the most part. A much simpler fan-heatsink cools the X570 chipset. The CPU VRM area is cooled by a pair of aluminium fin-stack heatsinks that are joined by what looks like a flattened heat-pipe.

Perhaps the biggest design change with the GIGABYTE X570 AORUS Master OC has to be its memory set-up. The board has just two DDR4 DIMM slots, or one DIMM per memory channel. From a memory overclocking standpoint, this is the most optimal memory topology, and the reason why memory overclocking records are usually set on Mini-ITX motherboards (that have 1DPC memory configuration). Elsewhere we see a pair of PCI-Express 4.0 x16 slots wired to the CPU (x8/x8 with both populated), a third PCI-Express 4.0 x16 (electrical Gen 4 x4, wired to the X570 chipset), and three M.2 NVMe slots, each with PCI-Express 4.0 x4 wiring.

Intel 11th Gen Core "Rocket Lake" Desktop TDP Values Surface

Intel's 11th Gen Core "Rocket Lake-S" desktop processors could feature similar TDP values to their 10th Gen "Comet Lake-S" predecessors, according to Momomo_us. Intel is preparing to give the Unlocked "K" and "KF" SKUs a TDP rating of 125 W, while the locked non-K models feature 65 W rating. The lineup is led by the 8-core/16-thread Core i9-11900K, followed by the locked i9-11900 and iGPU-devoid i9-11900F; the slightly slower 8-core/16-thread Core i7-11700K, followed by the i7-11700KF, i7-11700, and i7-11700F; and the 6-core/12-thread i5-10600K and its derivatives.

The 11th Gen Core desktop processor series arrives in Q1 2021, and is based on the 14 nm "Rocket Lake-S" silicon, and built into the Socket LGA1200 package, with backwards compatibility with Intel's 400-series chipset motherboards, and native support for the Intel 500-series. The "Rocket Lake-S" die is rumored to feature up to 8 "Cypress Cove" CPU cores, a dual-channel DDR4 memory controller, a 24-lane PCI-Express 4.0 root complex, and an updated Gen12 iGPU based on the Xe LP graphics architecture. The "Cypress Cove" CPU cores are reportedly 14 nm back-ports of the "Willow Cove" cores, and feature a double-digit percent IPC increase over the "Skylake" cores.

AMD Eyes Mid-November CDNA Debut with Instinct MI100, "World's Fastest FP64 Accelerator"

AMD is eyeing a mid-November debut for its CDNA compute architecture with the Instinct MI100 compute accelerator card. CDNA is a fork of RDNA for headless GPU compute accelerators with large SIMD resources. An Aroged report pins the launch of the MI100 at November 16, 2020, according to leaked AMD documents it dug up. The Instinct MI100 will eye a slice of the same machine intelligence pie NVIDIA is seeking to dominate with its A100 Tensor Core compute accelerator.

It appears like the first MI100 cards will be built in the add-in-board form-factor with PCI-Express 4.0 x16 interfaces, although older reports do predict AMD creating a socketed variant of its Infinity Fabric interconnect for machines with larger numbers of these compute processors. In the leaked document, AMD claims that the Instinct MI100 is the "world's highest double-precision accelerator for machine learning, HPC, cloud compute, and rendering systems." This is an especially big claim given that the A100 Tensor Core features FP64 CUDA cores based on the "Ampere" architecture. Then again, given that AMD claims that the RDNA2 graphics architecture is clawing back at NVIDIA with performance at the high-end, the competitiveness of the Instinct MI100 against the A100 Tensor Core cannot be discounted.

Intel Storms into 1080p Gaming and Creator Markets with Iris Xe MAX Mobile GPUs

Intel today launched its Iris Xe MAX discrete graphics processor for thin-and-light notebooks powered by 11th Gen Core "Tiger Lake" processors. Dell, Acer, and ASUS are launch partners, debuting the chip on their Inspiron 15 7000, Swift 3x, and VivoBook TP470, respectively. The Iris Xe MAX is based on the Xe LP graphics architecture, targeted at compact scale implementations of the Xe SIMD for mainstream consumer graphics. Its most interesting feature is Intel DeepLink, and a powerful media acceleration engine that includes hardware encode acceleration for popular video formats, including HEVC, which should make the Iris Xe MAX a formidable video content production solution on the move.

The Iris Xe MAX is a fully discrete GPU built on Intel's 10 nm SuperFin silicon fabrication process. It features an LPDDR4X dedicated memory interface with 4 GB of memory at 68 GB/s of bandwidth, and uses PCI-Express 4.0 x4 to talk to the processor, but those are just the physical layers. On top of these are what Intel calls Deep Link, an all encompassing hardware abstraction layer that not only enables explicit multi-GPU with the Xe LP iGPU of "Tiger Lake" processors, but also certain implicit multi-GPU functions such as fine-grained division of labor between the dGPU and iGPU to ensure that the right kind of workload is split between the two. Intel referred to this as GameDev Boost, and we detailed it in an older article.

Western Digital Announces Next-Gen WD_Black Gaming Storage Portfolio

Western Digital Corp. is helping gamers enhance their setups and adapt to the evolving gaming landscape heralded by the next generation of games with today's introduction of three new and upcoming products for its WD_BLACK portfolio of storage solutions. These include its first NVMe solid-state drive (SSD) with next-gen PCIe Gen 4 technology, a fully bootable Gen3 x8 add-in-card and a Thunderbolt 3-powered NVMe SSD gaming dock, each offering eye-catching RGB lighting options.

"As game developers move towards creating immersive titles that require higher performance, consumers need to equip themselves with the best tools to stay up-to-speed," said Jim Welsh, senior vice president, Consumer Solutions, Western Digital. "Innovative, high-performance storage solutions are essential to keep up with this ever-changing landscape. Our latest WD_BLACK products have been purpose-built to allow gamers to meet the increasingly high standards of future games and gaming platforms. We've optimized these products to not only provide more storage for gamers but to elevate the gaming experience as a whole."

KIOXIA Readies the XG7 Client NVMe SSD Leveraging PCIe Gen 4

KIOXIA is readying its next-generation flagship client-segment SSD, the XG7. Some details of the drive surfaced on the UNH NVMe Integrator's List and dug out by Komachi Ensaka. We know the drive's form-factor from the fact that the company's XG6 is a client-segment drive in the M.2-2280 form-factor, which leverages PCIe Gen 3. The XG7 is described as utilizing PCIe Gen 4 and the NVMe 1.4 protocol. No other details were revealed. The drive could utilize the company's latest generation BiCS Flash memory. There's no word on date of announcement of the drive by the company.

GIGABYTE Unveils BRIX Pro Mini PCs Powered by "Tiger Lake" 11th Gen Core Processors

GIGABYTE unveiled the BRIX Pro line of mini PC barebones powered by 11th Gen Intel Core "Tiger Lake-U" processors. These include the BSi3-1115G4, which packs a Core i3-1115G4 (2-core/4-thread, up to 4.10 GHz, 48 Gen12 EUs), the BSi5-1135G7, with a Core i5-1135G7 (4-core/8-thread, up to 4.20 GHz, 80 Gen12 EUs), and the top BSi7-1165G7, powered by a Core i7-1165G7 (4-core/8-thread, up to 4.70 GHz, 96 Gen12 EUs). Since these are desktop platforms, the TDP of these "Tiger Lake" chips in all three models is configured at 28 W. All three models are based on a common chassis design measuring 196.2 mm x 44.4 mm x 140 mm (WxHxD).

Under the hood, you get two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots that support up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200 memory; and two M.2-2280 slots. One of these has PCI-Express 4.0 x4 wiring from the CPU die, while the other has PCI-Express 3.0 x4 and SATA 6 Gbps wiring, from the PCH die. There's also a vacant SATA 6 Gbps port (possibly for devices such as DOMs). The BRIX Pro offers the full I/O feature-set of "Tiger Lake," including one Thunderbolt 4 / USB4 port, six USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, display I/O that includes four HDMI 2.0a ports, and networking options that include a 2.5 GbE port (Intel i225-V controller), a 1 GbE port (i219-V controller), and 802.11ax WiFi 6 + Bluetooth 5.0 from an Intel AX201 WLAN card. The BSi7-1165G7 includes an Infineon TPM. A 135-Watt power brick is included. The company didn't reveal pricing.

GIGABYTE Intros 2TB AORUS Gen4 AIC SSD

GIGABYTE today introduced a 2 TB variant of its AORUS Gen4 AIC SSD. This drive is essentially a PCI-Express 4.0 x16 to four M.2 PCIe Gen 4 x4 riser card that comes with four 500 GB AORUS Gen4 M.2 NVMe SSDs pre-installed. Using it requires a platform with PCIe lane segmentation (most modern platforms since 2016 do), and for the OS to support NVMe RAID.

The riser card component of the AORUS Gen4 AIC SSD has basic logic that controls a lateral blower based on drive temperature, and provides basic disk activity LEDs. Inside, a copper monoblock heatsink pulls heat from all four drives. Each of the four internal M.2 NVMe drives features 96-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory, and Phison E16 controllers. With NVMe RAID striped, the card offers peak performance of up to 15,000 MB/s sequential reads, and up to 9,500 MB/s sequential writes. Random access performance is rated at up to 425,000 IPS 4K random reads, and up to 440,000 IOPS 4K random writes. GIGABYTE is backing the drive with a 5-year warranty. The company didn't reveal pricing.

Intel 11th Gen Core "Tiger Lake" & Xe Graphics Launch Event: Live Blog

Intel today launches its 11th Gen Core "Tiger Lake" mobile processors that introduce several new technologies on the backs of new IP. As described in the Architecture Day, "Tiger Lake" is built on the 10 nm SuperFin process, and combines new "Willow Cove" CPU cores with the first commercial debut of the Xe Gen12 graphics architecture that Intel is betting big on, to make a stab at the consumer graphics and scalar compute markets. Join us in this live-blog.

Update 16:00 UTC: GB (Gregory Bryant, EVP Client), leads the event from the comfort of his home.
Update 16:04 UTC: Here it is, the "world's best processor for thin and light laptops. You'll notice that like most Intel U-segment chips, this is an MCM of the processor and PCH die. Intel bases its "world's best" claims on a per-segment basis.

Samsung 980 PRO NVMe SSD Uses TLC NAND Flash with Half the Endurance of 970 PRO: Product Page

Samsung's hotly anticipated 980 PRO M.2 NVMe flagship client-segment SSD is the company's first "PRO" branded SSD to feature TLC NAND flash memory, breaking from a unique tradition of using MLC (2 bits per cell) NAND flash. Product pages of the drive went live, and its specifications clearly state the use of "Samsung V-NAND 3-bit MLC," which is another way of saying TLC. "MLC" generally referred to as NAND flash memory that stores 2 bits per cell, even through the term "Multi-level" is amorphous.

The product page lists other juicy specs of Samsung's first M.2 NVMe client SSD that takes advantage of PCI-Express gen 4. The drive uses Samsung's in-house design "Elpis" controller, which uses NVMe 1.3 protocol over PCI-Express 4.0 x4, and an LPDDR4 DRAM cache. The 980 PRO comes in capacities of up to 1 TB, with up to 1 GB of DRAM cache. Samsung rates the 1 TB version as capable of up to 7000 MB/s sequential reads, up to 5000 MB/s sequential writes, and up to 1 million IOPS 4K random reads/writes at QD32. The use of TLC impacts endurance adversely in comparison to that of the drive's immediate predecessor, the 970 PRO, with the 1 TB 980 PRO warranty covering only up to 600 TBW, in comparison to 1200 TBW of the 970 PRO 1 TB, and the 500 GB 980 PRO offering just 300 TBW warranty coverage in comparison to 600 TBW of the 970 PRO 512 GB.

NVIDIA Releases GeForce MX450 with PCI-Express 4.0 Interface

NVIDIA released a mysterious new mobile GPU that has us scratching our heads over the silicon that could be driving it. The new GeForce MX450 is an entry-mainstream mobile GPU that apparently ships with a PCI-Express gen 4.0 bus interface, something only NVIDIA's "Ampere" GPUs feature. The product page for the MX450 doesn't list out any other specs, than its memory type support including new GDDR6 memory (supported only on NVIDIA architectures "Turing" or later). Interestingly, it also lists GDDR5 as one of its memory options. PCI-Express 4.0 is prominently listed as one of its specs.

Upon digging some more among device IDs, we've come across the ID of the GDDR5 variant, with the ASIC code "GP107-670-A1," and the silicon is based on the much older "Pascal" architecture, which lacks PCIe gen 4 support. The GDDR6 variant eludes us. This is the SKU which could be based on a newer architecture, given its support for GDDR6 and PCIe gen 4. NVIDIA's GeForce MX line of entry-mainstream mobile GPUs are built to performance/power targets, and wildly vary with the underlying tech. They've been historically a means for NVIDIA to clear inventory of older generation ASICs to notebook manufacturers, who get put the NVIDIA logo on their products, and advertise discrete graphics. Given this, the use of a newer (even unreleased) generation of GPUs comes as a surprise.

Colorful Rolls Out CVN B550M Gaming Frozen V14 Motherboard

Colorful today rolled out the CVN B550M Gaming Frozen V14, a socket AM4 motherboard in the Micro-ATX form-factor, based on the AMD B550 chipset. The board gets its "Frozen" name from its mostly-white PCB. The chipset heatsink that extends into an M.2 SSD heatsink features fan ventilation (something not found on most other B550 motherboards). The board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and single 8-pin EPS power connectors, conditioning it for the CPU with a 10-phase VRM.

Expansion slots on the Colorful CVN B550M Gaming Frozen V14 include one PCI-Express 4.0 x16, a PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (electrical gen 3.0 x4) that's wired to the chipset, and a gen 3.0 x1 slot. Storage connectivity includes an M.2-22110 slot with PCI-Express 4.0 x4 wiring from the AM4 socket, and six SATA 6 Gbps ports. USB connectivity includes a pair of 10 Gbps USB 3.x gen 2 ports wired to the CPU that include a type-C port, and a number of 5 Gbps ports. Networking is care of a 1 GbE connection from a Realtek RTL8111H controller, and the onboard audio solution uses a Realtek ALC1200 codec. Don't like the white color scheme? Colorful has you covered with the CVN B550M Gaming Pro V14, which is an almost identical board that uses a black PCB and a chipset heatsink that makes do without a fan. The company didn't reveal pricing.

Samsung 980 PRO Clears Korean Regulators, Comes in Three Sizes

Samsung's upcoming flagship client-segment M.2 NVMe SSD, the 980 PRO, has cleared Korean regulators. The drive comes in three capacity variants, led by a 1 TB model (model: MZ-V8P1T0), a 500 GB model (MZ-V8P500), and a 250 GB model (MZ-V8P250). The maximum capacity being rather low at 1 TB suggests that Samsung could stick with MLC (2 bits per cell) NAND flash for the 980 PRO, coupled with an in-house controller that takes advantage of PCI-Express 4.0 x4 host interface to offer sequential transfer rates of up to 6,500 MB/s reads, with up to 5,000 MB/s writes and high random access throughput on account of the MLC NAND flash setup. For higher capacities from Samsung, one should look out for successors of the 970 EVO Plus, which could use 3D TLC NAND flash combined with a similar controller to the 980 PRO, although there's no word on when that drive would launch. The 980 PRO is expected to launch before October.

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.
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