Analyzing Z370 for Intel's 8th Generation Coffee Lake: A Quick Look at 50+ Motherboards

The launch of Intel’s new 8th Generation ‘Coffee Lake’ processors for desktops is going to be an interesting one. On one side it redefines Intel’s main product stack and its terminology (in a good way), but the motherboard side is going to get somewhat confusing. The new CPUs are using the LGA1151 socket, as found on the previous generation, but it uses the socket differently, making the motherboards and CPUs incompatible with each other. To get around this issue previously, Intel introduces a new name to help with the separation, but no such luck here. The new platform and socket will be supported by the 300-series chipset, with Z370 being the first member of that product family. In this overview, we perform a visual inspection and analysis on 50+ motherboards from the main motherboards manufacturers.



Source: AnandTech – Analyzing Z370 for Intel’s 8th Generation Coffee Lake: A Quick Look at 50+ Motherboards

GIGABYTE Launches the AORUS X9 Gaming Laptop: GTX 1070 SLI and i7-7820HK

GIGABYTE has announced a powerful all-new extreme gaming laptop in the AORUS X9. The X9 comes with a 7th generation Intel i7-7820HK overclockable processor, two GTX 1070s in SLI, four DDR4 slots supporting up to 64GB of DDR4-2400 memory, and an option of either a 17.3” 4K UHD IPS monitor or QHD (2560 x 1440) 120 Hz WVA panel. Additionally, the X9 offers an ESS Sabre HiFi audio DAC, ‘quad’ audio setup with two speakers and two woofers, a laptop mechanical keyboard, RGB lighting, and the Killer DoubleShot Pro functionality via Rivet Network’s networking. 




According to GIGABYTE, the laptop chassis has an exotic design based off of supercars and fighter jets for its design, and uses a ‘maximum’ amount of aluminum. At the nose is a LED AORUS Falcon while the other side is the AORUS HUD. The RGB HUD can show information such as CPU/GPU temperatures, battery level, volume level and others. It can also synchronize with the surrounding RGB chassis lighting. RGB LED accent lighting can be found on the front and back sides as well as in the AORUS RGB Fusion mechanical keyboard (quoted as ‘brown’ type keys, although the manufacturer isn’t listed).


One feature many will notice is the depth of the laptop. It uses two GPUs but comes in at 1.18” thick at its peak. Inside the aluminum chassis is a quad fan cooling solution using a total of eight heatpipes to dissipate the heat output of the dual GPUs, the CPU, and the chipset. Cool air is sucked in through the Falcon shaped vents on the base and exhausted out the back away from the user, leading to a substantial rake on the keyboard, but this could be beneficial on the wrists for extended periods of use.



The i7-7820HK quad-core processor comes in at a base clock of 2.90 GHz with a maximum turbo frequency of 3.90 GHz, all in a 45W package. The X9 is able to overclock the CPU as well, with GIGABYTE saying up 15% increases possible. Memory capacity is up to 64GB due to its four DIMM slots and it is able to support speeds up to DDR4-2400, although exact capacity will vary depending on the retailer. Internal storage by two 1TB NVMe M.2 SSDs with bulk storage handled by a 2TB 7200RPM HDD.


The two NVIDIA GTX 1070s GPUs in SLI drive one of two monitors; users are offered a choice of high-resolution gaming or high-refresh rate monitors. The first a 17.3″ 4K UHD IPS Panel with an Anti-Glare coating and 100% Adobe RGB, or a 17.3 QHD 2560×1440 120Hz WVA panel with an Anti-Glare Display. 


 



There is a slew of modern connectivity on the device, starting from Thunderbolt 3 (1 x Type-C), USB 3.1 Type-C (10 Gbps), three USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) ports, a Mini-DisplayPort (v1.3), and a HDMI 2.0 output. It also includes a single 3.5mm Headphone out, a 3.5mm Microphone input, and a single SD Card Reader. Network functionality is handled by a Killer E2500 Ethernet port and a Killer AC 1535 dual-band Wi-Fi card, supporting Killer’s Doubleshot Pro functionality which can route traffic to either the hardwired or wireless Killer adapters depending on priority. 


There will be two configurations available in the US by the end of October. The first SKU is the X9-KL4K4M which has the i7-7820HK CPU, 17.3” UHD IPS screen, GTX 1070 SLI, 2 x 16GB DDR4-2400, 1 x 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD and 1TB HDD with an MSRP of $3,649. The second SKU is a Newegg exclusive which adds another 512 GB PCIe NVMe drive for a total of 2 x 512GB and removes the 1TB HDD. 






















GIGABYTE AORUS X9
  Max Specifications X9-KL4K4M Newegg Exclusive
Warranty Period 2 Year Warranty
Product Page N/A
Price ($US) Starting at $1749 $3649 $$$$
Type Gaming Laptop
Processor Family 7th Generation Intel Core i7
Processors i7-7820HK (2.9 GHz base, 3.9 GHz Turbo)
Memory 4×16 GB DDR4-2400 2 x 16 GB DDR4-2400
Network Connectivity Rivet Networks E2500 NIC

Killer Wireless AC 1535
Internal Storage 2 x M.2 PCIe SSD

1 x 2.5″ HDD
1 x 512GB SSD

1 x 1TB HDD
2 x 512GB SSD
Graphics 2 x NVIDIA GTX 1070 SLI GDDR5 8GB
Expansion Slots 1 x SD card reader (UHS-II, PCIe)
Display UHD IPS or 

QHD 120Hz WVA
17.3″ UHD 3840×2160 IPS
Ports and Connectors 1 x Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C)

1 x USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) Type-C

3 x USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) Type-A

1 x Mini-DisplayPort (v 1.3)

1 x HDMI (v2.0)

1 x 3.5mm Headphone (HiFi, SPDIF)

1 x 3.5mm Mic-In

1 x SD Card Reader (UHS-II, PCIe)
Input Device RGB Mechanical Keyboard (Brown keys) 
Camera HD Camera
Power 330W External AC Power adapter, 

94.24Wh Battery, Li-Po
Dimensions 16.9″ x 12.4″ x 0.9-1.18″
Weight 7.9 lbs+

Related Reading:




Source: AnandTech – GIGABYTE Launches the AORUS X9 Gaming Laptop: GTX 1070 SLI and i7-7820HK

ASRock’s X299E-ITX/ac Motherboard Now Available: Up to 18 Cores in Mini-ITX

ASRock formally introduced its X299E-ITX/ac motherboard at Computex earlier this year and attracted a lot of attention to the product that was (and still is) the only Mini-ITX mainboard for Intel’s Core i7 and Core i9 processors in LGA2066 packaging. ASRock had said that this week it has started shipments of the motherboard and it is now available from multiple retailers.



It is noteworthy that since Computex, ASRock has removed the support for the Kaby Lake-X CPUs and therefore the chips will not work on this motherboard. It is compatible only with Skylake-X processors, and enables a user to build a Mini-ITX PC with a CPU featuring up to 18 cores. Since such CPUs have a TDP of 165 W (often drawing more than this at load), and as it can be difficult to find a small cooler for such power, ASRock has worked with Bitspower to develop a custom water monoblock specifically for the X299E-ITX/ac. This monoblock is also being made available.



Despite its small size, the ASRock X299E-ITX/ac supports most of the benefits that Intel’s X299 platform has to offer: it has an advanced VRM with seven phases, 60 A inductors and 12K solid-state capacitors enabling CPU overclocking, it has four SO-DIMM DDR4 memory slots for full memory bandwidth support, one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot for graphics cards, and three M.2 slots for SSDs (PCIe 3.0 x4 or SATA).


Expandability does not end there – the X299E-ITX/ac carries six SATA 6 Gbps ports, a 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.2 module (based on an Intel controller), two GbE ports from Intel controllers, two USB 3.1 10 Gbps headers (a Type-A and a Type-C), six USB 3.0 connectors, a 7.1-channel audio sub-system enabled by the Realtek ALC1220 controller and so on.















ASRock’s Mini-ITX Motherboard for Intel Core X-Series
  X299E-ITX/ac
CPU Support Intel Core i9

Intel Core i7


Skylake-X CPUs in LGA2066 form-factor

Graphics PCIe 3.0 x16
Chipset Intel X299
Memory Four DDR4 SO-DIMM slots
Ethernet 2 × Intel GbE controllers
Storage 6 × SATA 6 Gbps

3 × M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4 or SATA)
Audio Realtek ALC1220

7.1 channel audio
USB 6 × USB 3.0 Type-A

1 × USB 3.1 Type-A

1 × USB 3.1 Type-C
Other I/O Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.2
Form-Factor Mini-ITX
Price at Launch $400 at Newegg

$400 ~ $500, depending on the region

In order to fit everything it wanted onto a Mini-ITX PCB, ASRock had to place the USB 3.1 controller, SATA ports and one M.2 slot on custom daughter-board modules – essentially going vertical when they ran out of horizontal space. Such modules add certain dimension-related limitations to the size of CPU coolers (it remains to be seen how higher-end M.2 SSDs perform when located near a CPU cooler) and that is a problem because all of the Core i7 or i9 processors supported by this motherboard have TDP of 140-165 W, and it is not easy to cool such chips down. In fact, when it comes to the X299E-ITX/ac, a custom liquid cooled setup could be the most optimal choice from performance and dimensions point of view (again, assuming that an appropriate chassis is used for the build).


Bitpower has developed a custom waterblock/monoblock specifically for the X299E-ITX/ac, with a product ID of BP-WBMASRX299EI. This monoblock features a copper base with a nickel finish with two G1/4″ fittings and even RGB lighting. The waterblock is available directly from the manufacturer and it is compatible with standard pumps and tubings.



Speaking of availability, the ASRock X299E-ITX/ac is now available from Newegg for $400 (although it already looks to be sold out as we wrote this piece). In Europe, three stores are taking pre-orders and are charging from €424 to €461 ($502 to $546) per unit, so the motherboard is quite expensive, possibly because it is unique.




Related Reading




Source: AnandTech – ASRock’s X299E-ITX/ac Motherboard Now Available: Up to 18 Cores in Mini-ITX

Samsung’s 8LPP Process Technology Qualified, Ready for Production

Samsung this week announced that its 8LPP fabrication process, which it formally introduced earlier this year, had passed qualification tests. The manufacturing technology will be used to produce advanced SoCs next year and will be Samsung’s final leading edge process based solely on DUV lithography before the company adopts EUV for select layers with its 7LPP process node.


The 8LPP fabrication technology is an evolution of Samsung’s 10 nm node that uses narrower metal pitches and promises a 10% area reduction (at the same complexity) as well as a 10% lower power consumption (at the same frequency and complexity) compared to the 10LPP process. Samsung does not disclose which standard cell libraries are used by the 8LPP, but the 10LPP relies on 8.75T and 10.5T, so it is logical to expect the 8LPP to use similar ones. Samsung does not disclose whether the 8LPP relies on quadruple patterning techniques, or if it continues to use triple patterning like the company’s 10LPE/10LPP processes, but QPT is an option to shrink die sizes at the increase in cost (and potential defects).







Advertised PPA Improvements of New Process Technologies
Data announced by companies during conference calls, press briefings and in press releases
  14LPP

vs 28LPP
10LPE

vs 14LPE
10LPE

vs 14LPP
10LPP

vs 10LPE
10LPU

vs

10LPE
8LPP

vs 10LPP
Power 60% 40% 30% ~15% ? 10%
Performance 40% 27% >10% ~10% ? ?
Area Reduction 50% 30% 30% none ? 10%

Samsung plans to use the 8LPP manufacturing technology to produce SoCs for various applications, including smartphones, cryptocurrency and networks/servers, but does not elaborate on exact designs or clients. The only thing we do know is that Qualcomm will be one of the first customers to adopt the 8LPP and that the company expects the new technology to ramp up fast (which possibly means that it uses the same libraries and manufacturing equipment as the 10 nm nodes).


“8LPP will have a fast ramp since it uses proven 10 nm process technology while providing better performance and scalability than current 10nm-based products said RK Chunduru, a senior vice president of Qualcomm.


Neither Samsung nor Qualcomm are disclosing when they expect to ship their first 8LPP chips, but since the technology has passed qualification tests (meaning that quality and reliability of ICs made using the technology meet certain guidelines, such as those proposed by JEDEC), we would expect the SoCs to arrive in the coming quarters.


Related Reading




Source: AnandTech – Samsung’s 8LPP Process Technology Qualified, Ready for Production

HighPoint RocketStor RS6114V 4-Bay USB-C RAID Enclosure Review

Storage enclosures come in many varieties to target different market segments. They usually have one or more downstream SATA ports, with USB being a popular interface in the low-end and mid-range markets. Within the USB storage enclosure market, device vendors have multiple opportunities to tune their product design for specific use-cases. Today’s review will take a look at HighPoint’s RocketStor RS6114V, a 4-bay direct-attached storage enclosure backed up by their software RAID stack.​



Source: AnandTech – HighPoint RocketStor RS6114V 4-Bay USB-C RAID Enclosure Review

Intel Documents Point to AVX-512 Support for Cannon Lake Consumer CPUs

A new update to the Intel document for software developers indicates that the company will begin to introduce various AVX-512 instruction set extensions to its consumer CPUs soon. This will start from the codenamed Cannon Lake (CNL) and Ice Lake (ICL) processors, made using 10 nm process technologies. The new extensions will enable future chips to improve performance in certain applications. One of the main questions on AVX-512 is which consumer programs will actually support the AVX-512 when these CNL and ICL processors hit the market. In addition to the AVX-512, the upcoming processors will introduce a host of other new non-AVX-512 instructions.



AVX-512 Coming to Consumer CPUs


According to the Intel Architecture Instruction Set Extensions and Future Features Programming Reference document, Intel’s Cannon Lake CPUs will support AVX512F, AVX512CD, AVX512DQ, AVX512BW, and AVX512VL. This will bring the feature set of these CPUs to the current level of the Skylake-SP based processors. In addition, the Cannon Lake microarchitecture will support the AVX512_IFMA and AVX512_VBMI commands, but at this point, it is unclear whether the support will be limited to servers, or will also be featured in the consumer processors (the latter scenario is likely based on the document wording, but remains unclear).


Intel originally promised to release Cannon Lake processors in 2016 – 2017 timeframe, but delayed introduction of its 10 nm process technology to 2018, thus postponing the CPU launch as well. Initially it was expected that the Cannon Lake CPUs would generally resemble the Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake chips with some refinements, but the addition of the AVX-512 support means a rather tangible architecture improvement. For AVX-512, large the chunks of data require massive memory bandwidth, which the Skylake-SP cores get due to large caches and more memory controllers. Keeping in mind memory bandwidth and power consumption factors, the AVX-512 might not be supported by all Cannon Lake client CPUs, but only by those aimed at higher-performance machines (i.e., no AVX-512 for ULP mobile parts as well as entry-level desktop SKUs, but this is a speculation at this point). Meanwhile, a good news is that by the time AVX-512-supporting Cannon Lake processors arrive, programs for client PCs that take advantage of the latest extensions will likely be available.


The evolution of the AVX-512 on general-purpose CPUs is not going to stop. Intel’s Ice Lake processors will support AVX512_VPOPCNTDQ (which will also be supported by the Xeon Phi ‘Knights Mill’) commands as well as AVX512_VNNI, AVX512_VBMI2, AVX512+VPCLMULQDQ and AVX512_BITALG instructions. The ICL chips will also feature AVX-512 versions of known AES and GFNI algorithms for encryption and error corrections — AVX512+VAES and AVX512+GFNI.


Meanwhile, the Knights Mill will exclusively support AVX512_4FMAPS and AVX512_4VNNI (at least for a while, because an Intel filing with the Linux kernel states that the upcoming Xeon Phi and Xeon CPUs will support both commands, but descriptions of Linux patches are not always accurate, plus, plans tend to change).








AVX-512 Support Propogation by Various Intel CPUs
  Xeon, Core X General Xeon Phi  
Skylake-SP AVX512BW

AVX512DQ

AVX512VL
AVX512F

AVX512CD
AVX512ER

AVX512PF
Knights Landing
Cannon Lake AVX512VBMI

AVX512IFMA
AVX512_4FMAPS

AVX512_4VNNIW
Knights Mill
Ice Lake AVX512_VNNI

AVX512_VBMI2

AVX512_BITALG

AVX512+VAES

AVX512+GFNI

AVX512+VPCLMULQDQ
AVX512_VPOPCNTDQ
Source: Intel Architecture Instruction Set Extensions and Future Features Programming Reference (pages 12 and 13)

As it turns out from Intel’s document, the Cannon Lake and Ice Lake processors will have an up-to-date AVX-512 support. It is unknown whether the CNL and the ICL cores will be used inside the future server processors (remember that Intel has server-specific ‘Cascade Lake’ product incoming), but if this is the case, then it looks like Intel’s cores for server and client computers will have the same feature-set going forward, at least when it comes to the AVX-512 support.


Adding the AVX-512 to consumer processors looks like an important development even though the instruction set was primarily designed to process large amounts of data common for servers and, to a degree, workstations (such as encoding, rendering, cryptography, deep learning, etc.). Apparently, Intel believes that 512-bit INT/FP calculations will be important for mainstream PCs as well. A big question is how exactly Intel plans to implement the AVX-512 in various Cannon Lake and Ice Lake processors going forward. Keep in mind that Intel’s six and eight-core Skylake-X CPUs officially support one fused FMA for AVX-512-F, but the chips with 10+ cores officially support dual 512-bit AVX-512-F ports and can offer up to two times higher performance. So in that respect, there is potential for further differentiation between products.


In the meantime, Intel’s Cannon Lake and Ice Lake CPUs will have a number of other new instructions for various matters and they are certainly worth looking at.


New Instructions to Improve Security, Performance of Upcoming CPUs


In a bid to speed up certain cryptography algorithms, Cannon Lake will feature the SHA-NI instruction set that is already supported by the Goldmont cores. SHA-NI is of a similar base to AES-NI, that was added several generations prior. Based on Intel’s publications, SHA-NI can speed up SHA1, SHA256 and SHA224 algorithms. In addition, the new CPUs will also support the UMIP security mechanism that prevents the execution of certain instructions in if their privilege level is insufficient for that, preventing certain apps from accessing the OS settings.


The Ice Lake chips will bring support for Fast Short REP MOV instruction that will enable fast moves of large amounts of data from one location to another, which will benefit optimized memory-intensive applications. Keep in mind that we are moving towards persistent memory for a number of server applications and therefore large amounts of data located in DRAM and/or NVDIMMs will be more common in the future.


Another interesting feature supported by the Ice Lake consumer processors is CLWB (Cache Line Write Back) command for NVMe programming. The feature is already supported by the Skylake-SP cores and is required to better handle SSDs connected to the processor, but will come into consumer products with Ice Lake. CLWB flushes the write caches, but does not invalidate the data, making it available if it is needed after the line is flushed, thus improving performance in certain situations. Given the Purley/Skylake-SP context, CLWB is something required for upcoming NVDIMMs (based on 3D XPoint), but it is not completely clear how Intel expects to use it in case of consumer platforms (they make sense for certain workstation applications and for that reason CLWB is supported by SKL-SP). In any case, the addition of CLWB will add some speed in certain cases when very fast SSDs are used and cache miss is an issue.


There are other features coming in the Goldmont Plus (the heart of upcoming Gemini Lake SoCs) and Ice Lake processors, namely PTWRITE and RDPID, which seem to be aimed mostly at software developers and which purpose may not benefit end users right away.













Instruction Set Extensions of Cannon Lake, Ice Lake and Goldmont+ CPUs
  Instruction Purpose Description
Cannon Lake SHA-NI Security Cryptography acceleration.
UMIP


User-Mode Instruction Prevention

Security Prevents execution of certain instructions if the Current Privilege Level (CPL) is greater than 0. If these instructions were executed while in CPL > 0, user space applications could have access to system-wide settings such as the global and local descriptor tables, the task register and the interrupt descriptor table.
Ice Lake CLWB


Cache Line

Write Back

Performance Writes back modified data of a cache line similar to CLFLUSHOPT, but avoids invalidating the line from the cache (and instead transitions the line to non-modified state). CLWB attempts to minimize the compulsory cache miss if the same data is accessed temporally after the line is flushed if the same data is accessed temporally after the line is flushed.
Fast Short REP MOV Performance Enables fast moves of data from one location to another.
RDPID


Read Processor ID

General Quickly reads processor ID to discover its feature set and apply optimizations/use specific code path if possible.
Goldmont Plus PTWRITE


Write Data to a Processor Trace Packet

Debugging Unclear.
UMIP Security See above
RDPID General See above
Source: Intel Architecture Instruction Set Extensions and Future Features Programming Reference (pages 12 and 13)

Some History


Intel and AMD have been adding various instruction set extensions to the x86 architecture since the mid-1990s. Throughout the recent 20 years, both companies have brought in hundreds of new instructions designed to improve performance in various applications by SIMD instructions and feeding CPU cores large amounts of data at once or by using special-purpose hardware. Intel’s latest mainstream extensions are called the AVX/AVX2 and their main purposes were increasing the width of the register file (both SIMD and integer) to 256 bits and the introduction of commands like the FMA3 (that serves the same purpose — does relatively complex computations in one instruction). To perform 256-bit AVX2 operations, CPUs have to lower their frequency to maintain stability, as cores tend to draw a lot of power under such workloads, but even at lower clock rates AVX/AVX2 make a lot of sense and increase overall throughput.


The next step in the evolution of the instruction set extensions that Intel made was the AVX-512. With AVX-512 the company decided to introduce different sets of instructions for different applications and implemented them in different products. Some of the AVX-512 extensions are aimed primarily at enterprise workloads, whereas the others are needed for supercomputers or high performance compute. Implementing all of them in in all products hardly makes a lot of sense for Intel and its customers, so the latest Skylake-SP Xeons (and the high-end desktop processors) support one set of AVX-512 commands and the Xeon Phis support another one. In the meantime, contemporary mainstream consumer CPUs do not support AVX-512 at all.  One of the reasons for this is because the physical implementation significantly increases die size (by up to 15% in case of the Skylake core). Other factors such as the cost associated with a die increase, and partly because client applications today cannot take advantage of such instructions, are also in the mix. In the future, this is going to change as Intel plans to enable support of certain AVX-512 variations in its future Cannon Lake and Ice Lake processors for mainstream consumers.


Wrapping Up


The addition of the AVX-512 to the future consumer CPUs is a good news for those who use such processors for things like video encoding, rendering or other applications that are common for workstations. Meanwhile, with the Ice Lake consumer chips, Intel is adding a deep learning-specific (AVX512_VNNI) 512-bit instructions as well as the NV-DIMM-oriented features such as CLWB, although immediate advantages for this market segment are unclear. Intel is opening this information up to allow developers to prepare for these processors and develop software in advance. In any case, all new features are always welcome by many because at some point they start to bring certain advantages.


Related Reading


Source: Intel (via WikiChip Twitter).



Source: AnandTech – Intel Documents Point to AVX-512 Support for Cannon Lake Consumer CPUs

Biostar Announces Z370GT7 and Z370GT6 Motherboards for Coffee Lake CPUs

Not willing to be left behind at the starting line, Biostar has announced its entries into the rapidly growing Z370 motherboard market. At the time of publication, Biostar is bringing two boards to the table from their Racing line with the Z370GT7 and Z370GT6. The GT7 is the company’s flagship board and, accordingly, will be the more expensive of the two. While both are full-featured motherboards, the GT7 offers an additional M.2 heatsink over the GT6 (bringing the total to two), three full-length PCIe slot reinforced compared to the GT6’s two, as well as additional shrouding covering the audio section of the board on the GT7. Outside of that, differences between the boards will be difficult to spot.


The Biostar Racing line is in its third generation Racing series aesthetic which features a gold and black color theme. All heatsinks on the board are black and adorned with yellow accents while the PCB itself is black. The “R” (Racing) symbol is found prominently on the chipset heatsink. Other gold accents are found scattered around the board.


Both boards use a 10-phase VRM to drive the Coffee Lake-based CPUs. Both boards also feature three full-length PCIe x16 slots and three x1 slots. In the top right corner, both boards have a debug LED, BIOS switch, and a panel with four buttons on it for power/reset functionality, as well as Turbo and Eco mode buttons. RGB LEDs can be found on both boards with the GT7’s located on the back panel IO shroud, while the GT6’s are found on to the left of the audio section. The integrated LEDs and external LEDs (via two headers) can be controlled with Biostar’s Vivid LED DJ utility. It features 10 different flashing modes along with color, speed, and brightness controls allowing control over each lighting zone independently.



Neither board uses reinforced DIMM slots, however two full-length PCIe slots on the GT6 and all three slots on the GT7 get protection. The slots break down to x8/x8/x4 and both boards support 3-way AMD Crossfire, though it should be noted that there isn’t a mention of SLI support in any form on the specifications page. The last full-length slot at x4 shares bandwidth with the second M.2 slot. The boards four DIMM slots support up to 64GB of RAM with speeds supported to DDR4 3866(OC). While still fast, this is the second lowest speed we have seen supported across all Z370 boards covered. Only the ECS board supported slower maximum speeds (DDR4 3200).


For mass storage purposes, both boards use the full allotment of six chipset managed SATA ports. However iInstead of locating these in their typical position to the right of the PCH heatsink on the bottom half of the board, Biostar as placed them towards the middle of the board oriented them vertically. The first M.2 slot is above the top full-length PCIe slot and supports up to 80mm sticks, while the second slot can be found between the bottom two PCIe slots and supports up to 110mm devices. The GT7 offers heatsinks on both M.2 slots, while the GT6 only cools the bottom slot.


As for cooling, the board gives users a total of five four-pin fan headers to use scattered in various locations around the board. These can be controlled via voltage or PWM through the BIOS or through the Windows-based application. Audio functionality is handled by the Realtek ALC1220 codec, uses EMI shielding, what looks to be Chemicon audio caps, as well as separation from the rest of the board. Network capabilities on both boards and handled by the Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet which supports LAN surge protection.


  


Both the GT6 and GT7 have the same number and types of USB ports. There are two USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) Type-A ports and one Type-C, and an additional two USB 2.0 ports on the back panel IO. Internally there is an additional USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) header and USB 2.0 header for front panel connections. The back panel IO also contains a PS/2 port, DVI-D and HDMI for video outputs, as well as a six plug audio stack. The GT7 chooses to use all black colored plugs versus the GT6 using the color-coded version most are familiar with. 


























Biostar Z370GT6 & Z370GT7
Warranty Period 3 Years
Product Page Z370GT6 / Z370GT7
Price N/A
Size ATX
CPU Interface LGA1151
Chipset Intel Z370 Express
Memory Slots (DDR4) Four DDR4

Supporting 64GB

Dual Channel

Support DDR4 3866(OC)
Network Connectivity 1 x Intel I219-V LAN
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC1220
PCIe Slots for Graphics (from CPU) 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots @ x8 

1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots @ x4 
PCIe Slots for Other (from Chipset) 3 x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots @ x1
Onboard SATA 6 x Supporting RAID 0/1/5/10
Onboard SATA Express None
Onboard M.2 2 x PCIe 3.0 x4 – NVMe or  SATA
Onboard U.2 None
USB 3.1 2 x Type-A (10 Gbps) Back Panel 

1 x Type-C (10 Gbps) Back Panel

2 x Type-A (5 Gbps) Back Panel

2 x Header
USB 3.0 N/A
USB 2.0 2 x Ports Back Panel

2 x Header
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin EATX

1 x 8-pin ATX 12V
Fan Headers 2 x CPU

3 x System 

(PWM and DC Controlled)
IO Panel 1 x PS.2 keyboard/mouse port

2 x USB 3.1 G2 ports

1 x USB 3.1 Type-C

2 x USB 3.1 Type-A

1 x HDMI

1 x DVI-D

2 x RJ-45 LAN Port

5 x Audio Jacks

 


Related Reading:




Source: AnandTech – Biostar Announces Z370GT7 and Z370GT6 Motherboards for Coffee Lake CPUs

Razer’s Blade Stealth 13.3” Laptop Updated With Quad-Core Intel Core i7-8550U CPU

Razer this week has announced that the company is upgrading its 13.3” Blade Stealth laptop with Intel’s new quad-core Core i7-8550U microprocessor, along with faster LPDDR3 memory. This marks the latest of several laptop vendors to capitalize on the launch of Intel’s 8th Gen Core series of CPUs, integrating the new chips into their existing ultrabook designs.


Besides shipping with Intel’s Core i7-8550U, the updated Razer Blade Stealth 13.3” also comes standard with 16 GB of LPDDR3-2133 memory, as well as a 512 GB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD. The laptop also retains support for Thunderbolt 3 and eGFX, allowing the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 to be augmented with AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce video cards in an eGFX chassis. In either scenario, the upgraded Blade Stealth has the same 13.3” IGZO panel with a 3200×1800 resolution (QHD+), 400 nits brightness and offering 100% sRGB color gamut coverage as the model released in June.


Coming off of the heels of Intel’s dual-core Kaby Lake-U CPUs, the big draw for the new Kaby Lake Refresh-U CPUs is of course the additional two CPU cores. For moderately-to-heavily threaded workloads that can use more than two cores, these newer quad-core CPUs can offer a sizable boost in performance. Interestingly, Razer also claims that the new version of the laptop has a longer battery life, despite the fact that the battery size is unchanged. That said, Razer hasn’t left the laptop’s chassis completely untouched; the quad-core Blade Stealth is slightly thicker than the predecessor, adding another 0.7mm over its predecessor.



Otherwise when it comes to connectivity, the updated Blade Stealth 13.3” has all the same features as its predecessor does: a Killer Wireless AC 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.1 module, an Intel Thunderbolt 3 controller supporting one USB Type-C port, two USB 3.0 connectors, an HDMI 2.0a display output, a 720p webcam, a TRRS audio port, an RGB-backlit Razer Chroma keyboard and so on. The system is equipped with the same 53.6 Wh lithium-ion polymer battery as the previous model, but Razer claims that the upgraded Blade Stealth can now last for 10 hours on one charge. In addition, the machine comes with a 65 W USB-C power adapter (up from 45 W for the earlier models) which hopefully means that it will also charge faster.























Razer Blade Stealth Laptops: Fall 2017, Default Configurations
  13.3″/QHD+

Quad-Core
13.3″/QHD+

Dual-Core
12.5″/4K

Dual-Core
Display Diagonal 13.3″ 12.5″
Resolution 3200×1800 3840×2160
Brightness 400 cd/m² unknown
CPU Core i7-8550U

4C/8T

1.8 GHz/4 GHz

8 MB LLC

15 W
Core i7-7500U

2C/4T

2.7 GHz/3.5 GHz

4 MB LLC

15 W
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620
RAM Capacity 16 GB
Type LPDDR3-2133 LPDDR3-1866
Storage 512 GB SSD 256 GB SSD 512 GB/1 TB SSD
Wi-Fi Killer 802.11ac Wi-Fi module
Bluetooth 4.1
USB 2 × USB Type-A
Thunderbolt 1 × Thunderbolt 3 port (USB Type-C)
Other I/O HDMI 2.0a, 720p webcam, TRRS connector for audio, speakers, microphone
Dimensions Height 13.8 mm/0.54″ 13.1 mm/0.52″
Width 321 mm/12.6″
Depth 206 mm/8.1″
Weight 1.35 kg

2.98 lbs
1.33 kg

2.93 lbs
1.29 kg

2.84 lbs
Battery Life 10 hours
Price $1699 $1399 $1349/$1749

The new quad-core Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″ comes in CNC-milled aluminum chassis in black or gunmetal gray finish, but the chassis is 0.7 mm/0.02″ thicker than the chassis used for the dual-core Blade Stealth 13.3″. The new system in its default configuration (see the table above) is available for $1,699 from RazerStore.com in the U.S., Canada, France, United Kingdom, and Germany. This is a bit higher than the price of the older dual-core version, but Razer does not offer the new model with a 256 GB SSD, so the new model has higher baseline specifications.


On that note, it should be pointed out that the new quad-core version of the laptop adds to the existing Stealth family, rather than replacing it wholesale. The company and its partners also offer previous-gen Blade Stealth 13.3”/QHD+ laptops: the entry-level Blade Stealth with a 256 GB SSD is now available for $1349.99, whereas the higher-end Blade Stealth with a 1 TB SSD can be obtained with $1699.




It is noteworthy that Razer is not upgrading the 12.5” version of the Blade Stealth that features a 4K UHD display, and it looks like this is a deliberate decision. The key feature of this notebook is its 4K UHD display that offers among the highest pixel density (for a laptop) in the industry, and along those lines the even smaller laptop isn’t a great fit for the higher performing quad-core CPUs; at least not without some sacrifices to size or throttling.



Related Reading:




Source: AnandTech – Razer’s Blade Stealth 13.3” Laptop Updated With Quad-Core Intel Core i7-8550U CPU

G.Skill Launches Lineup of Trident Z Kits for Coffee Lake: DDR4 at 3733 – 4600 MT/s

G.Skill has launched a new series of memory module kits optimized for Intel’s new 8th Generation Core processors. The new DIMMs belong to G.Skill’s Trident Z and Trident Z RGB families and are guaranteed to operate at 3733 – 4600 MT/s data transfer rates when paired with Intel’s Coffee Lake processors. Some of the modules need significantly increased voltages and thus require higher-end motherboards that can deliver “clean” power.


Getting right down to business, the fact that G.Skill even announced memory kits specifically for Coffee Lake got an eyebrow raise out of us. At first blush, it seemed like a marketing stunt, especially since they’re using the same Samsung’s B-die chips that they’ve been using for some time now. But according to the company, Coffee Lake’s memory controller behaves ever so slightly differently than Kaby Lake’s when overclocked, necessitating the new modules.


Sure enough then, if we compare G.Skill’s DDR4-4200 and DDR-4600 modules for the new Coffee Lake/Z370 and the Kaby Lake-X/X299 platforms, we will notice that the modules for Coffee Lake have looser tRAS sub-timings than the modules for Kaby Lake. From performance point of view, tRAS might not be a big deal, but it’s an unexpected change; if anything we would have expected Coffee Lake to accept the same timings as Kaby Lake. There are a few possible reasons for this difference – not the least of which is the immature Z370 platform – however the more interesting options are that it’s a product of the new manufacturing process, or possibly even a new memory controller entirely (especially seeing as how Coffee Lake doesn’t support DDR3).


Otherwise, G.Skill’s tinkering only seems to have been necessary for their fastest modules, as their lower-clocked enthusiast-class memory sticks are unchanged from earlier revisions. Conversely, since G.Skill has just loosened the timings of their new high-speed DIMMs, they should continue to work fine in other platforms.









Evolution of Intel DDR4 Memory Controllers for Socketed CPUs
  Haswell-E Skylake Broadwell-E Kaby Lake Skylake-X Coffee Lake
Supported Standards DDR4-2133 DDDR4-2133

DDR3L-1600
DDR4-2400 DDR4-2400

DDR3L-1600
DDR4-2666 DDR4-2666
Number of Channels 4 2 4 2 4 2
DIMMs per Channel 2
Voltages 1.2 V 1.2 V

1.35 V
1.2 V 1.2 V

1.35 V
1.2 V 1.2 V
Launch Timeframe Q3 2014 Q3 2015 Q2 2016 Q1 2017 Q2 2017 Q4 2017

Overall, G.Skill’s lineup of Coffee Lake-optimized DRAM kits consists of seven products featuring two or four 8 GB or 16 GB modules based on Samsung’s B-die chips. The rather broad family of Coffee Lake-optimized memory products is aimed at different classes of systems. The fastest DDR4-4400/4500/4600 DIMMs are only available in 8GB capacities and require 1.4 V, 1.45 V or even 1.5 V. G.Skill positions these modules for enthusiasts seeking maximum performance and not interested in maximizing DRAM content per box. G.Skill’s ‘mid-range’ kits for Coffee Lake run at DDR4-4000/4200, have 32 GB of capacity (16 GB DIMMs), and are designed for those who need high memory bandwidth along with a decent amount of RAM. Finally, there is a 64 GB DDR4-3733 kit for users who run memory-intensive applications.


Traditionally, all the Trident Z modules come with XMP 2.0 SPD profiles to simplify their setup on optimized platforms. In addition, the modules are equipped with G.Skill’s proprietary aluminum heat spreaders. Meanwhile, the Coffee Lake-optimized lineup from G.Skill also includes two Trident Z RGB options with programmable LED lighting.












G.Skill’s Trident Z Memory for Intel’s Coffee Lake/Z370 Platform
Speed CL Timing Voltage Kit

Config.
Kit

Capacity
Family PN
DDR4-3733 CL17 19-19-39 1.35 V 4×16 GB 64 GB Trident Z RGB F4-3733C17Q-64GTZR
DDR4-4000 CL18 19-19-39 4×8 GB 32 GB F4-4000C18Q-32GTZR
CL19 19-19-39 2×16 GB Trident Z F4-4000C19D-32GTZKK
DDR4-4200 CL19 21-21-41 1.4 V 4×8 GB F4-4200C19Q-32GTZKK
DDR4-4266 CL19 23-23-43 4×8 GB Trident Z RGB F4-4266C19Q-32GTZR
DDR4-4400 CL19 19-19-39 2×8 GB 16 GB Trident Z F4-4400C19D-16GTZKK
DDR4-4500 CL19 19-19-39 1.45 V F4-4500C19D-16GTZKK
DDR4-4600 CL19 25-25-45 1.5 V F4-4600C19D-16GTZKK

G.Skill has validated its new memory kits using Intel Z370-based motherboards from ASUS — the ROG Maximus X Hero, ROG Maximus X Apex and the ROG Maximus X Formula.


Finally, G.Skill plans to start selling the new Coffee Lake-optimized Trident Z and Trident Z RGB memory kits in November with the fastest Trident Z RGB DDR4-4266 arriving in December. The company traditionally does not touch upon MSRPs of its products in its announcements because DRAM prices tend to fluctuate. Meanwhile, since we are dealing with the latest products for a premium platform, expect appropriate prices.


Related reading:




Source: AnandTech – G.Skill Launches Lineup of Trident Z Kits for Coffee Lake: DDR4 at 3733 – 4600 MT/s

Intel Shipping Nervana Neural Network Processor First Silicon Before Year End

This week at the Wall Street Journal’s D.Live 2017, Intel unveiled their Nervana Neural Network Processor (NNP), formerly known as Lake Crest, and announced plans to ship first silicon before the end of 2017. As a high-performance ASIC custom-designed and optimized for deep learning workloads, the NNP is the first generation of a new Intel product family, oriented for neural network training. From the beginning, the NNP and its Nervana Engine predecessor have aimed at displacing GPUs in the machine learning and AI space, where applications can range from weather prediction and autonomous vehicles to targeted advertising on social media.


Under development for the past three and a half years, the NNP originated as the Nervana Engine deep learning ASIC, which was announced in May 2016 and had all the marquee features of the NNP: HBM2, FlexPoint, cacheless software memory management, and a high-speed interconnect. Not too long after, Nervana was acquired by Intel in August 2016. Later that November during Intel’s AI Day, the Nervana Engine rematerialized to the public as Lake Crest, with first silicon due in 1H 2017. In that sense, the product has been delayed, although Intel noted that preliminary silicon exists today. Nevertheless, Intel commented that the NNP will be initially delivered to select customers, of which Facebook is one. In fact Intel has outright stated that they collaborated with Facebook in developing the NNP.



In terms of the bigger picture, while the past year has seen many announcements on neural network hardware accelerators, it is important to note that these processors and devices operate at different performance levels with different workloads and scenarios, and consequently machine learning performance consists of more than a single operation or metric. Accelerators may be on the sensor module or device itself (also known as on the ‘edge’) or farther away in the datacenters and the ‘cloud.’ Certain hardware may be training deep neural network models, a computationally intensive task, and/or running inference, applying these trained network models and putting them into practice. For Intel’s NNP today, the coprocessor is aimed at the datacenter training market, competing with solutions like NVIDIA’s high-performance Volta-based Tesla products.



This segmentation can be seen in Intel’s own AI product stack, which includes Movidius hardware for computer vision and Altera for FPGAs, as well as Mobileye for automotive. The offerings are bisected again with the datacenter, which formally encompasses Xeon, Xeon Phi, Arria FPGAs, and now the NNP. For the NNP family, although the product announced today is a discrete accelerator, the in-development successor Knights Crest will be a bootable Xeon processor with integrated Nervana technology. While Intel referred to an internal NNP product roadmap and mentioned multiple NNP generations in the pipeline, it is not clear whether the next-generation NNP will be based on Knights Crest or an enhanced Lake Crest.



On the technical side of matters, the details remain the same from previous reports. Intel states that the NNP does not have a “standard cache hierarchy,” however it does still have on-chip memory for performance reasons (I expect serving as registers and the like). Managing that memory is done by software, taking advantage of deep learning workloads where operations and memory accesses are mostly known before execution. Subsequently, the lack of cache controllers and coherency logic frees up die space. Otherwise for off-die memory, the processor has 32GB of HBM2 (4 8-Hi 1GB stacks) on the shared interposer, resulting in 8 terabits/s of access bandwidth.


Bringing to mind Google’s TPU and NVIDIA’s Tensor Cores, the NNP’s tensor-based architecture is another example of how optimizations for deep learning workloads are reflected in the silicon. The NNP also utilizes Nervana’s numerical format called FlexPoint, described as in-between floating point and fixed point precision. Essentially, a shared exponent is used for blocks of data so that scalar computations can be implemented as fixed-point multiplications and additions. In turn, this allows the multiply-accumulate circuits to be shrunk and the design made denser, increasing the NNP’s parallelism while reducing power. And according to Intel, the cost of lower precision is mitigated by the inherent noise in inferencing.



The focus on parallelism continues with the NNP’s proprietary high-bandwidth low-latency chip-to-chip interconnect in the form of 12 bi-directional links. Additionally, the interconnect uses a fabric on the chip that includes the links, such that inter-ASIC and intra-ASIC communications are functionally identical “from a programming perspective.” This permits the NNP to support true model parallelism as compute can be effectively distributed, taking advantage of the parallel nature of deep neural networks. Additional processors can combine to act as a single virtual processor with near linear speedup, where, for example, 8 ASICs could be combined in a torus configuration as shown above.


Presumably, the NNP will be fabricated on the TSMC 28nm process that Lake Crest was intended for; just after the acquisition, the Nervana CEO noted that production of the 28nm TSMC processors was still planned for Q1 2017. In any case, 16nm was explicitly mentioned as a future path when the Nervana Engine was first announced, and the CEO had also expressed interest in not only Intel’s 14nm processes, but also its 3D XPoint technology.



Source: AnandTech – Intel Shipping Nervana Neural Network Processor First Silicon Before Year End

HP Announces ZBook x2: HP's First Detachable Workstation

Today at the Adobe MAX conference in Las Vegas, HP will showcase their new HP ZBook x2. The ZBook x2 will be HP’s first detachable PC workstation, and, HP claims, the most powerful. The new ZBook x2 is the latest of several detachable PC releases from HP that started earlier this year. The HP Spectre x2 and HP Elite were introduced earlier with an updated appearance and hardware specifications. HP’s goal with the ZBook x2 was to maintain creative workflows for artists, designers, and digital imaging professionals, and increase productivity without leaving their creative flow to do so. 



For their latest worktation-class product, HP worked with customers from amateurs to professionals in determining workflow bottlenecks and how to get around them. What they found was an age-old complaint: devices were not delivering the performance users wanted, and lag plus instability further hurt usability. Their blueprint to fix these problems is to have a better application experience, better visualizations, and higher reliability for increased productivity.


HP took the ZBook x2 and, working closely with Adobe, optimized it for Adobe’s CC apps. It has four modes, Table Mode (Capture), Detach mode (create), dock mode (produce), and Laptop mode (review) allowing for a lot of versatility using its integrated stand, detachable keyboard, pen, and touch-enabled display. The display is a 14” 4K UHD Dreamcolor unit;  a 10 bit display (8 bit + FRC) supporting 1 billion colors and 100% Adobe RGB with factory calibration.


It is pen and touch-enabled and comes with an anti-glare coating to minimize reflections in bright ambient light. On both sides of the display are 18 quick keys; these quick keys offer 3 preset shortcuts for Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom. When working in tablet mode, users have access to their shortcuts without a keyboard using these keys (programmable as well) which keeps efficiency intact. The pen itself uses a passive, battery-less technology (Wacom EMR)- never needs charging, claims to have virtually zero latency, and has a total of 4,096 pressure sensitive levels. Unfortunately, the pen does not come with the device and is sold separately.




The aluminum decked backlit LED keyboard, HP says, is a full-size commercial keyboard made mobile. The keys sport 1.5mm travel and 18.7mm pitch and is detachable for additional freedom of use. Connectivity between the system and keyboard is via Bluetooth when not connected. The monitor also has three webcams: two front-facing 720p, one with IR capabilities, and an 8MP world facing camera. With the front IR camera, the device is capable of supporting Microsoft Hello.  



 


 


Internally, the ZBook x2 supports both 7th and 8th generation Intel CPUs from the i7-7500U to the i7-8650U. The flagship CPU, i7-8560U, comes in with a base clock of 1.9 GHz and boosts up to 4.2 GHz. Memory capacity is up to 32GB DDR4-2133 non-ECC SDRAM across 2 SODIMMs. 32GB of ram is double what most other detachables provide helping with multitasking and large file manipulation. Internal storage options range from a 128GB M.2 SATA SSD, up to 2TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD. Internal storage is not user upgradeable, however, there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports for additional external connectivity as well as a USB 3.0 Type-A port, which HP lists as having “charging” capabilities.


Available graphics include the Intel HD 620 or UHD 620 built into the devices CPUs, or a discrete GPU as an option in the NVIDIA Quadro M620 (2GB GDDR5 dedicated). Networking capabilities are all wireless and handled by the HP HS3110 HSPA + Intel Mobile broadband module. It is dual-band wireless AC and supports Bluetooth 4.2. In order to keep these devices cool, HP reinvented their cooling solution for the ZBook x2. Dual fans take in cooler air from the sides, run it across the hot spots through heat pipes, and exhaust it out of the top. The 70 Wh Li-ion battery is said to last up to 10 hours with Hybrid graphics and Intel HD graphics configurations.


HP says pricing isn’t available for global markets yet, however, the starting price for the US is $1749. They will begin shipping in early December. 





















HP ZBook x2
Warranty Period 3 Year or 1 Year options available
Product Page N/A
Price Starting at $1749 (US)
Type 2 in 1 detachable
Processor Family 7th and 8th Generation Intel Core i5 and i7
Processors i7-7500U (2.7 GHz base, 3.5 GHz Turbo)

i7-7600U (2.8 GHz base, 3.9 GHz Turbo)

i5-8250U (1.6 GHz base, 3.4 GHz Turbo)

i7-8550U (1.8 GHz base, 4 GHz Turbo)

i7-8650U (1.9 GHz base, 4.2 GHz Turbo)
Maximum Memory Two SODIMM

32GB

Dual Channel

DDR4-2133 non-ECC SDRAM
Network Connectivity Dual Band Wireless AC 8265

802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2×2)

Bluetooth 4.2
Internal Storage 128 GB M.2 SATA SSD

512 GB M.2 SATA FIPS SSD

256 GB – 512GB HP Z Turbo Drive (PCIe NVMe)

256 GB – 2TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD

512 GB PCIe NVMe SED SSD
Available Graphics Inegrated: Intel HD 620 or UHD 620

Discrete: NVIDIA Quadro M620 (2 GB dedicated GDDR5)
Expansion Slots 1 x Smart card reader

1 x Media card reader
Display 14″ 4k IPS anti-glare

14″ 4K Dreamcolor anti-glare touchscreen
Ports and Connectors Left side:

1 x headphone/microphone combo


Right side:

1 x Power Connector

1 x HDMI 1.4

1 x USB 3.0 Type-A (charging)

2 x USB 3.1 Type-C Thunderbolt 3 (DisplayPort 1.2)

Input Device Backlit keyboard with function key control

Image sensor clickpad with on/off button, two-way scroll, gestures, two buttons

Extra large clickpad with on/off button, two-way scroll, gestures, two buttons
Camera 720p HD webcam with IR (front-facing)

720p HD webcam (front-facing)

8 MP Camera (world facing)
Power 90W External AC Power adapter

65W External AC Power adapter

4-cell 70Wh Li-ion polymer Up to 10 hours
Dimensions

(W x D x H)
14.25″ x 8.94″ x .8″ (Laptop Mode)

14.35″ x 8.94″ x .57 (Tablet Mode)
Weight Starting at 4.78 lbs (Laptop Mode)

Starting at 3.64 lbs (Tablet Mode)

Related Reading:




Source: AnandTech – HP Announces ZBook x2: HP’s First Detachable Workstation

NVIDIA Brings Back Destiny 2 Bundle Again for GTX 1080 & 1080 Ti Cards

For what is the 3rd time this year, NVIDIA is offering the “New Legends Will Rise” Destiny 2 bundle for GeForce GTX 1080 and 1080 Ti graphics cards, systems, and laptops. From today until November 29th (or while supplies last), qualified purchases will come with a digital copy of Destiny 2 via Blizzard Desktop App, officially launching on October 24th for PC. As a reminder, eligible systems may include NVIDIA’s own GeForce GTX Battlebox PCs.



The massively multiplayer online sci-fi first-person shooter, a concept Bungie previously described as a “shared world shooter”, supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) and SLI. Having collaborated with Activision and Bungie on the game’s graphics, NVIDIA has detailed the PC graphics options for Destiny 2 in a blog post, with the removal of MSAA the only difference from the Beta. In addition, GTX 1060 performance testing at 1080p was done for each graphical option. At a glance, Destiny 2 seems to be considered as a genuine improvement over the original, not to mention the PC availability.


The game codes may only be redeemed until December 31st. Fortunately, this comes just after at the end of the Middle-earth: Shadow of War bundle for GTX 1080 and 1080 Ti cards. Otherwise, no other bundles are active this time.







NVIDIA Current Game Bundles

(10/18/17)
Video Card

(incl. systems and laptops)
Bundle
GeForce GTX 1080Ti/1080 Destiny 2 Bundle
GeForce GTX 1070 None
GeForce GTX 1060/1050Ti/1050 None

On the bundle page, NVIDIA has listed an Amazon link for a list of qualifying cards.




The bundle landing page has links to all eligible retailers. Codes must be redeemed through GeForce Experience (3.2.2 or higher), utilizing driver 373.06 or higher. Game must be redeemed via GeForce Experience on a desktop or notebook PC with the qualifying graphics card installed. Once the code is redeemed in GeForce Experience, the game must be redeemed in the Blizzard Desktop App in seven days. A Blizzard account is required to redeem and play the game. Be sure to verify the participation of any vendors purchased from as NVIDIA will not give codes for purchases made from non-participating sellers.



Source: AnandTech – NVIDIA Brings Back Destiny 2 Bundle Again for GTX 1080 & 1080 Ti Cards

Microsoft Introduces Surface Book 2: 7th/8th Generation i5/i7 CPUS, NVIDIA Discrete Graphics

In what some would call a surprise announcement, Microsoft has unveiled the much anticipated Surface Book 2, 2 in 1 laptop. With content creators, designers, and PC gamers requiring more and more horsepower for demanding tasks, the two-year-old Surface book could be perceived as a bit long in the tooth. And while the Surface Book is a solid 2 in 1, people still wanted more out of their device. Microsoft says the Surface Book 2, “removes the barrier between the desktop and the laptop by giving mobile professionals the power of a desktop, the versatility of a tablet, and the freedom of a light and thin laptop…”



The appearance of the SB2 compared to the original looks to be identical with its silver magnesium case and the familiar Muscle Wire hinge making its way forward as well. When closed, due to the special hinge, it looks like a book closed over a pencil as there as a gap towards the hinge side which shrinks to nothing as it nears the opposite end. The keyboard also looks the same and uses LED backlit keys for ease of use in low light situations. Ports on the outside consist of two USB 3.0 (5 Gbps) Type-A, and one USB Type-C. It also has a UHS-II SDXC card reader and for audio a 3.5mm headphone jack.



The Surface Book 2 will come in two main options; either the 13.5”, 3000 x 2000 PixelSense display (found in the original SB), or now in a 15” 3240 x 2160 Pixelsense Display. Both options are 10-point multi-touch capacitive screens and still use a 3:2 ratio instead of the more popular 16:9. The monitor supports the Surface Pen and Surface Dial on-screen support. Microsoft worked with Adobe for increase integration between the Surface Book 2 and Adobe Creative Cloud with new Surface Dial functionality in Photoshop letting users to more easily access and change your most frequent brush settings.


The latest SB2 is now powered by Intel’s 8th Generation Core processors and offer NVIDIA GTX 1050 2GB in the 13.5″ model, or GTX 1060 2GB discrete graphics options in the larger 15″ version. The graphics upgrades are a significant update from the original which shipped with a GT 940MX, but the new models appear to follow the thermal design of Performance Base version of the Surface Book which shipped with a GTX 965M as a mid-cycle upgrade. If a discrete video card isn’t necessary, the CPUs had Intel HD/UHD Graphics 620 integrated GPUs. With the use of more powerful discrete GPUs, 1080p PC gaming at 60 FPS is possible according to Microsoft. With this, the SB2 is ready for Windows Mixed Reality applications using a compatible headset and controller.




The two CPU options are a 7th Generation i5-7300U with 2C/4T sporting a 2.6 GHz base clock and up to 3.5 GHz Turbo, and the 8th Generation i7 8650U with 4C/8, a base clock of 1.9 GHz and Turbo to 4.2 GHz. Microsoft says the SB2 will provide “all-day” battery life – up to 17 hours of video playback with the i5 version. No mention of how long it will last with more intense use or through testing software but are quick to share it is 70% more than the latest MacBook Pro. Storage options range from a 256GB SSD to a 1TB SSD, while RAM capacity is either 8GB/16GB of LPDDR3-1866.


On the multimedia side of things, there is a 5MP front-facing camera with 1080p HD video and an 8MP rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p Full HD video. The front-facing camera has IR capabilities since the SB2 works with Microsoft Hello. Audio input put is handled by dual stereo microphones while there are two front-facing speakers with Dolby Audio Premium. Wireless connectivity is integrated and supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac as well as Bluetooth 4.1 LE. The 15″ model has Xbox Wi-Fi Direct built in for gaming with compatible controllers as well.


Pricing starts at $1499 for the smaller model, and $2499 for the new 15″ version. The Surface Book 2 13″ will be available for pre-order starting November 9th in the US and other markets around the world along with the Surface Book 2 15″ in the US at the Microsoft Store and Microsoft.com. Delivery begins on November 16th. 





















Microsoft Surface Book 2
Warranty Period 1 Year Limited Hardware 
Product Page Microsoft Surface Book 2
Price N/A
Type 2 in 1
Processor Family 7th and 8th Generation Intel Core i5 and i7
Processors i7-7300U 2C/4T (2.6 GHz base, 3.5 GHz Turbo)

i7-8650U 4C/8T (1.9 GHz base, 4.2 GHz Turbo)
Maximum Memory SODIMM

8GB/16GB

Dual Channel

LPDDR3-1866
Network Connectivity 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

Bluetooth 4.1 LE
Internal Storage 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD
Available Graphics Integrated: Intel HD 620 or UHD 620

Discrete: NVIDIA GTX1050 (13.5″) or GTX 1060 (15″)
Expansion Slots 1 x UHS-II SDXC Card Reader
Display 13.5″, 3000 x 2000 resolution PixelSense Display

15″ 3240x 2160 resolution, PixelSense Display 


Both 10-point multi-touch G5

Ports and Connectors 2 x USB3.0 (5 Gbps) Type-A

1 x USB Type-C

3.5″ headphone jack

2 Surface Connect
Input Device Backlit keyboard with function key control

Optional Surface Pen

Optional Surface Dial
Camera 5MP front-facing camera with 1080p HD video

8MP front-facing camera with 1080p Full HD vido

Dual Microphones

Front-facing stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium
Power Details not listed
Dimensions

(W x D x H)
13.5″ (i5) 12.3″ x 9.14″ x 0.51-0.90″
13.5″ (i5) 12.3″ x 9.14″ x 0.59-0.90″

15″ (i7) 13.5″ x 9.87″ x 0.59-0.90″
Weight 13.5″ Starting at 3.38 lbs including keyboard

15″ Starting at 4.2 lbs including keyboard

Related Reading:




Source: AnandTech – Microsoft Introduces Surface Book 2: 7th/8th Generation i5/i7 CPUS, NVIDIA Discrete Graphics

Microsoft Details The Xbox One Fall Update, Available Today

There’s a lot going on in Xbox land, with the launch of the new Xbox One X console due for November 7th, and, thanks to the biannual Windows update schedule, Xbox is also getting the Fall Update starting today, a day before Windows 10 gets the Fall Creators Update. The Xbox UI has changed dramatically since the console first shipped with a Windows 8 based GUI way back in 2012, with its side to side navigation. There was a dramatic change to the UI when Microsoft updated the Xbox One to Windows 10, and ever since, they’ve been continuing to tweak the interface, based on their internal decisions and external feedback. Today, Xbox One is getting the largest interface overhaul since that Windows 10 update about two years ago.


The original Xbox One Home Screen from 2012 – remember Snap?


The Home screen has gotten quite a bit of attention with this update. Microsoft is adding “blocks” to the home screen which let you add your favorite games, friends, and Xbox features right to the home screen, and the blocks can be arranged in any order. This is similar, but not exactly the same as the Pins, which have also gotten some tweaks. There’s now a Pin block, for access on the home screen, and there’s a new Pins flyout in the new Guide. Also, you can now have up to 40 pins.




Speaking of the Guide (which is what you get when you press the Xbox button, and not the OneGuide which is where you see TV listings) it has also received some attention. Microsoft has been battling poor performance on the Guide for the last couple of updates, and this update should fix most of those performance issues. I’ve not had a chance to test it out yet, but checking around with some of the Xbox Insiders does indicate that the performance is good. Guide will also be contextually aware, so if you are in an active party or broadcast, Guide opens right to the party or broadcast sections for quicker access to the controls for those sections. There’s also some more work done on multiplayer, including “Friends in games” letting you know about friends playing the same games, and game invites will appear in the Multiplayer tab of the Guide. There’s also a new Tournaments section for quick access to official and community tournaments that you’ve joined.




There’s several other nice cosmetic changes coming as well. First, Xbox One will now support a “Light” theme in addition to the default “Dark” theme, which should be familiar to anyone that’s used Windows 10, where it’s had both light and dark themes for some time. Microsoft has also adjusted the screen-dimming feature to help preventing image burn-in.



Xbox One has also gained a lot of features around backing up the configuration, and managing games when you have multiple consoles in the home. There’s now a new feature to backup all games and console settings to an external drive, so they can be applied to a new console (hint: Xbox One X) when it’s activated. Additionally, for those with multiple consoles in the home, you can now copy games and apps over your home network from one console to another with a new network transfer feature. When games are climbing from 50 GB to over 100 GB per game, this should save a significant amount of time. This feature is a nice start, but what it should actually do is automatically do this if your other console already has the game, rather than make you initialize it. If you hit install, it can check the other console, and get it from there first if it already exists. Microsoft already has this kind of technology for desktops, and you’d think it would be fairly simple to implement on Xbox One. Still, the feature will be welcomed. On the same vein, if you’re getting an Xbox One X, you can pre-download the 4K content to your Xbox One or Xbox One S so it’s ready to transfer to the Xbox One X when it arrives. There’s also a Xbox One X Enhanced section in the Store now to more easily find games that will support the higher graphical fidelity of the Xbox One X.




Xbox One will also let you use a USB webcam to broadcast yourself in Mixer, their online broadcasting service, and if you’re into using Skype on your Xbox, you can use the webcam for that as well. With the demise of Kinect, this makes a lot of sense, and once again shows the extra capabilities added by having Xbox run on Windows 10.


GameDVR is also getting an upgrade. It will be able to capture in 4K with HDR for game clips on Xbox One X, and you’ll be able to capture clips directly to an external hard drive, allowing you to transfer them to your PC for editing.


There’s also many other smaller features, such as an Xbox Assist App, for help and tips, as well as an update to the Mixer tab on the dashboard which will give display previews of streams so you can evaluate them before joining, and more.


We’ll have a more in-depth look at the new UI and features later, so stay tuned.




Source: Microsoft



Source: AnandTech – Microsoft Details The Xbox One Fall Update, Available Today

Hands-on & More With Huawei's Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro: Kirin 970 Meets Artificial Intelligence

This morning Huawei is taking the wraps off of their latest generation flagship smartphone, the Mate 10 series. Powered by subsidiary HiSilicon’s Kirin 970 SoC, the new phones are a mix of something old and something new for the company. With a design that is not simply a carbon copy of the earlier Mate phones but is still very much a traditional smartphone, Huawei’s latest flagships are a mix of old and new; tried and true paired with the cutting edge. It’s an interesting balancing act, and one that, if consumers agree, will further bolster Huawei’s success in the international smartphone market while at the same time pushing a nascent technology to the forefront of the mobile industry.

That technology is, of course, artificial intelligence, which has become the buzzword for the latter half of this decade in the world of technology. Long a lofty goal of computer science – if not perhaps its holy grail – recent advancements in the field have opened the door to new methods and new applications. And while this era of neural networking-driven AI is not by any means producing devices that actually think like a human, even this weak form of AI is, in the right use cases, far more capable than anything that has come before it.

Of course, the usefulness of having neural networking hardware is only as good as the appications that run on it, and in these still-early days of the field, the industry as a whole is trying to figure out what those applications should be. Having a self-driving car or a smart NPC in a video game makes sense, but applying it to a smartphone is confusing at first. Huawei announced that its new Kirin 970 chipset had dedicated silicon for running artificial intelligence networks, and the Mate 10 series is going to be the first device running this chip. Today, they announced the smartphones and unveiled the features.



Source: AnandTech – Hands-on & More With Huawei’s Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro: Kirin 970 Meets Artificial Intelligence

Multiple WiFi Encryption Vulnerabilities Disclosed, Affecting Almost Everything

Today a collection of severe security vulnerabilities in the WPA2 encryption protocol for Wi-Fi are being disclosed, along with a proof of concept exploit. The weaknesses center around the process used for negotiating the encryption keys used by the client and access point. These core vulnerabilities are part of the Wi-Fi Protected Access WPA standard itself, so even devices that correctly implement WPA2 according to spec are expected to be affected. Both personal and enterprise WPA modes are affected, and both the original WPA and WPA2 are affected. The primary mode of attack exploits vulnerabilities in client devices, but there are some variants that affect features used by some access points.


As a quick WPA refresher, the password you type in to connect to an access point using WPA2 is not directly used as the encryption key for the network traffic your device exchanges with the access point. Instead, that password (technically referred to as a pre-shared key) is used to authenticate the client device to the access point and start the process of negotiating the connection. The vulnerabilities disclosed today allow for attacks on the four-way handshake sequence that is used in setting up the encryption and determining what keys will be used, all without having to broadcast the pre-shared key itself. Once a connection is fully established, the client and access point regularly rotate the encryption keys to new ones derived from the pre-shared key.



The proof of concept attack technique, named KRACK short for Key Reinstallation Attacks, focuses on step three of the four-way handshake. In the third step, the access point sends to the client confirmation that the access point has completed its side of the key negotiation process. After receiving that message, the client can begin using the negotiated key and initialization vector to encrypt traffic, and the client completes the handshake by sending the access point an acknowledgment.


But that assumes each of the four messages in the handshake process is successfully received. The key negotiation process needs to allow for the possibility of radio interference, so it permits the access point to re-send the message that is step three of the handshake. If an attacker sends a copy of this message, the client device will be tricked into reverting back to the original encryption key and initialization vector used at the start of the session. The client’s next transmissions will have been encrypted with the same key as earlier transmissions, even though that key was only meant for a single use. That allows for a key reuse attack, which doesn’t directly expose the underlying encryption key but does make it relatively easy to decrypt the data that was encrypted, especially if something is known about the structure of the messages that were both encrypted with the same key. IP packet headers, in turn, provide exactly that.


Despite not leaking the Wi-Fi pre-shared key itself or the per-session master key negotiated by the four-way handshake, KRACK style attacks can net the attacker enough information to start hijacking TCP connections and escalate to similar attacks. If the wireless network is using the older WPA-TKIP protocol instead of the WPA2 AES-CCMP protocol, then the attacker may be able to forge and inject packets into the wireless network itself instead of using the recovered information in less direct attacks. Meanwhile, newer networks using the short-range Wireless Gigabit (IEEE 802.11ad) standard generally use GCMP,  which uses the same authentication key for both directions of communication between the client and access point, so a KRACK attack can allow for decryption of transmissions from either device.


Linux systems including Android version 6.0 and above generally use the wpa_supplicant program. This implementation of WPA tries to defend against key reuse by wiping it from RAM after it is used for the first time. When subjected to a KRACK attack, this means wpa_supplicant doesn’t revert to the original key but instead replaces its key with all zeroes. Unfortunately, in the KRACK scenario this technique backfires and results in a known, fixed key, making decrypting future transmissions too easy.


Today’s disclosure is documented across ten CVEs, each describing a different style of key reinstallation attack on different parts or modes of WPA. This means that any full-featured Wi-Fi implementation is likely to require patching in several places. Fortunately, these key reinstallation vulnerabilities can all be fixed in a backwards-compatible manner, and the Wi-Fi standards are expected to be updated to require defenses against key reinstallation attacks. This class of vulnerabilities was discovered earlier this year and the researchers involved began informing vendors in July. CERT issued a broad notification to vendors on August 28. OpenBSD has already patched their WPA implementation, and Aruba, Mikrotik and Ubiquiti are among the vendors reported to have fixes ready or already deployed.


As with many other recent major security vulnerabilities, this discovery has been given memorable branding and a logo:



This is hardly the first major security breach to affect Wi-Fi. The original standard for Wi-Fi encryption was named Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), a name that proved to be completely inaccurate as flaws were found permitting quick and easy cracking of the encryption. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) was introduced as a replacement that could be deployed on most existing hardware with software and firmware updates, while WPA2 made more significant changes like switching from the RC4 cipher to AES. Previous attacks against WPA2 have all relied on some form of password guessing at heart, such as attacks exploiting Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) PINs. Until now, the four-way handshake process in WPA was regarded as secure, and the AES cipher used by WPA2 is still considered secure.


This is also not the first widespread security flaw affecting common network infrastructure to have been disclosed recently. Earlier this month, a team of Google security researchers published several vulnerabilities in DNSMasq, the DNS and DHCP server most commonly used by consumer-grade routers. The severity of these bugs ranged from denial of service to remote code execution and affected both the DNS and DHCP functionality of DNSMasq.



Source: AnandTech – Multiple WiFi Encryption Vulnerabilities Disclosed, Affecting Almost Everything

Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro Launch: Live Blog (2pm CEST, 8am ET, Noon UTC)

Huawei is having a launch event for its new Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro smartphones. The key headline for these devices is going to be the support for AI – the new Huawei Kirin 970 chipset has new AI features powered by some new IP. We got a glimpse into the hardware back at IFA, but we’re expecting more details today. CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group, Richard Yu, is expected to take the stage.



Source: AnandTech – Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro Launch: Live Blog (2pm CEST, 8am ET, Noon UTC)

Evening Reading: Kaspersky Lab, Spying, & the Risks of Telemetry

In a little bit of cross-site synergy for the evening, Paul Wagenseil from our sister site Tom’s Guide has put together an interesting report discussing the recent developments surrounding Kaspersky Lab and the company’s antivirus software, which in recent days has been accused of spying on behalf of Russia’s intelligence services. Software & services is not really in AnandTech’s editorial purview, but I thought this was an interesting article that was worth sharing.


As a bit of background, Kaspersky Lab has been under the proverbial microscope off and on over the past half-decade or so due to concerns about close ties to the Russian government amidst ongoing geopolitical issues. More recently, on October 5th, the Wall Street Journal published an article claiming that Russian identified files from the United States National Security Agency (NSA) using Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus software, then using that information to steal said files. This has in turn called into question just how complicit Kaspersky Lab may have been in the endeavor, and whether their antivirus software is safe to use on consumer systems.


Writing for Tom’s Guide, Wagenseil reached out to a number of experts in the security field, ranging from the Electronic Frontier Foundation to former NSA staffers in order to get a broad look at the issue. Due to a lack of direct evidence in the matter – all of the major stories written so far have been based off of anonymous sources in the US government – there’s little in the way of hard facts to deal with. However across all of Wagenseil’s respondents, both named and unnamed, most agreed that people and businesses working in sensitive matters should not use Kaspersky Lab’s software, essentially taking a “why risk it?” stance on the matter. Things are a little less obvious for consumers however; some respondents recommended against the software entirely, while others noted that consumers probably aren’t the target of Russian signals intelligence efforts.


One notable and broad point that was made, however, is that regardless of Kasperksy Lab’s involvement, similar risks exist with all antivirus software. All modern AV software includes telemetry for reporting on new software as a means to more rapidly detect new forms of malware, and due to the deep reach of AV scanners, those telemetry processes can access virtually any piece of software or documents. So for the paranoid – or even just the privacy minded – disabling telemetry can help to reduce the risk at least somewhat by terminating regular reporting to AV software vendors, which in the case of Kasperksy Lab, is how the attack was believed to be carried out.


In any case, you can find more on this interesting matter and on the security experts’ responses over at Tom’s Guide.



Source: AnandTech – Evening Reading: Kaspersky Lab, Spying, & the Risks of Telemetry

Silicon Power Launches Bolt B80 External SSD: 500 MB/s, IP68, USB-C Interface

Silicon Power has announced its new lineup of stylish external SSDs. The SP Bolt B80 family of drives comes in a rugged UFO-shaped chassis, which is IP68 dust and waterproof. When it comes to performance, the Bolt B80 resembles other external SSDs that offer read speeds of up to 500 MB/s. The new unit also uses a USB Type-C input to make it easier to connect to the latest laptops.


The Silicon Power Bolt B80 family of external SSDs includes models with 120 GB, 240 GB and 480 GB capacities. The manufacturer does not disclose what kind of NAND flash memory is uses, nor the controller it for the drive, but only publishes maximum sequential read and sequential write speeds of the product: 500 MB/s and 450 MB/s, respectively. Such levels of performance indicate that we are likely dealing with an entry-level SSD packed inside the Bolt B80, but a good news is that the drive reserves a lot of NAND flash for overprovisioning to ensure durability and reliability.



Apart from performance, chassis design is another important selling point of the Silicon Power Bolt B80 family. The drives are made of machined aluminum and feature a flying saucer shape. The enclosure is rugged enough to withstand a 1.22-meter military free fall test (MIL-STD-810G 516.7 Procedure IV) and is IP68 water and dustproof. Despite being sealed, the Bolt B80 has a LED indicator covered with microporous laser-cut aluminum that allows the light to shine through, but keeps the water out. As for weight and dimensions, the SP Bolt B80 is 75 mm in diameter, 11.9 mm thick, and weighs 53 grams.










Silicon Power Bolt B80 Specifications
  120 GB 240 GB 480 GB
Speed Read Up to 500 MB/s
Write Up to 450 MB/s
Interface USB 3.1 Gen 2,

Compatible with USB 3.0, USB 2.0
Cable USB-C-to-USB-A
Dimensions 75 × 75 × 11.9 mm
2.95 × 2.95 × 0.46 inches
Model Number SP120GBPSDB80SCS SP240GBPSDB80SCS SP480GBPSDB80SCS

When it comes to external interface, Silicon Power says that the drive uses USB 3.1 Gen 2 (without disclosing the actual controller) with a USB Type-C connector, but it is also backward compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. In fact, the Bolt B80 is supplied with a braided USB-C-to-USB-A cable to connect the unit to PCs. The choice of connectors looks rather logical: the USB Type-C port might be easier to route inside a tiny device and easier to protect against liquids (granted, there are waterproof USB-C ports available), whereas the USB Type-A is the most widespread connector in the world. Meanwhile, modern notebooks that only have USB-C connectors ship with appropriate USB-C-to-USB-C cables, but unfortunately such cables are usually USB 2.0-only (at least, MacBook Pros are shipped with such cables) meaning that their owners are going to miss Bolt B80’s SSD performance unless they get a proper cable or a USB-A-to-USB-C adapter (which might feel a bit odd).



Silicon Power’s Bolt B80 external SSDs are covered by a three-year limited warranty and will likely hit the market in the coming weeks. The manufacturer did not touch upon their MSRPs in its press release, but typically Silicon Power’s products are priced competitively against the rivals.



Related Reading




Source: AnandTech – Silicon Power Launches Bolt B80 External SSD: 500 MB/s, IP68, USB-C Interface

Eurocom Launches Sky X4C, X7C and X9C Laptops with Core i7-8700K CPUs

Eurocom has introduced its new Sky X4C, X7C and X9C desktop replacement notebooks featuring Intel’s latest six-core Coffee Lake processors (up to Core i7-8700K) and upgradeable NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics. Like other Eurocom systems, the machines are manufactured by Clevo, but they will have configurations that are specific to Eurocom. The systems will be available for sale in the coming weeks.


Eurocom’s Sky X-series DTR laptops are traditionally based on Intel’s desktop socketed CPUs. Since the Core i7-8700K (Coffee Lake) processors require Intel’s latest Z370 PCH and require new motherboards, Clevo and Eurocom introduced some additional upgrades to the new machines in addition to the CPU and the PCH. For example, all the machines get support for Intel Optane SSDs, a newer Killer E2500 GbE controller, and faster DDR4-3000 memory support. All of the systems can drive four monitors, feature a Realtek ALC892 audio solution with the Sound Blaster X Pro-Gaming 360° enhancements and the ESS Sabre ES9018K2M HiFi Audio DAC for headphones, integrated speakers with a subwoofer, and are equipped with 7-color backlit keyboards with WASD gaming keys. As with all DTR laptops, we are essentially talking about desktops in clamshell form-factors.



The Eurocom Sky X9C is the most powerful of the systems launched today by the company. It comes with 17.3” display, up to two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070/1080 GPUs in MXM 3.0 form-factor, up to 64 GB of DDR4 RAM, up to five storage devices — three M.2 SSDs and two 2.5”/9.5 mm HDDs or SSDs. As for connectivity, the Sky X9C features two Killer E2500 GbE controllers, a 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth module, support Killer Double Shot-X3 Pro technology that combines multiple network controllers for extra performance, has two Thunderbolt 3 ports, five USB 3.0 Type-A connectors, and two mDP 1.3 ports.



The machine weighs 5.5 kilograms and is 47.2 mm thick, making it rather hard to transport around. Keep in mind that the high-end versions of the Sky X9C require Eurocom’s 780 W external PSU, which weighs 1.7 kilograms on its own.



The Sky X7C from Eurocom is another 17.3” machine that is very similar to the X9C, but which supports only one GPU and four storage devices. A good news is that the Sky X9C consumes less power and therefore does not need three blower fans.



The machine is also rather heavy — it weighs 3.9 kilograms and has a thickness of 39.9 mm. Furthermore, beefed-up versions of the Sky X7C come with two 330 W PSUs, which are not easy to carry around.



Finally, the Eurocom Sky X4C is a 15.6” laptop that can integrate NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1060 or 1070 GPU, two 2.5”/9.5 mm storage drives, two M.2 SSDs, one TB3 port, four USB Type-A connectors and so on. Apart from dimensions, the main difference of the Sky X4C is pre-wired support for 4G/LTE WWAN module so it can be used to access the Internet where other laptops cannot.



At 3.4 kilograms, this machine is slightly lighter than its bigger brethren, though it is pretty thick as well at 38 mm. Meanwhile, even overclocked configurations of the Sky X4C do not consume more than 330 W, these DTR notebooks are a little more portable than the even larger models.




























Eurocom Sky X*C-Series Laptops
  Sky X9C Sky X7C Sky X4C
Display Diagonal 17.3″ 15.6″
  Resolution 1920×1080

2560×1440

3840×2160
1920×1080

3840×2160
  Refresh 60 or 120 Hz 60 Hz for 4K

120 Hz for FHD
CPU Up to Core i7-8700K(6C/12T, 12 MB, 3.7/4.7 GHz)
Graphics 2×GeForce GTX 1080

2×GeForce GTX 1070
GeForce GTX 1080
GeForce GTX 1070

GeForce GTX 1060


 
GeForce GTX 1070

GeForce GTX 1060
RAM Up to 64 GB DDR4-3000
Storage 2.5″ 2 × 2.5″/9.5mm 2 × 2.5″/9.5mm
M.2 3 × M2 PCIe 3.0 x4 2 × M2 PCIe 3.0 x4
Total Capacity 14 TB 12 TB unknown
Wi-Fi 802.11ac Wi-Fi
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.x
Ethernet 2 × Killer E2500 1 GbE Killer E2500 1 GbE Killer E2500 1 GbE
WWAN none Optional
USB 5 × USB 3.0 Type-A

2 × USB 3.1 Type-C (via TB3)
4 × USB 3.0 Type-A

1 × USB 3.1 Type-C (via TB3)
3 × USB 3.0 Type-A

1 × USB 2.0 Type-A

1 × USB 3.1 Type-C (via TB3)
Thunderbolt 2 × Thunderbolt 3 1 × Thunderbolt 3
Display Outputs 2 × DisplayPort 1.3

1 × HDMI 2.0

TB3 port
Keyboard Backlit keyboard
Other I/O Microphone, stereo speakers, audio jacks, webcam, subwoofer
Battery 89 Wh 89 Wh 82 Wh
PSU 330 W – 780 W 330 W or 2×330 W 230 W – 330 W
Dimensions Width 428 mm/17.1″ 418 mm/16.72″ 386 mm/15.44″
Depth 308 mm/12.3″ 295 mm/11.81″ 262 mm/10.48″
Thickness 47.2 mm/1.88″ 39.9mm/1.6″ 38 mm/1.52″
Weight 5.5 kg/12.1 lbs 3.9 kg/8.58 lbs 3.4 kg/7.48 lbs

Eurocom plans to start sales of the new Sky X C-series laptops based on Intel’s Coffee Lake processors on November 15, 2017. Pricing will vary as Eurocom will offer various configurations of the notebooks, but expect them to be on par with the previous-generation Eurocom Sky X E2-series machines available today.


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Source: AnandTech – Eurocom Launches Sky X4C, X7C and X9C Laptops with Core i7-8700K CPUs