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Supply Chain Confused with Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA Launch Dates

According to the report from DigiTimes, which cites industry sources, the global supply chain of Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA has been rather confused recently by their launch dates and launch procedures. Due to worldwide pandemic, there are no electronics shows like Computex that are designed for companies to showcase their products there, and thus, there is no unified launch window where you can expect a product to be launched. What's even worse is the fact that the companies have now started to keep their launch dates as a secret in the latest edition of playing with the competition. Launch dates have started to change and now the launch is uncertain even if the launch day is provided.

This has a massive effect on the industry supply chain. By not giving concrete dates to them, companies have left them to wonder when the product will launch. This is hurting their ability to prepare themselves for an upcoming product and possibly cause some delays later on. If not given enough time, the supply chain could not adapt fast enough and the product could come later in the hands of consumers.

Has The Epic Games Store Helped or Hindered the PC Gaming Market?

When Epic Games launched the Epic Games Store back in December 2018 most people wrote it off as a glorified Fortnite launcher which could never compete with Steam's reach and features. While the Epic Games Store is still lacking in features compared to Steam it has come a long way since it's launch slowly adding in new features.

The Epic Games Store surprised many when it offered Subnautica for completely free on the store and so began the tradition of the Epic Games Store's weekly game giveaways which have given away over 100 different games in the last 18 months. While pursuing this strategy of game giveaways to attract new users to the platform Epic Games also secured many exclusives for the launcher which wasn't nearly as well received.

Notebook Computer Display Panel Shipment Grows by Nearly 18% YoY in 2Q20, with Demand Momentum Projected to Last Until 3Q20, Says TrendForce

According to the latest investigations from the WitsView research division of TrendForce, issues with the NB (notebook computer) panel supply chain, such as material shortage, labor shortage, and logistic disruptions, were gradually resolved starting in April. The resolution of these issues, combined with rising WFH and distance education demand brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in a strong wave of panel demand in 2Q20. TrendForce projects 2Q20 NB panel shipment to reach 53.3 million units, a 17.7% increase YoY and 33.6% increase QoQ.
TrendForce Panel Shipment Analysis

Microsoft Begins Phasing Out 32-Bit Support for Windows 10

It seems Microsoft has begun the long process of phasing out 32-bit support for Windows 10 beginning with version 2004, all new OEM Windows 10 systems will be required to use 64-bit builds and Microsoft will no longer release 32-bit builds for OEM distribution. This will not affect those of you running 32-bit versions of Windows 10 who will continue to receive updates and Microsoft plans to continue to sell 32-bit versions of Windows 10 through retail channels for the foreseeable future. This is likely just the first step in what will probably be a multi-year project to gradually phase out 32-bit support as more consumers and businesses switch to 64-bit systems.

TSMC Says it Still Won't Build a Fab in the US

TSMC, as one of the largest silicon manufacturers in the world, has been subject to pressure from the Trump administration to build a Fab and manufacture silicon on US soil. The reasoning behind this is that the US government could order chips that are supposed to be used in military applications. For security reasons, they need to be manufactured on US grounds and "checked" by the US government. However, it seems like a Taiwanese company has no concrete plans to realize the building of the US Fab.

Thanks to the report of DigiTimes, TSMC has confirmed that they have resisted requests from the US government, and will not build a Fab on US soil for the government. They haven't dismissed the possibility of building one or silicon manufacturing facilities in the US completely. TSMC chairman Mark Liu has told DigiTimes previously that if the company wants to build a US Fab, it will do so because of consumer demand, not the government demand. And that is understandable. It is much easier to work with regular customers compared to the US government which would force a company to go through rigorous security levels to deliver chips.
TSMC HQ

Intel Reports First-Quarter 2020 Financial Results

Intel Corporation today reported first-quarter 2020 financial results. "Our first-quarter performance is a testament to our team's focus on safeguarding employees, supporting our supply chain partners and delivering for our customers during this unprecedented challenge," said Bob Swan, Intel CEO."The role technology plays in the world is more essential now than it has ever been, and our opportunity to enrich lives and enable our customers' success has never been more vital. Guided by our cultural values, competitive advantages and financial strength, I am confident we will emerge from this situation an even stronger company."

In the first quarter, Intel achieved 34 percent data-centric revenue growth and 14 percent PC-centric revenue growth YoY. The company maintained essential factory operations with greater than 90 percent on-time delivery while supporting employees, customers and communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a new Intel Pandemic Response Technology Initiative to combat the virus where we can uniquely make a difference with Intel technology, expertise, and resources.

AMD Updates Ryzen 3 1200 CPU with Zen+ Architecture

AMD has reportedly updated its Ryzen 3 1200 CPU with Zen+ architecture and is now offering it to consumers. Featuring a configuration of 4 cores with 4 threads, this CPU can operate anywhere from 3.1 GHz (base) to 3.4 GHz in boost frequency. Having originally launched in July of 2017, just under three years ago, AMD decided to refresh this CPU with Zen+ architecture, which brought improvements like a tiny IPC increase, better turbo boost speeds, faster caches and better memory controller for better support of faster DDR4 modules.

The new "Zen+" revision has the same specifications as the older model, however, the only difference is the newer 12 nm manufacturing process and some of the architecture changes of Zen+. The rest of the specifications like clock speeds are the same. The CPU is listed by a German supplier for €54.73 or about $60. This revision carries a different part number, under the code "YD1200BBM4KAFBOX", where the older 14 nm model was "YD1200BBM4KAEBOX".
AMD Ryzen 3 1200 12nm Zen+ Edition

HP Unveils new ZBook Studio and ZBook Create Notebooks

Today, HP Inc. unveiled its newest Z by HP mobile workstation and HP ENVY portfolio - designed for creators who push the envelope of what's possible. The HP ZBook Studio, HP ZBook Create, and the HP ENVY 15 are the latest additions to the HP Create Ecosystem, which launched at Adobe MAX in 2019.

The powerful line-up enables all levels of creators, including consumers, prosumers and professionals, to capture, create, and bring to life digital concepts and ideas that can be shared, enjoyed, and experienced. In the past, creators had to choose between heavy workstations or bulky gaming devices to get the power they require for work and play. Today, HP is pushing the boundaries of engineering and creative productivity by allowing photographers, vloggers, graphic designers, architects, film makers, and everyone in between, to achieve what was never thought possible.

Technologies to Unite Them All: Headsets, Webcams, Laptops and Technology Sales Surge in Response to Physical Distancing

If there is one thing that the internet has done well, and well indeed, is bridging gaps in geography. That globalization is a well-studied phenomenon is a lapalissian truth; however, as humans, we sometimes tend to take what achievements have been made through technology for granted. Whether to bridge social distancing between parents or lovers through this quarantine, or enabling companies to remain with a semblance of (and sometimes higher than before) productivity, technology has once again come to the rescue. Physical distancing and seclusion does not equate to social distancing, after all.

This has been evidenced by the most recent market studies conducted by both the NPD and IDC, where sales of technologies such as webcams, headsets, mics, and other camera-integrated products have seen a steep rise. Webcams, for one, have increased their sales by 179%; laptops and desktops have seen 40% increases; headsets tip the scales once again at 134% and a 138% increase in PC monitors. I wager many people (some of our readers included) may have even removed the post-it or electrical tape from their laptop webcams. When physical presence isn't possible, technologies can render distances slightly smaller.

Intel Xe Graphics to Feature MCM-like Configurations, up to 512 EU on 500 W TDP

A reportedly leaked Intel slide via DigitalTrends has given us a load of information on Intel's upcoming take on the high performance graphics accelerators market - whether in its server or consumer iterations. Intel's Xe has already been cause for much discussion in a market that has only really seen two real competitors for ages now - the coming of a third player with muscles and brawl such as Intel against the already-established players NVIDIA and AMD would surely spark competition in the segment - and competition is the lifeblood of advancement, as we've recently seen with AMD's Ryzen CPU line.

The leaked slide reveals that Intel will be looking to employ a Multi-Chip-Module (MCM) approach to its high performance "Arctic Sound" graphics architecture. The GPUs will be available in up to 4-tile configuration (the name Intel is giving each module), which will then be joined via Foveros 3D stacking (first employed in Intel Lakefield. This leaked slide shows Intel's approach starting with a 1-tile GPU (with only 96 of its 128 total EUs active) for the entry level market (at 75 W TDP) a-la DG1 SDV (Software Development Vehicle).

EVGA Bundles in "Deliver Us The Moon" with Select RTX 20 Series Graphics Cards

In case you missed the giant banners on the website, EVGA shared news with us that they are bundling in a free game with their GeForce RTX 20 series graphics cards, and this includes the EVGA GeForce RTX ️ 2080 Ti, 2080/2070/2060 SUPER, and 2080/2070/2060. The promotion is not from NVIDIA, and this is not the first time EVGA have gone the extra step to sweeten the deal towards consumers buying their cards as opposed to other add-in card partner solutions. Deliver Us The Moon is a weird little sci-fi thriller game with puzzle mechanics and rudimentary flight systems that yours truly found interesting for the few hours played thus far, and is well worth checking into- especially as a freebie on top of your GPU purchase. There is also NVIDIA RTX support to use with your new graphics card, and the ambient lighting in the game does benefit from it, especially when flying in space. For more information on this promo, click here.

Intel Could Unveil First Discrete 10 nm GPUs in mid-2020

According to the sources close to DigiTimes, Intel will unveil its first discrete 10 nm graphics cards named "Xe" very soon, with the first wave of Xe GPUs expected to arrive some time in 2020. Said to launch mid year, around July or August, Intel will start selling initial Xe GPU models of the long awaited product to consumers, in hope of gaining a share in the massive market using GPU for acceleration of all kinds of tasks.

Perhaps one of the most interesting notes DigiTimes reported is that "... Intel's GPUs have already received support from the upstream supply chain and has already been integrated into Intel's CPUs to be used in the datacenter and AI fields.", meaning that AIB partners already have access to first 10 nm graphics chips that are ready for system integration. First generation of Xe graphics cards will cover almost whole GPU market, including PC, datacenter, and AI applications where NVIDIA currently holds the top spot.

A Reprieve: Select PC Hardware Exempt of Tariffs on Chinese Imports to the US

The US Trade Representative on Friday granted a reprieve to the increased tariffs being levied at China-imported electronic goods. The exemption, valid for one year until 20th August 2020, includes some products that will be welcome to PC hardware enthusiasts, including motherboards, graphics cards, desktop cases, "mouse input devices" valued over $70, "trackpad input units" valued at over $100, and power supply units that output more than 500 W.

The exempts have come as fruits of requests from US stakeholders in the hardware space; should imports be available only from China (meaning there are no alternate sources of said materials) or if the tariff could cause "severe economic harm", a temporary reprieve on the levies could be sought. And so the exempts were requested, and now granted. Prices paid before the announcement of the reprieve that included the added tax penalties are final; the exemption is only valid for orders after September 20th. This means the 25% increased rates (itself an increase on the initial 10%) on the tax basis are now frozen when it comes to the aforementioned hardware. This means companies no longer have to scramble to source their manufacturing to countries other than China, and that prices increased for end consumers on the basis of the tax increase are now meritless.

AMD to Cough Up $12.1 Million to Settle "Bulldozer" Core Count Class-Action Lawsuit

AMD reached a settlement in the Class Action Lawsuit filed against it, over alleged false-marketing of the core-counts of its eight-core FX-series processors based on the "Bulldozer" microarchitecture. Each member of the Class receives a one-time payout of USD $35 per chip, while the company takes a hit of $12.1 million. The lawsuit dates back to 2015, when Tony Dickey, representing himself in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, accused AMD of false-marketing of its FX-series "Bulldozer" processor of having 8 CPU cores. Over the following four years, the case gained traction as a Class Action was built against AMD this January.

In the months that followed the January set-up of a 12-member Jury to examine the case, lawyers representing the Class and AMD argued over the underlying technology that makes "Bulldozer" a multi-core processor, and eventually discussed what a fair settlement would be for the Class. They eventually agreed on a number - $12.1 million, or roughly $35 per chip AMD sold, which they agreed was "fair," and yet significantly less than the "$60 million in premiums" consumers contended they paid for these processors. Sifting through these numbers, it's important to understand what the Class consists of. It consists of U.S. consumers who became interested to be part of the Class Action, and who bought an 8-core processor based on the "Bulldozer" microarchitecture. It excludes consumers of every other "Bulldozer" derivative (4-core, 6-core parts, APUs; and follow-ups to "Bulldozer" such as "Piledriver," "Excavator," etc.).
Image Credit: Taylor Alger

Dell Readies Updated Laptop Portfolio for IFA 2019

IFA is the largest consumer tech show in Europe and we expect to see significant news from 4K and OLED TVs to wearables to smartphones. We'll be showcasing our latest PCs, of course, as the move to thin and light continues across the industry. It's not only about smaller form factors though - consumers want adaptive, always connected, high-performing, and flawlessly designed PCs. Dell continues to set the bar for the PC industry.

Ahead of IFA, we're expanding our consumer portfolio with brand new form factors and the addition of new 10th Gen Intel Core processors to our current XPS and Inspiron portfolio, delivering performance gains needed for compute intensive, demanding multi-thread workloads, while still handling 4K content efficiently. And in doing so, giving our customers heavyweight performance in thin, light and portable designs — the best of both worlds.

Intel Plans to Launch Its Discrete GPU Lineup Starting at $200

During interview with Russian YouTube channel called PRO Hi-Tech, Raja Koduri, Intel's chief architect and senior vice president of architecture, software and graphics, talked about his career, why he left AMD, and where Intel is going with its discrete GPU attempts. However, one of the most notable things Mr Koduri said was regarding upcoming GPU lineup code-named Arctic Sound. He noted that Intel plans to release first GPU as a mid-range model at a price of $200, while enterprise solutions that utilize HBM memory will follow that.

Koduri said that he wants to replicate AMD's strategy of capturing high-volume price-points, such as the $199 Radeon RX 480. The plan here is to bring an affordable, good performing GPU to the masses - "GPUs for everyone" as he calls them. Additionally, he states that Intel's current strategy revolves around price, not performance, providing best possible value to consumers. Intel's approach for the next two or three years is to launch a complete lineup of GPUs, with a common architecture being used for everything from iGPUs found inside consumer CPUs to data-center GPUs.

Update: PRO Hi-Tech has posted a snippet of Raja Koduri interview, without the Russian overlay commentary. What he said was actually: "...Eventually our architecture, as publicly said, has to get from mainstream, which is starting at around $100, all the way to data-center class graphics with HBM memory...". This means that the previous speculation about $200 graphics card is false, as he didn't say that. All he said is that Intel wants to enter the "mainstream" GPU market and work its way up to data center.

Microsoft Won't Move Production Out of China

Previously, we have reported that major OEMs are looking and exploring for ways of moving production outside of China, into other Asian countries, because of tariffs imposed by US-China trade war and rising labor costs. The original report from Nikkei specifically indicated that Microsoft will move its Xbox and Surface manufacturing to Thailand and Indonesia, while the production in China would stop.

However, Tom's Hardware had a conversation with Microsoft regarding the situation and the outcome was contradictory to the report of Nikkei. Microsoft told Tom's Hardware "that there currently aren't any plans to do so", which means that current manufacturing facilities are there to stay. We still don't know how will the rest of OEMs react or comment, but HP also said to Tom's that it shares industry concerns and will not comment any further to the rumors, adding that tariffs are hurting consumers.

Hard Drive Shipments Expected to Drop Nearly 50 Percent YoY in 2019

With solid-state drives (SSDs) entering value and mainstream price segments, and the transition in consumers' data-storage behavior from local storage to the cloud, there is expected to be a dramatic fall in shipments of hard disk drives (HDDs) in 2019. Japanese company Nidec, which manufactures nearly 85% of all DC motors for use in HDDs across the industry, estimates a nearly 50 percent drop in HDD shipments for 2019. Since these motors are specifically designed for use in HDDs, it is directly proportional to new HDD shipments, thus presenting a reliable outlook of the HDD industry itself. The DC motor inside HDDs is a non user-replaceable component as detaching it involves opening the seal of the disk chamber, thereby contaminating it.

In 2010, Nidec shipped nearly 650 million motors, which dropped significantly down to 375 million motors in 2018, indicating the sharp decline in the HDD industry. While Nidec will ship as few as 290 million motors in 2019, it estimates shipments of HDDs to go down by nearly 50 percent year-over-year (YoY). Data centers are swallowing up large volumes of high-capacity (>10 TB) HDDs for warm- and cold-storage even as SSDs and DRAM are sought for hot-storage. The client-segment, however, is now firmly captivated with SSDs, with even mainstream laptops packing SSDs. Prominent HDD manufacturers Seagate, Western Digital, and Toshiba, have each invested heavily in building up SSD product lines, and specializing their HDD portfolio for enterprise and quasi-enterprise (eg: NAS, NVR, high-uptime client) markets.

AMD Trademarks Updated Radeon Vega Logos - Now With More 3D for Radeon Pro WX 9100

AMD has filed a trademark for an updated design on their Vega logo. The original Vega logo was made out of two full triangles, arranged in such a way as to form the letter "V". The updated trademark has since made an appearance on AMD's professional line of graphics cards, in the form of packaging for the Radeon Pro WX 9100 - likely an effort from AMD to further separate its professional and consumer graphics.

The new logo is the old being revisited, with the same prismatic arrangement, but with added detailing for a 3D effect, which makes sense in the 3D rendering world that AMD's professional graphics cards are used in. Perhaps this AMD investment in updating the branding means a refresh could be coming for its professional graphics card market that still uses the Vega architecture, though this is mere speculation at this point.

EnGenius Introduces New ESR530 Smart Mesh Router Powered by Qualcomm

EnGenius Technologies Inc., a multinational networking manufacturer known for its vast range of sophisticated wireless products expands with a new consumer Wi-Fi networking solution with the long-awaited smart router called ESR530. The wireless smart router provides stable Wi-Fi connections in high-demand home Wi-Fi network environments. The ESR530 utilizes Qualcomm's most recent consumer technology and is specially built to easily transfer data through known Wi-Fi signal structural impediments. The ESR530 is built to empower smart homes and comes with a simplified configuration, deployment, remote cloud storage, and recovery capabilities. The latest product by EnGenius is a direct solution for budget-conscious families who want reliable single-network Wi-Fi signal delivered to every part of their home.

UL Corporation Announces Two New Benchmarks Coming to PCMark 10

UL Corporation today announces that two new benchmark tests that will soon be coming to PCMark 10. The first is our eagerly awaited PCMark 10 battery life benchmark. The second is a new benchmark test based on Microsoft Office applications.

PCMark 10 Battery Life benchmark
Battery life is one of the most important criteria for choosing a laptop, but consumers and businesses alike find it hard to compare systems fairly. The challenge, of course, is that battery life depends on how the device is used. Unfortunately, manufacturers' claims are often based on unrealistic scenarios that don't reflect typical use. Figures for practical, day-to-day battery life, which are usually much lower, are rarely available.

SuperMicro Gearing for Launch of New Gaming-Grade Motherboards With PCIe Gen4 and DDR5 Wave

SuperMicro may not be household name in consumer motherboards right now, but they once were a decent alternative in the market - or so I've been told by people much more knowledgeable than me in that regard, as I never laid my hands on one. The company is now more known for its server products, where it has focused most of its attention in the past decade - an effort that gave it a good, third-place hold in that market. And if the company can command such a market share in a much more requirements-heavy environment such as the server market demands, then it's likely those design decisions and developments will find themselves trickling down to the consumer side in any sort of consumer, gaming-grade product the company decided to tackle.

To that end, SuperMicro is gearing up to re introduce themselves to the consumer market, accompanying the wave of new technologies coming to the market in a few years - namely, PCIe Gen 4 and DDR5 memory. The company seems to think that this will mark a perfect opportunity for a strong comeback to the consumer market - where they now only offer a handful of motherboard solutions for Intel's CPUs. One such example is the C9Z390-PGW motherboard, based on Intel's Z390 chipset - with its 10-phase VRM design, PLC chip for doubling of PCIe lanes, and 10 Gigabit Lan. But not only on said "typical" consumer motherboard techonologies will SuperMicro be delivering - if the company has its way, anything from 5G, IoT, Mission Learning and Artificial Intelligence can be incorporated for some use case or another on consumer-grade motherboards, thus providing an axis of penetration for SuperMicro - and its entire partner eco-system.
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