Sharkoon Launches Quickstore One USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C Storage Device DIY Kit

Sharkoon this week introduced a new DIY kit that lets users build their own external storage device featuring a USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface with a USB Type-C connector. The new Quickstore One kit is based on ASMedia’s latest USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller that can offer up to 10 Gbps of bandwidth. With that said, however, the enclosure is designed for SATA drives, so its external interface is considerably faster than its internal one.


The Sharkoon Quickstore One is the company’s third-generation USB 3.1 enclosure for external HDDs and SSDs. The chassis is made of brushed aluminum and plastic, it measures 130×83×16 mm and weighs 92.5 grams when not populated with a drive (once equipped, its weight will increase to 180 – 240 grams, depending on the storage device used). The Quickstore One can accommodate any 2.5” HDD or SSD that is up to 9.5 mm thick. In today’s realities, this means a hard drive with a capacity of up to 2 TB (note that such HDDs may be SMR-based and offer a rather low performance), or an SSD of up to 4 TB. A pre-formatted drive can be installed into the enclosure without using any tools.



The Quickstore One uses ASMedia’s ASM1542 USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller that supports up to 10 Gb/s data transfer rate (up from 8 Gbps on the ASM1142). However, the installed drives interface with the ASM1542 using ASMedia’s ASM1351 USB 3.1-to-SATA bridge, which limits the raw bandwidth to 6 Gbps and reduces it further due to the overhead introduced by SATA’s 8b/10b encoding. This is still notably faster when compared to external storage solutions that rely on a USB 3.0 5 Gbps interface – the USB interface is no longer the bottleneck – but lower when compared to typical Thunderbolt 3 storage devices.



With a higher-end SATA SSD installed into Sharkoon’s Quickstore One enclosure, it is reasonable to expect 535 – 550 MB/s sequential read speeds, in line with internal SATA drives. Hard drives are considerably slower, their media to host transfer rate is 160 ~ 200 MB/s (on outer tracks), so their performance is not going to be capped anyhow by the interface.


The Sharkoon Quickstore One enclosures for 2.5” HDDs/SSDs with a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C interface is available from select retailers in Europe for the recommended retail price of €24.99. While the device cannot take advantage of contemporary PCIe-based SSDs, if you happen to have a 2.5” SATA HDD or SSD that you would like to use with a new laptop that only has USB-C connectors, Sharkoon’s Quickstore One is a relatively cheap an easy way to do it.




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Source: AnandTech – Sharkoon Launches Quickstore One USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C Storage Device DIY Kit

GIGABYTE at CES 2018: Aero 15x and AORUS X9 Gaming Laptops

Among some of the other announcements GIGABYTE made this year at CES 2018, it also displayed some of their existing gaming laptops in the Aero 15X (now available in pure black) as well as the AORUS X9, a very thin, dual GPU laptop using true laptop mechanical switches.


AORUS X9          


The AORUS X9’s claim to fame is how thin it is and able to shoehorn in dual Geforce GTX 1070s in the chassis, as well as its Kailh brown mechanical keys with 2.5mm of key travel. Gigabyte states it is the thinnest laptop in the world with dual GPUs and mechanical keys. The flagship X9 laptop has a 17.3-inch panel available in two resolutions, either QHD (2560×1440) 120Hz WVA panel, or a 4K UHD (3840×2160) with Adobe RGB.


The design of the chassis is said to be inspired by supercars, fighter jets, and a Falcon which is the motif in the base and used as a cooling vent. The chassis is made from aluminum, giving the device a more high-end feel. The AORUS RGB lighting is not only for show but can provide users with information such as volume, battery indicator, CPU/GPU temperature and more. It is also able to sync up with the surrounding RGB chassis lighting (four RGB LED strips and keyboard). The big selling point is just how thin the laptop is measuring just 1.18” tall and able to stuff two GTX 1070s as well as using full travel mechanical keys.



Internally, there is a quad-fan cooling solution which uses a total of eight heat pipes to dissipate the heat created by the dual GPUs, CPU, and the chipset. Cool air is taken in through the falcon shaped vents on the base and exhausted out the back away from the user. This creates a notable rake on the keyboard, but this could be beneficial on the wrists for extended periods of use.


 


The only processor option is the i7-7820HK quad-core which comes in at a base clock of 2.9 GHz with a maximum turbo frequency of 3.9 GHz, all in a 45W package. The processor is overclockable as well. Memory capacity is a maximum of 64GB through its four SO-DIMM slots and is able to support speeds up to DDR4-2400, although exact capacity will vary depending on the retailer. There are three possible locations for internal storage with two 1TB NVMe M.2 SSDs and bulk storage handled by a 2TB 7200 RPM HDD.


There is a range of updated connectivity on the X9, 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. Additionally, it includes a single 3.5mm headphone out, a 3.5mm microphone input, and a single SD card reader. Network duties are handled by a Killer E2500 Ethernet port and a Killer AC 1535 dual-band Wi-Fi card supporting Killer’s Doubleshot Pro functionality which is able to route traffic to the hardwired E2500 or the wireless adapters depending on priority. 





Two configurations have been available since the end of October, the first SKU, 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 1 TB HDD has an MSRP of $3,649. The second SKU is a Newegg exclusive which adds another 512GB PCIe NVMe drive for a total of 2 x 512GB and removes the 1 TB 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 GbE

Killer Wireless AC1535
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+

 


Aero 15X


The Aero 15X, like the X9, is a thin laptop primarily designed for gaming. The Aero 15X, however, is a bit more understated in its design in that, one could easily put this laptop on a boardroom table, and nobody would be the wiser that the intent would be a gaming machine. The Aero 15X uses NVIDIA’s Max-Q GPUs which are designed with thermals in mind with the physical designm and allows for a slim gaming laptop which is able to support a powerful GPU like the GTX 1080 (Max-Q will have three variants GTX 1080, 1070, and 1060). It is ever so slightly thicker and heavier at 4.8 pounds and 0.8-inches thick compared to the MSI GS63VT Stealth Pro (4.2 lbs 0.7-inches), but it packs a wallop for its small size.



The exterior design is an all-black chassis with the back of the monitor using some carbon fiber at the bottom with the Gigabyte name in silver prominently placed in the middle. Any colors will have to come from the RGB LED per-key backlit keyboard. The regular X models did come with color options, but this simply comes in black or pure black. 


Gigabyte uses a 15.6-inch full-HD display and is X-Rite Pantone color calibrated like the X9. The panel covers 106% of the sRGB color gamut and only has 5mm bezels.  Due to the beze size, the camera has been placed in the hinge between the main base and the panel. The Aero 15X uses an NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1070 8GB with Max-Q design which should easily drive the FHD panel. Pushing all the data around is a 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ (2.8 GHz-3.8 GHz). Memory support ranges from 8 to 16GB of DDR4-2400 in two slots (maximum of 32GB). Storage options are only available in M.2 form supporting NVME PCIe x4 and SATA modules. 


 




For its connectivity, the Aero 15X includes 3 x USB 3.0, 1 x Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C), HDMI 2.0, Mini-DisplayPort, headphone out jack (audio in combo), and an SD card reader. Network connectivity is handled by a Gigabit Ethernet as well as a wireless 802.11ac solution with Bluetooth 4.2 support. 






















GIGABYTE Aero 15X
  Max Specifications
Warranty Period 2 Year Warranty
Price ($US) Starting at ~$2200
Type Gaming Laptop
Processor Family 7th Generation Intel Core i7
Processors i7-7700HQ (2.8 GHz base, 3.8 GHz Turbo)
Memory 8GB/16GB GB DDR4-2400 (2 slots, up to 32GB)
Network Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi

Gigabit Ethernet
Internal Storage 2 x M.2 SSD (Type 2280, NVMe PCIe x4 & SATA) 
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 630

NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1070 GDDR5 8GB
Expansion Slots 1 x SD card reader
Display 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080) Anti-Glare Display

(X-Rite Pantone certified display)
Ports and Connectors 3 x USB 3.0

1 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C)

1 x HDMI 2.0

1 x Headphone-out jack (audio-in combo)

1 x CD Card Reader

1 x DC-in Jack

1 x RJ-45
Input Device Gigabyte Fusion RGB Per-Key Backlit
Camera HD Camera
Power 200W External AC Power adapter, 

94.24Wh Battery, Li-Po
Dimensions 14.0″ x 9.8″ x 0.78″
Weight 4.62 lbs+

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Source: AnandTech – GIGABYTE at CES 2018: Aero 15x and AORUS X9 Gaming Laptops

ASRock at CES 2018: Micro-STX DeskMini GTX PC Gets Coffee Lake

ASRock introduced its second-generation Micro-STX gaming desktops with discrete graphics processors at CES 2018. The new DeskMini GTX systems are based on the Intel Z370 platform and support Intel’s six-core Coffee Lake processors.


When Intel introduced its 5” × 5” initiative (an initial name for Mini-STX) back in 2015, the company wanted to create a highly-integrated small form-factor platform with interchangeable processors for PC makers. The platform was not supposed to support any add-in-boards, and therefore wouldn’t overlap with Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX. ASRock was among the first brands to jump on the Mini-STX bandwagon in 2016, but it did not take the company long to adopt the form-factor for compact gaming computers. In 2017, the company launched its DeskMini GTX/RX SFF gaming PCs based on its own Micro-STX form-factor, an extended version of Mini-STX with an MXM slot for GPU modules and three additional M.2 slots for SSDs. The initial ASRock DeskMini systems were based on Intel’s B250 and Z270 chipsets and therefore only supported Skylake and Kaby Lake processors. In the coming months, ASRock’s DeskMini SFF PCs will be upgraded with Intel’s six-core Coffee Lake CPUs.



The new ASRock DeskMini systems that the company demonstrated at CES 2018 look exactly like their predecessors released last year and offer similar connectivity — 802.11ac Wi-Fi, GbE, USB 3.0 Type-A, USB 3.0 Type-C, DisplayPort, HDMI, 3.5-mm audio jacks, etc. Meanwhile, the new DeskMini GTX systems are based on the Intel Z370 PCH, the six-core Core i7-8700 CPU and are equipped with a 270 W external power supply.


 


ASRock will offer the new DeskMini machines with various MXM modules featuring different GPUs (e.g., GeForce GTX 1060/1070/1080, etc.), memory and storage options when it ships them in the coming months. One of the high-end systems demonstrated at CES was outfitted with Intel’s Core i7-8700, NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1080 module, 16 GB of DDR4-3200 memory, a 32 GB Optane Memory drive, a 120 GB Optane SSD as well as a 240 GB PCIe SSD from Team Group.


Exact ETA and pricing of ASRock’s new DeskMini GTX systems remain to be seen.


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Source: AnandTech – ASRock at CES 2018: Micro-STX DeskMini GTX PC Gets Coffee Lake

Kingston at CES 2018: A 6.4 GB U.2 Enterprise SSD with Four M.2 Behind a PEX Chip

This year at CES, one of the interesting things at the Kingston suite was a demonstration of its new enterprise-grade DCU1000 SSDs. The current U.2 drives use four consumer-grade KC1000 M.2 SSDs behind a PCIe switch to offer up to 3.2 GB of useful capacity as well as a massive aggregated random read/write performance. The capacity of the overall drive at this point is limited to the M.2 drives being used.


The Kingston DCU1000 is a U.2 backplane internally, with four M.2 slots, integrated power loss protection, and the Avago ExpressLane PEX 8725 24-lane 10-port PCIe switch. The switch enables four M.2 drives to be used over a single U.2/SFF-8639 interface (PCIe 3.0 x4) and supports hot plugging. Kingston uses four KC1000 SSDs with custom firmware for its DCU1000 and plans to offer the U.2 drive in capacities of up to 3200 GB in the second quarter.



Kingston’s KC1000 SSDs are based on the Phison PS5007-E7 controller as well as planar MLC NAND. The drives are normally available in 240 GB, 480 GB and 960 GB configurations, but for the DCU1000 the manufacturer uses KC1000 800 GB SSDs. The lower capacity suggests that Kingston allocates a significant part of the onboard NAND memory for overprovisioning to compensate for using consumer-grade MLC.



The four drives installed into one DCU1000 are considered as independent software devices, but may operate in software RAID 0 mode to maximize performance. Obviously, the DCU1000 cannot hit anything higher than 3.8-3.9 GB/s with sequential reads due to PCIe 3.0 x4 limitation even in RAID 0, as any other U.2 drive. Meanwhile, Kingston advertises an aggregated read speed of 30 GB/s and an aggregated write speed of up to 27 GB/s for a 1U box containing 10 DCU1000 drives. As for random read reads, Kingston indicates that the box is capable 7M/6.6M read/write 4K IOPS (presumably at high queue depths).



While the Kingston DCU1000 can potentially offer a rather high aggregated performance, its capacity of 3.2 GB may be insufficient for certain mixed-use environments. Apparently, the company is already working on a special version of its next-gen consumer flagship drive based on 3D NAND that it will install into the DCU1000 to double capacity and random performance.


Usage of multiple M.2 SSDs to build high-capacity/high-performance server-/workstation-grade drives is nothing new: HP, Seagate and some other companies offer PCIe storage solutions employing multiple SSD modules. Kingston will be among the first well-known brands to use M.2 drives for a server-grade U.2 SSD. The architecture has its pros and cons. On the one hand, Kingston does not need to use enterprise-grade SSD controllers and procure huge amounts of enterprise-grade NAND flash specifically for server drives (that may sit in stock for a while). Besides, it can relatively quickly start using different drives (with proper firmware) with the DCU1000 backplane. On the other hand, enterprise controllers have a feature set that is better suited for datacenter environments and the PEX 8725 switch most probably eats most, if not all, the savings that Kingston gets by not using an enterprise-grade SSD controller.


The reason for designing such a drive, using a PCIe switch and M.2 drives, comes down to its intended use cases. U.2 drives are hot-swap, and being behind a PCIe switch allows the M.2 drives to also gain that functionality. The use-case presented to us in our briefing was one for video editing, where a film studio has a server/machine full of these drives, and when a days recording is done, the drives can be packed up and shipped to a visual effects studio (either by courier, or by placing an intern on a flight) to do their magic. This is commonly known as sneaker net, and offers much better bandwidth than transferring the raw 8K/16K footage through fat internet pipes. (Big data center services, like Google/Amazon, literally ship petabytes of data around using couriers, as the overall bandwidth is quicker.) The key to doing this is a combination of featureset (hotswappable, power loss protection) and storage density. While the first drives available will be in the 3.2 TB range, Kingston are ready and waiting to move forward with a 6.4 TB version when the M.2 drives double in capacity. One minute of uncompressed 16-bit 8K video comes in 284 GB, so the higher the capacity, the better. Having good speed and good random performance helps as well.


The KC1000 will be available to select customers of Kingston in the coming months. Pricing will depend on purchase volumes and other factors.



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Source: AnandTech – Kingston at CES 2018: A 6.4 GB U.2 Enterprise SSD with Four M.2 Behind a PEX Chip

iBuyPower at CES 2018: RGB LED Lighting… on Power Cables

There’s almost nothing left inside a PC that could be fitted with RGB LEDs. At least that was our assumption until we came across iBuyPower’s suite at CES this year. For the person that has RGB everything, how about some RGB cables to go with it?


Technucally iBP isn’t adding LEDs to cables themselves here – they are lit up through a cable management piece which connects to the cables as opposed to the cables themselves. The RGB LED cables to provide their light through cable management attachments which mount to individual cables shining their light down and around the cable path. iBuyPower wanted to integrate the lighting right into the cables themselves, however, after testing they found it was not practical as the wires were too rigid among other findings. Users are able to daisy chain up to three of these devices which connect to an RGB header on your motherboard allowing you to light up the full length of most cable runs.



We imagine the motherboard software is able to control the lighting and synchronize it to the RGB LEDs attached to it. In the pictures, we are able to see these LED connectors on 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe, 8-pin EPS, and 24-pin ATX for the motherboard and is a novel way to show off your custom cabling inside a chassis.


 


iBuyPower did not mention the cost of the device nor when it will be available on the market, but did say they will be sold in packs of three. They are expected to be an optional extra on system builds as well.



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Source: AnandTech – iBuyPower at CES 2018: RGB LED Lighting… on Power Cables

The AnandTech Podcast, Episode 43: CES 2018 Headlines and Highlights

The annual CES show is biggest of AnandTech’s main six shows of the year, and with it comes a wall-to-wall meeting schedule with press events starting two days before the show is supposed to start. After clocking up the miles and calling many taxis, we managed to get an hour before flying home to discuss the headlines and highlights from the show. Key topics included the Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA keynotes, and we go through a number of prominent show announcements that might have passed you by.



Source: AnandTech – The AnandTech Podcast, Episode 43: CES 2018 Headlines and Highlights

HyperX at CES 2018: Predator DDR4 with IR Sensors for Better RGB Sync

LAS VEGAS, NV – HyperX announced it has designed IR communication channels into each of their new HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB modules which will allow multiple modules to sync in LED lighting. In other words, each DRAM module has an IR sensor on it in order to detect the stick next to it (during startup, the module furthest away from the CPU is determined to be the ‘master’). If the sensor is blocked, the RGB will be static.


The reason for this method of sync, HyperX says, is because different motherboard vendors have different ways of implementing memory traces, which can affect RGB LED timing. Motherboard vendors typically use either a daisy chain or a T-Topology design rule, which both have pros and cons when it comes to timing – with this IR method, HyperX says they can ensure that no matter what layout, the modules will stay in perfect sync. 



The sticks are powered by the DRAM slots itself so there isn’t a need for extra cables to light them up. The implementation of the IR sensor on each module syncs the LEDs with each stick negating the need for a separate controller. The HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB modules are designed to work with MSI’s Mystic Light, ASUS’ Aura Sync, and Gigabyte’s RGB Fusion for system RGB integration and support multiple lighting profiles. 


 


Pricing was not released yet, but HyperX did say it will add a small amount to the cost per module, but they feel it is worth it to ensure a perfect sync ‘every time’. The HyperX Predator DDR4 RGB RAM is expected to be released in Q2 of this year. 



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Source: AnandTech – HyperX at CES 2018: Predator DDR4 with IR Sensors for Better RGB Sync

iBuyPower at CES: Project Case Builder, for Better Case Customization

LAS VEGAS, NV – iBuyPower has unveiled a couple of new items at CES 2018 this year including its cool looking Snowbird case side panel, new LED cables ties, and also ‘Project Case Builder’. Project Case Builder is an internal modular case for customers when buying a pre-built system, and is designed to be useful to customers with special requests, or eSports teams who would like full customization of their chassis.


Over the years, we have seen a lot of new devices and technology allowing people to upgrade their PCs components. But when talking about cases, outside of swapping a panel here or there, the case is pretty much a static entity in the system. Only one major chassis manufacturer has decided to go above and beyond this. iBuyPower, as a system integrator, has developed Project Case Builder with their customers in mind. For all intents and purposes, Project Case Builder essentially makes the chassis modular allowing iBP to swap out storage bays, panels, feet and other parts depending on a customer request.



They displayed an exploded version of a prototype mid-tower case designed to show off how many different parts can be swapped in and out of the chassis. They also showed off a ‘finished’ version with a custom aluminium front panel and clear side panel, along with a lot of internal RGB lighting. Going the modular route for their cases allows them to keep less stock of different parts saving in warehouse space and other logistics. Customizations include skins and paint, and different arrangements for the components. It was mentioned that iBP’s Snowblind LCD panel may be an option down the road.


 


We will get more clarity on available options when it is closer to a release date. As of now, it will come in mid-tower form only with a potential to add a full tower version and other features later. Pricing was not set yet however they do hope to have it available sometime in Q2 2018 as part of its pre-built system programme. 


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Source: AnandTech – iBuyPower at CES: Project Case Builder, for Better Case Customization

Synology Launches Major Package Updates and Demonstrates Recent NAS Models at CES 2018

CES provides us the opportunity to look at the latest and greatest products in each technology vertical. Our NAS coverage started with Asustor’s AS4000 series last week. Today, we will take a look at the updates from Synology. While there was only one ‘new’ hardware product introduced during the course of CES (the Rangeley-based 1U 4-bay RS818+/RS818RP+, along with a 4-bay RX418 expansion unit), the software updates turned out to be much more interesting. Synology demonstrated three major packages.


Moments


Synology already has a great photo backup and viewing package in Photo Station. By combining it with the traditional PC backup process and the DS Photo mobile app, it became an effective tool to manage albums. Synology is adding Moments, a completely new application, that allows users to backup, organize, and sort their photographs. Synology claims that the deep learning and automatic organization tools that are part of Moments allow it to identify various aspects of the photos and sort them into albums automatically during the indexing process. Moments will also come with a separate mobile app to enable easy backup of daily photos.



I have found this aspect of Google Photos to be incredibly useful, and it is exciting to see something similar come without any associated privacy concerns. Synology’s official page for the Moments feature indicates that some of the deep learning features are available only on models with powerful CPUs.


Drive


Synology is launching Drive as a revamped version of the existing Cloud Station suite. It would not be wrong to say that the multitude of ‘Cloud’ packages such as Cloud Station Server, Cloud Station ShareSync, Cloud Station Backup, and Cloud Sync only ended up confusing the average user. Synology is betting on the new Drive package to act as a single portal for all of the file management and syncing needs.



There is an emphasis on team collaboration, with the Office feature (discussed below) using the Drive as the hub. Desktop and mobile clients ensure that users / teams can have access to the files in an organized manner from any device. It also has basic synchronization functionality (in effect, a private Dropbox-like feature). The universal search feature helps users to quickly find relevant documents and files.


Office


Synology has been making an effort to extend the functionality of their NAS models by providing typical business productivity applications with a multi-user focus. Synology users had two packages – Documents and Spreadsheets – to replicate the functionality of online browser-based real-time collaborative office tools. A presentations package, Slides, is being added now.



The Drive package is used as the management front-end for all the Office tools.


Before looking at the hardware on show at CES, a quick mention of the Synology OS (DiskStation Manager) 6.2 beta release is in order. It includes updates to the Storage Manager (adds a data scrubbing feature) and the iSCSI Manager (new LUN with btrfs that enables almost instantaneous snapshotting regardless of LUN size), along with some new snapshot and replication features. Synology showed the following recently introduced hardware at the show:


DS218 (PDF): Based on the Realtek RTD1296 with a quad-core Cortex-A53, this 2-bay value-series member allows 4K transcoding on-the-fly. It also supports snapshots (a first for the ARM-based Synology value series).


DS3018xs (PDF): Based on the Intel Pentium D1508 Broadwell-DE SoC (dual-core), this 6-bay desktop NAS can be scaled up to 30 bays. It also has two internal M.2 slots, 4x GbE ports, and supports an optional 10GbE card.


FS1018 (PDF): Simlar to the DS3018xs, the FS1018 is also based on a Pentium D1508 SoC, has four GbE ports, and supports an optional 10GbE (or M.2) PCIe card. However, it is a 12-bay unit (scalable to 36 drives) and supports 2.5″ drives only. It is meant to be used with SSDs – targeting applications that require very high performance. In addition to traditional RAID modes, the FS1018 also supports RAID F1 (PDF) – a scheme that distributes parity blocks unevenly so that all the SSDs in the NAS do not get worn out at the same time.



Synology at CES 2018 (Picture Courtesy: MissingRemote)


Overall, the software updates (both packages and core features in DSM 6.2) are very interesting and useful, with RAID F1 being an interesting approach to an all-flash NAS. On the hardware side, we are surprised to see Synology still introducing models with 4-year old SoCs from Intel. While we did see Intel’s Apollo Lake in models such as the DS218+ and DS418play, the SMB / SME market is still being served by Rangeley (Atom C2538 in the RS818+) and dual-core Broadwell-DE SKUs (Pentium D1508 in the DS3018xs / FS1018). With the official release of Virtual Machine Manager, it would make more sense for Synology to release more powerful hardware for SMBs / SMEs in order to enable running of resource-intensive guest operating systems.


Finally, we asked Synology about their response to the Meltdown / Spectre security issues. They already have a security advisory page, and categorize the risk as moderate. Given the relatively closed nature of DSM, we believe that users should not be at risk as long as they are running trusted packages only, and steps have been taken to ensure no unauthorized access to the NAS.



Source: AnandTech – Synology Launches Major Package Updates and Demonstrates Recent NAS Models at CES 2018

ADATA at CES 2018: Incoming XPG SX8200 SSDs, From 240 GB to 1.92 TB in M.2

LAS VEGAS, NV — At CES 2018, ADATA demonstrated its new high-end XPG SX8200 SSDs. The new drives use Silicon Motion’s SM2262 controller as well as 3D TLC NAND. The SSDs will be available in configurations featuring up to 2 TB of raw 3D TLC NAND memory and promise to offer up to 3.2 GB/s sequential read speed.


Silicon Motion quietly introduced its latest-generation controllers at Computex 2017, with multiple vendors showing off SSDs powered by the SM2262 and SM2263XT controllers. Back then some promised that a new breed of SMI-based drives was just around the corner and the products would ship in 2017. As it happens sometimes, final stages of development took a bit longer than expected and we are going to see a host of new SSDs in 2018. At least on paper, SM2262-based SSDs look very fast. In addition, improved performance of the controller (vs. predecessors) enables developers of drives to use sophisticated LDPC ECC algorithms, enhancing endurance of SSDs that use 3D TLC memory.



ADATA will likely be among the first companies to ship SM2262-based drives with the XPG SX8200 being their first offering featuring the controller. The XPG SX8200 will be available in 240 GB, 480 GB, 960 GB as well as 1.92 GB configurations and will thus be able to address users with vastly different capacity needs. ADATA’s current-generation consumer M.2 drives offer capacities up to 1 TB, leaving the highest end of the market to companies like Samsung. With the XPG SX8200, ADATA is announcing a 1.92 TB version that will inevitably compete against Samsung’s top-of-the-line 960 Pro SSD for end-users who need a lot of non-volatile storage space.


As for performance of the XPG SX8200, ADATA is sharing official figures from Silicon Motion: up to 3.2 GB/s sequential read speed and up to 1.7 GB/s sequential write speed. The manufacturer does not publish random performance numbers, but Silicon Motion expects SM2262-based drives to hit up to 370K/300K random read/write 4K IOPS. Both Silicon Motion and ADATA cite peak numbers and real-world performance of the drives will be different.













ADATA XPG SX8200 Brief Specifications
Capacity 240 GB 480 GB 960 GB 1.92 TB
Controller Silicon Motion SM2262
NAND Flash 3D TLC NAND
Form-Factor, Interface M.2-2280, PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.2
Sequential Read 3200 MB/s
Sequential Write 1700 MB/s
Random Read IOPS 370K IOPS (SMI data)
Random Write IOPS 300K IOPS (SMI data)
Pseudo-SLC Caching Supported
DRAM Buffer Yes, capacity unknown

ADATA plans to start selling the XPG SX8200 sometime in February, starting with the lower capacities. The company did not announce anything concerning its offerings based on a more powerful SM2262EN controller at CES. Meanwhile, the fact that it assigned the SM2262-based SSDs to the XPG SX8200-series indicates that the XPG 9200-series (offering even higher performance) is a spare number in the stack and will be used when the time is right.


Related Reading




Source: AnandTech – ADATA at CES 2018: Incoming XPG SX8200 SSDs, From 240 GB to 1.92 TB in M.2

Samsung Starts Mass Production of 16Gb GDDR6 Memory ICs with 18 Gbps I/O Speed

This week, Samsung has announced that it has started mass production of its GDDR6 memory chips for next-generation graphics cards and other applications. The new chips will be available in 16 Gb densities and will feature an interface speed that is significantly higher when compared to that of the fastest GDDR5 and GDDR5X ICs can offer.


GDDR6 is a next-generation specialized DRAM standard that will be supported by all three leading makers of memory. Over time, the industry will introduce a great variety of GDDR6 ICs for different applications, performance and price requirements. What Samsung is announcing this week is its first 16 Gb GDDR6 IC that features an 18 Gbps per pin data transfer rate and offers up to 72 GB/s of bandwidth per chip. A 256-bit memory subsystem comprised of such DRAMs will have a combined memory bandwidth of 576 GB/s, whereas a 384-bit memory subsystem will hit 864 GB/s, outperforming existing HBM2-based 1.7 Gbps/3092-bit memory subsystems that offer up to 652 GB/s. The added expense with GDDR6 will be in the power budget, much like current GDDR5/5X technology.












GPU Memory Math: GDDR6 vs. HBM2 vs. GDDR5X
  Theoretical GDDR6 256-bit memory sub-system Theoretical GDDR6 384-bit memory sub-system NVIDIA Titan V

(HBM2)
NVIDIA Titan Xp

 
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080
Total Capacity 16 GB 24 GB 12 GB 12 GB 11 GB 8 GB
B/W Per Pin 18 Gb/s 1.7 Gb/s 11.4 Gbps 11 Gbps
Chip capacity 2 GB (16 Gb) 4 GB (32 Gb) 1 GB (8 Gb)
No. Chips/KGSDs 8 12 3 12 11 8
B/W Per Chip/Stack 72 GB/s 217.6 GB/s 45.6 GB/s 44 GB/s
Bus Width 256-bit 384-bit 3092-bit 384-bit 352-bit 256-bit
Total B/W 576 GB/s 864 GB/s 652.8 GB/s 547.7 GB/s 484 GB/s 352 GB/s
DRAM Voltage 1.35 V 1.2 V (?) 1.35 V

The new GDDR6 architecture enables Samsung to support new and higher data transfer rates with non-esoteric memory form factors. To increase the interface speed, GDDR6 memory was redesigned both internally and externally. While details about the new standard will be covered in a separate article, two key things about the new memory tech is that GDDR6 features a x8/x16 per-channel I/O configuration, and each chip now has two channels. By contrast, GDDR5/GDDR5X ICs feature a x16/x32 I/O config as well as one channel per chip. While physically GDDR6 chips continue to feature a 16-/32-bit wide bus, it now works differently when compared to prior generations (as it consists of two channels).


In addition to higher performance, Samsung’s GDDR6 16 Gb chips also operate at 1.35 V voltage, down 13% from 1.55 V required by high-performance GDDR5 ICs (e.g., 9 Gbps, 10 Gbps, etc.). According to Samsung, the lowered voltage enables it to lower energy consumption of GDDR6 components by 35% when compared to ultra-fast GDDR5 chips. Samsung attributes lowered voltage to its new low-power circuit design. Meanwhile, based on information we know from Micron and SK Hynix, their GDDR6 DRAMs will also operate at 1.35 V.


Samsung uses one of its 10nm-class process technology to produce its GDDR6 components. The company claims that its 16 Gb ICs bring about a 30% manufacturing productivity gain compared to its 8 Gb GDDR5 chips made using its 20 nm process technology. Typically, Samsung’s productivity gain means increase in the number of chips per wafer, so the company has managed to make its 16 Gb ICs smaller than its previous-gen 8 Gb ICs. The company does not elaborate on its achievement, but it looks like the new chips are not only made using a thinner process technology, but have other advantages over predecessors, such as a new DRAM cell structure, or an optimized architecture.



Samsung’s 16 Gb GDDR6 chips come in FBGA180 packages, just like all industry-standard GDDR6 memory components from other manufacturers.


Samsung did not disclose when it plans to ship its GDDR6 DRAMs commercially, but since it had already started mass production, it is highly likely that the company’s clients are ready to build products featuring the new memory.


Related Reading




Source: AnandTech – Samsung Starts Mass Production of 16Gb GDDR6 Memory ICs with 18 Gbps I/O Speed

The SilverStone SX800-LTI SFX-L 800W PSU Review: Big PSU, Small Niche

Small form factor and living room gaming systems are becoming more and more popular, with ever-increasing capabilities – and power requirements. SilverStone’s latest SFX-L PSU, the SX800-LTI, brings 80Plus Titanium efficiency levels and a maximum power output of 800 Watts for those seeking to build a compact but extra powerful gaming behemoth.



Source: AnandTech – The SilverStone SX800-LTI SFX-L 800W PSU Review: Big PSU, Small Niche

HyperX at CES 2018: Fury SSD with RGB, for Bling

LAS VEGAS, NV – At CES, HyperX had on display its new HyperX Fury RGB SSD which adds RGB LEDs to the Fury based line of drives. These drives are set to hit in Q3.


HyperX showcased the new drive with its added RGB LEDs on the shell of the 7mm, 2.5-inch SATA based SSD. The RGB LEDs are located on the top part of the SSD with a large area above and below the large “X” lit up as well as the HyperX symbol in the middle. The RGB LEDs are powered by a micro USB port as well as using that data path to synchronize the LEDs with the system it is attached to.



 

The HyperX Fury RGB will use Toshiba’s 3rd Generation 3D NAND/BiCS type of flash which has a far higher die area density when compared to 2D NAND as well as using less power. The drive is SATA based with speeds rated for 550 MB/s reads and 520 MB/s writes. HyperX did not share which controller it will be using. We do know the HyperX Savage line of SSDs used a Phison controller (PS3110-S10), so perhaps an updated version will make its way to the Fury RGB. There are three capacities for the drives; 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB. Pricing was not listed, but these will be available in Q3 2018.



Related Reading:


 



Source: AnandTech – HyperX at CES 2018: Fury SSD with RGB, for Bling

Huawei Pushes G.hn Powerline Networking with the WiFi Q2 Whole-Home Wi-Fi Solution

Mesh networking / whole-home Wi-Fi systems have seen rapid growth over the last couple of years. Almost all vendors in the consumer networking space have one or more offerings in that hot segment. At CES 2018, Huawei threw its hat into the ring with the WiFi Q2 Whole-Home Wi-Fi Solution. Huawei is no stranger to consumer networking equipment, but, their presence in the North American market is minimal.


In 2016, Huawei had introduced the Q1 single-band router with a bundled powerline-based Wi-Fi extender. It utilized HomePlug AV (200 Mbps) as the backhaul. With the WiFi Q2, Huawei is going in for a major overhaul in both the internals as well as the industrial design. The new device looks more like the Netgear Orbi kits, but, the similarities end there. Unlike other vendors who use very similar hardware for both the base / main router and the satellites, Huawei uses completely different platforms for the two. Like most of the mesh kits targeting the low-end and mid-range market, there is no dedicated wireless backhaul channel. Instead, the kit uses powerline and Wi-Fi for the base-satellite communication.


The main router is a 2×2 802.11ac + 1 Gbps G.hn PLC kit, using the Realtek RTL8197FS for the 2.4 GHz radio, and the Realtek RTL8812B for the 5 GHz radio. The G.hn chipset is Hisilicon Hi5630. This marks a departure from HomePlug AV to G.hn for the powerline communication (PLC) aspect in terms of the upgrade from Q1 to Q2.


The satellite, on the other hand, is a pure HiSilicon solution, with a HiSilicon Hi1151 to handle both 2×2 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radio duties. The G.hn chipset from the main router is retained.


The WiFi Q2 comes in two flavors – a base and a number of satellites, or, multiple base stations (main routers). In a configuration with a base and a satellite, the backhaul is a dedicated PLC, but, a configuration with two main routers could use both PLC and the 5 GHz (867 Mbps) channel. The 5 GHz channel could be shared with clients. The system does support load balancing and can change automatically according to the connection quality of the PLC and mesh Wi-Fi. The 3-base package supports Ethernet backhaul.



Huawei WiFi Q2 Triple Base Pack


From the perspective of networking industry observers, the key update here is the shift from HomePlug to G.hn for the PLC segment. The HomePlug Powerline Alliance has stopped working on updates to the standard – there are going to be no new chipsets to improve performance and cater to the upcoming consumer / service provider requirements. On the other hand, G.hn, still has legs to go (theoretically) beyond what the best HomePlug chipsets can offer. Even though we didn’t hear of any new G.hn silicon at CES 2018, there has been talk of chipsets with 2 Gbps theoretical throughputs being trialed by service providers. HiSilicon’s Hi5630 is still a 1 Gbps G.hn chipset similar to the Marvell 88LX3142 / 88LX2718 used in the Arris RipCurrent products. The status of various suppliers in the G.hn market is pretty interesting – DS2 was purchased by Marvell, which has now sold the division off to MaxLinear. Copper-Gate’s fate is unknown, after having been purchased by Sigma Designs, which is currently in the middle of divesting its non-Z-Wave assets after being purchased by Silicon Labs. In this context, Huawei’s decision to source the PLC chipset from its subsidiary, HiSilicon, is a strategic one.


Huawei compared the performance of HiSilicon’s Hi5630 with the HomePlug AV products that they were shipping. They saw some obvious advantages (similar to what we saw in our coverage of HomePlug AV vs. G.hn). Given that HomePlug AV2 is essentially a dead-end because of the absence of any roadmap from HomePlug silicon vendors, it was a no-brainer for Huawei to go with G.hn. Huawei’s tests showed that G.hn’s wider frequency brand, higher speed, stronger anti-interference, and lower delay made the decision much easier.



Huawei’s G.hn vs. HomePlug Testing Results


At this juncture, it is clear that G.hn will be the technology of choice for PLC backhaul purposes in whole-home networking systems. However, the absence of support from high-profile vendors such as Qualcomm and Broadcom is an issue that might make other consumer networking equipment vendors avoid PLC backhaul altogether.


Coming back to the WiFi Q2, it is clear that the system is targeting the low-end to mid-range market segment, currently served by the likes of Google WiFi. That said, the product stands out from the crowd, thanks to its PLC backhaul. Pricing and other launch information for the Huawei WiFi Q2 is not available yet.



Source: AnandTech – Huawei Pushes G.hn Powerline Networking with the WiFi Q2 Whole-Home Wi-Fi Solution

ZOTAC at CES 2018: Gemini Lake 'Credit Card' Pico PCs

LAS VEGAS, NV — Last year Intel introduced its Compute Card initiative, aimed mostly at manufacturers of specialized PCs and smart devices that benefit from high integration, easy installation, and a standardized dimension or interface. This has, apparently, given makers of consumer computers an opportunity in ultra-small desktop PCs. This year at CES, ZOTAC has demonstrated its new-generation ultra-small ZBOX Pico PCs that looks like a pile of credit cards, but still offers a rather decent feature-set and connectivity. The first is the PI226, which is very small, and in addition there is a larger ZBOX Pico PI336 with enhanced connectivity.


ZBOX Pico PI226: A Credit Card-Sized Desktop



ZOTAC’s ZBOX Pico PI226 is based on Intel’s Celeron N4000 SoC, which has two cores and the UHD 600 graphics engine, but is also the most ‘affordable’ mobile Gemini Lake chip that Intel lists for $107. Because of the new SoC, the ZBOX Pico PI226 offers a bit higher general-purpose performance as well as improved media processing capabilities when compared to its predecessor the ZBOX Pico PI225 launched last year. Just like its predecessor, the ZBOX Pico PI226 comes in black metallic chassis and does not require any active cooling. The listed TDP of the Celeron N4000 SoC is just 6.5 W, but nevertheless how ZOTAC has postitioned the TDP means that this amount of heat can be dissipated by convection alone in this chassis.



The credit card-sized computer is equipped with 4 GB of LPDDR4 memory, 32 GB eMMC storage and a microSD card reader to expand storage capabilities. Wireless connectivity of the tiny PC includes a 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.2 wireless module, whereas wired connectivity is comprised of two USB 3.0 Type-C ports and a micro-USB power header. ZOTAC plans to bundle a USB-C dongle with an HDMI and two USB Type-A ports with the Pico PI226, just like it does with its current-generation ZBOX Pico PI225.


ZBOX Pico PI336: A Palm-Sized Desktop



ZOTAC’s ZBOX Pico PI336 is considerably larger than the Pico PI226, but is still unbelievably small for a desktop computer. This one is based on the quad-core Celeron N4100 with the UHD 600 iGPU and thus offers higher performance in multi-threaded applications when compared to the PI226. It has the same RAM/storage configuration, with 4 GB of LPDDR4 memory, 32 GB of eMMC NAND flash and a microSD card reader.



Where the ZBOX Pico PI336 clearly excels the Pico PI226 is connectivity. In addition to 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, a USB 3.0 Type-C port, this one is equipped with a GbE connector, two USB 3.0 Type-A headers, an HDMI 2.0 output, a DisplayPort 1.2 as well as a 3.5-mm TRRS audio jack.
















Preliminary Specifications of ZOTAC’s Gemini Lake Mini PCs
  ZBOX Pico PI226 ZBOX Pico PI336
CPU Intel Celeron N4000

2 Cores

1.1 GHz – 2.6 GHz

4 MB

6.5 W TDP
Intel Celeron N4100

4 Cores

1.1 – 2.4 GHz

4 MB

6.5 W TDP
iGPU UHD 600, 12 EUs at 650 MHz UHD 600, 12 EUs at 700 MHz
Memory 4 GB LPDDR4
Storage eMMC 32 GB
Other microSD/SD
Wireless 802.11ac Wi-Fi + BT 4.2
Ethernet 1 × Gigabit Ethernet with RJ45 connector
Display Outputs HDMI 1.4 via USB-C 1 × DisplayPort 1.2

1 × HDMI 2.0
Audio via USB-C/HDMI/DP 1 × TRRS connector
USB 2 × USB 3.1 Type-C with DP 1.2

2 × USB 3.0 Type-A on dongle
1 × USB 3.1 Type-C

2 × USB 3.0 Type-A
PSU External
OS Microsoft Windows 10 or none

ZOTAC plans to start selling the new ZBOX Pico PI226 and PI336 sometimes in the second quarter. Pricing has not been announced, but since Intel did not change pricing of its SoCs since the Apollo Lake generation, it makes sense to expect pricing of the Pico PI226 to be in the same ballpark with that of the Pico PI225. The latter hit the market in November and is available for less than $200. ZOTAC’s ZBOX Pico PI3-series PCs also cost around $200, so expect the new Pico PI336 to retail for a similar amount of money.


Related Reading




Source: AnandTech – ZOTAC at CES 2018: Gemini Lake ‘Credit Card’ Pico PCs

Kingston at CES 2018: Nucleum, a Portable 7-in-1 USB-C Dock for Notebooks

LAS VEGAS, NV — Notebook manufacturers, Apple in particular, were heavily criticized in 2016/2017 for introducing notebooks that feature only USB Type-C connectors. For end-users, such a transition meant making an additional investment into new peripherals, or docks. However, for hardware manufacturers, the transition to USB-C opens up new opportunities. At CES, Kingston demonstrated its first USB Type-C dock that supports seven ports as well as power pass-through.


The Kingston Nucleum is a rather compact sleek device made of aluminum and plastic to match design of Apple’s MacBook/MacBook Pro and other silver/metallic consumer laptops with USB Type-C ports. The dock has two USB 3.0 Type-A ports (one supports charging), one USB Type-C header, an HDMI 1.4 display output (max resolution is 3840×2160 at 30 Hz), an SD card reader, a microSD card reader as well as a USB Type-C power input.



The Nucleum supports power delivery pass through of up to 60 W, which is enough to power and charge a 13” laptop (such as a modern MacBook Pro). Larger and more power-hungry machines demand more power and their charging will take longer time using the dock from Kingston.










Kingston’s Nucleum 7-in-1 USB-C Dock
  C-HUBC1-SR-EN
Main Connection USB 3.0 Type-C at 5 Gbps with power delivery
Display Outputs HDMI 1.4 (max resolution is 3840×2160 at 30 Hz)
USB 1 × USB 3.0 Type-A (5V 1500mA)

1 × USB 3.0 Type-A

1 × USB 3.0 Type- C
Power Input up to 60 W
Dimensions 127 × 45 × 14.2 mm

5 × 1.77 × 0.56 inches
Weight 142 grams

5 ounces

Kingston’s Nucleum USB-C dock is already available at Amazon.com for $79.99. In the coming months Kingston will expand availability of the device to markets outside the U.S.




Related Reading




Source: AnandTech – Kingston at CES 2018: Nucleum, a Portable 7-in-1 USB-C Dock for Notebooks

ZOTAC at CES 2018: Workstation Mini-PCs with NVIDIA Quadro

LAS VEGAS, NV — ZOTAC’s new lineup of workstations consists of three systems based on Intel’s quad-core Core i5-7500T processor and one of three GPUs: the NVIDIA Quadro P1000 with 4 GB of GDDR5, the NVIDIA Quadro P3000 with 6 GB of GDDR5, and the NVIDIA P5000 with 16 GB of GDDR5. These are professional-level graphics solutions, which ZOTAC has used in the MXM module form-factor. All three machines use a different chassis, depending on performance, expandability and power draw. The ZOTAC ZBOX P1000 workstation is the smallest one, whereas the ZBOX P5000 is the largest and the most powerful one.


All three workstations from ZOTAC share the same concept: they are fully-integrated SFF PCs that support all modern connectivity technologies, including gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, USB 3.0 Type-A, USB 3.0 Type-C, SD/microSD, DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 2.0 and others. The goal is that these systems can be quickly deployed without significant customization. All the systems support up to 32 GB of DDR4-2400 memory (two SO-DIMMs), feature one M.2-2280 PCIe/SATA slot for SSDs, and one 2.5” bay for another storage device.  

















Preliminary Specifications of ZOTAC’s Workstations
  ZBOX Mini PCs

with NVIDIA Quadro P-Series GPUs
CPU Intel Core i5-7500T

4C/8T

2.7 GHz – 3.3 GHz

6 MB

35 W
GPU Quadro P1000

640 CUDA Cores

4 GB GDDR5
Quadro P3000

1280 CUDA Cores

6 GB GDDR5

192-bit

75 W
Quadro P5000

2048 CUDA Cores

16 GB GDDR5

256-bit

100 W
Memory 2 × DDR4 SO-DIMM slots, up to 32 GB of memory
Storage M.2 M.2 2280 slot for PCIe/SATA SSD
DFF 1 × 2.5″ SSD/HDD
Card Reader SD/microSD
Wireless 802.11ac Wi-Fi + BT 4.2
Ethernet 1 × Gigabit Ethernet with RJ45 connector
Display Outputs ? × DisplayPort 1.2

? × HDMI 2.0
2 × DisplayPort 1.2

2 × HDMI 2.0
Audio 3.5 mm audio-in

3.5 mm audio-out
USB USB 3.0 Type-A

USB 3.? Type-C
PSU External
OS Microsoft Windows 10 or none

The demonstration of ZBOX workstations with NVIDIA Quadro GPUs at CES shows that ZOTAC is interested in offering professional-grade systems. The PCs demonstrated at CES 2018 were based on Intel’s quad-core Core i5-7500T processor, which comes across as a rather unorthodox choice for a workstation, but is an understandable one given the fact that ZOTAC specializes on gaming and SFF PCs and simply has the said chips (and supporting PCH) in stock. If demand for ZOTAC-made workstations is high enough, the company might develop Xeon-based machines at some point in the future. It is noteworthy, however, that a 2018 workstation does not support Thunderbolt 3. Workstation workloads need storage space and ZOTAC’s workstations can hardly offer a lot of it (a M.2 SSD and a 2.5”/7-mm HDD will give 4 TB in total).


Another interesting takeaway from ZOTAC’s workstation announcement is NVIDIA’s Quadro P1000 graphics solution in MXM form-factor. Professional MXM solutions are manufactured and sold only by NVIDIA itself, so the module is not a custom-made card by ZOTAC. The Quadro P1000 product is not listed among other professional GPUs for laptops that NVIDIA offers. 



ZOTAC plans to start selling its workstations in Q2 2018. Pricing will depend on multiple factors, including purchase volumes.


Related Reading




Source: AnandTech – ZOTAC at CES 2018: Workstation Mini-PCs with NVIDIA Quadro

The ASUS NovaGo: Two Minutes with Snapdragon 835 and Windows

LAS VEGAS, NV – Late last year, at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Tech Event in Hawaii, we had the formal introduction of the first devices that were using the new Windows on Snapdragon platform and Qualcomm’s dream of bringing mobile technology to laptops to provide ‘Always Connected PCs’, connected through an LTE data connection. Qualcomm sells the upsides of this technology of providing laptops with 20hrs+ of battery life through using a smartphone processor, and through working with Microsoft, have a full version of proper Windows based on the system. The devices use native apps for best performance through the Windows Store, however 32-bit apps are machine translated into instructions that the Snapdragon SoC can process. It’s a lot of technology in a tiny device, and Qualcomm would seem to be the first CPU manufacturer to actually pull off x86 translation for the consumer market.


All of that aside, one of the first devices that should enter the market is the ASUS NovaGo. This is a 13-inch premium laptop/360-degree 2-in-1 design that has features such as Windows Hello and a fingerprint sensor built in while maintaining ASUS’ laptop quality and claiming up to 22 hours of battery life. We have wanted to get our hands on one for a while, and I managed to get a couple of minutes at the show with one at the ASUS suite.



Truth be told, the main fear that we have had with these devices is responsiveness. Smartphones on Android can be fast, with but something much bigger like Windows, it was not always on the cards that we would get the same level of responsiveness as, say, a Y-series Intel design. Back when we saw a super-early demo behind closed doors at IFA, it wasn’t the fastest, but on the NovaGo at least, everything seemed in order. Basic applications were quick and easy to open, and no visible lag from my untrained eye. Using the native compiled version of Edge, the best website in the world loaded as it normally does, and I was able to navigate the device as I would do normally with an Intel based laptop. Being familiar with ASUS’ device design, there were no surprises in the feel of the keyboard and touchpad either. Port support extends to a 3.5mm jack, a HDMI port, and two USB 3.0 ports.



A quick look through the system settings showed eight Snapdragon 835 cores, the Adreno graphics, and a PCIe based SSD for storage if I remember correctly. With it being connected to the internet, I tried downloading CPU-Z, even in 32-bit, but it required me adding it through the Store page to get it to work. Alas, the Wi-Fi at the Las Vegas Encore was not giving me any favors with the Windows Store so I was unable to go down that route, so at some point I obviously want to see the effects of x86 translation.


We were told by Qualcomm at the event a number of interesting things about the design of the platform, and how it has changed since we last met with them. Windows scheduler is configured to deal with cores of different level of performance, and it knows what programs are where and how to deal with them for performance and power, much like a good Android based scheduler. This was one of our worries, but we were categorically told that any internal worries they ever had are now fixed and it should run like a well-oiled machine.



In gaming, Qualcomm stated that with the modern APIs, the Adreno GPU is natively compiled and doesn’t need translation. As a result, due to the way that Adreno works, for some titles it ends up being more computationally efficient over other solutions and causes less work on the CPU, allowing for more of the power budget on the GPU and an overall better frame rate. Obviously we want to get a hold of the device and test the claim, but if offers an interesting prospect.



As for the NovaGo, with the addition of LTE and if it stands up to the battery life claims, it could be a neat little device depending on the price. ASUS said they expect it to launch sometime during Q2.


Related Reading




Source: AnandTech – The ASUS NovaGo: Two Minutes with Snapdragon 835 and Windows

Meizu Announces M6s with Exynos 7872

Today Meizu launched the new M6s, successor to last year’s M5s. The new M6s brings significant upgrades for the entry-level smartphone as it upgrades the SoC, screen and camera.


The M6s is among one of the first smartphones in its price category to include a SoC with an ARM big core. The Exynos 5 (Mid-range series) 7872 is Samsung’s first SoC below the high-end to adopt Cortex A73 cores alongside the usual A53 cores. The new 2x A73 4x A53 configuration runs at respectively 2.0 and 1.6GHz, resulting in expected performance far ahead of the M5s’ MT6753 which only had A53 cores up to 1.3GHz. The GPU is a new Mali G71MP1 running up to a very high 1.2GHz, likely to compensate for the fact that it only has a single core. The SoC is also manufactured on a 14nm process so we should expect overall large efficiency and battery life gains.

















Technical Specifications
  Meizu M6s Meizu M5s
SoC Exynos 5 7872


4x Cortex A53 @ 1.6GHz

2x Cortex A73 @ 2.0GHz


Mali G71MP1 @ 1.2GHz


14nm

MediaTek MT6753


4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.0GHz

4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.3GHz


Mali-T720MP2 @ 546MHz


28nm

RAM 3GB LPDDR3 3GB LPDDR3
NAND 32 / 64GB (eMMC 5.1)

+ microSD
16GB / 32GB (eMMC 5.1)
+ microSD
Display 5.7-inch 1440 x 720

IPS LCD (18:9)
5.2-inch 1280 x 720

IPS LCD
Dimensions 148.2 x 72.8 x 8.3 mm (TBC)

143 grams (TBC)
148.2 x 72.5 x 8.4 mm

143 grams
Modem Exynos (Integrated)

2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 7)


FDD-LTE / TD-LTE / TD-SCDMA / WCDMA / CDMA / GSM

MediaTek (Integrated)

2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 4)


FDD-LTE / TD-LTE / TD-SCDMA / WCDMA / CDMA / GSM

SIM Size 2x NanoSIM (dual standby) 2x NanoSIM (dual standby)
Front Camera 8MP 5MP, f/2.0
Rear Camera 16MP Samsung,

f/2.0


dual-tone LED flash

13MP, 1/3.06″ OmniVision OV13853, 1.12µm pixels, f/2.2, PDAF,


dual-tone LED flash

Battery 3070 mAh 3000mAh
Connectivity 802.11b/g/n, BT 5.0,

GPS/GNSS, BeiDou, Galileo

microUSB 2.0

802.11b/g/n, BT 4.0 LE,

GPS/GNSS,


microUSB 2.0

Launch OS Meizu Flyme OS 6

Android 7.0
Meizu Flyme OS 5.1
Android 5.1
Launch Price

(No Contract)
¥999 / ¥1199 RMB

$155 / $189 USD

127€ / 152€ EUR
¥799 / ¥999 RMB

$120 / $150 USD

101€ / 127€ EUR

This is also the first time we’ve seen an Exynos SoC released with integrated CDMA capability, confirming the rumours that SLSI is finally transitioning towards a world-modem and properly competing against other SoC vendors in CDMA markets such as China and the US. The SoC is also a fully integrated connectivity platform as it also integrates WiFi up to 802.11n, Bluetooth 5 and FM radio without having to rely on external combo-chips.



The M6’s screen keeps the rather low-end 720p resolution of the M5s but transitions to a 18:9 aspect ratio, thus increasing the vertical resolution to 1440 pixels.


The cameras have seen an upgrade as the main shooter now includes a higher resolution 16MP Samsung sensor with an f/2.0 lens system as well as an unspecified 8MP front camera.



The transition to a edge-to-edge display and removal of the front-facing physical home button in the M6s has obliged Meizu to move the fingerprint sensor to the side of the device near the power button. To replace the lack of the multi-function home button that Meizu devices usually ship with, Meizu has reintroduced a software Halo button for navigation which is also pressure sensitive on the screen.


The M6s comes in black, blue, gold and silver in 32 and 64GB variants for respectively ¥999 / ¥1199 RMB or equivalent $155 / $189 USD, making the phone a very attractive proposition and value for money.




Source: AnandTech – Meizu Announces M6s with Exynos 7872

ZOTAC at CES 2018: AMD Raven Ridge APU in a ZBOX MA551 Mini-PC

LAS VEGAS, NV — ZOTAC is preparing a small form-factor PC based on an AMD’s Ryzen processor with integrated Vega graphics. The ZOTAC ZBOX MA551 will be among the first compact computers powered by AMD’s code-named ‘Raven Ridge’ chips, and the system design should allow it support all AM4 APUs as well as a comprehensive set of connectivity features.


ZOTAC’s ZBOX MA551 will exist in at least two variants equipped with AMD’s quad-core Ryzen 3 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G APUs with the Radeon Vega integrated graphics. The chips are rated to dissipate a maximum of 65 W of power (based on AMD’s TDP data) and ZOTAC outfits the APUs with a cooling system that features a large copper heatsink and a blower. The cooler looks like a GPU cooler, so its peak performance likely exceeds 65 W and enables ZOTAC to install APUs with a higher TDP or for better boost. So far AMD has announced only two Raven Ridge SoCs for desktops, so if the company rolls-out APUs with higher power and cooling requirements, the MA551 will be ready to house them.



ZOTAC’s ZBOX MA551 comes in a matte black metallic enclosure, with the internal architecture the mini-PC looking very simple, allowing the user to easily install key components as well as potentially upgrade them. The mini-PC can be equipped with up to 32 GB of DDR4-2400 memory using two SO-DIMMs, an M.2-2280 PCIe/SATA SSD, and a separate 2.5” storage device.



When it comes to connectivity, the ZBOX MA551 is outfitted with an 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.2 module, a gigabit Ethernet connector, four USB 3.0 Type-A headers, a USB Type-C port, three display outputs (two DisplayPort 1.2, one HDMI 2.0) and an SD/microSD card reader.

















Preliminary Specifications of ZOTAC’s Ryzen APU-Based SFF PC
  MA551
CPU AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

4C/4T

3.5 – 3.7 GHz

6 MB cache

65 W TDP
AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

4C/8T

3.6 – 3.9 GHz

6 MB cache

65 W TDP
iGPU Radeon Vega

8 CUs

512 SPs

Up to 1100 MHz
Radeon Vega

11 CUs

704 SPs

Up to 1250 MHz
Memory 2 × DDR4-2400 SO-DIMM slots

up to 32 GB of memory
Storage M.2 M.2 2280 slot for PCIe/SATA SSD-
DFF 1 × 2.5″ SSD/HDD
Card Reader SD/microSD
Wireless 802.11ac Wi-Fi + BT 4.2
Ethernet 1 × Gigabit Ethernet with RJ45 connector
Display Outputs 1 × DisplayPort 1.2

2 × HDMI 2.0
Audio 3.5 mm audio-in

3.5 mm audio-out
USB 4×USB 3.0 Type-A

1×USB 3.? Type-C
PSU External
OS Microsoft Windows 10 or none

ZOTAC plans to start selling its Raven Ridge-based ZBOX MA551 sometimes in the second quarter, after AMD makes such processors widely available. Pricing is yet unknown.



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Source: AnandTech – ZOTAC at CES 2018: AMD Raven Ridge APU in a ZBOX MA551 Mini-PC