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An "Audiophile Grade" SSD—Yes, You Heard That Right

A company dealing with niche audiophile-grade electronics on Audiophile Style, a popular site and marketplace for the community, conjured up an SSD that it feels offers the best possible audio. Put simply, this is an M.2-2280 NVMe SSD with a fully-independent power delivery mechanism (one that's isolated from the motherboard's power delivery), and an over-the-top discrete clock-source for its controller. The drive has its own 5 V 2-pin DC input and switching hardware onboard, including [get this] a pair of Audionote Kaisei audio-grade electrolytic capacitors in place of what should have been simple solid-state SMD capacitors that are hard to even notice on any other drive. It doesn't end there.

Most NVMe SSDs have a tiny 2 mm x 2 mm SMD oscillator that's used by the controller for clock-generation. This drive features a Crystek CCHD-957 high-grade Femto oscillator. These oscillators are found in some very high-grade production or scientific equipment, such as data-loggers. For the drive itself, you get a Realtek DRAM-less controller, and a single 1 TB TLC NAND flash chip that's forced to operate in SLC mode (333 GB). On a scale of absurdity, this drive is right up there with $10,000 HDMI cables. Digital audio is stored in ones and zeroes, and nothing is accomplished through an isolated power delivery or clock generation on the storage media. It's nice of the designers to include jumpers that let you switch between the discrete power source and motherboard power; so listeners can see the snake-oil for themselves.

3Q21 Revenue of Global Top 10 IC Design (Fabless) Companies Reach US$33.7 billion, Four Taiwanese Companies Make List, Says TrendForce

The semicondustor market in 3Q21 is red hot with total revenue of the global top 10 IC design (fabless) companies reaching US$33.7 billion or 45% growth YoY, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. In addition to the Taiwanese companies MediaTek, Novatek, and Realtek already on the list, Himax comes in at number ten, bringing the total number of Taiwanese companies on the top 10 list to 4.

Qualcomm has been buoyed by continuing robust demand for 5G mobile phones form major mobile phone manufacturers with further revenue growth from its processor and radio frequency front end (RFFE) departments. Qualcomm's IoT department benefited from strong demand in the consumer electronics, edge networking, and industrial sectors, posting revenue growth of 66% YoY, highest among Qualcomm departments. In turn, this drove Qualcomm's total 3Q21 revenue to US$7.7 billion, 56% growth YoY, and ranking first in the world.

AMD to Steer Motherboard Partners Away from Intel WLAN, Toward MediaTek Co-branded Ones

Intel has dominated the client Wi-Fi + Bluetooth network adapter market in the PC space for some time now, particularly with WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E interfaces integrated with motherboards. Even on the AMD platform, motherboard vendors have extensively packaged not just Intel-branded WiFi + Bluetooth modules, but also their wired LAN controllers. In the commercial desktop and commercial notebook markets, Intel leverages this position to push its vPro management suite, with Intel WLAN controllers featuring vPro support. This is something felt lacking in the rival AMD PRO ecosystem, and something the company is looking to change with its collaboration with MediaTek.

AMD RZ660 will be the first controller based on this partnership. Based on the MediaTek Filogic 330P chipset, the controller combines WiFi 6E (6 GHz), with the latest generation Bluetooth (at least Bluetooth 5.2). Driver software and support for this solution will be handled by AMD, as would distribution. MediaTek stated that the first notebooks and desktop PCs (includes DIY motherboards) featuring the AMD RZ660 will debut in 2022. The AMD-supplied driver software would also enable the company to create special "PRO" variants of the RZ660 to bundle with its Ryzen PRO SoCs for the commercial PC and workstation markets. There doesn't appear to be any such collaboration with wired Ethernet, as there is an even competition between Intel and Realtek over the 2.5 GbE PHY market, with both companies offering gaming-specific variants—Intel Killer and Realtek DragonLAN.

BIOSTAR Announces RACING Z690GTA Motherboard

BIOSTAR, a leading manufacturer of motherboards, graphics cards, and storage devices today, announces the brand-new RACING Z690GTA motherboard. Enter the battlefield in confidence with BIOSTAR's renowned RACING series Z690GTA motherboard. Designed based on the Intel Z690 chipset with the latest LGA1700 socket, the new RACING Z690GTA motherboard is the best choice to run the latest Intel 12th gen Alder Lake processors.

Carrying forward the legacy of its predecessors the new RACING Z690GTA motherboard looks and feels otherworldly. Style, power, and grace packed in an exciting new armor design; the motherboard is tastefully designed to make any PC build stand out from the rest. Featuring a 17-phase power design and Active cooling armor gear with fins heat sink, BIOSTAR has actively focused on stable power management and heat dissipation this year, greatly enhancing the performance and durability of its components.

Most of Gigabyte's Intel Z690 Motherboards Only Features Two Audio Jacks

Although we're going to try and cover all the newly launched Intel Z690 based motherboards more thoroughly before the retail availability date, we had a quick look already on what's on offer and we were struck by something rather odd when it comes to Gigabyte, most of their new boards only have two 3.5 mm audio jacks around the back. This is not limited to their cheaper SKUs, but is found through the entire product stack.

We're not entirely sure what's going on here and will check with Gigabyte once someone is awake that we can talk to about it, but we're fairly certain that this is going to cause a bit of a backlash from their customers. This was actually something we kind of saw in the leaked image of one of the Aero boards, as it didn't look like it had any audio jacks at all, but that wasn't the case. Instead, it seems to have something to do with Gigabyte's move away from the Realtek ALC1220 Intel HD audio based codecs that the company have been using for the past few generations of boards.

Akasa Launches Low Profile 2.5 Gbps PCIe Network Card

With 2.5 Gbps Ethernet gaining popularity, we're seeing more and more companies launching 2.5 Gbps products and Akasa is the latest to join the fray. Although there's nothing really unique about this 2.5 Gbps card, it is the lowest profile card we've seen so far, which might make it suitable for certain builds where a regular card wouldn't fit.

The awkwardly named AK-PCCE25-01 features a Realtek Ethernet controller, although we can't quite make out which one, but it's one of the RTL8125 variants. The card comes with a full-height and half-height bracket and drivers for Windows 7 through 10, as well as Linux are provided. Retail pricing seems to be around US$31.95/£27.98/€29.90, which is in line with the competition, or somewhat cheaper.

ASUSTOR Announces Switch-n-Stor, an Affordable 2.5GbE Unmanaged Switch for Home-Offices

ASUSTOR Inc. today is proud to announce its first five port network switch named the Switch-n-Stor. The Switch-n-Stor uses Realtek 2.5 GbE controllers in addition to its fashionable enthusiast aesthetic. The Switch-n-Stor is efficient and combines well with any 2.5 GbE-enabled ASUSTOR NAS or 2.5 GbE-enabled computer. PC or NAS not compatible with 2.5-Gigabit Ethernet? Purchase an AS-U2.5G2 and plug it into a USB 3.2 port found on a NAS to easily upgrade a device to 2.5-Gigabit Ethernet and experience more than double the speed. The Switch-n-Stor is backwards compatible with Gigabit and 100-Megabit speeds, ensuring that it is compatible with almost any device, albeit at lower speeds, ensuring maximum seamlessness.

The Switch-n-Stor chassis design is made of metal. With both heat dissipation and a beautiful aesthetic, the Switch-n-Stor dissipates heat and does so while looking good. Take advantage of five 2.5-Gigabit Ethernet ports, each providing more than double the performance of traditional Gigabit Ethernet. The ASUSTOR Switch-n-Stor supports backwards compatibility, ensuring that almost any device will plug in seamlessly while Cat5e cables work flawlessly, saving you from unnecessary cable replacements.

Revenue of Top 10 IC Design (Fabless) Companies Reaches US$29.8 Billion for 2Q21, Though Growth May Potentially Slow in 2H21, Says TrendForce

In view of the ongoing production capacity shortage in the semiconductor industry and the resultant price hike of chips, revenue of the top 10 IC design companies for 2Q21 reached US$29.8 billion, a 60.8% YoY increase, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. In particular, Taiwanese companies put up remarkable performances during this period, with both MediaTek and Novatek posting YoY growths of more than 95%. AMD, on the other hand, experienced a nearly 100% YoY revenue growth, the highest among the top 10.

TrendForce indicates that the ranking of the top five companies for 2Q21 remained unchanged from the previous quarter, although there were major changes in the 6th to 10th spots. More specifically, after finalizing its acquisition of Inphi, Marvell experienced a major revenue growth and leapfrogged Xilinx and Realtek in the rankings from 9th place in 1Q21 to 7th place in 2Q21.

ASUSTOR Also Unveils Drivestor 2 and Drivestor 4 Entry-level Consumer NAS

The Drivestor 2 and 4 are here and spelling the death knell for Gigabit Ethernet. The Drivestor 2 and 4 are equipped with two and four bays respectively and each contain a Realtek RTD1296 1.4 GHz Quad-Core processor and 1 GB of DDR4 memory for faster performance on an entry level NAS than ever before. The ultra-fast performance of the RTD1296 brings unbelievable performance at a budget-friendly price, bringing the best of enterprise-grade hardware to home storage.

Also arriving with the Drivestor series is ADM 4.0. Optimized, enhanced, secure, easier to use, efficient and fully featured, ADM 4.0 is better in every way thanks to the numerous improvements made. Transcode 4K H.265, 10-Bit media, an ASUSTOR first on an entry level NAS, helping LooksGood to play high-definition movies at almost any resolution. Transcode and play back video smoothly on the Drivestor 2 and 4 by reserving 512 MB of RAM for multimedia purposes by using Media Mode. Use AiData, AiVideos, AiMusic and AiFoto 3 on the Drivestor 2 and 4 to easily stream, enjoy, upload and download documents, photos, videos and music to and from smartphones for both home memories and exceeds the needs of young businesses. Store data at home or at the office easily and safely on a device that gives you control over your data on a device that won't break the bank.

XMG Reports Higher Availability of Ryzen 5000 Mobile Processors

Laptop manufacturer XMG Has recently reported that the supply of AMD Ryzen 5000 mobile processors has increased considerably in the past weeks with this availability expected to continue through the coming months. These supply improvements come after an ongoing period of global chip shortages which has resulted in price increases for various electronics devices. XMG also reports that the supply of components from Intel and NVIDIA is expected to remain stable but ICs from Realtek and Cypress continue to fluctuate in availability and pricing.
XMGThe availability of AMD's current mobile processors from the Ryzen 5000 series has improved significantly over the past few weeks. The coming months continue to promise a reliable CPU supply.

SilverStone Intros Raven RVS03 M.2 SSD Enclosure That Supports Both NVMe and SATA

SilverStone today introduced the Raven RVS03, a unique M.2 SSD enclosure that supports both NVMe and SATA drives. Typically M.2 enclosures only support either of the two. The drive is based on the Realtek RTL9210B-CG controller that takes advantage of 10 Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 and UASP protocols, and offers sequential transfer rates of up to 1000 MB/s. The Raven's body is made entirely of aluminium, with a high-conductivity thermal pad being included, letting you transfer heat from the drive inside to the enclosure body. The enclosure uses a single USB 3.2 cable for both power and host connectivity. Cables are included for both type-A and type-C. It measures 105.7 mm x 35 mm x 13.5 mm (LxHxW), dry-weighing 52.2 g. The company didn't reveal pricing.

BIOSTAR Announces the H61MHV3 Motherboard

BIOSTAR, a leading brand of motherboards, graphics cards, and storage devices today, announces a refresh of their Intel H61MH series with the new H61MHV3 motherboard. Designed based on Intel's H61 single chip architecture, the new H61MHV3 motherboard from BIOSTAR breathes a fresh breath of life to older 2nd and 3rd generation processors from Intel.

Highly suited for business use and HTPC systems, the H61MHV3 motherboard comes with BIOSTAR's promised product reliability and long-lasting performance. It is capable of supporting up to 16 GB of DDR3 memory across 2 DIMM slots. USB 2.0 support with 8 USB ports provided with the motherboard for ease of use. Engineered to work well with Core i3, i5, i7, Pentium, and Celeron processors, the motherboard is designed with the latest components to provide smooth unhindered performance across all its components.

Realtek Also Experiences Chip Shortage, Could Reflect Badly on PC Market

The global chip shortage is currently getting worse each day, starting from the tight supply of graphics cards and processors for consumers, spanning to even your internet router. Every piece of electronics now seems to be getting more expensive, as the semiconductor processors found inside them are very hard to source. The cause of that is huge demand coming from consumers, who require the latest generation of processors manufactured in overbooked semiconductor facilities like the ones from TSMC, UMC, Intel, Samsung, SMIC, etc. If manufacturers can't supply enough chips to satisfy the demand for companies that incorporate these chips in products' needs, the issue appears.

This time, we have another big player in need of more wafer capacity. Realtek, the maker of various ICs for multimedia and peripherals, is reportedly experiencing a chip shortage as well. According to the report coming from DigiTimes, the Taiwanese Realtek is fighting to keep up with the demand. The report raises concerns from laptop manufacturers like Dell, HP, and others who use Realtek's chips for various purposes in devices, like audio and LAN chips. Reportedly used in 70% of global laptop designs, Realtek's audio and LAN solutions are very much in demand. If the company cannot supply enough of those chips, manufacturers would be unable to ship products. According to the report, the delivery time of Realtek's chips has been extended to 32 weeks, which could cause massive delays with product shipments and cause some harm to the supply chain. It remains to be seen how the market responds to the extended delivery time, so we will watch it with caution.

Revenue of Top 10 IC Design (Fabless) Companies for 2020 Undergoes 26.4% Increase YoY, Says TrendForce

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 1H20 seemed at first poised to devastate the IC design industry. However, as WFH and distance education became the norm, TrendForce finds that the demand for notebook computers and networking products also spiked in response, in turn driving manufacturers to massively ramp up their procurement activities for components. Fabless IC design companies that supply such components therefore benefitted greatly from manufacturers' procurement demand, and the IC design industry underwent tremendous growth in 2020. In particular, the top three IC design companies (Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Nvidia) all posted YoY increases in their revenues, with Nvidia registering the most impressive growth, at a staggering 52.2% increase YoY, the highest among the top 10 companies.

ASUS USB-C2500 Provides a Handy, Tool-free 2.5GbE Upgrade

ASUS USB-C2500 lets you add 2.5 Gbps wired Ethernet to your PC or NAS without the fuss of opening it up for a PCIe adapter. The dongle features a USB 3.0 type-A (5 Gbps) connector on one end, and an easy-to-setup 2.5 GbE port on the other. The main body of this network dongle is made of an aluminium alloy, while a Nylon-sleeved 5 cm cable ties it to the USB 3.0 type-A connector. A type-A to type-C adapter, or native type-C interface aren't included, unlike with the ASUSTOR AS-U2-5G2. The company didn't mention the controller underneath, but it's very likely to be the Realtek RTL8156B, possibly the only USB3-based 2.5 GbE single-chip solution at large. The company didn't announce pricing.

ASUSTOR Unveils AS-U2.5G2 Portable 2.5GbE Adapter

ASUSTOR, the NAS-focused brand of ASUS, unveiled the AS-U2.5G2, a pocket-size external network adapter for 2.5 Gbps Ethernet. Built into a premium casing made of aluminium, the adapter uses a Realtek RTL8156B 2.5 GbE PHY, which is a single-chip solution designed for USB 3.0, without the need for a USB-to-PCIe bridge chip. A single USB 3.2 Gen 1 connection handles both power and host-connectivity. The adapter comes with a convenient USB type-C connector, and a type-C to type-A dongle is included. It measures 16.4 (H) x 23.4 (W) x 195.2 (D) mm, and weighs just 33 g. Since it's being sold standalone, it's compatible with not just ASUSTOR NAS products, but also any Windows 10 PC. The company didn't reveal pricing.

BIOSTAR Rolls Out B550M-Silver Motherboard

BIOSTAR today rolled out the B550M-Silver, a Socket AM4 motherboard in the Micro-ATX form-factor, based on the AMD B550 chipset. The board comes with out-of-the-box support for the latest Ryzen 5000 "Vermeer" processors, in addition to Ryzen 4000 "Renoir" and Ryzen 3000 "Matisse." It draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power connectors, conditioning it for the CPU with a 10-phase VRM that comes with heatsinks across all CPU VRM phases. Expansions slots on the BIOSTAR B550M-Silver include one PCI-Express 4.0 x16, a PCI-Express x16 (electrical gen 3.0 x4 and wired to the B550 chipset), and a PCIe 3.0 x1.

Storage connectivity includes six SATA 6 Gbps ports, and two M.2-2280 slots, from which one has PCI-Express 4.0 x4 wiring to the CPU socket; and the other PCI-Express 3.0 x4, wired to the B550 chipset. USB connectivity includes two 10 Gbps USB 3.2 ports on the rear panel (from which one is type-C), four 5 Gbps USB 3.2 ports (from which two are via headers), and six USB 2.0 ports (two on the rear panel, four via headers). Networking includes a 2.5 GbE wired interface handled by a Realtek 8125B controller, and preparation for a WLAN module (an M.2 E-key slot and mounts for antennas are provided), although one isn't included with the board. The onboard 6-channel HD audio solution is handled by a Realtek ALC1150 CODEC. The company didn't reveal pricing.

BIOSTAR Intros Racing Z490A-SILVER and Z490T-SILVER Motherboards

BIOSTAR today introduced a pair of Socket LGA1200 motherboards based on the Intel Z490 chipset, the Racing Z490A-SILVER (ATX) and Racing Z490T-SILVER (Mini-ITX). Both appear to be middle-of-the-market products positioned below the Racing GT EVO series from the company, competing with the likes of the ASRock Steel Legend and ASUS TUF Gaming series. Z490A-SILVER draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8+4 pin EPS power connectors, conditioning power for the CPU using a 12+2+2 phase VRM. You get a pair of reinforced PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (electrical x16/x4), two M.2-2280 slots with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 wiring, and connectivity that includes a 1 GbE interface pulled by an Intel i219-V controller, and a 6-channel HD audio solution based on the Realtek ALC1150 codec.

The Racing Z490T-SILVER Mini-ITX motherboard features a conventional 24-pin + 8-pin power input, a 7+2+1 phase CPU VRM, a pair of DDR4 DIMM slots, a reinforced PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot, and connectivity that includes four SATA 6 Gbps ports, an M.2-2280 slot (SATA 6 Gbps + PCI-Express 3.0 x4 wiring) on the reverse side of the PCB, 1 GbE based on Intel i219-V, and preparation for Wi-Fi 6 (you drop in your own Intel AX200-series card on a CNVi slot). The comapny didn't reveal pricing.

GIGABYTE Intros IMB410TN Thin Mini-ITX Motherboard

GIGABYTE today introduced the GA-IMB410TN, a Thin Mini-ITX Socket LGA1200 motherboard based on the Intel H410 chipset. Designed for compact desktops and all-in-one desktops, the IMB410TN is designed to draw power from a 2-pin external DC power source. It supports processors with TDP of up to 65 W (and perhaps power limited to 65 W). The processor is wired to a pair of DDR4 SODIMM slots for up to 64 GB of dual-channel memory; and a PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot.

Storage connectivity includes an M.2-2280 slot, and two SATA 6 Gbps port. Other slots include an mPCIe 3.0 x1, an mSATA 6 Gb/s, and an M.2 E-key slot for WLAN cards. Other connectivity relevant to the board's AIO desktop credentials include LVDS connectors, GPIO, and a suite of jumpers, sensors, and headers meant for all-in ones. Networking is care of two 1 GbE connections driven by Intel-made controllers, and a 6-channel HD audio solution driven by a Realtek ALC887 codec. The company didn't reveal pricing.

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.

ASRock Intros W480 Creator Motherboard

ASRock introduced the W480 Creator premium motherboard for creators, which supports 10th Gen Core and Xeon W-1200 series processors in the LGA1200 package, based on the "Comet Lake" microarchitecture. Built in the ATX form-factor, the board draws power from a 24-pin ATX and two 8-pin EPS power connectors, conditioning it for the CPU with a 16-phase VRM cooled by large aluminium fan-heatsinks. The LGA1200 socket is wired to four reinforced DDR4 DIMM slots supporting up to 128 GB of dual-channel DDR4-4800 (OC) memory, including ECC unbuffered DIMM support when paired with Xeon W-1200 processors; and two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x8/x8 with both populated, else x16). These slots are gen 4.0 capable with future processors that offer PCIe gen 4.0 support. Storage connectivity includes three M.2 NVMe slots with PCIe gen 3.0 x4 wiring, each; and six SATA 6 Gbps ports.

Much of this board's serious "creator" USP begins with its connectivity. It offers two Thunderbolt 40 Gbps ports via type-C connectors, each with its own mini-DisplayPort 1.4 passthrough input that you connect to your graphics card. Networking connectivity includes a 10 GbE wired network connection powered by an AQuantia AQC107 controller; a second 2.5 GbE connection driven by Intel i225-LM controller, and an 802.11ax WLAN connection by an Intel AX201 adapter that also provides Bluetooth 5. The onboard audio solution packs some serious hardware, with an ESS Sabre 9218 DAC handling the front-panel headphones out (130 dBA SNR), a Realtek ALC1220 HDA codec handling the other channels (120 dBA SNR), WIMA capacitors for the front outputs, and the right and left audio channel wiring being routed through distant PCB layers to minimize crosstalk. The company didn't reveal pricing.

ASRock Announces Trio of Intel 400-series STEEL LEGEND Motherboards

ASRock today launched a trio of socket LGA1200 motherboards part of its Steel Legend family. These include the H470 Steel Legend, the B460 Steel Legend, the and Micro-ATX B460M Steel Legend. All three boards offer ASRock's BFB (base frequency boost) technology that improves performance of non-K processors by letting them sustain boost frequencies better. The H470 Steel Legend leads the pack with a 11-phase CPU VRM that draws power from a combination of 8-pin and 4-pin EPS connectors; enlarged VRM heatsinks, two M.2-22110 slots with heatsinks and PCI-Express 3.0 x4 wiring; an M.2 E-key slot for WLAN cards, and connectivity that includes a premium Realtek ALC1200-based onboard audio solution, 2.5 GbE wired networking powered by a Realtek-made controller, and a couple of USB 3.2 gen 2 ports, including a type-C port.

The B460 Steel Legend uses a different PCB design from its H470-based sibling. A simpler 9-phase VRM powers the CPU, pulling power from a single 8-pin EPS connector. You still get two M.2 slots with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 wiring and heatsinks; and an M.2 E-key slot for WLAN cards. Connectivity is similar to the H470-based board, too, with a 2.5 GbE wired networking interface, and a premium onboard audio solution based on the ALC1200. Lastly, there's the B460M Steel Legend, which maximizes the Micro-ATX form-factor PCB area. The CPU VRM solution is carried over from its ATX sibling (9-phase, single 8-pin EPS). ASRock managed to squeeze in two M.2 slots (one of them with a heatsink, both with gen 3.0 x4 wiring), and preparation for WLAN. Much like the other two, you get an ALC1200-based premium onboard audio solution, and a 2.5 GbE networking interface. The company didn't reveal pricing.
ASRock H470 Steel Legend ASRock B460 Steel Legend ASRock B460M Steel Legend

QNAP Launches Budget-Friendly 2-Bay TS-230 NAS

QNAP Systems, Inc., a leading computing, networking and storage solution innovator, today launched the new lightweight, quiet, and feature-rich TS-230 NAS that can easily fit into any living environment. Adorned with a refreshing baby blue hue, the TS-230 is ideal for home and daily central storage, back up, photo and video sharing. All digital assets on the TS-230 are securely protected by the powerful snapshot function. Coupled with multimedia apps and transcoding feature support, the TS-230 is an ideal entry-level NAS for creating a smart and fun lifestyle.

The TS-230 uses a Realtek RTD1296 quad-core 1.4 GHz processor and built-in 2 GB DDR4 RAM for meeting personal and home NAS applications. It provides one Gigabit port and supports SATA6 Gbps disk drives, AES-256 encryption, and SSD caching. The cooling fan uses an HDB type Sintetico bearing fan for maintaining high airflow and low noise, providing better cooling for the TS-230 to ensure constant system operation. The tool-less hard drive installation makes TS-230 setup easy even for a NAS newbie.

AMD Releases AGESA ComboAM4 1.0.0.5 Microcode

AMD formally announced its AGESA ComboAM4 1.0.0.5 microcode. The new microcode is intended to be encapsulated into motherboard UEFI firmware updates and distributed by motherboard- and OEM desktop manufacturers, at their discretion. AGESA 1.0.0.5 improves POST (time) with select Micron Technology DDR4-3200 memory chips. An intermittent virtual memory error with certain Realtek onboard Ethernet PHY chips has been fixed. The microcode also improves PCI-Express bus stability and interoperability, in general. A PCIe lane configuration issue with Ryzen 3 Pro 2100GE has been fixed. Besides these, all other performance- and stability-improvements part of older 1.0.0.4 a/ab/abb/abba microcodes are incorporated into 1.0.0.5. Keep an eye on the BIOS updates section of your socket AM4 motherboard's product page on its company website.

Colorful iGame Z490 Vulcan X and CVN Z490 Gaming Pro Motherboards Detailed

Here are some of the first pictures and details of a pair of premium socket LGA1200 motherboards by Colorful. The iGame Z490 Vulcan X appears to lead the company's upcoming Intel Z490 chipset motherboard lineup. The CVN Z490 Gaming Pro, on the other hand, is a mid-range offering. The iGame board offers a 280 W-capable 14-phase CPU VRM, three each of PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (x8/x8/x4 with all three populated, else x16/NC/x4) slots, PCie x1, and M.2 NVMe slots; a PCH heatsink outer shroud that extends into heatsinks for two of the M.2 slots, a rear I/O shroud that extends into an M.2 heatsink; and connectivity that includes a premium ALC1220-based onboard audio solution, 802.11ax WLAN driven by an Intel AX201 board, and 2.5 GbE wired interface driven by an Intel i225-V controller. The I/O shroud and PCH heatsink feature RGB LED embellishments.

The CVN Z490 Gaming Pro is refreshingly spartan for a Colorful board. Chunky aluminium heatsinks cool the board's 10-phase VRM rated up to 125 W. The CPU socket is wired to two reinforced PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x16/x4 electrical), You still get three M.2 slots, but only one of them features a heatsink. The connectivity is entry-level, too, with a Realtek ALC892-driven 8-channel HD audio solution, and a single 1 GbE wired networking interface driven by a Realtek RTL8111H controller. There are ARGB headers, although no RGB LED embellishments.
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