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  1. FireShot Capture 12324 - AMD Zen 3, Ryzen 4000 Release Date, _ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg AMD's Zen 3 architecture is slated to land this year, setting the stage for a new wave of powerful chips based upon a newer version of AMD's most successful architecture to date. The new Zen 3 microarchitecture will power AMD's full lineup of next-gen chips, including the Ryzen 4000 "Vermeer" desktop processors that will soon vie for a spot on our list of Best CPUs, the Ryzen 5000 laptop chips, and the EPYC Milan data center processors. AMD plans to announce the first in-depth details of the new Zen 3 chips on 10/8/2020 at 10am PT. AMD's original Zen microarchitecture brought a fundamental rethinking of desktop processor design to market, and, in the process, saved the company from the cusp of bankruptcy. Zen-based "Naples" chips also paved the way for the chiplet-based designs that are now sweeping over the industry, and set a new bar for core counts and pricing in an industry that was long plagued by stagnant innovation from a single dominant player. As impressive as AMD's rapid success with Zen was, it was merely the first step along AMD's multi-year roadmap. AMD's solid follow-up with the Zen 2 architecture, which it paired with the 7nm process in the "Matisse" chips, cemented AMD's dominance in pricing, performance scaling, and efficiency as Intel struggled to move on to its 10nm process. That triggered a massive turnaround in fortunes for the chipmaker as it continues to steal market share from Intel at an accelerating rate and has reached its highest stock valuation in history. And now it's nearly time for Zen 3 to come to market as Intel faces yet more delays in its move to 7nm. AMD says Zen 3 features an entirely new architecture. Paired with the expected instructions per cycle (IPC) throughput advances and the early signs of up to a 4.9 GHz boost, AMD may just have the magic bullet that finally upsets Intel from its position at the top of our gaming performance benchmarks. Aside from an AMD presentation about the Zen 3 architecture that was accidentally posted to YouTube, the company hasn't publicly shared specifics about the design. However, the company has shared plenty of information about Zen 3's schedule, and a string of leaks has shed further light on the soon-to-be-released architecture. And we'll learn the first in-depth details of the new Zen 3 chips on 10/8/2020 at 10am PT. If one thing is for certain, the Zen microarchitecture has completely redefined our expectations for mainstream desktop chips, and it's rational to expect more of the same with Zen 3. Let's cover what we know about Zen 3 so far. AMD Zen 3, Ryzen 4000 At A Glance TSMC N7P or N7+ process 32+ MB of unified L3 cache Multi-Chip Module (MCM) design Up to 64 cores for data center chips AMD will announce details about Zen 3 and Ryzen 4000 on 10/8/2020 First client (desktop and/or laptop) chips arrive in late 2020 EPYC Milan data center chips arrive in late 2020 Full desktop, laptop and server Zen 3 lineups in market by the end of 2021 Pricing is the wild card, but AMD has increased pricing with recent launches AMD Zen 3 Ryzen 4000, Ryzen 5000, EPYC Release Dates FireShot Capture 12327 - AMD Zen 3, Ryzen 4000 Release Date, _ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg FireShot Capture 12330 - AMD Zen 3, Ryzen 4000 Release Date, _ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg FireShot Capture 12333 - AMD Zen 3, Ryzen 4000 Release Date, _ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg Today we're focusing on Zen 3 processors. Confusingly, AMD uses Ryzen 4000 branding for its current generation of Renoir APUs and laptop chips, but they come with the Zen 2 architecture. Zen 3 desktop processors will come with Ryzen 4000 branding, while Zen 3 laptop chips will have Ryzen 5000 branding. AMD shared its latest roadmaps at its Financial Analyst Day 2020 as it outlined its continuing march ahead with new CPU microarchitectures and denser process nodes. Each step along the path promises step-function improvements, and AMD focuses on a predictable and reliable release cadence, all of which have been a challenge for Intel as it remains mired on the 14nm node for the desktop. AMD's Zen roadmap stretches out to the end of 2021, which the company has confirmed means that the entire roster of Zen 3 chips will be fully in the market by the end of next year. That includes the Ryzen 4000 Vermeer desktop PC chips, Ryzen 5000 laptop chips, and EPYC Milan processors. As with AMD's previous lineups, all of these chips share the same underlying scalable microarchitecture – in this case, Zen 3. AMD will use an "enhanced version" of TSMC's 7nm process for the chips, but hasn't clarified which specific version it will use. Zen 3 chips could use the N7P process, which still uses traditional DUV fabrication techniques but is 7% faster and 10% more power-efficient than the current 7nm process AMD uses for the Ryzen chips. AMD could also use the N7+ process that brings even bigger advantages (+15% performance, -10% power) borne of advanced EUV manufacturing. In either case, we expect much larger performance gains from Zen 3 than we see with the Ryzen XT models, but we'll dive into that shortly. AMD has consistently swatted away rumors that its Zen 3 chips are delayed and has clarified that its chips wouldn't use TSMC's 5nm process. AMD has long maintained that it's Zen 3 chips would come to market this year, which makes sense given the Zen 3 EPYC Milan data center chips on the roadmap. The company later clarified that Zen 3 "client" chips would also come to market this year. That's an important distinction, with the term "client" signifying that we'll see chips for regular consumers this year, too. The first Zen 3 consumer chips could land in the form of the long-awaited Ryzen 4000 'Vermeer' processors. This would expand on AMD's success in desktop PCs and render the Ryzen XT models a mere stop-gap between big product launches. Conversely, the first Zen 3 consumer chips could come to laptops as a fast follower to the company's Ryzen Mobile chips. AMD's latest mobile processors are just now taking hold in the market and have finally gained some traction, but a quick follow-up would cement AMD's position as a serious contender in the mobile segment. Intel has its promising Tiger Lake mobile chips launching this year, too, so it would be a good time for a new line of Zen 3 mobile chips to counter Intel's 10nm assault. But there's another possibility that makes plenty of sense. AMD's restricts its current Renoir APUs to the OEM market only, though we did manage to get a 4750G chip in for review. AMD hasn't outlined any plans to bring those chips to the retail market, but did promise it would support a future unspecified APU for 400-series and 500-series motherboards. AMD could shock us, yet again, and release a new APU as its first consumer Zen 3 chip. That would actually kill two birds with one stone: AMD uses its APU die for both the desktop PC and laptop markets. AMD's next-gen APUs, codenamed Cezanne, have already popped up in benchmarks, implying they are moving closer to market. Possibilities abound for the first consumer chips, but the data center side of the equation is simple: AMD says that EPYC Milan, the follow-on to the EPYC Rome chips, will arrive on time by the end of 2020. AMD's EPYC Rome processors are already serious challengers for Intel's Cascade Lake Refresh lineup, and the fast-follow with Milan will only intensify the competition. Intel should have its 10nm Ice Lake server chips on the market at that time, so competition will be stiff. Perhaps most impressive, AMD's roadmaps indicate the company will have its EPYC Genoa processors fully on the market by the end of 2022. Those chips will come with the 5nm process and Zen 4 architecture, and as such, we can also expect that AMD's Zen 4 processors for the consumer market will come with the 5nm process as well.
  2. FireShot Capture 12321 - AMD Announces Keynote Dates for Zen _ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg After what seems like an eternity, AMD finally came out of the woodwork and officially announced launch dates for its highly anticipated CPUs and GPUs. The Zen 3 keynote will be on 10/8/2020 at 10am PT, and the RX 6000 "Big Navi" keynote is on 10/28/2020 at 10am PT. What does this mean for AMD? On the CPU side of things, Zen 3 is rumored to be an absolute monster of an architecture. Based on what we already know, Zen 3 will be based on an enhanced 7nm node from TSMC (either N7P or N7+), and focus significantly on increasing IPC performance through improvements to the L1-L3 caches, and perhaps even increased cache capacity. For AMD's RDNA 2/Big Navi architectures, we've been anticipating their launch for months, and with Nvidia's Ampere GPUs now heading into the market, we all are hoping for good competition from AMD in the graphics card market. The little we know about the RX 6000 series is that it will run on the latest 7nm node from TSMC with a near 50% performance-per-watt improvement over the RX 5000 series (RDNA 1). We believe AMD will change course and start competing with Nvidia's higher-end offerings like the RTX 3080. Whereas right now, AMD's flagship, the RX 5700 XT, competes in the mid-range only. For reference, in our Best Graphics Cards of 2020 overview, we set the RX 5700 XT just below the GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER. Specs for the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X has also given us some useful information regarding RDNA 2's capabilities, both consoles could have up to RTX 2080 Ti performance for under 250W including the entire system. So we know RDNA 2 is a very capable architecture, but this is just for consoles – we will see different results on desktop variants in the future.
  3. FireShot Capture 12252 - If you're running low on storage, th_ - https___www.pcgamer.com_if-your.jpg How low will SSD pricing go? We can't say, but as long as it keeps trending downward, as it has been lately, we'll be happy campers. The result right now is that buying an SSD has never been more affordable than it is right now, highlighted by this deal for a 1TB model from Team Group. Newegg is selling Team Group's GX2 1TB SSD for $74.99. It's a straight-up discount of $19 over its regular selling price, meaning there are no promo codes to punch in and no fussing with mail-in rebates. Just as importantly, this is the least expensive 1TB-class SSD around. You're not getting the fastest SSD in the world with this model, but for general purpose computing and gaming in its current state, it is certainly fast enough (and much peppier than a mechanical HDD). Specifically, Team Group rates this drive as being able to deliver up to 530MB/s of sequential reads and up to 480MB/s of sequential writes. As for durability, it has an MTBF rating of 1 million hours, and is backed by a 3-year warranty. Note that this is a 2.5-inch form factor drive. If you would prefer an M.2 form factor drive, and are willing to pay a little more, Team Group's MS30 in 1TB is on sale for $87.99 (down from $93.99), and offers similar performance, as it's also a SATA model. And if you want the M.2 form factor and the faster performance of an NVMe interface, this Silicon Power 1TB model is on sale for $94.99 (down from $97.99).
  4. FireShot Capture 12201 - LG 24M47VQ 24_ Monitor Just on A_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg The LG 24" 24M47VQ monitor is currently available on Amazon for a discount of 23%. This offer extends to both Amazon Prime members and non-Prime members. The monitor has a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080. The screen has a refresh rate of 60 Hz and a 2ms response time. There are several video port options available, including HDMI, D-Sub and DVI-D ports. The 24M47VQ also includes a few features and optional software. Users can take advantage of Reader Mode to reduce the amount of blue light. Both Windows and Mac users can download LG's Screen Split application which helps break up your display into halves or quadrants. It also comes with Flicker Safe technology intended to reduce any visible flicker. For $99, this is a good-sized screen with reasonable specs for the price. It's no professional gaming monitor, but it doesn't claim to be. For a casual user who wants a nice 24" upgrade, this deal is worth checking out.
  5. FireShot Capture 12144 - AMD Big Navi GPU pricing rumoured to_ - https___www.pcgamer.com_amd-rx-.jpg An unnamed AMD partner is claiming that, as a result of the recent Nvidia Ampere RTX 30-series unveiling, the red team is expected to cut the cost of its 16GB AMD Radeon RX 6000-series card to better compete with the new GeForce GPUs. The new RTX 3080, and most especially the RTX 3070, have increased the pressure on the upcoming AMD RDNA 2 'Big Navi' GPU launch. These new Radeon RX 6000-series cards are likely to drop in October, alongside new AMD Zen 3 CPUs, but are still purely at the rumour stage while we wait for Lisa Su and Co. to take the wrappers off the next-gen hardware. With the Nvidia RTX 3080 launching at $699 with twice the gaming performance of the RTX 2080, and the RTX 3070 coming in at $499 with performance which reportedly can outshine the RTX 2080 Ti itself, AMD has got some work cut out to ensure its RDNA 2-based RX 6000 series can compete both in terms of price and performance. And it's looking like the top card is going to sit somewhere in between these two Nvidia cards, and potentially closer to the RTX 3070 if recent rumours are to be believed. A source from within one of AMD's partner card manufacturers, speaking with Coreteks (via HotHardware), reportedly has said: "They [AMD] want to release the 16GB at $599... but after the Ampere announcement I'm expecting $549 for the 16GB… We're receiving the ASIC (GPU + MEM) this month [September]." The original tweet from Coreteks speaks of an 8GB RX 6000-series card too, but a subsequent message notes that something was lost in translation and that, as far as they know, there isn't an 8GB version of that specific top Radeon card. If the potential pricing shift is actually true—and we won't know until AMD actually unveils its new GPUs, so salt shakers at the ready, people—then it's looking like the performance and positioning of the Nvidia cards might have surprised the red team. The existing rumours have pegged the flagship Big Navi card with gaming performance ahead of the RTX 2080 Ti, but only to the tune of around 15% in best case scenarios. That would likely put it behind the RTX 3080, and it seems AMD might want to make sure there is a significant enough price difference between the two to make the second-gen RDNA card more tempting. By being at least $150 cheaper than the RTX 3080 it will be a very tantalising GPU, especially if the performance isn't that far off. It will, however, also need to be significantly faster than the $499 RTX 3070. That's a card likely to launch around the same time, and reportedly can itself best the RTX 2080 Ti too. Then there are the rumours of a 16GB RTX 3070 Ti waiting in the wings, presumably to be deployed directly against the RDNA 2 cards as needed. The new AMD RX 6000-series GPU is going to have to tread a very fine line in between the two new GeForce cards in order to find a relevant place for itself. But from the current rumours it's looking like a genuinely competitive card, and could still be a winner if AMD positions it right.
  6. FireShot Capture 12141 - EVGA Teases GeForce RTX 3090 FTW3 Wi_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg EVGA posted a YouTube video several days ago advertising its new ICX cooling for RTX 3000 graphics card. Near the end of the video EVGA showcases a new update to the Precision X1 software, and in one of the slides you can see a heavy core and memory overclock on its RTX 3090 FTW3, and extreme edition of the GeForce RTX 3090. How heavy? The GPU core appears to be running at 2105 MHz, and the GDDR6X memory is maybe clocked at 22 Gbps. Could this overclock be real or is it just marketing hype? For now we need to treat this news with a little skepticism and await confirmation. We can see earlier in the video (at the 1:28 mark) that the base GPU clock appears to be 1695 MHz, with the GDDR6X memory at 9750 MHz (double data rate, that's 19.5 Gbps), so those should be 'reference' clocks. The next segment shows the overclocked core and memory speeds, except there are some oddities. The core shows 2105 MHz, but the memory shows 5520 MHz. That would mean either the memory was significantly underclocked (to 11 Gbps), or the multiplier on the RAM changed to 4x. Neither one makes a lot of sense, which makes us wonder if it's a typo. A 400MHz core overclock for a modern GPU is very big ... but we don't actually know what the typical boost clock is for the RTX 3090. In the past, Nvidia has been quite conservative with boost clocks. The RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition for example has a boost clock of 1635 MHz, but routinely runs at 1800 MHz or more in games — without overclocking. In other words, a static clock of 2105 MHz might only be 100-200 MHz higher than the GPU normally runs. It could be that EVGA underclocked the VRAM to give the GPU core more headroom. It could be a typo. It could be a lot of things. We haven't been able to test any RTX 30-series GPUs yet, so we'll have to wait until September 17 to see how the 3080 performs, and then another week to show the RTX 3090 numbers. Ampere's performance gains could be spectacular for overclockers. Or they might end up being similar to what we've seen with Turing and Pascal. If EVGA is truly hitting a 410 MHz offset, that would be incredible and could mean 15-20% more performance than stock. Assuming the memory bandwidth doesn't end up limiting performance. The RTX 3090 already looks like it will deliver incredible performance. Nvidia says it's 50% faster than the outgoing RTX 2080 Ti, though the theoretical TFLOPS is actually 165% higher. But memory bandwidth is only 52% higher and may be a limiting factor. Regardless, it's going to be interesting to see how far the average RTX 3090 will overclock once reviewers get their hands on these new GPUs. Stay tuned for our review of the RTX 3090 coming soon.
  7. FireShot Capture 12111 - YARH.IO MKI Rasp_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_news_raspberry-pi-hand.jpg If you're looking for an all-in-one Raspberry Pi handheld, you might appreciate the YARH.IO MKI project. This gadget is completely portable and self-described as a "hackable Linux handheld". The YARH.IO can be customized with add on boards and adjusting the physical modules on the handheld. Certain components can be removed, like the keyboard. Because it relies on a Raspberry Pi, it supports a variety of Linux-based operating systems. FireShot Capture 12114 - YARH.IO MKI Rasp_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_news_raspberry-pi-hand.jpg This edition is designed for the Raspberry Pi 3B+. It features a 5" touchscreen with a resolution of 800 x 480. There is a keyboard module as well as a touchpad for cursor control. It's completely portable, using a single Fenix ARB-L21-5000 5000mAh rechargeable battery that can be easily swapped for a fully charged one. It also features a DS3231 RTC clock module. FireShot Capture 12117 - YARH.IO MKI Rasp_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_news_raspberry-pi-hand.jpg The GPIO connectors were made accessible through the bottom of the main module. This makes it possible to include any additional add-on boards. The shell used to house the components were digitally designed and 3D-printed. FireShot Capture 12120 - YARH.IO MKI Rasp_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_news_raspberry-pi-hand.jpg You can find a list of components needed to recreate thus project yourself on the YARH.IO website. If you want to purchase a pre-made unit, you may be able to get you hands on one of the limited number of fully functional prototypes through the official shop. These currently cost $629.
  8. FireShot Capture 12108 - TeamGroup EX2 Elite 1TB SSD is Just _ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg If you've been looking for a low cost, secondary storage drive for your data and games, TeamGroup's EX2 Elite SSD is a great deal. It packs 1TB of storage inside a 2.5-inch case. This SATA III internal SSD is currently available for an impressively low rate of just $.08 cents per GB, a total of $79. The EX2 Elite SSD has a read speed as high as 550 MB/s and a write speed up to 520 MB/s. TeamGroup offers the EX2 elite in both 512 GB and 1 TB sizes. If you're looking for an ideal drive to boot your desktop from, consider pairing this with one of the NVMe drives from our list of the best SSDs. However, if you are upgrading a laptop that only takes SATA drives, this is a very affordable choice, Because of its size, it has a lower power consumption rate compared to traditional HDDs. This particular model measures in at 3.94" x 2.75" x 0.28".
  9. FireShot Capture 12105 - Samsung 24-inch, 144 Hz Curved Gamin_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg If you've had your eye out for a curved monitor, you should check out this Newegg deal for the Samsung C24RG50 gaming display. The 144 Hz screen spans 24 inches across diagonally for a seriously immersive experience. For the next few days as part of their Labor Day Sale, this display is discounted over $35 off when you use promo code 97LABRDAY42. Samsung boasts a 144 Hz refresh rate alongside AMD FreeSync technology. This combination aims to reduce motion blur found in fast-paced action scenes. The contrast ratio is 3000:1, providing a deep range of contrast for both video games and media. The screen supports a huge range of colors, with 16.7 million confirmed in the official specs. It also uses anti-flicker technology to provide a smooth experience without any hardware caveats to distract you. You can connect a wide range of HDMI supported devices using one of the two HDMI 1.4 ports. There is also a DisplayPort 1.2 port available.
  10. FireShot Capture 11954 - A Closer Look at the GeForce RTX 308_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg For the Ampere generation of Founders Edition coolers, Nvidia had to go back to the drawing board and completely redesign the cooling solution to suit the significantly higher TDPs of the GeForce RTX 3080 and GeForce RTX 3090 graphics cards. Many of the design changes also carry over to the GeForce RTX 3070, though it doesn't have a higher TDP than previous generation GPUs. The radical new design for the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 Founders Edition coolers represent Nvidia's new solution to an old cooling problem, but it has also sparked a lot of controversy in the enthusiast community. Will the new cards propel more heat into your CPU's cooler, and will AIOs have a bigger benefit? Let's take a closer look at the design. FireShot Capture 11957 - A Closer Look at the GeForce RTX 308_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg Looking back at 20-series Founders Edition coolers, it's your very typical open air design with two fans pushing air into a vapor chamber heatsink, which then gets heat dissipated out the rear and sides of the chassis. Nvidia noticed that this cooling solution doesn't take full advantage of a modern case's default airflow configuration. Taking the standard ATX tower case as an example, there's typically one or two intake fans positioned low at the front of the case, and a single fan at the top-rear of the case that exhausts all the hot air out of the case. FireShot Capture 11960 - A Closer Look at the GeForce RTX 308_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg If you stick a graphics card in a case with this traditional airflow pattern, it disrupts the airflow. Instead of air passing freely from the front intake fans thru the chassis and to the rear fan, most of the air gets sucked into the GPU fans. That air is then slammed into the PCB. The design doesn't exhaust air out of the rear of the case, so it has to make a 90 degree turn and exhaust to the side. This adds resistance and moves air less efficiently. FireShot Capture 11963 - A Closer Look at the GeForce RTX 308_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg Nvidia uses a push-pull fan system with a hybrid vapor chamber cooler for the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 coolers. The left fan pushes air onto the baseplate and exhausts out the PCI-E slot (just like a blower style cooler). The right fan pulls air through the finstack and heatpipes, which then gets exhausted right out the other side of the card and makes its way directly to your CPU tower cooler (if any). It then passes to your rear exhaust case fan. Nvidia claims this cooling solution lowers temperatures by about 20C on the RTX 3080, and 30C for the RTX 3090 when compared to 20-series founders coolers designed for the RTX 2080 and Titan RTX (and that's if they were running at their Ampere-equivalent TDPs). Nvidia also says the new design reduces noise levels – the 3080 is 10dBA quieter than the 2080, and the 3090 is 20dBa quieter than the TITAN RTX. FireShot Capture 11966 - A Closer Look at the GeForce RTX 308_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg The RTX 3080 cooler is two slots wide, and the RTX 3090's cooler is three slots wide. Nvidia boasts that you can push high overclocks on the RTX 3090 FE card and it'll still run cool and quiet. But the real question is, how will the new design affect CPU temperatures? The 3080 and 3090's right fan will directly exhaust air into a CPU tower's heatsink, which is causing concern. Usually with graphics cards, the actual heat being pumped out of the card is more important than where it directs all that heat. If you look at most graphics cards today, they intake air from the front (where the fans are), and eject most of that heat back into the case, thru the sides of the card. All that heat will reach your CPU cooler eventually in some form, and it can cause case ambient temps to rise. However, we won't be sure how the new coolers will impact case thermals until the cards land in our labs. The official launch date for Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080 is set for September 17. We'll have more to say about cooling by then, once we've put the card through its paces.
  11. FireShot Capture 11879 - AMD Plants Big Navi Radeon 6000 East_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg It's not unusual to see manufacturers wait on each other's launches before starting their own. This is particularly true in the realm of graphics cards. Now that Nvidia has spent some time in the spotlight with Ampere, it looks like AMD is spooling up its launch program for its Big Navi series of graphics cards, too, as told by an easter egg planted by AMD in a Fortnite map. The Easter egg was found by a streamer passing through the AMD Battle Arena that launched a few days ago. Streamer GinaDarling found a teasing text stating "something big is coming to the AMD battle arena," after having to enter a passcode "6000" into a terminal to proceed. FireShot Capture 11882 - AMD Plants Big Navi Radeon 6000 East_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg Of course, this first teaser doesn't tell us anything -- other than the next series of GPUs from AMD will be the Radeon 6000 series. You could say that we're reading too much into it, but AMD's Scott Herkelman, CVP & GM at AMD Radeon, congratulated Gina on finding the easter egg, which surely has to mean something. But without making more of it than it is, it does show that AMD is getting started on the Radeon 6000 series, which, if I may say, is about time. In January, Lisa Su promised that we would be seeing Big Navi this year, and as we just entered September, there's not a lot of time left to go. Rumors have a launch pinned for October 7th, but with the rumor mill being eerily quiet, we're not so sure that will happen.
  12. FireShot Capture 11861 - Microsoft to Bring DirectStorage API_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg Microsoft this week said that it would bring preview of its DirectStorage application programming interface that powers the company’s Xbox Velocity Architecture to Windows 10 developers in 2021. The API is designed to speed up game loading times and improve performance of games by eliminating storage API-related bottlenecks and reducing CPU involvement, but on a client PC it can do much more than that. Nvidia has also adopted the technology, branded Nvidia RTX IO, for its Ampere graphics cards. Expensive I/O Requests Modern PC games use tens of gigabytes of storage and to load them quickly one needs an SSD that supports the NVMe protocol and boasts a high sequential read speed. To further optimize performance by ensuring that all the necessary data like textures and sounds fits into memory (both system RAM and GPU RAM), contemporary game engines break the assets into blocks and load only those that are needed for the scene being rendered. These blocks may be rather small, but they are still larger than 4 KB blocks used to rate random input/output (I/O) performance of SSDs. FireShot Capture 11864 - Microsoft to Bring DirectStorage API_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg According to Microsoft, the custom SSD used in the upcoming Xbox Series X console generates well over 35,000 64 KB I/O requests per second to hit its peak sequential read speed of 2.4 GB/s. The NVMe protocol and modern SSDs can handle multiple queues simultaneously (which is called queue depth) and each of them can contain many requests. But raw performance of the drive is only a part of the equation. Existing storage APIs require the application to manage its I/O requests sequentially: submit the request, wait for it to complete, handle its completion, move on to another request. Older games that generated hundreds of requests (as they were designed primarily with hard drives in mind) did not produce a significant overhead and therefore did not use too much CPU time. But with upcoming titles that generate tens of thousands of requests that overhead gets so substantial that it might prevent modern systems from taking full advantage of modern SSDs and/or leave no CPU horsepower for other tasks. In addition, current storage APIs also encounter some ‘extra steps’ (such as data transformations) between an I/O request made by an application and its actual execution by the storage device, which further increases overheads of the whole pipeline. Additionally, many of the game assets (e.g., textures) come compressed and their decompression means some more complications in the pipeline between the storage and the CPU/GPU. DirectStorage Here to Help Microsoft’s Xbox Velocity Architecture uses DirectStorage API that was designed specifically to keep higher-end NVMe SSDs busy without using too many CPU cycles and reduce the number of ‘extra steps’ incurred today to speed up the entire pipeline. FireShot Capture 11867 - Microsoft to Bring DirectStorage API_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg According to Microsoft, the DirectStorage API can do the following: Reduce per-request NVMe overhead; Submit large batches of I/O requests in parallel with little intervention by the OS to save CPU time; Give applications finer grain control over when they get notified of I/O request completion instead of having to react to every IO completion. The DirectStorage API does not replace the NVMe protocol. What it is meant to do is to reduce CPU and protocol overheads, allow developers to specify their I/O procedures, and skip unnecessary extra steps for I/O requests. In fact, earlier this year Microsoft said that on Xbox Series X its DirectStorage API could reduce CPU overhead for tens of thousands of I/O operations ‘to a small fraction of a single core.’ What Microsoft did not say was how it achieved such an impressive result and whether this is the best-case scenario with huge I/O requests or something to expect typically. Previously AMD (the developer of the Xbox One Series X SoC) has experimented with peer-to-peer messaging between its GPU and two NVMe SSDs in its Radeon Pro SSG graphics card, but it is unclear whether DirectStorage has anything to do with p2p messaging. DirectStorage on PC: Gaming First So far, Microsoft has only disclosed plans to bring its DirectStorage API to its Windows operating system as well as to provide it to game developers in 2021. This will essentially enable future PC games to take advantage of the same technologies as upcoming Xbox games will. FireShot Capture 11870 - Microsoft to Bring DirectStorage API_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg Premium first-person shooter titles designed to run in high resolutions and at high framerates, which performance is currently limited by a host of bottlenecks on different system levels, will benefit from Microsoft’s DirectStorage. Perhaps, by making data travelling from the SSD to the graphics card cheaper from performance point of view and in a more controlled way, the new API could reduce requirements for onboard VRAM (or at least slow down their growth). For Microsoft, it is natural to enable DirectStorage on PC for games first because it has already perfected the technology on a gaming console. But it is important to note that there are non-gaming applications on PC that could take advantage of faster and more manageable storage performance. Hardware Support Adding DirectStorage to Windows means that Microsoft will have to ensure that there is hardware that supports the new API. The API itself is meant for NVMe SSDs and there are plenty of NVMe-compliant drives around. Meanwhile, the software giant does not say that all of them will support DirectStorage, but claims that it will be supported by ‘certain systems with NVMe drives’ that are ‘properly configured.’ FireShot Capture 11873 - Microsoft to Bring DirectStorage API_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg Since Microsoft yet has to disclose all the peculiarities of its new API, it is unclear whether its support will mandate a particular subset of NVMe instructions (and therefore particular drives with particular firmware will be required) or there are certain things beyond SSD that are needed. Nvidia has adopted the API for its Ampere graphics cards. Nvidia says its RTX IO feature can speed up I/O performance by up to 100X over standard hard drives and storage APIs.
  13. FireShot Capture 11843 - RTX 3080 Smashes Through Doom Eterna_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg In Nvidia's keynote launching the RTX 3090, RTX 3080 and RTX 3070, Nvidia hasn't shown actual frame rate numbers on games running on the RTX Ampere GPUs. That changes today. On the official GeForce YouTube channel, Nvidia shows off their RTX 3080 graphics card running Doom Eternal with a frame rate OSD at 4K resolution with maxed out graphics settings. In the video, we can see the RTX 3080 screaming through the title at over 100 fps during gameplay, including intense fire fights. The lowest frame rate recorded during the video was around 110 fps for a brief second and the highest of around 175 fps. For a few cut-scenes, Nvidia shows a direct comparison of the RTX 2080 Ti to the RTX 3080. The RTX 2080 Ti was averaging around 80-90 fps while the RTX 3080 was in the mid-130 fps range for most of the scene. That's easily a 60% difference in performance. Nvidia's gameplay demonstrates that Ampere isn't just a fast ray-tracing card. At least in this demo, pure rasterized performance in games is significantly faster than Ampere's predecessors. FireShot Capture 11846 - RTX 3080 Smashes Through Doom Eterna_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg As a side note, we can see Nvidia is running an unreleased driver for the RTX 3080 in the demo, version 455.77. This could be the launch driver for the RTX 3000 series coming soon. Of course, we're still waiting for the opportunity to review the RTX 3080 and other Ampere GPUs ourselves, so stay tuned.
  14. FireShot Capture 11837 - MSI’s Stealth 15M Slips Tiger Lake, _ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg MSI’s new Stealth 15M looks to give Razer some slim competition in the 15-inch gaming portable space, while also bringing along speedy next-gen internal and external storage options. Maybe it will even knock Razer off our Best Gaming Laptops list. Weighing in at 3.7 pounds and just 0.63 inches thin according to MSI, the Stealth 15M is slightly thinner and substantially lighter than Razer’s Blade 15 Advanced (4.7 pounds and 0.7 inches). The aluminum chassis will be offered in carbon gray or white, with a combination of an Intel 11th Gen Tiger Lake CPU and Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-Q graphics inside. FireShot Capture 11840 - MSI’s Stealth 15M Slips Tiger Lake, _ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg The other notable internal change should interest storage enthusiasts. MSI says the Stealth 15M supports PCIe 4.0, and the company will include a PCIe Gen4 x4 SSD in the laptop, in capacities up to 2TB. Given what we’ve seen from PCIe 4.0 SSDs on the desktop front (many with bulky coolers), it will be interesting to see how a speedy next-generation drive will affect battery life, as well as how MSI will keep the drive (and everything else) cool in a chassis so slim. The next-gen speed theme carries over to the connectivity front as well, as the Stealth 15M includes Thunderbolt 4 (TB4) support. This also means you can charge the laptop over USB-C PD, though you’ll want to use the power brick for fast charging and gaming, as TB4 tops out at 100 watts. Killer Wi-Fi AX1650 is also included for fast and stable downloads and file transfers. Other aspects of the Stealth 15M are somewhat less exciting. The 15.6-inch “IPS-level” display boasts a 144 Hz refresh rate, and the keyboard sports a white backlight, rather than RGB. You do, though, get a 720p webcam , unlike many of Asus’ gaming laptops of late that have eschewed a camera altogether. And there is a Micro SD card slot on the left edge. There’s no word yet on pricing or exact availability for the Stealth 15M, but we’re excited to get it in for testing. MSI’s slim laptops have impressed us in the past, but some also have a tendency to run hot. It will be interesting to see how MSI manages thermals in such a slim laptop -- especially with the addition of PCIe 4.0. Battery life will also be interesting, given the new Intel silicon paired with the Stealth 15M’s unimpressive-sounding 52 Whr battery. The company says you can expect “9+ hours” of unplugged productivity time. This is a U-series laptop, though, so we’re likely due for another refresh whenever Intel releases an H-series Tiger Lake lineup.
  15. FireShot Capture 11742 - Intel Tiger Lake_ Release Date, Spec_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg Intel has finally pulled the veil off of the final specs of its 11th-Generation Tiger Lake processors after slowly trickling out details of the new chips for an entire year. The TIger Lake chips look to slow AMD's advance with its impressive 7nm Ryzen 4000-series "Renoir" chips that have steadily gained traction over the last several months, but Intel is finally moving on to its 10nm SuperFin process that brings higher clock speeds and a big 20% boost to performance. Intel has also finally shared benchmarks that give us at least some idea of how its chips stack up against the Ryzen competition – Intel claims its quad-core models are faster than AMD's eight-core Renoir chips, and that its integrated graphics have finally taken the lead. Intel's Tiger Lake brings a dizzying array of improvements over the company's previous-gen Ice Lake with higher clock speeds, a doubling of graphics performance, the first PCIe 4.0 support for laptops, and support for LPDDR4x memory serving as the headline advances. After Intel shared the technical details of its architecture, the new 10nm SuperFin process, and even more low-level details, we now have all the info condensed down into this article. Let's start with the chips. Intel 11th-Gen Core Tiger Lake At A Glance Willow Cove cores - quad-core and dual-core models Intel Iris Xe LP graphics for 2x faster 1080p gaming 10nm SuperFin process gives up to 20% increase in clock frequency Support for LPDDR5 - LPDDR4x for first models Industry first PCIe 4.0 for laptops New media and display engine WifI 6 and Thunderbolt 4 Release Date: 50+ designs shipping this holiday season 150+ models in total Price: Varies based on laptop Intel 11th-Gen Core Tiger Lake UP3 Specifications FireShot Capture 11745 - Intel Tiger Lake_ Release Date, Spec_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg Intel announced a total of nine new chips. We have the nitty-gritty specs below, but first we'll break down the meaning behind the confusing mish-mash of product identifiers. Intel's Tiger Lake comes with the Willow Cove processing cores and Xe LP graphics graphics on one larger 10nm SuperFin die, and a separate smaller 14nm PCH (platform controller hub) chipset that handles extra I/O and connectivity duties. Intel has two basic packages: The larger package on the left is for the high-performance UP3 models (formerly U-Series) that operate within a 12 to 28W TDP, and the UP4 package (formerly Y-Series) on the right for devices that operate at 7 to 15W. These packages are then integrated onto incredibly small motherboards (second picture in the album) that find their way into the new Tiger Lake laptops and thin-and-lights. The Tiger Lake chips span the Core i7, i5 and i3 families and come with varying levels of graphics performance. Intel splits its Xe LP graphics up into G7 and G4 families. Tiger Lake models with "G7" at the end of the product name come with either 96 or 80 execution units (EUs), with the full-fledged 90 EU models coming with Intel Iris Xe branding. Chips with "G4" at the end of the product name come with 48 EUs. Naturally, the Iris Xe models with more EUs offer the high end of performance, which we'll see in the benchmarks shortly. FireShot Capture 11748 - Intel Tiger Lake_ Release Date, Spec_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg FireShot Capture 11751 - Intel Tiger Lake_ Release Date, Spec_ - https___www.tomshardware.com_ne.jpg You'll notice that Intel has discarded its practice of listing a single TDP value. Instead the company now defines a full dynamic range of performance that spans 12 to 28W with the UP3 models. This allows laptop makers to tailor the chips for the thermal capabilities of their products, with high-end models having sufficient cooling to enable full performance, while lower-end models with less-capable cooling can be tuned to a lower TDP setting. The TDP can even change while in use based upon device temperature, power delivery, and orientation. Intel doesn't require laptop makers to list their TDP ratings, though, so you'll have to turn to third-party reviews for the full skinny on performance. The flagship Core i7-1185G7 leads the UP3 lineup. This chip boosts to 4.8 GHz and has a 3.0 GHz base frequency, both of which are a big increase of 700 MHz over the previous-gen model. Intel has also made a big step forward with a 4.2 GHz all-core boost clock that will help chew through demanding productivity apps. To put that in perspective - the maximum single-core boost from AMD's fastest Ryzen 4000 processor weighs in at 4.2 GHz. Intel can pull that off on all cores at once, which helps explain some of its performance advantages we'll see in the benchmarks below. The 1185G7 also comes with the Xe LP graphics engine with the full complement of 96 EUs, so Intel brands it as Iris Xe. The graphics unit runs at 1.35GHz, an increase of 250 MHz over the previous-gen graphics on the Core i7-1068NG7. The chip comes armed with 12MB of L3 cache and supports LPDDR4X-4266. The Core i3-1115G4 slots in as the low-end model of this line up. This dual-core quad-thread chip comes with a 3.0 GHz base, 4.1 GHz boost, and impressive 4.1 GHz maximum all-core frequency. The chip's Xe LP graphics engine comes with 48 EUs and boosts to 1.25 GHz, which is pretty agile for a low-end chip. However, these chips step back from LPDDR4x-4266 support to LPDDR4x-3733, which will hamper performance in some tasks. Notably, the Core i5 and i3 models come with 8MB and 6MB of L3 cache, respectively, which is less than the full 12MB found on the Core i7 models.