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A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from TPU!

Another year is drawing to a close, all around the world and here on TechPowerUp as well. A special year, to say the least; it's not the worst in recorded human history, but it's been one of the hardest ever, with more limitations imposed in our lives than in any other we can remember. Most of us have adapted to a new, hopefully temporary reality, one where social distancing and face masks have become commonplace. A reality where countless human lives were lost to an invisible, undiscerning enemy; where economic recession has thrown families and friends out of business or even from their homes. Globalization is indisputable, and while it has many positives, nothing could ever be without fault; the increased interconnectedness of our world means that the system becomes all the more fragile even as it becomes stronger. And while the argument for technology being a potentiator for human loneliness and creating isles of silence between us individuals of the human species presents valid points, one can certainly say that it was technology that helped bridge sentimental and physical gaps for all of us.

Worldwide Server Market Revenue Grew 2.2% Year Over Year in the Third Quarter of 2020, According to IDC

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, vendor revenue in the worldwide server market grew 2.2% year over year to $22.6 billion during the third quarter of 2020 (3Q20). Worldwide server shipments declined 0.2% year over year to nearly 3.1 million units in 3Q20. Volume server revenue was up 5.8% to $19.0 billion, while midrange server revenue declined 13.9% to $2.6 billion, and high-end servers declined by 12.6% to $937 million.

"Global demand for enterprise servers was a bit muted during the third quarter of 2020 although we did see areas of strong demand," said Paul Maguranis, senior research analyst, Infrastructure Platforms and Technologies at IDC. "From a regional perspective, server revenue within China grew 14.2% year over year. And worldwide revenues for servers running AMD CPUs were up 112.4% year over year while ARM-based servers grew revenues 430.5% year over year, albeit on a very small base of revenue."

Qualcomm Announces Next-Generation 5G Chipset - Snapdragon 888

During the first day of the Snapdragon Tech Summit Digital, Qualcomm Incorporated President, Cristiano Amon took the virtual stage with global industry leaders to highlight the critical role Qualcomm Snapdragon 8-Series mobile platforms have played to drive experiences forward for the next generation of devices. Qualcomm Technologies' innovation in the premium tier, coupled with the evolution of 5G, is accelerating and continuing to redefine immersive consumer experiences. The proliferation of these premium tier experiences has and will continue to enrich the lives of billions of smartphone users around the world.

"Creating premium experiences takes a relentless focus on innovation. It takes long term commitment, even in the face of immense uncertainty," said Cristiano Amon, president, Qualcomm Incorporated. "It takes an organization that's focused on tomorrow, to continue to deliver the technologies that redefine premium experiences."

Intel Enters Strategic Collaboration with Lightbits Labs

Intel Corp. and Lightbits Labs today announced an agreement to propel development of disaggregated storage solutions to solve the challenges of today's data center operators who are craving improved total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) due to stranded disk capacity and performance. This strategic partnership includes technical co-engineering, go-to-market collaboration and an Intel Capital investment in Lightbits Labs. Lightbits' LightOS product delivers high-performance shared storage across servers while providing high availability and read-and-write management designed to maximize the value of flash-based storage. LightOS, while being fully optimized for Intel hardware, provides customers with vastly improved storage efficiency and reduces underutilization while maintaining compatibility with existing infrastructure without compromising performance and simplicity.

Lightbits Labs will enhance its composable disaggregated software-defined storage solution, LightOS, for Intel technologies, creating an optimized software and hardware solution. The system will utilize Intel Optane persistent memory and Intel 3D NAND SSDs based on Intel QLC Technology, Intel Xeon Scalable processors with unique built-in artificial intelligence (AI) acceleration capabilities and Intel Ethernet 800 Series Network Adapters with Application Device Queues (ADQ) technology. Intel's leadership FPGAs for next-generation performance, flexibility and programmability will complement the solution.

Seagate Delivers Enterprise-Ready Exos 18 TB Hard Drive Designed for Hyperscale Applications

Seagate Technology plc (NASDAQ: STX), a world leader in data storage and management solutions, today announced it is shipping 18 TB helium-based enterprise drives in volume as part of the Exos X18 family. The new drive delivers high performance and mass capacity for hyperscale data centers to efficiently and cost-effectively manage ever-increasing amounts of data. Additionally, Seagate's Enterprise Data Solutions launched the new Exos Application Platform (AP) 2U12 as well as a new controller for the company's AP 4U100 systems.

The need for hyperscale and cloud storage solutions continues to rise to unprecedented levels with the ever-increasing growth in data generation. According to a recent Seagate report, Rethink Data, enterprise data is expected to grow at an average rate of 42.2% over the next two years. The survey was conducted by IDC, which also forecast the global datasphere will reach a staggering 175ZB by 2025 in a previous IDC whitepaper sponsored by Seagate. The high-capacity Exos X18 supports this expanding need for data storage.

Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Platform Commercially Debuts in Oculus Quest 2

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, is powering better-than-ever virtual reality (VR) gameplay and experiences with the launch of Oculus Quest 2, the first-to-launch VR device powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Platform. Oculus Quest 2 is a culmination of years of collaboration between Qualcomm Technologies and Facebook to create the most advanced and immersive gaming VR experiences for consumers to-date.

Purpose-built for extended reality (XR), the Snapdragon XR2 Platform unlocks staggering improvements including twice the CPU and GPU performance compared to its predecessor which powers the original Oculus Quest headset. The Snapdragon XR2 Platform delivers significant performance enhancements in Oculus Quest 2 including:

Facebook Technologies Stops Sales of Oculus VR Headset in Germany

Facebook Technologies, a subsidiary of Facebook Inc. and owner of Oculus, has today "temporarily" suspended sales of Oculus VR headsets in Germany. The news is coming today after Oculus announced that all of the new Oculus accounts have to move to the Facebook login system before January 1, 2023, when all of the current Oculus accounts will be suspended. The German data protection law is extremely suspicious of Facebook's behavior and how they handle user data in general, so Oculus has potentially decided to stop the sales to avoid any possible antitrust regulations from the German government. The exact reason is unknown, and it is yet to be revealed, however, the suspicions laid out here may be part of the reason.

Western Digital Sets a New Standard in Data Protection with Ground-Breaking ArmorLock Security Platform

Underscoring its mission to enable the world to solve its biggest data challenges by building a data infrastructure with next-gen security, Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC) today introduced the ArmorLock Security Platform. A data encryption platform that rethinks how data security should be done, the ArmorLock Security Platform was created to help with the diverse security demands of data-centric and content-critical storage use cases in industries as varied as finance, government, healthcare, IT enterprise, legal, and media and entertainment. As data security concerns continue to rise in visibility, Western Digital plans to apply the platform across a range of storage solutions.

The first product to leverage this advanced technology, the new G-Technology ArmorLock encrypted NVMe SSD, is designed to deliver an easy-to-use, high-performance, high-grade security storage solution for creators in the media and entertainment industry. Facing the threat of hijacked media files and leaked films, studios, agencies, and especially investors are demanding a better way to protect critical content. While much of the industry's focus has been on cloud security, data often remains vulnerable on the portable storage devices holding critical commercial content.

Arm and DARPA Sign Partnership Agreement to Accelerate Technological Innovation

Arm today announced a three-year partnership agreement with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), establishing an access framework to all commercially available Arm technology. With DARPA's Electronics Resurgence Initiative gaining momentum, the new agreement will enable the research community that supports DARPA's programs to quickly and easily take advantage of Arm's leading IP, tools and support, accelerating innovation in a variety of fields.

"The span of DARPA research activity opens up a huge range of opportunities for future technological innovation," said Rene Haas, president, IP Products Group, Arm. "Our expanded DARPA partnership will provide them with access to the broadest range of Arm technology to develop compute solutions supported by the world's largest ecosystem of tools, services and software."

TechPowerUp ThrottleStop 9.2 Released

TechPowerUp has today released an update to widely popular ThrottleStop software made by Kevin Glynn. Used as a tool to "monitor for and correct the three main types of CPU throttling", the new ThrottleStop software received a major update that brings a heap of new features and improvements. Starting off, one of the biggest changes in the new version 9.2, is that the tool finally restores Windows 7 compatibility, which was unavailable for that OS in the previous version 9.0. Now, the tool also brings a few more options to the table like a new TS Bench feature that allows for random MHz testing, adds support for devices that use connected standby, and fixes base clock MHz reporting when using Core Isolation.

DOWNLOAD: TechPowerUp ThrottleStop 9.2
TechPowerUp ThrottleStop 9.2
The change-log follows.

Samsung Rumored to Make Investment in GlobalFoundries

Today we are in for an interesting rumor. According to industry sources of Coreteks, Samsung is rumored to be preparing investment in GlobalFoundries manufacturing facilities. In the latest ave of Asian foundries getting away from China and getting close to EU and US soils, Samsung is the latest one to join the list. First, let's explain the situation. The Trump administration has been pushing TSMC to drop all orders from Huawei, and TSMC did it. That way, Huawei Technologies has lost a major chip supplier which enabled the company a competitive edge. Now, the company must turn to Chinese manufacturers and it can't use any US-made product.

Given that GlobalFoundries is a company headquartered in the US (Santa Clara, California), the company is an American corporation, which has fabs in the US, as well as in Europe. It is truly a global foundry system. Samsung, a Korean semiconductor manufacturer, has been rumored to invest in GlobalFoundries Dresden fab, located in Germany. The company will help GlobalFoundries expand its power supply capacity from 63 MegaWatts to 100 MegaWatts. The proposed expansion of GlobalFoundries Dresden fab would be funded exclusively by Samsung. So why is Samsung doing this? The answer to this question is pretty simple - to get closer to western markets. Even if GlobalFoundries has foundries all over the world, it is a US company at its core. So Samsung hopes that from this investment, it can get closer to US soil and gain some new customers in the future. After all, Samsung plans to become the world's biggest semiconductor manufacturer by 2030, the position currently held by its rival TSMC. Below you can check out the expansion plan illustrated by Coreteks:

TSMC to Stop Orders from Huawei in September

TSMC, one of the largest semiconductor manufacturing foundries, has officially confirmed that it will stop all orders from Chinese company Huawei Technologies. The Taiwanese silicon manufacturer has decided to comply with US regulations and will officially stop processing orders for Huawei on September 14th of this year. Precisely, the company was receiving orders from HiSilicon, a subsidiary of Huawei Technologies that focuses on creating custom silicon. Under the new regulation by the US, all non-US companies must apply for a license to ship any American-made technology to Huawei. Being that many American companies like KLA Corporation, Lam Research, and Applied Materials ship their tools to many manufacturing facilities, it would be quite difficult for Huawei to manufacture its silicon anywhere. That is why Huawei has already placed orders over at Chinese SMIC foundry.

SoftBank Reportedly Considering Selling Arm Holdings

According to the report from The Wall Street Journal, we have obtained information that SoftBank, owner of Arm Holdings, is considering a future of Arm Holdings without SoftBank's ownership. The report is indicating that SoftBank can either sell its subsidiary or make it go to public with Initial Public Offering (IPO). If we recall, SoftBank has purchased Arm Holdings in 2016 for 32 billion USD, and the company is potentially worth much more today. Arm Holdings was established as a joint between Acorn Computers, Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.), and VLSI Technology. The news of SoftBank selling Arm Holdings is coming just after Apple decided to make a Mac based on Arm ISA.

The report from WSJ says that the market interest for such acquisition is unknown, so there is a big possibility that SoftBank will ultimately do nothing and just keep the company. My speculations could be that Apple may have an interest in the company since it is using its royalties and intellectual property. If such a thing happens Apple would be forced to sign a deal by antitrust regulators that force the company to continue offering to license the ISA. After all, Apple was one of the founding members of the joint venture. The possibility of that is of course very low. If another option such as IPO happens, the company would still be in ownership of SoftBank, it would just go to the public trading market.

Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon 865 Plus 5G Mobile Platform, Breaking the 3 GHz Barrier

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. unveiled the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus 5G Mobile Platform, a follow-on to the flagship Snapdragon 865 that has powered more than 140 devices (announced or in development) - the most individual premium-tier designs powered by a single mobile platform this year. The new Snapdragon 865 Plus is designed to deliver increased performance across the board for superior gameplay and insanely fast Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite Gaming experiences, truly global 5G, and ultra-intuitive AI.

"As we work to scale 5G, we continue to invest in our premium tier, 8-series mobile platforms, to push the envelope in terms of performance and power efficiency and deliver the next generation of camera, AI and gaming experiences," said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager, mobile, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "Building upon the success of Snapdragon 865, the new Snapdragon 865 Plus will deliver enhanced performance for the next wave of flagship smartphones."

Innodisk Supports Healthcare Industry with Capable Medical-grade Solutions

The ongoing global health crisis is putting enormous strains on healthcare providers around the world, and has sent the demand for medical-grade equipment skyrocketing. With organizations scrambling to procure the right components, Innodisk recently provided its technical and medical sector expertise for ventilator production in China, Europe and Brazil, and doubled-down on its support of innovation in global health.

Innodisk is proud to deliver solutions used in innovative and life-saving healthcare applications such as mechanical ventilators, ultrasound systems, medical all-in-one and panel PCs, nurses' stations, and MRI machines. These medical applications put considerable demands on components that must be addressed in full by any products and solutions -- making a focus on personal data security, reliability, stability, and longevity an absolute must.

Windows 10 Market Share Drops Between March and April

Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system has historically been rising in market share thanks to the slow depreciation of Windows 7 OS, and Microsoft's efforts to push it as only Windows OS available for desktop users. However, according to the information by NetMarketShare, a company providing statistics about the market share of Internet Technologies (browsers and OSes), Windows 10 has seen a decrease in market share. This news is a surprising discovery, given that the OS is expected to be gaining new market share slowly, given that Windows 7 has reached the end of life in January.

From 57.37% of market share in February, Windows 10 got down to 57.34% in March and 56.08% in April. While this may seem just like a few percentage decrease, given the massive amount of PCs available, it can be counted in thousands. What could be the reason behind this is the current COVID-19 related pandemic and slower demand for office PCs, as everyone is working from home now. This was a big growth sector for Windows 10 as the previous version of Windows, the 7, was very popular in office space before its EoL. Of course, this is just a speculation which you should take with a big grain of salt. Some of the interesting things to point out is that Ubuntu, a Linux kernel based operating system, has massively increased its market share from 0.27% in March to 1.89% in April.
Microsoft Windows 10

Researchers Propose New Density Metric for Semiconductor Technology

In today's world, fabrication process identification of semiconductor technology has become little more than marketing fluff. Whereas not that long ago, fabrication processes could (mostly) be directly compared on the basis of transistor density (ie, 300 nm, 32 nm, 14 nm, and now 7 nm), recent advances in manufacturing technologies and their end terminology have lost all significance when it comes to actually describe how density that process is. The way manufacturers measured this semiconductor density used to directly refer to the minimum gate length in transistors fabricated in a given process - that, is, in 300 nm, the minimum gate length that could be achieved was 300 nanometers, in 32 nm, 32 nanometres, and so on. As of now, that isn't happening - which is why we've got Intel saying that its 10 nm fabrication process will be comparable to TSMC's current 7 nm process.

This leads to a number of difficulties for interested parties to actually glean any meaningful information from this particular semiconductor metric alone. Now, a team of researchers has tackled this problem by suggesting a different way to express semiconductor manufacturing capability. Their intention is to allow to "gauge advances in future generations of semiconductor technologies in a holistic way, by accounting for the progress in logic, memory, and packaging/integration technologies simultaneously." As such, their proposed density metric follows a [DL, DM, DC] philosophy, where DL is the density of logic transistors (in #/mm²), DM is the bit density of main memory (currently the off-chip DRAM density, in #/mm²), and DC is the density of connections between the main memory and logic (in #/mm²). The researchers say that current top semiconductor technology density available would be described by this system as [38M, 383M, 12K].

U.S. Further Tightens Tech Export Regulations for China

The United States Government on Monday announced a new set of rules for U.S. companies exporting technology to Chinese firms directly or indirectly associated with the Chinese military, according to a Reuters report. The vagueness of what constitutes a Chinese entity that could supply derived technology over to the military could create confusion and uncertainty.

The new trade regime would see U.S. companies requiring to obtain a license to export technology to China. The U.S. also did away with exceptions to older rules that allowed U.S. firms to export to civilian Chinese companies without a license. "It is important to consider the ramifications of doing business with countries that have histories of diverting goods purchased from U.S. companies for military applications," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. The new rules will also require U.S. companies to file declarations of goods exported to China, Russia, and Venezuela, regardless of value.

Khronos Group Releases OpenCL 3.0

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating advanced interoperability standards, publicly releases the OpenCL 3.0 Provisional Specifications. OpenCL 3.0 realigns the OpenCL roadmap to enable developer-requested functionality to be broadly deployed by hardware vendors, and it significantly increases deployment flexibility by empowering conformant OpenCL implementations to focus on functionality relevant to their target markets. OpenCL 3.0 also integrates subgroup functionality into the core specification, ships with a new OpenCL C 3.0 language specification, uses a new unified specification format, and introduces extensions for asynchronous data copies to enable a new class of embedded processors. The provisional OpenCL 3.0 specifications enable the developer community to provide feedback on GitHub before the specifications and conformance tests are finalized.
OpenCL

Apple's A12Z SoC Features the Same A12X Silicon

With an introduction of new iPad Pro tablets, Apple has brought another new silicon to its offerings in the form of A12Z SoC. Following the previous king in tablet space, the A12X SoC, Apple has decided to update its silicon and now there is another, more advanced stepping in form of an A12Z SoC. Thanks to the report from TechInsights, their analysis has shown that the new SoC used in Apple's devices is pretty much the same compared to the A12X SoC of last year, except the GPU used. Namely, the configuration of A12X is translated into the A12Z - there are four Apple Vortex and four Apple Tempest cores for the CPU. There is a 128-bit memory bus designed for LPDDR4X memory, the same as the A12X.

What is different, however, is the GPU cluster configuration. In A12X there was a cluster filled with 7 working and one disabled A12-gen GPU core. In A12Z SoC all of the 8 GPUs present are enabled and working, and they are also of the same A12 generation. The new SoC is even built using the same N7 7 nm manufacturing process from TSMC. While we don't know the silicon stepping revision of the A12Z, there aren't any new features besides the additional GPU core.
Apple A12Z Bionic

Ethernet Technology Consortium Announces 800 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) Specification

The 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium, originally established to develop 25, 50 and 100 Gbps Ethernet specifications, announced today it has changed its name to the Ethernet Technology Consortium in order to reflect a new focus on higher-speed Ethernet technologies.

The goal of the consortium is to enhance the Ethernet specification to operate at new speeds by utilizing specifications that are developed or in development. This allows the organization to work alongside other industry groups and standards bodies to adapt Ethernet at a pace that aligns with the rapidly evolving needs of the industry. The ETC has more than 45 members with top-level promoter members that include Arista, Broadcom, Cisco, Dell, Google, Mellanox and Microsoft.

AMD Cancels StoreMI Technology, Replacement Coming Soon

AMD today updated its Product Change Advisory with notes that its StoreMI software won't be available for download anymore. "AMD has decided to end-of-life the current version of the StoreMI technology, and effective March 31, 2020, AMD will no longer make this technology available for download on AMD.com. End users who download the current version of the StoreMI technology prior to March 31, 2020 may continue to use it thereafter (i.e. it will not be deactivated) but AMD will no longer provide any technical or end user support. Instead, AMD will focus its internal development resources on a replacement solution with a rearchitected feature set and a planned release window of 2Q20." - says the AMD Product Change Advisory website.

AMD's StoreMI technology offered users an option to combine up to 256 GB of SSD memory with a slower HDD, to provide "SSD like speeds with HDD like capacity", and it was supported from the second generation Ryzen processors until the current third generation, Ryzen 3000 series CPUs. Given that AMD is working on a replacement solution that is coming out in Q2, we expect that the new solution will be a better and more usable one, so we will report on it as soon as there is more information.
AMD StoreMI

Everspin Technologies and GLOBALFOUNDRIES Extend MRAM Joint Development Agreement to 12nm

Everspin Technologies, Inc., the world's leading developer and manufacturer of Magnetoresistive RAM (MRAM), today announced an amendment of its Spin-transfer Torque (STT-MRAM) joint development agreement (JDA) with GLOBALFOUNDRIES (GF ), the world's leading specialty foundry. Everspin and GF have been partners on 40 nm, 28 nm, and 22 nm STT-MRAM development and manufacturing processes and have now updated their agreement to set the terms for a future project on an advanced 12 nm FinFET MRAM solution. Everspin is in production of discrete STT-MRAM solutions on 40 and 28 nm, including its award winning 1 Gb DDR4 device. GF recently announced it has achieved initial production of embedded MRAM (eMRAM) on its 22FDX platform.

AMD Ryzen ThreadRipper is Capable of Running Crysis without a GPU

AMD has just recently launched its 3rd generation of Ryzen ThreadRipper CPUs, and it is already achieving some impressive stuff. In the world of PC gaming, there used to be a question whenever a new GPU arrives - "But can it run Crysis?". This question became meme over the years as GPU outgrew requirements for the Crysis game, and any GPU nowadays is capable of running the game. However, have you ever wondered if your CPU can run Crysis, alone without a GPU? Me neither, but Linus from LinusTechTips taught of that.

The CPU, of course, can not run any game, as it lacks the hardware for graphics output, but being that AMD's ThreadRipper 3990X, a 64 core/128 thread monster has raw compute power capable of running Crysis, it can process the game. Running in software mode, Linus got the CPU to process the game and run it without any help from a GPU. This alone is a massive achievement for AMD ThreadRipper, as it shows that CPUs reached a point where their raw computing power is on pair with some older GPU and that we can achieve a lot of interesting things. You can watch the video down below.

Intel Board of Directors Elects New Chairman and New Director

Intel Corporation announced today that at the company's Jan. 15 board meeting Andy D. Bryant stepped down as chairman and the board elected lead independent director Dr. Omar Ishrak to succeed Bryant as an independent chairman, effective immediately. Intel also announced that Alyssa Henry was elected to Intel's board. Her election marks the seventh new independent director added to Intel's board since the beginning of 2016.

Bryant will remain on the board through the end of Intel's 2020 annual stockholders' meeting. He had previously notified the board in March 2019 that he did not intend to stand for re-election at this year's meeting. Bryant made the decision to leave the role now in order to facilitate an effective transition.
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