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Rumor: Noctua to Introduce NH-U12A Tower Cooler in Chromax Version

Noctua produces some of the most well-regarded CPU coolers in the PC space, and for good reason: they usually set the benchmark in both heat dissipation efficiency and noise levels. However, one of the elements that may not make their coolers as popular as they could be (and they are immensely popular) is the color scheme the company usually favors, with its brown and beige colors being relatively hard to fit in with many system builds. The company responded by adding Chromax versions to their lineup, with a more "typical" black color scheme, which have seen great success both in the market and user opinion.

A Reddit user going by the handle hoopon, however, claims to have received a tech support answer from a Noctua representative that said that a Chromax version of the famed, high-performance Noctua NH-U12A cooler is being readied for market launch in Q3 2020. Another user, Bergh3m, echoed these claims, saying that he himself had received a Noctua answer on the same product in the beginning of the year that placed the Noctua NH-U12A Chromax as being released in Q2 or Q3 2020. However, as with everything these days, the COVID-19 situation may very well has pushed the release to a definite Q3. As always, we urge you to take these rumors with a full pint of salt.

AMD "Matisse Refresh" Processor SKUs Include 3900XT, 3800XT, and 3600XT

Rumors of AMD refreshing its 3rd generation Ryzen desktop processor family are growing louder. On Friday (22/05), reports of the "Matisse Refresh" processor family surfaced, with talk of "Ryzen 7 3850X" and "Ryzen 7 3750X" processors headed for a June 2020 announcement followed by July availability. Turns out AMD has a different naming scheme in mind, targeted at wooing gamers. The company is reportedly bringing its "XT" brand extension over from its Radeon graphics card family over to the Ryzen line.

There are three SKUs AMD is developing, the Ryzen 9 3900XT, the Ryzen 7 3800XT, and the Ryzen 5 3600 XT. All three are likely to retain core counts of the SKUs they are displacing from current price points - with the 3900XT likely being a 12-core/24-thread part; the 3800XT an 8-core/16-thread part, and the 3600XT a 6-core/12-thread part. AMD is likely to give the three a major clock speed increase to shore up gaming performance. It won't surprise us if AMD tinkers with boost algorithms, either. GIGABYTE has already referenced "Matisse Refresh" in its motherboard product roadmaps, which adds plenty of credibilty to this rumor. With "Zen 3" based 4th gen Ryzen processors unlikely to relieve the embattled 3900X, 3800X, and 3600X in the wake of Intel's 10th gen Core "Comet Lake" launch until Q4-2020, it makes sense for AMD to plan a product stack refresh to bolster its competitiveness. AMD is reportedly planning a June 16 product announcement, followed by July 7 availability.

AMD Readies 3rd Gen Ryzen "Matisse Refresh" Ryzen 7 3850X and 3750X Processors

AMD is planning to immediately update its product stack to counter the Intel 10th gen Core "Comet Lake-S" desktop processor family. Codenamed "Matisse Refresh," the processor will use existing IP, based on the 7 nm "Zen 2" microarchitecture, but could improve in areas such as clock-speeds. As it now stands, the Ryzen 9 3900X appears unfazed by the i9-10900K and i7-10700K at its new $410 price, however, competitiveness of the 3800X and 3700X could buckle under pressure from the i7-10700 series (K, KF, non-K, and F), as well as the Core i5-10600 series. To this effect, we're hearing rumors of a "Ryzen 7 3750X" and "Ryzen 7 3850X" seeing the light of the day soon, with an early-June announcement, and early-July market availability. References to the 3750X date back to October 2019.

Rumors of "Matisse Refresh" gained traction when WCCFTech editor Hassan Mujtaba tweeted a slide from a GIGABYTE AMD B550 motherboard series pre-launch presentation, which references GIGABYTE's own interpretation of AMD's roadmap. It lists out every CPU microarchitecture for the AM4 platform, and right next to "Matisse" is "& Refresh," confirming that "Matisse Refresh" is real. A microarchitecture "refresh" needn't even involve any physical changes to the processor design, core-counts, or architecture, and can sometimes even indicate something as simple as a second major wave of SKUs that replace existing SKUs in the market, leading to their phase-out (eg: Intel "Haswell Refresh" retaining the 4th gen Core model numbering). The slide also adds weight to the theory that desktop "Renoir," like its mobile counterpart, lacks PCIe gen 4.0. The slide also talks about AMD introducing the entry-level A520 desktop chipset in August, which will support PCIe gen 4 when paired with a capable processor.

Valve Rumored to Launch Steam Loyalty Scheme

SteamDB developer Pavel Djundik has uncovered evidence of a Steam loyalty scheme in some recent code strings. The developer detailed how the scheme may consist of a points system where users can redeem points for badge levels and possibly game discounts. This discovery comes just as the dates for the next Steam sale were leaked to be the 25th June - 9th July so this new loyalty scheme may launch alongside the sale and replace previous sale schemes.

Djundik has also discovered potential changes to the Steam review system with the introduction of user reactions. These reactions include deep thoughts, heartwarming, hilarious, hot take, poetry, and helpful. Djundik has an excellent track record for leaks regarding Steam just last week predicting the announcement of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, so it will be interesting to see if this new loyalty scheme gets released.

NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti and GA102 "Ampere" Specs, Other Juicy Bits Revealed

PC hardware focused YouTube channel Moore's Law is Dead published a juicy tech-spec reveal of NVIDIA's next-generation "Ampere" based flagship consumer graphics card, the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, citing correspondence with sources within NVIDIA. The report talks of big changes to NVIDIA's Founders Edition (reference) board design, as well as what's on the silicon. To begin with, the RTX 3080 Ti reference-design card features a triple-fan cooling solution unlike the RTX 20-series. This cooler is reportedly quieter than the RTX 2080 Ti FE cooling solution. The card pulls power from a pair of 8-pin PCIe power connectors. Display outputs include three DP, and one each of HDMI and VirtualLink USB-C. The source confirms that "Ampere" will implement PCI-Express gen 4.0 x16 host interface.

With "Ampere," NVIDIA is developing three tiers of high-end GPUs, with the "GA102" leading the pack and succeeding the "TU102," the "GA104" holding the upper-performance segment and succeeding today's "TU104," but a new silicon between the two, codenamed "GA103," with no predecessor from the current-generation. The "GA102" reportedly features 5,376 "Ampere" CUDA cores (up to 10% higher IPC than "Turing"). The silicon also taps into the rumored 7 nm-class silicon fabrication node to dial up GPU clock speeds well above 2.20 GHz even for the "GA102." Smaller chips in the series can boost beyond 2.50 GHz, according to the report. Even with the "GA102" being slightly cut-down for the RTX 3080 Ti, the silicon could end up with FP32 compute performance in excess of 21 TFLOPs. The card uses faster 18 Gbps GDDR6 memory, ending up with 863 GB/s of memory bandwidth that's 40% higher than that of the RTX 2080 Ti (if the memory bus width ends up 384-bit). Below are screengrabs from the Moore's Law is Dead video presentation, and not NVIDIA slides.

Apple Rumored to Launch New Mac in 2021 with 5 nm A14 SoC, x86 no More

In a recent report by Bloomberg it was revealed that Apple is planning to start selling Mac computers featuring their upcoming in-house A14 ARM chip which will power the next generation iPhone & iPad in 2021. According to sources familiar with the matter Apple is developing three new processors based on the A14 to power some 2021 Mac products, these chips will be manufactured on TSMCs 5 nm process. One of these new processors is expected to be more powerful then the iPhone version.

This marks a significant move for Apple as they shift from x86 to in-house ARM designs across their entire product lineup, we have an editorial on the rise of ARM here. This development is part of Apple's plan to increase control over their products in an attempt to fully unify the Apple ecosystem and reduce reliance on Intel who has struggled to offer significant performance increases in recent years, this will come as a major blow to Intel who benefited greatly from Apple's demand. Apple will need to adapt MacOS for an ARM based design and ensure their is compatibility for third party x86 applications. The first processor is expected to feature 8 "Firestorm" cores and at least four energy-efficient "Icestorm" cores, Apple is also exploring options for up to 12 core processors based on the same design for use in future Macs.

Huawei Rumored To Enter GPU Server Market

Huawei may become the 4th player in the GPU server market if a new report by Korean news outlet The Elec is to be believed. The Elec has received reports from Industry Sources that Huawei is readying to enter the market in 2020, this will put them in direct competition with industry leader NVIDIA along with AMD and newcomer Intel. Huawei Korea will reportedly assign the project to the new Cloud and AI Business Group division, talent scouting has already begun with rumors of current and former NVIDIA staff getting poached.

Huawei is no newcomer to the server market having already launched the Ascend 910 one of the worlds most advanced AI accelerators in August 2019. The Ascend 910 outperforms the Tesla V100 by a factor of two, and is developed on a more advanced 7 nm+ technology compared to the 12 nm Tesla V100. In January 2020 Huawei launched their next server product the Kunpeng 920 a big data CPU along with a new server lineup featuring the chip. Considering Huawei's experience and resources in the server market along with Intel's entrance the GPU server landscape is set to become very competitive.

Domain Registration Sparks Grand Theft Auto VI Announcement Rumors

A March 23 website domain name registration update by Take-Two Interactive, publishers of the "Grand Theft Auto" franchise, sparked rumors of an imminent "Grand Theft Auto VI" announcement. The registered domain "GTAVI.com" is now a placeholder for what could be an exclusive site for the upcoming chapter in the wildly popular open-world action RPG franchise.

Much has been talked about GTA VI in recent years, such as rumors of the game having the largest open world ever in the franchise, including the ability to transport between the various fictional cities in the GTA universe via fast-travel points at airports. With GTA V, Rockstar introduced the concept of multiple playable characters, each with its unique set of missions, and some interesting joint missions where you switch between the playable characters. The introduction of cities spread across the landmass could only take this concept further.

NVIDIA's Next-Generation "Ampere" GPUs Could Have 18 TeraFLOPs of Compute Performance

NVIDIA will soon launch its next-generation lineup of graphics cards based on a new and improved "Ampere" architecture. With the first Tesla server cards that are a part of the Ampere lineup going inside Indiana University Big Red 200 supercomputer, we now have some potential specifications and information about its compute performance. Thanks to the Twitter user dylan552p(@dylan522p), who did some math about the potential compute performance of the Ampere GPUs based on NextPlatform's report, we discovered that Ampere is potentially going to feature up to 18 TeraFLOPs of FP64 compute performance.

With Big Red 200 supercomputer being based on Cray's Shasta supercomputer building block, it is being deployed in two phases. The first phase is the deployment of 672 dual-socket nodes powered by AMD's EPYC 7742 "Rome" processors. These CPUs provide 3.15 PetaFLOPs of combined FP64 performance. With a total of 8 PetaFLOPs planned to be achieved by the Big Red 200, that leaves just a bit under 5 PetaFLOPs to be had using GPU+CPU enabled system. Considering the configuration of a node that contains one next-generation AMD "Milan" 64 core CPU, and four of NVIDIA's "Ampere" GPUs alongside it. If we take for a fact that Milan boosts FP64 performance by 25% compared to Rome, then the math shows that the 256 GPUs that will be delivered in the second phase of Big Red 200 deployment will feature up to 18 TeraFLOPs of FP64 compute performance. Even if "Milan" doubles the FP64 compute power of "Rome", there will be around 17.6 TeraFLOPs of FP64 performance for the GPU.

Rumor: NVIDIA's Next Generation GeForce RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 "Ampere" Graphics Cards Detailed

NVIDIA's next-generation of graphics cards codenamed Ampere is set to arrive sometime this year, presumably around GTC 2020 which takes place on March 22nd. Before the CEO of NVIDIA, Jensen Huang officially reveals the specifications of these new GPUs, we have the latest round of rumors coming our way. According to VideoCardz, which cites multiple sources, the die configurations of the upcoming GeForce RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 have been detailed. Using the latest 7 nm manufacturing process from Samsung, this generation of NVIDIA GPU offers a big improvement from the previous generation.

For starters the two dies which have appeared have codenames like GA103 and GA104, standing for RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 respectively. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the Streaming Multiprocessor (SM) count. The smaller GA104 die has as much as 48 SMs, resulting in 3072 CUDA cores, while the bigger, oddly named, GA103 die has as much as 60 SMs that result in 3840 CUDA cores in total. These improvements in SM count should result in a notable performance increase across the board. Alongside the increase in SM count, there is also a new memory bus width. The smaller GA104 die that should end up in RTX 3070 uses a 256-bit memory bus allowing for 8/16 GB of GDDR6 memory, while its bigger brother, the GA103, has a 320-bit wide bus that allows the card to be configured with either 10 or 20 GB of GDDR6 memory. In the images below you can check out the alleged diagrams for yourself and see if this looks fake or not, however, it is recommended to take this rumor with a grain of salt.

AMD Ryzen 4000 Rumored to Offer Around 17% Increased Performance

AMD's upcoming Ryzen 4000 series processors will be based on the company's Zen 3 design, which will feature a deeply revised architecture aiming to offer increased performance (surprising no-one). AMD themselves have already said that Zen 3 will offer performance increases in line with the release of new architectures - and we all remember the around 15% increase achieved with the release of Zen 2 Ryzen 3000 series, which surprised even AMD on its performance capabilities. Several sources around the web are quoting an around 17% increase in performance, taking into account increased operating frequencies of Zen 3 (100 to 200 MHz at least for the enterprise solutions, which could pave the way for even higher increases in consumer-geared products) and increased IPC of its core design. The utilization of EUV in the 7 nm process shouldn't have much to do with the increased frequencies of the CPUs, and will mostly be used to reduce the number of masks that are required for production of AMD's Zen 3 CPUs (which in turn will lead to increased yields).

Sources are claiming an increase of up to 50% in Zen 3's Floating Point Units (FPU) compared to Zen 2, while integer operations should make do with a 10-12% increase. Cores should remain stable across the board - and with that increase in performance, I'd say an upper limit of 16 physical and 32 logic cores in a consumer-geared CPU is more than enough. Increased IPCs and frequencies will definitely make AMD an even better proposition for all markets - gaming in particular, where Intel still has a (slightly virtual) hold in consumer's minds.

AMD RX 5600 XT Poised to Offer Vega 56-like Performance, Possible Specs Rumored

AMD's upcoming RX 5600 XT will bring about a much needed power increase over the current baseline RX 5500 series, slotting smoothly between it and the mainstream, high-performance RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT. New benchmarks spotted by Videocardz place AMD's upcoming graphics card (which could feature a 6 GB VRAM with higher capacities likely to be offered as well) some 35% ahead of the RX 5500, as well as on the overall performance level of AMD's RX Vega 56. That AMD card debuted at $399 and now has performance 8% to 15% higher than NVIDIA's current GTX 1660 SUPER, exactly where AMD would want the RX 5600 XT's performance to land.

Other details come courtesy of another publication, where Igor Wallosseck over at Igor's Lab says that AMD could be looking at harvesting the Navi 10 dies that power the company's RX 5700 XT and RX 5700 by disabling one of four Asynchronous Compute Engines (ACEs). These four ACEs are found two each on one of Navi's Shader Engines (SEs), and disabling one ACE and subordinate hardware from the full Navi 10's 40 RDNA Units, 2,560 Stream Processors (SPs), 160 texture mapping units (TMUs) and 64 render output units (ROPs) would make up for an RX 5600 XT with 30 RDNA CUs, 1,920 SPs, 120 TMUs, 48 ROPs and expected 3 MB of L2 cache. AMD could be looking to position the AMD RX 5600 XT in the $249 price range, since top tier RX 5500 XT tend to go for $200.

Intel "Rocket Lake-S" Desktop Processor Comes in Core Counts Up to 8, Gen12 iGPU Included

Intel's 11th generation Core "Rocket Lake-S" desktop processor will come in core-counts only up to 8, even as its predecessor, "Comet Lake-S," goes up to 10. Platform descriptors for Intel's next four microarchitectures surfaced on the web, detailing maximum values of their "S" (mainsteam desktop), "H" (mainstream notebook), "U" (ultrabook), and "Y" (low power portable) flavors. Both "Comet Lake-S" and "Rocket Lake-S" are 14 nm chips. "Comet Lake-S" comes with core counts of up to 10, a TDP of up to 125 Watts, Gen 9LP iGPU with 48 execution units, and native support for up to 128 GB of DDR4-2667.

The "Rocket Lake-S" silicon is interesting. Rumored to be yet another derivative of "Skylake," it features up to 8 CPU cores, the same 125 W maximum TDP, but swanky Gen12 iGPU with 32 execution units. The memory controller is also upgraded, which supports DDR4-2933 natively. There is no "Ice Lake-H" or "Ice Lake-S" in sight (no mainstream notebook or mainstream desktop implementations), ditto "Tiger Lake." For the foreseeable future, Intel will only make quad-core designs of the two 10 nm microarchitectures. "Rocket Lake-S" is slated for 2021 when, hopefully, we'll see Intel escape the 14 nm black hole.

News of Lisa Su Leaving AMD Was an Exaggeration: "Zero Truth to This Rumor"

News made the rounds recently of AMD's Lisa Su's reported plans of leaving the company in favor of a #2 position at IBM. The report, which was broken by WCCFTech, pegged Lisa Su as already being sprucing up her successor in the form of Rick Bergman, who recently joined AMD after leaving his CEO position with Synaptics.

Now, Lisa Su herself has come out on Twitter to say that there was zero truth to the report, and that she plans to stay with AMD, where "the best is yet to come". Of course, no CEO would confirm such a report from a media outlet - these things take their time and are done in their own corporate way, and there's really no other response that Lisa Su could have given that wouldn't damage AMD's current outlook. Her presence and confidence in her delivery is part of the reason for investor confidence in AMD. That said, I doubt there would be a better time for Lisa Su to actually move higher up in her own career perspectives than from AMD's current state.

NVIDIA's SUPER Tease Rumored to Translate Into an Entire Lineup Shift Upwards for Turing

NVIDIA's SUPER teaser hasn't crystallized into something physical as of now, but we know it's coming - NVIDIA themselves saw to it that our (singularly) collective minds would be buzzing about what that teaser meant, looking to steal some thunder from AMD's E3 showing. Now, that teaser seems to be coalescing into something amongst the industry: an entire lineup upgrade for Turing products, with NVIDIA pulling their chips up one rung of the performance chair across their entire lineup.

Apparently, NVIDIA will be looking to increase performance across the board, by shuffling their chips in a downward manner whilst keeping the current pricing structure. This means that NVIDIA's TU106 chip, which powered their RTX 2070 graphics card, will now be powering the RTX 2060 SUPER (with a reported core count of 2176 CUDA cores). The TU104 chip, which power the current RTX 2080, will in the meantime be powering the SUPER version of the RTX 2070 (a reported 2560 CUDA cores are expected to be onboard), and the TU102 chip which powered their top-of-the-line RTX 2080 Ti will be brought down to the RTX 2080 SUPER (specs place this at 8 GB GDDR6 VRAM and 3072 CUDA cores). This carves the way for an even more powerful SKU in the RTX 2080 Ti SUPER, which should be launched at a later date. Salty waters say the RTX 2080 Ti SUPER will feature and unlocked chip which could be allowed to convert up to 300 W into graphics horsepower, so that's something to keep an eye - and a power meter on - for sure. Less defined talks suggest that NVIDIA will be introducing an RTX 2070 Ti SUPER equivalent with a new chip as well.

AMD 8-core Ryzen APU to Power Sony Playstation 5, Says the Rumor Mill

Sony's announcement of the Playstation team skipping E3 2019 took everyone by surprise aside from a few on Reddit who had paid attention to a thread created the day before. Reddit user RuthenicCookie seemed to know a lot more about Sony's plans for their popular game console for the next few years, as well as game titles supporting this current console generation and the next. Amidst a lot of the tasty rumor bits that should interest console gamers, something more relevant to us directly is the mention of the Playstation 5 to continue using AMD for processing power.

This is a logical move to just about everyone familiar with the industry, and Sony needed to up the CPU horsepower in particular to compete with the XBOX One X and offer a true 4K/60 FPS solution for gaming without framerate drops galore. As such, said redditor shared information saying that the current plans involve an 8-core Ryzen-based processor and an estimated console price point of $500. Sony may well share a teaser about the console next year, with retail availability expected in the holiday season 2020 (two years from now, thus). As such, developer kits are likely already ready meaning the specs are finalized as well. This may mean we will see either the first or second gen Ryzen APUs, and not Ryzen 2 as many may have hoped. No word yet on what Microsoft is cooking in their side of the kitchen, but incremental console updates means we may see a Ryzen 2-powered console sooner than later as well.

The Rumor Mill Rolls: Bethesda to Announce Sequel to RAGE Soon?

The original RAGE may not have garnered the best critical or consumer reception - it did have some pacing and mechanics issues that deterred it from being a true genre-defining experience, alongside teetering (read: absent) story and character development. However, the games' setting and world was an interesting one, and it served as a showcase for the iD Tech 5 engine and its MegaTexture technology that made the game look rather impressive for its time.

It looks as if Bethesda has looked back on this IP and decided to give it a new breath of life, though, hopefully building upon the first games' shortcomings. The rumor trail started with a Walmart Canada slip-up, where the company posted a placeholder product in the form of Rage 2. Rather than take it negatively, Bethesda took to the (then unconfirmed) leak and seemingly made it legit, by posting, via Twitter, a humorous message disparaging the errors in the placeholder title: absent capitalization of RAGE, inexistent box art, and the series' recognizable "Anarchy" symbol. Bethesda's Pete Hines has since commented on the development, saying that "This is why we can't have nice things", and Bethesda's official Twitter tweeted a picture of the Big Ben with a smear of the same pink ink they used to correct Walmart Canada's mistakes. All in all, it seems the rumor mill is getting this one right, and that we might be looking at an impending announcement. Here's to a game that delivers exotic technology and engine capabilities once again.

Intel's Skylake-X, Kaby Lake-X Rumored to Arrive Ahead of Schedule

The rumor mill turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. However, some of those really do turn to reality, like recent accounts of an AMD Polaris 20 chip surfacing in the latest RX 500 series. This time, Intel is in the crosshairs, with the company's high-performance Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X desktop components being pegged for release between June 19th and July 9th. This would place an announcement on the new chipset and CPUs debut to drop around Computex 2017, which kicks off on May 30 and runs through June 3 in Taipei.

Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X parts are supposed to use the same LGA 2066 socket, with Skylake-X said to include anywhere between six to 10 cores, support quad-channel DDR4 memory and have a metric ton of PCIe 3.0 lanes. Kaby Lake-X parts, meanwhile, are reportedly limited to just four cores, dual-channel memory and just 16 PCIe lanes from the CPU - which gives an impression of a simple, Kaby Lake desktop CPUs being repackaged for the new socket.
(And yes, inquisitive readers, that was a random reference to Robert Jordan's "The Wheel of Time" in the first line of this article.)

NVIDIA Rumored to Launch the GTX 1050 M at CES 2017

New reports have surfaced that indicate NVIDIA is all set to launch a new mid range mobile graphics solution, the GTX 1050 M at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. While NVIDIA has already released mobile variants of the GTX 1080, GTX 1070 and GTX 1060, people not willing to spend big on higher tier products from the green camp are limited to "Maxwell" based GTX 960 M or GTX 950 M offerings. Reports also indicate there has been somewhat of a surge in demand for GTX 1060 M equipped laptops, where the new GTX 1050 M could be nicely positioned to further augment consumer appetite.

As we reported in November, we can expect that in line with the existing "Pascal" based mobile solutions, the new GTX 1050 M to sport the same (or better) core-configuration as its desktop counterpart, but with significantly higher clock speeds. This should make the GTX 1050 M an attractive option as it would endow the laptop with graphical horsepower exceeding the very capable GTX 970 M. All in all with new Intel "Kaby Lake" processors set to take the stage at CES 2017 too, we could see quite an array of new or reconfigured laptops scattered throughout the show.

AMD's Zen Rumored for January 17th Launch; 8 Cores With 16 Threads for $300

As we inch ever closer to AMD's Zen launch, more and more information seems to be slipping through the cracks. This time, MAXSUN, an AMD China partner (poised to provide customers with AM4 platform motherboards) is the source of the proverbial leak, with information that, if true, is sure to stir the pot of bubbling Zen excitement even more.

According to MAXSUN, Zen's initial release date is pegged for January 17th, which, if true, would probably mean a product announcement around CES 2017 (scheduled from the 5th of January through the 8th) - at the same time as Intel is expected to fully unveil their Kaby Lake parts. The company also reports a second release window at March 2017, which lends further credence to AMD's expected staggered launch of Zen-based processors, first for the High-Performance-Desktop (HEDT) market, and trickling down from there. MAXSUN also confirms the pricing scheme we reported yesterday, with regards to the companies' SR7 processors (the top-of-the-line parts in the Zen line-up, and whose naming scheme I think isn't the final one) - the company states these are expected to be priced at around 1500-2000 Yuan SKU ($250-$300).

AMD Polaris 10 "Ellesmere" as Fast as GTX 980 Ti: Rumor

At a presser in Taiwan for its Radeon Pro Duo launch, AMD talked extensively about its upcoming "Polaris" and "Vega" family of GPUs. The company appears to be betting heavily on two SKUs it plans to launch this June, Polaris 10 and Polaris 11. Polaris 10 is an internal designation to Radeon R9 490(X), based on the 14 nm "Ellesmere" silicon. It may be the biggest chip AMD builds on the "Polaris" architecture, but it won't exactly be a "big chip," in that it doesn't succeed "Fiji." That honor is reserved for "Vega," which debuts in early-2017.

The "Ellesmere" silicon is more of AMD's competitor to NVIDIA's GP104. It is rumored that the R9 490(X), based on this silicon, will offer consumers performance rivaling the GeForce GTX 980 Ti (ergo faster than the Radeon R9 Fury X), at a USD $300-ish price point. "Ellesmere" will be a lean-machine, physically featuring up to 2,560 4th generation GCN stream processors (2,304 enabled on Polaris 10), a possible 256-bit GDDR5X memory interface, and a deep sub-200W typical board power rating.

iPad Mini Rumors Get Louder, Video Games Industry Echos Them

To capitalize on its dominant iPad brand, and offer devices at untapped price-points, Apple is said to be working on a smaller variant, so far referred to as "iPad Mini". This little fellow will pack a smaller 7.85-inch screen compared to the 9.7-inch screen on standard-sized iPad. The fresh round of rumors were supported by sources in the video games industry, who tend to be aware of upcoming iPad products, since it's a gaming platform with sizable reach. The iPad Mini could start at a staggering price of US $199, and is headed for a Q3, 2012 release.

White MacBook Replaced With New 13-inch $999 MacBook Air for Educational Institutions

A little earlier this month, Apple discontinued supplies of its 13-inch white MacBook (base) to educational institutions, which it stopped selling to consumers much earlier, last year. Apple has replaced this education variant of white MacBook with a new education variant of MacBook Air. The new variant will be offered to educational institutions at US $999 a piece, when purchased in packs of 5 (costing US $4,995), making it a viable replacement to the white MacBook.

The new MacBook Air variant is also a 13-incher, driven by Intel Core i5 ULV processor clocked at 1.60 GHz, with 2 GB of DDR3 memory, 64 GB solid-state storage (carried on from the 11-inch consumer base model of MacBook Air), but features the larger 13-inch display. Unfortunately, this model is only available to educational institutions that purchase in bulk (those packs of 5), and so the cheapest MacBook individual students can buy is the 11-inch MacBook Air.

Upcoming Alienware Laptop Updates Rumored

According to dell-lab.posterous.com (a site known for accurate tips on future Dell products), a trio of updated Alienware laptops are currently in plan, the M14x R2 (14-inch), M17x R4 (17.3-inch) and M18x R2 (18.4-inch).

There's not much info on the M18x R2 except for the fact that it will be available in both red and black, while the M14x R2 is said to come with the same colors and have 1 GB and 2 GB graphics options.

The M17x R4 is claimed to feature at least three new GPU choices, including the yet-unannounced AMD Radeon HD 7970M, Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M and GTX 675M. All three laptops should also adopt Intel's upcoming 22 nm processors (Ivy Bridge). No word on when they'll be released.

Microsoft Working On Not One, But Two New Xbox Product Lines

Finally, next generation gaming consoles are around the corner. It will have an uplifting effect on the entire gaming industry as it will raise the bar for visual and technical detail in games. Many of today's games are designed keeping consoles in mind, and so their PC platform versions don't look much more than what has come to be known as "console-ports". There are a few exceptions to this, but it would be refreshing to see most game developers move on to creating games that take advantage of today's insanely powerful PC platform, because the console platform will have caught up technologically.

Rumors have it, that Microsoft will be developing not one, but two product lines that succeed the Xbox 360, and we're not talking about product variants here, but two distinct lines. The first of the two will be an entry-level console designed more like a set-top box, designed around the Kinect controller (perhaps something to compete against Nintendo Wii U). The second product line will be the one that will be supercharged with the latest technologies that will raise the bar in graphics. It will compete with whatever succeeds the Playstation 3. There is talk that it will pack a 6 core processor, an AMD-made GPU, and 2 GB of fast DDR3 memory. This console could be unveiled to the world (although not launched), at the CES event held in January. Meanwhile, Microsoft is allowing TSMC some time to refine its 28 nm bulk process.
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